When Dad was hospitalized…

I was in office when I got a message from Dad. It said – Call me as soon as possible. This was weird because it was the first time I got such a message from him. I called him immediately to find out that he has been hospitalized for high fever and weakness. When I heard his shaky, shivery voice, I was already nervous. I had never heard him talk like that before. I left office in about an hour and got to the hospital. When I saw him on the hospital bed, he looked not too bad but sick and in need of medical attention.

Tricky situation this – fathers being hospitalized. It gives you a chill down your spine! They bring you up, they teach you all that you know, they protect you from any and every threat that nature might have in store for you! You can’t imagine how much they sacrifice just to make sure that you have all that you need, to make sure that you don’t feel too bad when you look at what your richer friends possess. My father did all of this for me and much much more. When I saw him on that hospital bed, I was sad but for some strange reason, I always knew he would be fine soon.  That’s because I have always believed that my Dad is a fighter.

I would like to tell you all a bit about my father. He is an extra-ordinary man who was brought up in a small chawl in Sion in the most unimaginable conditions. He grew up in an environment where he could easily have become a drunkard, a vagabond, or anything but what he is today. But he decided to do otherwise. He studied hard, completed his graduation in commerce and made sure that he earned enough to support his family. He saved up just so that his children can live in a better place and have a better future as compared to his. It’s not that we are rich now, but my sister and me have led a far better life compared to my Dad and his parents. We didn’t have to walk miles to get water for our house, we didn’t have to start working at the age of 15 to support our family. My dad went through all this and more. Imagine the burden of supporting a family consisting of a mother, father, younger brother and 2 sisters! The pressure faced by the eldest son in a poor but conservative South Indian family to marry off his two sisters! And then, the difficult task of educating 2 children in the most expensive times! Also, the family drama with a son who is an Engineering graduate but wants to become an actor!! 😛 If a man can get through all that, I was sure he could easily get through this illness. And that’s what happened… All reports normal. Discharged in 3 days! 🙂

My father is in every way responsible for all the good things about me and whatever I become in the future would be all thanks to him. I can write about him for pages and pages and would still not be able to express how fantastic he is, or how grateful I am to him or how much I love him! I wish him good health, peace of mind and more strength to deal with other surprises that his children might throw at him in the future! 😀

And to all you guys reading – Although this is a very personal matter, the reason I decided to write about this incident is that I wanted to remind everyone how close we are to our respective fathers and how much they have done for us. Without them, life would be nothing! In fact – without them, there would have been no life! So try and be good to them, try and be the son or the daughter that they have wanted you to be! These days, there is a lot of talk about children wanting to follow their dreams, choosing the life partner of their choice, blah blah blah.. I am all for these things! I believe that we have every right to lead an independent life, take our own decisions, be what we want to be. However, I would like to point out that we need to keep a check on how far we are going and how much it is affecting our dear ones. I think it is not right to just run away from basic responsibilities in the aid of chasing our dreams. Fathers are not villains as one may derive from the movies made these days (Taare Zameen Par, Udaan, etc.) They are good people who care for us. Don’t ever forget –  it is our real life, on-planet GOD that we are dealing with here! (Can’t think of any example for atheists!)



My first picture in a newspaper!!!! :)

Not too happy with the way I look here… but come on!!! It’s the first time my picture has appeared in a newspaper!!! This one is special!! It also has my name mentioned below the pic… Cool na ?!?!?

Thank you Mr. Gopi Warrier! Thank you Mr. Abhijeet Khade! And Thanks a lot Siddhivinayaka! 🙂

By the way, this picture is from The Asian Age dated 21st December (today) in page 3 of the Mumbai supplement. The article talks about our play “Siddhivinayak saves Mumbai from terror attack”. Here is a picture of the article:

Our play opens this Saturday, the 25th of December at the Ravindra Natyamandir, Prabhadevi. It will keep showing there every evening till the 12th of January, 2011. We then have our last set of shows from 14th to 16th January at NCPA, Nariman Point. Try and be there… It’s a simple, spiritual play with a beautiful message!


When friends become co-actors…

I could never have imagined that my office friends will come up with something like this. All right, they are all super talented…and super crazy…but making a short film?!?!? This was not on the cards!!! However, it happened…

It all started with the funny man from Thane whom everybody loves (could never figure out why :P) – Mehul Shetty. One fine day he woke up and found out that he had nothing to do. So he decided that he will make a short film that can be uploaded on YouTube, sent for festivals, etc. He knew that he would have the backing of his editor friend Ankit Halai (who is a professional editor for Prime focus by the way) and his actor friend Dilip Merala (who is always up for anything where he gets to act!!). So he decided to take it further and before we knew, we found ourselves on location with the script, shooting for this ambitious and lovable project!

The good thing about this project is – there are no expectations from anyone. It is a group of friends coming together to do something that they are excited about! When we started, we knew that we had talented singers, dynamic dancers, and generally enthusiastic souls who could bring life to a project like this. However, what we did not know was that each one of them would turn out to be such good actors!! 😀 Anyway, that’s for later!! So we figured out the cast and crew of the film depending upon the characters and the volume of work to be done. Aanchal who is an excellent singer was to play Sutradhar (the narrator) and also sing the only song in the film. Swapna, Daya, Srimoyee, Akshara were made in charge of costumes, props, and any other Production work. Rohit and Saalim were in charge of sets and location (good for nothing these two…not one location was found by them!!)Rakesh and Nikhil were to handle cinematography because of their excellent expertise, skill, and experience with the camera. Mehul of course wore the director’s hat! And Rohit, Saalim, Daya, John, Ankit, Mehul, and I were to take centre stage as actors. Now, the important question was – what camera would we use?? After some discussion, our dear friend Chaitanya (who had decided to stay out of this project) agreed to lend us his point-and-shoot Fujifilm camera which had an HD video shooting option. This was very kind of him as it was a new camera and he was quite attached to it as it had become his source of some extra income (he sold nature pics clicked from this cam).

So, we now had a camera, a director, some actors and a rough storyline and script. We needed a location – a place where we could shoot slums, rag-pickers… poverty in short. I remembered how Mehul and the others always joked about my home town Sanpada as a gareeb, secluded gaav. So I thought – why not Sanpada?!? The best thing about shooting in Sanpada is that its population is hardly a few thousand (actually just 1000 I guess :P) So the shooting could be hassle-free. I knew a few places where we could shoot in Sanpada so I asked Mehul if it would work and Bingo!!! Sanpada it was!

The call time was 7.30 am on a Sunday morning!! For a bunch of amateurs starting a project which is not going to pay them anything, this was very ambitious and a bit difficult!! Well, impossible actually 😀 Mehul turned up at 8ish. The two of us checked out the location. Srimoyee arrived with Saalim, Ankit, and most importantly, the CAMERA by 8.45ish. It was not bad considering that Srimoyee was coming from Borivili (another world altogether), Ankit from Andheri and Saalim from Malad. Hats off to these guys for agreeing to travel all the way to Sanpada just for the love and enthusiasm towards this film!! J Alright, so Nikhil and Rohit were there soon after that and we had enough people now to get started. I was supposed to have written lines and been ready with them by 7.30 that morning. I wasn’t ready. I did not know what to write! So I just made something up on the spot and gave it to Rohit to memorize.

We decided to begin with a scene where I am supposed to running happily (cliche bollywood :P). And there I was – ready to face the camera for the first time!! None of my friends knew that it was the first time I was facing the camera for a professional (we can call it that, right?!?) shoot. Yes, I have been doing theatre but I had never shot for anything before (except for my friend Ajay’s film promo where I was sitting in the background). I was nervous, very very nervous! To be honest, I was the only one bearing the burden of expectations here. I thought that I would make a fool of myself if I did not do well because all my friends have always known me as someone who wants to become an actor. I had been telling them about my theatre activities and my dreams of becoming a superstar! If I did not do well here, what would they think of me?!? Anyway…I decided to put this thought aside and concentrate on the scene..

Rolling… Scene 1, Take 1, action!!! I ran…and ran…and ran…as if I just got legs!! Cut… Some technical issue…Take 2! Cut…Take 3! Take 4… Take 5… We did close to 15 takes capturing different angles with me, running at varying speeds! It was fun!! By the time we were done, I was sweating but not tired at all.. After all, it was the first scene of my life!! I was charged and ready for a 100 more takes if required! I have no idea what my friends thought of the scene. If they liked it, good for me. If they did not, I don’t think they will ever tell me. But for me, it was a very happy moment…something that I will never forget 😀

The next scene to be shot was between Rohit and me so we did a line-run and a quick rehearsal. Once again, several retakes for several reasons, the biggest one being – actors are laughing!! It was weird acting with Rohit because I had never thought I will be shooting with him. We were saying lines which we don’t usually say….wearing clothes which we don’t usually wear… but Rohit was still a bit of his usual self. I mean…He is supposed to be a rag-picker for God’s sake.. but he was still saying ‘wallet’ instead of ‘batwa’ or ‘purse’!! He insisted that all rag-pickers know the word “wallet”!! However, by the time the scene was done, we realized what a fantastic job this guy had done!! He had acted surprisingly well and pulled off the scene just like a professional, experienced actor! We decided to end the day with this scene as many team members had other commitments. And that was pack-up for the first day of shooting for Ek Choti si Aasha!!

We met again after a couple of weeks to continue shooting to be surprised even further! Mehul and Rohit shot a scene on the railway tracks of Sanpada. In my opinion, this is going to be the best scene of the film! Extremely well performed and brilliantly shot by Nikhil!

We then shot a chase sequence between Mehul and me on the same railway tracks..Once again, the camera work here was fantastic!! Rakesh joined us for a while here just to say “Hello”, check if the shoot was coming along well, and in the meanwhile click pictures of a few butterflies near the railway track! We also very quickly shot a scene while having lunch (yes, while we were eating at a restaurant!!)… Considering that we shot at a restaurant with people entering every now and then, I think we did a good job! Effective use of time and space I would say (my idea!!). That was pack-up for day 2!

The next day was a Sunday and the team came over to my place for breakfast where they all met my family – My Dad, Mom, Sister and lovely Daadi!! After a round of dosas, wadas, chutney, sambhar and coffee we were ready to go. First scene was the one with Daya and me which was to be shot inside the slums in one of the jhopdis! Daya changed into an old sari at my place and we took her to the location in my car. Daya did this scene so brilliantly that this scene was wrapped up in no time. She was full of energy, loud and clear and as natural as an actor could get! Yes, I bore the brunt of it in every take (she is supposed to be hitting me!) but that’s OK! This was followed by Saalim’s scene where he is supposed to give a small speech about life, the opportunities it provides, and the path we should choose. All I can say is that, it was not SMALL at all! He wrote his own lines and made sure that he gets more footage than anybody else in the film! But the guy did a good job!! He used his excellent Hindi and Urdu speaking skills to come up with some good, filmi, philosophical lines and ended up saying them pretty well.

It was 3.30 on a Sunday afternoon and everyone wanted to leave – I had rehearsals in the evening (as usual :(), Srimoyee had to get back to her country Borivili where Chaitanya was awaiting his camera, Ankit had to report at work by 5 pm(sad that he had to work on a Sunday) and everyone else had something or the other to do. So that called for pack-up on day 3 of the shoot!

By the end of this schedule, there was a lot that each one of us had learnt. Rohit learnt that he has a star in him (what with all the tantrums during the eating scene – main aise nahi khaunga…waise nahi khaunga). Daya learnt that she was a good actor and should do it more often. Mehul learnt that when you truly feel you want to do something, you should go ahead and do it..it works out some way or the other. Ankit learnt that travelling by train from Andheri to Sanpada is not as difficult and horrific as he thought it was. Saalim learnt that the more lines you write, the more difficult it is to learn them and deliver!! And I… I learnt that there will always be a lot of expectations and a lot of competition around. There are talented actors everywhere.. Some I that I am aware of, some that I’m not! But they are not always competition!! They are catalysts that help me perform better, try harder and get closer to my goal. The key is to never get intimidated and keep going on the path that I have chosen…. with the hope that someday, I will surpass everyone else and get to my target!!

Until the next one… Loads of love… Be good.. and stay around! 🙂


Ek Choti is Aasha is the first project by our team 9-tanki entertainment. Check it out:



Some more pics of the shoot:


Once upon a tiger in Hyderabad, there was a….

One of the most exciting aspects of becoming an actor is the travelling involved with the job. A lot of people consider becoming actors because they see themselves flying to different locations (Switzerland, New Zealand, even Kashmir for that matter), and visiting places that they wouldn’t have otherwise! Imagine how great a feeling it is when you know that you are going to be seeing the most beautiful places in the world and that would be a part of your job!! Your traveling, accommodation, food will all be paid for! All you need to do is – just turn up! 😀

In my case, I am yet to reach a stage in my career where I will be travelling a lot and to such far-off places. However, thanks to my dearest theatre mentor Jaimini Pathak, I have had the opportunity to travel to a couple of places with our play ‘Once upon a…tiger’. Last year, it was Jaipur. And this time, it was the wonderful city of pearls, lakes, IT companies, delicious biryanis, and of course the Charminar – Hyderabad!

The trip took off on the 23rd of November, 2010 at the CST station where all the girls arrived with their luggage including props and sets for the play. It was a shame that the girls had to take charge of all the ‘Tiger’ props and sets since all the guys (including me) were coming from places and events too far-off. Thank you Shweta, Nidhi, Trupti (or is it Tripti ?!?), and Jaspreet for this kind help! I am sure Jaimini was as proud of you girls as mad he was at us!! 😛

The train journey to Hyderabad was fun as the people travelling included a mix of different personalities with different colours – the energetic and funny (almost always :P) Tripti, the cute and bubbly Shweta, the crazy (sometimes abusive) duo – Deepak and Nitin, the sweet and sober Jaspreet, the sandwich-man Ashu, the articulate and fun-loving Nidhi, and the ‘check-out-my-laptop-ke-saath-free-mila-hua-camera’ Dilip!! It was from here that Shweta and Nidhi became “The Inseparables”! Due to a problem with one of the seats, I moved a couple of compartments away to another seat where I slept off at around 2.30 am. Shweta and Nidhi slept off on one berth but not before chatting away to glory right until the wee hours of the morning! When we reached Nampally in Hyderabad at 12.30ish, we were all hungry, sleepy, but super excited!! You know how it feels when you finally reach where you are headed for, right?! ? 🙂  It was a new city and we wanted to explore as much as possible in the little time we had! So to start with, we made plans to go to the Golconda fort after freshening up at the hotel. Little did we know that destiny had something else in store for us!!

A couple of girls from the theatre festival picked us up from the station in two huge Sumos. Well… Sumos are generally huge so there was no need to mention that! 😦 Anyway, so we went to the hotel first which was a slight twist in the tale. We had assumed that we will first be going to the performance venue, dropping off the props there, then to the hotel, freshening up and pushing off for Golconda. However, Anand communicated to us that the actual plan was – we go to the hotel, have lunch and freshen up, then go to the venue with the props and sets, and then REHEARSE OVER THERE FOR THE REST OF THE EVENING as preparation for the shows next day! Boooooommmmmmm!! So there was no question of going anywhere else that day and our Golconda plan was just washed away 😦  However, looking at the positives – we reached the hotel to reunite with our long lost teammates – Vijay babu, Vishwas, Chetan ‘star of the show’ Chand, and of course Jaimini and Anand!! We ate some fantastic food (at least I thought so), got some great rooms to stay in, and we were all ready by 4 to get started with rehearsals!

Off we went to the performance venue where Jaimini had a 2-hour monologue awaiting him (Mahadevbahi at 6 p.m)! He decided to spend some time with the Tiger cast before he goes on stage. We began rehearsing and while we were taking our lines, there was a last-minute change! After some discussion, it was decided that I will be playing Minister saab while Anoop will be playing Guard Chacha (the original plan was to do it the other way round). So while Jaimini was performing on stage from 6 to 8, Anoop and me were busy memorizing our lines so that we didn’t look like fools in the run-through that was to be done after the Mahadevbhai show! Personally, I was very excited to be playing Minister because it is my favourite part in this play. I had seen Vishal, Amol, and even Jaimini playing Minister and I have the greatest regard for all of them as actors. Vishal is super-versatile and super-consistent; Amol is my favourite, most-admired stage actor, someone I have always looked up to! And Jaimini is, well, JAIMINI PATHAK!! So playing a role that I’ve seen all three of them play was extremely challenging as well as exciting! Also, as compared to Guard Chacha which is a quiet yet strong, fairly passive character, Minister is full of life and energy, over-the-top and fun to explore!! So I gave it all to memorize the lines and follow the simple instructions that Jaimini gave me for the part. Anoop did exactly the same with Guard Chacha. For those who do not know, Anoop is the curly-haired, cute-smile guy who appears in quite a few ads. My favourite is the SBI Life insurance ad where he sings in the rain to his wife – “Hum jab hongey 60 saal ke aur tu hogi 55 ki….” 😀 Anyway, so the day ended with a thorough line-run on stage and we returning to the hotel, eating some delicious food (no biryani yet 😦 ) and everyone off to sleep after a tiring day!

The next day was the day we were there for. Two shows of Once upon a tiger at the Vaishali Bisht Children’s theatre festival! We were all charged up and ready to hit the stage. The team met in the Men’s green room for a pre-show pep-talk by the director. Jaimini decided that we’ll have this talk inside the loo. Strange, but fun! So, off we went! We listened to every word Jaimini said very carefully as we had to implement it on stage. Simple, sweet words of wisdom with the odd, sad joke every once in a while!! That’s Jaimini for you! J And then…And then…And then…. Rooooaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! We had a great show and we were all very happy that we could live up to what was expected. After all, there were 2000-odd kids in the audience! Can you imagine?? 2000 little monsters watching a play with actors who in their personal lives are as kiddish, mischievous, funny, monstrous as them!! A huge challenge but extremely satisfying once through J We returned to the hotel for food and some rest and came back to the venue in the evening for the next show. This one was easier with a smaller crowd. However, quite strangely, we have always performed better before huge, badly-behaved crowds as compared to small, well-mannered audiences! Something to think about! May be we were all feeling Jaimini-sick as he had left for Mumbai a couple of hours before this show! 😛 Jaimini had shows of Dirty talk in the evening in Mumbai for which he couldn’t be with us for the evening show. Great moment for Working title though!! Shows happening at different cities in the country at the same time and the director struggling to be everywhere!! How fantastic is that!!

So the shows were done with and it was party time!!! We went back to the hotel where the lovely Vaishali, Priyanka and Dipti had arranged for a party for the cast and crew of Working title!! This is something Jaimini shouldn’t have missed but unfortunately he did! It was here that Chetan Chand found his stardom and fan following! Again, for those who do not know –  Vijay babu, Chetan, Vishwas, and Deepak are pretty much the backbone of the shows that we do. They take care of the sets, lights, sound and everything else that actors need to perform well and put up a good show! We are because they are!! And this was the first time I was seeing all of them in such a party-mood! Chetan went all-out with his Sunny Deol dance, acts of seducing people on the hot seat (they made one up and put everyone on it turn-by-turn…thank God I was spared!), imitating everyone from Jaimini to Anand to Nitin to even Priyanka and Vaishali!!

There was booze and food (BIRYANI….FINALLY!!!) and music and dance… and after Chetan stopped his vulgar yet funny acts, there was a whole lot of singing! Shweta, Nidhi, Vijay babu, Deepak, Anoop and yours truly gathered together in the party hall and started singing some lovely old Hindi songs. We sang everything from slow, romantic numbers to peppy, lively tracks!! It was a pleasant surprise when Anand joined in and showed us what singing really is!! We felt like we invited a quiet spectator to join us and he is now kicking our ass!!! He sang some songs which we had no idea even existed!! I must also mention that Anand was brilliant as Daadhi Kaka in what was his first show for Tiger. It is one of the most difficult roles of the play and I thought he played it extremely well. That combined with all the production and organizing work that he had to do! He made sure everything was in place for the cast and crew and he also arranged for everyone’s safe and timely return to Mumbai which was a tricky task to deal with!! Hats off to this wonderful actor, smart organizer and kick-ass singer 😀

So when all this was over, my voice (like Tripti’s) was screwed!! I could hardly speak. This is what happens to people for whom singing with enthusiasm is the same as shouting out loud!! 😀

We all went back to sleep only to wake up late next morning and to try figuring out how we’ll all get back to Mumbai. Finally, it turned out that Shweta, Nidhi and me will take a 6 O’clock bus back to Mumbai since we all had appointments the next afternoon. The others were to leave later that evening. I don’t know how their trip back was but my bus trip went off pretty well. We ate idli, dosa, roti, chicken, etc. on the way. We even got to watch half of Chup Chupke (Shahid-Kareena) and half of No entry (Salman-Anil-Bipasha) in the bus. I slept off before No entry ended and woke up in the middle of the night to hear two chirpy, chit-chatty voices while the rest of the bus was fast asleep. No points for guessing who they were! 😛  I joined for a while and we spoke about movies, plays, and some other things I can’t recollect. The bus dropped me at Sanpada (where my parents live) at 7.30 in the morning and while I was walking back home, although I was tired, and sleepy, and a bit hungry…. I was already thinking about the next time I will be traveling again for an acting assignment!!

Be good people…

Lots of love..

Some more pictures of the trip: