Ugly — the obvious choices

A sartorial review of the Ugly.

While complicated the plot may be, the costumes of Ugly are simplistic and stereotypical. Shalini (Tejaswini Kolhapure) uses a red dress for seduction. Rakhi (Surveen Chawla) on the prowl wears a leopard print top. Rahul Varshney/ Kapoor (Rahul Bhat), the struggler, pins his hopes on a Salman Khan-esq turquoise bracelet. Little girl Kali (Anshika Shrivastava) wears all pink to go out with her father.

The costumes pose questions that the script cannot answer. We know Shalini does not have financial independence and Kali is a neglected child. Then who gives Kali clothes, dolls, a pink purse and accessories for her iPhone? We know the iPhone came from mama Sidhant (Sidhant Kapoor) but the script does not hint towards a special bond between them. And while many girls may prefer pink (the younger Kali also wears a dusty shade of the colour), they just as easily wear green, brown, purple and yellow. Often together.

Similarly, Shalini is neglected, isolated and imprisoned. As Mrs Varshney, she still felt attractive. There was a home-chopped fringe, jeans and shirt on her; and a red dress and lipstick in the closet. But as Mrs Bose, she’s in a maxi or drab block-printed salwar kameezes. Then why is she depilating and bleaching her upper lip while talking to Rakhee on the phone? We assume that she is a victim of domestic violence, but there is no evidence through bruises or cuts. Her abuse is psychological and unless she is flirting with danger, again something there is no evidence of in the plot, she would not be motivated to de-hair herself. Hell, most of non-confined women aren’t.

In the same manner, Rakhee’s ennui is emphasised repeatedly by her multiple clothes changes through the day and experiments with blue and black lipstick. However, what are her true motivations? She doesn’t dress like an incognito celebrity, though she have a piece of fame. Is sex her only skill? Does she use it with Chaitanya Mishra (Vineet Singh) also? Does she influence Shalini? How does she feel about her Shalini?

Chaitanya, we know, also lives a hand-to-mouth existence. His copper and brass accessories come from vendors who sit outside train stations and beside bus stops. He has only two shirts — one of which he has worn in the movie poster in this office. This is the only glimpse we have of his attempt at forging a movie career. His bell-bottom pants and Western shirt with it’s Cowboy yolk say that sartorially he lives in the 70s, where most of small town India could reside. But it remains mum on his aspirations, roots and experience.

Similarly, Shoumik Bose (Ronit Roy) crisp, razor sharp uniform does not give away anything about the naive, romantic youth from college who bought over-sized Valentine Day cards. Does any inkling of him remained under the hard, resentful and violent cop? Does he have affection for Shalini?

In the background, her neat bun, striped shirt and nondescript trousers give away the only person who is working on the case. The cyber crime officer is a punctilious woman, ticking off all the boxes, double-checking all the evidence while wearing her ‘American’ diamond nose-pin. She is probably a first-bencher who has used knowledge and grit to rise up the ranks, and not adornment or sexuality.

The kindest thing to say would be that costume designer Nidhi Gambhir makes sure the clothes are dark and authentic. The realistic analysis is that they were the obvious choice.

Dusting the life-list

My bucket list is irritating me. I don’t like it. It’s all over the place and not very well thought out. I’m firing it. What I want in its place is something more precise, less elaborate and lesser things to strike off. There are so many smaller, less grandiose plans I have for a fulfilling life and I can’t let go of them.

1. Get a job that makes me travel
Most of the bullet points on my list are about going somewhere. However, I hate the planning; the evaluation that follows of which place is better, more suited for activity, more satisfying. As if I can know that without going there. Plus, I don’t get too many holidays and planning for them makes me so stressed that I’d rather stay at home and spy on Rio.
On the other hand, I get excited about going anywhere — even to Satara or Pune. I am not partial to modes of transport, or comfort elves. So Universe, land me a job that send me everywhere. Make me complain about living out of suitcase.

2. Ride a 360 degree roller coaster
I love amusement parks, and scary rides. 360 degree roller coasters have always amazed me, especially since I consider the laws of Physics a kind of magic.

3. Exercise every day
Fuck the weight loss and looking pretty. TB’s genes will ensure that he outlives me by at least two decades and I want to be around as long as possible to make sure he doesn’t have much fun. My vices are slowly leaving me, without much effort on my part, but I need to be healthier. So I must take the stairs, walk when I can, eat better and sleep right.

4. Dance to Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Like full scale throw-me-over-the-shoulder-to-that-other-guy kind of synchronized dancing. I love dancing, right? But I never do it unless I pay for a class and turn it into serious business.

5. Visit every state in India
So far, I have been to: Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Sikkim, Bengal, Goa, Pudducherry and so briefly to Kerala that it doesn’t count.

6. Be self employed.
To see more sunlight. To do more things. To make time my own.

7. Be financially secure.
Who do you think is going to fund the adventures, you stupid bitch?

8. Work in another city
While I love Mumbai, I think it’s a bit myopic way of functioning having lived in only one city in India.

I’m keeping it short for now. If I have to remind myself to commune with animals or take a stupid risk, I am not the person I think I am. For now, I need to strike these things off.

2. Do a dog training course
10. Taste fresh blueberries
11. Taste fresh raspberries
12. Taste avacado

20. Be a good mentor
31. A roadtrip with doggie and TB
42. Para-sail over a valley
44. Give a dance recital on stage as an adult
47. Meet Devdutt Pattnaik (mythologist) for coffee
54. Be rid of financial insecurity
56. Live on a kibbutz

Closet sweep: Day 10

I am feeling a little optimistic today and a lot more tolerant of thoughts of the ‘what should I wear today’ variety.


Top: A pale silk tank with knot-back. It had this strange pouch in the front, that I undid so now it cowls rather nicely. I used to have a rose pink jersey tank which I wore every day till it divorced me because I was too needy. This silk tank fills that gap elegantly for just Rs 200. Whore.


Jacket: The tank is not work safe because of the low back and neck. So I threw on this vintage Christian Dior blazer. I’m thinking of replacing the buttons with flat gold ones to give it a more military air.

Jeans: Gap skinnies from H2O.

Accessories: These glasses. I have three pairs of glasses not because I am vain, but because I need one to find the other. I am really blind. These are my most expensive pair and after I saved up and bought them, my husband pointed out they are Hugo Boss. SO THAT’S WHY THEY COST SO MUCH! I am short-sighted so can’t read things that are close by when I have my glasses on. Also, the Titan seduction watch.


Shoes: Reliable Mary Janes by Mancini from Tel Aviv bought in 2007. Broad toe, flat, slip-off-able, cushioned.


Tushar’s opinion: You look like a strange school-teacher. Like a yedi Julia Roberts from Mona Lisa Smile. You want to overthrow patriarchy and free these girls from the shackles of hegemony. But you are silly.


Jaison: You look homeless.

Me: Homeless teacher?

Jaison: Ya! I was just going to say teacher.

Me: Like Julia Roberts if Mona Lisa Smile bombed?

Jaison: Wouldn’t you be a prostitute then?

Me: That’s if Pretty Woman bombed.

Jaison: You caught her in the right moment of her career then.

I think this is a good look.

Phrases I am going to throw around more often

L’ at
Like that.
A usage mostly among Catliks.

One fine Bandra evening, Alan is nursing a feni.
He is listening to “The Best of Lionel Ritchie”.

Ryan passes by.

Ryan: What you doin’, men?

Alan: L’at only.

A person who has unbelievable expertise with certain things.
A: Dude, I’m getting a lot of errors during run time in this program.
B: Go to Santosh man, He is a Bond when it comes to correcting logical errors in Java.
A: Lo macha, networks 2 nalli yenu gottila.
B: Santosh hattra hogo, avnu aa subjectnalli bond. Yen bekadru helkodthane.

I have been told that in certain circles (read: Danda, Khar), Bond also refers to one’s father. I like that usage better.

Ineffectual bumbling fellow that displays a combination of slothfulness and sketchiness while also being unrefined; used as a a term of endearment
Ryan is a total porki! Look at him with his hands in his pants doing nothing useful.

Of course, now there is kolaveri, giving name to the undescribable rage within.

Popularized by the song Why this Kolaveri Di

It means a murderous rage felt by a jilted or spurned lover but in everyday parlance refers to unnecessary anger. Also see KLPD to understand the full spectrum of male rejection in India.

Girl : I called you a few times last night, why didn’t you pick up?
Boy: Oh sorry, I was watching TV.
Girl : Dude, how dare you? What if it was something important? Don’t you have any sense of resonsibility?
Boy: Hey! Don’t over-react. Why this kolaveri?

Non-Bombay readers, move on

I went to the Malad’s Infinity 2 Mall two weeks ago, and it affirmed my belief that the universe is expanding to make room for Mumbai. One of the things I love about my job is that it doesn’t allow a goldfish existence. I get to see every forsaken corner of the city, sometimes in the same day. Even then, there are places I have never seen before.
Infinity 2 is now the mall to go to -— it has Zara, Mango, Forever New, Vero Moda, Promod, Cotton World, Aldo, Accessorize, Charles and Keith and FabIndia. In pre-Infinity terms, going to all of these stores would mean three different malls spread out between Colaba and Parel. I like wandering through these stores during sales and to be smug because I’m cheap like that. Malad is also home to MM’s malpuas (the best I have tasted) and that other malpua, *Josh.
Lacoste had invited me to salivate over their Autumn-Winter line. I associate polo tees with day-wear meant for the golf course or lounging around the sports club in. And my friend NJ who dresses only in sportswear. He recently bought a Jaguar and now I will rib him about he settled for Indian luxury car, that too one from Tata. “Does the boot catch fire,” I will ask him cleverly. But Naveen doesn’t hang out with us anymore. I don’t know why.

Coming back to Lacoste, there are few things that caught my eye. First, this styling detail of using two slim belts. I’d like to try that using two braided belts of different thickness. Also, they are bringing adorable pleated wool skirts back.


The librarian in me wants to wear this with rich merlot cabled tights, T-strap wedges or Mary Janes. AND NOTHING ELSE. Then I will sit in a velvet-curtained room reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and eating Galaxy. I love the Indian colours in their traditional silhouettes and this dress now sits in my closet.


A few other things that caught my eye:
The swimsuit for the modest but chic sunbather


Chappals for a beach holiday


And the Swallow print scarf. I really like this print and a scarf would be a nice way to own it and incorporate into an outfit after the trend has tired out.


This limited edition shirt with an assemblage of Ming Dynasty porcelain shards


And these wooden soled platforms that the stylist wore. Smooth platforms are all over the trendtown right now and I would get a pair if I didn’t fall down so often.


* I am guilty of keeping many vivacious dogs from you people. Josh is one of those puppies we’ve been pressing against the wound in our hearts. These are all excellent, excellent doggies. But they are no Boo.

Wardrobe essentials

Upon deep contemplation, I have decided that you need only two things in your closet: A red dress and a quality shoe.

When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

What Do Women Want? by Kim Addonizio

You’re gonna want to smile in them
If you’re gonna walk a mile in them
There’ll be times when you’ll be blue
To laugh at rainy days and then
Make your getaways in them
You’re gonna need a quality shoe

— Quality Shoe by Mark Knopfler
Given to me by merlin, who of course, is my quality shoe.

Official work

We’ve just discovered that we can have our personal philosophy printed on our official business cards. We’ve been discussing it.

Namrata Bhawnani (Film critic and travel editor): Paisa phek; tamasha dekh.

Vishwas Kulkarni (Art critic): Shame is like pain. You only feel it once.

Me: I will expose if the role demands.

Kevin Lobo (Night life and music correspondent): Mein randiyo se baat nahin karta.

Reema Gehi (Wet behind the ears. Theatre correspondent): I’m cool. I’m hot. I’m everything you’re not.

SM (Features editor, published writer): Ja, ma chuda.

Agar maa ka doodh piya hai toh…

You say you LOVE Amar Akbar Anthony. But do you really? KK and me challenge you to our A3 quiz.

1. Kothon pe taale kyu lag jayenge?
a. Ghar ki murgi makhanwala hone lagi to
b. Nadira ke pair kabar mein latkane lage to
c. Lakshmi jaisi ladkiyon ki shaadi hone lagi to

2. Tayyab Ali ke ghar mein bijli kyu kadki?
a. Akbar Illahabadi ne photoki jo khinchi
b. Anthony ke gusse ka shola jo bhadka
c. Rim jhim badal jo barsa

3. Anthony ko shaadi banane ke liye kaisa ladki mangta?
strong>a. Jo Zybysko ke saath package deal mein mil jaye
b. Jisko dekhke dil ki ghanti bajne lage
c. Jiska pura naam ho Sandra from Bandra

4. What does maaji get Akbar for good luck before his big qawwali performance?
a. Uncle Chips
b. Flowers
c. A see-through green tunic

5. What does Kishen Seth’s tatoo say?
a. Swiss Maid
b. Kishen Lal
c. Amar Prem

6. How does maaji get her eyesight back?
a. Shirdiwale Sai Baba gives it to her
b. A very successful eye surgery
c. Daily dose of vitamin A supplements

7. How does Anthony save Jenny from the goons?
a. Slips them a mickey
b. Kidnaps their women and children
c. Dresses up as a scarecrow

8. How do Amar, Akbar and Anthony celebrate their reunion?
a. By going to the Gymkhana Easter celebration
b. All three couples sing along in a windy Mahindra Jeep
c. By creating a trust fund for the local church, temple and mosque

9. Whiskey mein maza kyon nahin aa raha?
a. Kyonki woh whiskey nahin, brandy hai.
b. Kyonki hum aayce dalna bhool gaya.
c. Kyonki hame izzatka falooda pasand hai.

10. Who plays Jenny’s decoy at the airport?
a. Zeenat Aman
b. Hema Malini
c. Helen

11. Anthony kis pe haath nahin uthata?
a. Police pe. Apan vardi ki bahut izzat karta hai
b. God pe. God hamara mai-baap hai
c. Ladies log pe. Ladies log se dance karne ka

12. Tareef teri, nikali hogi dilse. Par lab pe kaisi aayi?
a. Shaayari banke
b. Banke qawaali
c. Gana banke

13. Life mein aadmi aisa kab bhagta hai?
a. Toilet ka case ho
b. Olympic ka race ho, ya police ka case ho
c. Car ka chase ho

14. Pyaar ka sabse bada dushman kaun hai?
a. Tayab Ali. Hai Hai
b. Robert Seth. Hai Hai
c. Father Gonsalves. Hai Hai

15. What does Robert offer Anthony in return for hiding him from the cops?
a. Gold bar
b. Wad of cash
c. Biscoot

Edit: V, husband of 30in2005, has these to add.

1. After how many years do the brothers meet one another again?
(a) 20
(b) 21
(c) 22

2. Who burns Mukri’s House?
(a) Robert Seth
(b) Bijli
(c) Ranjeet

3. What disease forces Nirupa Roy to run away to attempt suicide?
(a) Cholera
(b) TB
(c) Loss of sight

4. Which cricketer left for West Indies without meeting Anthony?
(a) Andy Roberts
(b) Michael Holding
(c) Malcolm Marshall

5. What is “just a position by the haemoglobin of the atmospheric pressure in the country”?
(a) A straight line
(b) The coefficient of the linear
(c) The curvature of the globe

For answers, rent the movie and pay attention.