Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Dudhsagar Rail-track Trek: In the green paradise

I had been trying to join this GHAC trek from past many weeks but without any success. It is so popular that it got full even before I could check the meetup notification!!! But finally I got lucky and got seats reserved for Shweta and me.

We boarded Yashwantpur Express from Kachiguda and by the time we woke up, we were in Amaravathi Express. Yes the coach had changed trains, just as wealth changed hands between Kalmadi's stooges!

We were about an hour late when we alighted at Castle Rock. But nobody complained as slight drizzle and misty greens welcomed us. Castle Rock was the last station where there was some population. And for next 24 hours we were not going to get anything edible, and that's why we had our bags loaded with ready to eat stuff like MTR Rice, bread-butter, Thepla, chips, cakes etc. to last for next few meals.

Walking on railway tracks was fun for maybe about half an hour. After that it was trying to find the easy and fast way to walk. Walking on the ballast (the small stones between tracks) was difficult, but walking on the wooden or concrete planks between the tracks was more difficult not only because the soles start aching after some time but also because when you flush in the train you are not thinking about people 'trekking' on the tracks!

But when you have breathtaking surroundings all around you, an unending water supply in form of waterfalls (perfectly potable, just check for small insects) and birds which whistle just like humans you won't complain. To add to the adventure the route is dotted with tunnels which need you to carry dark enough to need torch light and leaky enough to need an umbrella.

We were approaching one such tunnel when we heard a train blow horn. After a few moments there was no sound and after a few moments once again there was a horn. I touched the track and put ear to it, but there was no sign of any train. but Shweta and Anand won't buzz. So I volunteered to go and check in the tunnel and as I proceeded I saw the proverbial lights of approaching train.

In the meantime we had crossed the border and reached Goa!

Karunzol was 7.29 km from Castle Rock and we had our brief lunch comprised of Theplas and MTR Rice. Once again the trek started and now the evening was approaching fast and rain came along. After another 7 km Dudhsagar station appeared but there was no sign of the falls or our camping site. After a very dreary another 1 km,loomed the first sight of Dudhsagar falls! Instant recharge was never so instantaneous! It was about six in the evening and the visibility was poor. We were wet, tired and hungry and were not in the perfect mindframe to enjoy the scenery.

We put up the camps in a small hut (rather a shed!) and after what seemed to be a very long and wet (specially for those who had put up the tent in the verandah of shed. The waterfall seemed to get more aggressive as the night progressed. I could hardly sleep in that cramped tent and got up by 5 as instructed by camp leader. But till 6 it was very dark.

Morning was greeted with much chaos and after a very adventurous wash in a side stream in the fall (we actually climbed up that stream in the fall) we started packing up. Folding up the tents could be accomplished only after reading the instructions amidst war cries that would confuse someone that a wild animal was being tamed!

Shooting near a massive fall like Dudhsagar is always difficult because of strong drizzle created by water falling on rocks. I had first experienced that in Chikmagalore when I visited Abby falls. Those with point and shoot cameras can still manage but with a non-water proof SLR camera you have to be really quick and careful. But I managed take a few quick snaps.

The journey continued to Coolem which was supposed to be 7 km from Dudhsagar. But there proved to be a minor hitch. Coolem was another 8 km from Sonalium, about 4 km from Dudhsagar. So we boarded a train to Coolem, a beautiful town in Goa which had more shops selling liquor than anything else! After a brief but much appreciated hot lunch we took a bus to Londa junction from where we would catch train to Hyderabad.

A special word about the gang. It was as Barney Stinson would say, "Totally awesome".

Travel Summary: To reach Dudhsagar from Hyderabad, take 7603 Kacheguda-Yeshwantpur Express. Get down at Castle Rock station and trek to Dudhsagar. There are no hotels/restaurants in the region so make arrangements for your food/stay (preferably tents). To return you can either trek back to Castle Rock or goto Coolem about 12 km from Dudhsagar. You can also trek 4km to Sonalium and take a train to Coolem. From Coolem you can take bus to Londa and catch 7416 Haripriya Express back to Hyderabad.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’ was made today

(Originally written for and published on PassionForCinema.com on August 5, 2010)

Dharmveer Bharti’s epic novel ‘Gunaahon Ka Devta’ had more than the obvious (psychological!) effects on me: I decided to make a movie titled ‘Seema’ (name of the female protagonist). So I designed a poster for it and played casting director and my friend Vikas did the same and then we compared notes. I don’t remember my list but I remember that my cast had better actors than his and I never let him forget it.

Ravi Baswani’s untimely demise put a lot of focus back on ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’. This movie was released one year after I was born and I remember literally (yes, literally) Rolling On The Floor Laughing (ROTFL in SMS lingo!) when I watched it on TV in mid-90s. Watching the CNN-IBN special on the movie left me a bit nostalgic and geared up to take this as a new project for playing casting director. Once again Vikas was roped in for the challenge and he was game.

We had to select an entirely new cast, with no actor from the original movie. The physical resemblance though not THE most important criterion, is still one of the points to be kept in mind. Also actors should be playing their age. So even though a young actor can be made up 40 year old, it will be great if he/she plays a character that suits his/her age and personality.

Keeping these points in mind here is the cast that we have proposed for “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron” if it was made today.

Vinod Chopra: Nasseruddin Shah. Proposed: Irfan Khan (2nd choice: Kay Kay Menon)

Vikas suggested Irfan’s name and I agreed (much to his surprise!). But Irfan is a superb actor and his style of comedy is what I feel is just right for a satirical film like this. But my second choice is KK Menon and more I try to visualize him in different scenes, more I get convinced that he will be as good if not better than Irfan. Tough choice here!

Sudhir Mishra: Ravi Baswani. Proposed: Sharman Joshi

To express the quirkiness that Baswani did with his twitching eyes would be a difficult task for Sharman but both Vikas and I think he will be perfect side kick for Vinod Chopra. Physical resemblance apart Sharman’s comic timing is what I am banking on for this role.

Commissioner D’Mello: Satish Shah. Proposed: Boman Irani

Giving him a role that needs him to act as corpse half the time? I know it’s criminal wastage of talent but then thinking of the other half I can’t really imagine anyone else and that says a lot about Satish Shah’s portrayal of the role! Boman Irani is a great actor and he will truly rock in this role.

Shobha Sen: Bhakti Barve. Proposed: Konkona Sen Sharma

Konkona is a fabulous actor and I believe she will be able to portray the ruthless (and flirty when needed) editor perfectly. Physically too she matches Bhakti Barve to the T.

Ahuja: Om Puri. Proposed: Pawan Malhotra (2nd choice: Manoj Vajpayee/Rajesh Vivek)

This is what I believe is my casting coup! Vikas suggested Manoj Vajpayee and then Rajesh Vivek. But it is not as confusing as it seems due to three names doing the rounds here because I am convinced that Pawan is the perfect fit for this character. It’s a pleasure to watch him on screen and not only is sure to match Om Puri in acting skills but also will in appearance (of those times). Vikas doesn’t agree but I am adamant.

Tarneja: Pankaj Kapoor. Proposed: Manoj Pahwa (2nd choice: Manu Rishi)

Paresh Rawal seems to be obvious choice but I have reservations against his strong Gujarati/Marathi accent which kinda typecasts his style of acting. Manoj Pahwa is a veteran in such roles and this role seems to be tailor made for him. Second choice Manu Rishi was the pleasant surprise in “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!” and though we haven’t seen much of him lately, I believe he will be able to pull off this very important role well.

Tarneja’s secretary Priya: Neena Gupta. Proposed: Neha Dhupia

There were various contenders for the role of this Indian version of dumb blonde secretary. Celina Jetly, Riya Sen, Rimi Sen and most of the new 1-film wonder actresses but I pick Neha Dhupia because she is a better actress among this brigade.

Tarneja’s PA Ashok: Satish Kaushik. Proposed: Vijay Maurya

Satish Kaushik played whining buffoon to a hilt but Vijay Maurya is already getting featured in people’s favorite actors lists! Even though physical resemblance is being somewhat ignored here, I think Maurya will easily pull this one off.

Asst. Municipal Commissioner Srivastav: Deepak Qazir. Proposed: Deepak Dobriyal

Deepak is one of the finest actors around and versatility could be his middle name. I have seen him in ‘Omkara’ and ‘Delhi 6′ and his ability to look his character makes him one of the most dependable actors around. I believe he will better the original performance by his senior namesake.

Assistant Editor Kamdar: Rajesh Puri. Proposed: Rajpal Yadav

Rajpal Yadav is a very competent actor but he is not doing his reputation any good by joining Priyadarshan’s Institute of Shout Acting (yes Priyan has taken loud acting to a whole new level!). But even though Vikas is not very keen on Yadav, I think he will be a good addition to team and his comic timing could be a great asset in the Mahabharat sequence.

This is the cast that I believe will do justice to one of my most favorite films of all times. You are free to disagree and recommend your favorite actors for these roles. What are you waiting for, jump to the comment form now!