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Paro's PMGP

Those of you who are intrested can catch up with Paromita Vohra's piece called 'The one billion rupee home' published in the book 'Mumbai Meri Jaan' (Mumbai, my love); edited by Jerry Pinto & Naresh Fernandes. It is an exhaustive article that deals with her experiences during her stay in the PMGP colony.

13\3 PMGP – End

Initially, the agent who had helped me purchase the flat had stared suspiciously at my unkempt beard and had warned me, ‘You are welcome to stay here…. But don’t do anything ‘aise-waise(This and that) with our girls.’ I was a bit surprised. Did I look the kind who would do all sorts of ‘aise-waise’ with anyone at all? Not taking any chances, I started to trim my beard and comb my hair regularly.

The original alloties of the flats in PMGP colony treated their film and media neighbours as ‘outsiders’. But the ‘locals’, as we used to call them, were as depended on us, as we were on them. The software boom was yet to arrive. We, therefore, were the neo-rich professionals. And we had the cash. A journalist from New York once wrote an article on India and the transformation that it was going through due to globalisation. He did some exclusive reporting on PMGP. All of us were branded as 'young Indian yuppies' living in the gettos of Mumbai. I should thank my stars that my uncle, wh…

13\3 PMGP – Middle

The original inhabitants of PMGP were a part of a rehabilitation scheme – The Prime Minister’s Grant Project or PMGP. They had been displaced from their earlier habitat, thanks to a road project that linked two suburban centres in Mumbai. Most were migrants from other parts of the state of Maharashtra.

I had made my purchase from one such lady. It was only much later that I came to know about her profession. She brewed and sold country liquor. Her husband had apparently hanged himself to death and the rumour going around was that his wife was too ‘hot’ to handle.

My building society secretary, with grave concern, had once whispered that the lady was seeing a young but corrupt police constable, even before her husband’s death. I dared not mention any of this to anyone. ‘Budding filmmaker buys flat from a possible adulterous liquor lady’ – this also did not sound good.

But all said and done, my ground floor ‘Kholi’ was quite an ‘adda’ by itself. It had a TV set and so, people gathered when…

13\3 PMGP – Beginning

It was a 180 sq foot ground floor flat that I had purchased during my early days in Mumbai. It was just a stopgap arrangement, before I moved on to a bigger flat. I had planned to stay there for exactly two years. It took me more than thirteen years and a whole lot of persuasion to get out of 13\3, PMGP Colony at Mahakali, Andheri (East), Mumbai.

Initially, when I brought the place, well-wishers had warned me that the number of the house was unlucky. But for me, the purchase was a huge accomplishment – acquiring a roof akin to making a film. In fact, my friend and classmate from the film school, Rajiv Katiyal did comment in jest, ‘Ram could not make a film, so he purchased a flat’.

Yes, technically it was a ‘flat’. It had a living area, a tiny kitchen space and an attached bathroom cum toilet. Back home, my relatives were surprised and even impressed! This black sheep of the family had the presence of mind to buy a flat and that too, within a few years of moving into the city.

But only I…

Akbar, Krish and Om Agarwal...

In the numerous Saas-Bahu (mother-in-law / daughter-in-law) serials that are currently on air on Indian prime time Television, it normally is the woman who does all the sinister scheming. In one particular serial ‘Pallavi’ is the scheming sister-in-law and ‘Parvathi’ is the wife who effectively counters her sinister designs. The point of contention is normally a man, Om Agrawal in this case; who is portrayed as a dumb and ignorant gentleman, oblivious to the overt plotting that happens around him. The other day I happened to watch ‘Jodha Akbar’. In the film, Mogul emperor Akbar’s Hindu wife Jodha steps out of her palace in the middle of the night to meet her brother. Akbar’s scheming foster mother makes this encounter look like an adulterous liaison. Akbar believes and within a fraction of a second pronounces Jodha as guilty. She is sent back to her father’s place. It looked odd to me that the emperor of India, who usually is so alert to all the political schemers around him, does not…

Yaadein

When an adulterous husband finds out that his wife and kids have left him for good, he undergoes pangs of guilt, gets depressed and in a mentally unstable condition attempts to kill himself, only to be saved just in time by the return of the dutiful wife. Needless to say, there is a family reunion.
There is nothing in this plot line to suggest that a film based on it would be different from the rest of the films that the formula based mainstream Indian film industry churns out day in and out. An erroneous husband is tamed; the institution of marriage is eventually upheld. The lady in question is a typical understanding ‘Bharathiya Naari’, who despite being ill-treated, loves her husband, takes care of her family and performs her household duties to perfection. This could well have been one of those ‘sentiment’ oriented ‘weepy kerchief films’ that the South Indian Film Industry is so adept with!
For some reason or the other, I missed watching ‘Yaadein’ – the Hindi film made on this plot …