Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Where Did Time Fly?

Senior with Freshers

While watching the star cast of ‘Student of The Year 2’ – Tiger Shroff, Tara Sutaria and Ananya Pandey, I had an ‘A-ha’ moment. Well, let’s call it an ‘O-ho’ moment. Even better, call it a ‘Doob-Maro’ moment. Because that is when I felt the tectonic shift of a generational change. I have no clue where the years sneaked past me, but to watch Alia Bhatt morph into a senior and dish out acting gyan to hatch-lings was tough to swallow. If Alia Bhatt is a senior, I'm Asha Parekh. 
Eeeks...not a comforting thought at all. 

Just when I thought I had seen enough burgeoning baba log, I read about Pooja Bedi’s daughter Alaia, who makes her acting debut as Saif Ali Khan’s daughter in ‘Jawani Janeman’. Hello? Why, wasn’t it yesterday that Pooja Bedi, the new age Veronica swirled her skirt opposite Archie Aamir in ‘Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander’? But no sir, it wasn’t yesterday. Google tells me that it’s been twenty-seven long years since Pooja Bedi recreated Marilyn Monroe’s flying skirt moment. 

So, suddenly we have a fresh crop like Sara, Tara and Kiara sprouting like mushrooms in monsoon. When I can barely string a coherent sentence in public, these kids are all sassy, chirpy, witty and very sexy. As the Tara-Kiara brigade sashayed on screen, reality hit me on the head. Thud. This is where my life is going wrong. I have no Monday Game of Thrones party to attend. I have no tickets for the Avengers Endgame. Then I summoned all the Whatsapp videos I have seen to focus on the positives. Take a deep breath. Focus on why life is such a leveler. If Alia Bhatt can grow old, you are a raddish of which farm? 

Yet, when I share my insecurities with the husband, he has ‘what rubbish, tell me something new’ look on his face. Age is a matter of mind, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter, he says with all the gravitas of Modi ji denying the reality of missing jobs.

Truth is, age matters unless you are cheese. Or wine. Or Anil Kapoor. I scratch my head when they say the best thing about growing old is gaining wisdom. For heaven’s sake, where do they get such bunkum? Isn’t Sara Ali Khan wise and young at the same time? Why should wisdom come with progressive glasses that create a bigger dent in your pockets than Yeti footprints? I have tried hard to spot things like wisdom and maturity that others claim to have discovered with age, but I tell you, it is complete hogwash. 

Needless to say, I’m not a fan of the aging malarkey. It’s not that I’m vain and I miss my youthful looks. No. It’s the other things that come marinated with age. Like, there is something about aging that makes you forget proper nouns. Whoever disagrees never faced the embarrassment of, “What was his name dammit?” The proper nouns go missing like Suhel Seth from Twitter. There are days when I open the refrigerator and wonder why I opened it in the first place. There are things that keep in safe place and forget what that safe place was. Which is why my heart went out to President Trump, bless him, when he forgot Tim Cook’s name and called him Tim Apple. With a hundred monsters laying claim to his mind, it’s human to forget names. Plus Tim Apple was so much better than Tim Pineapple. 
Likewise, Khamosh Sinha slipped between Maulana Azad and Jinnah to create a electoral storm. Or take Hema Malini. The lady forgot what she did for her constituency. Happens.

Regrettably, foggy brain is not the only causality. There are bad hair days followed by bad hair years. You can put all the egg and honey packs on your head but depleting oestrogen ensures you look like Chunky Pandey and not Ananya Pandey. See, once your hormones begin to sway, leaving you as devastated as Balakot, you find solace in Salman Khan’s double chin. If bhai can age, so can you. Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking. Well, one Madhuri or Anil Kapoor do not make spring. The sobering realization dawns once you see Jeetendra’s face botoxed into everlasting ecstasy. 

Ah, so what was I saying? Yes, as I wrap my head around the fact that Alia Bhatt is now veteran, I’m grateful that I’ve just kissed the age of forgetting names. It’s early days. I will worry when I begin to forget faces. Or pulling up my zipper. 

Not sure which college but new students
(Image: India Today)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Modi-Akshay Interview. A New Trend ?

Main Khiladi, Tu Anadi

The microphone munchers and pen wielders are upset. Rightfully so. All the interviews with Navika, Anjana and Arnab couldn’t grab eyeballs like the interview with Akshay did. The Khiladi that he is, Akshay walked in wearing pink Vadra-esque pants and created a huge journalistic heartburn with his non-political chat with Modi. 
The jhola brigade is worried sick. What if it’s a new trend? What if Rahul Gandhi decides to bare his heart to Sanjay Dutt instead of Barkha Dutt?
Bole to, possible, right?

It was a smart move. If they don't allow  a biopic, let's telecast a soft interview in the midst of elections. The bollywood tadka will make the political gravy appetizing. And it did. 
The setting was perfect. The early morning April air suffused with indolence. The sprawling green manicured lawns. The cries of dulcet birds and peacock calls. As Akshay chatted with Modiji, I could almost hear Do dil mil rahe hain magar chupke chupke’, in the backdrop. 

Truth is, we Indians have this streak of voyeurism. We want to know every detail about our celebrities. Do they listen to music? Do they eat mangoes? With a fork, or with their hands? Do they burp? Fart? Such nuggets make us realize that people we put on pedestal are humans – just like us. 

Which is why, the bit about the PM reading Twinkle’s tweets created a twitter buzz. In the heat of  a bitter election, the casual chat came across as a breath of fresh air. If the idea was to humanize a hardcore politician seen as election winning machine, the soft theatrics reaped positive dividends. Modi ji told us that his buddy Obama chides him for not sleeping enough. "Tu Aisa kyon karta hai? Don't be a workaholic." And suddenly, a voice in my head strummed. When did Obama learn to speak Hindi?  
Chup dumbo, I told myself. Forget the details, enjoy the flow of emotions. That said, I agree with Modiji when he says that his problem is not confidence but over-confidence. 

Which brings me to the moot question: If we know that a friendly chat appeals to the voters, especially women, why do politicians shy away from revealing their genteel gooey side? 

It’s obvious that what BJP thinks of as chess, Rahul plays as ludo. To my mind, the only way Rahul can counter Modi’s promotional blitzkerg is by roping in Ranvir Singh and making him ask: ‘Rahul ji kya apne Padmavat dekhi? Who do you think has cuter dimples – you or my Deepu?’ 

Frankly, I wouldn’t mind watching such a chat. Don’t judge me. It’s not that I’m juvenile or unconcerned about serious issues. Truth is, I’m sick of the ‘Naamdaar’ and ‘Chor’ jibes. I’m sick of interviews conducted by journos where my screen bursts into flames watching the 'most explosive interview'. They make our leaders defensive instead of revealing their true self.

So if any neta is reading this piece, he/she should take this idea forward. For instance, Akhilesh Yadav can nudge Poonam Sinha to ask her daughter Sonakshi for a interview before the crucial polling day. If Akhilesh really wants to connect, he can sit in his living room where his children are jumping around and wife Dimple is peeling mangoes. 

Sonakshi: Akhilesh ji, tell us, how did you woo your wife Dimple? 

Akhilesh: I sang songs for her. In fact I cook for her every weekend.

Imagine, how this conversation can connect women voters of UP with Akhilesh bhaiya. 

Likewise, it will be a masterstroke if Mamata didi can rope in Shah Rukh Khan, her Bollywood friend to interview her. 

Shah Rukh: Didi, do you laugh sometimes? Like a real chuckle? 

Didi: I do. When I listen to Kejriwal on radio. He’s funny.

See, unlike the iconic Rahul-Arnab empowering interview, there are no major flip sides to a friendly interview. It may not be a comforting thought for our journos, but roping in a Bollywood star as an interviewer can be seductive. 
I don’t mind it at all. 
Sorry, Barkha.  

Late Sh,  Rajiv Gandhi giving an interview to the ageless Simi.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Why men suffer from Shopo-phobia


Whoever thinks that nothing can beat the agony of a man in a lingerie shop hasn’t seen a man in a grocery shop. With a shopping list in his hands, he is as clueless as Rakhi Sawant in a library. But nothing can shake his confidence. Remember how Kangana was oblivious of what she was buying at a sex toy shop in Queen? Confident but clueless. 

Each time I venture in a grocery shop, I observe men shopping for everything the lady of the house ordered. Don’t judge me. I’m not a sadist, but if you are a writer of any denomination, your discerning eye and an ear for nuance are always an asset. 

So it’s a lazy Sunday and I’m at 'Needs', a supermart teeming with women shopping for Diwali festivities. And there he is – dressed in casual shorts, a lost boy look in his eyes and a massive trolley at his disposal. Despite the bounce in his gait, he looks oddly vulnerable. He peers at the list with such seriousness as if contemplating what to say at the UN Security Council meet. Focus. The moment he spots the listed item, he adds it to the basket with an impenetrable air of an ultimate executioner. ‘One down, nineteen to go’. 

I smile, because no matter what he does, he is bound to get into trouble. The ‘Honey Nut Cheerio’ he selected with a certain smug certainty is not the sugar free cereal his wife wanted. The orange marmalade he picked is not the mixed fruit jam his daughter loves. The black olives he singled out are not the green seedless variety his mother needs. And that’s not Sabut Kali Masoor dude, that’s Dhuli Masoor dal you just pulled out. 

Same hi to hain, what’s the difference you ask? Well, I’d let your wife be the judge of that! 

Given the number of soda bottles and snacks he is picking, looks like there is a Diwali party at home. Half way down the list, confusion gets to our lone shopper. As expected, he flips out the phone and makes a call. “Baby, should I get Tropicana Orange or Minute Maid Pulpy Orange? And Macaroni is pasta right?"

I’m unable to over hear what his wife said, but he decides to take another life line. “Excuse me, where can I get Pasta sauce?” 

“Sir, second from left.” 

Don’t chew me to bits but men can be IIT toppers or MBA’s from top business schools, and yet, following directions is as tough for them as applying mascara. They can straddle the corporate world with amazing ease, hobnob with the world’s who’s who but will not remember where they parked the car in the parking lot. So for unexplained reasons, our guy lands at the wrong counter. This section has an assortment of salad dressings but no pasta sauce. Rather reluctantly, he calls the wife again. “Baby pasta sauce is red but all I see here is mayonnaise?” 

At this point, I’m fairly certain the lady at the other end is pissed. Because the guy is almost apologetic, “Okay chill, I’ll ask someone.” Given that I have enough masaala for my article, I guide him towards the pasta sauce counter. As I contemplate which oil to buy, I notice the guy has pulled out a bottle of ‘Buy One Get One Free’ Olive Oil. While he thinks he’s clinched a deal, it is likely that he picked Extra Virgin Olive Oil used for dressing instead of Pomace Oil used for frying. Once home, his perky sense of optimism is likely to be trampled by his wife’s heavy boots of reason. 

To top it all, worse awaits at the billing counter. Given that Diwali is round the corner, the queue moves slower than the queue at ATMs during demonetization. Finally, when he is almost ready for billing, the lady ahead in the queue nudges her daughter to hold her place while she sneaks away to pick some bread. 
Truth is, the odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one. No wonder men prefer on-line shopping. It is not surprising why men are Shopophobes and women Shopoholics. The saving grace is that in the era of on-line shopping, both can co-exist happily. On the phone that is! 

(The article is not meant to stereotype men.)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Manmarziyaan - Flaws of Attraction

One of the most popular dishes of Bollywood – the ‘love triangle’ gets Anurag Kashyap tadka in Manmarziyaan. Think of it as raw meat cooked on a high flame of romantic passion with a dash of Jab We Met, a sprinkling of Dhadkan and a pinch of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. You relish a few spoons, but by the time you finish more than half of it, your tummy begins to protest. Finally, when you are done, you wonder if you have bitten more than you can chew. 

Given that the clichéd love triangle is given some contemporary flourishes, what really happened? Also given that it is cooked by a seasoned director (Anurag Kashyap) and spontaneous actors (Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal and Abhishek Bachchan) what could possibly go wrong? 

Ah, the usual. They know how to create a conflict but don’t know how to resolve it. 

Related image

Set in Amritsar, Manmarziyaan opens with Taapsee Pannu as Rumi sneaking away to have some fun under the sheets with local DJ, Vicky Kaushal. Lest you are mistaken, Rumi, the 13th century philosopher has nothing to do with our fiery Rumi who sells hockey sticks when she is not zipping the town on her bike and unzipping for Vicky. Like Bitti of Bareilly Ki Barfi, Rumi of Amritsar is unapologetic about her smoking, drinking and two-wheeler escapades. In fact, she is like a bomb that explodes anytime, anywhere. Together, Vicky and Rumi are like a carousel on speed spinning through Amritsar’s bylanes. To say that blue haired Vicky is as wild as red haired Tapsee would be erroneous, because he lacks her spunk. Each time Rumi suggests marriage, Vicky gets cold feet. And yet, he can’t see Rumi married to anyone else. 

Enter Abhishek who reminds you of Dhadkan’s Akshay Kumar and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’s Ajay Devgan - an embodiment of patience and forgiveness. As Robbie, the NRI banker, Abhishek is ready to marry Taapsee even though he knows she loves Vicky. Yes, the same old dish served in Amritsar. 

So far, so good. 

The role of a fiery Punjaban is a piece of cake for Taapsee and she doesn’t disappoint. When she smiles impishly you feel as if she is keeping a delicious secret, when she cries you want to console her,and when she throws a tantrum, you can’t stop but marvel the incredible softness of her eyes. Taapsee reminds you of Kareena Kapoor of Jab We Met each time she plans to run away. This is not to say that her character is without flaws. Despite Rumi’s spunk, she has a brain of a ten year old. 

As an actor, Vicky Kaushal is the find of the decade. I had to pinch myself to convince that this tattooed good-for-nothing lout is not the restrained police officer of Raazi or the shy Gujju from Sanju. If Vicky couldn’t get to do ‘ghapa ghap’ in Sanju, a roll in the bed is all he wants in Manmarziyaan. 

Abhishek appears on the silver screen after a self-imposed hiatus. Dressed in a turban to please his family, he plays to role of an NRI banker with perfect ease. Mostly, because he is playing himself. 

As it happens, after the interval you begin to get flustered with all the ‘yes-no-yes-maybe-no’. Just when you are about to scream, “Yaar decide kar lo kiske saath rehna hai” there are some hilarious moments. Like when Abhishek and Taapsee are on their honeymoon and the parents call to ask, “Aur beta honeymoon kaisa chal rahai? Maza aa raha hai ki nahi?” And just for Taapsee’s blunt retort, the second half becomes worth a watch. I’m not telling, go watch it for yourself. 

While the young protagonists can’t make up their minds, the film takes you through the highs and lows of parents who are blind spectators to the manmarziyaan of their kids. We have a come a long way from the days when parents or our 'zaalim samaaj' used to create obstacles in the path of love. Today, it’s our own mind that creates confusion, conflict and complexities. Earlier one night of passion would result in ‘Main tumahre bachche ki ma ban ne wali hoon’ and today sex is like a cup of tea. You can have it anytime, anywhere. 

Towards the end, when Taapsee and Abhishek are clearing the table after cooking up a storm, I emerge clueless as to why Vicky decides to move away? Suddenly? Just because the director didn’t know what to do with him? And what did those dancing twins signify? Despite inordinate songs populating the film, I remember only one – the foot tapping ‘Dhyan Kithe Dhyanchand’. And despite Anurag Kashyap being a professional embroider of tales, I am not convinced with the way he resolved the crimes of the heart. The ideas are half baked and film jumps from the frying pan to fire in the second half. Some slices of the pie are delectable but the soufflé doesn’t quite rise to perfection. 

A 2 for the film and 1 for acting. 3/5 
Image from here

Sunday, July 1, 2018

All in our Jeans

Picture Credit Topshop

Someone asked a businessman, “What do you do?” 

He smiled, “Whatever it takes.” 

In a jeaneus masterstroke, Baba Ramdev is all set to launch his clothing brand, Patanjali Paridhan. If ‘swadeshi sim card’ was not enough, Patanjali is about to flood the markets with their ‘sanskari jeans’. Patanjali’s Acharya Balkrishan says, “Swadeshi jeans will be designed according to our customs.” Business is incidental, for the aim is to redeem our culture, preserve its sanctity with indigenousness duly certified. 

I kid thee not, but I have been scratching my head ever since. Weren’t the denims all about expressing rebellion – a symbol of defiance? I’m not sure how the cultural denim pants will hug our pert derrieres in a sanskari way. I’m not sure if they will have any ‘Left’ pockets or smell of chandan to drive away risqué thoughts. Perhaps the cultural version will come with a drawstring instead of zippers which are a reminder of our zipped up colonial past. I’m not sure if their brand ambassador will be Alok Nath or Shilpa Shetty, but what I’m sure is that the desi denims will be so pure and pious that even if Twinkle Khanna tries to unbutton them during a fashion event, she won’t be slapped with charges of obscenity or vulgarity. Even better, this Paridhan will purge prurient thoughts that knock your head when you watch Italian football players. Above all, these denims will not be responsible for the age old legend of girls luring boys to their downfall. Yes sir, that good. 

“I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes,” rued Yves Saint Laurent. Truth is, denims were originally invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss, who according to Rahul Gandhi, could well have been small time tailors engaged in altering clothes at the Lajpat Nagar market. Right? Well, partially. While Levi Strauss arrived from Germany to San Francisco and set up Levi Strauss & Co that sold denim cloth, W Davis, was a tailor who actually made blankets and tents. When a customer asked for a pair of sturdy pants, Davis used the denim he bought from Levi Strauss & Co. Later, Davis and Strauss patented the pants and called them denim jeans. 

As it happens, fashion becomes fashion when everyone wants to follow it. If the fifties were about marines and rock stars embracing denims, the sixties were about painted and embroidered denims - a symbol of rebellious teen freedom. And today, the # MeToo movement, a socio-political phenomenon has found an expression in denims. Women are designing denim jeans, shirts and jackets that have stories of sexual harassment etched on them. The goal obviously is to start a conversation on taboo topics and make sure that people don’t forget about it. Interestingly, earlier this year Topshop created a ‘Fake News Jeans’, I am assuming in the honour of President Trump. Equally interesting would be if news anchors who sanctimoniously shout from their studios are made to wear Fake News Jeans and Jackets. 

Picture Credit  Here
News about sexual harassment etched on denims

My somewhat unreliable and alcoholic sources are telling me that designers are already designing newsworthy denims for the Indian market. Specifically for Delhi, there is an ‘Anarchist Pret Line’ with special Dharna jeans that can be worn at work and also when you sleep on a sofa. Likewise, we have ‘Achche Din’ denims that will make you feel on top of the world even though there isn’t much to cheer about. And finally, a sturdy ‘Secular Line’ for khadi clad storm troopers that will enable the Mahagathbandhan to survive the test of time. 

Given that the slim fit would be too uncomfortable for our pure and pious pollies to get their jollies, Patanjali can design a baggy fit denim coloured in Indian Indigo held by cotton drawstrings. No points wrangling, because unlike wicked Wrangler, the Patanjali clothing line will be a hallowed as the ‘khadi’. Maybe Patanjali can call their new jeans Born Players as an alternative to Jhon Players. Even better would be Pevis instead of Levis,  because Pee in place of Lee would be too odd, no? 

This piece was first published on The Quint.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Morning Special

If you have an early morning train or a flight, there are two things that are unlikely to be on time – your cab and your crap. It’s almost a rule. It doesn’t matter whether you book a Meru, Ola or Uber, like the police in an eighties Bollywood movie, your cab will arrive at the last minute. Given that three Uber’s cancelled last time, you decide to book a local cab this time. 

The fact that you wake up at an unearthly hour much before the pigeons on your AC is a torture in itself. It’s four in the morning. To play safe, you call the cab guy even before you brush your teeth. “Where are you? I have a flight to catch?” As expected, he refuses to pick-up the phone. And just when you give up on him and contemplate calling an Uber, the guy on the other end wings it like a politician. He mumbles, “Madam, reaching in five minutes. I’m on my way”. You know he’s not even out of his bed. Finally, when he finally arrives, he invariably lands at the wrong place. You can shout all you want, “C tower, bhaiyya. Didn’t I tell you C? C for Calcutta?” 
“Madam jee, that ij K. K for Kalkatta. I’m opojite B tower. B four Bombay.” 
You have no time for Sena speak, “BC, it’s is M for Mumbai!” 

When you are feeling as helpless as an honest tax-payer, wondering how Nirav Modi’s cab arrived on time for him to flee, the unapologetic dolt arrives. “Madam, don’t worry. You won’t miss your flight. Main hoon na.” Bless you, because this is the closest you get to Shah Rukh. And after this reassurance, he has the gall to stop at the nearest CNG station. “Only five minutes.” 

While in the cab, you remember the other causality. Your urge to go. There is no denying that we Indians are particular about our ‘time to grace the pot’. No marijuana involved here, this is strictly about getting rid of your solid waste. Most of us have a fixed time. Truth is, our entire day hinges on the time, amount and ease of the process. And yet, no matter how much coffee you gulp, there is no sign of any advancement of troops. Not even an itsy-bitsy spasm. It’s like your girlfriend has ditched you at the altar. 

Why, only yesterday you went twice, so what happened today? You can keep solving the puzzle but there is nothing you can do about it. As your cabbie zooms the Wagon R like SRK, alias Major Ram Prasad Sharma, aiming for Mission Milap with your flight, you dread the thought of using the airport loo. Have you seen the grim faces queued up at an airport loo in the morning? It’s like a war scene - sombre, painful and inevitable. After every gush of the flush, few soldiers emerge winners with a pleased look of Shashi Tharoor. Odder still is the sight of those who failed - they look like a hybrid of Mani Shankar Aiyar and Meenakshi Lekhi. Which is a pity, because their final trial is worse - the aircraft loo. 

But if you failed thrice, even D.Raja - the sole custodian of all prickly feelings looks more pleased than you do. If anything, it’s your meeting that’s down the drain. Because constipated people don’t give a crap. In the absence of any bowel movement, there is no guarantee of right vowel movement. The trip anyway is doomed. There goes the hotel’s complimentary buffet breakfast, your sightseeing and even your meeting. No cheesy lasagna with juicy zucchini or a pancake dripping with honey for you. All you get is papaya and fresh watermelon juice. 

So next time both your cab and your crap arrive on time, count your blessings. Visualize hundreds who wake up early to endure this pain – pacing, stretching, waiting and cursing with anxiety ripping them apart. Thank your stars. Write a gratitude post. Or visit the nearest temple with eleven coconuts. 

This piece first featured here - The Quint

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

User Manual for Parents with Adult Kids at Home

There comes a stage in life when you look at exasperated, somewhat embarrassed parents of toddlers throwing tantrums with a sense of longing. And amusement too. You reminisce the good old days of your own kids who are now adults. Except, the parents on the other side don’t get it. Continuing to mollify their baby, they give you a cheesy smile, ‘You sicko. Don’t laugh at our misery. Why don’t YOU tame this monkey, huh?’ 
But you’ve come a long way from terrible two’s to turbulent twenty’s. What comes to your mind is your own kid - far away in college. And the eerie silence of your empty nest. 

That is when you solemnly place a hand on your heart. You promise that you will not yell when you spot wet towels on the bed and shoes strewn all over, as if in a war zone. No grumbling over pizza crumbs on the bed and nail clippings on the side-table. No questions asked. Just come back. 

If you are fortunate enough, they return - only to fly out forever. But once your adult kids are back home, you learn to balance the equations all over again. Truth be told, it is time to control yourself, not your child. It’s a good idea to dump your trademark gems - ‘It is for your own good - Do what you want - You will thank me one day - When you are my age you will understand’ in the nearest dustbin. Their efficacy is no more guaranteed. 

For starters, learn to ration your questions. Talk when they want to talk. It’s a tightrope walk between zipping up and speaking your heart out. What to say. How to say. And above all, when to say. Remember how you waited for your parents to be in a good mood when you wanted them to listen? Exactly. 

Nothing scares you like the announcement, ‘I’m taking the car.’ Of course, they will drive. Adults do. You did. But this one sentence can cause tremors worse than a major quake. 
It is past midnight, and you are pacing down the corridor. Waiting. Different voices in your head begin to strum. While dads begin to snore as soon as they hit the sack, your motherly fingers linger on the Whatsapp. Last seen one past midnight. Must be driving. When you hear the door click, your motherly instinct will urge you to pop out of darkness and ask ‘beta khaana khaya?’ 
Calm it. Learn to override the old parent kid relationship. New boundaries are a key to better understanding. 

Whats App is a blessing when you don't wish to intrude

If your kids were in a hostel, they are not used to explanations about their whereabouts. When the timing is right, remind them to send texts as a matter of a family safety rule. There’s a thin line between your maternal fear and genuine safety concern. 
I understand, it is not easy to give up that privilege of popping ‘when, what, where and why’. After all, these gems were the pillars of your parenting. But now you are dealing with adults who are at home for a brief period when they could well be living in New York or Singapore. So even if every cell of your body is screaming, ‘where were you’, your parenting is now about respecting independence. 
Emotional support, yes. Physical support, not as much. Intrusion, never. 

Bear in mind that they survived without you in college. Their nocturnal routine is likely to press your stress buttons. Yet, you can do little about their unearthly hours. What can’t be cured must be endured. This is not to say you can never express your discomfiture. Look for the right time and the right way to convey what is not acceptable. 

Since you are mastering self-control, reign in the urge to pass on the phone to make them talk to relatives. I understand the relevance of family, but for reasons unfathomable, talking to relatives over the phone is as painful as their first period or a deep gnash while shaving. Extend invitations for family functions, but don’t force togetherness. As with most of us, they will interact when they wish and not when you force them to. 

Self-explanatory, right?

Despite all your restraint, three consecutive late evenings and there is the risk of you reverting back to your old obsessive self. "Shakl dekhe hua Zamana ho gaya". 
Reign in the paranoia and count your blessings. Because if your kids were in a different city, the outings could well be five nights in a row and you wouldn’t get a whiff. Moreover, there is always the risk of being too presumptuous and imagining the worst when all they were doing was hanging out with friends or watching a movie. At the risk of sounding preachy, it is best to trust your upbringing. Mostly, young adults are more responsible and mature than you imagine. 

All said, parenting doesn’t get easy, it just gets different. And by the time you’ve mastered it, the rules change. Damn! Must mothers always oscillate between challenges? 
Well, yes. 
Once you accept that you are now an emotional consultant and not a quality manager, it’s a beautiful phase. A great opportunity to bond before they fly out to raise their own families. Above all, tech-support for your phone and laptop is just a knock away.