Art Is Forever

Art exists to poke fingers in society’s festering sores.

Art exists to blast open the sewers so that it’s stench makes difficult for people to breathe.

Art exists to give a voice to voiceless. Art exists to scream out loud what we are too afraid to admit to ourselves.

Art exists to spit in our faces when we powder our noses too much.

Art exists because society is the most gigantic of all human follies And the biggest victory of art is when society tries to curb it.

In the name of morality, religion, nationality, decency – art is asked time and again to step aside, to step down and to step away. But if it could just go away so easily, it wouldnt be art.

Art cannot to be stopped.

Art cannot be negated.

Art cannot be silenced. Because art, my friends, is truth.

Dear Society! You’ve been losing this battle since thousands of years. You will never win.

Art is immortal.

Art. Is. Forever.


Date: 6th Feb 2017

These were my first thoughts in reaction to the news that the High Court has ‘ordered’ the makers of #JollvLLB2 to remove 4 shots on the argument that the film ‘may lower the dignity’ of professionals working in judiciary system. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. mean dignity, and lawyers? This is intolerable attack on all arts. Our society, day by day, is moving towards a dark future. I’m an artist and say this out loud. This high court ruling is plain stupid and unnecessary- most probably driven out of some vested interest. Arrest me if I’m breaking a law by saying the truth out loud!

In Memoriam: Theatre Legend Arvind Joshi

I’m heartbroken! Theatre legend Arvind Joshi has passed away.


He was one of the greatest living actors, and I am fortunate enough to have met him and worked with him for a few months. The year was 2000, and I was an infant in the entertainment industry, barely a year old in Mumbai, having moved from Ahmedabad in 1999. It was a dream come true for me even to meet Arvindbhai, let alone have long conversations with him. But I was lucky. He had heard about the success of my Gujarati play ‘Amastaa Amastaa’ and had called me to meet him. He wanted to make a TV show and asked me if I had something for him. I pitched a story, he liked it, and we started jamming every alternate evening at his Juhu apartment.

Overlooking the garden, aided with endless cups of homemade Gujarati masala chai, we talked and talked and talked. Oh! Those wonderful conversations! We talked about anything and everything under the sun: Love, Life, Art, Theatre, Men, Women. Mostly about women because the show was about many faces of women. ‘Manuni’ it was called. The first thing he asked me was:

“What the fuck does it mean?”

I told him, Manuni means’ woman’ in Sanskrit. As expected, he followed up with:

“Why should we title the show in Sanskrit when they are all going to speak in Hindi?”

“Because ‘Manuni’ is a much better name for women than ‘Stree’, ‘Aurat’ or ‘Naari’. It is not derivative from any nomenclature of their male counterparts. ‘Maan’ is respect and the one who has self-respect is ‘Manuni’”.

“Fucking brilliant! Sharoo thai jaa!” (start writing), he said in his deeply textured voice.

Somedays, while we were ‘scripting’ (that’s what we called a session of jokes, laughter and mostly hollering excitedly) in his living room, his very sophisticated and courteous son, Sharman would walk in. Their communication would appear to be on a very need-to-know basis. They would coordinate family plans, or Sharman would just be informing Dad that he was stepping out for his rehearsals etc. But even in this very short exchange, you could feel how much he loved his son and what a good friend he was, to his family. Now, Sharman Joshi himself was a rising star on the Gujarati stage with his superhit play ‘All The Best’. I had seen him on stage in Ahmedabad, and quite frankly, I was in awe of Sharman’s talent. Of course, Sharman was brilliant! He was a legend’s son! As far as Arvindbhai’s antics on stage go – I had only heard of them. Few years before I started sitting in his apartment as his writer, I was just a drama student, and I had heard stories of Arvindbhai ‘owning the stage’.

One legend was about him doing a spell-bounding performance in the play #Baanshaiyya. He played a person with paraplegia in bed – a character inspired by the legend of Bheeshma from Mahabharat. Our drama teacher had seen him on stage and told us that Arvindbhai held the audience captive for over 2 hours with just his voice – the single most outstanding example of  ‘Vachika abhinaya’ at its best.

Most of us had seen Arvind Joshi only on the big screen. He played a small role in the #blockbuster movie #Sholay (1975) as Thakur’s eldest son, who gets killed by Gabbar.

In a mandatory but very short ‘must-love-them-before-they-get-killed-scene, we see Arvind Joshi with his wife who worries endlessly about their son. Their son keeps running to the railway station to watch trains – a guilty pleasure for rural kids that this Social Media obsessed city kids will never understand. When his wife says that she’s petrified because the trains run so fast, he turns to her and calmly says:

“Haan haan, saari duniya ki railgaadiyon ki dushamani hai tumhare bete se. Usey dekhte hi patri chhod ke uske peechhe pad jayengi.” 

Sarcasm at its best on screen, 20 years before #Chandler did it in #Friends. In his minuscule part of only three lines, Arvind Joshi ‘owned’ the screen just like he used to own the stage with his pitch-perfect delivery.

Arvindbhai never had that self-generated pulviscular cloud of superstardom around him at home or outside, unlike many actors worth half his talent. He wasn’t a pseudo-intellectual that most theatre literate people become so fast. He wasn’t an elitist, and he was beyond the barriers of stature, class, age, experience or seniority. He was child-like in his excitement, and children make friends easily. Since I don’t take myself seriously, we became friends quickly. Despite him being a legend and me being an ordinary upcoming writer, he allowed this friendship to grow generously. As the days progressed, I finished writing the pilot episode and the longer story arc. He loved it, and we would both act out the scenes, excitedly in his hall. I’m a very ordinary actor, but since I was the writer, he would make me speak the lines as I intended them to be spoken. I come from a Drama school where my teachers taught me that an actor’s performance should be evolving organically and not remain constrained by the writer’s or director’s imagination. And here he was, the biggest name in theatre, asking me how a character should say a particular line. When I argued that good actors would figure out how to speak a line on their own, he made a poker face and shot:

“Good actors? In Television?” And then burst out laughing.

I’m trying to say that despite being a star of theatre, he was aware of the limitations in the TV production ecosystem. He was pragmatic and was ready to adjust his expectations of this new medium. He had no airs about the ‘purity’ of art. He once said:

“What ‘Sattvika abhinaya’ do you expect from an actor on TV when one set of a monologue gets cut from 4 different angles, and 16 reaction shots get inserted during it? In this setup, even if the poor actor manages to find some consistency in his ‘Angika’ and ‘Vachika’ abhinaya, it is enough. Forget about ‘Sattvika’!”        


One day, when he was pleased with my dialogue writing, I felt particularly courageous and asked him about #Baanshaiyya. I told him that it was my single biggest regret that I couldn’t see him on stage. (He wasn’t acting anymore). I also told him that my drama teacher called his performance a ‘masterclass in vaachik abhinaya’. His eyes beamed up. He smiled and shook his head, initially trying to dismiss it. Then after a pause, he said:

“Yeah, I nailed it bhenchod. It was fun!”

We both laughed for a while, then he said:

“You know Mayur; there is an audio cassette of Baanshaiyya. We had recorded it, and the audio of my entire performance is on tape.”

I was shivering with excitement.

“Can I…” I wouldn’t even dare to complete my ask, and he hollered:

“Yeah yeah, next time, I’ll give the tape to you. Saambhaalje, majja aavshe tane.”

(Hear it. You will enjoy it.)

Unfortunately, that never happened. The TV channel didn’t pick up our show. I got my big break as a screenwriter with YashRaj Films, and my career as a screenwriter took off. I became super busy, and the complete asshole that I am, I did not keep in touch with him. I’m absolutely useless. I never call anyone on my own. I don’t deserve the friends I have. I couldn’t keep it going for long, but I’ll always cherish the friendship I shared with Arvindbhai. I wish I could get my hands on that tape of #Baanshaiyya – just once.

Just once… to hear that wonderfully textured voice of Arvind Joshi!


Mayur Puri

29th January 2021

WHY SALMAN RUSHDIE SHOULD NOT BE ASKED TO SHUT UP… (Please read only if your IQ is in 3 digits)

So, there’s this uproarious debate once again with controversy’s favorite child – Salman Rushdie. He says he was stopped from coming to the Jaipur Lit. Fest. by the government on the pretext of ‘danger to his life’ even though there was no concrete evidence of any threat against him. Government on the other hand is running around like a 4 year old caught pushing another child in kindergarten – ‘I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it! He pushed me first! He pushed me first!’ It’s fuckin’ hilarious!


We can’t catch a Dawood Ibrahim who has sold the country and run away. We can’t hang Kasab. But bring out an artist who dares to ‘express’ himself and we sure can ostracize him. Same for Hussain saab, same for Salman Rushdie. (Ek to artist, oopar se Musssalmaan? Get out of India! We’ll cry when you die, but don’t even think of getting a decent life here!)


If the government response is funny, even funnier are the desperate attempts of people like Chetan Bhagat, who are trying to lick the government’s ass and getting their own sweet 15 minutes of borrowed fame by saying that Rushdie is no big deal as a writer. OH PUHLEEESEE! GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK!!


Salman Rushdie is the biggest deal that happened to Indian Writing in English. EVER.

Let’s rewind a few decades and find out who is this Salman Rushdie?


Ok, so he’s that guy who wrote that book ‘SATANIC VERSES’.

Wasn’t that banned in India?



Because India is run by moronic leaders, who don’t read books but enjoy banning them.  No one in India has read Satanic Verses but everyone hates it. Muslims, obviously hate it because it’s supposedly against their faith and Hindus hate it because they are fucking scared of rubbing Muslims the wrong way. (They got all the bombs and the Bhais… Boo… Hooo!!)  The other minorities are just irritated with anything that disturbs peace and they don’t matter anyway. So the book is banned in India. EVEN TODAY!!!  We can read the KAMASUTRA… Our tourism departments will promote temples with orgies sculpted on their walls in children’s magazines… but a book that mocks a religion… NOOOOOOOOO! Because our kids can understand Khajuraho is artistic but our grown ups can’t understand that SATANIC VERSES IS JUST A FUCKING BOOK!! (Sorry, it’s not just a ‘fucking book’. That would be Kamasutra again.)


Anyway, for the blasphemous task of having an opinion and creatively expressing it, Salman Rushdie was slapped by a ‘FATWA’ against him by some Islamic leadership.

What is ‘Fatwa’? No, it’s not a fat Chinese guy, however it sounds.

No one knows what is the true meaning of FATWA these days. Originally, it must have meant something crucial and necessary in the Islamic world but today it only means – ‘You got a bigger cock than me and I can’t stand it! So I’ll tell my people to kill you and then I’ll make a dildo of your penis to pleasure my 4 wives with’. Of course, I’m kidding! ‘FATWA’ loosely means – I hate your guts. And I’m keeping the dildo for myself.


Jokes apart, Rushdie has flirted with disaster for a major part of his life. Personally, I’m not a fan of all his books but I love how tenaciously he has shown a middle finger to the middle-east mentality all his life. Yes, he had the balls to live under a ‘FATWA’ when the very word itself made people pee in their pants across the world. He also had the charisma and the flair to date supermodels. (I guess that is what irks other writers more. ‘Uski godi mein Padma aur meri godi mein Sadma?’)


Yesterday a politician type intellectual was saying on TV that Rushdie is not a great writer at all. ‘I couldn’t get through the first 100 pages of Midnight’s Children’ – he waved his hands, dismissing a book that won a Booker of Bookers – the biggest fucking honor a writer can have after the Nobel prize. (Rushdie may never get a Nobel… he’s too controversial for that).  Yes, my dear idiot, you couldn’t get through the 100 pages because you need an IQ in 3 digits to… Hey, why are you reading this post? Didn’t I warn you in the title already?


Now, I’ve some friends who have the IQ in 3 digits but still are going to be upset with me for writing this note and defending Rushdie. These are the people who have ‘rediscovered’ their Islamic roots recently. They weren’t so religious earlier but now, since ‘Islam Khatarey mein Hai’ they have become ‘Maan na maan, main tera mussalmaan.’ I can only tell them one thing: Buddy, Islaam is too big as an idea and a way of life… It cannot be in danger because of a book or two. You should rather focus on spreading literacy in the Islamic world first. Then worry about what people write.


Coming back to Rushdie. I don’t know him personally and I have not even read all his books. I’ve never met him, nor am I dying to. But I am a fairly educated person and I’m not gonna close down my eyes to the fact that it was him who opened the gates of publishing for Indian writing. He is the most researched writer in contemporary Indian writing. He brought in the fame, the money, the glamor and the glitz to Indian writers (or the writers of Indian origin). The entire genre of ‘INDIAN WRITING’ got a huge impetus because of him. Because of his extremely interesting writing and life. Novel as a form of literature was almost dead when Rushdie came in and fuelled it with his ‘magic realism’ – a gift of narration that is now a part of our lives in such a huge way. Just think of it. Films are written with unreliable narrators now but who did it first?  If there would be no Salim Sinai, of Midnight’s Children, there would possibly no role for Kevin Sapcey in ‘The Usual Suspects’ – Hell, there would be no Ususal Suspects! And if there was no ‘Usual Suspects’, there would be no hindi film ‘loosely inspired’ by it called ‘Chocolate’.  Oh shit, I just remembered, ‘Chocolate’ was my first film as a lyricist!!


I knew there was a connection!!




faces faces

millions of them.

eyes running into foreheads:

cheeks into chin:

ears into lips:

a messy mass,

nothing’s personal.





shadows of darkness:


the sun rusted:

the moon arrested:

and the vulnerable stars keep on falling

like dry peepal leaves.

but then

leaves do find a ground.

at least.


My grandma has tears in her eye.

The wind that blows now is full of dust.

She opens her eye in contempt and disgust.

She cannot look up to the dry barren horizon.

She closes her eyes in pity and remorse. 


A tear, tired and impotent like her dreams


Aimlessly down her cheek –

Finding its lonesome way

Through the wrinkled highway.

I hold her palm.


But her fingers don’t speak to me like they used to.

They don’t even stir.

However the wrinkles steadily are making

An impression of passive hopelessness. 


Those are the fingers that had sown

So many seeds in the backyard

Of the old house.

All that is gone now.

The tenements now have paved –

Cemented – covered – constructed places

In the backyard, for inevitable chores

Like washing and storing things.

No room for her plants now.

Grandma, I believe died with her plants.


I want to wipe out her tears

And tell her that the world is

Never the same next second.

What with all these thermonuclear tests,

Ozone holes, Acid rains, Scams, Bans,

Global Warming etc. etc….

And this one-eyed monster of a TV…

The world is changing too fast for me too.

I want to tell her that I’m perhaps

As outdated and old as she is. 


But still,

I want to go on living and am

Grateful to her.

‘Coz she first bore the womb

That brought me to this world.


I don’t think she’ll apprehend.

She’ll go on living with that

Lost, forlorn and deceived look

In her sad teary eyes

And see the posterity dance to the tunes

That don’t even sound like music to her.

But I believe she died with her plants.