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The child is father of the Man.

After watching two-and-half-hours of the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer ‘Paa’, William Wordsworth’s lines from ‘The Rainbow’ never felt more true.

Or correct.

Or contextual.

Or more Bachchan. (Not necessarily in that order though!)

Cause these, after all, were simple lines that had inspired many literary, cinematic and musical offerings over the years. And in one moment, the lines symbolised the perfect takeaway from director R Balakrishnan’s ‘Paa’, a tale that dealt with premature ageing disorder, progeria.

And a story that only Bachchan could have done and, beautifully did, justice to.

‘Paa’, in many ways, is an ode to modern India and the relationships that it nurtures. It deals with new-age love. It reiterates that parental love is probably the most unconditional, non-transactional relationship available in today’s complex emotional marketplace. It shows that love often is sacrificed at the altar of politics and domineering parents. And yet again, in simplistic terms, it shows that children often are best crises managers and interlocutors.

For the Big B, as he’s popularly called, donning the garb of a 12-year-old boy and engaging in a child-like act was no mean feat. A man who loves to experiment, Bachchan got into the act from the word action. His movement, body language, contortion of the face — all showed that this was tailor-made for him. And that the thespian had done his homework. And more.

He had stepped into the skin of the character of Auro. He had internalised the character of the different-looking young school-going boy who lives with his single mother and grandmother. And whose outlet for most emotional angst is his PlayStation. The form of the 67-year-old Bachchan was incidental, his inside contains the soul of a young boy trying to hold his ground in an extremely cruel and competitive world.

The entry of a young political leader, who happens to be his biological father, promising to be the agent of change in everyday life throws Auro’s sheltered and cocooned existence into a spate of action. And thus begins his process of self-discovery. There is joy, and horror. And none other than the four-time National Award winner could have done justice to this.

Bachchan carries the simple to the sublime level. In a career spanning over four decades, he has always done that. And the beauty of it lies in his effortlessness. From the wronged son to the angry young man to the jilted lover to the grand doyen of not-so-happy Indian families, Bachchan has played to the gallery, and beyond. And showed that he’s an actor for all seasons, and many reasons.

If ‘Agneepath’ made Vijay Dinanath Chauhan a part of modern Indian lexicon, ‘Paa’ has proved that Auro is Bachchan’s crown. For a non-trademark Bachchan film, minus the baritone, the gravitas and the sheer presence, ‘Paa’ has blurred all divisions.

Today when Bachchan is picked for the National Award – his third as best actor – he has raised the bar. A bar that no one other than him can touch.

And something to which even his son will say, “Thanks, Paa. But you’re the greatest.”

Ok, so Dilli’s got a new address. It’s called Zara, the famed Spanish brand that has folks the world over drooling. And the mere mortal that I am, I drooled too.
Through the week. And decided that one trip had to be done by the weekend, come what may.

So Saturday it was Destination Zara. A chance social visit to an old aunt-acquaintance in Vasant Kunj meant I could multi-task! A trip to DLF Emporio in the evening, however, proved that the store was still in the birthing process. Ok. Momentary sadness. Not to feel wasted, I walked into the Mango store with no intention of buying anything. Resolute. That time of the month, when the head and heart are in a major conflict of conspicuous consumption patterns.

Woman proposes, Conscience supposes, and finally God disposes…An hour later, after numerous trials and careening in front of the mirror, walked out with a pair of jeans. My first pair of Mango jeans – the thought ran through my head (try translating that into Hindi/Bangla – funny it sounds!). Guilt was assuaged, thanks to the ‘sale’ tag.

Sunday had a definite motive. Sex and The City – 2 had to be done. So was Zara. Mission Zara-esque I felt. A call-in-time from a friend put things in motion further! SATC-2 would happen, followed by Zara! For a moment, I thought I was suffering OCD. The film happened – sexless, pretty much of it. Carrie Bradshaw is good on HBO mini series, Mr Big’s rakish quotient has dissipated o’er the years. Samantha and Miranda — two extremes — are still likeable, the former for her in-your-face honest, crude jokes and the latter for being the most sorted of the lot! The rest is phew! It seemed more like a dramatised ‘Discovering the UAE’ series, the clothes were a disappointment. At least SATC-1 had better clothes. My takeaway from SATC-2: Sarah Jessica Parker’s smoky eye-shadow! The rest’s a smoke. Literally!

Zara didn’t lift my disappointment. The new address for Dilli’s yuppity folks, Sunday was a gathering of the city’s swish set. Surreal — if you consider the transition from not-so-practical costumes of SATC to a setting where the real meets the unreal. I was quite disappointed – paying a bomb for flimsy cotton tops or shirts which looked pretty lifeless, limp. Some of the designs were nice, but the finished product screamed of mediocrity. Certainly not what the price tags at Zara were screaming. Their bags were nice, the shoes even better. Not what Dilli is used to seeing. Nice, rich brown leather bags. And some smart-looking leather sandals.

The clientele at the Select Citywalk outlet that I saw was a getting-to-know Zara lot. Most seemed to have landed there, buoyed by peer pressure. And word-of-mouth publicity. Reports of the store having sold its items within hours of opening up obviously came with its own set of pressures. Picture-perfect couples, coochi-cooing and orgasming over pretty ordinary clothes — a life less ordinary, you would say! I breezed through the store, came out without buying anything. It was a sight enough to see beautiful people aspiring to be more beautiful and willing to pay the price for it.

For mere mortals like me, the view from the sidelines was more fun. And free! 🙂

Ok. Takeaway for the week going by: All’s well that ends well. In love. In impending marriages. In televised romance-turned-betrayal-dramas which transcend borders. And otherwise.

If you happen to have been watching the idiot-box during the past week, you will know what I am referring to. For the uninitiated, it’s of course the

"Hyderabadi biryani"

After high drama, India's Anna Kournikova has found her Enrique Iglesias across the border in cricketer Shoaib Malik

– more like the pati, patni and woe – that had captured popular imagination.

One man’s ecstasy is often another man’s agony. In this case, both men are the same – Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. The former Pakistani skipper vascillated from outright denial to prove-me-I’m-lying to finally admitting that yes he’d married Ayesha Siddiqui, confined to popular imagination only through photographs, in 2005.

While millions of heart-broken men wondered what the Indian version of Anna Kournikova saw in Malik, whose credentials came under question after the match-fixing scandal broke out, our Hyderabadi lass sent the message loud and clear: she stood by her man.

Monday blues dissipated as Mirza articulated at a press conference in Hyderabad how the media needed to treat the story with a little more ‘sensitivity’. And how, instead of pre-wedding jitters, she was having to deal with the paparazzi and their prying eyes! Malik, awed by his soon-to-be-better-half, stood in the sidelines, communicating in his broken English of how the truth will come out and how he would be vindicated.

Well, in X-Files style, the truth emerged. In two days time, precisely. Unable to handle the pressure and the diplomatic proportions that this saga threatened to assume (Malik’s passport was impounded and he was called for questioning by the cops), the wedding itself looked it was headed for anything but a fairytale finish!

Come Wednesday, and all such claims of Malik’s innocent-until-guilty, along with mid-week blues, vanished into thin air as the Siddiquis, chaperoned by Abid Rasool Khan, the General Secretary of Andhra Pradesh Congress, came out in the open and said that Malik had divorced their daughter and a relieved Ayesha could now go back to living a normal life. Providence intervened as mutual family friends of the Mirzas and the Siddiquis negotiated to unite the lovers. Your guess is as good as mine as to what actually transpired between the two sides and which side made the first move.

By now you know that the power of love transcends all. And while the lovebirds get ahead in life, dreaming of a life of togetherness in Dubai (where there’s more love, warmth and sunshine and low rentals, presumably!), one can only say that Malik gets to gain more than any one else.

Cause either way, Shoaib Malik still gets to taste Hyderabadi biryani!

(P.S.: I have forgiven Ekta Kapoor for the decade-long torture that she’d unleashed in the form of ‘saas-bahu’ serials. Hope this saga doesn’t lend her any inspiration!)

Sometimes, it also takes more than two…

A friend sent this
Watch it, it’s sweet…

Cricket triumphed over terror at the prestigious Lords on Sunday. It was great to see two strife-torn nations, riddled by bullets, indulge in some good sporting spirit. If ordinary Indians rued MSD & Co’s early exit, advertisers @ home were a sulking lot ruing the loss of million bucks. I for one, was supporting the Lankans. But am still glad that the trophy came home, albeit across the border. At the end, good cricket won!

Footnote: Wonder how many little Afridis were conceived on that Sunday night…