Friday, July 8, 2011


I am listening to the songs from Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey as I begin my 10-day bed-rest period. I can't imagine how I would pass the next 9 days. I am always restless and the thought of lying down at one place for most of the time for the next 10 days is painful. But the alternative is even more dreadful.

I have always liked the songs of KHJJS a lot more than the film. Probably because I don't have to watch Abhishek Bachchan while listening to the songs. I had quite liked the film when I saw it a few months back on Tata Sky. The film and the music remind me a lot of Kolkata and Bengal.

My earliest memory of Kolkata is of visiting my mother's parents - can't recall if it was Ballygunge or Tollygunge - but have very fond memories of those trips. I remember this cloudy day when someone who used to work at the house - I have a feeling his name was Narsingh, but not sure - took me for a trip on the metro, and also to the Nehru's Children's Museum. I could not have been more than 5-6 years old and I remember so much of that trip so clearly. I visited the Museum several years later and it was very underwhelming. I do not remember much from this later visit.

The next visit I remember was in December 1995. This was the first time that our four-member family took two rooms to stay while on a trip. We were staying at the company guest-house and the luxury of having my own room felt amazing. The trip was very memorable on the whole too. Kolkata is a lot more bearable in the winter.

The next visit, on the other hand, was not memorable at all. I was back in Kolkata in 1999, a couple of months before my first shot at JEE. I used to get stuff from Brilliant Tutorials by post, and they were having a crash course before the exam in some of the larger cities before the JEE, and my parents decided that it made sense for me to attend. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I was staying at this very sad Maharashtrian guest-house with my father, where the food was bad, I had to walk for over 4 km to get to the class, and once at the class, I hardly understood anything being taught there. My preparation for my first attempt was really bad and I was made aware of that very starkly in the 2-3 weeks I managed to stay there. On one of my frequent phone calls with my mother, I just broke down and said that I could not do it, that JEE was not meant for me. I was called back. Never felt more like a failed person in my life. Or since then. Of course, I went to Kota, gave up living for almost a year and cracked JEE the next year. But that period in Kolkata still gives me nightmares.

The next visit and two subsequent visits after that to the city have been to Joka. A place I love in a way it is not possible to describe. Kolkata is as much a part of me as Delhi is. And I miss it badly as I listen to these songs from KHJJS. And the film's not even based in present day West Bengal.

I miss Joka like hell. And the feeling that this feeling will be there for ever kills me. It's like a person close to you going away and you knowing that he won't come back ever.


Update: Just saw the trailer of Chittagong, starring Manoj Bajpayi, Raj Kumar Yadav, Nawazuddin Siddiqui (the man with the best performance in Peepli Live) and Barry John. The trailer seems to suggest that it's a much better made film than KHJJS. I hope it gets a proper release and does well too.


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