Sunday, December 04, 2016

What did Bappi Lahiri do with Kaifi Azmi's poetry?

This was 1978. There was a flood in Bengal. My father travelled there to give some succor to our suffering family. They had lost their house and were living on the banks of a seething riverine. Father had some money. So they started rebuilding the house. Father did not have much leave and he came back to Nilgiris where we were then.

I did not watch many movies then. In fact, even if we went to the movies, I tended to loiter outside. But then, I was fixating on a strange song called "Bambai se aaya mera dost" and the film was Aap ki Khatir. And that had come to the Kilimanjaro hall in Wellington. Charming hall beside a cricket ground. So we went to see it. Vinod Khanna. Rekha. Some domestic drama. Both of them in robust form. Suddenly Bambai se...burst onto the screen. Ecstasy. First sampling of the Bappi beat and the Bappi voice.

Bappi Lahiri became an artist to follow up on.

And what a follow up he presented.

Toote Khilone. The title would straightaway suggest bad songs. Wrong. Bappi Lahiri would make history with this.

But let me start with the cast and crew. Shekhar Kapoor was the hero. Shabana Azmi was his lady in the film. Again, a drama. Shekhar was unimpressive. His acting career went to dogs post this effort. Shabana went the other way. Ketan Anand directed the film. Very underrated director. Yes, he was another nephew of Dev Anand. I was to meet him eight years later in Hyderabad. When he was there for Filmotsav along with his next, the superb Shart. But this was pretty insipid drama. Loosely put together.

But that song. Maana ho tum behad Haseen. Alone made a difference to its lifetime business. Rescued it from the depths. The entire nation took notice of Yesudas's skills at the mic and Bappi's orchestral skills.

Listen to Bappi's work closely. This. Aitbaar. Namakhalal. Sharaabi. Sansar. Sailaab. Chalte Chalte. One thing would be common. His set up of the orchestra. His clean instrumentation. His chorus. You got to listen to his choruses. And the rhythm. He also was very good with classical compositions. Bappi is ridiculed a bit these days. Memes, spoofs and what not. But back in the days, he sometimes provided great music.

Back to the song. It starts with a guitar riff. Then a brief lull before Yesudas's voice brings in certified magic. The chorus follow and immediately there's an aura to the song. Yesudas raises pitch with Dekho kabhi toh pyaar se and you are tempted to sing along. There are the violins and there's the piano. Very Bappi. He could play all these instruments himself. And the simple rhythm. The bass guitar keeping count. Very understated orchestra giving primacy to the voice. Very unlike Bappi and his reputation.

In the following years, I must have sung the song countless times in the bathroom with a plastic mug doing the work of the bongo. I loved the enclosed space feel in the bathroom that gave the right vibration to my voice through Maana ho tum.

But who wrote the song? Gulp. The illustrious poet lyricist Kaifi Azmi. You nonplussed? You thinking how did that blingy man get to do this great song? Well, he was a talented young man then. Bappi Lahiri.

Yesudas rates him as a great composer to this day. Unfortunately, Bappi chose the easier way out by living under the shadow of the moniker "Disco king".

That said, just listening to "Koi yahaan aha nache cache!" Yeah, kill me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Hey! The economy will not dump you

The notes have been discontinued. The matter is done. The cows have gone home. Now what?

Take the money to your nearest bank and deposit.

If it is unaccounted, you will receive a polite call or message from the Income Tax people and you will do well to pay up the fine, grin and bear it. You will still have much to salvage.

If it is accounted for, why worry your head off? You are paying your taxes. Use your plastic more. Intelligently. That's it. It is not for you anyways that the government has done what it has done. It is for the guys who run a mammoth black economy and deprive the nation of its rightful path, putting the stress back on the taxpayers that's us. 3% of the whole population. Us. It's to bring at least another 40% into the rightful way of economic development.

Just imagine what could happen now?

Banks will receive over Rs. 80 lakh Crores. Flush with funds, RBI could announce a slew of cuts in interests and repo rates. You could borrow money from banks at much easier rates than ever before.

Banks will reach out to the unbankable and create newer propositions giving birth to an altogether new economy.

This could benefit a slew of new entrepreneurs who could, with the help of banks, participate in personal growth and nation development. Education, services, infrastructure and utilities would receive a big fillip. Money will go where it is supposed to go.

Government, now cash rich, can undertake many budgetary reforms and augmentations than ever before. Again, Infrastructure, education, police, law, healthcare and agriculture will receive much needed funds to breathe easy and improve their lot.

Maybe, just maybe, the taxed will be taxed less. GST is going to help in some way already and maybe our tax slabs can get easier. We could hope for that. Then, more money in our pockets.

WhatsApp forwards and shovelling dirt at various political fatcats is all fine. I have enjoyed some jokes too. Over the last twelve hours but this is good.

This is what India should be about. Bold and sure footed. Strong, healthy and bubbling. There will be some of us who will have major concerns with cash in hand.

I still say it's time to show it. To the banks and the tax guys. No harm. No one is gonna put you behind bars. Some fines.

As for me, blissful. I am most happy using plastic and transferring money through the net.

I am lazy. And using a mobile to transfer money fits my type completely. Cheers!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Ae dil hai mushqil - musings

Love has been quite overrated. Very underwhelming. Sometimes. It does not have enough legs to stand on, yet it professes to be around.

Friendship, on the other hand, has a definite premise and yields a lot on ground, during the playing out of the relationship.

Love suffers because of the immaturity but friendship thrives. Love asks questions of us that threaten to disturb the whole balance but friendship rarely, if ever, asks these disturbing questions. Love always speaks of this immense giving in a relationship to make it work. Friendship professes no such lofty principles.

So, why do people look to fall in love? Rankle themselves enough while knowing that a comfortable and cozy friendship is just there. Always there. Trusting. Easy and unobtrusive.

Is it the classic "wanting more" syndrome? The well injected custom of being good girl or boy and so have to marry to prove love. And belonging?

Ayan is a chap who's a bit shallow. Thoroughly spoilt and aimless, he sets his aims on simple love. Alizeh is a girl who's wanting more from every moment that she is in. But a girl who's actually defeated in love. They go through a faux friendship process that's unconvincing even for their limited worlds. And then she decides to marry her old beau. She admits to her defeat in the hands of love and walks away to a future that she thinks is sustainable.

Ayan frets the fact that he could have given her more in love and searches for love more than ever. Enter the poetess. Who teaches him the ways of amour in more ways than one. But they aren't in love. It's more the kind of teacher disciple stuff. Alizeh comes back. The teacher walks away. Ayan is left to grapple with another bout of love. This, when Alizeh tells him that they were much better off with friendship.

No one walks away easily from such abject propensities. It's foretold. We know it's coming.

Johar writes a very tough story. There aren't any pretty pictures here. I mean, cinematically there is, but the story inhabits a much gloomier space.

There are unfortunate let ups. I could not wrap my head around the Paris trip. Neither could I understand why Sabah, the poetess, wanting or clamouring for such a physical relationship. It was kind of, weird.

Anoushka and Ranbir had their great moments. But the absolute killer was the one scene Shahrukh. The compelling romantic actor in him just shone so brilliantly in that one scene that it paled all of Aishwarya's work till then effortlessly. Ah, that actor still has it. Still!

In a way, this film reminded me of Devdas. See it my way and you'll know.

Ae dil hai mushkil.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Film musing - Zulfiqar (Bengali)

Zulfiqar. Ceaser + Anthony & Cleopatra. In Bengali. Transported to the dock underworld of Calcutta. Note that I have put it as Calcutta and not Kolkata. I know this underworld a lot closely. I know the kind of people who have made money here. I know of people who have flourished and how. Who managed the dock workers. The truck parking. The boys who worked illegally in the parking lots. The illegal auctions of items off the broken down ships. The scrap. The voluminous smuggling off broken open containers. I can go on and on. It sort of got set up as an organized underworld in the middle 70s. The parties entered it in the early 80s and even now the guys who profit the most from it are around wearing the colours of a particular party. The spread is now from Kidderpore to Budge Budge. The movie skims through this history very simply in the first few minutes of the film and quickly comes to the conflict between the members of the highest echelon of the underworld, the syndicate. Since, I don't do reviews I shall refrain from going through the story. Suffice to say, much happens but actually not much meat. Srijit, the director, has created a large canvas for himself. Then, he flounders badly. This is a large story. Ceaser. Zulfiqar. It needs that time to spice the politics happening. To bring in the right marinate and make the meat juicy. Brutus or Bashir here was not just a good man who killed his friend over some misinformation fed to him by Cassius or Kashinath here. There was a lot of undercurrents. At the personal level as well as the political level. There were family intrigues. I really thought Srijit underdid those areas of the story. He had the actors who could have pulled it off. But he chose not to. In the last few scenes, it was sad to see him get the entire cast do a confusing gunfight scene in the dock like the 90s Mithun classics. Locations of the gunfight shifting in a jiffy. Prasenjit Chatterjee as Zulfiqar is trying, hard. One can see that. But he does not have the gravitas to pull this off. His screen son loving the same woman Rani Talapatra or Cleopatra is even poorer. Anthony's debauchery does not even start to peek through. Rani Talapatra is done by Sayantika who starts off proceedings on a strong note. A scale that tells me that she will play the queen in a certain manner. And then I am devastated to see that she becomes the whimpering B grade Bangla film heroine. Parambrata and Dev are a duo here. Tony Braganza and Marcus. Zulfiqar depends on them the most. They do well in the beginning. Parambrata does the talking. Anglo Indian English peppered with some Hindi and Bangla. He does it well. Dev is dumb. No talking. He does most of the fighting. Does it well. They have a little bromance going. But just when it starts to go well, there's a strong stage scene and all goes haywire and downhill from there for these two actors. The saviour is an actor called Kaushik Sen. He plays Bashir. He talks in a higher pitch. Is a kind of a good man in a bad trade. Kaushik nails most of his scenes. He has great expressive eyes. The director is intelligent enough to spot this early and gives him a lot of close ups. Kaushik also gets his Calcutta Hindi very right. There's a scene. Bashir is calling back Zulfiqar's friends and family from where they are hiding. Kaushik is seated in the corner of a large sofa with a cellphone. The only movement in that dark scene is his eyes and head. Must say, I was blown by his act. Jishu as Kashinath and Paoli Dam as Zulfiqar's wife are simply not there with their complicated roles. I could not even understand what Paoli was saying in a couple of scenes. Srijit is probably looking at quantity but then he should attempt simpler films. Simpler stories. Ceaser is very complicated. Shakespeare meant it that way. So that people could come back over and over again to see his plays. This was Srijit's Bombay Velvet.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A bearded leader and some bearded men

Virat Kohli smiles a lot. He also gasps, fumes and grimaces. Sometimes his inner Captain Haddock takes over on the field if his deep fine leg is standing on his heels. At other times he's found wringing his hands in dismay or having a rueful smile when his nice fielders get into a tangle with the ball. Read Rahane. Or Ashwin. When he's running like a grammar school kid after school. But Virat gets his job done. I won't mind saying that this cute little team has more talent on field than the times of Saurav or Dhoni. But putting the available talent to work and getting the best out of each guy is another sort of work. Your talent cannot graze grass at third man like some of the pacers did in other times. Nor they can be toggled between third slip and midwicket in fervent hope that the ball will show signs of deviant bounce or the pitch shall show frantic signs of turn just after 3.17 pm in the afternoon. Talent has to be put to work. Logical. Yeah, but try telling Amit Mishra that. Or Praveen Kumar. Praveen may even bring down his family mace onto your head. It's the near past. Just look through the score sheets and see how these guys were used. Virat has succeeded in this. I would not venture to say fully. I fear a caustic Viru tweet if he ever reads this. Ever. But sample this. You have a setting sun. You decide to change Ashwin's end and bring in the tall bowler against the setting sun. You employ a leg slip for his faster ones. You have your best in field catchers at all the close in positions. Then you put in yourself for the uppish drive at short mid on. You ask Ashwin to go about his business with trajectory and drift. You get results. The science and art of talent management onfield comes alive. It's beyond all fixes and cave ins. Virat loves his hours of the day. His declarations have had a certain certainty to themselves. It isn't about waiting for Rohit's fifty or Rahane's hundred. It's telling them that he's going to declare at this hour and they better move their arse if they have to get the team anywhere near to an objective at that appointed hour. Then, like a fielding captain with a Border level mojo, he rotates his bowlers. Shami and Umesh or Bhuvi for the first eight. Jadeja for some quickies in between. Ashwin centrestage. Grinning and fuming. Alternately. Bhuvi certainly near the twenty fifth. Shami for the thirtieth. Reverse swing, you see. Setting sun. Jadeja back for his bootlickers. Ashwin, the hulk in the dark. Shami, if someone needs to smell some leather. Virat senses. The team rallies. Watch Umesh run for the ball. He knows he's being valued in the deep. They all pester him for the piston throws from the deep. Jadeja must throw. Saha must dive for the unreachable. Rahane must walk in a few paces for the faster ones coming off the edges. Angles. Trajectories. Gambhir found himself at sea for a few minutes before he accepted the new order of things. His bones didn't. Play for the team. It's a team game. Good man and cinema feature, Dhoni, brought this concept back into Indian Cricket after Greg Chappell had majorly messed around with the lateral thinking of the nation's favourite team. But Virat is making it sharper. He does not need a saw. He has allowed the beard to flourish. Like that other great thinker of our times, Misbah ul Haq. Forward thinking. Take more singles. Adds to a total. Drive in the V. Get the partnerships going. Facilitate two all rounders suddenly. Get your quiet wicket keeper to breathe at the wicket. Allow your speedsters to do the seam and bounce thing. Junk containment. But dry up the runs through aggressive fields. Allow your premier spinner to give away runs in search of wickets. Keep working on the impish left armer's fields for a variable bounce off the pitch. Forward thinking. Think ten overs hence. Scenography. Again Misbah. But not as inscrutable. Not at all. Voluble. Jolly. Very Punjabi! Kohli!!