Bollywood-the charge of the Outsiders!

It looks like my musings about Bollywood continue!

Like every other field, Bollywood has kept its tradition of launching the star kids. The Hindi movies became a more significant business in the 70s and 80s. Till then, the Kapoor and the Dutt family from the acting side and a few other families from the production or directorial team were prominent. They tried to launch their progeny some successfully and others not so successfully. When Shah Rukh was trying to find his footing in Bollywood, Rishi, Randhir and Pinchu Kapoor were already there, and so was Sanjay Dutt.

In the 50s and 60s, most were from Northern part of India or had come from Pakistan after partition. Everyone else joining the films in those days was an “outsider”! Amitabh was a sales executive in a Calcutta company. Rajesh Khanna and Jitendra came from a lower middle class area (there was no higher middle class in those days) of Girgaum, in Mumbai. Jitendra used to live in a building called Ramchandra building- the building still exists- next to Girgaum Portuguese Church!


Red Church and Building on the right is Ramchandra Building!

The “outsiders” came from various hues. Some financially okay but most had tough times in the maximum city, Bombay. Most managed to live off friends and relatives in the initial phase, but many slept on benches and footpath. The urge to join Bollywood was so strong that they would sleep with an empty stomach.

What is it that makes people take lots of risks in attempting to join Bollywood? Glamour? Fame? The simple, understandable urge to graduate from drama stage. Many of the “outsiders” have come from drama background. Rishi and other Kapoors were conventionally good looking, but there were those with unconventional looks like Amitabh, Shah Rukh. With their non-filmy and sometimes non-city backgrounds, they were initially awkward. Amitabh was from a well-known family, but Shah was a typical Dilli ka Chora. Kangana, though good-looking had an awkwardness of not being city-bred. But they all had a fire in their eyes and their belly.

Our own Pune also had its share of people whom Bollywood bug had bitten. The statistically surprising part is that Smita Patil and Rohini Hattangandi were from Jaya’s school; Rohini was Jaya’s classmate. Mohan Agashe is a friend ours from school and college days. Smita Patil was from a rich financial background, but Rohini and Mohan were from families like ours. Smita was considered experimental off-beat movie artist but ended up dancing with Amitabh in a typical Hindi movie rain dance song! It looks like that movie bug and cricket bug have been prevalent in India for a long time.

How many of these outsiders or even insiders make it to the top? I know that the success rate is minimal, but still, people keep on trying. Rajendra Kumar’s son, Dev Anand’s son, are the classic examples of people not making it to the top. Even from the famous Kapoor family, Pinchu went nowhere in his career though he got great opportunities because of Raj Kapoor.

Another route taken by these outsiders was modelling, and beauty pageants; and Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen are some of them. Many others remained on the fringe of stardom. Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen were the winners in the same year, but their careers took the path very similar to that of Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli. Chopra now fits the idiom, “the world is her Oyster”! She has done so well, and by the time we realised she had become an international personality and swings between Bollywood and Hollywood. Just a small tidbit. She has produced one Marathi film called “Firebrand”!

Years back I was watching a Ranji trophy match on TV. I saw a young guy batting and called Jaya to watch him bat. She said, “Who is this guy?” I said, “He is a guy from Bangalore, called Rahul Dravid but is batting beautifully.” Rest as they say is history. Okay, I am not claiming that I “found” Rahul.


Shah Rukh in “Circus” in 1989

Similarly, I remember watching the DD series “Circus” in olden days. The series was good, but Jaya and I would watch it mainly for Shah Rukh though there were many other good actors in the series. He had some spark, and his boisterousness was seen even in those days.

Another interesting thing that one can see these days is that many of the aspirants have taken at least college-level education. In a few cases, like happened in the case of Sachin, it does not occur. Priyanka Chopra got so busy at an early stage that she could not go to college.

One more aspect we see these days is that all the successful and not so successful, I am talking commercially, actors have good financial consultants. They invest money wisely in most cases. One feels sad to read the story of the famous actor like Bhagwan of Sham Dhale fame living in poverty in the latter part of his life.

Like in normal life, Bollywood gang too has had its share of early deaths. Irfan Khan died at the age of 53. Smita Patil died at the age of 33; she also a child out of wedlock with Raj Babbar. Meena Kumari died at the age of 36 of liver cirrhosis and Madhubala of a heart ailment at a similar age. Amitabh had a near-death experience after an accident on the set of the Movie Coolie!

Some fascinating stuff is done by Bollywood gang currently. During the pandemic, Akshay Kumar, Sharukh, Sonu Sood, Salman and many others are donating tons of money to help the needy. It indicates their gratitude towards the society which has made them rich and famous.

Another outsider Marathi Mulagi who has reached the pinnacle is Madhuri Dixit. She is from a typical Maharashtrian family from Vile Parle, who made it to the top! I am mentioning this because in Maharashtrians going into Hindi movies is not the norm- actors graduate from Marathi movies and TV serials. But Madhuri straightaway started playing Test match cricket without even playing Ranji Trophy match.

One interesting thing that has nothing to do with insiders/outsiders is the risk taken by some of them. In olden times actors like Raj Kapoor would put in personal money to achieve their ambitions and follow their passion. They had kept the homes where they lived as collaterals. Amitabh tried to make films under the banner ABCL and had almost become bankrupt in the early 90s. What saved him was Kaun Banega Crorepati!

There are so many exciting and fascinating anecdotes in Bollywood. One thing is sure; you are as successful as your last film! Whether you are son/daughter of an insider or you are an outsider, it is you and me who decide their fate!

Bollywood-trip down the memory lane!

Movies are a part of life for all of us. You may find me jumping from one era to the other period while I am writing. A disclaimer- I am not an expert in movies. My comments would be more of a commoner. The period I am talking would be from the 1940s to 2020! Each era had its classics, its heroes, heroines and superheroes. From olden times, there rarely have been super heroines. Rare one in olden times was Nargis. Nargis was way ahead of the times. She carried western clothing in the 50s, elegantly, even better than the current crop of heroines. She was a terrific actor too!

Latest Superheroine Alia Bhat

One record that looks difficult to break is the longest-running film in the industry.

Dilwale Dulhniya Le Jayenge was released on 20th October 1995, DDLJ (as it is fondly known) is the longest-running film in the history of Indian Cinema. As of April 2016 (over two decades!), the National Award-winning film is still shown in Maratha Mandir, Mumbai. More than 1000 weeks, it is still running. It is a typical movie of modern times. (Definition of modern changes as the time passes- when we had just passed out of college Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bacchan battle was considered modern!)

I am not one of those armchair critics who like to blame any film which could be called Masala movie. Masala movies, by definition, are the ones favoured by the general public, the Hoi Polloi! If DDLJ is a masala movie, then I am Hoi Polloi!

I feel that the films reflect the times we live in! In the 50s and 60s, India had earned independence from the British. The movies reflected the life of freedom fighters; the songs reflected those times.

Kasme Wade Pyar was a similar song of those days.

Another favourite theme in those days was poverty! Poverty was powerful, and wealth was weak- it was the theme of those times. Poverty was glorified. Garibi Hatao was the political theme of films of those days.

The glorification slowly got converted into anger, personified by Amitabh Bacchan movies. Before the Bacchan phenomenon, the evergreen movies about love and the lost love were in vogue- yes, the Kaka or Rajesh Khanna! Many good entertaining films were produced in those days. But general quality used to be average- both in production quality, story line. Technology in those days, especially till the end of 60s, was moderate.

Many movies in olden days were known for their songs. Films in those times had outstanding songs, and each movie would have 10 to 12 songs. It was and is still called the golden era of Hindi Film music. It had singers like Rafi, Lata, Asha, Geeta Dutt, Manna Day, Talat Mahmood, Mahendra Kapoor, and of course Kishor Kumar in that period! Such music accompanied by the triumvirate of Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand added to the glory. Raj liked to create Chaplinesque characters- especially in movies that he produced himself. Dilip Kumar was the actor, and Dev Anand was the chocolate hero of those times. You do not forget Geeta Bali, Madhubala, Waheeda Rehman and Meena Kumaris of this world. I thank god for taking away Madhubala at an early age of 36! I cannot imagine her at the age of 85! But at the same time, we need to thank HIM for keeping Waheeda among us- what grace she has even at the age of around eighty.

The Eighties movies were routine with a few good ones peppered in between! But the nineties brought the Super, Superheroes and heroines. Shah Rukh, Amir, Salman suddenly were around, and so was Rishi Kapoor. Do not forget Madhuri Dixit! Later on followed by Priyanka Chopda, Kareena Kapoor. The era also had dancing heroes like Hrithik, Rishi Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor. Shah Rukh had is own dancing style- Salman the non-dancer was also famous for his “dancing”. These, along with Madhuri, took the art to a different level. In olden days, there was Vaijayanti Mala, Waheeda, Hema Malini and Asha Parekh. But none of the heroes was exceptional dancers. Some of them were outright awkward dancers.

Era defining song

Have you watched Raj Kapoor dancing? He was elegant and graceful; Rishi Kapoor probably picked up the basics from the father.

There is one film that has been produced in three different eras, Devdas.

The versions starred Prathamesh Barua, Dilip Kumar and Shah Rukh khan. I understand that these eras had vastly different technologies, types of equipment, budgets. But if we compare these three productions, Shah Rukh’s Devdas was far superior to the previous two. (Friends you may not agree) Why are films produced? Why do we go and watch movies? The primary purpose is entertainment. It is incorrect to even to compare movies, athletes from different eras. But we should not say Dilip Kumar was better just to go on a nostalgia trip!

Singers, Music directors, lyricists are significant contributors to the success of movies. A. R. Rehman has become an institution like S.D. Burman in his heydays. Sonu Nigam has the range and voice similar to Rafi. Is Shreya Ghosal new Asha or Lata? Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu have earned their place in history. Friends I have missed out on many outstanding performers during the discussion. But that does not mean that they were not good enough to be discussed. It only indicates that there has been a big pool of talent all the time in all the eras.  Sahir, Javed Akhtar, Gulzar and Prasoon Joshi have created their own great songs.

Like DDLJ, there have been some iconic movies! Movie “Guide” was one of them. It was released in the year 1965, and Shri 420 was another such film. Every decade we had such films. Amitabh’s Janjeer started a different trend in the movies.

But in recent times heroines get prominent roles in movies. The heroines can carry the film on their delicate shoulders. Priyanka Chopda, Karina Kapoor and very recently Alia Bhat are doing a great job. Alia debuted in a forgettable movie called “Student of the Year!” But her recent two movies Udta Punjab and Raazi were top class movies. Her acting has been high quality in both films. In Udta Punjab she and Karina Kapoor both done well. Both of them are beautiful too! Another attractive female actor is Tapasee Pannu. She has done a great job in a movie called Thappad. Some of these films are commercially not so successful but are thought-provoking ones.

Is it a good change that is happening? Business-wise films must be commercially successful, and there is no doubt about this. But these films should be relevant, thought-provoking or entertaining too. The movie should be “good.” Filmmakers need not produce meaningless movies. They can display an affluent society or poverty as per the needs of the movie. There could be drug problems, they should not be afraid to discuss subjects which are taboo for discussions- like blind following of any faith and hatred created by the same.

Entertainment does not always need to have a happy ending- it should make us think, sometimes. When we chat with friends and family, we discuss everything threadbare, warts and all. Films should reflect real life.

And the winner is!

Cannes1

People excel in many fields. Some excel over a long time. In recognition of their work, organisations declare prizes or medals. Great! We are always happy when others appreciate us. It could be for our looks or success in an examination. It may be for achievement in art, science or sports! The recognition helps us achieve more, to better ourselves.

Parents encourage their progeny when they are growing up. It is a joyful day in any household when a child puts independent steps without any support. The same is true when the same child cycles on its own. The child is further elated when it rides, shouting, “Ma, no hands!” It has bettered itself.

But there seem to be some organisations and people who make this simple process, complex and controversial. Recently a photographer from India, living in Kashmir, was awarded the Booker Prize. The prize seems to be awarded to Indians to create controversy. Another such person to get the Booker Prize was Arundhati Roy, first Indian to get it. In the first case, the person is not controversial,  nor is the photograph. It is the citation that created the controversy. After Pakistan, so-called, globalised the Kashmir issue, there have been attempts by some people and organisations to keep the issue burning, all the time. Instead of bypassing the regional controversy, they mention words like Indian Occupied Kashmir in the citation. But this is a non-Indian organisation, but there are Indian politicians from a national party who toe the line and blow their trumpet. They could have easily avoided this by congratulating the person for excellent photography and making a statement against the organisation for stoking regional controversies.

But no, they don’t do it. These people practically endorse it. The photograph mentioned above is excellent, but Roy’s book, The God of Small Things, was beyond the understanding of most ordinary people. I bought the book and tried to read it at different times, but to no avail. I have discussed with many friends, and they also had the same opinion. It appears that the persons of her ilk seem to get a license to rubbish the Indian state at all levels, every time. These people will say terrorism is terrible, after 26/11, but will try to link it to the persecution of the people post-partition. She tied 26/11 to Kashmir issue and kept on justifying. When they are asked for a solution, they will say it is for the government to find it; she is only going to criticise. It could be a Narmada dam project or Naxalite issue. She will always be on the side of the sufferers. There is no question that the rehabilitation of displaced people must be done. The reasons behind Naxalite issues are justified, but the means adopted by Naxalites can never be justified.

When the US attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, using force against terrorism was not the solution as per the lady. Probably there should have been a face to face meeting in Davos or St Moritz in some convention centre with the terrorists to resolve issues. When Naxalites have a problem, they attack and kill about a hundred policemen, using landmines. But when the government forces counter-attack, it cannot be justified. There are many such “liberals” who get the Prizes, but they are not staunch enough in their stand against India.

Then there are other organisations which are equally controversial but fortunately not so harmful; sometimes I feel that they are funny! Such organisations have become an industry formed because of the film industry, the world over. It could be Hollywood, Bollywood and film festivals. Films have a place in the modern world. The heroes and heroines become heartthrobs, and people follow every action by them outside the movies too. Hundreds of people wait outside their homes on their birthdays.

Surprisingly, we Indians have not overcome the awe we feel about anything foreign. India produces the maximum number of films in a year. We have our yearly ceremonies like Filmfare awards. In the US, it is Academy awards. The award ceremonies have become a business, and many organisations sponsor these ceremonies. There are popular categories and critics categories. In all these years, Critics and Popular awards have never been given to the same movies. Why is that so? It only indicates that the popular demand is quite different than those liked by critics. Last year there has been a big controversy that the winner of majority awards was favoured, slyly, over other good films.

Anyway, in any area where ranking is done, controversies are bound to be there. But these have reached a stage where a better actor like Amir Khan has stopped taking part in these ceremonies. The surprising aspect is that now he is not selected for these awards. He could be given awards in absentia. But that is not done.

Indians in general and Bollywood gang are enamoured by Hollywood. We get excited when someone from India gets an Academy award. Another thing observed is that Indian movies which show about India’s poverty are preferred movies for International awards. One should be happy and excited if the person receives a prize. It is the recognition of their work. It is a recognition of the work in a movie. But over some time, it is seen that people get a lifetime achievement award. The criteria it seems is to be alive on that day. Some of the persons who have received this award were never famous for their acting skills or versatility.

Then there are national awards given by a government body. In this category too, popular and critic views are in a total mismatch. I will not call these awards processes sham, but these indicate the realities of life. Sometimes favouritism takes place, but it is not the norm.

 

Now the last and the most exciting part of the filmy drama. There is something called Red-carpet walk. When the actors come to these ceremonies, they are decked for the show. They spend a vast amount of money on dresses. For the female actors at Academy awards or Cannes festival, the norm is to show off the biological assets. There is a competition going on to expose more and more. The gossip magazines and photographers are waiting for a moment which is famously called dress malfunction. In the dress malfunction, sometimes a breast pops out for a split second. Sometimes the innerwear of these ladies makes a fleeting display. Oh! Come on! Who is bothered? If you say this, then you are from a minority group! These photos are industry by themselves. If a videographer can catch this on a video, he has made it!

To me, the controversies in giving prizes, that create an issue about the sovereignty of a country, are a problem. If citizens of that nation are not bothered about these controversies, then there is more problem. But the dress malfunction is probably sometimes done on purpose! Your take, please!

I am okay with controversies because people have a different opinion. But when large nations like India have to suffer, I can not appreciate it.

Astu-so be it! A Mohan Agashe Marathi Film!

astu1

For the last several years Jaya and I had restrictions on going to theatres to see movies, after my treatment. It was to minimise exposure to public places. Yesterday we were chatting with our friend Mohan Agashe. He asked Jaya if we had seen his movie Astu! Meaning of the word Astu is, so be it! We had not seen the movie! So today we decided to see the film. It was available on Prime Video.

Now we have decided that we will take advantage of the current status and start watching the famous shows- movies, dramas, concerts and cricket matches being telecast. We are now preparing a wishlist.

As usual, the disclaimer: Dr Mohan Agashe is a friend of Jaya and me. Secondly, I am not an expert on movies. I am writing this more on what touched my heart.

Initially, the film project started as a small film about Alzheimer disease. Mohan was approached, but he did not like the script. He suggested the filmmaker approach Sumitra Bhave. The script was modified, and they decided to make a full-fledged movie. I am amazed by the daring of this group. Making meaningful movies anywhere in the world is a commercially risky proposition. Though all of us must be worried in our minds about Alzheimer, when it comes about paying to see such films, people simply shun these movies. I had a similar experience when I saw the movie Thappad recently.

The trailer of the film Astu!

Astu is a stunning movie. Various sites analysing the movies have their marking system for films. My score would be 9 out of ten; why it is nine because I have never seen any film getting 10/10. So, I am erring on the safer side. I have my grouse about these scores. In subjects like Maths, you can get a 100/100 score. But when you discuss art or an abstract thing, nothing is defined in black and white. We see shades of grey all the time. When your datum is not specified, how can you give 9/10? In a low budget film, there could be some technical shortcomings, but no two people will have 100% concurrence on such subjects. The movies are judged on other aspects too! Hence 8/10 could be a correct score.

Since the movie was released in 2014, I will write a few minute details too. Many people hopefully have seen the movie already.

Cast

  • Mohan Agashe as Dr Chakrapani Shastri or Appa
  • Iravati Harshe as Ira, Shastri’s elder daughter
  • Amruta Subhash as Channamma
  • Milind Soman as Madhav, Ira’s husband
  • Devika Daftardar as Rahi, Shastri’s younger daughter
  • Jyoti Subhash as Malti Kaku
  • Nachiket Purnapatre as Anta, mahout

Story

Appa is a Sanskrit scholar, who has been in his own world. He lives with his caretaker Ram, in Pune. The movie shows in flashback how Appa’s Alzheimer was progressing as he even started forgetting that he has had his lunch, just ten minutes before. Sometimes he became too aggressive and went for a bath pushing his granddaughter away. Once he tried to force the granddaughter to eat a cake, though she does not want it. Appa’s elder daughter Ira and her husband Madhav, support him as much as they can.

Once Ira goes to the market and asks Appa to be in the car. Appa sees an elephant on the road with the mahout looking for alms. Appa gets attracted to the elephant and calls the mahout to give him some money. One thing leads to another, and Appa is lost. When Ira comes back to the car, Appa is not there. She starts frantic efforts to find him along with Madhav and reports to the police too! She calls her sister to tell about Appa. Sister comes to Pune asap.

In the meanwhile, the mahout, Anta, does not know what to do with Appa. He frantically tells him to go away. In the end, he decides to take Appa with him to the riverbank, where his family has taken a temporary shelter. They are nomads.

Two sisters and Madhav discuss the next action about Appa, once he is located. Ira is very emotional about Appa, but the other two are rational about life. The conflict is well captured, and the family is confused. Milind Soman has a subdued but longish role, well performed. The performances that peak is that of Mohan Agashe, Irawati Harshe and Amruta Subhash, as Channama, Anta’s wife.

Appa’s confused expressions, when he forgets basic things, his sudden aggression, his childlike behaviour when he sees 30-year-old Channamma and calls her Aai (the mother) hits you. You have tears in your eyes. Channamma is introduced late in the movie. But to me, she was a surprise package. The way she realises that Appa has become a child mentally is a sequence which was intense and gut-wrenching. I have seen such a powerful sequence in a movie after a long, long time. The beauty is that the sequence is subtle and subdued. She starts handling him on par with her three-year-old daughter and helps him to change the soiled clothes too!

Each character in the movie has different problems. Irawati is caught between managing Appa, the ex-Sanskrit scholar and his Alzheimer hit persona trundling fast down the hill. On the other side her children, a daughter and a son, sometimes understand about Appa, but mostly they do not understand the disease. They only feel how Appa, a septuagenarian, does not understand basic things.

When the movie ended, Jaya and I were stunned!

I have seen Mohan acting from Purushottam Karandak days. I was lucky enough to watch his fantastic first performance in career-defining drama Ghashiram Kotwal in early ’70 s. I am amazed at how he can perform above the peak of Mount Everest all the time. Irawati, as his daughter is sometimes confused, agitated, angry but occasionally helpless. Channamma gives a great message to society. After Ira takes charge of Appa in the end, Channamma in her Kannada laced Marathi tells her, “Treat him as your child. He needs it.” It is a strong message to the society how Alzheimer/Dementia patients need to be treated, with love! It is a tough call because of longevity. It is a Catch 22 situation. But then that is life!

Mohan’s acting prowess is well known. But Amruta Subhash stands shoulder to shoulder, or should I say heart to heart in front of Mohan. The relationship between the seventy-plus child and a thirty-year-old mother is to be seen to be believed. She lives the role, and sometimes it becomes difficult to believe that she is a city-bred person.

Now somethings unrelated to the cinematic part. In the final stages of the production, a coproducer backed out. Mohan was so involved in the movie, he put in his personal money from his Provident fund and other savings. I always have a question in mind about spectators. Why such top-class movies do not get spectators in large numbers? Is our definition of entertainment so frugal that we want to see the only song and dance movies? Or is it that education does not allow us to face reality? Ira discussed with Madhav about keeping Appa in Old people’s home. But Channamma who hardly knew Appa accepts him as a child- she teaches the educated world how to handle Alzheimer. At the same time, Appa is revered by her. In the final scene, she touches Appa’s feet as she has understood the halo around him.

Way to go Mohan!

Hatsoff1

Strange Hindi Film Song Lyrics! 

Hindi movie songs are the culture of our nation. Purists may not like my statement, because some believe that only classical music is real music. But my thoughts are clear. Whatever is liked by many is good music. Salman Khan movies are very special to a large mass of ordinary people. But out of all these songs, there are some interesting anecdotes. There are some finer points which we do not know. I am trying to give you pointers in that direction, and you may share more such songs with me.

There are some songs which use different words about which I found information. Interestingly first two songs are sung by Mohmad Rafi. The first one is

Baar Baar Dekho – from Movie China Town (1962). It is a Shammi Kapoor Movie. The music director was Ravi, and Majrooh wrote the lyrics. I am giving below the interesting lines.

Baar baar dekho hazar baar dekho
Ke dekhne ki chiz hai, humara dilaruba
Taali ho,taali ho, taali ho 

What is so unique about the song? Look at the last line “Taali ho, taali ho, taali ho”. What is so unique about these lines? What is Taali Ho business? Is it about clapping? No, it is not.

The original word is Tolly Ho! Tolly-ho is an ancient traditional cry made by the huntsman to tell others the quarry has been sighted. It may also be used with directions, including “away” and “back”. First used in foxhunting, it was adapted in the 19th century to describe some horse-drawn vehicles and in the 20th century to advise of enemy aircraft and space junk.

How and when Majrooh got the idea of using “Tolly Ho” which is pronounced as Taali ho, in the song, is difficult to judge; but it has been handled well by the Music Director Ravi and Singer Rafi.

Another Rafi song is Teen Kanastar peep peet kar

Teen Kanastar Peet Peet Kar Lyrics – Movie Love Marriage (1959). It is a Dev Anand movie. The singer is Mohmad Rafi, and Lyricist is Shailendra. The music Director is Shankar Jaikishan. The lyrics are

Aa tin kanastar peet peet kar
Gala phaad kar chillaana
Yaar mere mat buraa maan
Ye gana hai na bajana hai

The meaning of the first line is different. The lyricist talks about the status of music then. Tin Kanastar is the Tin Cannister. He describes current music like the beating of the Tin Canister and singing with a shrieking voice. He further says friend don’t feel bad this is what goes on in the name of music these days. When you listen to the song, you will realise it has merged well in the song.

The next song has found the peak of talent of our lyricists. Sonu Nigam sings it.

The lyrics of the song Teri shirt da button is from the movie Kya Super cool hain hum! Lyrics are by Meet Bros Anjan, and music is by Sachin-Jigar. The song is filmed on Riteish Deshmukh and Tushar Kapoor. The movie is a comedy and the song is supposed to be comic. Probably my definition of comedy does not match with of the producers and directors. But the song is sung beautifully and is a better version than that of Kailash Kher song. But the lyrics …..

Teri Shirt Da Main Ta Button Soniye 

Baalon Ka Tere Main Haye Clip Ho Gaya 

A couple of more gems from the song 

Haye tere nainon ka main liner soniye
Ungli ka Teri haye ring ho Gaya 

Wow! The lines roughly translate as below. To prove that the Hero is very close to the heroin

I am the button of the shirt you are wearing, and I am also a clip in your hair!

I am the liner in your eyes, and I have also become a ring in your finger.

I am surprised that the lyricist does not write the lines below to show the real closeness.

I am your innerwear 

And I have become your Bra 

I am for artistic freedom, but these guys should once in a while think that the listeners may also have some brains! I think the lyricist has reached his creative best in this movie with a couple of more songs like

    • Dil Garden Garden Ho Gaya
      • My heart has become a Garden
    • Hum to hain Cappuccino
      • I am the Cappuccino

If you find time listen to all the songs from this movie! They are super cool!

The last two songs I have selected are from two different eras. Their wording is very similar. But the acting and performance in both are very different. Both the songs became quite popular and were filmed on top actors.

The songs are Ankho me kya Ji and Choli Ke Piche Kya Hai!

 चोली के पीछे क्या है, चोली के पीछे ?   

  चुनरी के नीचे क्या है, चुनरी के नीचे ?  

 हो, चोली में दिल है मेरा, चुनरी में दिल है मेरा  

  चोली में दिल है मेरा, चुनरी में दिल है मेरा  

  ये दिल में दूंगी मेरे यार को, प्यार को 

The song is from the movie Khalnayak from 1993 and sung by Alka Yagnik and Ila Arun. The lyricist is Anand Baxi, and the music is by Laxmikant Pyarelal. It is picturised on Madhuri Dixit.

आँखों में क्या जी, रुपहला बादल
बादल में क्या जी, किसी का आँचल
आँचल में क्या जी, अजब सी हलचल 

The song is from the film Nau do Gyarah. Lyrics are by Majrooh and is sung by Asha and Rafi. Music direction is by S D Burman. It is picturised on Devanand and Kalpana Kartik.

When you watch these two songs, you will realise what I mean. The words have a very similar meaning in both the songs. But in the song Choli Ke Piche, the dance is raunchy, and actions tend towards vulgarity. But the words mean “What is behind my blouse. What is behind my Stoll? Of course, there you will find my heart. But the actions indicate something else.

In the second song Ankho me, kya Ji the words are said sensuously. The movements in the dance are sober. But to me, the meaning intended is sexual, but you don’t feel it. “Anchal me kya Ji Ajab si halchal” means behind the pallu of the Sadi, there is a discrete movement of (breasts?)

The meaning in the second song is more sexual, but the way it is sung and displayed is sensuous. But in the first song, the intended meaning is simple, but the act makes it vulgar. So, it is about expressing and showing the same things differently.

I am at an age where I can always say, “During our time” but I never do it. But this year Filmfare winning song has these two lines.

क्यूंकि अपना time आएगा
तू नंगा ही तो आया है
क्या घंटा लेकर जाएगा 

Don’t curse me if I say, “During our times!”

Thappad! A Slap!

Thappad2

Some professionals review the movies. I just wanted to write about this movie as it touched my mind and soul.

Jaya and I had just finished our lunch, and I asked her, “Should we see Thappad?” She said, “Okay!” So, I booked the tickets and off we went at 2.30 pm to see the movie Thappad. We had made the beginning of enjoying or new perk in our golden phase. Feel like going to a movie, go! Mind you, it was first-day first show Citi Pride, Kothrud, Pune. As expected, the hall was less than 1/3 rd full. Movie halls do not fill up for realistic movies with no nach and gana!

The movie is a classic two-hour-plus show, based on “just” one Thappad or a slap. The director has woven a story based on one incident. The atmosphere for the movie is created beautifully by the director showing three couples from different strata of life. First one is in a Mercedes, the second one is on a Motorcycle; both the couples are enjoying an orange candy. The third couple is going double seat on a cycle. The husband scolds the wife and makes her walk home the remaining distance, after a fight after initially enjoying the conversation. It builds the atmosphere that indicates that happiness and domestic violence/fights are prevalent irrespective of where you stand in the pecking order!

Thappad1

The storyline:

Vikram and Amruta are a happily married couple. They are in the process of moving to London and would live in Hampstead (The upmarket area in London), with a blue main door, a favourite colour of Vikram. Vikram is a dashing professional. Amruta has a strong personality who could have been a professional classical dancer. She has given it up on her own to become a housewife. To celebrate the news of his promotion, they have a party. Things take a sudden nasty turn when Vikram gets the story that he will not be the boss in London but will have to report to someone. He argues with his colleague, and there is an exchange of rude words. Amruta and others try to salvage the party by taking Vikram away. In that lousy mood, he slaps Amruta in front of all. All hell breaks loose! Or is it! No, it does not happen that way. Amruta is stunned and shocked. The words used show the reactions of others. Sh*t happens, you have to move on! Ek to thappad tha! Life moves on to the next day as usual, but Amruta’s thinking is poignantly expressed when she says to Vikram, “You could not move on in your career episode because you were emotionally involved with your work. But what about me? I had invested my whole life living with you. So how can I move on?” She later tells him that she must move on because she does not love him anymore.

How the movie rate?

It rates up there except for the last fifteen minutes or so! It appears that these fifteen minutes bring in the box office side of the business. Acting by Taapasee Pannu as Amruta deserve the top accolades. She turns, looks and feels like a wilted flower the moment the Thappad scene is enacted. Moments before, she looks like a fresh Morning Glory flower! Her presence brightens and freshens up the screen with simple things like collecting the daily newspaper, cutting fresh herbs for morning tea! Pavail Gulati’s debut role as Vikram shows that he will go miles in his career. He has a pleasant personality, and I was impressed by his involvement. Veterans like Kumud Mishra as Amruta’s father and Ratna Pathak Shah as her mother are perfect! Tanvi Azmi plays a critical role, Vikram’s mother to perfection. Smaller roles of Amruta’s lawyer and the maid are also played professionally.

Outstanding aspects of the movie:

It is the way the film is woven around one incident in the life of a family indicates the exceptional work done by Mrunmayee Lagu, the writer of the story. Another important aspect is how the story opens the minds of different characters due to the stand taken by Amruta. From initial withdrawal and sadness, her role develops into a strong personality. Pannu shows her prowess as an outstanding actor. You can see her character developing in front of your eyes.

I observed one thing about people watching the movie. Initially, there were some stupid comments and murmur. As the film progresses, there was a pin-drop silence right till the end.

The scenes between the father and daughter Amruta are beautifully handled. The subtle act moistens one’s eyes. Don’t feel ashamed; it is okay to display your emotions. That bond has a special place in our lives.

How has Chalta Hai, Bardasht Karo attitude (Move on) changed the thinking and the minds of other characters? It has changed the thinking of seniors initially. Their primary thought, in the beginning, was “Log Kay Kaehenge? Or what will people say if you talk of divorce? Our society never thinks in like Amruta? Her main question to everybody is what about me? (In plain language, “to hell with everything else.”) Vikram’s mother says to Amruta, “It was my fault that I did not teach Vikram how to behave with ladies. I taught him to be selfish and achieve his goals.” Amruta says in one dialogue, “Vikram wanted that home in Hampstead with a blue door. But mother, my favourite colour is yellow, he never bothered about it. I had given up all my “likes and dislikes” to keep a happy atmosphere at home and what I got in return was a Thappad in front of everybody!” Vikram’s mother also says that “It is your mother’s fault too! She never taught you to give it back to husbands but meekly accept everything.”

Amruta’s act opened wounds of all the ladies. Her lawyer tells the stunned husband, enough is enough. “I don’t need anything from you.” The maidservant hits her drunkard husband as she is also encouraged by Amruta’s act. To hell with male entitlement!

Vikram goes to the neighbour enacted by Dia Mirza to request her to give a false statement during the trial. She tells him, “My husband died long back, but he was a good man. Please go!”

One could on and on, but the slow rebellion is to be seen to be believed.

It is an excellent film on a subject taboo in our society. How can we make changes in our community? To begin with, go and see the movie. I sincerely hope that our filmmakers will make more such films.

My Oxford Experience 1!

The following is not a blog, but it is a story written by me.  

Oxford1

I am currently attending an online course offered by Oxford University, and I thought why not share my first attempt at storytelling during the course, with friends. It is a course about creative writing. I am learning a lot. I have never learnt literature, formally, so I took this opportunity to join the course though I claim to have learned engineering formally! 🙂🙂 

The exercise was about picking up a story from the list of five stories given. I chose Romeo and Juliet. In case you are unaware, “Romeo and Juliet” is a classic tragic romance written by William Shakespeare. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet 

The idea was that we had to keep the main characters the same, and change the genre (a style or category of art, music, or literature.) of the story as per our choice. There were many more things in this exercise. I chose to change the genre to thriller. I wrote the story accordingly. I thought you might like it.  Hence, I am sharing it with you. 

I request those of you who are interested in giving me a score can give it on a scale of zero to ten! 10 for Excellent and Zero for horrible. It will encourage me either way because a score of zero will force me to improve drastically; higher scores will naturally make me happy and push me to write more. You may send the score on individually on WhatsApp or by email.  

It’s the image of the status of my mind before I wrote the small story!

Oxford2

The story was to be written and explained in the format Act 1 and TP 1 (TP means turning point) 

Romeo and Juliet 

 ACT1  

Juliet is lying on a beach in the Bahamas, with the skimpiest of the bikinis. The shades and the chilled beer crate invited stares. While applying her sunscreen lotion, she saw Romeo walking towards her. 

Romeo, with his wellmuscled and toned body, was lazily walking on the beach in his sandals, with no care in this world. He spread his towel close to Juliet, not even looking at her. He asked Juliet, “May I borrow a beer bottle from you?” She pouts and says, “Why not?” 

 TP1 

Juliet had been instructed by her KGB bosses to eliminate Romeo! Romeo had his plan cleared from his MI 6 bosses to woo and dump Juliet in the steep ravine on his way back to his resort. After a few beers, Juliet suggested, “Shall we move to my airconditioned room?” Romeo simply picked her up and said, “No, my room, and let’s go fast!” 

ACT2 

Juliet coos, “Let me take quick shower and wear some clothes!” She wanted to take her syringe to be used at the right moment to finish her job! Romeo also needed to have his tools of the trade to reach the goal.  

Romeo and Juliet kiss deeply, and  Romeo walked to his Ferrari! Romeo’s thoughts veered a bit, and he thought that he must, unfortunately, “waste” a stunning woman.  

Juliet had her shower and came to the car. She was stunned to see how dapper Romeo looked. She was momentarily sad that Romeo would be no more after some time! 

TP2 

Juliet suggested that they have coconut water on the way, to begin her act; she had arrangements with coconut vendor for her “mischief”. Romeo suggested that they stopover at the wine shop instead, on the way, where he had arranged for the doctored wine. 

Juliet said, outsmarting Romeo, “Romeo, I hate wines! We can have Champagne at the resort!” 

ACT3 

They reached the resort and went to Romeo’s room, both planning their next act. Both slowly undressed and embraced each other. Both were planning their next move.  

As a final alternative, Juliet decided to use the syringe in her purse for the job. Romeo decided to use his raw power to complete his assignment.  

TP3 

They were halfway through the love act and were looking for the final opportunity to move stealthily. The moment was reached as Juliet went to the washroom and got her syringe from the purse; Romeo waited near the door for her to come out and choke her.  

 At that moment, the movie director shouted, “Cut”, great shot!  Let’s pack up for the day! 

 Romeo and Juliet embrace each other. They are, after all, reallife lovers!  

 

 

 

Should Hindi be imposed?

My friend Shrikant wrote on Facebook a very sensible note about an alleged imposition of Hindi all over India. He is a മരുമകൻ– son in law of Kerala. So, I presume that he is in a better position than me to comment. This led me to read the original statement made by Amit Shah, our home minister on the subject. The gist of what he said is in the statement below. 

Mr Shah said, Hindi is spoken by most of the people and can unite the whole country. He said efforts would be made to expand Hindi to different parts of the country but not at the cost of other languages. Shah later also said that the foreign language English is predominant in India, so instead why not Hindi?  

I have not understood the controversy in the statement. Shah has not said that it should be promoted at the cost of the regional languages, anywhere in the statement.  

Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour, and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups.  

Even 200 years back, India was not known as India as it is recognised today. Till then there were Rajahs, Badshahs who used to run their own kingdom. In those times, travel and communication facilities were inferior. Going from place A to place B would take hours if not days. With these limitationsthe bouquet of knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals would remain disconnected with other cultures. The possibility of the merging of cultures must have been within a distance of about 50  to 75 km if the terrain was not steepWith rough terrain, that also would be difficult.  

1947 created India and Pakistan. British had started the railways; road transport had become better than before. Travel had become a bit easier. So some mixing of culture started automatically. If we consider only the state of Maharashtra, people spoke different Marathi in Bombay, Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, JalgaonThe spoken languages were distinctly differentLocal dialects also merged with spoken wordsSo when we speak of Marathi, nobody is really sure Marathi of which region we are talking about.  

HIndi1

So why then the emotional reactions about Shah’s statement. In the year 1978, I remember that in Bangalore we had shared a taxi for a tour with two couples, one Tamil and the other Kannada. We communicated with each other in English. What Shah has suggested, instead of English, why not Hindi? It is just a suggestion; does it amount to imposition? Central Government has offices in all the states and Hindi day is celebrated in each office, irrespective of which state it is. What is the point in looking at every statement from a political angle? Are elections the only important aspect in life? Kashmir had even more serious issues due to decisions taken by Britishers. But the government has resolved it in one stroke. Rules and regulations must be enforced but culture? No way, but who is forcing the culture? A statement made at a function was not a policy declaration. 

Culture seeps on its own. Let us look at the airports. A large number of people travel by air these days. For some reason, almost all CISF personnel are Hindi speaking individuals. You got to any airport from Chennai, Kochi, Vizag to Guwahati. They communicate many times in Hindi, but nobody objects to that. Idli-Dosa is the South Indian staple food, but it is almost becoming national food. You are out and want to have some food quickly. You go to Idli-Dosa joint in any city, and you are out in 20 minutes. Even Mcdonalds has not been able to penetrate their market. Has anyone made it compulsory to eat Idli-Dosa? Hindi films is another medium which merges cultures beautifully! When Shah Rukh dances to the tune of Lungi Dance, Lungi Dance, the whole of India likes it, not only Tamils or Malayalis 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lungi+dance+video+youtube&view=detail&mid=4AAD8BE78B35602C090E4AAD8BE78B35602C090E&FORM=VIRE 

The so-called resistance to Hindi is in the Sothern States of India. Script for these languages is quite different compared to Hindi. But the alleged differences are historical as India became India for the first time in 1947! For reasons already discussed, these differenopinions were natural, and people thought that Hindi was being imposed on them. I will share one example which indicates the complexity due to the technological changes that have taken place in the last seventy years. The regional languages naturally could not keep pace with technological changes. The onslaught of technology was felt by German, French, Spanish and Chinese too! English has come back strongly and has now almost become a global language, thanks to Computerisation!  

The way languages world over are facing the issue,  our regional languages also faced the same problem. These languages cannot cope up with the technological changes. But WhatsApp and Facebook have facilitated all local languages to be used for communication. Thereby the feared obscurity of the languages is gone. Now people chat in Tamil, Marathi and Telugu; and many other languages. Those who are English educated but know the mother tongue, use the Roman script to communicate in their language! “Barobar ahe na?” (Am I right?) I wrote Marathi in the roman script. So, nobody is going to kill local languages.  

How rich the regional languages will remain, depends on people using itAfter all most people “think” in the mother tongueDon’t worry too much. Tyre repair guy will be mostly Anna from Kerala! Idli-Dosa guy will be from Udupi! Recently I have observed that in the construction business, Bihari workers in Pune are being replaced by those from Bengal. In the hospitality industry, we see many ladies from North-East states working in large cities and even in distant hill stations like Mahabaleshwar. But mind you, most of them are conversant with the local language when their stay is long enough, but they also know Hindi!  

One thing we should never forget that language richness, quality and type changes with era. What was considered classic when I was in school, does not appear so today. The same thing is true with songs and movies too! Yesteryears classics seem a bit naïve today! Today’s generation loves today’s classics better than classics of my school daysThere is nothing wrong in that; tastes changevalue system changes! 

So friends, don’t get excited and start slanging matches; don’t begin your protests. Go and see a Hindi movie or a Tamil movie! You will love it! Nation’s unity is more important, not the regional language! 

Chalo Ek Bar Phir Se अजनबी बन जाये हम दोनो!

This song is the best song rendered by Mahendra Kapoor, who was known as Mohammad Rafi clone, till then. (I had met him when I was in 9th or 10th grade, he used to play badminton in our club in Mumbai. (silk shorts and all!) The song is from 1963 movie Gumrah directed by legendary B R Chopra.

Sahir Ludhianvi was a poet who came to Bombay, to earn his bread in Bollywood. I don’t know what compromises he might have been required to make for movies, but I feel that in some of the songs the poet in him, comes out predominantly. A unique trait of Sahir was that he was very forthright in what he wanted to say, sometimes to the point of bluntness. The way he used the Urdu words was unbelievable. Many a time it so happens that for the Urdu words used by him, other languages don’t have the right words, with required lyricism, to explain his real feelings. Sahir Ludhianvi, who was indeed one of the most gifted poets, ever, to have written for Hindi cinema. Known for his cynicism and disillusionment with society, Sahir Ludhianvi wrote lyrics that reflect a great deal of emotional complexity and maturity. In contrast to his contemporaries, Ludhianvi chose to remain unhindered by the constraints set by the Bollywood love songs; many of his songs are refreshing to hear for their expression of biting political satire, heartfelt grief, or outspoken anger.

In this song, the two lovers are caught in the social situation which prevents them from fulfilling their romantic desires and living life together. It is supposedly his real-life situation where he and poet Amrita Pritam could not stay together though they loved each other. This song is an outpouring of their accidental meeting at a party with her new husband, in Bombay. He was never an idealist; hence the first two lines show his pragmatic approach to the situation.

Chalo Ek Baar Phir se, ajnabii ban jaayen ham donon 

Come let us become strangers again!

na main tumse koii ummiid rakhuun dilnavaazii kii 

I shall no longer maintain hopes of compassion from you

The last four lines are those of a protagonist. He feels that it is counterproductive to pour energy into a relationship that is doomed. His words indicate that sometimes it is good to put an early end to a love story which cannot end in happy circumstances, ever!

taalluq bojh ban jaaye to usko todnaa achhaa 

Should a relationship become a burden, then it is best to stop it.

voh afsaana jise anjaam tak laanaa na ho mumkin 

For that tale which cannot culminate in a conclusion,

use ek khuubsuurat mod de kar chhoDna achhaa

it is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it be.

I am sure that it is a tough call to bring into practice what Sahir has preached. What Sahir has achieved is one of the best songs he has ever written! The lovers during their love phase and later when that love is broken, are highly emotional. It is entirely possible that sanity may be lost in their actions. But Sahir has suggested a very mature way of handling the situation. Let us be strangers again!

The middle stanza of the song is a practical way the poet is suggesting how the love needs to taper off.

na main tumse koii ummiid rakhuun dilnavaazii kii 

I shall no longer maintain hopes of compassion from you 

The poet is indicating to his love that he no longer would be compassionate in the relationship nor does he expect his beloved to do so.

na tum merii taraf dekho ghalat andaaz nazaron se 

Nor shall you gaze at me with your deceptive glances. 

na mere dil ki dhaDkan laDkhaDaaye merii baaton men 

My heart shall no longer tremble when I speak,  

Poet suggests to his lover that the misleading and furtive glances will not make his heart to flutter. Nor would his words will reflect feelings of the heart.

na zaahir ho tumhaari kashm-kash ka raaz nazaron se 

Nor shall your glances reveal the secret of your torment. 

Over a period, my love, your glances will not display the pain in your eyes!

Friends I am amazed at the way the artists express themselves. Painters’ expressions are seen in the paintings, and the singer will express through the depth of his voice. These days even cricketers say that they want to go and express themselves. By this, they all mean that they want to show their feelings. But in Sahir’s case,  it is simply amazing that he can find apt expressions and perfectly fitting words. The word Ajanabii hits the bull’s eye. From lovers to the other extreme, strangers! Somebody may have said, ”Let me walk away” or “let us forget each other”! But the word Ajnabii hits as if a dagger is plunged inside your heart! How can lovers become strangers in a broken relationship? But that is Sahir for you. Was this song the result of Sahir’s personal experience? Was it the wound to his heart that brought out the word Ajanabii from the depth of his heart?

The last line in the poem (ok it’s a song) is also equally impressive.

use ek khuubsuurat mod de kar chhodna achhaa

it is best to give it a beautiful turn and leave it be. 

Sahir says now that our relationship is getting over, why not give the situation a beautiful turn, as if he is driving a car and he wants to take an unexpected turn on the road which will never bring him back to his lover. Is it as simple as making a U-turn? khuubsuurat mod to me is a metaphor where he wants to walk out but expresses it as only Sahir can!

Sahir Ludhianvi is the pen name of Abdul Hayee (8 March 1921 – 25 October 1980) who is popularly known as Sahir, was an Indian poet and film lyricist who wrote in the Hindi and Urdu languages. His work influenced Indian cinema, in particular, Bollywood films. Sahir won Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for Taj Mahal (1963). He earned a second Filmfare Award for Best Lyricist for his work on Kabhie Kabhie (1976). He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1971. But lest you forget, his best work was in 1957 Gurudutt film,  Pyaasa!