Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
So far there have been a very few celebrities whose death moved me to tears. One was Michael Jackson, recently Swarnalatha and now it is Jagjit Singh. I don't know if it is a coincidence that all of them were singers. I cried at the news of their death because they are gone forever and will never sing beautiful songs for me anymore.
As soon as I heard the terrible news of Jagjit Singh's passing last afternoon, I pulled out my collection of his music - all of them audio tapes. Strangely I've never bought a Jagjit Singh CD. Good I didn't. Those cassettes hold much more than music I must say. Just take out a favorite cassette (if you still have one) and try it. Hold it in your hand, close your eyes and see how magically it can transport you back to the times you heard it over and over again. This is exactly what I've been going through since last afternoon.
I was introduced to the magic of Jagjit Singh's voice by my friend Niju Ravindran in the first year of college. We were in a van during a college trip and I asked her what she was listening to. She quietly passed me her walkman and said "listen to it yourself". And that's it. I got hooked on to Jagjit Singh's music for life. Niju left college the same year to study elsewhere - as if her only purpose was to get me mesmerized by Jagjit Singh. Like I always say, angels come in so many forms (I am glad to have got back in touch with her last month after almost 20 long years).
Though I appeared to be a reckless tom boy to many, the soulfulness in Jagjit Singh's voice and music somehow touched me instantly. And as years went by, the effect only increased. I wasn't familiar with Urdu or even Hindi for that matter at that time. Thankfully most album jackets had full lyrics and also meaning to some rare words (what thoughtful gesture).
Today as I go through each Ghazal in every album, it all comes back to me. I was introduced to this music as a silly college girl and it stood by me as I matured. It probably helped me philosophize and see reality. Rather than saying I felt the pain along with Jagjit, I should say he shared my pain, loneliness and taught me how to cope. I guess that answers why I don't have any CDs of Jagjit Singh...by the time technology moved on to CDs from audio cassettes, I moved on too. Got a grip on life and its ways. Like I mentioned in an earlier blog post, my family would often try to pull me out of my “ghazal moods”. They thought the songs made me sad. I never tried to come out of my locked-up room and explain to them how good the music made me feel...I could've never explained even if I tried to. Not only the Ghazals, I even loved Jagjit Singh’s devotional music. I get goose-flesh even when I think of the refrain "Jai Jai Maa" in "Mere man ke andh tamas mein jyotirmayee utro" - how the song raised my spirits during so many times of need!
Thanks to Jagjit Singh, I also started looking at other singers like Pankaj Udhas, Chandas Das, Talat Aziz, even Hariharan but nobody stayed in my heart like Jagjit Singh and he always will. Thank you Jagjit Singh...RIP
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
This incident took me straight back to the first year of my college in the 1990s when a classmate’s mother walked into our class to enquire about her daughter who’d been missing for the past 2 days! The interesting part of the story was that this absconding classmate had “eloped” with her car driver (oops...chauffer it should be). Just into college and added to it, we were students of English Literature - just imagine our state of mind when we heard the story! Of course by the end of the final year, though we had gotten used to the elopement stories we got excited every time – if it wasn’t the French tutor, it was the rich guy next-door who happened to be a glorified cowherd and then there was the girl who “ran away” with the neighbourhood auto rickshaw driver!!
Those of us who grew up in the late 80s and 1990s were mostly a bunch of dreamers. We dreamt of love stories, lovers and sometimes careers. Yes, very much in that order.
The late 80s and the 1990s was the golden-era of love stories. Cinema reflects society and vice versa and so this was the period when some of the most memorable love stories got made (memorable for us kids, unforgettable for our poor parents). Wow! What movies they were!
• Maine Pyar Kiya (come on, don’t laugh. Have you forgotten? Some people were smitten by the doves and even Alok Nath)
• Qayamat se Qayamat Tak (I still sigh at the very mention of it)
• Idhayam (the heavy, heavy Tamil movie that melted many hearts)
• Eeramana Rojave
• Punnagai Mannan
• Dil Hai ke Maanta Nahin (with a clever modern-day twist and the famous line “Pooja beti Bhaag”. Thank God the hero of that movie hadn’t yet turned a producer – else he would have written a song for the situation “Bhaag bhaag pooja bhaag”, with a few swear words thrown in )
• ....the list goes on (definitely not in a chronological order).
All these movies had the quintessential dialogue of the era “Is duniya ki koi taakat hamein rok nahin sakti” translated into all Indian languages!!! My generation grew up watching such movies and listening to songs like “Main duniya bhula doonga teri chaahat mein”, “hum pyar karne waalen, duniya se na darne waale”, “roke kab ruki hai, manzil pyaar ki”. Ha! Such inspiring words and I guess that did it. So inspired we all were that we forgot to plan ourselves a career... we just loitered around, found jobs and life-partners – some traitors didn’t even fulfil the secret pact that the youth of the 1990s had made to themselves – they quietly sneaked into arranged marriages!
The trend of the movies and the society slowly changed and brought in the idea of “sacrificing love for the sake of family respect”...with convenient happy endings. Prem and Pooja bottled up their feelings for each other (Maine Pyar Kiya) and if not for hoarse voice of Amrish Puri that said “Ja Simran”, our giggly Raj would've never got his Simran. Sacrifice became a recurring theme in half a dozen ‘SuperBad Tamil movies’ produced by SuperGood movies with melodic ‘strains’ by SA Rajkumar.
Cut to today - just like youngsters today, the characters in today’s films are straightforward, less dreamy eyed, more practical and ready to drop old lovers and pick new ones without as much as a tear drop. Parental consent is not quite an issue (if at all parents form part of the story). What is interesting is that most of the leads (both the girls and boys) have their own careers. In the 1990s, even the college-educated guys had to chop wood for a living in case they eloped!! The definition of falling in love and relationship seems to be changing. Though it broke my heart, Gautam Menon conveyed to his audience that it is only in a movie that Jessie can marry Karthik against all odds but the real Jessie (out of the movie) moves on and marries someone else. Of course there are good movies being made today too but they only have a certain love angle to a larger subject. Even in movies that claim to be in Romance genre (I hate luvv stories, Anjana Anjani, Break ke Baad, Paiyya, Engeyum Kaadhal) I somehow feel the fiery passion, an essential part of a love-story, missing. VTV, Mynaa and Madrasapattinam were perhaps some exceptions in recent times. I’m unable to think of any such strong examples in Hindi though. Please tell me if you can think of any.
Like I said earlier, cinema is definitely a mirror to the times we live in. People are keener on establishing a comfortable position for themselves in this competitive world. Relationships, if at all they happen, are just sub-stories.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
The book is a collection of letters and excerpts from Protima Bedi’s journals. She wished to publish her Autobiography someday but little did she know that it would be published posthumously.
The presentation of the book is as raw and as simple as Protima Bedi’s outlook towards life. The book does not carry any air of the classy-literary style that one would expect from a noted classical dancer's memoirs nor do you find the sensationalism of a bold model's life story. The journal entries are all straightforward and the letters are simple and straight from the heart. Beyond being known as the Nudist of Juhu and the creator of Nrityagram, we see a very simple, even innocent person at the core. Her exploits, love affairs, struggles are all discussed very honestly and in a matter of fact style. The few black and white photographs that are added could have been of a better quality. They also don't contribute much to the story of Protima Bedi. Pooja Bedi and the editor perhaps didn't have accesss to many good pictures.
Initially, I felt the title of the book “Timepass” was rather frivolous. Only later does one realise that it sums up her simple philosophy of life. She says only birth and death are the two truths of life and everything else in between is just “timepass". There are such small, sometimes unintended, nuggets of wisdom in many chapters. The book offers some surprising and shocking moments - for instance, when she casually mentions names of celebrities and well-known people as her lovers/friends and when she talks about the ordeals she faced during her Odissi training days and the initial days of Nrityagram.
The last couple of chapters are very moving and philosophical in nature. The readers are taken to another level in terms of their understanding of Protima Gauri Bedi (How she dropped the name Bedi and added Gauri is quite funny). Her thoughts and actions during the last few chapters almost seem prophetic. One perhaps just needs to be in touch with his/her inner self to walk the path to sheer Bliss.
Inspiring in parts, thought provoking and touching in parts, this book is a good read for those who appreciate the essence of of free-spiritedness and is sure to be more than just a “timepass”!
Friday, July 08, 2011
The day I realized that my 3.5 year old daughter started imitating my angry expressions and body language, I started becoming very conscious of my anger and my reaction to unpleasant situations. I realized raising one’s voice could sound so ugly and violent only after I saw her do it. I have now started controlling my temper and language, even when she is not around.
My daughter loves enacting scenes either from her favourite fairy tale or imitate her teachers at school. We also enjoy watching her do this but what she did the other day shocked me. She suddenly started yelling on top of her voice “Get out of the class” in English and in Tamil. I asked her what she was talking about but she repeatedly kept saying “Get out the class. Why did you spill the water?” On asking her if her teacher yelled this way, she said “No, not our teacher but I saw this through the window of another classroom while playing outside”. Well, I was relieved that this did not happen in her class and at the same time wasn’t sure if it is okay. Though my first thought was go and tell the school about this, I also thought, as parents, when we lose temper with our own kids, what more could be expected from a regular school with regular teachers who have to deal with brats of all sizes every day of the week.
I have always tried to keep my daughter away from violence. I consciously avoid showing her violent stuff on TV. Great! What else? I tell her traditional, mythological stories. I told her the story of Lord Ganesha and how Lord Shiva chops off Lord Ganesha’s head. Boy! How much more violent can it get? She loves to watch shows like Little Krishna, Krishna-Balaram and Chota Bheem on TV, though most of the time innocent and cute, these shows are mostly about bashing up the bad guys. Then, we sing Rhymes - the Mother Goose rhymes. An innocent sleeping baby falls off the cradle (Rock-a-bye-baby) and a poor old man gets thrown down the stairs just because he couldn’t say his prayers (Goosy Goosy Gander). As a student of Literature I know that most of these rhymes were written in the social context of England during various periods. I don’t teach my daughter rhymes that are irrelevant but can I stop her school? (Thank God for the new syllabi at schools which have new rhymes, apart from some old ones).
Ieven avoid telling her, at bedtime, her 2 favourite stories – namely Robot (the movie) and Rapunzel. Both of these have shades of violence, how much ever I edit it.
Itake my daughter’s favourite characters and make up my own bed-time stories. My daughter loves them and in the bargain, I sleep well too but there’s so much violence everywhere in so many forms. And for how long will I be able to shield my little one from aggression and violence. Of course, I do explain in her own language that is not nice to hit or yell at someone. The TV luckily has a remote control but what about life? Should I let her explore the world on her own and figure it out herself because today hatred, violence and blood-shed are all part of daily life? If I look, I am sure there must be some way of raising my daughter who will be aware that violence does exist but will be strong enough to choose love!
Friday, May 20, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Was watching this prog on Sun TV last night - an event organized by the Film Director's Association of South India (I guess). Part of the show was a cute little interview (supposed to be in a lighter vein) - ace director K Balachander interviewing Superstar Rajnikanth. The concept was very sweet and so was the interview. Very open questions and very honest answers - that was the best part of the interview. Rajni didn't hesitate for a second when he said, his priority was only commercial movies - gosh, this man is so sure of himself!! There were many questions that made Rajni emotional - like for example when KB asked Rajni why he has stopped the ritual of calling upon KB anymore on Holi day (the day when Sivaji Rao Gaekwad was renamed Rajni by KB). The relationship between the two came out so well...the humble self displayed by Rajni towards his mentor was so moving. I also loved the maturity displayed by KB when he says he cannot make movies that befit Rajni's superstar status anymore.
Just one thing, KB sir kept taking pride in the fact that he was the one to launch Rajni, not once but many times during the interview. For a minute I felt, its all destiny - if Sivaji Rao was destined to become a super-famous personality, nothing would have stopped him and KB sir was perhaps just a catalyst in entire Big Plan. (In fact, it was only much later that the 'superstar' image came to be fitted on Rajni, though people loved him right from the first movie!) If not through KB, it would have happened through some other source. But you know what, considering all of KB's path breaking movies, all his knowledge and more than anything, his ripe age of 82 (I see so many ex-film personalities become cynical once they lose out on the market but KB so is spirited even now) - may be one can actually let him take the credit for turning around the life of a regular person into a phenomenon!
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Day 2: Arun (my husband) talked to a few people, bought some good maps and found a better route to get to Bangalore from Mangalore – via Madikkeri (Coorg). He suggested we take a break there and then proceed to Chennai via Bangalore. My parents who were with us had confirmed bus bookings from Mangalore to Hyderabad (a solid 20 hr journey) the next day. Poor things, we convinced them to cancel it and join us for a good time at Madikkeri and even got them train tickets from Bangalore to Hyderabad – we were so pleased that we had made it easy for them. So we went to Subramanya Temple, around 100 km from Mangalore but couldn’t get the Darshan at the main temple, again due to the holiday rush. We left to Madikkeri around 3 pm and realized that the road has been blocked. We took the alternative route and regret it till date ☺All the while I was uncomfortable, I repeatedly kept asking everyone – do we actually have to climb uphill and go to Madikeri? Can’t we go to Mysore directly? I don’t feel like going uphill. But they said this is the only available route to Mysore too. Lesson #2 Respect your instincts, follow your gut feeling. Anyway the suggested road was nothing but a narrow mud path where only 1 vehicle can pass freely at any time, again a winding road up the hills, with a jungle on one side and a valley on the other. It was very difficult to climb up the hill. I then felt a strange smell and we all thought forest areas do have such unusual “herbal” smells!! A few minutes later, the climb was getting more difficult. We thought it must be because of the weight – 1 baby, 5 adults, 5 suitcases and an assortment of other stuff. The realization came when a passing car mentioned that smoke was coming out of our car! We opened the doors and windows of our car to see smoke—a whole lot of it at that. The tension that gripped all of us at that time would not leave us for next 18 hours at least. We tried balancing the weight in the car. My husband and I moved to the front passenger seat and dad moved behind. We thought it worked for a while. We hadn’t even covered 2 kms—we would stop for a while every time the smoke came out. We did this twice. Finally our Corolla Altis just gave up. Poor thing, if it had feelings, wonder what it would have gone through at that time and the rest of the night. Tension was building up. I could hear my mum and baby chanting Lord Ayappa’s names and prayers “Swamiye Saranam Ayappa” ‘’Ethividayya, thookividayya’’. This is normally chanted by devotees while climbing the tough hills to reach Lord Ayappa’s temple in Sabarimalai (my parents have made 2 visits so far and now have decided to go next year too). A man driving alone in a black Chevrolet slowed down and asked if we needed a lift. We declined, thinking we can manage. When we actually thought we should perhaps ask someone for a lift, we didn’t get one. Just then a bus that was passing by stopped and around 20 full grown men swiftly got off the bus and started walking towards our car. I got scared and quickly got into our car. They exchanged a few words with my dad, husband and driver. One of them got into our car and tried to start it and said something in Kannada that meant “it's gone’’ – at least that’s what I could make out. The rest of the men pushed our car to a corner of the road and again spoke something to the men in our car. My mom was very excited and I was thinking how she could trust just anyone. I think my head was clouded with thoughts and I couldn’t hear anything. The next thing I realized was my dad telling me that those men offered us a lift up to a point and me quickly grabbing 2 bags with me and running towards the bus. I only had one second to turn back to Arun who nodded, asking me to get into that bus and that he would meet me soon. We got into the bus and I now came to know why mom was excited. It was indeed a bus full of Ayappa devotees. They were on their way back from a trip to Sabharimalai! That was a very pleasant surprise and I started crying – don’t know why. We then realized the folly of just leaving my husband behind without even discussing further plans. I was still confident that they would somehow lug the car and come behind the bus now that the load had reduced. It was then that my mum dropped the bombshell “didn’t you know that we’ve had a breakdown? The clutch is broken and the car will not move”. Goodness gracious me! I just didn’t know that. Totally unaware of the distances and routes, I thought we would go to Khushalnagar, a few kilometres from Madikkeri, my dad will find a mechanic and go back to the spot where the car was stranded. How stupid of me. There was absolutely no network on our cell phones and we just couldn’t get in touch with Arun or the driver. My tears increased – to make the situation more filmy, sentimental Ayappa songs were blaring in the bus – a lady angrily challenging to God to prove His existence and another man lamenting over the loss of his worldly processions only to be directed towards the Lord’s doors and so on. Mom was assuring that if God has put us in the hands of these kind men, He would definitely guide my husband too. Luckily, my dad and Arun, both users of the good old BSNL were able to finally connect to each other and decided on a place to meet each other in the town of Sankleshpur. Arun and our driver had got a lift up to that town. They had decided to leave our car alone in the jungle that night. I felt bad for our loyal car. People were saying that the jungle is a marked forest area and had animals coming out at night, particularly elephants! We then reached some town and one of the men on our bus dropped us off at a bus station and before we realized anything, put us on a bus that was almost about to leave and quickly told us this bus would not actually go to Sankleshpur but to another town – we will have to get another bus from there to Sankleshpur. Phew! What had we got ourselves into?