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Bombay has enveloped itself into so many myths that it took me a year to finally break them free. Often I would reprimand myself for not believing them. These myths & tales are not written anywhere, web implant they are perpetrated and spread by people living here, or those who would have visited the city sometime in its past.

Today, these are my observations:

a) Myth No 1 – Bombay’s autowallahs are sans nakhras – Nothing can be more far-fetched from truth. I had heard so much about these ‘good hardworking samaritans’ that the first time an auto-driver refused to go a short-distance, I was nearly heartbroken and extremely aghast.

Agreed they are a shade better than their Delhi counterparts. But to say they are symbols of hard-working virtue, is a folly. I have often stood helplessly (sometimes in rain) trying to convince rude and uncouth rickshaw-wallahs to cross the east to west side of supposedly the same area. On an average it took at least five-six rejections before one of them would obligingly relent.

Sorry, but as I experienced it, Bombay’s autowallahs are discourteous & disrepectful (and equally bad drivers).

b) Myth No 2 – Traffic moves in a straight line – Probably true to a small extent on the ‘town side’ (which to the uninitiated is the tip of the island city, starting from south of Bandra upto the sea). Elsewhere, the situation is no better than that of, say, Delhi. Worse, the tight roads(& lack of alternative routes) make the matters more unfavorable.

c) Myth No 3 – Bombay travels in trains – Again, partially true. The days when a CEO would prefer a public train to a private transport are long gone. I hate to sound condescending (or as Mumbai Mirror mentioned in an interesting article ‘class perceptions & snobbery in trains’) but fact is, there is a shift in demographics of those who travel by train. More and more people are switching over to their own vehicles. In my office, I am sure that after a certain heirarichal barrier, employees are avoiding train-travel.

Perhaps, that is also the reason for the increased choking of the traffic – which (given the habit to labelize and generalize here), the Bombayiites with casual grandness mention as ‘The Legendary Bombay Traffic’ – which, by the way, sadly is no myth!

d) Myth No 4 – Petty crimes like house-breaking & car-robbing don’t happen here – Oh yeah! I believed this till the time my house was burglared. Thankfully, I didn’t have much to lose (and it would surely have been a wasted day for the thief). But the incident forever shattered my image of ‘safe and secure Bombay’.

These were on top of mind recall. More will follow as and when I remember them.

Disclaimer – I have kept the post on a back-burner for sometime, lest someone feels I am being unduly picky about the city. No, it’s not that.

In fact, I quite love Bombay and chose to work here on my own accord. It wasn’t a compulsive official shift by any stretch of imagination. I came here by choice.

Also, I don’t really want to start of a Delhi vs Bombay debate, which often comes up. And frankly, both cities have their own plus points. It’s where you live the longest, you start appreciating the finer points, and also some amount of habit seeps in.

For those who know me, would appreciate I love discovering new cities, their nooks and corners; their quirks and idiosyncracies; their charms and attractiveness. So, this post is by no means a run-down of Bombay.

For those readers who loved and adored Dil To Pagal Hai‘s music (and I am one staunch fan), order here is a superb treat in store for you:

Yashraj Music recently released a collection of love duets which includes one hitherto unreleased song. Though, medicine on the jacket sleeve, they do not mention the film for which it was recorded, but one hear, and you know it for sure. The DTPH theme is there in the second interlude, and the tune of ‘Arre re arre’ in the second one.

The mukhda goes:

Kitni hai beqaraar yeh, chanda ki chandni
Kahti hai kar lo pyaar yeh, chanda ki chandni

(Singers – Lata Mangeshkar, Kumar Sanu; Music – Uttam Singh)

A close hear reveals the song to be the original for ‘Chaand ne kuchh kaha…pyaar kar’ (the track that comes on Valentine’s night, amidst bright red balloons). In fact, structurally both songs are similar, down to the interlude movements. Though, honestly, I was a bit surprised to find Kumar Sanu since all other songs of the film were rendered by Udit Narayan.

It is a delight to hear Lata Mangeshkar’s breezy rendition. She is splendid in the breezy track, that has some riveting beats and orchestration. In fact, it is an unparalleled happiness to obtain a fresh song from the diva. My excitement was so supreme that my hands trembled as I put on the CD.

This compilation is titled – ‘ Tum Paas Aa Rahe Ho ‘ (picked up from the ‘bonus’ song of Veer Zaara, which opens this CD) & contains 14 love songs. For more details on the album click here.

For the song’s television promo click here.

Now, if only other producers/music companies would loosen up all those unreleased Lata Mangeshkar numbers…starting, of course, with JP Dutta and his two recorded songs of the now-shelved Sarhad.
I am not a gadget freak – though when I get one I love to explore all its functions- but the point I want to make is that usually I don’t crave to own the new machine that hits the electronic store.

For months my mobile phone has been an object for derisive jokes amongst friends than one that Mr. Bell actually intended when he conceptualised the cell phone’s grandfather. One, treatment the instrument was considerably worn out, bronchitis and extremely old by tech-standards. I learnt recently that the hot model I had purchased three years back (in Nepal) was not only obsolete but also a discontinued series by the manufacturer. Two, it showed classic signs of old age – work at an excruciatingly painful pace and regularly go off into an amnesiatic dose, which in computer and mobile phone lingo is called ‘hanging’.

Despite the silly jokes I held on to that piece pretty loyally. That’s because I used it for my personal connection and I hardly get any calls on that number. On a rough estimate, I can confidently vouch the ratio of telemarketing calls to actual calls would be 80:20. So why pour money into buying an asset that would hardly justify its existence, especially in these tough recessionary times?  

But that’s not the whole truth or the only reason. The main reason is that I didn’t find any set that would set my heart ringing and poke that immense craving.

So I continued with the old one, occasionally giving it mini makeovers – a new memory card, a fresh software and other such petty stuff. On the side, I would keep checking other people’s phones.

…till the moment I laid my eyes on Nokia E 71.

Ding dong. Boom. Flash. Lightening. Thunder.

The love magic began. And my hands itched and my heart craved and my mind laid a sumptuous buffet of impeccable reasoning to own the instrument.

Nokia E 71 is a fabulous business phone ( not that I am ever going to use it that way. It will still receive pesky telemarketeer calls) with an awesome array of features including a qwerty keyboard, easy internet and email facility and GPS.

I bought it day before yesterday on an ‘ easy installment scheme ‘ even though I fully understood that the rate charged is anything but easy.

I dread the coming month’s mobile bill as I have been constantly online taking in the eased internet option (as compared to the awfully primitive one on the previous one).

I am in the first flush of love, taking in the new and refreshing experience the phone has to offer. This will pass. But its fun while it lasts.

And yes, I wrote and published this post on my phone.
Like the film by a similar title (incidentally, endocrinologist a brilliant one on terrorism) Mumbai witnessed a terrifying Wednesday as ten of its most prominent locations came under terrorist seige.

Unlike the film, hepatitis this was for real. And it didn’t end on that day. Even as I type this, nearly thirty two hours later, the drama continues – which shows the thorough and shrewd planning and preparedness the attackers had.

My heart cries for the criminal waste of innocent lives, as it bleeds for the unnecessary desecration of Taj Hotel’s beauty.

Frankly, I am quite at loss for words and feelings. I had expressed my anguish over the Delhi blasts. The same anguish is manifold now.

When will this mayhem end?

And I don’t mean just this one particular operation. I mean this alarming regularity of terror attacks.

I had shot this picture sometime last year, unhealthy perhaps on my first visit to the monument since shifting to Mumbai. (Currently it is undergoing renovations)

Somehow, after all that has happened, it seems an apt picture to put up – of Mumbai’s most famous monument standing tall and proud, despite being witness to a brutally painful attack last week.

Yes, Mumbai is back to normal. As much as it can be.

Gateway of India
Monday morning, epidemic and I was ready on time. Congratulating myself, order I sipped the orange juice contentedly while checking email on my mobile. I sat on a slender but comfortable cane chair, with my back to the window that opens onto the small and cute balcony, a rarity in Mumbai flats. Outside the week expanded out in its soothing routine- a raddiwala cycled past asking for old newspapers, a wife bade goodbye to her husband, a neighbor admonished the car-cleaner to wash his car first, hurried footsteps rattled down the stairs, a few birds chirped, a car honked, an auto stuttered, a couple of security guards chattered animatedly.

I glanced at my watch, exited the email menu and gulped the last of the juice. Getting up, I placed the mobile on my top pocket, picked up the empty glass and with my other free hand, I inserted the little finger in my left ear to clear an irritation I felt.

Plop!

Everything faded into silence. Or rather smothered by a dreary drone. It took a few seconds to comprehend the full impact. My left ear seemed blocked as if someone had shoved in a huge ball of cotton. The right one was fine. I would have ignored it, but the blockage’s irritation swept aside any sense of patience. I understood what had happened- ear wax must have got pushed into the canal.

Hurriedly, I dropped the empty glass into the kitchen sink, grabbed the laptop, swooped on the car keys and rushed out of home.

There is a chemist shop right below my apartment building. It usually opens early but today for some strange reason grim shutters greeted me.

I ran to my car, with the irritating blocked ear heavily feeling like a lead earring. I knew of a 24 hour chemist shop half a kilometre away.

Not trusting the volume of my own voice, I whispered for ear buds.

Back in the car, I ripped open the box, and pulled out an ear bud, while quickly reading the warning and instructions on the wrapper.

The buds provided no relief. I had to see a doctor!

While swiftly typing a ‘ I will be late ‘ sms to my boss, I tried to recall where I had seen a signage of an ENT specialist. I couldn’t remember. I slowly drove down the road, taking in all the doctor boards, ignoring the irritated horns of irate drivers behind me, the upside being I couldn’t really hear them in full blast.

Lots of dentists, a few general practitioners, a couple of gynaecs, but I couldn’t find any ENT specialist.

I stopped at another chemist and asked for one. He gave the address of a doctor, not far off, but with the Metro construction on in full swing, and the traffic at its peak hour, it took me an arduous fifteen-minutes to reach. Only to be met by a cheerless receptionist, eating sprouted dal, sitting in an eerily empty office.

‘I wish to see the doctor,’ I said.

‘He’s not in. He will come at 11.30’ she replied with a more than obvious disinterest in her job. She wouldn’t care or bother if he never came.

My heart sank.

‘Is there any other ENT doctor nearby’

Clearly this didn’t go down well with her. Curtly she said, ‘Idea nahi hai’ and went back to her sprouted dal.

Dejected, I stepped out. Opposite, there was an obesity clinic, and an eager looking youngster viewed me hopefully. Sorry buddy, I’m not your client. Not yet, at least.

Thereafter, for next one hour, my search for a suitable doctor began. Actually, not suitable. Any doctor.

Downed shutters and similar looking dour receptionists gave me similar answers.

What the hell??!? Don’t doctors wake up early here? Are they like just any other businessmen opening their shops at a leisurely pace. Mine was a small problem, but what if I had a genuinely serious emergency? I would have been dead by the time I found a medico in his shop…err, clinic. And it wasn’t that early either. It was nearing 10.30, dammit. And surely, dentist and cosmetic dentistry is damn lucrative business seeing the number of available clinics in this supposedly posh colony. I reckon, the rich have their own set of diseases. And convenient timings when they get afflicted.

Angry and frustrated, I started for office, with the faint hope of stopping en route at a newly inaugurated (by Amitabh Bachchan, no less) multi-speciality hospital and finding an ENT surgeon there at least. If not, any doctor would do who could fish out the damn wax obstinately stuck in the ear and giving immense discomfort.
Monday morning, epidemic and I was ready on time. Congratulating myself, order I sipped the orange juice contentedly while checking email on my mobile. I sat on a slender but comfortable cane chair, with my back to the window that opens onto the small and cute balcony, a rarity in Mumbai flats. Outside the week expanded out in its soothing routine- a raddiwala cycled past asking for old newspapers, a wife bade goodbye to her husband, a neighbor admonished the car-cleaner to wash his car first, hurried footsteps rattled down the stairs, a few birds chirped, a car honked, an auto stuttered, a couple of security guards chattered animatedly.

I glanced at my watch, exited the email menu and gulped the last of the juice. Getting up, I placed the mobile on my top pocket, picked up the empty glass and with my other free hand, I inserted the little finger in my left ear to clear an irritation I felt.

Plop!

Everything faded into silence. Or rather smothered by a dreary drone. It took a few seconds to comprehend the full impact. My left ear seemed blocked as if someone had shoved in a huge ball of cotton. The right one was fine. I would have ignored it, but the blockage’s irritation swept aside any sense of patience. I understood what had happened- ear wax must have got pushed into the canal.

Hurriedly, I dropped the empty glass into the kitchen sink, grabbed the laptop, swooped on the car keys and rushed out of home.

There is a chemist shop right below my apartment building. It usually opens early but today for some strange reason grim shutters greeted me.

I ran to my car, with the irritating blocked ear heavily feeling like a lead earring. I knew of a 24 hour chemist shop half a kilometre away.

Not trusting the volume of my own voice, I whispered for ear buds.

Back in the car, I ripped open the box, and pulled out an ear bud, while quickly reading the warning and instructions on the wrapper.

The buds provided no relief. I had to see a doctor!

While swiftly typing a ‘ I will be late ‘ sms to my boss, I tried to recall where I had seen a signage of an ENT specialist. I couldn’t remember. I slowly drove down the road, taking in all the doctor boards, ignoring the irritated horns of irate drivers behind me, the upside being I couldn’t really hear them in full blast.

Lots of dentists, a few general practitioners, a couple of gynaecs, but I couldn’t find any ENT specialist.

I stopped at another chemist and asked for one. He gave the address of a doctor, not far off, but with the Metro construction on in full swing, and the traffic at its peak hour, it took me an arduous fifteen-minutes to reach. Only to be met by a cheerless receptionist, eating sprouted dal, sitting in an eerily empty office.

‘I wish to see the doctor,’ I said.

‘He’s not in. He will come at 11.30’ she replied with a more than obvious disinterest in her job. She wouldn’t care or bother if he never came.

My heart sank.

‘Is there any other ENT doctor nearby’

Clearly this didn’t go down well with her. Curtly she said, ‘Idea nahi hai’ and went back to her sprouted dal.

Dejected, I stepped out. Opposite, there was an obesity clinic, and an eager looking youngster viewed me hopefully. Sorry buddy, I’m not your client. Not yet, at least.

Thereafter, for next one hour, my search for a suitable doctor began. Actually, not suitable. Any doctor.

Downed shutters and similar looking dour receptionists gave me similar answers.

What the hell??!? Don’t doctors wake up early here? Are they like just any other businessmen opening their shops at a leisurely pace. Mine was a small problem, but what if I had a genuinely serious emergency? I would have been dead by the time I found a medico in his shop…err, clinic. And it wasn’t that early either. It was nearing 10.30, dammit. And surely, dentist and cosmetic dentistry is damn lucrative business seeing the number of available clinics in this supposedly posh colony. I reckon, the rich have their own set of diseases. And convenient timings when they get afflicted.

Angry and frustrated, I started for office, with the faint hope of stopping en route at a newly inaugurated (by Amitabh Bachchan, no less) multi-speciality hospital and finding an ENT surgeon there at least. If not, any doctor would do who could fish out the damn wax obstinately stuck in the ear and giving immense discomfort.
Random Expressions turns five today. I accept this post should have been longer and more introspective. But time is not on my side. And sheepishly, visit this
I admit there is a bit of laziness too.

Still, pregnancy
like last year, I had to wish my dear blog its due wishes. I have been slow and awfully intermittent in posting here, but this place holds immense emotional value. Even when I am not writing, I often come here and read old posts and comments. They are a treasure I cherish.

So to all loyal readers – a huge Thank You. And to all new ones – Welcome Aboard.

God bless!

Sometime in early nineties, viagra a raunchy song hit the headlines. Choli ke peeche kya hai created an unnerving, website albeit a totally unwanted, furore. How dare they! screamed the feminists. How daring! chuckled the men. Battle-lines were drawn – morality v/s creative license drew arms to herald a musical Mahabharat, with our poor ever-pale and ever-threatened Bhartiya Sanskriti undraped and feeling molested.

Of course, it was a much ado about nothing for the song’s second line exonarates any idea of vulgarity. After all, the heart does reside beneath the blouse! If any thing, the lyricist (ever dependable late Anand Bakshi) has slyly worked at your own pervert mind, and not laid bare his own. I found the song pretty cool, with a wonderful beat, and some commendable singing by Ila Arun & Alka Yagnik. But best of all was its picturisation – Madhuri’s vigorous dance in a riotous red-and-creme dress, against a hugely colorful backdrop!

The song became a huge hit, despite its controversies. And spawned its own clones, some even worse in their double entendres. Alka & Ila Arun went on to sing another such number – Mujhko Ranaji maaf karna galti mhaare se ho gayi. But times changed, music tastes evolved, and such songs went out of oblivion, till…

… till SlumDog Millionaire and Ring ring ringa!

The day I bought the CD, the film had yet to win an Oscar for its music. It had just swept off a few Golden Globes. As I heard the lyrics, I quite missed a beat. Here we are – Alka Yagnik & Ila Arun together, in a number that has beats similar to Choli ke peechhe, and the lyrics? Sample this:

Khatiye pe mai padi thi
Aur gahri neend badi thi
Aage na poocho sakhi re…
Ek khatmal tha sayana
Mujhpe tha usska nishana
Chunri mein ghuss gaya dheere dheere…

I could understand the song almost sank beneath the avalanche of Jai Ho! (and Danny Boyle is no Subhash Ghai to give it a grand picturisation) But surely people have bought Slumdog Millionaire CD’s – and no one can really miss it, since T-series have placed it as opening number (rather than Jai Ho). So how come, no one is talking about it, or its exceptionally ‘laden’ lyrics? How come no furore this time? No strong words, no screwing up nose against ‘such filthy double-meaning’ number?

Is it the Oscar/Academy Award effect, that makes everyone so damn hypocritical! Seriously, I fail to understand how a firang award can make a song look good enough for no one to comment on it.

  • As for me, I enjoyed Ring ring ringa, with the same enthusiasm as I did Choli ke peeche, and tell you what … I sorely missed Madhuri for this one’s dance!

In India, mind old technology, life once advanced, is cruelly thrown into the dustbin. Just the way record players lost their importance, today cassettes are almost on their way out. It’s not so elsewhere. While searching on google for record players, I found multitude of foreign sites catering to them, including a Japanese one catering to laser turntable (instead of using a normal stylus), which means the technology is not as dead as it is in India. Similarly, cassettes are no longer favored. It’s the era of CD’s, mp3’s etc.

During this holiday (yes I was in Delhi for Holi) I sifted through my large cassette collection. I had built this up painstakingly during the early nineties, topping it up every month once I started job, but a large portion remains from those lovable college and post-graduation years. Some of them had lived through their life (and played with a weird off-key sound), some had been replaced even then (I recall buying Pathar Ke Phool audio at least three times!) but most survived. Thankfully, my now aged Sony player lived upto its expectations.

During those years, I had built up a formidable collection, and much to my mother’s consternation and irritation, cassettes flow out of every other available drawer. And they include some now-forgotten scores, which, when I heard in the past three days, brought back a tsunami of memories. I will not delve into those. But allow me to pride on these lost films, whose songs are dear to me, and perhaps, if you can find them might interest you too. This is a small list of five, there would be more, but good enough to start of with:

Jaan-E-Tammana – I wonder if Saif Ali Khan and Karisma Kapoor remember they had signed this K C Bokadia film. In fact, I am not even sure if they ever did. I never saw any video. And the audio release, a low-key affair, was on KC Bokadia’s own lable BMB Music (which wound up pretty soon after its initiation). But the songs – composed by Aadesh Srivastava, before he got his two biggies Baghban & Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham – are an absolute delight. Be it Abhijeet-Vijayta’s sensuously nimble Nigaahe milakar nigaahein jhukana or Sanu’s solo Dil ki vaadi mein, they are well orchestrated, and well composed. But the piece-de-resistance are those three Lata Mangeshkar nuggets – Ek dil ki ek dil se mulaaqat ho gayi (with Udit Narayan), Suniye ji haan kahiye ji (with Kumar Sanu) and that grand music-fest of a ditty Mujhe laagi prem dhun (with Roop Kumar Rathod).

Speaking of Lata-Roop Kumar Rathod duets, this is the second one that could not see a proper release. The first is from Jackie Shroff starrer Angaar : Kitni jaldi yeh mulaqat guzar jaati hai. They were definitely lucky the third time round – Tere liye from Veer Zaara topped the charts!

Strangely, the title is spelt Jane-Tamanna.

Nargis – This Zeba Bakhtiyar-Naseeruddin Shah-Hema Malini starrer could have been an artistic affair. Alas, it tanked before it’s release. Tragically, it sank the film’s shimmering music as well. Imagine a singer line up that includes Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle & Jagjit Singh. And a composer who has been R D Burman’s erstwhile assistant – Basu Chakraborty. The result is pure magic. Tunes that fondly remind of RDB’s Ghar and Aandhi-type of fare are spread over seven delicious tracks.

While Kisi aashiyaane mein (Lata Mangeshkar) is a theme song that builds interest in the trials and tribulations of the protagonist, Mai kaise kahun jaane-man (Jagjit Singh) is a rose-petal soft love ballad. Together the two legendary singers join their mesmerising vocals for a splendid love duet Dono ke dil hai majboor pyaar se hum kya karein meri jaan tum kya karo. (I suspect there is a Yesudas version to the number as well, and is somewhere available on the internet, but the audio did not have it). Asha Bhonsle comes for a full-on cabaret number O Jaana Qurbaana (with Naseeruddin Shah, who I presume would have been a villain in the film, recites some lusty lines).

However, it’s the two Lata Mangeshkar solos that take the album to dizzying heights – Arre tu pawan basanti kaahe ko ith-laake chalti soaks in vivacity and verve of a young girl in the first throes of adolosence, and Lata Mangeshkar sounds exceedingly soft and sweet. And it’s counterpart, carrying on the soft tana-na-tana-dere-na chorus into its pain-lashed heart, is the album’s best song – Kaahe ab ki ae bahaar pheeka hai har khumaar, where the pawan basanti is silenced into a terrifying stillness, laced with some sumptuous sitar pieces.

Majrooh’s lyrics are excellent.

Venus Audio released the album. Some years later, they fished out these numbers and presented them as a Lata Mangeshkar-Jagjit Singh album tilted ‘Adaa’.

Personally, this album evokes several memories. In those carefree days, pocket-money was always scarce, and if two good albums came simultaneously, it meant more tightening of the already tightened belt. Parampara and Nargis released back-to-back. So, a friend and I split the purchase ( I bought Parampara, he purchased Nargis). Till date, I have that recorded cassette, done from his borrowed copy. I had listed the songs with a pencil…now faded & hazy…like those memories.

Baharon Ke Manzil – Remember Mona Ambegaonkar? She made her debut in this trashy picture about a singer and a group of friends. So shady is the film, it does not even find a mention on www.imdb.com. The audio cassette cover, in light blue, has a huge guitar, with the leading pair hidden behind it (perhaps in a bid to out-do those famous Aashiqui posters).

I remember faintly having sat through this flick…only for its outstanding music. Raamlaxman composed this, fresh after his Pathar Ke Phool and Maine Pyar Kiya success, and sans Lata Mangeshkar or SP Balasubramanyam. If anything, the music is a showcase for singer Poornima (who at that time, I suspect, was TIPS Audio’s favored singer), who gets to croon all the female parts.

Sabse badi dosti hai yaar captures the joys of friendship, set to a dandiya beat, and Aadhi raat aayi toh is an enthralling new year song. In both, Raamlaxman ensures it’s the interludes that tickles the listener’s heart. In fact, Raamlaxman gave some superb interludes in those days, very different from the then current norm, almost always using real instruments, and joining the antaras in a logical fashion. Sample those lush sitar pieces, set to a static beat, in Tum tana na tana yeh dil hai deewana (Poornima-Amit Kumar).

But what always made my heart soar were these two Udit Narayan-Poornima duets – Meri jaan dua karna and Tera naam likh diya. Especially, the latter, where the tabla sounds different, and a soft chorus upholds the tune, filling it up like a fragrant zephyr entering a well-decorated room.

Vishwasghaat – Mahesh Bhatt’s ex-assitant Himanshu Brahmbhatt directed this soppy Anjali Jathar-Sunil Shetty-Anupam Kher flick, much before his other flop Rog. I could never sit through either film.

Again, the songs are something else altogether. Nadeem-Shravan’s assistants Shyam – Surender gave a score that would have done their mentors proud. But I reckon the biggest coup was to bring in Lata Mangeshkar for four of its best songs (out of a total of six tracks). All these four tracks are worth their weight in gold. Deewangi hai jo yeh pyaar ki opens the album, followed by a delectable Lata Mangeshkar solo – Intezaar hai tera intezaar hai. The latter carries such grace in its tune that had it been a lady it would have won all the beauty titles in the running.

Of the rest, I simply adore the fragile Jaaneman jaanejaan dil ne di yeh sada – with Kumar Sanu, Lata Mangeshkar whips up romance and roses in a vanilla-flavored love duet. The perky and fast-paced Yeh dil kyun dhadakta hai rah rah ke machalta hai rounds up a wonderful array.

The sound quality is A-grade and Shyam Surender provide enough meat in their interludes. Sad, my copy of the cassette is almost on its death-bed. Last time it had acted truant and refused to play. This time, mercifully, it played, and played twice over.

Dhartiputra – If I recall correctly, this Mammooty starrer was a meek hit. At least, I remember its horrendous Mera tohfa tu kar le qabool getting quite a bit of airwaves (with those silly lines where the heroine asserts Kyunki sone pe chhai mahngai mai chaandi le aayi to the hero’s recessionary declaration Kyunki lahnga hua bada mahnga mai chunri le aaya. And this was in 1993, when India was shining, and there was no global meltdown! Wonder what they will sing in current times. But I guess, going by today’s sartorial trends, the heroines today wouldn’t bother with either a lahnga or chunri!)

Anyways, leave this kiddish duet aside, the album carries pretty good numbers, composed by the then-reigning duo Nadeem Shravan. There is the handsome Alka Yagnik solo Bulbul bole angana mere tu kab aayega bata de sajna mere and Kumar Sanu-Alka Yagnik’s hummable Saare rangon se hai .

However, my pick of the lot is the two-part lori – a tender but heart-breaking ode Khamoshi hai ek bajaa hai khali rasta dol raha hai. Nadeem-Shravan rarely got a chance to compose lullaby’s, but in this they displayed a sharp virtuosity. My preference – Alka’s solo version that is kept in the end of the cassette, and stays with you long after the system auto-stops.

I have a few more names in mind, but I will leave it for a sequel to this post. I wonder if you have heard of any of the above, or remember them ever?!

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In India, sale old technology, illness once advanced, stomatology is cruelly thrown into the dustbin. Just the way record players lost their importance, today cassettes are almost on their way out. It’s not so elsewhere. While searching on google for record players, I found multitude of foreign sites catering to them, including a Japanese one catering to laser turntable (instead of using a normal stylus), which means the technology is not as dead as it is in India. Similarly, cassettes are no longer favored. It’s the era of CD’s, mp3’s etc.

During this holiday (yes I was in Delhi for Holi) I sifted through my large cassette collection. I had built this up painstakingly during the early nineties, topping it up every month once I started job, but a large portion remains from those lovable college and post-graduation years. Some of them had lived through their life (and played with a weird off-key sound), some had been replaced even then (I recall buying Pathar Ke Phool audio at least three times!) but most survived. Thankfully, my now aged Sony player lived upto its expectations.

During those years, I had built up a formidable collection, and much to my mother’s consternation and irritation, cassettes flow out of every other available drawer. And they include some now-forgotten scores, which, when I heard in the past three days, brought back a tsunami of memories. I will not delve into those. But allow me to pride on these lost films, whose songs are dear to me, and perhaps, if you can find them might interest you too. This is a small list of five, there would be more, but good enough to start of with:

Jaan-E-Tammana – I wonder if Saif Ali Khan and Karisma Kapoor remember they had signed this K C Bokadia film. In fact, I am not even sure if they ever did. I never saw any video. And the audio release, a low-key affair, was on KC Bokadia’s own lable BMB Music (which wound up pretty soon after its initiation). But the songs – composed by Aadesh Srivastava, before he got his two biggies Baghban & Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham – are an absolute delight. Be it Abhijeet-Vijayta’s sensuously nimble Nigaahe milakar nigaahein jhukana or Sanu’s solo Dil ki vaadi mein, they are well orchestrated, and well composed. But the piece-de-resistance are those three Lata Mangeshkar nuggets – Ek dil ki ek dil se mulaaqat ho gayi (with Udit Narayan), Suniye ji haan kahiye ji (with Kumar Sanu) and that grand music-fest of a ditty Mujhe laagi prem dhun (with Roop Kumar Rathod).

Speaking of Lata-Roop Kumar Rathod duets, this is the second one that could not see a proper release. The first is from Jackie Shroff starrer Angaar : Kitni jaldi yeh mulaqat guzar jaati hai. They were definitely lucky the third time round – Tere liye from Veer Zaara topped the charts!

Strangely, the title is spelt Jane-Tamanna.

Nargis – This Zeba Bakhtiyar-Naseeruddin Shah-Hema Malini starrer could have been an artistic affair. Alas, it tanked before it’s release. Tragically, it sank the film’s shimmering music as well. Imagine a singer line up that includes Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle & Jagjit Singh. And a composer who has been R D Burman’s erstwhile assistant – Basu Chakraborty. The result is pure magic. Tunes that fondly remind of RDB’s Ghar and Aandhi-type of fare are spread over seven delicious tracks.

While Kisi aashiyaane mein (Lata Mangeshkar) is a theme song that builds interest in the trials and tribulations of the protagonist, Mai kaise kahun jaane-man (Jagjit Singh) is a rose-petal soft love ballad. Together the two legendary singers join their mesmerising vocals for a splendid love duet Dono ke dil hai majboor pyaar se hum kya karein meri jaan tum kya karo. (I suspect there is a Yesudas version to the number as well, and is somewhere available on the internet, but the audio did not have it). Asha Bhonsle comes for a full-on cabaret number O Jaana Qurbaana (with Naseeruddin Shah, who I presume would have been a villain in the film, recites some lusty lines).

However, it’s the two Lata Mangeshkar solos that take the album to dizzying heights – Arre tu pawan basanti kaahe ko ith-laake chalti soaks in vivacity and verve of a young girl in the first throes of adolosence, and Lata Mangeshkar sounds exceedingly soft and sweet. And it’s counterpart, carrying on the soft tana-na-tana-dere-na chorus into its pain-lashed heart, is the album’s best song – Kaahe ab ki ae bahaar pheeka hai har khumaar, where the pawan basanti is silenced into a terrifying stillness, laced with some sumptuous sitar pieces.

Majrooh’s lyrics are excellent.

Venus Audio released the album. Some years later, they fished out these numbers and presented them as a Lata Mangeshkar-Jagjit Singh album tilted ‘Adaa’.

Personally, this album evokes several memories. In those carefree days, pocket-money was always scarce, and if two good albums came simultaneously, it meant more tightening of the already tightened belt. Parampara and Nargis released back-to-back. So, a friend and I split the purchase ( I bought Parampara, he purchased Nargis). Till date, I have that recorded cassette, done from his borrowed copy. I had listed the songs with a pencil…now faded & hazy…like those memories.

Baharon Ke Manzil – Remember Mona Ambegaonkar? She made her debut in this trashy picture about a singer and a group of friends. So shady is the film, it does not even find a mention on www.imdb.com. The audio cassette cover, in light blue, has a huge guitar, with the leading pair hidden behind it (perhaps in a bid to out-do those famous Aashiqui posters).

I remember faintly having sat through this flick…only for its outstanding music. Raamlaxman composed this, fresh after his Pathar Ke Phool and Maine Pyar Kiya success, and sans Lata Mangeshkar or SP Balasubramanyam. If anything, the music is a showcase for singer Poornima (who at that time, I suspect, was TIPS Audio’s favored singer), who gets to croon all the female parts.

Sabse badi dosti hai yaar captures the joys of friendship, set to a dandiya beat, and Aadhi raat aayi toh is an enthralling new year song. In both, Raamlaxman ensures it’s the interludes that tickles the listener’s heart. In fact, Raamlaxman gave some superb interludes in those days, very different from the then current norm, almost always using real instruments, and joining the antaras in a logical fashion. Sample those lush sitar pieces, set to a static beat, in Tum tana na tana yeh dil hai deewana (Poornima-Amit Kumar).

But what always made my heart soar were these two Udit Narayan-Poornima duets – Meri jaan dua karna and Tera naam likh diya. Especially, the latter, where the tabla sounds different, and a soft chorus upholds the tune, filling it up like a fragrant zephyr entering a well-decorated room.

Vishwasghaat – Mahesh Bhatt’s ex-assitant Himanshu Brahmbhatt directed this soppy Anjali Jathar-Sunil Shetty-Anupam Kher flick, much before his other flop Rog. I could never sit through either film.

Again, the songs are something else altogether. Nadeem-Shravan’s assistants Shyam – Surender gave a score that would have done their mentors proud. But I reckon the biggest coup was to bring in Lata Mangeshkar for four of its best songs (out of a total of six tracks). All these four tracks are worth their weight in gold. Deewangi hai jo yeh pyaar ki opens the album, followed by a delectable Lata Mangeshkar solo – Intezaar hai tera intezaar hai. The latter carries such grace in its tune that had it been a lady it would have won all the beauty titles in the running.

Of the rest, I simply adore the fragile Jaaneman jaanejaan dil ne di yeh sada – with Kumar Sanu, Lata Mangeshkar whips up romance and roses in a vanilla-flavored love duet. The perky and fast-paced Yeh dil kyun dhadakta hai rah rah ke machalta hai rounds up a wonderful array.

The sound quality is A-grade and Shyam Surender provide enough meat in their interludes. Sad, my copy of the cassette is almost on its death-bed. Last time it had acted truant and refused to play. This time, mercifully, it played, and played twice over.

Dhartiputra – If I recall correctly, this Mammooty starrer was a meek hit. At least, I remember its horrendous Mera tohfa tu kar le qabool getting quite a bit of airwaves (with those silly lines where the heroine asserts Kyunki sone pe chhai mahngai mai chaandi le aayi to the hero’s recessionary declaration Kyunki lahnga hua bada mahnga mai chunri le aaya. And this was in 1993, when India was shining, and there was no global meltdown! Wonder what they will sing in current times. But I guess, going by today’s sartorial trends, the heroines today wouldn’t bother with either a lahnga or chunri!)

Anyways, leave this kiddish duet aside, the album carries pretty good numbers, composed by the then-reigning duo Nadeem Shravan. There is the handsome Alka Yagnik solo Bulbul bole angana mere tu kab aayega bata de sajna mere and Kumar Sanu-Alka Yagnik’s hummable Saare rangon se hai .

However, my pick of the lot is the two-part lori – a tender but heart-breaking ode Khamoshi hai ek bajaa hai khali rasta dol raha hai. Nadeem-Shravan rarely got a chance to compose lullaby’s, but in this they displayed a sharp virtuosity. My preference – Alka’s solo version that is kept in the end of the cassette, and stays with you long after the system auto-stops.

I have a few more names in mind, but I will leave it for a sequel to this post. I wonder if you have heard of any of the above, or remember them ever?!

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In the past month or two, prescription cutting through hectic work schedules, maneuvering hefty month-end targets and sinking into an ennui (impossible to shrug off), I carved out time for two main activities- one, search and buy a good music system (hi-end, assembled and absolutely a delight) and two, catch up on reading. Thankfully, April served a plethora of holidays to enjoy both. In any case, the sultry and humid weather that swamped Bombay disallowed any activity beyond home. And both IPL & the current on-going tussle between multi-plex owners & producers ensured no release worth watching hit the theaters.

I saw two flicks I had missed earlier – on DVD. 13B was engrossing and entertaining. Though not overtly scary, it carried enough drama to hold viewer’s interest; however, the director failed minutes before the climax. Jai Veeru was absolutely disgusting – the premise was so kiddish, I am sure it couldn’t have even looked good on paper. Why did they even waste time & money filming it?

Coming to books, I finished Jeffery Archer‘s latest release – Paths of Glory. It’s a fictionalized account of mountaineer George Mallory, who may or may not be the first person to set foot on Mt. Everest. Archer narrates the story in his inimitable fashion, peppering it with interesting anecdotes, starting it from the beginning, in a saga-fashion, just like many of his previous works.

Since reaching Mt. Everest would inevitably involve a bit of India, there is a tiny section set in Bombay (so that’s why he was here last year, to research and get a feel?). However, I found that sliver entirely uninteresting and completely uninspiring, and certainly a huge disappointment. I expected better from Archer, even if the story is set in 1920’s. Rather, I found Vikram Bhatt’s research (or imagination) of that era much more vivid & compelling in 1920 (even though it is downright gross to compare two different media – films & books – but then, a book allows for more in-depth detailing, which makes Archer’s omission even futher glaring!)

Overall, the novel is a good light read, not comparable to his legendary works, a notch lower than his previous Prisoner of Birth (of which, I have his duly signed copy), but certainly much above the other mass I read.

The biggest letdown was John Grisham‘s The Associate. With an awesome build-up, and a terrific story-line (about a young associate haunted by his seemingly reckless past), the novel could have been sensational. Sadly, its climax simply shatters all the good work of previous pages. In fact, there is no climax, no end at all – so much so, I had to check & recheck whether the copy I bought had the last few pages missing! Either Grisham was in a hurry to publish it (which seems unlikely) or he has a sequel in mind (which could be a possibility). Either ways, I expected better.

Other than these two, I read several other relatively unknown authors (though all the cover jackets proclaimed them #1 New York Times Best Sellers!). A colleague (who knows my penchant for reading) keeps regularly passing me these books. They are an excellent read to pass a Saturday evening & whole Sunday. Some are genuinely gripping till the time they last, but soon fade off. The proximity of these reads ensure a gala confusion- characters of one have segued into another. But one thing, most are set in American towns (often smaller ones from where the authors originate), and hence give an absorbing & hitherto unknown insight. As they last, I like to be part of these people, using my imagination where the author has not filled in, and enjoy them like long-lost friends dropping in home. These novels usually don’t have complex tales, and generally carry happy endings. And oh yes, the amount of coffee at work (almost always bad at work place) and the general sense of ‘work’ there keeps me guessing, is working in America really that ‘glamorous’? Some, looked like a TV mini-series rather than a full-blown movie. So, that’s where the difference lies between the good and the great!

My latest finish in this lot are , Mary Higgins Clark‘s The Second Time Around and Nora RobertsBirthright. Clark’s novel is better of the two. Both carry some suspense. Both have strong women protagonists. And both should read Agatha Christie to realize that ‘the murderer’ should be a suspect from a pool of people who are properly introduced and given enough word space, so that needle of suspicion can keep spinning. Roberts fails miserably here. The wrong-doer is from a bunch of side-characters, whom I had nearly skimmed over. She could have given more time there to the side-characters so that the reader could have kept guessing which one is ‘the one’- instead she wastes valuable pages on what essentially is a Mills-and-Boons type of romance, with elongated (and perfect) love making (after a while it became so irritating that I simply skipped pages anytime the hero and heroine were alone), ending in soft sighs, tears flowing down and breaths going choppy.

There were more, but they have slipped my memory for now. Will try to write on them later.


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Comments

  1. I have been doing quite a bit of reading myself. Just finished Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, its movie adaptation won the 2003 oscar. Reading The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh right now and planning to start Q & A by Vikas Swarup once this is over. Now that you mentioned new books by both Grisham and Archer, the list has increased. Food for the next couple of weeks is decided. 🙂

  2. Sir ji

    Try your hands on Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett if not already. My recos are The Long Goodbye and The Big Sleep by former and The Maltese Falcon by the latter.

    Manish