This book is by one of my favourite people of all times, Anupam Kher, inarguably, one of the finest actors of the Indian film industry. At the age of 28, he played the role of 65-year-old man in Saaransh- that too in his debut film. Even today he stands out for his unusual choices of roles, words, thoughts and even his forthrightness and frankness in the crowd of Bollywood where everyone is politically correct.Anupam Kher starts his book with an ode to his mother and gives the reason why he chose this title. A line which his mother Dulari repeated every morning to him when dropping him to school- “Your Best Day is Today.” Needless to say, the positivity stems from his upbringing.
He gives voice to everything that we are feeling or have felt and feared during the pandemic. For instance the uncertainty looming large over our lives – “I wasn’t paranoid. I was afraid of the unknown. I wasn’t pondering over how will my tomorrow be rather I was thinking about this unseen, unknown enemy.”Or how cities went quiet. How he is disturbed by the “deafening silence of New York which became colder than what it usually was in winters.” Or when he reaches Mumbai. “I woke up to a peculiar silence. This silence the white noise is almost unbearable to a Mumbaikar like me.”He talks about his personal trauma and anxiety he had, when his mother and brother turned Covid Positive. “Imagine my state of mind when their results came out to be positive as well. A part of me felt guilty for testing negative” – making a reference to survivor’s guilt, something we have all been experiencing- and can easily relate with.
He talks about how tough times are the best teachers. When his mother was in hospital, those “ten days of pressure and struggle taught me the value of staying calm and the magic of compassion and love during adversity. During such times when you are fighting to stay positive to look for some normalcy and a ray of hope, any helping hand adds light to the darkness that surrounds you. A call or even a word of encouragement is uplifting.”
He talks about how the milk of human kindness overflowed and how everyone from the ward boy to the head of the hospital to in his case, even the Health Minister called to check if anything was needed – “Yes this fight is meant to be endured alone. Heaven knows the mind of the person in isolation for weeks- the demons that came out to play the thoughts that surrounded them and the fact they were deprived of the most important medicine of all- love and care from the people who matter to the most. At such times it is the compassion, the empathy, pure kindness of people that surround us can do wonders for our mental well being.”
He makes a point on how anything can happen anytime, without prior notice. kuch bhi ho sakta hai .. He shares an anecdote of a certain river Choluteca where a bridge was built with state-of-the-art technology but the river simply changed its course and bridge was rendered useless. It was ultimately called the “bridge to nowhere”. Anything can happen- imagine that sports was being playing without audience. Kher cites the example of 13th IPL in UAE where stadiums went empty. Or how the 72nd Emmys was hosted from an empty theatre in Los Angeles in September 2020- who’d thought that there would be no red carpet appearances in Hollywood. For theatre zoom became the new room. He talks about many things which I also thought and talked about in my book, again written during the pandemic period – Corona Positives bit.ly/NamrataKohli
The best part of the book is its simplicity. Simplicity – of language, of thoughts, of emotions. His honesty comes as a breath of fresh air and Kher comes out in his characteristic style of being truly unpretentious – makes no bones about studying in a Hindi Medium school. “Coming from a Hindi Medium my default thinking has been in my mother tongue.”
What I love is also his optimism. He is an eternal optimist.’Everything is going to be fine in the end. If it’s not fine it’s not the end.’ Hope is the heart of life and he chooses to be happy. And that is my biggest takeaway. After all, all that we know is the here and the now, that’s all we have, it’s a gift from God which is why it is called the present.
Overall a good read and much recommended if you need a dose of optimism in your life!