Let me reach out to that which exceeds my grasp now/ but remains firmly my destined star.
Let the milky quilt splay itself with these blue tinctures.
The tree-tops reach above/ to receive these dispatches of an early haze


Some await the trains/ Others look towards this painting/ knowing that the artist hides in pale shades.
Resilient champion of yore/ You are the light amid these jaded days.
Oh the milky way!!


You see me here/ without blossoms on these shrubs around you/ you give me much more than a glimpse. You give me your eyes.

Spare me another good look/ I will be further away but will be beheld.


The domes cup the city and its ubiquity/ Up and above lies the art of subtle beauty


Watercolours around me/ I swirl with my rebirth each day.
I am syncretic/ I am the seed in this Eden.


I am the messenger/ dutifully perched to catch inflections of a city so wide and beautiful.


These photographs cover such momentous monuments as Rumi Darwaza, Saadat Ali Khan Tomb and Garden, Lucknow Zoological Garden and a personal beloved – the majestic Chattar Manzil.

This writer now expands his poetic horizons to capture imagery of his beloved city with you all.



This impressive, uplifting tune by the quartet has become a mainstay.

The visual treatment accompanying the single’s release few days ago is another impressive feat. The beautiful men constituting the band are framed against nature and the elements while a majestic horse gives it an epic sweep.



That serene piano, Jon Batiste with his diverse musical munificence and Lana with her breathtaking presence on vocals and on camera( in the ten minutes visual treatment) make this cut off DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE’S A TUNNEL UNDER OCEAN BOULEVARD full of jazzy resonance.

It’s a collective thrall Lana has made us accustomed to. It’s as polished and swoon-worthy here.



We have all beheld this historic feat occasioned by the marvelous Ms. Mitchell at NewPort Festival late last year. The Gershwin Prize arc few days ago has made the performative renaissance only stronger.

Cue the audio version of Both Sides Now, with the group of artists comprising the ‘Joni Jam’, on her official YouTube channel. Joy knows no bounds than getting to enjoy it in that capacity.



Jim Morrison being his usual brilliant self on stage, the use of dim lights framing his beautifully pensive face and the instrumental felicity make this live performance of an immortal classic one for the ages.

Simple and evocative.



Long live Jeff Beck. Long live the creative munificence of Eric Clapton and his ilk.

By adding guitar gravitas to a classic tune and a visual treatment befitting its scope, both men come up with aces. It’s a thrill. It’s a joyful collaboration indeed.



When the metallic bird flies across grey skies.


Water and Sky/ Mirrors To Our Land


A cosmic inferno/ Beauty unfolds
Outlandish castle of my youth.
Once I felt I could rot in those deep drains
But those Gothic figures gave me no permission
As I let the central hall take my claim.

There was a keen eye,
all very careful to scoff at every horror
Old, vintage coils of time
as my imagination became a boarder.

A founder’s portrait still spick and span,
The infirmary is humility’s very own personification
New Martinians’ annual clan
is reserved for another yearly initiation.

Forgive me for my belated relay
I’ve pined for your approval
These walls of old that fought colonial decay
I now count in the plural.

Come, let’s cleanse our motto clean,
Free from all cynics’ revolts
For the glory that had once been
do we calmly implore.

A grand old tradition
This calls for more than just pride
Not just youthful transition
As the river of memories approaches high tide .

This communion for the ages
in this castle of education
The Martinian bells are chiming ageless,
on the threshold of transformation.

One for health
One for glory
One for the hearth
One for the cause of this history.

From ‘The Martinian’ written by me few years ago.



Uttara Baokar is one of those people whose very presence breeds familiarity, warmth and knowledge of filmmaking craft preserved in a register of discipline and effortlessness.  She belongs to an epochal class of performing arts stalwarts who abided by the sheer simplicity of the everyday, never hovering around for the fame or attention associated with cinematic portals. For them, opportunity bred integrity, a knowing ardour for how others live and draw from each life experience.

You look at her formidable body of work and there’s no pretence or grand sweep. Naturalism, the way we are within situations imbued in her elegant personality, Ms. Baokar is not one to be forgotten but instead is an individual torchbearer of what Indian artistic form stands for cinephiles when practiced with due diligence, mirroring social realities. She is a purist’s delight.


Our lives reach towards that final gloaming; all our lives are spent in  embodying meaning through our actions. Our legacies speak for us within this lifetime.

For me, Uttara Tai’s passing away is a profound loss. But I will never speak of her in the past tense because her craft transcends her mortal coil. Over the years, I have seen many of her performances. More than awe and admiration, a sense of humility dawns with each part.

Every time I watch her on-screen I  recall how as a child, traces of her as the mother-in-law to Renuka Shahane in ‘Kora Kaagaz’ (on Star Plus) never left my mind, just as much as the melodious title track sung by Sadhana Sargam.  Or how even in her very brief presence as Madhuri Dixit’s mother in the utterly unforgettable ‘Aaja Nachle’, she packs in so much of her concerns for her free-spirited daughter whom society and a small-town feel free to rein in. There are never small parts with Uttara Tai. Only myriad shades of humanity.

In recognition of the woman I so deeply admire, here are the parts that she fills and illuminates with life on screen and stage.



Uttara Tai’s singular presence is the most memorable in this dramatic study of two women drawn towards each other by tragic circumstances. Friendship is part of the journey but empowerment that flickers and yearns and is then earned becomes this iconic screenplay’s hallmark.

Over countless viewings through the years, memorizing almost each scene and dialogue, Uttaraji as the eternally widowed grandmother is instrumental in travelling from a point of detachment to exercising true empathy. She gives her recently widowed granddaughter-in-law(Ayesha Takia) the freedom to express her disappointment over her social position and herself evinces the psychological insights that divide women from each other further in a world of patriarchy. She takes her own initial apathy into account.

Her observant face surveys the site of tragedy, the young woman’s retaliation and then her flight to freedom. In Meera, she lets her own stifled spirit get released, the curse of one generation sublimate into self-respect and liberty for the next. An agent of change within the home as much as Zeenat(Gul Panag) is outside, she pulls the three women together and closer than they could be.


As Rukma, India’s very own answer to Federico Garcia Lorca’s Bernarda Alba, this powerhouse performer proved why her stage oeuvre is peerless. To this writer, her screen presence in this perennially favourite play transformed to an excellent television film by Govind Nihalani, is instrumental in launching his WordPress blog in 2018( four essays on it graced it in its early weeks)

A film I have watched over and over again to commit each moment to memory, half of its power is extracted from the way Uttara Tai models Rukmavati, an aristocrat and recently widowed mother of five girls in Rajasthan, who lets her characterisation escape every cliche associated with those conventional social roles.

Presiding over the mourning period with her walking stick as her armour, her words stinging like the summer heat and her authority producing fear in one and all, she is one complex lady. Refusing to let her daughters be tied down to matrimonial expectations or the company of men, she knows the world is full of loose tongues and illicit desires. Her stance is hence unwaveringly committed to protect her home (and family) from doom that others can readily invite by dint of their jealousy and patriarchal mindsets.

She is a victim of the patriarchy herself and yet dares to challenge it. She can use the gun and manage her financial and legal affairs but can be brutally cruel towards her children.
In this shadow world where women are anyway meant to comply with status quo, she doesn’t want favourable indices in her share; she wants her lot to not fall prey to easy distractions.

That is her tragedy and when doom falls in line with looming shadows on this mansion’s imposing walls, she finally breaks down with the one word she has used to silence others, “khamosh/quiet”; Uttara Tai is to the manner born here. She is Rukmavati every step of the way, taking society to task for all her complexities and fallibilities.


One can never erase Jasbir, the elderly couple( Dina Pathak and Bhisham Sahni)’s daughter they are united with in a Gurudwara at the height of Partition woes, from his mind.

Marshaling her community with a divine song that is a call to arms as well, she sings it herself, the projection of her voice embodying strength, fear and the mythmaking we all fall back on when doom is imminent.

That voice guides those layers as she leads her army of women towards the well, in an act of ethical suicide that has marked subcontinental narratives. Uttara Baokar is gone here. She is Jasbir, millions like her captured through her brave front when violence pushes women to the very edge of mortality.


Her husband has disappeared. Her children grieve. She has to grieve, internalise loss and find clues to his mysterious unraveling without breaking down completely.

If a mother is the glue who has to conventionally hold her family intact, the one here is vulnerable, unpacking the financial toll, her better half’s possible infidelity and her futile hope.

Vulnerability breeds strength to acknowledge loss, examine its outer space and inner wounds. As the mother and children sit together and reminisce about regrets regarding their interactions with the lost paternal figure, we never forget that the matriarch has encountered a lifelong void. Uttara Tai gets that instinctively.


As the elegant woman who is also privy to her husband’s penchant for womanising, Uttaraji lets her face and eyes convey the tribulations of women cutting across social and class lines.

She is a princess living in an estate where wealth begets musical soirees and patronage. She is the mute lesser- half whose protestations against her husband’s burgeoning interest in a young singer fall on deaf ears. She is not altogether lacking in individual agency. It’s just that she has no one to turn to.

In later years too, she recalls her heartbreak without unlocking its direct contents to strangers. She detects betrayal and illicit desire in men and levels bitterness with empathy. But her words and face give us a whole lifetime of suffering in the shadows even as she occupies the same rooms as her influential husband.

The mannerisms, sartorial sense, turn of the head and voice modulations all fit perfectly with her emotional graph here.


Once again relaying generational survey of patriarchal values and breaking away from them, Uttara Tai and Amruta Subhash are women who gain much-needed respite from the man who emotionally shunts them as son and husband respectively. In the segment titled GHOST IN THE MACHINE in this anthology feature, they grasp their sense of liberty.

In the abusive man’s extended absence owing to a health crisis, they create an utopia of positivity, with trips to the beach, financial independence for the younger woman and their shared love for a soap opera centring on the perfect male figure. The rhythms that these two wonderful performers create are unforgettable, the support they extend towards each other is winsome. Still, the return of the male presence threatens.

The realistic patterns of middle-class joy get restored as the final image finds these two women and the happy kids celebrate Diwali and watch their favourite show together. Sometimes life is a series of moments spent together. Uttaraji and Amruta attest to that often fleeting feeling. 



I had not expected to see a day where one of Uttaraji’s theatrical performances could be viewed by me.  While searching for that one elusive title, I found this filmed rendition of Dharamvir Bharti’s famed play courtesy Jairangam Theatre Festival, held in Jaipur in 2020. The powers of manifestation triumphed here.

Set in the aftermath of Mahabharata, the actual war produces a somber reckoning with truth that finds expression in monologues, charged confrontations and beautiful interludes by the chorus. It’s Uttaraji as Queen Gandhari, the blindfolded royal letting loose with her tragic loss, her perspectives on this futile war orchestrated by the hands of men with fragile egos, who shreds their platitudes. She has a mother’s pain and a woman’s practicality to know that it is not she who has willingly covered her vision with falsified ideas of valour or honour.

She doesn’t spare the otherwise omnipotent Lord Krishna too from falling in her line of fire. She is a woman scorned. In the final stretch, humbled by her own ire against mankind and the subsequent curse she places upon Krishna, she breaks down and falls on the stage, lamenting the loss of humanity that war entails for even a mother.

To watch this feat is humbling to me.


This 2004 Marathi feature previously couldn’t be found anywhere except a few clips here and there on YouTube. Finally stumbling upon it in full on the always eclectic Amazon Prime Video, I honoured Uttaraji’s legacy by watching it.

The dramatic piece here has a verite tone, with meetings and recollections invoking a wonderful sense of the everyday. Uttaraji is Mai, a once lovely family woman whose own daughter falls prey to the hands of fate after suffering through a violent marriage and roving father-in-law. Their house sold, with the modest outhouse their abode now, both women, one divorced and the other, aged and widowed, still don’t renounce their innate decency towards others.

Uttaraji opens herself up to Shivaji Satam’s Raghu, a friend of her children whom she doted on years ago and who she’s reunited with years later, with her creaking voice and tears signifying the guilt, regrets and melancholy accumulated for a lifetime. But in this tale about second chances, the nuanced screenplay makes her witness the rejuvenation between two individuals she loves the most: her daughter and Raghu. Through their rekindled friendship and then her rapport with Raghu who looks after her in her ailing days, she finds a reason to live without any previous baggage.

Everybody is redeemed by the gradual steps they take to change their present destiny. So what if they are not in the thick of their youth?

Her singular scene where she bares her heart out to Raghu, a man she trusts without doubt, is the ultimate winner for me. So is the final scene where this chosen family returns to Nagpur to live together as one happy unit.


I have already written about this one few days ago. Suffice to say, Uttara Tai is everywoman but situates herself within a particularly harsh rural milieu where grief is held hostage by social restrictions.

Both her daughters suffer due to this involuntary adherence to customs and narrow mindsets where there’s no value for a woman’s life. Uttara as Aai is bitter, despondent, concerned, unlikeable, contemplative, regretful within this survey of her compromised humanity in the face of  financial toll.

It is she, fuelled by her younger daughter’s reasoned awakening, who decides the circle of life cannot stop at convention. The moral complexity within her contains multitudes. Only a performer so natural and effortless can justify this arc. She does.


In another work helmed by National Award winning duo of Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhthankar, Uttara Tai is the actual protagonist.

She is the lone female presiding over a crumbling landed rural gentry, in a post-colonial era, who wants the adult males in her household to wake up to a new world and not rest on their haunches. Her fierce determination to let her younger son receive the best education is everything. A host of beliefs pervade her inner circle, from her naive son to her Gandhian husband and her brother-in-law who’s dead sure that the secret to their future fortunes lies in the treasures buried underneath their home.

She will have none of it. Her practical voice and outlook for a bright future for her son who has actual promise doesn’t waver once through the ups and downs. In fact, her influence and a medical supervisor’s(Renuka Daftardar) imprints of courage leave a lasting impression on the teenager. They become anchors to his voyage of self-realization.

Uttara Tai anchors this astutely observed tale with memorable scenes galore. She is its spiritual core. From mother to son, a legacy endures.


In just ten minutes, the naturalism of her craft makes a brother-sister renunion here, in this journey home for a man troubled by his tumultuous past in his native Uttarakhand village, lucid and hauntingly beautiful.

In a work set in the aftermath of the flash floods of 2013, traditions that choke and relationships that sting continue to haunt this homecoming. Apart from the spare screenplay befitting its stark inner landscape of memories and striking cinematography, this supporting arc from Uttaraji as Priya packs in so much. Patriarchy looms large as she doesn’t receive visitors since her two sons left for the city while her sense of pride is evident in her refusal to ask the government for land. Her love for her brother is evident and in none of the cloyingly sentimental ways we expect. That’s where her concerned looks and smiles come together to enrich a full characterisation, for the way the past always lives in the present but doesn’t have to demerit the latter’s appeal for reconciliation.


There are levels of complexity and nuances in this ‘film within a film’ scenario where an artistic creation’s potential is unlocked. The inspiration is life in all its vicissitudes.

Like Bengali cinema at its finest, this Marathi feature from Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhthankar probes societal roles, man-woman interactions and the way writing one’s script has to come with greater empathy than we estimate as humanly possible.

Uttara Tai is the author of the story on which the filmmaking protagonist(Devika Daftardar) bases her next feature. She gives the latter freedom to explore her own narrative, her own authorial voice. By this beautifully structured film’s final stretch, she, revealing a crucial birthmark on her left face profile, leaves us with an autobiographical taste of the story closest to all the women here which includes another subtle turn by Rajeshwari Sachdeva. 

It is also the work that reunites her with Jyoti Subash after their excellent pairing in Rukmavati Ki Haveli twenty years prior.


Last but not the least is an excellent interview where for the first time we get to see Uttaraji reveal her artistic evolution to the gentlemanly host Irfan Sir.

From singing a part from Threepenny Opera from her NSD days to delving into her roots in theatre that gave her the lifeline to pursue film and television and excel in all three formats and her parents’ unflinching support, she is her usual elegant self.
It’s a treasure trove for all cinephiles indeed.



Mr. Strider Marcus Jones has done it once again: proven that prolific artistry and championing of other fellow poets is something he truly abides by.

A few months after two of my poems graced the Lothlorien Poetry Journal’s Anthology around November, 2022, he has once again ensured that three of my works grace the latest edition. To have ‘Ringlets’, ‘Mt. Luna’ and ‘Part One’ be a part of a print anthology now is a feat made possible by him and his dedicated team.

Kudos to all my fellow poets who are part of the anthology owing to their stellar craft. Thank you for this trust and continuous support, Marcus Sir. May our quills be eternally soaked, inked with ideas and meaningful words.




You can also go one step ahead and buy the book on That will be wonderful.



Here’s presenting my thoughts in verse on six cinematic works, taken from diverse eras and styles, that left positive impressions on me as a cinephile.



Now, voyagers
laugh a little
bicker and nag
protect and part
on notes unheard
but strong enough
to last a century.

at last
it happened
when troubles
of the world
to become
from the light banter
and sardonic gold
of two.



The pianissimo of
culminating days
hits plangent notes.
I’ll hold on to
these last months.
Let me not succumb
to despair.
Don’t cry for me.

here’s your chance
to claim youth for its last rite
of passage.

I will go away
on my own terms.

Let it come
when the Vermont winds
sleep with my
last breaths.



Arch your spirit
to march to this drum beat.

Allies and foes
stand in line here.

choose your arsenal
from the storehouse
of wit
or expectant resignation.

Beyond the
there is more
to you
and us
than stripes and stars.

There’s a life.
There is a smile
that illuminates
these barracks.

Arch your spirit
to make your own
line of merit.



Celebratory bells toll
Four siblings in tow

It’s a wonderful life
that we imbue
with enquiry
ready agency
and kindness
that our
don’t ever
fall short.




How different is your tale
from those preceding your
storytelling hour?
How distinctly
do you recall
that day at the beach?

They see
you lumbering
through claustrophobia,
at the end of your rope.

If you’ve done one thing right
then it is
to call for love
and a friend’s true counsel
before the bright lights
at the end of that dark room.
They lift you up.


SHE SAID(2022)

But steady

Yet bursting
to the fore
with manifestos
of womanhood


Come out
Speak their truths
and mark
as their
ultimate ally.




How does a moment last forever? For one with an artistic bent of mind, it’s all about a succession of events, moments in time that are definitive of the particular space one is in where art propounds its unassailable character. But all manner of art rests in the present while evoking its permutations through time and space. That’s why the pursuit of art is a habitual pattern for someone like me; something that has to be nurtured and felt, experienced on every occasion discerned.

On a Sunday, the annual ritual of attending Mahindra Sanatkada Cultural Festival at the historic Safed Baradari in Lucknow provided me with just the kind of euphony I had missed for the last two and a half years. For the whole city, the location of Safed Baradari, a beautiful structure in white decked with domes and a central hall, and Sanatkada have become synonyms for engaging in the aesthetics that define Lucknow as a collective whole. This year’s theme was on the city being a bastion of music and dance- RAQS-O-MAUSIQI as it’s elegantly titled- and as an aficionado of the classical form, this was a chance to experience masters of their respective craft take to the stage to mesmerise a public comprising members of multiple generations.

I had earmarked my itinerary in advance for the sarod recital by Pandit Abhijit Roy Choudhury and company and I was in for a treat indeed. The day, pleasant as it was, was greeted by cool winds that further enhanced the experience for all attendees. At around 4.15 pm, Mr. Roy Choudhury and his fellow musicians, varying from a fourteen year old protege to an elderly tabla player, let the instrument’s soothing notes and rhythmic alchemy perfume the environment.

As it was the first proper live performance of classical music that I had attended as an adult, I wanted to test myself. I am a man of unusual concentration even amid clatter and patter of people. My fear was regarding the crowd not being respectful enough towards the conscientious masters who had taken so many rostrums before and exercised unusual restraint and humility.

The recital was held in the open-air courtyard flanking the main hall where the bazaar catering to handlooms, crafts, fabrics and knick-knacks, all of the most authentic variety from various parts, was being conducted. One expects to be distracted by the milling crowds in such a scenario as others come out into the open. But music is an entity that can freeze one in a state of surrender and transcendence. Ten minutes into the hour long, uninterrupted performance, I was in a space where nobody else mattered and the cycle of revellers coming and going from the other flanks of the location hardly stirred me. As the rest of the crowd was just as respectful and attentive, the recital thrived in such a calming atmosphere. There was no dipping point that could blot these minutes. The biggest saving grace was that it was a performance in the true sense for viewers. There was no mad scrambling for photography or videos of this particular recital. The professionals for those tasks were in their individual spaces, capturing the euphony in motion.


The sarod, to me, is an instant messenger of serenity. I experienced that first-hand where it felt as if I was a singular presence within that crowd. That sense of surrender to the artists and their creations made me euphoric, the kind that invites grace and gratitude for the practitioners as also the participants. After all, finding a good audience is rare these days. I guess it was a lucky day where everything aligned perfectly to make this cultural exchange a success.

The performance sustained itself in my mind and heart and next was the underground treasure trove- the TEHKHANA- which was open for the public for the first time in years. The tehkhana was the site of the exhibition where Lucknow’s rich, generational history in the field of music and dance found representation in the use of the sombre space and restraint in lighting.

The written print material was beautifully lucid and witty, tracing the impact of such luminaries as Begum Akhtar, Pandit Birju Maharaj among others and extending this haloed trajectory to current times where teachers and students of the various forms uphold a collective tapestry of artistry. The room with a slender mirror and colourful kites, so identifiable to residents of Lucknow, was also wonderful. In all, the cavernous space, the air of enigma seemed to hold these reminisces and anecdotes; we whispering them to ourselves by reading the print materials on display and feeling closer to a past that has to be cherished. The simplicity in the room mattered to me.

Hence, this was an unique experience that I don’t feel I will ever forget.


From the underground treasure trove to the merry folks and bright lights in the central hall, it was all just as I wanted my day of sabbath to be. I had been rendered anew as such cultural occassions always have an indelible impact on me. I took the rest of the evening, now merging with incoming night-time, to rediscover an iconic park I had loved since childhood, a gateway and those elegant homes in the Kaiserbagh area which stand as living testaments of the city’s classical epicenter. Taking a walk towards the heart of the city- Hazratganj- affixed with all the beautiful sights I know by heart but find rendered afresh was how the day culminated.


A happy mind is the most productive. An artistic one always finds the impetus to create or be around environs where a cradle of culture comes alive. Courtesy Sanatkada, my love for the city and its aesthetics grew by further leaps and bounds.