An arrangement of 26 letters makes words. They have the power to build or break. They have the power to make someone feel love or hate. It’s quite simple actually, how you put your power of words to use…
For an example, these politicians use them to mislead us, to make us believe there will be a change.
While, Gandhiji used them to win over our freedom (and also our hearts).
Words have the power to make someone consider suicide; but they also have the power to encourage someone. Words can motivate a person from Yipps syndrome. Words can motivate a person who gave up in their dreams. On the other hands, they can also hurt people; they can cause people to dislike themselves.
Words, I repeat, are just an arrangement of letters.
I distinctively remember learning ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’ But in actuality it’s more like ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will only leave psychological damage.’
Similarly, I, Aranya Johar, will have a segment each month on Akash’s blog. With my use of words, I will try to send a message across. Something that will either motivate you or something that will inform you about something you haven’t known before. I will also include poetry here and there.
Thank you for welcoming me!
And thank you Akash for this opportunity.
Words can make someone feel beautiful or absolutely worthless… so remember to use your words wisely.

You can contact Aranya Johar here: aranya.aj@gmail.com

An Interview

I’ve been following him on Instagram forever and the minute I found out he was doing a new show on television, I knew I wanted an interview. On messaging his agent, I promptly received an email confirming the same. And I couldn’t be more glad. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed at how well-read and well-informed he was, despite his busy schedule. As cliched as that sounds, here’s Meiyang Chang unplugged, talking to me about his new show, his opinion on social media and his future plans..

> 1. Firstly I’d like to congratulate you on your emphatic ramp walk at the CPAA fashion show. Since when have you identified with social causes?
> Thank you Akash. The ramp walk for CPAA is the latest activity in an ongoing support for the association & its’ beneficiaries since 2008. I’ve also run the Mumbai marathon for charity, amongst other things. However, I’ve had a calling for social causes since my college days when we’d do free Dental Check-Ups & Awareness Drives. I’ve supported Greenpeace, CRY & HelpAge India for as long as I remember because I relate to the causes associated with them.

2. Tell me about your new show which seems very intriguing based on the promos. Is it crime? Is it romance?
> “Pyaar Tuney Kya Kiya” on Zing is crime in romance! The tagline for the show is “Jab Pyaar Hadh Se Guzar Jaaye” (when crime crosses all limits) & it’s interesting to narrate stories where the lines between right or wrong are blurred, all in a flush of passion. This is my first attempt at this genre & I love novelty in any form. Each new adventure has its’ own perks & challenges, and PTKK is one such adventure.

> 3. Have you ever had any unpleasant experiences in love? Anything like the stories your show will display?
> If you mean resorting to crime or physical violence, then fortunately not. I’m too much of a Buddhist to do that. I have felt hounded though, which has led to hiding or running away from my girlfriend in college. In hindsight, it seems so silly & juvenile but that’s what love, or the lack of it, can do to you. PTKK has a steady dose of the extremes that love can go to, and some of it is pretty ugly.

> 4. Any advice for people who are in online relationships?
> I don’t understand online relationships, just as I don’t understand online friendships. Irrespective of the advances in technology, I cannot relate to a person unless I’ve personally met them & spent time with them. The personal touch is imperative for me. We may share a great online rapport with people, but could have nothing to talk about in real life. That just doesn’t work for me.
To each their own, though. If you’re in an online relationship, great for you. Just don’t overreach & commit to something without verifying who that person is, and without knowing them personally. Be very careful if you don’t know them before hand & if you’re to meet them, take every possible precaution.
Don’t be paranoid. Chances are that you might hit it off & meet your soulmate there. Better safe than sorry, though. And if everything goes well, ditch the virtual world and spend dollops of time together in the real one.

> 5. You did a very unconventional movie “Badmash Company”. Regardless to say, we’d like to see you in more. Do you think Indian movies are coming into their own and breaking away from stereotypes?
> On the contrary, Badmaash Company was every bit your regular masala Bollywood potboiler. I’d say casting an oriental actor instead of the conventional faces was breaking away from stereotype & a laudable risk taken by my director Parmeet Sethi & Yash Raj Films. The fourth friend could’ve been anyone but they chose me. I commend & thank them for their belief and would like to think that the next Golden Age of cinema has arrived when it comes to unconventional choices.
Having said that, films as varied as Kahaani, Queen, Paan Singh Tomar, Gangs of Wasseypur, 3 Idiots, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Dev-D & the like are evidence that audiences as well as the makers have truly woken up to a changing taste & sensibility, and I as an actor and an audience, am impressed. The emergence of parallel & independent cinema as an equally accessible & enjoyable medium is another quantum leap for Indian cinema. My next film is one such project, due next year and I’m very excited about how mainstream-yet-different it is in that context and I see myself as part of more exciting projects.

> 6. Any views on abusive relationships?
> No one deserves to be in one, and the abuser is obviously sadistic & twisted in the head to subject their partner to such distress. An example needs to be set to put the abusers in their right place & to discourage similar incidents. The abusee also needs to stand up for their rights & testify. And no matter how much one might love their partner, an abusive relationship needs to be put to an end at the earliest. Life is too short to be lived with the wrong people.

> 7. A very generalised question. Do you think the masses and common people can actually make a difference to the society or are they mere pawns?
> Yes, we can. We may genuinely be puppets in the hands of the overarching authorities or social norms but education & awareness can set us free. The recent anti-corruption movement or the RTI Act haven’t eliminated governmental vices but it has taught the common man that that there are recourses that empower us, if we stand together as a team. Everything starts with one, but as a team the masses are a force to reckon with. Decades of wrongdoing would have to be undone to see some positive results in the near future but it is well within the realm of possibility. This applies both to the faults within the government as well as the society, and the beautiful bit is that most of it can be achieved amiably.

> 8. Do you believe in social media as a medium for people to voice their opinions?
> That’s a very tricky question. We’ve all seen the good that social media is capable of; be it building a revolution, providing real time information, sharing your work or reaching out to the world. However, with the increasing number of trolls (paid or otherwise), a misguided interpretation of the freedom of speech & general intolerance to debate make it extremely difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. More often than not, it becomes “my way or the highway”. Then again, many indulge in senseless banter or unprovoked trolling just because they’re “bored.”
Opinion is cheap; everyone has one. A prime example of this was the recent Lok Sabha elections in India. It was like the entire nation was at war with half-baked or faked information on social media. While some of it created genuine awareness towards the leaders & parties, most of it was just migraine-inducing mud-slinging. Again, people have been arrested for unsavoury comments on Social Media. Censorship is illogical but we as users need to know where to draw a moral line. Is it easy? Not at all.

It gives me immense pleasure to officially announce the addition of another member to the “Akash Kumar Sanity” family. Aranya Johar, whose poem you so vastly appreciated last week, will now be guest blogging on a monthly basis and will be conducting a segment-based post. Keep loving, sharing and following. Till next time.

Locking the Closets

Ever since I launched the blog, I’ve been itching to write about Homosexuality and LGBT rights in India. But given the topic’s sensitivity and scope, I couldn’t fathom the courage to do so. While “Whatsapp”-ing one of my friends about my future plans regarding the website, the topic of Gay Rights came up. My friend advised me to write an article about it considering its requirement and the sudden burst of popularity it has garnered. So, I’ve shed whatever inhibitions I possessed and have decided to engage you in a tete-a-tete. Please be gentle.
Let me begin by declaring that while I’m not wholly against anybody’s opinion, I do have a problem if it’s biased, narrow-minded and fickle. That being said, it’s worse if you mould your opinion to match it to those of your peers and colleagues. 11th December 2013 was supposed to be a good day. The day our country takes a positive step forward, towards modernisation and progression. The LGBT community along with a large part of the residual citizenry waited with baited breath, expecting a positive decision regarding the rights of the community. What unfolded instead, were a series of decisions by our judiciary that mocked the belief of every equality-believing and discrimination-loathing individual around the world.

What I fail to comprehend is why anybody should be bothered about the things that go on in someone’s bedroom. Section 377 states that any unnatural act of sexual activity is subject to criminalisation. My interpretation of an “unnatural act” would be forceful or deliberate. If both the parties are consenting to it, then whose beeswax is it? Our honourable judiciary takes three years to pass judgement on a terrorist’s sentence, and two years to pass judgement on a rapist’s sentence, but everybody suddenly becomes assiduous when it comes to homosexuality. Our politicians have the guts to side with rapists. Additionally a certain politician who goes by the name of Subramanian Swamy tweets “You need to go to a hospital. Being gay is mental disorder.”

We’re being regressive by seconding and supporting a law that was officiated during the British Rule in our country. Dear Government, there are so many other problems in the country right now. Poverty, Unemployment, Rapes, Murders, Slow Growth rate, Extortion. Some sagaciousness on that would be duly appreciated.
What I would suggest/request/advise my contemporaries would be to only create awareness, about this. Not only are people closeted about homosexuality, but also about their views on it. Everybody reading my blog is a part of the intelligentsia and is in a position to generate public opinion and mould it on the basis of facts and logic. We’re at an age where we can propel rationality in the minds of our forthcoming generations. The more we are discreet about this, the more we’re supporting the redundant law. And doesn’t everybody have the right to freedom as long as it doesn’t have negative consequences on the people around them?

Hereby, I present to you a wonderful poem by my super talented and upcoming poetess friend, Aranya Johar.

When I raise my son up,
I will tell him, you aren’t a boy,
You are a human.

And I will teach him, love isn’t about gender,
Love is about fulfillment.

And the day he will come and tell me
“Mother I am in love.”

I won’t ask ‘what’ he is in love with,
rather a ‘who’
Does he or she make him happy?
And if i get a yes in response,
It is sufficient for me

When I raise my daughter up,
I will teach her not to feel sympathetic for
those who love others of the same gender,
Rather I will tell her to learn from them

How easy is it to love someone regardless
of how they look or what they are, but
actually love someone by WHO they are.

If my children come to me and tell me
That they are gay or lesbian,
I will hug them, for to them,
what gift is better than acceptance?

And if I happen to see 2 white gowns picked
or 2 bowties picked on their wedding day,
I will smile, because

On her wedding day, I will know
The white gowns they wear will be in no compassion purer than their love

Or on his wedding day, I will know
The best men are not the ones behind the
grooms, but the best men are the ones
reciting their vows

And if my child accepts a person irregardless
of their sexuality, I will know
That I have achieved enough to say-
I have brought them up well
For, love is not about what you are,
Color, age, caste or race
It is about who you are
Who you are, when you look into the mirror
And see that face.


Honestly, we’re not achieving anything by locking the closets.