Month: June 2016

Punjab of the Popular Imagination

There is a stereotype for the people of Punjab that is known across the country; perhaps no other stereotype is as stereotypical as this one. And so that stereotype has played a major role in depicting the entire state of Punjab in the popular imagination, as we know today. Most people know Punjab through the veil of that stereotype, thanks to how it influenced the popular imagination.

That Punjabis are loud-mouthed. That they have a tendency to utter and blabber what they actually feel, that they wear their heart on their sleeves. That they may say things that might not sound great, but they have their hearts in the right place.

The most famous symbol for Punjab is the Golden Temple, which stands for peace and serenity such as you might have never known before; the beautiful temple made of gold which stands shining as much in the night as in the day.

Punjab is also known for its food; oh, the food. The dollops and dollops of butter that they use, the scrumptious choley they cook, the beautiful way in which they cook their chicken, the makki ki roti and the sarson ka saag of course. More than the food, they are known for the generosity they extend with the food, the langars, with the belief that food is meant for everyone, regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs.

Punjab, oh, if anyone were to ask me, Punjab is a riot, full of colours, and bhangra, and generous, kind souls, and delicious food, green fields, lots of sunshine, big houses, giggly girls, outspoken men, but a good place, overall a good place.

So I liked Udta Punjab- it swooped in and destroyed the Punjab of the popular imagination and replaced it with a much grueling reality, which hasn’t really been done properly before. We have Amrish Puri romanticizing Punjab as ‘home’ which is, although ever so humble, irreplaceable and Shah Rukh Khan coming in and sweeping away the bride in the mustard fields of dear Punjab in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge. Skip that, we have two of the actors in Udta Punjab, Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan, who when last worked in a movie together glorified the very stereotype we just spoke about.

The overbearing, kind-hearted, all-knowing patriarch who gives the way for love, giggly, supportive relatives who like to stuff guests with food, colorful clothes and bhangra sequences, the beat of the dhol which sets everyone in action- Punjab for beginners.

But I loved it how Udta Punjab brought about a new Punjab in the popular imagination, the Punjab of drugs. Corrupt policemen, dirty politicians who’d do anything to win elections, youth wasting away in syringes lying in abandoned fields, girls being forced to go on drugs, families which coalesce and support the men in their family to keep a girl locked up rape her turn by turn.

The people of Punjab here were cunning and sly, not loudmouthed and outspoken.

The picture painted was the opposite of serene; in fact, the only way Alia Bhatt could figure having some peace in her life was through staring at the board of Goa through her window and imagine diving into the ocean.

And the food? Udta Punjab broke all notions about Punjab’s food when they showed Alia Bhatt hungrily gnawing at the leftover chicken bone her captor left lying around.

Although I did feel that Abhishek Chaubey could have depicted the drug problem as a more generalized phenomenon, affecting people of Balli’s age, as opposed to concentrating on individual stories, for the problem affects people at large. It is a sociological ill, not an individual one, and hence, would have been much more appealing.

And yet I am happy to see a new Punjab, away from the Punjab of the Popular imagination, for we must know, and all the four actors’ performances show it as well as it could.


My God

I’ve heard people talk of God

In the great blue sky and sitting in our souls

In the sun and the river

And always, always in the food we have

Serve him, they say, serve the God

And he will be there for you

He will stand by you, and help you

And bless you and make you prosper

And rich

And healthy

And shower you with all that you could need

For you are his child

But you serve him

And you serve him well

You do as per his will

And his purpose

The purpose

He made for generations of humans

For we are all his children

And we are meant to seek his guidance

And he asks us

To abide by his good

And his bad

And your duty, as bid

So shine the light

Take the torch

Enlighten the ignorant

And fulfill the purpose

For it is the will of God

The God who knows all

And Judges all

And creates all

And that is God, they say

That is your God, they say

That is everyone’s God, they say


But I feel it in my heart

A different God

I feel it in my veins

In my morning thoughts

When I live a new day

I feel my God

In the love that I bear

For the beauty around

In the people I choose to love

In the people I’m born to love

In the art that I love

The words that spring from love

In the music that moves me

And the pictures that hold me

In rapture, of its creation

And so I seek my God

In the art that I make

In the words that I make

In the tragedies of life

In death’s unflinching gaze

I find my God

In the security of family

In the eyes of that boy

In the desire of my own heart

Which seeks to do some good

This is my God

This, right here, is my God.



The Magic of Harry Potter: A Writing Workshop

PDF The Magic of Harry Potter Literature and Writing Workshop

The Magic of Harry Potter: A Literature and Writing Workshop

 Your Hogwarts letter has arrived.

A series of ten workshops in which we study a curated list of different themes and nuances in Harry Potter, followed by creative writing workshops- delivered by literary rockstars.

You’ve heard them at literary festivals, you’ve read their articles, and you’ve seen how their books become bestsellers- but did you ever imagine you could study Harry Potter from them? Did you think you could learn how to write from them?

Read on to understand our workshops.

What | A month long book and literature workshop, where twice a week we will discuss the nuances and themes, right from the universal themes like death, love and morality in the books, to various pointed discussions about specific characters. We will follow it up with a creative writing workshop with esteemed authors. The event is targeted at budding writers, literature junkies and Harry Potter fans, who want to improve their writing skills. On the last day, there will be a Yule Ball-styled after-party.

Where | Antisocial, Hauz Khas Village

When | 6th July-6th August, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 6-8 pm

Total Sessions | 10

Duration | 2 hours each

Total Course Hours | 20 hours

Workshop Curators and Facilitators | Srishti Chaudhary and Shreya Kalra

Workshop fee | Rs. 3500

 Teaching Mode | Handouts of critical material, a writing activity/assignment in every class, Group activities and debates in class (sorting people into houses in first class), Power Point Presentations, Video Clips

 Guest Speakers

  • Gurcharan Das- Author of the international bestsellers India Unbound and The Difficulty of Being Good, intellectual, public commentator,former CEO of Proctor & Gamble India, and a Harvard University graduate. He is a regular columnist for six Indian national dailies, and periodically writes for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and
  • Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan- Author of You Are Here, The Life and Times of Layla the Ordinary and Confessions of a Listmaniac, and writer of the ultra-cool blog, Meeankshi’s books have been published by Penguin and Scholastic and she shuttles between Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Sanjoy Roy- Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, Sanjoy Roy is the man responsible for the Jaipur Literature Festival, one of the biggest literary feasts in the world. His company, under his guidance and mentorship, also organize other festivals related to the arts, across India and abroad.
  • Mihir S. Sharma- Opinion editor of the Business Standard, Mihir Sharma is an economist and political scientist and the author of Restart: The Last Chance for the Indian Economy.
  • Parul Tyagi- Author of Hurry Om Hari and Love Will Find A Way, and an active blogger and short story writer.

Goody Bag | Each participant will receive a goody bag at the end of the workshop, which will include a custom-made wand.

Course Schedule

Each session will have a creative writing skills discussion and assignment relating to

the relevant theme.

July 6, Wednesday

The Sorting Hat Ceremony

The Boy Who Lived: The Universal Appeal of Harry Potter- Magic, Reason and Reality

Writing workshop: Introducing universal themes, and Creating the Setting 

July 9, Saturday

Friendship in Harry Potter: “Then you should have died for your friends, as we would have for you!” The Trio and the Marauders- Life and Beyond

Writing Workshop: Friends as plot devices who take the story forward

July 13, Wednesday | Sanjoy Roy

On the Power of Literature and it’s Future Scope in India

Does Reading Harry Potter Make Us Better People?: Ethics and Morality in Harry Potter

Writing Workshop: The “Message” of a Story: Should we begin a story like that?

July 16, Saturday | Parul Tyagi

Love, A Magic Like No Other: Dissecting Love in Harry Potter

Writing Workshop: Love as a central theme to most art

July 20, Wednesday

Albus Dumbledore: The Figure of the Mentor

Writing Workshop: The Figure of the Mentor as a Leading Force of a Story

July 23, Saturday | Meenakashi Reddy Madhavan

A Certain Kind of Feminism: The Contribution and Character of Hermione Granger

Writing Workshop: Creating strong female characters

July 27, Wednesday

The Harry Potter Brand: A Cinematic Journey

Writing Workshop: The movie versus book debate- The Issue of the Adaptation

July 30, Saturday | Gurcharan Das

Learn How to Write from Gurcharan Das

Fan Fiction, Pottermore, and Do We Want an Eighth Harry Potter?

August 3, Wednesday

“Death is nothing but the next great adventure”: Death in Harry Potter

Writing Workshop: Death in Literature, and People’s Response to it

August 6, Saturday

Is It Time to Criticize Harry Potter? Problems Critics Have

The Weighing of the Wands

Hogwarts Diploma Distribution

The Yule Ball



Srishti Chaudhary: +919818889031,

Shreya Kalra: +91 9910652523,