June 30, 2022

#CauseAChatter: 'Cobalt Blue' - a movie on gender identity and some afterthoughts.

The month of June is commemorated as Pride Month, a month that is celebrated world wide, with LGBTQ+ friendly cities sporting rainbow parades and gay marches to ahow their solidarity towards an inclusive environment. 

On a similar sentiment, I got about watching  ‘Cobalt Blue’ on Netflix. Having read the novel a while ago, the onscreen adaptation had piqued my curiosity. 

For the uninitiated, ‘Cobalt blue’ is a movie adapted from the eponymous novel written by Sachin Kundalkar.

The movie is directed by the author himself, and was released on Netflix only in April this year. 

Starring Neelay Mehendale, Prateik Babbar, Anjali Sivaraman, Cobalt blue is a Bildungsroman story about Tanay and his tomboy sister Anuja, falling in love with the same man, their paying guest.

From the very outset, the film deals with the topics of gender identity, infatuation and heart break, ealt with in an utterly sensitive and poignant fashion.

There are instances when the chemistry between Tanay and his love interest remind you of ‘Call me by your name’, another famous book-to-film adaptation on the same topic.  

Interspersed with heart-tugging poetry penned by Tanay, the film offers a window into the minds of the LGBTQ+ community, that often goes ignored in a society like ours.

Prateik has played the role of a philandering artist to the T. Being a vagabond of sorts,  betrayal seems expected. However, the film is more about the aftermath, the response, rather than the heart break. 

Both siblings are fighting an internal battle of their own. However, Tanay’s struggle seems more painful, his grief more intense, since he, unlike Anuja, does not have the same privilege of expressing his feelings, even when in love. 

And that got me pondering on the hypocrisy of the society we live in, how it deems anyone who isn’t like the majority as a deviant. How it is inconsiderate towards the LGBTQ community, treating them as outcasts.

We often mistake  gender to be binary, often ignoring or overlooking those who are gender fluid or gender nonconforming, not realizing what turmoil we may be causing them. All this for no fault of theirs. They who are created by the same God, they who are as much a part of society as us. 

Cis and trans are two sides of the same coin, called human. Then why the bias! 

Honestly speaking, no matter how unbiased I claim to be, some scenes of the movie made me uncomfortable.  When Tanay and exchanged tender kisses, oil massages, and warm hugs,  which made me ask myself if I would be squirming as much if it was a man and woman playing a love scene on screen. Then why was I uncomfortable watching two consenting adult men do the same? 

When I got that mind block out of the way, I could watch the movie for what it was…a love story. 

As compared to the West, India still has a long way to go when it comes to inclusiveness. This bitter fact is brought out beautifully in the scene where a senior professor (played by Rajkumar Rao) breaks down and confesses that being gay feels criminal in this country. 

Truth be told, we may have managed to scrap off section 377 from the IPC, but we still need to scrap it off from our minds. Only then we will be able to hope for an inclusive environment. 

Talking on gender identity should be encouraged and not be treated as taboo.  Public and private establishments, cafes, restaurants, transport, etc should be as welcoming to trans folks as they are to cis individuals.  

“Tum hi batao, tay  kar lo, tum raasta  ho  ya  ho manzil...” 

These lines reflect the trepidation, the insecurity, the inhibition, not just when it comes to love but also about loving in a society that does not make one feel safe and welcome. 

The definition of love changes as the protagonists mature with age and experience, from ‘love is a habit’ to ‘love makes you stronger’. 

The fact that the professor’s advances are declined by Tanay is evident of the fact that gay love is no different from hetero-love and that one cannot share the same chemistry with everyone. 

Another poignant moment in the film that stayed with Mr long after it had passed was when Anuja asks her friend how long a relationship should survive for the world to consider it a ‘good’ relationship’. 

The delicate way in which the two siblings handle the heart break, the maturity that Tanay shows despite loving unconditionally, and the growing up that happens in the process, all send across a clear message...we may not always understand people and their choices, but that does not mean we cannot respect them. 

If a movie can show so much maturity, why can’t we? 


This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.

June 29, 2022

#CauseAChatter: 'Slamming patriarchy' - a poem on women empowerment

I was seven the first time I asked my family astrologer 

to read my palm, and my grandma laughed a tired laugh 

‘Run along,’ she said, ‘go play with your dolls‘

But it was the stars that had intrigued me

And I wondered what lay for me in store

So when I was fifteen, I asked once more

Only to be dismissed by Grandma 

My future, she said, did not lie in the stars

It lay in the curve of my breasts

The sway of my hips

The kohl in my eyes

The colour on my lips

And I wondered if only the men in the house

had lines on their palms

Lines that could be read

Charts that could be spread

In accordance with the sun, and the moon

and the planets, and the stars

And I wondered what lay for me in store

Was it wrong to wish for something more?

To wish a world where I could rule

To prove that I was nobody's fool

But Grandma laughed a tired laugh

Women, she said, had no right to dream

No matter how smarter than men they'd seem

They have no choice but to tame it down

Like the dolls whom we married to stuffed toy clowns 

In the play-pretend weddings we would organize

Never realizing or stopping to think twice

How close to life we played

But days and weeks and months passed by

And resolutes just got stronger

So the next time the family astrologer came visiting

I did not put forward my palm to be read

But instead displayed the medals I had won

The trophies I had bagged

Academics and sports, elocution and debates

There wasn't a single field I lagged

Proudly sauntering my way ahead

I'd carved fate lines for myself 

This time Grandma smiled, her eyes were gleaming 

She'd said girls shouldn't dream, but there I was, dreaming

She held my hands in hers now and softly cried

And I was only too happy that I had tried 

To break the stereotype that society had set

for girls, women, dreamers like me

Who had once wished for their palms to be read

And were now hoping for minds to be free

Of prejudiced ideas, and gender inequality

That had been plaguing the world for an eternity

It took time for her to understand 

But then Grandma took matters in her hand

and showed that astrologer the door

And that day what I realized, I say to you once more;

The stars can burn all they want

but they cannot stop you from trying

The planets, the sun, the moon aligned 

cannot dictate what you can do

The lines on your palm do not chart the course of your life

So draw your own lines instead and don’t allow them to limit you 

From trying, even when someone says 

you can’t, reach out for your dream 

For no matter how distant it may seem

There is thunder in your wings, darling

You are meant to kiss the sky


This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.

For more of my poetry, you can check out my solo anthologies of poems here and here

June 26, 2022

#CauseaChatter: Learn to say 'No'

In life we are often faced with situations when yes seems to be the only answer. Sometimes it feels like we have no other choice than to say yes to something or someone. Either out of choice or out of circumstance we are forced to say yes despite our will. 

Maybe we are left to believe that saying no will hurt the other person involved or will make seem rude or petulant, harm our image in the eyes of others, and that is  something that we do not want.

Times like these, we need to remind ourselves that it is not wrong to prioritize oneself , that self-preservation is of utmost importance, and that in order to help others, we must first become capable of helping our own self.

And for that we need to learn one very important thing; when to say ‘No’.

Just like ‘Yes’, the word ‘No’ also has a deeper  psychological impact on our psyche. Saying 'No' can be responsible for some of the best (when uttered sensibly and  judiciously) and worst (when left unsaid out of compulsion/obligation) decisions. 

Challenges of saying No :

For most of us, saying ‘No’ isn’t easy. There are may be different reasons binding us down, reasons that are best known only to the self. I won't attempt getting into specifics as each person is different and so is their psyche. 

But broadly speaking,  here is a list of reasons why we generally find saying ‘No’ difficult and how to overcome them. 

1) As children, being  considerate towards others is often so ingrained into us that  keeping ourselves first feels like a selfish thing to do. The fear of being deemed rude or impolite often stops us from saying what we feel. There is no denying that being   compassionate is a good thing, but there also needs to be a  healthy balance between our own needs and those of others. 

2) In today’s fast paced life, it is quite  common to experience FOMO, because if which we often tend to  bite more than we can chew, take up more commitments than we can handle. Until one day, it takes a toll on our physical and mental health. Experiencing burn out, physical exhaustion, frustration, and mood swings then becomes a common occurrence. Knowing when to say ‘no’ is an important social skill we all need to practice. We need to realize that we cannot do everything in a day. Instead of FOMO, we must learn to embrace JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out), learn to stop and smell the flowers. Only then we will be able to  appreciate the journey. 

3) Saying No is a way to preserve our self-respect and self-worth. Would you rather be acknowledged as someone who leaves everything half finished than someone who takes up a only  few things but  reaches them to fruition? Think about it. 

Having said that, saying no is never going to be easy. However, a little tact and social courtesy can go a long way.

A few things one ought to remember while saying ‘No’: 

1) Your intention should be understood. 

Providing a little context always helps cushion the hurt. But you do not need to justify your decision, especially if you feel someone is taking advantage of you.

2) Over explaining may lead to lengthy pointless  conversations which you are better off avoiding. So provide just enough context for the person not to feel offended. And keep in mind that not everyone can handle a rejection well (no matter how nicely you frame it), and it’s okay. 

3) Consider all possibilities before arriving at a decision. Take your time to think things through. 

4) Be assertive while expressing your decision. Stick to your priorities and do so with confidence. If you yourself are wishy-washy about what you want, you can well be  taken for a ride.  

5) Being considerate is important. But so is being straightforward . Be direct in your approach.

6) Be respectful but do not bend. Set your own limits and do not allow anyone to cross them.

How to know when to say ‘No’:

Saying no is usually instinctual. One should listen to their conscience…that tiny inner voice which keeps us in check. If things ‘feel’ wrong they probably are.

However, there is need to politely decline an offer even when it feels right..eg: when you are swamped with pending work and are offered another lucrative project.

In such cases, it is best to complete the task at hand before taking on another task. 

But how do we know when to stop?

One effective method is this:

Work out your availability time , if the time you have available in a day. Then, half it. Now, prepare that with what you ‘need’ to get done. 

If you still have time left after this, you can consider taking up another task. 

The rule of thumb to maintain a healthy balance is to start small. And leave sufficient time to rest. 

Because as the popular saying goes; “All work and no play…”

Despite implementing all these measures, you still experience a  serious problem saying no, there is no shame in doing a practice run with a friend or a therapist. Saying ‘no’ is often underrated. But one should never forget that the right choice is the one that works best in your interest. You cannot please everyone, not at the cost of feeling resentful or stressed out. If you ever have to choose between your peace of mind and anything else in the world, you know what to do; choose the former. 

I wish you well, with my favorite  words of the serenity prayer.


This post is part of Blogchatter’s CauseAChatter.