The high that is Udta Punjab

“Saare Gabru toh sooiyan lagake tight hai madam, Ab Ladies ko hi kuch karna padega na.”

-Diljit Dosanjh in Udta Punjab


Disclaimer 1: This post is rated ‘MS’ for mild spoilers.
 Disclaimer 2: Keeping in the mind the guidelines from honorable Pankaj Nihalani 
and CBFC, the writer has kept the usage of the word ‘Punjab’ in the below post to 
a minimum (one).

Years after the first green revolution, one Indian state is going through a revolution of another kind. This time, the revolution is represented best not by green but white; cocaine and heroin leading the way. ‘Udta…’ takes you into the innards of a state’s drug crisis, and does so through the journeys of four characters. The unifying elements of the four disparate lives being, you guessed it, drugs.


Drugs Di Maa Di!

Enter Tommy Singh, Asia’s latest pop sensation and an icon the state’s youth looks up to. He is all set to drop his next hit, ‘Cock Coke’; you heard it right. Snorting the good stuff and living the good life, Tommy has it all. That is, until the fallout from a failed music deal and a subsequent car chase on the streets of green state send his life into a spiral.

While Tommy has been letting his words and sermons flow, we see some proactive police officers ensuring that their pockets don’t go dry. But when a corrupt cop’s brother falls prey to the dreaded needle, his conscience and inner Sikh wakes up. Of course, a motivational speech from the beautiful doctor who takes charge of his brother’s rehabilitation helps.  Together, they set out to take on the drug cartel and while doing so, develop a romantic storyline, the old-school Bollywood way.

However, the most stellar performance, with Tommy being a close second, is that of the actress playing a nameless Bihari labourer/ex-hockey player. She’s someone who has neither been party to the side promoting drug abuse (read Tommy) or those trying to fight it (read Cop and Doc). Instead, she represents the majority who were caught in the crossfire while strolling on the side-lines. Despite having suffered the most amongst all the characters, she won’t give up on her dream to holiday in Goa. The conviction is there to see when she rebukes one failed pop sensation for asking her to commit suicide with him. The exchange between her and Tommy is thought-provoking, funny and arguably, the best scene of the movie.

Udta Punjab represents the best of what mainstream Bollywood has to offer. It is hard-hitting without being overwhelming. It will leave you with a sense of introspection but provides plenty of light-hearted moments as well. It takes you deep into the darkness of a state plagued by corruption and provides a glimpse of the worst it has to offer. Yet, it offers you a glimmer of hope as well. That’s all it can afford to offer when dealing with a subject as dark as this. At times though, a glimmer is all we need to find our way.


Engineering Myths

Background: I had written this article at the beginning of my second year as an undergraduate. For better or worse, I have tried to stay true to most of the advice given below till this day. After all, as the great Dominic Toretto had once famously said, “A man must have a code.”

Myth no.1:

Engineering colleges suck every ounce of your soul out you for good!

Simply put, that is ridiculous. In fact this point is without a doubt, especially for first year, utterly bogus. First year more than anything else provides you with an extremely valuable welcome gift, TIME. And that it provides you with, in abundance.

See that you don’t while away this period of time sitting in your room watching shows and movies or reading the out-dated course books only.  Explore what it out there and spend time with friends doing stuff rather than gossiping, and you should be just fine.


Myth no.2:

Over-night studies are the hallmark of an engineering student.

All-nighters are entirely over-rated. Just because all the guys around you are nocturnal doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. If you are a nocturnal yourself well and good, but if you prefer the early morning sun make sure no-one makes you stay awake for no reason what so ever.

Adjust your time-table in a way which suits your needs; preferably in a manner such that you get to do the more important stuff at a time when you are at your most productive and creative(you ought to know the time by now!). If some-one finds your practices queer, let it be. They will get used to them eventually.


Myth no.3:


This honestly is a tricky one.  Even among veterans having already been in this institution for one, two or even three years opinions wildly differ as far as this sensitive issue of CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average!) goes. They range from it being considered the most sacred number of them all (much more than pi or the golden ratio even) to being totally discarded.

In spite of what all you might hear, the truth is it does matter. Well, not so much so that you can build a career using it as a base, surely not! But it is considered by many as a decent indicator of how hard-working you are. So much so that many prestigious management companies give it a lot of weightage because they believe that it indicates that a student has spent a lot of time doing stuff he doesn’t really like and those companies need people exactly like that! And well most of the foreign universities also consider it during their admission processes, among a lot of other things.

So my advice, strive to maintain a decent CGPA but don’t let these numbers become the focal point of your college-life. They are surely not worth that, but they aren’t worthless either.


Myth no.4:

Participation certificates from college-fests are going to help you in your placements, and that is precisely the reason why you should work in them.

In all probability, the only thing which those participation certificates will significantly contribute to as far as your placement goes will be your folder’s weight. Yes, you heard it right. The truth is most of the times the interviewers won’t even care to open your folder; they will be much more interested in the person who will be sitting in front of them. And that is precisely the reason why you should work in those fests, to help yourself develop as a person.

Don’t strive to collect certificates or become a co-coordinator in future so that you can have a name for yourself. Use the atmosphere these fests provide you with to watch and learn as much as possible. Interact with your seniors, take part in workshops, competitions and don’t be disheartened if you see something you don’t like. Concentrate on doing something for the college and getting the best return possible for you as an individual.

And yes, have a good time!


Myth no.5:

You don’t want to waste your time doing programming/coding/web-development if you are not a CSE student.

You might get to hear a lot of this during the course of your first year, sometimes even from professors. And that is just unfortunate to say the least.

The syllabus doesn’t expose a first year student to much of mathematics or basic programming, and in turn most of them don’t even try having a go at coding or webdev. Even if one tries to, those surrounding him might try and discourage him due their lack of knowledge about the current scenario or sometimes outright ignorance.

In the current IT dominated scene, having some basic coding skills under your belt will benefit you only if nothing else. It is also a highly transferrable skill which will help you in a bunch of professions- analytics, finance etc. Not only that- autodidactism or self-learning is probably the most important skill you can have throughout your career- applied to everything, not just CS. So learning on your own is a great thing, especially if you can do it without having your grades suffer in college.

Myth no.6:

You are stuck with your branch and now there is no going back.

Life is too short to stick with something which you don’t feel excited about. Find your passion; plan a switch even if it complicates things.

But be very sure that you do it because you know it is your passion and not just a passing phase. People often confuse between interests and passion. But for that you need to give it a shot first and that requires patience and will-power. Give things some time, have patience and time will let you know the difference.


Myth no.7:

Getting into this college was the hard part; time to party!!

Well the above statement is not entirely a myth; at least not the second part. By all means you will experience some of the very best moments of your life inside this very institution’s gates. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be working hard. In fact, if you end up doing things right you will have worked your hardest than ever before and enjoyed like hell by the time your college-life gets over.




NIT Surat: The place I called home for 4 enlightening years.


Anime Alchemy

I recently started with an anime which had been on my to-watch list for quite some time. In fact, I remember getting acquainted with the name Fullmetal Alchemist back from the days when I had first got introduced to the world of anime through the TV channel, Animax. Anime hadn’t quite captured my interest back then. As a result, Dragon Ball Z remained the sole anime I would tune into for a long time. However, over the last three years I have had the pleasure of watching some great animes (read Steins;Gate, Death Note et al). So, I finally decided to give Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood a shot after all these years. I couldn’t have been gladder that I did.


Great plot, fascinating characters

The show revolves around the art of Alchemy, as made obvious by the title. Going by the show’s definition, it is the art of comprehending, deconstructing and reconstructing matter.

The key aspect of the art (or science) of Alchemy is the Law of Equivalent Exchange. It states that in order to obtain or create something, something of equal value must be lost or destroyed.

Quite subtle really; often ascertaining values can be tricky. This is something the protagonists, the prodigious Elric brothers, find out the hard way when they commit taboo by trying to resurrect their dead mother. From there on, they start their journey for redemption. Quite the journey it has been so far!

Edward, the elder brother, enlists in the military as a state alchemist; a glorified human weapon. A number of fascinating characters enter their lives and a good number of them leave as well. I am 15 episodes in with 49 more to go. But the show’s already vying for a spot among my all-time favorites with a thought-provoking plot and well-crafted characters. Themes of redemption, revenge, power and relationships are explored. The search for the legendary philosopher’s stone is a classic case of humans (and other beings as well in this case) trying to become something greater than mere mortals through forbidden means. The stone is said to allow the wielder to bypass the necessity to abide by the Law of Equivalent Exchange you see.

It’s a fascinating show to say the least. Hopefully, it will get better as it progresses and some days down the line another post would review the complete show.

The kingdom fell

And then there was light.
His eyes could finally see clearly now that the sun was up. But it was all a blur still. Troubling questions ravaged his innocent mind to no end.

He couldn’t understand as to why the rulers, who had been nothing but benevolent to them before, would have them face their wrath. They had come in the dark of the night and started the rampage. No questions had been asked. His father had tried to protect them but had been subdued and killed in a matter of moments. The all-mighty rulers were too powerful for the likes of him. His mother had put up a fight to save him and his siblings nevertheless. But both his sisters had become the victims of the rulers’ wrath. The suddenness of it all hadn’t allowed him to even start grieving his dead family. All he remembered was the voice of his mother’s cry amidst the chaos, “Run!”
And that he had done.

He couldn’t remember how long it had been since he had begun his run. All that occupied his mind were the agonized and terrified faces of his family members. Tears continued to stream down as he remembered the last words of his most beloved one. His mother’s fate had been sealed the moment she decided to take on the rulers. She had known that too. But survival instincts dwarf when faced with the overpowering emotions of maternal love.

He knew what to do. Mother’s sacrifice won’t go to waste. Revenge will be his. He will train, become strong, and strike back. The rulers will face his wrath.

Absorbed by his thoughts, he didn’t realize that the wilderness had been left behind. The sound of a gunshot followed by a sharp, stinging pain in the abdomen broke his train of thoughts. They had found him.

He could feel his body getting numb. Darkness had begun to creep in. One of the rulers was closing in. He held the sharp, shiny tool in his hand which had been the end of his father. But as he was about to give in to the darkness, a familiar sound shook him up. “Leave my son alone!” His mother pounced from out of nowhere. The ruler was startled as he fell to the ground. Mother was about to land the final blow when another gunshot was fired.

“No…” was all he could manage as she fell to the ground. He unsuccessfully tried to get up. But all he could do was watch his mother tremble in pain as the ruler slit her throat. Tears blurred his vision before the darkness took over. “Where is the justice?” was all Simba could utter.

“Why was that little cub roaring so wildly? Can’t the fucker die in peace?”
“Must be hungry. Bet all the dumb kittens could think about while dying was food.”

And then there was darkness.


The loop

A Student's Diary

He couldn’t help this feeling of deja vu he had been having of late.
“Bah, it’s like I am stuck in an endless loop of misery.”

Sameer took in another puff of the cigarette, and wondered how his life would have turned out had he not been an impulsive fool.

“You came here for what?” his friends had cried in shock.
“To see her. It’s been too long. What’s with the surprised look? I might even get my own timeless love story today, you just watch.”

What his friends did get to see was him getting drunk and making a fool out of himself on the streets of the night-loving city. Turned out the love of his life had moved on, and how. She and her beau were all over each other half an hour into their long-awaited meet. All he could do was watch in silence and hold back his…

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The loop

He couldn’t help this feeling of deja vu he had been having of late.
“Bah, it’s like I am stuck in an endless loop of misery.”

Sameer took in another puff of the cigarette, and wondered how his life would have turned out had he not been an impulsive fool.

“You came here for what?” his friends had cried in shock.
“To see her. It’s been too long. What’s with the surprised look? I might even get my own timeless love story today, you just watch.”

What his friends did get to see was him getting drunk and making a fool out of himself on the streets of the night-loving city. Turned out the love of his life had moved on, and how. She and her beau were all over each other half an hour into their long-awaited meet. All he could do was watch in silence and hold back his emotions as all the others watched his ordeal helplessly.

“Some reunion that turned out to be.” He whispered to himself, as he watched the smoke get dispersed in a jiffy by the wind coming in from the train door. He remembered how he had always been afraid of standing at the coveted spot by the train door as a child. That brought a faint smile to his sullen face.

The sound of the cabin door opening broke his line of thoughts. It was the beautiful girl he had caught a glimpse of while boarding the train. He had seen her before, he was sure of it but couldn’t place where he had come across her.

“Is Nagpur the next station? Are we there already?” she asked him. Her voice was perfect.
“Oh yes, but I am afraid it’s still going to take at least 10 more minutes”, he managed to answer.
That didn’t seem to cheer her up much. “Oh, guess I will wait here itself till then.”

They stood there in silence for 5 minutes which was broken by the sound of a faint cough. The chivalrous gentleman in him took over that very instant as he tossed the half-burnt cigarette through the door. He thought to himself, “Waste of a cigarette still good to go but I am sure this gentlemanly act will get noticed.”

As he was about to strike up a conversation using an eternally convenient line, her phone rang. Turns out her boyfriend was waiting for her at the next station.

“There we go. Endless loop indeed.” He whispered but could have as well said it aloud for moments ago, he had tossed out the only companion who had been through it all with him.

He felt a sudden pang of pain in his abdomen area, and winced. The girl was startled by the abrupt occurrence. She inquired if he felt alright. He shrugged it off. “Oh yeah, nothing. Seems like we are about to reach the station.” He pointed out that the train was slowing down.

The girl looked out and turned back in surprise. “Wait, this is the middle of nowhere. Why did the train stop?”

Their conversation was broken off by the sounds coming in from the cabin. As they were about to peer through the cabin door, it opened and a bearded guy appeared.

“Somebody stop the thief,” a passenger shouted.

The thief was in no mood to stop. He turned towards the door in front of which Sameer was standing and made a dash for it. Sameer managed to get hold of his arm from behind. Without wasting a moment, the thief quickly turned about. Sameer didn’t know what hit him as the thief managed to stab him in the abdomen. The thief jumped through the door and ran.

“Someone help!” cried the girl as Sameer sat down on his knees.

Things had started to get blurry as the beautiful girl’s cries seemed to get more and more distant. He looked at the blood that was gushing out from the wound not able to get his head around what had just transpired.
It all started to come back to him; why it had all looked so familiar. “Not again,” he thought to himself as darkness creeped in amidst the distant commotion and cries.

Sameer slowly opened his eyes as the smoke slowly left his lips and wind rustled his hair. He had been standing by the train door for almost an hour now thinking about the impulsive trip he had taken the other day.

He couldn’t help this feeling of deja vu he had been having of late.
“Bah, it’s like I am stuck in an endless loop of misery.”


In the dark

“Say that again. I don’t believe it.” He was sure that the guy sitting in front of him was joking.

“What’s there not to believe? I am afraid of the dark, been so since I was a kid. That is one of the more common things people fear, isn’t it?”, asked the slightly amused voice.

“A blind man who is afraid of the dark. How are you even alive?”

The fellow passenger got up with a wry smile on his face, ready to get off the train at his destination.
“I am not.”