Friday, July 31, 2009

A tale of two movies... !!

In the past month or so, I have got the opportunity of watching re-runs of two of my favorite Hindi movies. Of course, I have seen and loved them in the past. But then, there was no blog to pen down your thoughts about them. But now, one just needs to start putting (digital) pen on (artificial) paper. And the fact that the two movies are as different as chalk and cheese made it all the more imperative that I write about them. So here goes...

The first one is Yash Chopra's poetic 'Kabhi Kabhi' (1975). Actually this movie is actually a series of different stories that merge together at the end. At the start of the movie is the unforgettable sight of Raakhee reciting 'Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Main' on her wedding night. A poem that is symbolic of her past and of the man she loved, the poet Amit (one of the Big B's most understated performances). Then who can forget her husband ??. One of Indian cinema's most endearing characters is Vijay Khanna (Shashi Kapoor). A man that lives life kingsize and has a heart of gold. One who is unapologetically flirts with his to-be samdhan (Simi Garewal) and tries his hand at poetry ('Aap ki aankhen itni haseen hai jaise.... garib ke ghar main lantern jalta ho !!'). Then there are the love-birds in Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, whose romance provided Yash Chopra the opportunity to capture the stunning beauty of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh like never before. And to add further spice to the surroundings was the immortal music score by Khayyam. Whether its 'Kabhie Kabhie mere dil main khayal aata hai' or 'Main pal do pal/har ek pal ka shayaar hoon' or 'Tere chehre se nazar nahi hatati', Sahir Ludhianvi and Khayyam(along with Mukesh, Lata and Kishore's vocals) simply create magic. In my books, one of the best music scores in Hindi film history. And a must-watch movie as well !!!

If Kabhie Kabhie had sublime poetry and romantic moments in plenty, the other movie that I am talking about is almost diametrically opposite in content (though it also has decent music). Violent and hard-hitting, N Chandra told the story of the transformation of a bright and idealistic young man to a gangster, who then, by the end of the movie, expels all the acid inside of him and returns to his rightful place in society. And quite fittingly, the movie was called 'Tezaab'. The reason I liked that movie was because it somehow exuded a raw and no-holds-barred energy, that was evident in the fantastic dialogues written by Kamlesh Pandey (even Madhuri had lines that were too rough for the leading ladies of that time). Each of the characters in the movie were well etched out, whether it be Chunky Pandey (the scene of the marwari at the restaurent is still remembered), or Lotia Pathan (Kiran Kumar) or Anupam Kher or Suresh Oberoi playing the good cop. To add to that was Madhuri looking a million dollars and 'Ek Do Teen'.But the film, of course, belonged to Anil Kapoor. Right from his entry ('Tumhari zindagi aur maut ke beech ka faasla Munna ki chaaku ki dhaar se zyaada nahi hai'), Munna dominates the movie. And Tezaab still remains one of Anil Kapoor's best performances. In fact, Tezaab was one of three very good movies of the same genre but dealing with different topics within it, that released around the same time (1988-89). I have already written about Parinda in a previous post, and the third movie was JP Dutta's little-known gem 'Hathyar' (Dharmendra, Sanjay Dutt and Rishi Kapoor). Though I remember little about the movie (except Sanjay's death at the end in the toy shop surrounded by all the guns and pistols that, during his childhood, prodded him onto the road of violence), it somehow has stayed with me and I will watch it in full someday.

So that was about two very different yet very good movies in their own right !!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Four Years on ....

Tomorrow, it will be four years to the day. But it does not seem to far back in the past. The day that brought my city to its knees. While the other tragedies that Mumbai has witnessed in the recent past have been far more heinous and barbaric (they were man-made after all), in terms of the casualties and the breadth of people that it affected, there is quite nothing to rival what happened on 26 July 2005. After all, Mumbai received the highest recorded 24-hour rainfall for a metropolitan area in human history. And I vividly recall the day....

In fact, I recall the day before that as well. I had gone out with friends to a dinner party and came back late and crashed. Following morning, I was ready to face a fresh day at work. Outside, there was the typical July shower. One which the city had faced thousands of times before. Outwardly, there was nothing to suggest that the day was going to be any different. People rushed out, caught their daily lifelines (the local trains) and went to work like any other Tuesday. The drizzle continued, slowly increasing in intensity but never ceasing. By early afternoon, as we finished our lunch and got back to work, there were the first indications that this was not the usual monsoon day. The showers refused to subside and suddenly multiplied in intensity. This went out for about a couple of hours. By around 4 pm, offices had started shutting down. We were asked to leave at 4 pm. Even then, people did not anticipate what was in store, since there are always a couple of days like that every monsoon. But as we were leaving, news of a massive traffic jam on the Western Express Highway trickled in (our office is in Santacruz East). With no foreseeable alternative, me and a colleague set out of office on foot. And before we knew it, we were in waist deep water in Vakola (to put things in perspective, when our office closed early a couple of weeks back, the water at the same spot barely covered my toes !!). The highway was a sight to behold. Cars stuck bumper-bumper, abandoned by their owners and pedestrians wading along the divider in waist deep water. As the sun went down, power went out in most areas, giving the surroundings an eerie look. The rain, of course, was relentless. In fact, about three hours later, as we reached Andheri, it was raining so hard that the rain drops started hurting. With all shops closed, it was tough to even get a pack of biscuits. Finally, after nearly five hours of walking through mostly knee-waist high water, I reached home at Goregoan (about 12 km in all). There too, it was a dark reception.

For a city that prides itself on getting back to work the day after any tragedy, Mumbai was completely shut down for two more days. In fact the power in our office was not restored even on Friday, hence we got the rest of the week off. And the tragedy affected everyone, from the rich and famous stuck in their cars (some even lost their lives) and going without power and essential foodstuffs for three days right down to the less-fortunate slum dwellers who watched helplessly as their houses, belongings and their very lives were washed away by Nature's fury. Nearly 1000 people were killed in Mumbai and other areas in Maharashtra on that fateful day. The Mithi River, till then regarded as nothing more than one of the many nallahs that wind their way through the suburbs, suddenly was the center of all attraction. Mumbai's century old drainage system, rather the inability of the authorities to suitably augment it, came in for much flak. Four years down the line, while some things have changed for the better, there is still that lurking fear, exploited to the hilt by the media, in the heart of every Mumbaikar each day the monsoon showers appear heavier than usual: what if today turns out to be another 26/7 ??. All I can answer to that is, if there is ever another 26-7 in the city, then the phrase 'lightning does not strike twice' would have proven false !!.

So what is your 26/7 story ?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Face the truth !!.. Indian television enters taboo territory !!

In a couple of hours from now, Star Plus airs the debut episode of its much-hyped reality show 'Sach Ka Samnaa' and with it, Indian television enters into completely virgin territory. Readers in India who regularly watch the idiot box need no introduction to the show. But for the benefit for people abroad, here's the deal in this reality show (it is the Indian version of 'Moment of Truth') :

Contestants will be asked, off-line, a set of questions. Now the questions are not GK or primary school arithmetic. These are real questions of the 'ouch' variety ("Have you ever thought of cheating on your spouse ?", "Did you ever feel jealous of your brother's/sister's success?" etc etc). The contestants will be wired to a lie detector while answering , so that their 'real' answers are recorded. Some of these contestants will then be asked the same questions on live television. And, the person who can completely bare his/her soul on live Indian TV (with their near/dear ones in the audience) and give the same answers as what is there in his/her heart wins. So the ones most likely to win are the ones either with the blandest lives or the ones with not a tinge of remorse or hesitation !!. And is there any one of us who belongs to either of this category ?? That is what the shows seems to ask us.

Already, the show has raked in controversy even before the first episode. Vinod Kambli apparently has revealed his not too friendly side with Tendulkar, causing a media storm. Of course, much of the show itself might be staged, but the thought of other people facing their inner demons on live television is an enticing one, sure to get eyeballs. It would seem that Star Plus has a winner, provided of course, it is sustained after the initial hype.


PS: I do not intend to follow the show, in case anyone was wondering :-)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.. !! Another season, another grand climax !!

Another season of the hugely popular Marathi musical show 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa' is coming to an end with the grand finale scheduled for next Sunday (12th July). I had written about the same show in its last season (read here), in which the hunt was on for the voice of the future. This time around, the focus is on the present. For those who, for various reasons, are not able to follow this season, this season has seen ten of the brightest professional singers take center stage with two stalwarts namely Pandit Hridayanath Mangeshkar and Suresh Wadkar judging them. And with ten talents to start off with, we are now down to the last three, who will fight it out (doesn't it seem to harsh a word to use for a singing competition ?) for the right to be called 'Maharashtra cha aaj cha awaaz' (Today's voice of Maharashtra). And the final three are Madhura Datar, Amruta Natu and Hrishikesh Ranade. My previous favourite, Vibhavaari Apte, was the last to get eliminated last week. But all three of the finalists do pack a serious punch. Check out some of their performances on You Tube (search for 'srgmp aa') . Especially do check out Madhura Dataar (who seems to hold a slight edge) in 'Mi Radhika Mi Premika'. While the last season was made memorable by the young prodigies, this time it is nothing but raw talent that has viewers glued to their televisions every Monday and Tuesday evening. And as the show approaches its finale, one can again hope that the best person finally emerges as the voice of Maharashtra. All the best to all the three !!!..