Salesh Dipak Fernando

Category: SPOTLIGHT Page 1 of 6


Ashwani  Mohanlal  – My Sarah. I still pinch myself when it comes to Ashwani . At first, I thought she was some famous ultra rich model. Don’t blame me blame the second part of her name on FB. We weren’t supposed to be part of each other’s life even in an alternate universe. But life often stuns you with strange surprises. For starters, I never knew she was an admirer of my words until I saw her joyous reply to one of my comments to her posts.  It was a song which had caught my attention out of nowhere and the comment was more of a spontaneous reaction.  What followed was my usual “Is this really happening “? We were no longer strangers.  But personal connect wasn’t on the cards.  The fact that she could relate to what I wrote and find a way to connect with me baffled me.  There was no beating around the bush. There were just strong, effortless random conversations on art and words alone. There was nothing more nothing less. We didn’t have to wait for each other’s text messages, calls or messenger pings. Just random catch ups once in a blue moon.

And then the meet up happened. We often have moments that define our existence. For me, our meet up was the defining moment of my personal transition. I was just warming up to meeting people and getting to know them. But when I met Ashwani and as the conversation progressed I realized something had changed within. From stammering in the crowd to actually being part of a good conversation I had actually come a long way. Barriers broken, norms shattered and limitations nullified. I felt different. The limp didn’t matter anymore. I can look at myself in the mirror and not feel ashamed of my shabby outer self. My inner strength was all that mattered. I was a superhero. I felt like one when I sat opposite that lovely woman. I sat back and listened as she narrated anecdotes from her life. I walked in with a sense of insecurity and walked out like a Superstar. The veil had quietly lifted as I realized people loved me for who I was.

There’s a reason why I call her my Sarah. Remember Arjun from Banglore Days. He rushes to see Sarah after hearing her voice. But what he finds is something different. He finds himself amidst all the chaos surrounding him. That is exactly what happened that eventful afternoon. I found myself after 30 long years. No demands, no expectations, and no regular conversations. We still work around the once in a blue moon catch up. But that is enough. We know we are there as part of each other’s existence. And she’s given me so much without asking by just being there. For that, I will always be quietly grateful.



I was always a fan of Vidhya – the writer even before we knew each other.  As a writer, there’s  no greater joy than stumbling upon someone who can articulate things perfectly.  Over the past year, my mornings were mostly filled with re-reads of her posts. Of course, she wasn’t the only one. I have my own set of writers who are my solace when I fall short of ideas.  But I thoroughly enjoy reading Vidhya’s write-ups. I can sit back on a lazy morning and read through Vidhya’s post just to enjoy and admire her wordplay.  For almost a year I was merely a fan and it was absolute fun.

Ironically the writer became invisible once my timeline showed “You are now friends with “. For a while, I didn’t know how to react. The write-ups were missing and I found it very hard to form a connection or a bond. Fortunately, destiny had other ideas. It gave me a chance to know Vidhya the person a lovely soul who can be strong and vulnerable. She is someone who can lighten my otherwise serious day with her hilarious antics. She’s a welcome breath of fresh air in a mundane routine. All you have to do is to talk to her to realize how unintentionally funny she can be.

She taught me a very important lesson in splitting an artist and their real-life persona. More often than not we tend to evaluate a writer based on the way their words resonate with us.  In some cases, the words do reflect the writer’s personality but in most cases, it’s an interesting split where you have to draw the line between the reel and real.

Having known her for quite a while I am more in sync with Vidhya the person than the writer. A young teenage girl full of hope and dreams.  I am curious to see how life unfolds for this bundle of joy.  A little more faith with regards to the people in her life despite the ups and downs should work in her favor in the long run. What is life without a little faith and loads of love? People often say love happens for a reason. Friendships happen for a reason too.





Iswarya  – I had no idea that she would turn out to be one of the constants in my life when we started out.  In fact, I underestimated her presence until I got to know her better. I met this beautiful soul when I was going through one of the worst phases of my life. I was so fragile that a small hiccup would tear me apart. My life seemed like one big bundle of pessimism. I couldn’t even muster the courage to greet new people I met. I hid behind the comfort zone of old relationships and past memories.

And throughout the whole nightmare, this girl made me a part of her daily existence. She would listen to my nonsense every day reassuring me that things would get better.  It was tough but she held on without letting go. Other people would just hear and forget but this girl chose to listen until I got rid of my scars.

It requires a lot of courage to hold on to a person when they are at their worst but she did that as if it was an everyday habit.  The ease at which she understood my turbulence surprised me initially but as I got to know her better I understood why she held on to me firmly. We both thrive on the same emotion – Love.  Love has this remarkable ability to forge unexpected bonds and heals scars and that’s exactly what happened between us.

In a world, everybody is rushing to be part of the race Iswarya reminds me of a beautiful pause button.  She’s someone who can savour life for what is without worrying too much about what lies ahead. No big aspirations or ambition just a life filled with love. There’s an inherent simplicity in the way she approaches life which is very beautiful. I wish there were more people like her around we wouldn’t have to worry about success-failure, winning or losing.

And to date, she remains the only person outside of my family who calls me by the favourite part in my name.  There’s a certain joy in seeing a person do that.

Best wishes Iswarya.  Cherish the love and hold on to your way of life. Good things await you.  


I am indebted to this guy for a lot of things, for the number of times he’s saved me from a bad movie, for the number of times he’s literally pushed me to watch the good ones but more than that I am grateful for the sanity he brings to the movie reviewing space. Social media these days has literally turned into a space for one upmanship where people literally scream out the supposed flaws in a movie review if they don’t agree with a review. Ravi remains a rare exception. He knows his space and allows space for other reviewers without being too rude while contradicting a review or a movie opinion. It is a basic social media etiquette but not many follow it. That is my biggest take away from him. He is one of those rare souls who understand my passion for movies

Beyond that, there’s the number of delightful books he highlights on his timeline which almost makes me jealous of his collection. And then there’s that small life-changing event of NotionPress workshop. I say life changing because it gave me a few friends who are permanent impressions in my life. I have always admired them from a distance and it was quite fascinating to watch them in action from close quarters.

Ravi, I love the fact that you are taking your time for your first published work. Let me know when it’s done let’s celebrate together. I love the fact that you remind me of Po’s unassuming charm. I love how you remain so calm despite juggling with so many things. There’s no noise, no scream, just the silence of a person who is sure of his space and gets things done. I wish you well for all that is to come and I can assure you that I will be applauding for you when you get to where you want to be. We haven’t watched a movie together. Now that I have time on my hands we will plan a proper movie outing.

PS : Someday I am going to make you watch all the bad movies that you have missed so far.






It all started with a Kovai Sarala Voice over. Almost a perfect match. It got me curious and excited all at once. Cinema is often unforgiving to the personalities behind the scenes. While we celebrate the heroes and heroines who enthral us with their screen presence the voices that lend certain to the personalities we adore are forgotten. I don’t blame the audience. It is one of the few perils of celebrating a visual medium.

“What do you aspire to be?” I asked her one fine evening. The reply was immediate ” A voice over artist”.  “I hope you understand the perils of being a voice over artist ?”.  I probe further but she didn’t flinch even for a second. The reply was resolute and firm. “This is what I want to do “. 

I have an affinity towards people with passion. Their journey is fascinating.  The ebb and flow often inspires so many people along the way. And we don’t often credit these relentless souls for the number of lives they touch as they move forward. The drive is infectious.

I wasn’t too surprised by the way we connected. The fact that our conversations were always centred on our passion was a win- win for both us.  It kept me on my toes and helped me re-evaluate my own self every time we had a conversation.

I am a late bloomer so seeing someone start early gives me profound happiness and the fact that the passion is something which will always remain invisible irrespective of the hard work that goes into it makes it all the more inspiring.

I hope this journey gets you to your eventual destination Sinduja. Keep inspiring and best wishes for the journey ahead.


Sruthakeerthi’s presence in my life is almost pans out like a movie where the two of us had to join hands on an unlikely mission – To remind a common presence that she’s awesome. Trust me that was the toughest task assigned to both of us. Whenever the common presence faltered I had to literally scream “Srutha” which eventually became Sru

But we got used to each other beyond the common factor. What surprised me often was her clarity regarding what she wanted in life. I guess by the time she reaches my age she would have fulfilled all her dreams. At her age I didn’t even know what living your dreams meant.  

Her sanity was one of the few redeeming factors when I had an unnecessary slip up.  All seemed lost and I was preparing myself for a trip towards darkness. But she kept my spirits up with constant small reminders of all the good things in my life. Imagine handling two oscillating minds at the same time. It’s a nearly improbable task for a youngster but she did as I found myself again. She’s the first person who volunteered to sing my favorite song – An underrated Illayaraja number. My joy knew no bounds. Finally there was someone paying heed to my request.

I sometimes wonder how today’s youngsters hold it together when life tests them. Even as adversity tests them they keep marching forward with a rare confidence. But Srutha constantly reminds me things are not easy as they seem. The vulnerability of an aspiring youngster is still intact especially when she shoots those beautiful questions on Love. But as far as choices go I can be happily jealous of all her accomplishments so far and give her a warm applause.

Srutha I am guessing we will have to stick together until the drama queen grows up. So be there even if I falter and never ever doubt your space in my life. You have a special place in my life along with the other lovely souls in my life.

PS : My tryst with MOP never seems to end.  I am looking forward to meeting your older version soon. The meet up is long overdue.



I was in 7h grade when she first stormed into my life unannounced. Until her arrival I was happy being invisible.  I was happy being the average student. But she saw me differently. My mediocre scores didn’t make sense to her at all.  “I don’t want memorized essays. I want the same sequence of events in your own words. I repeat in your own words”.

I was angry and confused. Why was she being so adamant about my progress?  Why the extra push?  For someone who embraced mediocrity after the extraordinary flourish of my early years the demands of my teacher was unreasonable.

But I was left without a choice and surprisingly the words began to flow.  1 page essays gave me a perfect score. A perfect score in any language paper is an impossible dream but the perfect scores never stopped as my peers gazed at me dumbfounded. “We write pages and yet you walk away with all the honors. What does she see in your answers?  Frankly I had no answers. But I enjoyed the adulation. Perhaps all those early years of being confined to a room with books had finally paid off. 

For the first time I thanked the Almighty for being a specially abled kid. What if I had played around with kids instead of reading? The script would have been different and the love that I had words would never have been discovered. I wasn’t ready for the role transition. I became the go to person for doubts in English.  I was an automatic choice for essay writing competitions. For someone who has never touched Wren and Martin or learnt sentence structure from Grammar text books the whole experience was surreal. I loved being the centre of attraction.  

All it took was a teacher who believed that she could transform the reluctant student into a star. Her parting shot still echoes in my ears. “You are destined for great things”.

My journey should I started then and there but I was stupid enough to let go all my strengths just to fit in and be one among the crowd. It is often said time and tide waits for no man. I was forced to play catch up until my health gave me a rude wake up call for me. I am left with no other choice but to pick up the pen. The flesh is weak but the spirit is yearning for one last shot at redemption. I begin a new journey towards re-discovering hope

I want to hug my teacher and tell her that I am taking the first step towards fulfilling the aspirations she had for me. I want to hear that familiar tone wishing me good luck. Maybe when I my turn comes to take my place in the podium she will be there in the audience clapping for me.




Milestones are always very special. They are life’s way of reminding that you have achieved something significant. It also helps you set a new target for yourself. If somebody had told me that I would be completing 400 posts 5 years ago I would have laughed at them and I would have laughed at myself. But yes I am here.  At exactly the same time last year, I completed 300. A hundred blog posts a year is a good I guess.  

There are certain people in my life who keep the fan boy in me alive.  I am their fan first. The role of a friend comes much later. Most of you know I shared space with Malvika in Deccan Chronicle earlier this year. But we go back a long way. The connect happened even before I had my first interaction with her. It was my brother who first introduced Malvika to me. “Read this before you sulk again”. It was her first impression in the online space filled with a compelling story.

 It was my first tryst with an outsider. We usually look up to global icons who have gone through the same trauma and survived. But for the first time, I came across someone who could be a wonderful mirror of you, me or anyone else and it was very refreshing for I had finally found someone I could relate to.  Of course, she’s a global icon today but back in those days, she was just Malvika.

Her story became an obsession and before I knew it my house was filled with wallpapers of her quotes.  The fan boy in me was alive again and my outlook towards life took a beautiful diversion. The future didn’t look bleak anymore and the question changed from Why Me to Why Not. This small change has made a lot of difference.

 But the most interesting part in this whole story was the urge to meet her for before I could grasp her influence in my life she had transformed into a global icon. There was no way to reach out to her but I wasn’t going to give up. Just 5 minutes with Malvika would do just to tell her what her presence meant to me and get her autograph. That was all I ever wanted

But destiny had other ideas and Deccan Chronicle happened. The star that I admired from a distance had a new role in my life. I found a new friend and a mentor.

And yes someday when she returns home, coffee with Malvika will happen but until then I will happily cherish the bond we share and look forward to a future filled with hope.

Thank you Malvika for being the beacon of hope, thank you for the space that you have given me and for all the love that you have showered on me so far. Wishing you the best for the journey ahead.



Where do I begin Pavithra’s story?  Do I begin with that moment of magic which happened a couple of years ago or do I begin with the third eye – Our only common connection. I have often been a fan of a person’s personality traits. But very few people pull me with their grace and poise in front on the camera.  A particular click pulled me in and I became a fan then and there.   I wanted to know more but there was no way a fan could gain access to one of his favorite stars.  Even if met there was every chance of me messing up for I was a fashion novice. I still am.

And then the third eye happened. Perhaps it was destiny. She embraced me for what I was without any questions as we begin to discuss common interests and style statements.  It was a lot easier than what I feared because of a precious common connect. Even if I stutter the third eye would be my comfort zone.

For the first time, I had two people constantly shadowing me as I began to consciously make an effort towards a definite style statement for public events.

And then the meet up happened.  All the fears that had constantly troubled me vanished in the blink of an eye, what was supposed to be a one-off star-fan meet up turned into one of the most memorable coffee conversations ever as I saw through the wonderful person that lies within my star. The star disappeared and I discovered a friend.  We discussed everything under the sun.  By the time the moon greeted us we became long lost friends.

It takes a lot of grit to empathize, embrace and offer the much-needed space to a complete novice. Thank you for everything. Thank you for helping me learn and unlearn. Wishing you the best for the journey ahead.


This is a sequel to yesterday’s post. I never do sequels but I guess exceptions do happen.  especially when the person in question is a fellow hatter. Yamini is everyone’s favourite person almost like that kid in school who is every teacher’s pet.

It took me a while to figure out why she’s a sweet exception. The first glimpse at Luz House didn’t give me any clue of the events that were to follow. I was almost dismissive of the way she sang that day. “Yet another singer. What’s so new?” Don’t blame me when an event presents you with an assortment of beautiful talents you tend to overlook some of them.

But the sequence of events after Luz House left me stunned. After a long time I saw a soul resembling my own, a soul brimming with love and appreciation. She made me realize the depth of my own actions. Every note of appreciation did actually make a difference to lives around me. It was re-assuring to see a mirror image from the other side. It gave me hope.

 Maybe it’s not all gloom and doom in this big bad world. Every time we meet there’s a rare connect. I guess that’s what happens when two like-minded individuals meet. She reminds me Venelope from Wreck it Ralph that charming lost glitch who re-discovers herself as the princess of Sugar Rush. That’s what Yamini is – the princess of happiness and joy. A lovely reminder of why this life can be a celebration beyond the chaos.

And the various modulations she does with her voice often leave me speechless. First impressions can be deceptive. Right now I am a humble fan of this infectious bundle of talent.

Yamini – Stay as you are! The world needs you.

PS: This is probably the first and the last of my sequels.

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