around october 2011, over a year ago, i felt myself feeling some very old and a bit missed feelings: those of falling in love.
ha ha, it got me again and as always made me look foolish as ever. this time it was not a man, well that was there too, but it was a tv serial. yes. you read right. a hindi daily soap, in fact.
i watched every night, then replayed on youtube many times, thought about it all day, that not enough, i joined one of the largest online entertainment forums in india, india-forums, or if as it’s called by its 50,000 or more members; and i spent hours chatting, writing, bantering, “bashing,” meeting girls 18 to 50 something, from all over the world, pakistan, bangladesh, dubai, new zealand, the us, uk, india, singapore, malaysia, the middle east, you get the picture.
there was even a lovely student from singapore. chinese. angela, who didn’t speak a word of hindi, yet loved the show and followed it religiously, catching the live stream at 10.30 pm every night. reading her post on her affair with the serial, was one of my favourite “what the” moments. to find out the deep, almost religious, significance of “what the” you have to of course, suffer. you have to watch the serial.
what’s it called? why “iss pyaar ko kya naam doon?”; “what do i call this love?” in english. had to be, what. and now that i’m thinking, thanks to her favourite cartoon show my dear daughter used to say “what the” all the time when she was about seven.
definitely it was a sign.
here’s one of the last posts i wrote, 4 december 2012, on one of my most loved threads: honeypriya’s crooner. there every day we spoke of the episode telecast the evening before (8pm for trp audiences in india), loving, laughing, hating, hanging around, having a good time over something that meant much to us. a happy lot of girls who thought it wasn’t strange at all to be talking about a serial and openly admitting our fascination with it.
i had fun. the following is rather long, read if you feel like it. part of my inner world, ipk, as we call it, it had a place in my blog i felt.
i have never met romeo or juliet. nor laila and majnu, snow white and her prince, or heer ranjha.
but i have met asr and khushi.
and they fill me with their feelings. feelings that don’t melt away because someone seven seas and 13 rivers on the other side of life has waved a wand and said, “last episode.”
it murmurs in me, clings to the surfaces of my thoughts, intrudes in my dreams, thoughts of a man with storm in his eyes and a girl whose smile was made to calm that tumult.
the other day i felt like making a big commitment. i was ready to give of myself, do something away and a bit scary, take a risk. jump. for this i thank two spectacular actors and the incredibly talented writers who gave them the most enchanting flight instructions ever, disguised as script and dialogue.
“woh kya hai ki aaj skool mien drama kumpetition hai na, iss liye hum ghar se taiyyar hoke jaa rahe hain… rajkumari ki tarah..”
“phir aap ke raaj kumar kahaan hai?”
a whirring sound approached and along with her i looked up. it mattered little i’d not seen this the first time it was telecast, for i’d arrived late to ipk. it was mid october last year when my eyes finally couldn’t look away. that television had this to offer who would have thought.
his eyes were inert. her voice was fearless. someone had decided to tell a story like no one had ever before. in the first episode itself, in a span of only 25 minutes a taut screenplay said so much, hinting at deep ravines and lost places where the tale would lead us. the promise of treasure embedded.
a girl on a scooter in finery and sneakers and a funny sort of determination not brought on by wealth; a young man who descended from a helicopter and looked at memory with the stillest face, as he took off his shades you knew this was style money couldn’t buy. the show had started in the way of many serials, right in the middle of a wedding and its usual dowry laced tensions, then suddenly a helicopter lands, we’re in the middle of a field abutting an old haveli, sheesh mahal, the house of glass, and a voice shatters time: ma. flutter of wings, unmoving eyes, unflinching grasp of a moment, a deal is done. she’s reached her destination, a little lost, a twirl and a ditty as compass, but wait she’s on a catwalk. she is in his arms. his eyes travel down to and stay on her lips, a flicker there.
this was not going to be anything like a hindi serial. or like anything else I’d probably ever seen; no, more than seen. felt.
“aisa kyon hota hai… jab bhi aap hamare paas aate hain… toh hamari dil ki dhadkan tez ho jaati hai?… humne samajhne ki bahut koshish ki lekin samajh nahin paaye… bhulana chahte hain par bhool nahin paate… aisa kyon hota hai? bataiye na, aisa kyon hota hai, hamari dil ki dhadkan hamari saanso se bhi tez ho jaati hai.”
“jab tum mere saath hoti ho, toh tumhare dil ki dhadkano ke saath meri dil ki dhadkane bhi tez ho jaati hai. hamari dhadkane ek ho jaate hai. jo tum mehsoos karti ho, jo main mehsoos karta hoon… hamari dhadkane… ek ho jaate hai.”
a bunch of people (sanaya irani, one of the leads, had referred to fans as a “bunch of people” who were creating trouble at a certain point during the troubled last days of ipk, she was always known for being polite, empathetic toward viewers whom she preferred not to call fans, a little too polite i always felt. glad that finally she spoke her mind, even though she sounded peeved. it felt real. and barun, not cogent, disarmingly spontaneous, quite un-pr always felt totally real, “todally” in his funny call centre learned accent). yes, just that. a group of normal people had got together to create a commercially viable product. not a great art project. gifted producers, writers, music director, ensemble cast and two leads. what mattered most was, the initial episodes should roll out well, catch viewers’ attention, get the trp going, keep the serial running a few months, then they’d see how to progress things.
it was to be a love story, nothing really new in that sense, had been done before. in many a mills and boon, and recently in a serial by the same production house: opposites attract, rich handsome self made brusque boy meets middle class pretty gutsy girls, they hate each other, intense clash, and finally love.
yet when the chopper landed and a lean, sensitive face withdrew into itself looking at a mansion, eyes opaque, you had a feeling nobody had quite planned for this.
i will never know what was the igniting factor, the clever writing, the searing acting, the consummate direction, the off beat music, which prodded what to do its best, who inspired whom, or was it just meant to be. but it grew to become much greater than the sum of its parts and it just came right out and carried me away.
“yahan na sahi, shayad kahin aur ek duniya hogi, jahan tum aur main kabhi alag nahin honge… jab jo bura kaha uska koi matlab nahin… jab jo bura kiya uska koi matlab nahin… iss pyaar mein sahi aur galat ka koi matlab nahin… bas ek cheez ka matlab hai… ki main.. hamesha.. hamesha… tumse”
just now as i went back to the 3rd april episode to pick up the words that somehow have gotten intertwined with love and are stored in my memory as part of it, i could feel my heart beat change rhythm, moisture back of my eyes, and a terrible yearning. even when i knew the heer ranjha story was plucked out of nowhere and plonked in the middle of a track going nowhere, possibly a desperate bid for numbers, with an unrealistic set up by sweet nani, even then it felt wonderful, i was absorbed, i believed there was that place somewhere where lovers meet never ever to be parted. two young actors in silly costumes plumbing their roles to find how far it can go can sometimes do things that great literature can’t.
hamesha. a promise, a belief, an aspiration, an ordinary word that found new meaning in iss pyaar ko. there were others: faraq padta hai kyonki…, sach, jhoot, vishwaas, main tumhare bina jee nahin paaoonga, what the, tum theek ho, hai re nand kissore. “heer, utho heer, heer ekbaar aankhe khol kar dekho… heer, main tumhare bina jee nahin sakta… tumhare bina ranjha kuch nahin hai… heer, main tumhe chorkar chala gaya, apne man ko behla raha tha, ki mujhe koi faraq nahin padta… par tum toh jaanti ho ki main tumhare bina jee nahin sakta… jab jo kiya, jab jo kaha sab bhool jaao… bas wapas aa jaao aaj kisi aur cheez ka koi matlab nahin… kisi jhoot ka… kisi sach ka… bas ek cheez ka matlab hai, agar tum nahin, toh main nahin.”
i wish i could keep all the dialogues somewhere safe, read them again later, without sound or picture, just play them out in my mind. and watch barun sobti become asr, sanaya irani smiling khushi, naniji, mamiji, buaji, happy ji, hp before and after being shouted at by asr, shyamu’s twitch, di’s diaphanous saree, and that 2 by 5 swimming pool, the most romantic place on earth. the story began to slip one day sadly, but never once the dialogues. well almost never. of course, the last few episodes were not classic ipk, somewhat heavy even, but then nothing was as it should have been then, therefore not complaining.
in my early days in the forum, when barun was about to go for his shoot, i’d actually written on fairy liquid soap’s post – her posts used to be cogent and invite discussion – that story was what kept me here, of course the actors were wonderful but if barun had to go he had to go, someone just might be able to replace him. i was obviously trying to be calm cool together, and in the bargain completely missing the truth.
thankfully, barun and sanaya made sure that i gave up on that foolishness soon. neither was replaceable. and in the midst of the hurricane that blew plans and egos asunder, maybe what sanaya didn’t realize is that there would be just as huge an uproar if talk of someone else as khushi came up. or worse still, khushi’s death was shot and all set to roll out.
“khushi, mujhe explain karna zaroori nahin samjha?”
he’d asked her on a terrifying day on a bridge. wanting to hear that what he feared was not true. she’d tried to explain but it was not going to work. “chap gaya hai mere dimag mein… mit nahin sakta.” she’d countered, there’s no point, you saw what you wanted to see, heard what you wanted to hear. as i look at the goings on all around, the irony of it. but no matter, in the end, all that will remain is a piece of work that is art. and all who made it happen will only be happy it’s theirs and remember just the good things. the love. just like asr.
but there’s nothing like asr. there’s never been. it all started with him being the mills and boon hero, but arnav singh raizada ended up being so much more. a depth to the character that both the script and the actor revealed slowly. the latter i still believe had no idea where all he would go with this role, he just kept going, and the layers kept opening. oh what i’d sensed, that call of lost places and ravines, it was indeed there. arnav, the ocean, asked me to trust and fall in. I did.
“khushi!… (kyon dard hai tere ishq mein… rabba ve)
khushi sun sakti ho mujhe? can you hear me?”
“tum tare dekh rahi ho na?”
“aapke aur hamare amma babuji ko dekh rahe hain.”
“hamare parents ko… tumhe pata hai agar yeh baat mujhe kissi ne ek saal pehle kahi hoti toh main uss pe vishwaas nahin karta lekin aaj?…
ab mujhe lagta hai ki yeh baat sach hai.”
“humne aap se tab bhi kaha than na…
baat sach ya jhoot ki nahin hai, baat vishwaas ki hai…
ek atoot vishwaas.”
“tumne mujhe iss vishwaas pe vishwaas dilwaya.
kya kar diya khushi tumne mere saath?
itni koshish ki maine itni zyada koshish ki,
ki tumse nafrat kar sakoon par main tumse nafrat kar hi nahin paya
mera khud ka dil meri baat hi nahin manta.”
“aur hamne kitni koshish ki aap se pyaar na karne ke liye…
lekin hamare dil ne bhi hamari baat nahin maani.”
“you know, khushi, main main jab bhi tumhare paas hota hoon
hamesha tum se door jaane ki jaldi mein rehta hoon
lekin jaise hi tumse door jaata hoon
hamesha tumhare paas aane ka khayal rahta hai.
I don’t need anything else,
khushi, I don’t need anything.”
a telepathic conversation on 19 june 2012, a day when I so wish to break the barriers of 3d reality myself. to me, these words of arnav’s parallel yet intersect (math ka koi matlab nahin) khushi’s “shayad yeh nadani hum kar baithe” soliloquy. on that day, sanaya’s voice, always magical, added an ethereal quality. and this evening in june, barun’s voice, its tears, its wonder, its struggle, its submission, i wish i could keep it all in my memory and return to it in moments of solitude. just to hear and know there is indeed an emotion that transcends all.
a crazy calculation: in 398 episodes, taking a conservative 20 min per episode, we have 132 hours and a bit more of work from the ipkknd cast and creatives, which at 3 hours per movie would be 44 movies and a little bit. in one and a half years of work. that is like nearly one movie every two weeks. gautam hegde had referred to this too.
i thank all of you for reading my ramble through memories and random thoughts and for being part of this fantastic travel into emotion, life, what matters. also all the swooning over a rather good looking boy and his prem kahani with madam jhalli.
i do wish the story hadn’t stumbled, and we’d returned to sheesh mahal to find how everything came from there, shyam’s mangled nature included. but i am grateful we did get to see the inert eyes catch fire and then turn bright and laughing. and a girl who jumped up and said “no” in the grip of her society ordained thinking, finally lean over him and kiss him as she said, “i trust you, i understand,” and let him make love to her before their “marriage.” i put the inverted commas because in my eyes they were already married in the best wedding sequence i’ve ever scene. oh and i know they didn’t get the time to say it in all the rush, but he did marry her for love. nothing else.
gratitude and respect to writers, directors, producers, music director, all creatives, crew, my dear nani who reminds me of mine, mamiji a bit like me in that weirdness, buaji, babuji, amma, daljeet, karan, sana khan, akshay, deepali, abhaas, entire cast.
sanaya, you remind me of the beautiful actresses of yore, a saira, a meena kumari, a nimmi, a nargis, and you have the crack comedy instinct of tina fey. i have just watched you with happiness. i do wish your role was not played with. but we always have the khushi with choti, pompom, mojri, and her cookiness, innocence, fieriness, dm chats and also the lover khushi of the indelible kidnap days.
barun sobti, what can i say. delhi boy with authentic contemporary delhi amrikan english accent, you redefine the male protagonist for my time, for me. after you were done with him, there was never any question of asr dying. in all the off screen fun and laughing it all off, i wonder if you realized what it is that you really created. you are a rare actor. like asr’s character, your talent keeps opening up layer by layer. what a joy to see this commitment and unbridled talent. on the last day, there’s only one scene where you shot with khushi. as she walked away and you turned your head looking at her, following her with your eyes, i thought, no one would believe this man is acting, he really isn’t in love with that girl who walked away.
there are too many moments, scenes, words i remember. always there was an element not of our dimension. a different light, a charge in the air, an emotion breaking out, touching and giving life to inanimate things. the poolside, asr’s room, his lounger, the suv, his waistcoat, her mojri, and that incredible dori. there was a spark everywhere.
“there was a time when meadow, grove, and stream to me did seem apparel’d in celestial light, the glory and the freshness of a dream.”
the opening lines of wordsworth’s ode on intimations of immortality stray into mind. as do so many songs, but sweeter than all songs right now, “ar…nav…ji, arrr…nav.” if nothing means a thing then what has any meaning? “that I love you dammit!”
i am smitten and this is not goodbye.