DHANAK THE FILM- ROAD TRIP TO RURAL RAJASTHAN!

Dialogue from Dhanak, the film by Nagesh Kukunoor,

“अब हम साथ में धनक देखेंगे, रात वाला धनक!”

(Now we will see the rainbow together. The rainbow which appears in the night, that is!)

There are noisy big budget Bollywood films and then there are those Bollywood films which release without making much noise, touch the lives of those who appreciate good cinema and remain etched in their memory forever. I prefer the latter.

I went to watch Dhanak with zero expectations. After a sluggish beginning, the film surprised me with its riveting narrative and stellar performances by the kids. The film turned out to be a road movie (of a different kind!)

The story line is simple. A village girl fails her exams on purpose so that she can study with her visually impaired brother. The boy is a fan of Bollywood star Salman Khan while the girl is a fan of Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan. Both are Bollywood megastars and apparently rivals. When news spreads that Shahrukh Khan is shooting in nearby Jaisalmer, the girl gets excited. The excitement is less of a fan girl excitement but of the hope that the megastar may help her cure her brother. Earlier in film, she sees him promoting eye donation on posters.

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Watch Dhanak, the film, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor on DVD. (Pic Credit: Drishyam Films)

What ensues is an epic road journey from the nondescript village (Dhani) near Jaitaran to the touristy Jaisalmer and beyond. Dhani (Remember Chowki Dhani?) are the cluster of huts in rural Rajasthan, the residents of which either belong to same caste or family tree or both. The opening sequences slowly revealed the life in a hut in distant Rajasthan through its characters. Sleeping under stars in desert (The quintessential Rajasthan Package for the urban) is an everyday reality here. I wanted to jump into the screen as the wicked aunt cooks Bajra Roti on a wood fired mud oven and the uncle smokes a hukkah.

The kids are rebellious and confidently embark on the journey in the ‘veerana’ (uninhabited lands) all by themselves. What happens next is very relatable to me as a traveler. I have always found the rural Rajasthan more charming than the Rajasthan one sees in brochures. The hospitality, the food, the people in Rajasthan just win your heart. I have found the roads in the hinterlands of Rajasthan to be baby bottom smooth as was also evident in the movie.

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Khichan in Rajasthan was the most memorable part of my road trip to Rural Rajasthan

Having exhausted all their water, the kid bump into a truck driver and ask him for water. Amused by their banter and boy’s dramatic “I am going to die soon.” (he repeats that almost every half an hour), the driver interrupts his siesta and offers them a ride till Garnia naka. He also offers them Amdavadi farsaan (Gujarat shares border with Rajasthan and the influences overlap). The scene was totally believable as I have experienced such goodness on the roads of Rajasthan.

Music and food are important to me when I travel. As they waited for a bus, a ‘saadi ka tractor’ (Tractor carrying wedding attendees) stops. The drunk man in tractor and the little boy indulge in magical jugalbandi. The silence of the desert was broken with the echoes of their mehendi rang lago’ It was melodious and smelt of Rajasthani soil.

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Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan. Why I love rural Rajasthan!

The man offers them a ride, food and an overnight stay. The next day, they leave for Jodhpur sitting atop a jeep. I remember hanging on to the rear of such jeeps in rural Gujarat and feared for my dear life. They end up in a God women ‘Mamtamayi’ Sheera mata’s darbar. The enticing smell of sheera (aka halwa) and poori (fried bread) tempts the boy and they end up missing the bus since they queued up for the food. I have missed some buses in rural and remote areas only so that I could eat more. At other times, I have almost missed my trains and buses because I tend to walk a bit far in search of interesting food during breaks.

TRAVEL GONE WRONG: WHEN I WAS STRANDED IN RURAL GUJARAT IN PITCH DARK

While walking from Lohawat to Jodhpur, they bump into an American. When the American starts singing “All I am saying is, let’s give love a chance” the kid spices it up with a rustic version of ‘damadar mast kalandar’.  It was one of my favourite moment of the film. The jugalbandi ended with the echo of a peacock in the background. In my road trip to rural Rajasthan, I was amused to see hundreds of peacocks on either sides of the road, sometimes even sitting on the paan shops.

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Camels at Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan

The kids meanwhile get kidnapped and then rescued by a ‘banjara’ (nomad) women. Good opportunity to weave in a kalbelia dance performance! The kidnap and rescue was a bit simplistic and so was Shah Rukh Khan rescuing the dehydrated duo later from the desert and sponsoring the boy’s eye operation.

The film ends with the boy getting his vision back and with this heart warming song :

ख्वाबों में अपने तू,

घुल कर खो जा रे

पलकों पे सपने

मल कर सो जा रे

होगी फिर महक तेरे हाथो में

और देखेगा धनक तू रातों में!

 (Get lost in your dreams,

Rub the dreams on your eyelids and go to sleep.

You will discover sweet smell in your hands then,

And you will see a rainbow in the night!)

 

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My picture of Om Banna Temple in rural Rajasthan. They worship motorcycle here! It was shown in the film Dhanak, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor.

Ecstatic to see the sand falling from his hand the boy says, “isn’t it all beautiful?” The sister says, “Yes, everything is beautiful!”

I have noted down the names of the village so that I can make a journey or maybe even follow their trail. The visuals in the film for sure made me want to take this road trip.

Their route (From what I could construct) was:

A dhani near Jaitaran – Lohawat – Jemla Bus Stop – Om Banna Temple – Jodhpur – Jaisalmer.

 

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Dhanak, the film is directed by Nagesh Kukunoor (Pic credit: Drishyam Films)

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IIFA 2016 : A Bollywood Extravaganza in Madrid, Spain!

IIFA awards are one of the most awaited Bollywood awards of the year. What makes it stand out is its sheer grandeur and scale. Every year the award is celebrated in the best destinations across the world. It is never hosted in India but in international tourist hubs. It is a good strategy as it helps promote both Bollywood and the host destination.

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Me at the entrance of the venue!

I remember as a child I used to be excited about where the next IIFA awards is going to be held. Having travelled to some exotic as well as tried and tested destinations, IIFA 2016 will be held on 25th June, 2016 in Madrid over an elaborate 4 days event, marked with parties, songs, dancing, sightseeing and socializing. The events are scheduled between 23rd to 25th June.

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Anil Kapoor being his usual self!

Sitting on a couch and watching IIFA as a child, I never thought that one day I would be a travel blogger and will be invited to the press conference of the 17th edition at ITC Maurya, New Delhi. I joined the fun on 28th April, 2016 with my travel blogger and Bollywood blogger friends in tow.  The venue was just perfect and goes with the brand value of IIFA.

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Farhan Akhtar and Anil Kapoor listening attentively. Behind them are my travel blogger friends.

The stage was set and we were delighted just to sit right behind celebrated Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor and Actor/director/singer/writer/what not Farhan Akhtar. Farhan is the perfect choice for this year’s IIFA since his film ‘Zindagi na Milegi Dobara’ made Spain a household name in India. I think films help in big way in creating awareness and buzz around a destination even if it is already popular. Dressed in a fitting suit, Farhan was his usualm relaxed self while an ever enthusiastic Anil Kapoor was the party of the life with his signature style. He was so full of infectious energy and joie-de-vivre that he could put a 19 year old to shame.

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Anil Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar Lifting the cycles and our spirits!

Mr. Pankaj Munjal, Chairman and managing Director, Hero Cycles addressed the audience. He encouraged the audience to use cycles in their day to day life. This will help not only in adopting an eco friendly attitude but also a fitness routine. As an outdoor enthusiast, I see cycling as a great stress busting and calorie burning sport. He then invited Anil and Farhan on stage. The dynamic duo had the audience in splits when they pulled the Hero Cycles (Brand partner) up in the air. In fact Farhan Akhtar along with Shahid kapoor will host the awards this year. IIFA 2016b will boast of power packed, larger than life performances by mega stars such as Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Sonakshi Sinha,  Deepika Padukone etc. FICCI IIFA Global Business Forum will host Spanish and Indian Business leaders.

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Farhan Akhtar addressing the media.

In the words of Wiz Andre Timmins, director – Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. , “2016 is an exciting year for IIFA to be hosted in Madrid as this year also marks the 60th anniversary celebrations of India and Spain diplomatic relations. The platform of IIFA helps enhance the celebrations with a dynamic and diverse exchange of art, film, culture, music, fashion and business culminating into a gift of opportunity to bring both countries even closer together. The IIFA event in Madrid is going to be a star studded affair with excitement and anticipation growing hugely among the industry and more fans to come to Spain in June. It will be a magical and memorable time for locals and visitors that will get to witness the stunning performances live on stage at the spectacular IFEMA – Feria de Madrid. As ever this year is set to be a bigger and better extravaganza of entertainment than ever before.”

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Anil Kapoor addressing the media.

Very well said! I can imagine the fun it is going to be with IIFA buzz taking Madrid by storm. It has been my dream to go to Spain ever since I heard from some friends that Spain is one of the best countries of Europe. My desire only strengthened after watching the picturesque visuals of Spain in the film ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.’ Though, I will not be physically present in Spain for IIFA, but I am sure I will be glued to my Television for its telecast on Colors TV.

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Mr. Raj Nayak addressing the media

Mr. Raj Nayak, CEO of Colors TV addressed the media, “ IIFA for Colors is not only a win win partnership but is also a social investment where we congregate the who’s who of film fratennity under one roof away from India and give the global citizens a glimpse of their favourite stars. With the beautiful Madrid as the venue for IIFA 2016, we are looking at close to 600 million viewers from across the globe to regale in this extraordinary celebration of the Indian Film Industry on the Colors Platform.”

THE VIEW FROM MY SOUL WINDOW IS AS ANIL KAPOOR SAYS, JHAKKAS!

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The gorgeous lobby of ITC Maurya

The event was wrapped post a sumptuous lunch at the ITC Maurya. The legendary hospitality giant is known for its irresistible food. It was the first time I sampled a buffet of ‘ambrosia’ from ITC. The food was so good that even the simplest of dishes had me begging for more. A perfect venue for a perfect pre Awards event! It was an afternoon well spent.

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Me at the event.

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My Travel Blogger Friends, Swati, Manjulika, Parnashree (L to R)

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