Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for zonked

Yeh kahaaaaaaaannnnnn aa gaye hum.... 

To the end of the A-Z marathon 2016!

I'm zonked out all right.

And as I wrap up for the month, a few thoughts crop up in my head.
  • Yaaaahooooooo it's over! :D
  • Oh no, it's over... :(
  • Why is it that I can effortlessly (well, most of the time) write 26 posts in a month, and yet I struggle to write like 26 more in the remaining 11 months? That is a seriously sad statistic.
  • My search history this month is full of 'words that start with...'
  • This is my third year doing the A-Z marathon. Compared to the last two years, I definitely had fewer panic attacks this time. However, it was not like I breezed through all the letters. At times, I'd be cutting it too close. (In my world, cutting it too close means sitting at the comp at 10 am and not knowing what to write for the day.)
  • My sis-in-law keeps pointing out how unfair it is that I have a great source of posts in Xena, and so such blogathons are so easy for me. I won't deny that. A lot of the posts are indeed outsourced to Xena. So I have advised my sis-in-law to promptly make arrangements for procuring a child. (This has to be the best reason to have a kid, yeah? The A-Z blog marathon.)
  • At times, panic-inducing (and rather embarrassing) questions would pop up in my head in the middle of the night, such as "Errr... did I write W today? Wait, W does come after V right? Riiiiight????"
  • There were times when I would be out of ideas and would go through all possible words starting with a particular letter. Take 'T for transformer', for example. However, I had nothing beyond the title. I have a picture of Xena with her transformer, but I possibly couldn't write a post that went, "This is my kid. She is playing with her transformer. It is not a doll dressed in pink. The sight of this makes me happy. Kthxbai." Or when I thought of 'P for pani puri', the post would have been something like this. "I love pani puri. As I've mentioned 83984739875 times on my blog. Kthxbai." 
  • The list of posts that never got written is rather long. Some are just heart-breaking. Sample this. There was a pigeon's nest right outside Xena's bathroom window, but it was too out of the way for her to see it. So I used to climb on a stool, extend my hand out of the window, reach as far as I could with my phone and take daily photos of the nest to show Xena. I photographed the nest over months, from the time it was being built to the time two little eggs popped up to the time they hatched and two little pigeon chicks made their appearance. I observed them getting fed by their parents, growing, huddling when it rained, hopping out of the nest closer and closer to the ledge but not really having the courage to take the plunge. It was the sweetest little project Xena and I were doing together, and I thought once the chicks flew away, maybe I'd write a photo post - 'P for pigeon' or 'N for nest'. However, tragedy struck. Another pigeon couple wanted to take over the nest and viciously attacked the chicks, until they were bleeding from their heads. The parents tried to defend the chicks for a while, but soon, they gave up. It was horrible. I would spray water to make the attackers go away, but when I'd come back from Xena's school, I'd see fresh injuries. One day, the smaller chick simply disappeared. I try to tell myself that it flew away, but deep in my heart, I know it wasn't ready. It was probably pushed off. A few days later, the other chick disappeared too. I was so put off by the whole thing I decided not to do the photo post. How on earth do you end a post like that?
  • I hope readers will forgive the (sometimes horrendous) typos and mistakes in several of the posts. I can't even blame autocorrect. It's me. Sometimes, my thoughts tumble out of my head onto my keyboard so rapidly that there simply isn't enough bandwidth for pausing and reading. And after you've written a Mahabharata of a post, its sheer length is so daunting that proofreading goes out of the window. 
  • Of course, I had the usual doubts about some of the posts. Gosh, I'm gonna get mega-judged for this post. Gosh, does this photo post have too many photos? Gosh, is the quiz too easy? Gosh, what if everyone hates Fan and never ever trusts my reviews? Was I objective enough or did I let my love for SRK get the better of me? (I suspect it's the latter.) 
  • But then there were also instances when after I typed something out, my head felt clearer. I was very impressed by the Konmari book all right, but only after writing the K post, the motivation to Konmari the heck out of my place really shot up. Similarly, after writing the O post where I talked about how I want to judge less and rant less about ranters, I feel myself making a conscious move towards achieving these goals. 
Thank you, bewdas and bewdis, for being there with me again this year. I have finished replying to all your emails, and over the next few days, will be replying to all the comments on the posts. And after that, I (and the bar) will go into deep hibernation.

Only for a while, I hope.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for you

Yes, you, my dear readers, my dear bewdas and bewdis!

A big 'Aao thakur!' to those of you who have been frequenting the bar for years (some for almost a decade even) as well as those who are relatively new.

You guys get a lot of info about me from my posts, but I don't know much about you, unless you reveal it through a comment or an email. But as I discovered last year through my 'T is for traffic' post, my blog stats are a good way for me to find out a little bit about you.

Where do you live?

All time (Who is reading from Ukraine??)

This month (Close race between the desis and the Amreekans)

How did you get here?

All time

This month

Which posts did you read the most?

All time (Veshtiman surfaces again...)

This month (omg my gyaan beat Konmari's!)

What were you searching for when you landed on my blog?

All time (the veshti wins the bronze!)

This month (Emraan Hashmi does look good in specs, hehe! In fact, ten years ago, I'd written a whole post about it. Yikes!)

So there -- all your little secrets are out! You can delete your search history all you want, but you and I will always know that you were googling stuff like 'veshti' and 'Emraan Hashmi' when you landed on my blog. Muahahahaha!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for xièxie nĭ

"Lăoshī, even I know the song now! I can sing almost half of it!" I proudly told Xena's Chinese teacher.

We were in the middle of a school excursion at the Botanical Gardens. She stopped in her tracks, gave Xena a suspicious look and asked, "What song?"

"The latest one. She sings it all day! The one that goes... (and I actually started singing) 'Mummy mummy, xièxie nĭ'..." [Mummy, mummy, thank you...]

"WHAT?" She looked distraught.

Then she turned to Xena.

"Xenaaaaaaa..." She exclaimed. "Why did you tell herrrr???"

"Tell me what? What's going on?" I was lost.

"It was supposed to be a Mother's Day surprise. We have been rehearsing for days. I had told the kids not to tell their mommies that they were learning this song." She looked crestfallen.

I didn't know how to console her. I could not un-know what I knew. So, erm, we went our ways.

Much later, perhaps having realised the gravity of her actions, Xena turned to me and said rather seriously, "Mama, there is another surprise Mother's Day song. But I can't tell you what it is, ok?"

"Ok." I said thoroughly amused. "But why not?" I teased, expecting to hear, "Because it's a surprise!"

"Because I don't know it yet. We will learn it next week."

I controlled my laughter with much difficulty and not knowing what else to say, gave her a big hug.

Xièxie nĭ, my baby, for always telling me everything.

Pliss to be continuing such behaviour in the future too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for wit

When the three of us are having a meal together, no devices such as phones/iPad/laptop are allowed at the table. That's a time for conversations and catch-ups only.

The other day, I was in the kitchen, making uttappams for breakfast, while Viv was at the table with Xena, trying to coax her to finish her milk. (It usually takes her about half an hour to finish a cup of milk.)

Suddenly I heard unmistakable cricket-ground sounds.

"What's happening?" I asked from the kitchen.

"Mama, Daddy is watching cricket. He's not supposed to, but he just wants to watch and watch and watch!"

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. He's a watchman."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for vacation

So Viv has finished his work at Las Vegas, done his darshan at the casinos and has apparently won $15 (I asked him to stop right after; I'm not sure what happened though), and is now on vacation.

With his dad.

Gosh, this has to be the most silent vacation ever.

Viv and my dad-in-law are the quietest people I know. Viv has started to talk more over the years (possibly under 18 years of my influence), but I'm not kidding when I say that my dad-in-law could get by an entire day on just 10 words.

We have been meaning to take his dad on a US holiday for a long time. Everyone on both sides of our family had holidayed in the US, but for some reason, my dad-in-law had never been there. We decided that this would be a great time to take him on a US holiday, because Viv would already be there, and sis-in-law and mom-in-law are also going on vacation soon. No, we did not consider the idea of everyone going on the same holiday; sounds a bit crazy, but we might do it some day!

Though I'm very curious to know how this holiday pans out, I do hope that they get a chance to have some father-son bonding time. My dad-in-law was initially quite reluctant to go on the trip only with Viv, because personally he prefers my company to his son's. Ok, I'm kidding. No, I'm not. The truth is that he would prefer Xena's company over anyone else's, but it was simply not possible for all of us to go on a US holiday at this point.

So last week, my dad-in-law flew into Singapore for a day and boarded the flight to LA the next morning. Viv and I were discussing what a pity it was that he had to travel for almost an entire day without any company. And then we both burst out laughing. Because we knew it wouldn't be much different even if Viv had been sitting right next to him. Of course, we made sure to put him on Singapore Airlines so that he would have enough entertainment for 20 hours.

In November 2013, Viv, his dad, Xena and I had taken a 16-day Aussie road trip together and it was a total blast, with the highlight being us surprising his 'unsurprisable' dad with tickets to the Ashes. I still remember our drive on the Pacific Highway and how after Xena fell asleep, there was complete silence in the car. Somehow to keep the atmosphere lively and Viv awake, I made my dad-in-law talk continuously for half an hour, which was a miracle in itself. He gave us a detailed account of the story of Balika Vadhu, which my in-laws used to religiously follow at that point in time. To my utter surprise, Viv not only followed the plot, but was asking questions long after I had switched off.

The latest WhatsApp reports from Viv tell me that the road trip has commenced and that father and son are enjoying themselves. The two chatterboxes -- Xena and I -- may not be on this trip, but I do hope that father and son have enough to talk about.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for united

When it comes to resolutions, I believe in sole proprietorship. Joint ventures are not my thing, because from my experience, they rarely work out. It may be tempting to think of having another person working towards exactly the same goals for company and motivation, but after a while, things go downhill.

I usually do not get into the 'Let's do this together and we will achieve it'. My motto in such cases has always been "Bhaiya, tum apne raste, main apne raste." It works for me because I'm generally not someone who needs any cheering or company when it comes to resolutions. I make my resolutions, and I work towards them, and I achieve most, if not all. Another reason for not getting into the whole 'let's motivate each other towards this goal' is that I would drive the other person completely mad. If I have agreed to play badminton and my baddy partner sends a message saying they overslept or are too tired to turn up, I will still turn up... not at the court, but at their home, drag them out of bed and thwack the living daylights out of them with my badminton racquet. Yep, I'm scary like that. And that's why I'm very anti-social when it comes to 'together-goals'. As I say, I am my own company and I am my own motivation.

Which is why, when Viv's cousin was discussing resolutions for 2016 with his and his sister during our December India trip last year, I chose to remain silent. I became silent-er (if that's even possible) when the discussed steered towards taking a united approach to resolutions. Oh dear lord, no. I was about to make a quick exit when something she said caught my attention.

SMART resolutions.

Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timely.

So instead of saying vague stuff like "I will drink more water" or "I will drown my sorrows in H2O", you say, "I'll drink 2 litres of water every day." Instead of saying, "I'll get fitter", you say, "I'll lose X kg in Y months." or "I'll run 5 km every day." Instead of saying, "I'll Skype more with parents.", you say "I'll Skype with them X times a week." These goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a time frame.

Now that she had my attention, I slunk back in my seat. Of course, setting goals is one thing, having a plan to achieve them is another, and actually achieving them is a whole other ball game. What she was suggesting was for us to have some kind of accountability about where we are with our goals after regular intervals. In essence, set SMART resolutions, share them with one another, and every month, be accountable about your progress.

The idea appealed to me very much. I did not have to share the same goals with someone, or work together with someone to achieve them. I could continue doing my own thing, but with a big difference. SMART goals and accountability.

So I signed up.

It's been four months into 2016, and I have to say this united approach has been working very well for all of us, as is evident in the emails we send at the end of the month, summarising our progress. Of course, it's not like we 'succeed' at every item every month, but it has helped.

It has helped me catch up on my travel blog -- I had several trips that I had not blogged about, and because I set specific targets (Jan: Chiang Mai; Feb: Telunas, Yercaud; Mar: Perth), I was able to complete all. This was so much better than 'Be more regular with travel blogging.' I would have never gotten to going back and blogging in detail about trips that happened years ago.

I also set a strange but important goal -- 'Go out for something -- anything -- without Xena once a month'. Because my day and life pretty much revolves around her, this weird resolution really helps me stay sane and preserve my sense of self. So I went for a dinner with a friend in January, had a Xena-less ladies' night at home with two old friends in February, had breakfast outside on a weekday (!) in March, and went for a movie with a friend in April.

I've already blogged about my resolution to learn to cook one new dish a month, and make it a part of our regular meals.

The biggest success, however, has to be in the field of my explosive headaches. From time to time, I suffer from these insane headaches that just won't go, and sometimes last the whole day and the next. They drive me crazy, but I had kind of learnt to live with them. I never thought 'prevent headaches' could be a new year resolution until I got into this SMART resolutions business. So I asked myself, "Why not?" and set a target 'Limit painkiller consumption to not more than 1 a month.' You see, the only way for me to get by my day when I get one of these mind-splitting headaches is to take a paracetamol tablet, so there is no question of cheating on this resolution by getting the headache but not taking the painkiller. I would not be able to function. It is that terrible. So the only way for me to was to really look into preventing it. And thanks to this resolution, I have really looked into all possibilities that trigger the headaches -- anaemia, being out in the sun, not having a substantial breakfast, long gaps between meals, not drinking enough water, not enough sleep -- and I've somehow worked out a way to (mostly) prevent them by taking measures. Because there are so many variables, and any random combination can cause the headaches, I'm still struggling, but at least I do what is in my hands. If you get persistent headaches, you are alone in it. No one else can help you. People can show sympathy, give you food and drinks and medicine, massage your head, help with your chores, give you a break, but the problem has not gone away. It will come back. They can't prevent it for you. Such things are between you and yourself. And only you can truly help yourself.

Of course, some resolutions take their time, but tracking them on a monthly basis shows me where I am. For example, I'm supposed to teach Xena the Hindi alphabet by the end of the year, and so far she has only learnt the vowels and three consonants. So I know that I need to gear up a little more. Another resolution is to take a course and learn something new by the end of the year, but so far I have not found any courses that have interested me enough and can fit into my schedule.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm really glad I got into this united resolutions thingie. And for someone who's as 'hardass-lone-wolf' as I am on myself when it comes to resolutions, this has softened me a little. Into seeing how others can help you. In weird ways.

If you let them in. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for tickled

The kind people at Indigo Airlines had given a play 'passport' to Xena during one of our flights in India last year.

Recently, she dug it out and started, erm, filling in her particulars. She even drew in her passport photo, in which she looked like Mickey Mouse in a dress.

All the fields were familiar to her, except one.

"What is blood type?" She asked.

"Err... Blood type is... the type of your blood..." answered my sister-in-law, as she thought of a simpler and better way to explain it.

There was no need, however, for Xena had already figured out what the answer was and written it down.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for sisters

Ten years ago, I visited the US for the first time. The occasion was super special -- my sister had just given birth to my niece baby Aish. When she saw how head over heels in love I was with that little bundle, my sister tried to convince me for the 3983948th time to move to the US because she badly badly wanted us to live near each other. "So that our kids can grow up as siblings, not cousins." She'd said. I was 26 and not even married, but her statement made me all misty-eyed. 

Xena met her first cousins for the first time when we visited them in 2012. The three of them had a great time playing together. Of course, Xena was just 1.5 years old so she didn't remember much when we came back. Given everyone's busy schedules and the sheer distance between Singapore and the US, we were not sure when all of us would reunite. My sister's dreams of the kids growing up as siblings seemed far, far away. 

Last year, they made a surprise trip to Singapore. The cousins were reunited -- at an age where they would actually remember stuff! Given that her son is almost the same age as Xena, I kind of expected the two of them to get along like a house on fire, and the very dignified 9-year-old that Aish is, to maintain her distance from the 'babies'.  

However, I was in for a big surprise/shock. Not only did the two girls completely ignore him, they shut us out as well. They would be in the room, playing together and chatting for hours like a pair of giggling teenagers, while he would be standing outside, bawling, "No one wants to play with me!"

We tried our best to console him and get them to include him, but it didn't work all the time. I didn't have the heart to tell a 4-year-old the truth -- that it was not him; it was just a sister thing. Secretly, it warmed my heart to see the two girls interacting exactly like my sister and me, when we were kids. 

Recently, Xena asked me if she could send a message to Aish because the time difference and the kids' routine kinda makes it difficult to Skype. So I recorded her message and sent it via WhatsApp to my sister. The responses had arrived by the next day, and here's the full conversation. 

Xena - Come here, please. Just come and stay here forever. I miss you. Please. Can you come here forever and don't go back to the US?
Aish - I really miss you too. But we will meet soon. Not like we're never gonna see each other again... 
The boy - I wanna talk too!! Hello. I ate a bean. It tasted good. And I like cake and I like noodles and roti. I got a new table and a new bed and a sofa... (*my sister laughing in the background*)

Yep, the brother-sister thing is not the same as the sister-sister thing. Definitely not the same.

I'll end this post with a picture clicked during their Singapore visit. Xena, wearing a dress that once belonged to Aish, was upset about something but I can't remember what, and Aish was trying to cheer her up. I don't know what it is about the picture, but it melts my heart every time I look at it. 

Sigh... Sisters... :')

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for review (Fan)

"Let me know if you want to watch Fan with me if not I'm going without you Raja Sen gave it 4.5 stars." This was my almost breathless message to Viv, who's in the US now.

He watched the trailer and asked me to carry on.


But to be honest, I don't blame him. I wasn't too impressed with the trailer myself. I'm the kind of SRK fan who loves him for reasons other than his stardom and prefers to watch only his good movies so that I can continue loving him. Whenever he does a bad movie (and we all know how many there are), I have to go into hiding, especially if I was foolish enough to watch said movie. Ra.One was a big lesson to me on how I should never watch a movie just because it has SRK. It took me forever to recover from the catastrophe that the movie was, which is why I smartly ducked when Happy New Year and Dilwale released.

And that's why when I saw the Fan trailer, I had my reservations and wanted to wait for the reviews. I usually agree with Raja Sen's reviews, so when he gave the movie 4.5 stars, I jumped. And immediately picked up the phone and messaged the one person who would care about at SRK movie as much as me -- my dear friend Starbreez, who despite not being Indian, has watched 94 Hindi movies to date. (Asking Viv was a mere formality; he doesn't watch too many Hindi movies but he does appreciate the really good ones, so I always ask him but rarely go with him.) Starbreez has got a really hectic schedule, but she's always sweet enough to make time for SRK and me (in that particular order). So last night, two SRK fans (though not in the creepy way shown in the film) watched his latest offering 'Fan'.

Here are some random thoughts about the movie. (Spoiler alert: Stop right here, if you have yet to watch the movie!)

  • Oh, the layers in the movie! That for me, was the highlight. I could write an entire post about the layers of each aspect of the movie. (Don't worry, I won't.)

  • The concept is rather brave and also rather easy to screw up, so kudos to Maneesh Sharma and his team for having the conviction to pull it off. On the surface, it's quite the masala movie, but if, like me, you find yourself unable to shrug off the movie a day after watching it, you will uncover the nuances and the tiny details that show how much thought went into it.

  • After a long time. it was refreshing to see SRK step out of his comfort zone and do some real acting. It was clear that he had put a good amount of thought and effort into it, unlike sleepwalking through the role like he does in his usual movies. Not that Fan is in the same league, but after Swades and Chak De, if there is any other movie where he's had to keep his nose to the grindstone, it has to be this.

  • Having said that, I have to admit that this movie will be truly enjoyed by those who already have a positive mindset about SRK as a separate genre of movies. Non-SRK fans or neutral folks might not like it all that much.

  • I liked the fact that they did not glorify the superstar. They showed him to be quite grey -- arrogant, stubborn, insecure, unkind with his words even. It felt like a true and realistic portrayal. When I'd seen him say 'Why should I spare you even 5 seconds?' to his devoted fan in the trailer, I'd found it quite arrogant and cruel, but in the movie, I could totally see where it was coming from.

  • Double roles are really challenging, and I can't think of a movie other than Tanu Weds Manu Returns, where the distinction between the two roles was so clearly etched out. Gaurav was Gaurav and Aryan was Aryan, and kudos to SRK for playing both so brilliantly. I was completely bowled over by how he well played Gaurav as a mix of pathetic and creepy, and the rawness he imparted to Aryan's character. I have to say I was more excited about how he would play Aryan -- how much of himself he would reveal and how much he would hide. And he didn't disappoint me.

  • Going by the gazillions of lookalikes that SRK has, there are so many ways to look like him. I was quite curious about how the makers decided on this particular look for the fan, how many iterations it took, and how they managed to bring together prosthetics and VFX. I found this really cool video with all the details. Now I have a better understanding and appreciation of how much time, patience and coordination something like this takes. The mind boggles at the thought of poor SRK sitting in a chair continuously for 4 hours for make-up, for 70 days. I also laughed out loud at the anecdote the Hollywood make-up artist Greg Cannom shared. He told SRK that SRK was his second most favourite actor in the world. When SRK asked him who the first was, Greg answered, "Everybody else."

  • It must take real courage to play yourself on screen, not in a cameo, but in a full-length role, and kudos to SRK for doing it so well. In fact, I cannot think of any other superstar who could have pulled this off. The only other stars with this kind of fanatical adulation are probably Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, but I cannot see either of them being able to do this. Sallu wouldn't have bothered to put in any effort as usual, and would have reduced the movie to a caricature. (It would still have crossed 100 crores though, so it wouldn't have mattered to him.) AB is too old to have played this, but even in his younger days, I can't seem to imagine him in this role, especially as Gaurav.

  • I have often wondered what it must be like inside SRK's head. The constant bombardment of adulation, hatred, judgement, harsh critiques. Fans who just want to meet him whether he wants to or not. Smiling for photograph after photograph, no matter how tired he is. Crowds pushing, shoving, grabbing, touching. Answering really idiotic and irrelevant questions at press conferences. Waking up to the works of media monkeys who write anything and everything. Money aside, is it really a life to covet? Watch The Inner World of Shah Rukh Khan and The Outer World of Shah Rukh Khan for a behind-the-scenes peek into his life.

  • An SRK movie without a single song? That really took me by surprise. In a good way.

  • Random thought that occured to me when he was jogging - SRK has a really fit body at 50!

  • Of course, the movie is not without its shortcomings, but I'll keep them to a single bullet point. Some of the chase sequences and fight scenes were long, tedious, unnecessary and too unrealistic. Deleting them off would have made the movie tighter and crisper. Some reviews found the second half not as good as the first, and I think the long chase/fight scenes contributed to that. Also, SRK as Gaurav did ham it up in some scenes. Another point which bugged me a little bit was Aryan's stage act towards the end. It's believable for a lookalike fan to ape a star, but for the star to ape a lookalike he's only met once was a little hard to believe. But I let it go as I guess they were trying to show that Aryan was a keen observer and a really good actor.

  • I actually liked the fact that the movie did not have a 'happy ending'. I feel like there could not have been any other ending for a movie like this. It had to be this way to underscore the 'you won't understand' sentiment that both the fan and the idol feel about the situation. And I liked the fact that contrary to what I thought would happen, Aryan never said 'sorry', all the way till the end.

  • My favourite scenes from the movie were rather unusual -- most were close-up shots of Aryan. The little lines of worry on the forehead, the intense eyes, the staring into space, the sudden smile in the mirror just to check that he was ready for the big show, it was all beautifully done.

  • And finally, I quote Raja Sen, for summing up the movie in the best possible manner:
    "Take a bow, Shah Rukh Khan. Not only for a phenomenal, genuinely groundbreaking performance but for being bold enough to give us the sight of a boy wearing painted-on abs while aping you dancing in a song where you, according to rumour, wore painted-on abs. For a glimpse at a worn out 50-year-old man -- massaging his temples, and stretching at the lines on his face -- before turning on the high-wattage smile and stepping out to market his myth."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for quiz

Just like any sane person who has embarked on the A-Z blogging marathon, I started this post by googling 'Words that start with Q'. After dismissing queen, question, quest, quick, quaint, quilt, quotation, quality, quantity, quora, quail, quantum, and many others, I hovered over 'quiz'. It brought back memories of the time I used to design A-Z Bollywood quizzes for bewdas to solve. I had done seven of them, but the last one was in June 2014. I figure there is no time like the present to do another one!

So here it is, the latest quiz in this series, and the theme is 'National Award winners'. Can you identify A-Z?

Once upon a time, A and B were part of a strange song from film C, involving many strange things - a bike, sunglasses, extremely tight jeans, beggars, clowns, policemen, policewomen, yellow raincoats, and a rather unforgettable polka-dotted red dress paired with red tights. They must be thanking their stars that they moved on from such things, for both went on to win the National Award twice. B won her second one for the 'realistic film' D, directed by 'realistic director' E, who went on to direct other 'realistic films', one of which F, got a former beauty queen and current Hollywood aspirant G, a National Award. F also starred the quirky H, who won consecutive National Awards for the films I and J. Starring opposite H in I was game-changer name-changer K, who won a National Award for the biographical film L. K also starred in a supernatural thriller M, playing fourth fiddle to Bollywood A-listers N, O and P, none of whom have won a National Award so far. N is married to royalty Q, who did win the National Award for film R, starring opposite P. R also featured a member of parliament S (also known for a multitude of 'I'm a Punjabi and PUNJABIS DON'T KEEP CALM' roles), who won a National Award for a Bengali film. S is married to T, who despite being armed with a Padma Shri and a Padma Bhushan, has never won a National Award. T was pitted against two-time National Award winner U in the film V, which took the audience by complete surprise with its unique storyline. T also had a prominent role as 'daddy cool' in W, one of the most popular films of all time, starring X whose first name starts with U's last name. X, whose superstardom is often compared to that of four-time National Award winning actor Y (also known for his 'my-son-will-retire-but-I-won't' attitude), has yet to win a National Award. X's pairing with the bubbly-until-annoying Z is immensely popular, but even Z has never bagged a National Award. To close the loop, Z is married to A