Wednesday, July 14, 2010

कुछ मेरी कलम से - २

*ज़िया-ए-हुस्न का उनके है किस-किस को पता नहीं
संवर के जब निकलते वो तो चाँद भी निकलता नहीं (The idea of this couplet and the poem itself came on seeing someone on a moonless night :))

जितना भी याद करो न होगी उनकी जुस्तजू कम
कितना भी समझाओ दिल को फिर भी समझता नहीं

होना चाहें खुदा से खफा तो भला कैसे हो हम
देता है जो मागो वो मगर उनको ही बस देता नहीं

नहीं मिलते हैं तो क्या ख्वाब में तो आतें हैं वो
खफा तो बहुत हैं उनसे हम लेकिन *अफसुर्दा नहीं

चहरे तो लाख़ों हैं दुनिया में दिल लगाने को लेकिन
तुझ दुश्मन-ए-जाँ के सिवा हमें कोई मिलता नहीं

*फ़न-ए-शायरी हासिल नहीं फिर क्यों लिखते हो 'मनु'?
दूसरों की शायरी से हमारा दिल अब बहलता नहीं

- मनु चतुर्वेदी

*ज़िया means splendor
*अफसुर्दा means depressed
*फ़न means talent (The concept for the last couplet might be subconsciously inspired by Siyaah's)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A novel writing approach

I had almost forgotten about the great Chetan Bhagat. Only yesterday when I was at my relatives’ and saw that he has started coming in TV ads did I think of writing this post. He, I think, should be the most well-known novelist in India. If you ever decide on writing a novel, here are some points which you can learn from his success:

Target the youth.

Include the name of elite institute(s): Adding an elite institute’s name in the punch line of your book if not the title usually helps in the sale of the book. If your fertile mind cannot come up with such a title or a punch line, one of your characters can be a student or an alumnus, though this would greatly reduce the effect. The reason is, this gets you a set of assured readers, largely comprising of the candidates preparing for the entrance. You can see this approach has been followed by:
Anything for you Mam- An IITian’s love story
Five Point Someone- What not to do at IIT!
Zero Percentile: Missed IIT Kissed Russia

Keep it small, cheap and simple: It very important to keep the novel small. The youth which is to be targeted is generally busy in other amusing pursuits and doesn’t have time and patience to read pothis. Also, the language of the novel should not be abstruse; of course there should be some unnecessary GRE words to prove writer’s command over the language here and there, but just in the right amount. Ignorant Indian writers like Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie etc. overlook this point while writing their books- there are a lot of other points also which they overlook- and this amounts to a considerable decrease in the sales. And of course, the novel should be cheap, the youth should not mind buying it over burrowing it. (Don’t try to go for international readers also and get a foreign publisher.)
All Chetan Bhagat ‘s are for almost Rs. 100.

Write in English: Ignore it when people say that language is just a mode of communication. It isn’t in India. However good a command you have over your mother tongue, you should stick to English. Indians in general believe that English is the language of the learned and reading English novels is a good way of showing that one is learned which, at times might be the only reason for reading the book. However, when your novel is popular enough, you can get it translated to other regional languages and you would see a flurry of sales.
Five Point Someone was translated to Hindi and had a record breaking sale of 30000 copies in one month. (while 'Raag Darbari' is unheard of, :()

Write about appealing, general topics: Do you remember what the great MBA Chetan Bhagat’s novels are about?
Five Point Someone: College life; IIT (IIT/IIM sells better than IAS (heard of ‘English, August’?!))
1 Night @ the Call Center: Call center
The 3 Mistakes of My Life: Cricket
2 States: Romance
See how cleverly the subjects are chosen? Has he ever written about anything esoteric?! He never fails to add a love affair- if the whole novels itself isn’t about it. Romance is an indispensable ingredient to the novel.

Promote controversy, but only a little: It should not be fatal like it was in Salman Rushdie’s case, but a little bit of it helps. For starters, you can try having regionalist insults which can be covered up in the preface or a post-script.

Get an MBA: Getting an MBA of course helps a lot. There are a lot of other factors, that help selling your novel, which yours truly cannot comprehend and can only be conceived by an MBA.

The post is not an attempt at defaming CB, I am just awe-struck by his systematic approach to sell his novels. It’s just a collection of observations made by my deranged mind.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Now that I am done with my DDP thesis submission and expect that the review committee would not see any hope of improvement in my incompetence and let me off the institute, other avenues like blogging await the show of my worthlessness. Today, I wish to recount a curious incident which happened in the first year of my college and how it affected my life.

It was a usually dull sultry afternoon of Chennai. I was in high spirits, the kind one is in when he's recently cracked the JEE and knows nothing about the placement season that awaits him in his final year, which in my case was 2009. One very 'influential' senior caught me, he lived on our floor. The seniors in our first year used to catch freshers generally to get water, get xeroxes, catch other freshers etc. Only the very 'trusted' got the privilege to be sent for booze, cigarettes and the other important items. I fell in the 'trusted' category I reckon for I was sent for cigarettes many times. But, that particular day, I was sent for getting some A4 papers, with the usual cigarettes of course.

I was unexpectedly fast at getting them. The senior was 'impressed'. First, moved by my sincerity in getting the stuff, he offered me the much coveted vol-ship for Shaastra. But, when I seemed uninterested, he lit his recently gotten cigarette in Godfather style, and started, as we call the phenomenon here, 'putting me fundaes'.

(To the readers who have read till here, I respect your forbearance and request you to not write any discouraging comments). I was confronted with a philosophical question, often addressed to one when one is new at IIT, 'What have you come to do here? Mug?!'. Be it for the interest I had in Physics, which I later realized was bogus, I was astounded. I gave a diffident 'Yes' as the answer. In the 15 min monologue which ensued, was all the wisdom, that one needs to become like my dear friend Shammo. To tell the least about Shammo, he having got 'influenced' by this 'influential' senior, started believing too much in the fact that Carbon is the second most abundant element in the human body, and started to add it in copious amounts to his lungs, body building you see.

Now patient readers, I have this habit of disregarding advices when they come very strongly and mocking them wholeheartedly. I acted myself. After the long monologue he asked the question again, 'Phir, Vol banega kya?'. I beamed and said 'Nahin'. The senior was frustrated, and asked my to f**k off.

Insignificant though the incident might seem, it had a very profound impact on my life and career. That day, I took a resolve that I won't do any activity which can be possibly classified as extra-curricular in my five year stint here. Blame it apathy or the resolve, I kept it. I found nothing wrong in that before my final year while applying for companies. Still, the latest point in my 1 page resume under the head 'Extra-curricular activities' is about something I did in my class X. :D.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Breach and something I wrote

After a long hiatus, watched a movie today, 'Breach'. The last one was about two months back. The movie is about finding a mole in the FBI and how a noob is able to catch him red-handed when so many veterans fail. Well, there's one thing I can say, movies come nowhere close to novels when it comes to spy stories. I reckon it becomes very difficult to put so many details in the movies which give the story the flavour. Still, being a true story its a good watch. "The Spy who came in from the Cold" still is the best spy story I watched or read, they say it is the best ever written. :).

And yes, the following is something I wrote lately:

Ye soch kar hum unki tasveer mukarrar dekha karte the
Kabhi to kam-bakht humko vo nazar uthakar dekhenge

Unhone kabhi humaare payaam ka jawaab nahin diya
Socha tha vo yoon likhenge to yoon likhkar dekhenge

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Na kisi ki aankh ka noor hoon

Came across a beautiful ghazal attributed to Bahadur Shah Zafar (might have been written by somebody else). Apparently written by him during his exile. It has been sung by various singers, I liked the one by Habib Wali Mohammad the best.

Na kisi ki aankh ka noor hoon, na kisi ke dil ka qaraar hoon
Jo kisi ke kaam na aa sake, mein vo ek musht-e-gubaar hoon

Mein nahin hoon naghamaa-e-jaan feza, koi sun ke mujhko karega kya
Mein bade bikrog ki hoon sadaa, mein bade dukhon ki pukaar hoon
(sung as: kisi dil-jale ki pukaar hoon)

Mera rang roop bigad gaya, mera yaar mujhse bichad gaya
Jo chaman khizan se ujad gaya, mein usi ki fasl-e-bahaar hoon

Na to mein kisi ka habeeb hoon, na to mein kisi raqib hoon
Jo bigad gaya vo naseeb hoon, jo ujad gaya vo dayaar hoon

Pae faatihaa koi aaye kyon, koi chaar phool chadhaaye kyon
Koi aake shamaa jalaae kyon, mein vo bekasi kaa mazhaar hoon
(Sung as: 'Zafar' ashq koi bahaaye kyon, ke mein bekasi ka mazaar hoon)

-Bahadur Shah Zafar

It has been translated to English by a Russian student of Urdu poetry, Philip Nikolayev, :).

not the light of any one's eyes,
nor the solace for any one's heart
of no use to anyone,
I am that one fistful of dust

I am not the song infusing life,
why would anyone want to hear me
I am the sound of separation,
I am the wail of much distress

my complexion and beauty is ravaged,
my beloved is parted from me
the garden that got ruined in autumn,
I am the crop of its spring

I am neither anyone's friend,
nor am I anyone's rival
the one that is ruined, I am that fate
the one that is destroyed, that land

why should anyone come to sing a requiem
why should anyone come to offer four flowers
why should anyone come to light a candle
I am the tomb of that destitution

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sham-e-gham kuch

Yesterday I got hold of ghazals sung by Vinod Sehgal. A not so popular ghazal singer I reckon. I noticed that there's marked similarity in the music in his and Jagjit Singh's ghazals. Here's the ghazal I liked the best.

Shaam-e-gham kuch uss nigaah-e-naaz ki baatein karo
Bekhudi badhti chali hai raaz ki baatein karo

Ye *sukut-e-naaz ye dil ki ragon ka tootna
Khaamoshi mein kuch *shikast-e-saaz ki baatein karo

Kuch *qafas ki *teeliyon se chan raha hai noor sa
Kuch *fazaa kuch *hasrat-e-parwaaz ki baatein karo

*Nakahat-e-zulf-e-parishaan daastaan-e-shaam-e-gham
Subah hone tak isi andaaz ki baatein karo

-Raghupati Sahai 'Firaaq Gorakhpuri'

sukut means silence
shikast-e-saaz means broken instrument
qafas means prison
teeliyaan here means the grills in the windows of the prison
fazaa means environment (I think here he means the atmosphere outside the prison)
hasrat-e-parwaaz means the desire to fly
nakhat-e-zulf means disarrayed fragrant hair

The last but one couplet shows the class of Firaaq's poetry, :).

Monday, February 1, 2010


Just finished watching Ishqiya. Another very good attempt by Vishal Bharadwaj to make a movie different from the cliched flicks. I have a liked quite a few by him but this one I liked the best. Vidya Balan looks enthralling. Arshad Warsi acted very well, better than Naseeruddin Shah, just like surprisingly Saif Ali Khan's acting was better than Ajay Devgan's in Omkara. He got the Bhopali accent very well. The songs are lyrical, I liked the classical-ish song "Badi Dheere Jali Raina" a lot.

The story was OK, decently compelling, but the best thing about the movie were the dialogues. That one by Vidya Balan was poignant when in the early part of the movie she implores her husband to surrender (she is madly in love with him) and says 'Chadar par tumhaari silwaton par mare pade rehte hein'. I have never read/heard a couplet on this concept. I wish to write one myself. The second best thing I liked was Vidya Balan, :). She looks awesome throughout the movie, her voice and eyes are too inviting.

I think people who liked Omkara will surely like this one. I don't know the meaning of the word Ishqiya, it's not there in the Urdu dictionary I use. Anybody any idea? I see that my stat-counter increases sometimes, glad to see that people read/glance-at what I copy/ramble respectively at my blog.

One thing I didn't understand was, in the end why couldn't Vidya Balan's husband smell the stench of mercaptan when the gas leaks, :).