Imprint

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his relentless fingers
follow an unbroken trajectory
of lusty greed
over my feverish skin,
smearing impossible daydreams
like a vibrant painting
bathed in hues of red
over my flawed body;
an immortal imprint
searing through my flesh slowly,
tendrils of heat
spreading tantalizing
through my veins,
mingling my blood with his essence,
leaving on my tongue
the scorching taste
of his maddening presence
like a permanent after taste
or an inescapable memory
of skin against skin,
of body against body,
united but never colliding –
an everlasting reverie.

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Reminiscence

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it’s funny how it’s the little things that remind me of it. like the chill of the August rain pitter-pattering on my naked feet at the doorstep. like the taste of strawberry cream on the tip of my tongue. like the little spots of red, yellow and green in the darkness as i close my eyes against the sunlight.

it’s funny how the memories resurface out of nowhere. like an uninvited black cloud suddenly overshadowing a bright day. like an inescapable reality casting a darkness upon every soul that toils under it. so unlike the calm shade of a cheerful, happy reminiscence. so unlike the happy nostalgia of a gentle, radiant day

it’s funny how some words stay with us forever. and every song we ever hear is like an echo. an echo of those same old syllables we fail to forget. a long lost prophecy foretelling our destructive destiny. like a happy high note melting into a melancholic low lullaby.

it’s funny how before and after works. how easy it seems to conjure up dead realities and yet how impossible it seems to ever be able to touch them again. how easy it is to remember and how impossible to forget. how easy it is to wish it wasn’t real and how impossible to realise how real it really is.

Ceaseless

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You know those things that have no beginning or end? That you imagine to be an intricately threaded yet chaotic web of destinies and fates surrounding the universe, your universe? Those things that appear to be nothing and everything, all at the same time?

That’s how I look at you and me.

Was there ever any love between us? Here? In my head? In another world? Because sometimes when I think about you, waves upon waves of a warm feeling washes over me. Like an overwhelming sea grasping my arms with reckless abandon and then soothing my frenzied skin with it’s surprisingly gentle touch, lapping over my fingers and toes, filling my pores with all the calm of the ocean. But then, just a moment later, the water recedes and you fall away with it, leaving just as unexpectedly as you’d swept into my life, like a mirage I struggle to hold onto, running my lost fingers through the wet, disorienting sand. It sticks to me, that sand, and refuses to let go. It numbs my fingers and reminds me of the absence of your calming ripples. And just when I give up hope of ever meeting with you again, you swell forth and drown me under a tsunami of feelings.

And yet I question if it’s really love. Or ever was.

How can I say I fell in love, when I never really met you? When I knew you long before I knew myself? When I can never pinpoint a day, an hour, a second in my life and yours when I fell for you?

This warmth in my heart, rising up in my chest and bursting out of my heart, it’s always been there. A lifelong companion to my uneven breath. Not a ‘falling in love’, absolutely not. That’s supposed to be much more, isn’t it? That’s supposed to begin somewhere. On some long, laughter-filled summer night, under our blanket of silly stories; in a hot cup of coffee, shared, like in a classic teen movie; in a song danced to in the rain, drenched in new sensations and unspoken confessions; that’s how we’re supposed to fall in love.

But we never did.

Then why do I circle back to you every time, like a frustrated traveller who’s lost his way? Why does the warmth never leave my veins, no matter how far behind you leave me? Why do my hands always search for yours in a dark room? Why do I still long for the waves?

You know those things that have no beginning and no end?

That’s you and I. And our ceaseless story of unlove and waves.

Promotions in a World of #Hashtags

It seems like a world away from the time when film promotions in Bollywood relied mainly on posters, newspapers or even reality show appearances. The marketing trends of our film industry are changing and they’re changing fast. While actors and filmmakers continue to court controversy to keep their latest projects in the news, the techniques have changed and so has the platform.

Social media can either make or break a film. More often than not, the movie that trends the most on Twitter ends up being the box office hit of the month. But digital marketing is a dangerous maze to plough through and it takes quite a bit of strategic planning to ensure good publicity for a film.

In a recent interview with Hindustan Times, filmmaker, Pooja Bhatt talking about how things have changed drastically in the film industry, said, “Today, actors come to my office and ask for a marketing plan first, before they read the script.” And the past few years have seen a string of new marketing strategies.

The most noteworthy promotional campaign of 2018 so far has to be the PadMan Challenge which spread like wildfire all over social media with numerous celebrities joining in with pictures of them posing with a sanitary napkin. By associating itself with a sensitive issue like menstrual hygiene and using well-aimed phrases like ‘breaking taboos’, the Akshay Kumar starrer stayed in the news for quite some time, contributing to it’s box-office success.

But besides the brilliant marketing techniques, PadMan was also blessed with a great plot and got some pretty good reviews. On the other hand, movies like Phillauri, despite their viral meme publicity stunt, did not do very well in cinemas due to their not-so-extraordinary script even though the general plot of the movie was fresh and the acting commendable.

So a movie’s success really does boil down to good content, it seems. And yet to sell the content, good publicity is crucial. Bollywood relies as much on word-to-mouth publicity as on strategised marketing campaigns. Apparently, audience really is the most important part of the film industry. It’s a race in Bollywood to determine who can come up with the best promotional stunt and as part of the audience, it is truly exciting to watch and find out who comes up on top.

My Stranger

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Hooded eyes and hidden smiles

My stranger watches me

Like a phantom of the night

And I’d be vexed at the scrutiny –

The cheapest intrusion:

Mind, body, soul

All thrown into chaos –

But that I watch him too

More thoroughly

And more darkly

Than his beaded eyes ever could.

I wonder why romantic fools

Consider battles like ours sensual?

I see nothing but malice

Cruel, narcissistic

Conceited challenge in his smile:

Nothing but himself

And then him some more

Drowns in the depths of him

And there’s no room to drown

A single human soul.

And yet I stare

Locked in the snake’s tempting glare

Linking my eyes with his

My soul to his

Wrecking my world

Losing my peace

Panting – for breath

And for a little space

To drown myself in him.

 

~Diksha

Ruminating ‘Raazi’

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It is rare for a film that begins with dramatic, patriotic dialogue to end on a realistic note that truly questions war instead of glorifying it. Raazi accomplishes not just this commendable feat but also chooses to do so by portraying raw, personal turmoil instead of gruesome, action-packed violence.

The focus of the film initially appears to be on an individual’s duty to his/her country and the honour embedded in this duty. But slowly and gradually, the story unravels the ethical dilemma of the conflict of war:

Is the fight for peace really worth it when the very process to achieve it causes the complete opposite; when, to protect the majority, a few individuals are subjected to the very worst of trauma and suffering?

Yuval Noah Harari, in his book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, explains the concept of imagined realities which Raazi very poignantly yet subtly portrays. Imagined realities are ‘common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination’. A ‘nation‘ is an imagined reality – a notion based on invisible, manmade borders – and so is ‘family‘ – nothing more than an alliance of humans who share some DNA and consequently, some resources. It’s a gross oversimplication without the emotional context, isn’t it?

Emotion is where things start to get complicated and that is exactly what Raazi expertly uses to paint a picture of the conflict between nation and family – a conflict of imagined realities. To whom does Sehmat truly owe her loyalty – her motherland or her husband’s family? Her father’s legacy of honour or her own conscience?

A terrible moral dilemma, all in the name of patriotism, transforms a young, innocent girl into committing murders and becoming an agent in the death and grief of others, including her own in-laws, some of whom were simply innocent bystanders. Their suffering is a screaming testimony of the harshest truth: every person is a victim in war. The enemy is not a monster – just someone with a different viewpoint who suffers equally. There is no real winner.

Raazi‘s message is the irony of war – that the very structures that are supposed to provide us with peace, security and efficiency tear apart our lives to ensure their own survival. Sehmat’s screams of anguish are the voice of every war victim’s question: What was it really worth?

Controlled

Imagine what it feels like to push and push and push at a rock, trying to make it budge because your survival depends on it but being unable to move it even a single inch. Imagine the desperation. Imagine the hopelessness.

That’s how you made me feel. Like I was trying to move a brick wall. Like I was stupid for even trying.

You pretended like the reigns of the carriage were in my hands and I could drive it to wherever I wanted but you twisted the roads so I ended up right where you wanted me to be.

You spun a web of lies so realistic that I forgot what real actually feels like. Your carefully crafted fiction was the only truth I knew and for a very long time, I let you read me the same story every night, believing every word you said because I was so scared to do otherwise.

But one day, on impulse, I opened another book and the words jumped out and slapped me in the face. I remember how hard it was to breathe that day. I remember how cold I felt. I remember how I thought the world was ending.

Only it didn’t. It got so much better because that was the day I got over you and I swear to God, I’m never coming back.

 

Instagram handle: A Writer’s Cauldron

 

Love

Dear Childhood Sweetheart,

I miss you so damn hard today.

Remember how we used to be? Remember how our relationship, our friendship, could so easily be described by that shared ice cream bar when we were five? It used to be simple and perfect with you. The only expectation I had from you was that you push my swing every day and you did. Every single day without complaint.

Why can’t it be like that now? Why can’t love be as easy as you and I used to be? How did it get so complicated? Expectations, complaints, lies, manipulation… It’s all a bloody mess. And none of it feels real enough. It doesn’t feel like how you and I used to feel.

If only people could be as innocent as five year old children, it would be so much safer to fall in love. But right now, they terrify me with their masked intentions. They make me run away as fast as I can.

And sometimes I wonder how you and I would have turned out to be if we’d stuck together all these years. Would our relationship have held? Could it have stayed as pure and fun as it used to be? Probably not. Even we aren’t that lucky. Surely growing up would’ve screwed us over. Perhaps it was for the best, then, that you disappeared. At least I get to have one perfect memory of love. It’s enough to make me keep trying to find something real.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll find you again and life can be simple again. Just like five years old?

With love,

Your Silly Little Ex-Girlfriend.

 

Instagram handle: A Writer’s Cauldron

Barefoot

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You know that warm, comforting feeling you get when you step onto soft grass with your bare feet? How the blades of grass gently tingle your skin and you feel a kind of one-ness with the earth?

You know that relieved breath of sigh you let out when you step out of your tiring shoes and sweaty socks at the end of a long day and let your toes feel the floor of your house? How the cool, hard tiled floor sends shivers of happiness right up your spine and you feel the majority of your stress and exhaustion just melt away into the ground?

You know that funky, uplifting feeling you get when you let your toes wriggle in the hot sand of a sunny, gorgeous beach? How your feet sink into the sand and you just become a part of the nature and beauty of the place itself?

I really hope you know how all this feels. I hope you’re not like me, terrified of letting myself walk barefoot on the ground for no logical reason. I hope when your toes touch the floor, you’re able to appreciate the beautiful feeling for me because damn, I wish I was in your place.