Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Number 2

Before you start reading this, I want to let you know that I’m very sade.

1. No comments on the previous post?! Don’t Mumbai and books interest you? It’s ok if you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. But if you don’t have one, why not have Mumbai as your jaan for the time being. For my sake, please!!.

2. These days, I spend a lot of time on Orkut talking politics and books. I found that I don’t have a ‘good’ testimonial written by a female or for that matter any testimonial written by a female!!! I have a huge Malhaar complex now. (No problem, medicines from that complex will cure my inferiority complex!!!)

3. Jita tells me that the movies I’ve made with my new handy cam are ‘chu|iya’. Really sade.

Forget it, sarcasm will be in my children’s blood. Don’t know how it entered my blood. Maybe, the effect of staying for 7 years in hostels. Yes, I’ve got a handy cam and have made some really chu|iya videos. But believe me; they only lack a good platform. Ready to watch them?!

Chhee, you people are so dirty. Not that number 2. My cousin had suggested a better euphemism- five down!

” Whenever there is strong number 1, there is automatically a space for a strong number 2”- roared the CEO/MD of a leading MBA entrance training institute. His recorded ‘Life Transformation Sessions’ are quite a hit among hundreds of MBA aspirants here in Surat. He is very good and can give Sunil Pal or any of the Laughter Champions a run for their money. I’m not mocking, but it is a whole-hearted appreciation of his oratory skills and more importantly his ability to keep the crowd’s interest for close to three hours. I guess the statement he made is true in the context of Pepsi v/s Coke and few other businesses. But he made the statement as if he were the Pope and was laying down the rules of business (Again, this is an appreciation of his skills!)

This post is not about _ _ it, or business or MBA. It is about music. The rule stated by the ‘Pope’ doesn’t apply here. At least when it comes to Hindi movie/album sound tracks. A particular song overshadows other tracks and we fail to notice its beauty, melody, or tune as the case maybe. Maybe, the producers/promoters feel it is prudent to promote a particular song(s). Maybe other songs aren’t publicized because listeners are satisfied with ‘watching’ the song on the promos. Maybe, they don’t buy the album and don’t listen to all the songs. Maybe the countdown charts are just cursory and the producers of these shows don’t go beyond the normal popular fare. Maybe, the audiences aren’t discerning enough. Maybe, I’m making a grand, baseless accusation. Maybe, it’s time to move on.


Forget Summer of ’69. It’s been used and overused so much that it hardly evokes any feeling of nostalgia now. Forget ‘69, even ‘96 has come and gone and it’s ’06 now. Then we have ‘Purani Jeans’. Great song. Conveys the ‘college days are best’ message perfectly. But then it also has been played so many times. Oohoon, no effect. Then come ‘Woh Lamhe’ and came with it the remix in Zeher. Changed the whole essence of the song. Emraan Kissme, aur kitne gaanon ka ghanti bajaaoge? Woh Lamhe, Aadat.What next?!

But why look that far when we have a gem closer home- ‘Gill ‘Te Guitar’ by Rabbi. The song opens with a superb guitar lick by Rabbi and tells the story of Rabbi, his two friends and his guitar. It took me sometime to understand the lyrics. Since then, it’s made a permanent place on my play list. Bulla ki Jaana was path breaking by all means. It helped Punjabi music shed its stereotype image of fully clothed men (head to toe!) dancing with half-clothed women. It gave a new feel, a new look, a new sound and added a whole new dimension to Punjabi music. It’s video no doubt doubled its popularity and indeed was one of the best videos Indi-pop or sufi-rock(whatever you call it) has seen. But I wonder how much a hit Gill ‘Te Guitar would’ve been, had it been given a little more push and a beautiful video shot on it. The college crowd would’ve lapped it up and it’d have become the new generation ‘Yeh Dosti’. The most beautiful lines from the song roughly translated- ‘he called up and said “days pass by easily, but evenings are difficult to pass”. And I find it difficult to pass time on the computer without this song.

Anu Malik is a shocker. Shocker for his blatant lifting of tunes and shocker for the melodious tunes he comes up with once in a blue film, oops blue moon. No wonder he won the National Award for Refugee. But still my favourite song is
‘Panchhi nadiyan pavan ke jhokein,
Anu Malik ko copy karne se koi na roke’

So much flak this man has to face. Most of his music especially of the 90’s and in early 00’s was downright pathetic. With Rahman’s Hindi films releasing once in three blue moons, void left by Panchamda’s demise, Nadeem- Shravan getting too predictable, one had to bear not only Anu’s music but also his voice. Remember Oonchi hai building and Jaanam Samjha karo ?!

But I’m still willing to pardon Anu Malik for one really beautiful composition of his. I believe one of his better works that went relatively unnoticed was ‘Intezaar’ from Paap I asked a friend about this song and with a glint in his eyes and a naughty smile on his face, he replied- “THAT song?!”. Yes, THAT song. The same one in the promos which showed an underwater Udita Goswami’s bare back with two straps. Sadly, it became that song. And the reason is understandable I guess. It is difficult to compete with heavyweights such as ‘Mann ki Lagan’ by Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Azmat’s ‘Garaj Baras’ Let’s enjoy this song till we do ‘intezaar’ for Anu Malik to come up with a beautiful, melodious composition, for we know music is timeless and also that this wait of ours can become timeless.


Me:‘Parineeta’ ke gaane sune hai kya?!
Him: Haan

M: Kaun se?
H: Piyu bole aur woh ‘train wallah gaana’

M: Music director kaun hai?
H: Koi naya hai. Utna toh pata hai. Aaj ka koi music director ka aisa ‘feel’ nahin hai.

Poor Shantanu Moitra, he gives them a different ‘feel’ and yet they don’t know him too well. No worries, a few more movies and his name will be on everybody’s lips as will his music. HKA was a fantastic debut and he followed it up with Yahaan and 7 1/2 phere. The icing on the cake was of course Parineeta, for it was more ‘mainstream’ (read publicity and media coverage) than Yahaan. I still believe Yahaan as an album is his best work. His best single composition is my all time favorite- Baanwara Mann. Simplicity and melody are the hallmarks of his music. Also to be noted is how he gets the best out of his singers. Sunidhi Chauhan and ‘Kaisi Paheli Zindagaani’?!. I didn’t believe it at the first instance. Will write more on Shantanu Moitra later.

The song in question here is ‘ Raat hamari toh’ from Parineeta. The tune is simple as are the lyrics. Swananand Kirkire’s opening haunts you forever and Chitra’s light melody will fill one’s soul. This song somehow has a very calming effect. Parineeta is a complete album in the sense that all songs are equally good, and ‘Raat Hamari Toh’s role in making this album a complete is as much as Saif’s train song or Rekha’s item dance.

I still remember that day. That was the day I wanted to commit suicide. My belief that my knowledge of Hindi music is up to date was under serious doubt. Also my claim that I was a Rahman fan was under serious cloud. Only after lot of persuasion by Bharath did I drop the idea of suicide.

Till that day, I had not heard Khaamosh Raat. I was walking by the corridor of another block and heard a song sounding deceptively similar to Led Zep’s ‘Rain Song’ . (Bharath vehemently denies any connection between the two songs, but isn’t ‘Telephone dhun mein hasne waali’ reminiscent of ‘ Just beat it’?!!!). Still, Rahman is Rahman and we’ll let him get away on this one.

Here again, it was overshadowed by ‘Rang de’ and moreover Tabu and her dance. This song spawned many kindergarten, pre-primary, primary, high school, arts, commerce and law Tabus at their gatherings, school days and fests. Engineering Tabus?!! NO COMMENTS.

Infact another song from this movie was hailed in the promos as a ‘Rahman genius’ -Bheegi Bheegi. The box-office remained cold to such promotions and Thakshak was called a thaka thaka movie. The promoters relied more on Rahman’s music than Govind Nihalani’s direction. Atleast, that’s the feeling one got out of watching the promos. Is Rahman > Nihalani? Isn’t it Nihalani + Rahman = Great combo= equally great movie(atleast that was the expectation, isn’t it?!).

Let me be khaamosh now. I know how good my math is!!

Some more number 2s.

Awaarapan (Jism) - Bipasha and her skin killed this song.
Raat ki hatheli par(Refugee)- Abhishek and Kareena’s debut made sure this song got no airtime. It took a full month for their faces to appear in the promos. Till then it was the white sand and Abhishek’s voice. Of course, Kareena’s lower back too!.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mumbai Meri Jaan!!!

My travels and explorations in Mumbai have been very limited, almost zilch considering the immense expanse of the mega-city. Yet, Mumbai with all its flurry and fury continues to interest and enchant me further. With each of my visits to Mumbai, my curiosity to delve deeper into the intricacies of the mechanisms on which this city functions gets deeper. What excites or enthuses me about Mumbai is not its tourist places, not its people, not the hustle-bustle of the local trains, not Bollywood, but something which is a sum total of all this and which transcends all this- Experience!. My trysts with Mumbai have been many, albeit very short and limited. Yet there is something of each trip that is etched forever in my mind. Shall certainly write about my experiences sometime later. This post though is about movies and books which feature Mumbai as the main protagonist. Most of these corroborate the eternal truth- ‘Mumbai is a living hell and the people here enjoy living in this hell, come ‘rain’ (read floods!) or shine. Worse still, they make you fall in love with that hell.’goo

Movies or books, which one first?! Tough choice, but alphabetical order rules.

To make the presentation interesting (and appear fundoo in the process), I’m presenting the movies and books under three categories.

1. The ones which I haven’t read/watched.
2. The ones which I have read/watched.
3. The ones which no one has read/watched (because they haven’t been released as of now!)

Before I embark on this journey of prose and picture, I decide not to include Bollywood movies on the underworld. Much has been spoken, written and filmed about that. But I do know what to expect circa 2015.

F Fwd to 15th May,2015
Today, a book by the award-winning page 3 journalist Moniica Beidy on the harmonious relationship between the underworld and Bollywood was released at a grand party at The Taj hosted by the adorable Abu Salem. Among those in attendance were the dashing Dawood and a visibly moved Mandakini. The book is said to be inspired by the eternal love-story of Dawood and Mandakini. Among those who graced the occasion included the chirpy Chhota Rajan who was closeted with Chhota Shakeel. The two seemed to enjoy each others’ company. Sanjubaba and Sanjay Gupta weren’t able to make it to the party as they were busy watching English DVDs looking for ‘inspiration’ for their next White feather production movie. Mahesh Manjrekar and Vikram Bhatt made a grand entry in a rickshaw, sporting a new hairdo, a combination of pink and orange hair colours. Later, it turned out so that it was a clever marketing ploy by L’ Oreal to promote their latest men’s hair colour products.

Back to the present


Book which I haven’t read:

Maximum City
by Suketu Mehta.

It is said to be the book which was waiting to be written but no one dared to write. It is said to be the book which introduced vada pav, bar –girl and b*@&*()d to the world. It was short listed for the Pulitzer prize and was in the news for this reason as much as it was for Mehta’s much publicized spat with Vinod Chopra. By now you’d heard good or bad things about the book by me but then I swapped it for another book, on Mumbai again. And that book is right up there as one of the best I’ve read in my short spanned pursuit of reading as a serious hobby. If you have Maximum City, please lend it to me!

Book which I’ve read :

by Gregory David Roberts.

I want to be born as Gregory David Roberts in my next birth. I like the book that much. I might not actually that long to enjoy the ‘highs’ and endure the agonizingly painful lows, but my life would be worth it even if I have a miniscule of ‘experience’ of what Roberts had. Shantaram is about an Australian fugitive who escapes to India on a forged New Zealand passport and his life on his subsequent arrival In Mumbai. He works for the mafia, sets up a health clinic in the slums, spends a horrid time behind the bars because of his rivalry with a mysterious character and later goes on to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. The characters do not move you, you become numb with their simplicity, their purity of heart, their beauty, their mystery. What runs through all the characters and makes them become etched in your mindscape for ever is their ‘spirit’. Prabhakar’s cheerfulness and ability to see the silver lining in the darkest of the clouds, Vikram’s suaveness, Prabhakar’s mother’s pure love and affection, Khaderbhai’s ‘principle’ of ‘doing the right thing for the wrong reasons and the wrong things for the right reasons’, the challwallahs’ unity in spite of all adversities. I forgot to mention Madam Zhou’s mysterious life, Karla’s reluctance to open up to Shantaram, Abdul’s friendship with Shantaram. I can go on and on. The book is a behemoth, close to 700 pages. But it is no prose-athon and the language is simple and free-flowing. It is not like an action thriller where the hero is like a supernatural being crushing all difficulties. I liked the book because it is real. The characters, the emotions, the experiences are all real. Even the landmarks, for e.g. Leopold’s in Colaba, Haji Ali are all real. It has so much about life and philosophy, death and even the Big Bang Theory that it takes some time to digest it. But once digested, it nourishes you well like any nutrient. Shantaram is one book which you won’t think much about while reading it. But you won’t stop thinking about it after you finish reading it.

There’s a movie being made based on the book with Johnny Depp playing Shantaram. I might sound too far-fetched and optimistic, but if the character of Prabhakar is treated well and given the importance is deserves, Rajpal Yadav or Vijay Raaz might just win an Oscar. Read the book, and we’ll discuss on the Indian cast for the movie. Till then I’ll continue debating on that on IMDB.

Book that no one’s read

Sacred Games
by Vikram Chandra

And I had thought author Vikram Chandra was same as NDTV editor/anchor Vikram Chandra. Of course, they are different. The latter does look scholarly and erudite enough to be an author himself. Author Vikram Chandra is a professor of Creative Writing at University of California, Berkeley. Looks like art and literature run in his genes. His mother, Kamna Chandra was the script writer of 1942: A Love Story. His sister is more famous than him. Tanuja Chandra, the director of acclaimed movies like Dushman, Sur and Sangharsh and a dud, Yeh Zindagi ka Safar. Another sister Anupama Chopra is a journalist and recently turned author with a book on the making of Sholay. His brother-in-law is probably the most famous in his family- Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Incidentally, Suketu Mehta and Vikram Chopra together wrote the script for Mission Kashmir.
Sacred Games is in news for the huge advance Chandra has pocketed and has been in the making for almost 7 years. Hope it is worth the effort and the wait. It is a book set in Mumbai; but spreads out into a much larger canvas as the book progresses. Looks like after co-authoring the script Mission
Kashmir, Mehta and Chandra are co-authoring a ‘Mission Mumbai’. That incidentally happens to be the name of a B-grade Hindi movie.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


1. I am alive!
2. I am rushing to Mumbai. I might miss the train.
3. My travel blog - Here
4. Reasons for my absence in my next post.
5. Did my absence matter?!!(Thanks those of you who kept visiting and used to greeted
by the pothole! I know who are they all!)
6. Happy New Year!
7. Hope the train is late. No chance, it starts from Surat