Thursday, 7 September 2017

9 Types Of Men I Met On My First Solo Trip

9 Types of Men I Met On My First Solo Trip
Men will also be the first breed that we, women will be warned about! And why not? The complimenting and contradicting relationship between a man and a woman is quite a constant globally.
I took my first ever-solo trip about 6 months ago. The idea of an Indian female solo traveler was not something my parents were very cool about. The first 1 to 100 worries on their list had something to do with men. Honestly, I cannot blame them! So like Officer Judy Hopkins in Zootopia, I was warned against my encounter with the foxes in the unknown land.
So right from my flight to my way back, I encountered 9 interesting specimens… I mean MEN. Here’s why I won’t forget them (also that they were extremely charming and good looking):
  1. That Indian Creep On The Plane

After a brief layover at the Hamad International Airport in Doha it was time to finally fly to my destination, Istanbul. That’s where I encountered creep number one- an Indian merchant who had moved to Qatar. Taking advantage of similar nationalities, this man got really chatty and EVENTUALLY ANNOYING. Definitely one of those freeloaders who had to be stopped and shooed away after 2 free drinks. Needless to say, this guy wanted my number and was keen on catching up for dinner (despite him staying about an hour and a half away)  PHEW! *BLOCKED*
  1. A Turkish Cop

Imagine, your first night in a foreign land and a cop asks you to handover your phone ‘cuz you clicked the photo of an open street! I don’t know if I was more nervous or suspicious about his authenticity, I fought for a good 15 minutes before I walked away. While the incident often sounds BLAH to me, I think it was strangely significant in making me more alert while traveling for the next entire week!
  1. My Couchsurfing Dinner Date

    9 Types of Men I Met On My First Solo Trip
    (Sorry Caner, I’ve stolen your FB profile picture)
As excited as I was about my first solo trip, I was also keen on trying out different ways of cutting my budget and meeting more people. I tried posting a public trip on Couchsurfing and was surprised with over a 100 guys responding! I decided to catch up with a handful bunch over coffee. Caner Uzun was my first couchsurfing experience and my first friend in Istanbul. The best thing about him? He’s a normal guy, sweet, sensible and sensitive. I learned more about Istanbul through him than any guide book or article.
  1. That Man Who Believed in Love At First Sight

I’d rate this as my craziest experience!
Standing in front of the Aya Sofya, a charming Turkish man walks up to me and strikes a conversation! 2 minutes into the conversation and he reveals his belief in ‘LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT’ and that he wanted me to remember him ‘AS THE GUY I FELL IN LOVE WITH IN ISTANBUL’.
  1. That Turkish TV Actor

From Caner I found out that the Turkish youngsters preferred Instagram to Facebook and Twitter. The day my roommate broke up with the guy she was here to see, a Turkish TV actor approached her on InstaMessage for a cup of coffee! Now Alev did follow the adventure, but was back in no time 😉
  1. The Paper Boy

On our evening trips to the Istiklal Caddesi, we’d daily meet the guy who’d sell newspapers in the night for any amount of money that you could offer. He was ready to get the money for kisses too! 😛 While Alev managed to strike a conversation thanks to her Turkish origins I later figured that this is how this funny young man would work himself up to gather money for the poor kids he helped.
  1. The Guys Who Served Me Free Tea9 Types of Men I Met On My First Solo Trip

I was particularly surprised by the Turkish Bazaars; rather the Turkish salesman. They could speak any language and talk of any culture, but most of all they knew how to grab your attention to make some moolah.
On several occasions, I was offered flavored Turkish tea with delicacies such as honey soaked nuts to please me.
9 Types of Men I Met On My First Solo TripEventually, these great talkers got started with their selling (for the best price) while I’d lose out on words.
One of these shopkeepers offered to take me out for a movie, one offered to take me for dinner, one gave a rose. Of course, I called none!
  1. The Waiter Who Got Chatty

Dining alone in a foreign land is truly one of a kind experience! And I’d easily say that the waiters in this restaurants are the best tribe of people. The bonding that begins with food is the bond that comforts. I’d often find waiters striking converstaions with this solo female traveler about her taste in food, local culture, exchanging languages, Indian food. That never felt like I was eating alone cause I had the best company I could ask for! A big thank you for teaching me Turkish, comforting me with good food and food talks and all those complimentary cups of cay and coffee! J
  1. The Driver of the Nostaljik Tram9 Types of Men I Met On My First Solo Trip

It was my last day in Istanbul. I had to take a ride of the Nostaljik Tram. I took a return journey and guess what? The driver didn’t make me pay. Instead he asked me to take his photo on my camera and tell my friends about him and his wonderful country!
Special mention to the amazing street musicians who were also my favorite kinds!

You see, not all men are bad as you’re warned they shall be! Some could be your best companions and some could be pure creeps. Now you need to learn to differentiate between the gentlemen and the real creeps and learn to protect yourselves; cause accidents do happen! So do friendships and so do memories. I have to say, that meeting all these different kind of men definitely stands listed as a highlight of being a solo female traveler! 😉
If you have similar experiences, do let me know too!
Until then,

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Introducing Cinemawaale

It has been a while since I identified the ‘@cinemawaali‘ within me; a joyous ride indeed! But through this ‘not-very-long-journey’, I also came across many people who more or less share a similar passion for cinema.
Some who watch movies for entertainment, some to relate and cry their heart out, some watch movies for their favorite heroes, some treat it as a stress buster. Then there are those, who actually watch it for it’s seemingly terrific concept (thanks to the trailers) and some who watch films and take inspiration. Some hate to admit that they love watching movies, but secretly watch them nonetheless. Mind you, you don’t have to be from luxurious background or a film family to catch up with the movies with utmost passion and regularity. I have heard many a tales of those who grabbed every opportunity and figured a new ‘juggad’ each time, just to watch movies.
There will always be a set of people who love the dramatic set ups and tonnes of action, with logic often going for a toss; while there are others who like it real, believable and insane. There will always be those people who will prefer watching movies for entertainment, but there will also be those who will dissect and read the underlying emotions and undertones of the film.
For these people who love the movies, as much as they love many other important things in life, there couldn’t be a more befitting title than ‘Cinemawaale’
So, here I am, Parampara (@Cinemawaali), all excited to meet the many Cinemawaale across the street, city, state, country, and the 7 continents  and know their stories! This project is a first hand account of people who share the love for cinema, in one way or the other.
Some stories to be asked, told, heard and shared because you’ll never know what has the power to inspire!
Cinemawaale are all those people who have given cinema a special place in their hearts. While some dream to make it big, some are still working hard; some still dreaming and well, the rest are just happy spectators with love and opinions!
This one’s not about me, it’s about them! I believe it is these people who make cinema an even more special journey! Their stories, their feelings, their opinions bring cinema the power that creates the magic.
Here’s an attempt to bind them together with the common chord- Cinema!
So join me, Cinemawaali,  in this journey of meeting Cinemawaale <3
Long Live Cinema!
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The Test Of Patience

Last week, when Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do released in the theatres to a good 2 hours 50minutes of reel time, I saw the audience go berserk with philosophies of lengthy- time wasting movies. While the likability of the movie was extremely subjective, people’s patience had definitely been tested yet again. 
Sitting for a 2 and a half hour long film has never looked longer than in times today. While I personally felt that DDD had taken it’s own good sweet time to build on the essential elements, and create a momentum for the punch points and important scenes to leave an impact, many saw that as an unnecessary elongation of the script. Was it really the script that was put to test?
I find it quite ironic to believe that of the 100 plus years of Indian cinema, majority films, till quite recently have clocked a screen time of around and above 3 hours.
Mera Naam Joker                   255 minutes
Sangam                                      238 minutes
Hum Saath Saath Hai           228 minutes
Lagaan                                        224 minutes
Jodhaa Akbar                           213 minutes
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham 210 minutes
Mughal-e-Azam                        197 minutes
Sangam was the first film in history to be released with 2 intervals. The similar suit was followed by Raj Kapoor in his next, Mera Naam Joker. But lengthy films of song and dance have not always merely been a phenomena of Indian origins. In fact, some of the most popular films from the west have also had a running time of over 4 hours, inclusive of classics such as Gone With The Wind, The Godfather, The Ten Commandments, Benhur, Troy and many many more films.
Lord Of The Rings                   242 minutes
Gone With The Wind              233 minutes
The Ten Commandments   231 minutes
Schindler’s List                        196 minutes
Titanic                                         194 minutes
If you note the trend carefully, most films with longer durations were made in the early days of cinema and entertainment, when films served as means of entertaining the public as well creating awareness to issues. Considering the technological advancements and financial backdrop of people, watching a movie was equivalent to well planned outing. In fact it was a ‘once-in-a-month’ event where the complete family would dress up after waiting for days and go enjoy the on screen magic.
For a long time, movies remained a lavish hobby to follow. Even when the middle classes were introduced to this form of entertainment, the cost that it brought along always gave them an excuse to make this a well planned outing. Back then, films did not put in hefty marketing budgets to attract the viewers to the cinemas. Instead, they invested in bringing on board massy superstars, top musicians-lyricist-singers and some exotic locales in the film. What we mock today as sheer stupidity and breech of logic, back then was a massive hit amongst the masses. More because they watched movies to take a breather and laugh rather than drenching themselves in deep dark thinking.
All the cheesy dialogues, OTT fashion, poetic songs with unmechanized music and the thumbs and the glycerine smiles and tears constituted as what was term as BOLLYWOOD ENTERTAINMENT.
Several years later, when our access to western cinema increased and everything west was supposed to be cool (I’d call this an MNC trap to make better sales) downsizing Indian cinema became the cooler thing.
With an age of change, we also silently welcomed an age of influenced stories. In another of our attempts to ape the west, filmmakers who decided to take the new-age-gutsy path, chose to ditch item numbers and long emotional scenes to cut down the story to the practicality of it. They began to call this crisp and to the point. I apologize, but somehow I still can’t make sense of showing a revenge story without showing the bond and the loss.
When did taking the obvious for granted become an obviously stated statement?
I am not sure if I am a part of the minority that feels the pinch of leaping content and emotions which created momentum and emotion for the story and the characters. Does the current generation of cine goers prefer the speed of the story than it’s build up and the real drama? Is it okay to showcase a love story in merely one song in a film based on revenge? Is it okay to cover an  entire turning point of a film in just one song? No wonder people fall in and out of love in a letter of 2 scenes and 3 dialogues along some exotic locales.
I do not have the west alone to blame. Or anyone to specifically target and blame for this matter. Another important revolution, that of technology has played a key role in the transforming change that we see today. We’ve not just come open to the idea of micro films by budding filmmakers thanks to the easily accessible technology; but we have also resorted to newer means and channels for entertainment. We can now download a film at our own will in minutes or change the TV channel upon the dawning of a commercial break. With everything going here-to-there making quick shifts, technology has massively killed our patience to the extent that even a second long delay in loading a web page or delivering a Whatsapp message causes an internal unrest.
Similarly with films, to sit through a linear thought for over 120 minutes is a life taking experience for many, especially if the genre or the artists or simply the story does’ match their personal style or liking. Anything beyond a span of 2 hours is hard to digest. Spoilt for choice with an increasingly shorter attention span. In a recent study by Microsoft, it was discovered that the attention span of humans has drastically dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. Thus proving, this has little to do with the content and more to deal with the internal changes of the human mind. So every time you watch a movie, you’re busy multitasking between your instant messages and other phone notifications, unable to fixate your eyes on the screen.
Also, like we always make an excuse of the lack of time, the patience level has taken many tosses to fit the bill. Because we are always running somewhere.
Ultimately, my only question is- “If sitting through seasons of your favorite TV series glued on that one screen seems so very possible every night to you, why such intolerance towards the movies?”

This post was first published on Cinemawaali Writes

Check more articles on- Meet Cinemawaali

23 Years Later, Shah Rukh Khan I Still Love You!

To fall in love and to stay out of it! How is that even possible? Such is the case of being in love with Shah Rukh Khan.  23 years ago, a young man with ruffled hair and a not so good looking face came riding on his bike with much style singing,
“Koi na koi chaahiye pyaar karne waala
Koi na koi chaahiye pyaar karne waala
Koi na koi chaahiye.. Hum pe marne waala
Dil-o-jaan lutaayenge
Hum toh usi par
Saath mein bitaayenge
Shyaam-o-saher Shyaam-o-saher o mere yaara”
 Did the director, Raj Kanwar know back then that these lyrics would indeed be the definition and the answer to them for the man who lip-synced them? With the likes of Rishi Kapoor, Amrish Puri and Divya Bharati, Shah Rukh Khan came and conquered with much elaan!
The nation was about to go gaga with his charm.
He left no stone unturned. Instead, he portrayed the various shades of gray that many refused to play. The obsessive lover in him that took the many forms in Baazigar, Anjaam, DDLJ and the subtlety of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and the lesser extreme tones that followed the mix continued with Pardes, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dil Toh Paagal Hai, Devdas and the many films of this King Of Romance that followed.
On various occasions, Shah Rukh confessed that if there was anything consistent about his characters and his way of love, it was the belief that ‘Love is selfish’, contrary to the many who say ‘Love is selfless’.
Believe it or  not, that is how he became the dream lover of millions across the globe! There was no challenging his star power. There still isn’t.
While films today are judged either by the awards they win and the collections they bring in, Shah Rukh Khan has long surpassed the many levels of both. Be it the fact that he holds the maximum national honors (inclusive of Filmfare Awards and the many other awards) or the various international honors, Dr. Shah Rukh Khan stands tall in his shoes.
Not too long ago, he was named the second richest entertainer in the world and it is believed that he has already raked up his ranking to numero uno. There isn’t a second question about his king like lifestyle. Yet, his past has seen him spend sleepless nights on the many benches of Bombay.
While most of believe in the turn of destiny, it is people like him who make their destiny by adding the zen of handwork and dedication. With all those injuries and operations, a man who is on the brink of his 50th birthday carrying so much energy, charm and enigma is a rare occurrence. As rare as the presence of only one Shah Rukh Khan in the world of over 7 billion with every third man wanting to be like him.
There is no questioning the presence of his haters, because with lots of love also comes a lot of envy and criticism. Now only if we learned to deal with the unwanted pricks in our life with the wit like his.
How does one not smile at statements like, “I here people say… Why does he (Shah Rukh) wear dark glasses at night?” I’ll tell you why I wear them. I wear them because the sun doesn’t stop shining on me… even at night!”
Or this one- “Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself I take a trip to the U.S. The immigration guys kick the star out of my stardom!”
Even with all the flak he receives for his unmatchable wit, Shah Rukh Khan remains unperturbed. Of course unless his kids tell him that he is wrong. Whoever said that actors don’t make the best of parents gets it in his face with King Khan as he continues to be the coolest dad in this country! There’s no going wrong with King Khan when it comes to his kids (Just in case you have forgotten the Wankhede Controversy).
Not to forget his charity which he does in abundance but likes to keep it pious by not publicizing it or the many achievements and feathers in his hat right from being a heartthrob popular than most Hollywood biggies or simply being one of the richest entertainers in the world. With that energy at 50, this man is unstoppable.
This is not the first time that I write of him, I have written of him before and I shall write again. But I doubt with all my prolific writing and words of love, I’ll ever completely be able to describe the charm, persona, achievements and aura of this man. I see many like me. Their faith unfazed, their love unmoved and their faith unshaken.
Imagine, all of this for a man they have never met, for a man who is unaware of their existence and yet this man lives to entertain them! May be this is what they call love.
He lives for them, not knowing them.
They love him, cuz he lives for them!
Then, when I think of my own love for this man,I am drawn back to the inspiration and positivity he unconsciously  bestows. Let’s just say, I’m a better dreamer and he makes me believe in my dreams.
To each his own, every person I meet has a tale to tell about this man. Some who simply admire him, some who want to be him and some who hate him because they cannot be him. That energy, that passion, that dedication that he inspires is going to create wonders. Be it through the many aspiring to be him or the ones who’d simply follow his lessons!
As for me, I’m happy to be here. Happier to believe that there is some connect being born a year later, on the day his first film released.
Because the words won’t end and the feelings will still remain…
Here’s wishing this phenomenal man a future of good films that compliment his aura! While the rest continue learning the lessons of love from him <3
Because the love shall stay and keep growing, let me say it once again…

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Jio Wankhede!

It's that time of the year again when all of the country celebrates #IndiaKaTyohar IPL!

IPL has forever been synonymous to glamour and gloss! Now what’s the point of being at the stadium and not being able to social share your selfies, celebrity spottings and all the infamous drama that makes your social profiles happening?

The last time I watched a match at the stadium (was my first time) was Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell game at the Wankhede! Damn! My net sucked (Add to it we’re now fighting for Net Neutrality too). Sharing the awesome updates like watching Aamir Khan, Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi at the stadium and of course the Legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly merely remained a treat to my star stuck experience. 

Yesterday, I was at the Wankhede again, watching the Mumbai Indians practice, while the crowd cheered ’Sachin! Sachin!!!’ Just like my previous experience. Well, there was a lot more in store. 

Wankhede has been introduced to Jio Net, a high speed intent facility at the stadium, especially for the spectators who love live tweeting and sharing selfies while at the gorgeous stadium!

Believe me or not! The speed was 45mbps!!!

Now with that wonder, a video chat with Sachin and Akash Ambani was an add on treat. 

While tonight’s going to be my first IPL match at the Wankhede, I’m going to take full advantage of the internet and share a lot of awesomeness from there!

Don’t envy me if I broadcast the electric crowd and some amazing match moments on my social profiles. Also, don’t be surprised if I share pictures of a certain Exotic ‘PeeCee’ at the stadium ‘In My City!’ 

Guess I’ve let out too much! ;)

Wait for my updates and if you’re going to be at the Wankhede watching the games, don’t forget to register on to enjoy super fast, high speed internet! All that you will say is 'Jio Wankhede!'

Go Paltan, Be Awesome! 

You can also follow me on Twitter & Instagram for live updates of today's match. 


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Meet Maratha Mandir Ke Popcorn Wale Uncle

In the last 30 odd years, not much has changed at the prestigious Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai. Their seats, their ambience, their architecture, their canteen and Lalji Yadav.
We’d all picture him as the popcorn wale uncle at Maratha Mandir.


Meet Lalji, a staff member at the Maratha Mandir canteen.
It’s been over 30 years now, since Lalji has been a staff member at the prestigious Maratha Mandir theatre. He’s seen the theatre evolve over time, a generation of moviegoers transform into another. He’s seen the transition of the cinema-audience relationship. And he’s seen the magic that movies have on people.
I went Maratha Mandir a few weeks ago to gauge the audience of DDLJ. There I met my popcorn wale uncle-Lalji dada. At the age of 58, he was the most pro-active staff member at the great theatre, and welcomed me with a smile. As I began picking my choice of snacks, dada happily served me, and the conversation began. Dada was more than elated to share his experience of 30 years, in an unrealistic span of some multiples of 30 seconds time. On what keeps him hooked to this place for over 30 years, the answer was promptly shot back saying that it was the enthusiasm that people have for the movies and their happy faces that makes him a happy man here...  Read More

Courtesy: Cinemawali Twist

Sunday, 17 August 2014

@Cinemawaali's #100filmydays Challenge!

Being a cinema lover, a movie buff or an enthusiastic cinema goer was not enough. There was a need to understand cinema by adopting a dedicated idea towards the same. That is when Farhat (@juzinquistive) who was following the #100happydays exercise popped the idea of #100filmydays. And yes, I was sold to it! So Farhat, Parichay (@parichaymehta) and I, signed up for the #100filmydays challenge.

-100 films to be watched in 100 days.
- At least 70 unwatched films and 30 repeats was the set ratio.

And the challenge began! We were not to watch a film a day necessarily, but to watch 100 films in 100 days was the target. Yes, this was the most interesting challenge set, more than anyone for myself.  I was enthusiastic about watching films which were long due on my watch list but I hadn’t watched before.  And then the window of 30 repeat films was left to give the space for re watching a film which makes you happy to lift your spirits.

"You’d be surprised to see names like Swades, Andaz Apna Apna, Deewana, and many more on the list. But this list also includes those many films that I had watched only a part of while channel surfing. With this challenge I also watched those special films from the beginning to the end roll credits for the first time.  And then, there are also some really trashy names like The Xpose, Gunda, etc. Take my word; there is a lot that a bad film can teach you. A LOT. Plus, it’s always fun to enjoy trashy stuff too!"

Here’s a list of my 100 films watched during the #100filmydays challenge:

1.    In Pursuit of Happyness
2.    Breakfast At Tiffany’s
3.    Jolly LLB
4.    Malegaon Ka Superman
5.    Chashme Buddoor (Old)
6.    Andaz Apna Apna
7.    The Amazing Spiderman 2
8.    Ghost Writer
9.    Kaagaz Ke Phool
10. Zero Dark Thirty
11. The Little Black Book
12. Ragini MMS
13. Ek Duje Ke Liye
14. Revolver Rani 
15. The Truman Show
16. Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (Repeat)
17. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
18. IPS Vishwa Pratap Singh
19. The Bridge To Terrabithia
20. City Lights
21. Bridget Jone’s Diary
22. The Purge
23. Heropanti
24. Choti si Baat
25. Lost in Translation
26. Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman
27. Edge of Tomorrow
28. Satya 2
29. Samrat & Co.
30. The Towering Inferno
31. The Beach
32. Filmistaan
33. The Xpose
34. Holiday
35. Mere Dad Ki Maruti
36. The Internship
37. Hotel Transylvania
38. Saving Mr. Banks
39. Deewana
40. Abraham Lincoln and the Vampire Slayer
41. Maleficient
42. Sirf Tum
43. Devil Wears Prada
44. Pancham
45. Yes Man
46. Transformers: Age of Extinction
47. The Grand Budapest Hotel
48. Sex And The City
49. Sex And The City 2
50. Bobby Jasoos
51. Chaudhavi Ka Chand
52. Balak Palak
53. Bride Wars
54. Rocket Singh: Salesman of The Year
55. Hawaa Hawaai
56. The Fault In Our Stars
57. The Message
58. Maqbool
59. Khosla Ka Ghosla
60. Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya
61. Ek Villain
62.  We’re The Millers
63. Shree 420 (Repeat)
64. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (Repeat)
65. Masoom
66. Youngistaan
67. Kanoon
68. 15 Park Avenue
69. My Fake Fiance
70. Aaye Din Bahar Ke
71. An Evening In Paris
72. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (Repeat)
73. Khoobsurat
74. Saare Jahan Se Mehenga
75.  Aaye Din Bahar Ke
76. Heera Panna
77. Sujata
78. Salt
79. Jab We Met (Repeat)
80. Tomorrow Never Dies
81. Troy
82. The Amazing Spiderman
83. Dharam Veer (Repeat)
84. Kung Fu Panda
85. Around The World In 80 Days
86. Yeh Dillagi
87. Lai Bhaari
88. The Roman War Machine
89. Yuva
90. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (Repeat)
91. Bhoot Bangla
92. Tere Mere Sapne
93. Swades
94. Kaalia
95. Delhi 6
96. Cinema Paradiso
97. Argo
98. Saaransh
99. Making of The Mahatma
100.              Prometheus
101.              Gunda

Many films on my watch list still remain untouched. But I’m glad that I completed the challenge and have developed a further sense of regularity towards watching films. Also, films in various languages- Hindi, English, Marathi, French, Korean were watched. This helped in removing linguistic barriers from the cinematic experience. Nothing better than worshipping your dreams, isn’t it?

And now I shall watch more films (which definitely includes Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings marathon). But what is defining of this challenge is the lesson turning into a belief.

“There is nothing like cinema. It swaps your worlds; it teaches you the unthinkable, reinstates faith, amazes you with the impossible and takes you through an extremely different journey of life. And if you look through the still waters, you’d know that more than reflecting or emulating life, cinema teaches you about life and beyond.”

Stay filmy! Stay happy! :)

PS. One of the best part of this challenge was, the regular twitter updates on the films being watched inspired even more people to take up the #100filmydays challenge. Yes, you can take it too, by starting this very moment.

As for me, I might return with #100filmydays Version2 soon!

Parampara (@cinemawaali)