The Common Man Speaks

8Feb/170

Kala Ghoda Festival 2017 Photos

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is back in Mumbai, like it is in the first week of every November since a decade. And like every year, this time too the Kala Ghoda lane is packed with a number of work of arts surrounded by a large contingent of art enthusiasts of Mumbai.

This year, there is a big difference which one can easily spot. And a good one at that. A large statue of a black horse (Kalal Ghoda) is adding to the beauty. Maybe because of this, it seems horse is the theme this year. One can find different works of arts modeled on quite a few horse structures inside the Kala Ghoda lane.

Here are some more pictures from this year's (2017) Kala Ghoda Arts Festival:

 

Street loaded with art pieces lit up during a winter evening.

Kala Ghoda

The new statue of Kala Ghoda (black horse) at the start of the street.

 

A horse statue made out of plastic bottles. 'Best from waste' has been a favourite theme at this festival ever since its inception.

Amazing 3D painting. First time I ever saw one.

 

Another part of the same 3D painting. One can see the picture of the great freedom fighter and social reformer, Lokmanya Tilak. Byculla Zoo also features at the top.

A huge kite made out of waste materials.

A unique statue of a horse made out of green leaves. Needless to say, it gives the message of going nature-friendly.

A statue where you can write any damn message. You will find all kinds of bizarre messages too if you look closely.

A slide where even grown-ups can try their hand, rather legs. After all, dil toh bachcha hai ji.

The country is going through a phase when the importance of Indian army and defence is at an all time high. So, it isn't surprising to see an army tank at the end of the festival lane.

11Oct/160

Dussehra short story: When will good destroy evil? She wondered…

By: Keyur Seta

Vidya’s final year in college was about to end. She was studying in Commerce in Symbiosis College in Pune for the last five years. Their tenure was supposed to end with the annual day function. Vidya was keenly looking forward to the day as she was supposed to enact a one-act play.

Her performance was met with a standing ovation. The play slammed the practice of forceful marriage of girls and that to at a tender age of early 20s. The subject and Vidya’s passion towards it deeply struck a chord with the audience. Not many from the audience knew that even in her personal life, she is like a silent rebel.

The act made Vidya’s final moments in college deeply memorable, along with loads of bagful of memories from five years. As she was on her way to her home in Mumbai, she had mixed feelings. While she was sad to see her college life ending, there was a sense of joy to reunite with her family – mother, father, elder brother and sister-in-law. While alighting from the train, she had a wide smile reading a text on her mobile phone.

It was joy indeed for her to be back home. She spent the first few days relaxing. There was a sense of contentment she experienced in Aamchi Mumbai, despite the late September heat and all other issues the city suffered from. After she realized she had enough of those restful days, she decided to hunt for a job.

Picture: fsquarefashion.com

Picture: fsquarefashion.com

Vidya’s father, Ramanlal, entered her room while she was busy doing something on her laptop. A single peep on her screen made him realize that she was surfing a job site. He gently sat down in front of her with a smile. Vidya adjusted herself as she became conscious of his presence. She had no idea that his father’s casual visit to her room will change her life forever.

Ramanlal calmly told her that there is no point in searching for a job. Vidya, obviously, was surprised. He elaborated himself saying that her marriage is fixed. Vidya got the shock of her life. As she showed signs of contempt, Ramamlal raised his voice and said that this is their family tradition; a girl is married off when she reaches her early 20s.

Ramamlal further said that the guy is from a good family and the son of their family friend. More importantly, he is from the same community, caste and sub-caste. And being a father, he cared for their status in their biraadri or samaaj. A teary-eyed Vidya explained that she plans to do MBA right now. Marriage can happen later.

But Ramanlal pointed out that girls from their community aren’t allowed to work. She will have to be a wife and her only concern should be to look after her husband. Despite being shocked, she tried protesting saying that she doesn’t even know the guy. But his father cut her short stating that the guy is from a rich family and runs a profitable business. What else does a girl need?

Ramamlal left the room in a hush and ordered his wife, who was witnessing the scene near the door, to make sure she gets ready for marriage. With tears flowing down her cheeks, she asked her mother why did they send her to college then. Her mother said without emotion, “A well-educated girl gets a good husband.” Vidya further asked frustratingly, “But what about my dreams?” Her mother replied coldly, “Your only dream should be to be a good wife and mother.”

Vidya was hell shocked! She just couldn’t believe what happened to her. In the days to come, her parents’ behavior changed towards her drastically. Vidya was numb. She couldn’t believe these are her own parents. She felt as if someone else is impersonating them. She came to know from her cousin that the same thing happened with her. She too experienced the same change in her parents’ behavior when she had refused marrying so early.

This made Vidya recall the disturbing conversation between her parents and brother when he refused to marry so early. Being just 16 during that time, she hadn’t thought much about that incident up till now.

Vidya was insulted by her parents and relatives even if she slightly protested against the marriage. She was trapped. There was just no way out. Finally, she had to give in. Yes, she extinguished all her dreams for, what her parents described as, a heavenly bond.

Picture: voc.org.my

Picture: voc.org.my

The engagement was fixed on the day after Dusshera. It was one day away. Vidya was sitting by her window overlooking the rapidly developing area of Kandivali east. Her phone beeped. Instantly she replied to the message with, “Yes, all set.”

The day arrived. On one hand, all the preparations were made for the engagement. At the same time, the city was gearing up to celebrate Dusshera. Various Ram Leela pandals were all set to ignite effigies of Ranava. The act symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

It was just an hour to go for her engagement. Vidya was seated comfortably by the window. She recalled the time when she read Vicky’s text while getting down to Mumbai from Pune. The message said that his parents had agreed for their marriage. She was then reminded of the traumatic times that followed. Her flashback ended when she had replied to his text with, “Yes, all set.”

Vidya took her eyes off from the window, turned towards her right and smiled. Vicky smiled back and they held each other’s hands warmly. Soon, the flight attended instructed the passengers to fasten their seat belts.

As the plane took off, Vidya’s eyes fell on the effigy of Ravana that was being burnt much below her. She had witnessed this sight numerous times before. But it was only during that moment that she truly understood the meaning of the phrase 'victory of good over evil.'

3Jul/160

Mumbai’s Irani Restaurants open their first roadside stall at Andheri

By: Keyur Seta

Irani Restaurants or Hotels enjoy an iconic status in Mumbai. Their special tea, Bun Muska and other snack items are a delight for your taste buds. But along with food, its ambience provides a feeling that cannot be described in words. It gives the old world charm of the old uncomplicated and simple Bombay.

Irani-Restaurant-MumbaiUnfortunately, a large population of the city is bereft of this experience because there aren’t many Irani Restaurants. Mumbai is so large that it is also practically impossible to open such cafes all over the city.

But it seems this problem will slowly cease to exist, at least for some part of the population. Irani Restaurants have recently started a roadside stall at Andheri. In all these years, this is the first time that I came across a roadside branch of Irani Cafes. Along with their most loved items like tea and Bun Muska, they also serve snacks like Omelet and Maggi.

Now, to answer your most obvious question, the taste of the tea is the same as the one served in their restaurants and that too for a price as low as Rs 10. Plus, there is no difference in the cups as well.

But still to be doubly sure, I confirmed with the person handling the stall that it is indeed a branch of Irani Restaurants. It’s located exactly opposite Cinepolis Cinemas (Fun Republic earlier), which is in the lane opposite Laxmi Industrial Estate at Andheri Link Road.

It won’t be surprising if they come up with more such stalls. But apart from letting more Mumbaikars relish the Irani experience, it can also be a case of them being forced to do that since it is a sad reality that old iconic eateries of Mumbai are slowly closing down due to financial issues.

The latest victim is the very famous and iconic Mani’s Café at Matunga.

Irani-Hotel-Mumbai

8Feb/160

Kala Ghoda 2016 Pictures

By: Keyur Seta

It's that time of the year again. The month of February has begun with the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, like it has been the case since almost a decade. And like every year, this year too the vibrant arts of different forms was a treat to the eye.

So, here are the pictures from the 2016 Kala Ghoda Arts Festival:-

 

(For the full schedule of the 2016 Kala Ghoda Festival click HERE.)

(Click on the pics to enlarge)

Kala-Ghoda-festival-2016

Kala-Ghoda-2016

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Kala-Ghoda

Kala Ghoda

Kala Ghoda festival

Kala Ghoda 2016

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IMG_20160207_174122939_HDR

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Kala Ghoda-2016

Kala Ghoda 2016-photos

Kala Ghoda pictures 2016

Kala Ghoda 2016 photos

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IMG_20160207_175132568_HDR

Kala-Ghoda-2016-pictures

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12Dec/1511

Caste Away… (Short story)

By: Keyur Seta

“This is utterly shameful,” said Ashok with a disgusted look on his face. The 55-year-old bank employee was sitting with his gang of like-minded friends at their usual hangout place at Shivaji Park. Located in the Dadar locality of Mumbai, the place is thronged by people of all ages.

While teenagers and the ones in the 20s are either seen playing some sport or jogging, the elderly ones like Ashok and company usually, after a leisurely walk, gather around at their habitual spot to discuss and debate on various topics, mostly cricket or politics.

Today was the turn of politics. The reason for Ashok’s anger was a statement by an MLA from the opposition party in Uttar Pradesh. The state elections were due and the wily politician smartly played the caste card to woo voters belonging to his ‘caste’. Even in 2015, vote bank politics, especially with regards to religion and caste, was still prevalent in India.

Shivaji Park. (Picture by Sam Desai)

Shivaji Park. (Picture by Sam Desai)

“There are already various forces that are dividing the country on the basis of religion,” continued Ashok, “If this wasn’t enough, morons like him are stooping even lower by using something as shameful as casteism, even in 2015. How further backwards are we going? Only God knows when our late freedom fighters’ dream of a united India would come true.”

Normally, the gang would debate and, at times, argue like panelists on a news debate show. Over the last few years, people, who generally hated politics, have strong political opinions, so much so that any disagreement makes them aggressive. But as far as Ashok and gang are concerned, their debates or arguments always automatically ended with the rise of darkness as all disperse to their respective homes.

But today, that was not the case. The statement by the MLA found no takers. Agreeing with him would mean defending the indefensible. So, this time, each went to his respective home in a calm state. But Ashok was not only calm but also excited for what he had planned before dinner.

Swati, his 25-year-old daughter, was of marriageable age, he thought. Like every parent, he wanted her to have a life-partner, who would shower her with happiness and care. Ashok’s excitement knew no bounds as he braced himself to prepare a matrimonial advertisement for her. It took him 40 years back in time. The feeling was similar when he was filling his college admission form after passing 10th standard.

Despite the digital age, people from Ashok’s generation still couldn’t do without the morning newspaper. Daily he used to eagerly wait for the newspaper guy. But today, the excitement was uncontrollable. Unlike other days, Ashok didn’t even glance at the important front page news. He quickly turned to the matrimonial page. He couldn’t stop smiling as his eyes fell on Swati’s matrimonial ad that appeared…

… under the section of their ‘caste’.

30Oct/150

Why was Anupam Kher booed at Tata Literature festival?

By: Keyur Seta

Veteran actor Anupam Kher was booed quite a few times yesterday from a large crowd during a debate at Tata Literature Live festival. The topic of the debate was – Freedom of Expression is under imminent threat.

Sudheendra Kulkarni and Shobha De were for the motion while Anupam Kher and BJP’s Nalin Kohli were against. Kulkarni and De put forth their points related to recent incidents and statements by politicians. Kulkarni specially stressed on the statement against the protesting authors by Arun Jaitley. “If the government thinks this is a manufactured protest, they are mistaken.”

Kulkarni also condemned the act of Shiv Sena members who had inked his face for launching a book by Pakistani author Kasuri. He also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making sure the atmosphere of intolerance is nullified.

“The PM and his colleagues should ask themselves why the President of India Pranab Mukherjee had to appeal for peace and remind India of its 5000 year old history of tolerance?”

Picture: itimes.com

Picture: itimes.com

Kulkarni was most vocal against the fringe elements demanding a Hindu Rashtra. “The idea of Hindu Rashtra violates the idea of secularism, which is against the Constitution of India. India never was and will never be a Hindu Rashtra.”

Kohli gave a clichéd government whataboutery response by citing incidents of the past. But his response was quite peaceful. But the arguments put forth by Anupam Kher draw huge outrage from the audience. He was booed regularly and rightly so.

Here is the gist of Kher’s arguments:-

- Firstly, he said he wasn’t told the debate would be in English and he is weak in it. Everybody knows such literature festivals are always in English. Plus, we have seen him debate in English on news channels regularly.

- He started going off track right away by personally attacking De for editing a gossip magazine decades ago and mentioning who slept with whom.

- Then went on to call her pseudo-intellectual, just like those Bhakts.

- He expressed his disappointment towards Kulkarni for agreeing to launch a book of a Pakistani by citing how our neighboring country has been executing terrorist attacks here. Once again, completely off topic. Somebody should remind Kher that he acted in Veer-Zaara where he preached harmony between both nations.

- He said, “People returning the awards have an agenda. They can’t handle a chaiwala becoming a PM.”

- Here comes the KILLER. Towards the end when he realized most people from the audience are against his views, he accused organizer Anil Dharker, a respected figure, of having a PAID AUDIENCE!!!

What else do you expect other than boos? Never expected this great artist to debate or argue like those Twitter trolls.

Other highlights of the debate:-

- Reacting on the point raised by Kher and Kohli as to why people didn’t protest against the atrocities in the past, an elderly person from the audience said, “You mean to say, just because we were quite earlier, we should continue to remain quite? How long shall we remain silent?”

- Kiron Kher, BJP member and wife of Anupam Kher, took the mic to defend her husband. However, her arrogant ways also garnered boos from the audience.

- Before the debate, most people from the audience voted for the motion. After the end, close to 90% took that stand.

29Oct/150

Why Ulhanasnagar citizens are celebrating potholes?

By: Keyur Seta

UlhasnagarIt’s the season of festivals in India. But along with festivals like Diwali, the citizens of Mumbai’s Ulhasnagar locality are celebrating a one-of-its-kind carnival. It’s called Ulhasnagar Potholes Festival (UPF). Yes, you read it right. It’s a festival ‘celebrating’ the menace of potholes in Ulhasnagar in a sarcastic manner.

The movement is started by two residents of Ulhasnagar, Bhavna Chhabria Nainani and Professor Rekha Thakur as, like numerous others, they too are fed up with the problems faced due to the potholes and the innumerable false promises by the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC). The movement is initiated under Manch TV, a local TV channel.

The whole idea is to ask people to send photographs of potholes in Ulhasnagar, which would be posted on the Facebook page – Ulhasnagar Potholes Festival (visit it here). Following this, a team from Manch TV will worship the pothole and give it a name. This will, obviously, put the authorities to shame and they will be compelled to fill them.

The residents have instantly started sending in pictures of the potholes they came across and things have gone as per planned. In fact, the UMC has already started the temporary repairing of potholes on Bhatia Chowk Road, Nataji Road, Ulhas Flyover and Hira Ghat Road (as seen in the pictures below).

Says Rekha, who is also the local corporator, “The roads of our city are in pathetic condition and in spite of the numerous complaints sent to the concerned authorities, nothing was being done to resolve the issue. Fed up of all this, we decided to do something unusual to get the attention of media, authorities and citizens and it has really worked!”

Bhavna adds, “Frequent major accidents took place in Ulhasnagar due to the worst condition of roads. As nothing worked, we finally decided to do a mockery of system through our Ulhasnagar Potholes Festival and within few days maximum roads of the city were repaired.”

Although the movement has already started achieving favorable results, it is certainly not the end. Change, after all, is a never-ending process.

Pictures after the roads were repaired:

Ulhasnagar pictures

Ulhasnagar potholes

All pictures sourced from Ulhasnagar Potholes Festival Facebook page.

19Oct/150

INK Live 2015: Of innovations, motivations and Josh Radnor’s humility

By: Keyur Seta

Remember how Aamir Khan’s character felt in PK when he landed on our planet? The scene was similar when a workshop on electrical engineering was attended by someone like me, whose experience in electrical stuff is limited to changing bulbs and batteries of TV remote. The only difference is that I didn’t have to cover myself up with a transistor or radio.

The apparatus provided at the workshop

The apparatus provided at the workshop

The event was INK Live 2015 in Mumbai at the Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI). It was the 7th edition of INK, which was attended not only by the students of the institute but also by people from all walks of lives and age groups. I got the privilege to attend for being a blogger registered with BlogAdda.

Thankfully though, my experience after the commencement of the workshop, titled Art & Technology Workshop, was no way similar to that of PK. Although I was quite out of sorts at the start with the materials provided in the form of a battery, few wires and a device (don’t know what it is called), there wasn’t a problem later on.

In fact, it turned out to be a fun activity. We were taught to pass current through our hands and arms and create music out of it (see the video). The friendly nature of the teacher and his helpful volunteers largely helped. But my partners at the exercise, Nilesh and Saurabh, made things very easy for me since they had studied electrical stuff in the past.

This was probably the first time I had such fun inside a classroom after finishing school, despite feeling like Shah Rukh Khan’s character in Main Hoon Na since almost everyone out there was a teenager.

Here is the video glimpse of our fun experience at the workshop:-

 

INK also provides a platform to students to showcase their scientific innovative skills. This is where I met a couple of 12th standard students from Chennai, Yogesh Kumar and Shubham S, who have invented a miniature Landmine Detector or Landmine Detection Robot with some help from their teacher from Surana Jain Vidyalaya. As the name suggests, the device can help locate landmines in war-torn areas. Their passion and knowledge was visible from the way they answered all queries like professionals.

Part 1 of Landmine Detector

Part 1 of Landmine Detector

Interactive talk by well-known personalities and intellectuals is also an important feature at INK and this year was no different. The likes of Irrfan Khan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Kiran Rao, and Gingerr Shankar were among the many speakers at the event.

It was pleasing and motivating to listen to Babar Ali, who is the Youngest Headmaster in the World, according to BBC. While narrating his success story, he revealed that once he couldn’t speak at an event as he didn’t know English. But he vowed to learn English and speak at the event next year and did that. Today, he is doing his Masters in English Literature.

Pranay Chulet, the founder of Quikr, spoke about his upcoming film on terrorism. It’s a genre never-tried-before for it combines a feature film and video game. The user will have to choose playing any one of the characters and the film will move forward according to the choice s/he makes.

But then came Josh Radnor, the creator and actor of the hugely popular TV series How I Met Your Mother, where he plays Ted. He received the maximum applause for his interaction, which was both hilarious as well as thought-provoking. His humble and down-to-earth nature won over the audience.

So, all in all, it was an interesting and enlightening experience. It reminded me that there is always so much to learn in the world and learning is an unending process. It was my first INK experience and certainly not the last.

Part 2 of Landmine Detector

Part 2 of Landmine Detector

 

During the workshop

During the workshop

21Sep/153

Where are these religious groups when Ganeshotsav is insulted?

By: Keyur Seta

I became aware about the existence of various pro-Hindu groups around a decade ago. Interestingly, I got enlightened about them only because of their opposition to certain Hindi films, which, according to them, hurt their religious sentiments. In fact, if you look back closely, you will realize that almost all their protests have only been against films and, at times, books.

Picture: Pravin M Parab on Flickr

Picture: Pravin M Parab on Flickr

Now, let us focus on a harsh and disturbing reality regarding one of the most important Hindu festivals. People staying in Mumbai even since few years would know how the Hindu festival of Ganeshotsav is grossly insulted each year. A single experience at Mumbai’s Ganesh Visarjan is also enough to realize this.

The following scenes are witnessed each year during the festival:-

- Liquor consumption during Visarjan is not new in Mumbai. You will find a lot of these over-enthusiastic ‘devotees’ dancing during Visarjan high on daaru.

- Eve-teasing of girls/ women during Visarjan with vulgar terms or slogans is also on display while bringing the idol and also during immersion. I have heard harrowing experiences of my own friends.

- There has been uproar against playing of sleazy item numbers during the festival; sometimes right beside the Ganesh idol. But this has had no effect on the organizers. Songs like ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’, ‘Munni Badnaam’, ‘Fevicol Se’, ‘Baby Doll’, and some even worse continue making rounds each year.

- Firecrackers worth thousands are burst during Visarjan, which hugely increases the level of air pollution. Roads always appear hazy during some big Visarjan. This also has numerous health hazards.

Picture: Bloggr.in

Picture: Bloggr.in

- Noise pollution is the major turn off for residents of Mumbai. In fact, the term ‘noise pollution’ is too mild to describe the menace caused. Plus, the commotion with super loud DJ music moves at a snail’s pace, which adds to the agony. Torture caused towards infants, aged, ill, heart patients, students and animals is ignored by these so-called devotees of the Lord.

The above-mentioned activities take place right in the open. So, it is impossible for the members of these pro-Hindu groups to not know about it. This brings a lot of uncomfortable questions for them.

Why there hasn’t been a single agitation against the shameful insult of the Hindu festival? Leave alone protest, why nobody from your ‘religious’ groups has not even spoken against this ever? Have you ever thought about the real intention of Lokmanya Tilak behind starting this festival? On the other hand, ardent members and followers of your groups literally go up in arms while demanding bans on harmless films, sometimes even resorting to violence.

Are your religious sentiments only limited to objecting Hindi films? The fact that you are not coming out against these shoddy practices in the name of a Hindu festival defeats the very purpose of your existence.

9May/150

Being Coward: How Salman lost despite getting bailed?

By: Keyur Seta

The sane citizens of India are furious and frustrated after the Bombay High Court verdict that granted bail to Salman Khan yesterday (the rest are surely insane). This is completely obvious considering Salman’s crime, his shameful twisting of facts and, worse, the manner in which he got Constable Ravindra Patil killed by physically and mentally torturing him through his influence.

Just a couple of days ago, large number of people posted the message ‘Faith in judiciary restored’ across social media. But soon, that faith turned out to be a false alarm. In fact, it has nullified whatever little faith people had with our law system with regards to the conviction of the rich and famous. It has once again reinforced the belief that such category of people are above the law.

But I would like to explore another angle on this issue. While the public outrage is completely justified and necessary, it would be wrong to think that all is well for Salman now. The actor has lost more than he has gained with every bail that he has mastered till now through his influence, power and shoddy tactics.

His life would have been much more pleasant and peaceful had he owned up to the crime at the initial stage itself in 2002. In other words, he would have gained a lot despite getting jailed then.

This is how:-

Picture: Indianexpress.com

Picture: Indianexpress.com

Uncertainty: Although Salman is a free, the serious charges on him still exist. Hence, his life is completely uncertain. He doesn’t know what would happen to the case and subsequently to him. He will always think about the case before signing a new film. The same would be the case with the filmmakers. Of course, it is easy to bribe your way out but what if the judge is honest like the one in the Sessions Court? In other words, the sword will continue to hang above him.

Lack of Peace: Even if you have the most luxurious materials at your disposal, your life will be far from peaceful if your mind is in complete turmoil. The same is the case with Salman right now. He might appear happy to the outside world but a person who has committed such a crime and later, to save himself, had an eye-witness tortured to death can never have a peaceful sleep. Self-created jail can be more troublesome than real jail.

Golden Opportunity: Salman failed to grab the golden opportunity of becoming a real-life hero by confessing to the crime. Had he done that in 2002 itself, he would have been completely free by 2007 (if he was given a five-year sentence) and the ghosts of uncertainty would have vanished. He would have been free to take any decision regarding his future without a bother about the case and would have won many a hearts, including mine.

Personal Life: It is not right to comment on anybody’s personal life but this is purely from the point of view of what could have happened had Salman confessed. Quite a few times Salman has said that he hasn’t married till date because of the sword of the case hanging above him. So, naturally, had he confessed his crime soon enough, he would have been free long back to get married and started his own family.

Stress: Anybody who has visited court even for a minor issue would agree that court visits are truly stressful. So, it would be all the more stressful in Salman’s case not only because of the fact that it is a serious issue but also due to the chaos considering his celebrity status. He would have been saved from this circus too had he listened to his conscience.

Salim sir’s Plight: This is the most important point. The sorry plight of Salman’s father Salim Khan due to this mess is anybody’s guess. It is clearly visible from his expressions and body language during this whole episode. By not owning up to the crime, Salman has provided great pain to his father in his old age. Had he done that, Salim sir wouldn’t be going through such turmoil in this age.

Although it is clearly a crime to drink-and-drive, Salman can argue that he wasn’t in his senses when the accident happened or things weren’t in his control. However, he was completely in control in what happened after that, as in the manner in which the whole issue shaped up.

Had Salman showed some character and responsibility, his life would have been pleasant and peaceful rightnow. But he resorted to Being Coward than Being Human.