“Pyar Kya Hota Hai” – Ek Kali Muskayi

Hosting a conference turned out to be quite a massive affair. A week later, visit this site treatment I am still lost buried beneath the aftermath exhaustion as well clearing up the bills. In between, pulmonologist I took off to Delhi and took a well deserved holiday. That accounts for the long absence on the blog.

Mercifully, more everything in the conference went off with clock-work precision that would make the Swiss proud. True, there were minor goof-ups. In fact, on the day the guests were to arrive, there were several of them (largely thanks to the hotel, who otherwise were extremely good but somehow things went patchy on that morning) but we managed to douse all fires and before the biggest bulk of delegates arrived in the noon we had done the clean-up. When they entered the hotel’s porch, everything was settled the shehnai-and-dhol-and-nagada-wallahs whipped up a resounding welcome note, the girls from the hotel in bright red sarees showered fresh petals, and the cool welcome drinks were served meticulously.

When the hotel fell in step with our energy and demanding levels, the weather played truant. We had prearranged a night cricket match to build up excitement. Before the last over could be bowled the skies suddenly ripped apart and the rains washed away any hopes for the beautifully arranged pool-side dinner. Considering that it was May (and burning hot and not expecting rains) we had been a bit lax in not keeping a back-up venue, though the hotel’s machinery worked pretty fast to provide us dinner at their regular boufet in the restaurant. But mercifully we didn’t need it as the showers stopped as suddenly as they had begun, and we enjoyed a peaceful dinner by the wet pool-side.

The next day I pestered the hotel to keep a back-up arrangement, since the venue for the gala dinner was again an outside lawn.

Early morning was earmarked for Taj Mahal visit and from the bus parking to the monument, we had booked eleven tongas to ferry the delegates, with banners of our company pre-fixed on them. They made a quaint sight as the caravan moved the short distance of about a kilometer or so.

The day passed in lectures and meets, though frankly I didn’t sit through much of it since I was moving around trying to see that no loose thread stuck out sorely. It didn’t. Except that as the evening approached a sandstorm threatened to ruin our grand gala ghazal nite dinner. We had a back-up, but that would have been an awfully low-key compromise. My selection for the dinner was a beautifully kept lawn, surrounded by well trimmed hedges; on one side, there were couple of steps on which water flowed (with colored lights in it), and beyond this was a sort of stage where the ghazal singer would sit. Even though I hadn’t seen the effect I could imagine that it would be absolutely beautiful.

We requested our chief to delay the dinner a bit so that the storm could subside, else we would have to do with our back-up. Mercifully, the wind relented and everything settled down. The dinner passed off without a hitch. Perhaps the biggest success of any party is the way people enjoy it and when guests get up to dance even on some ghazal, you know you have a success in your hand! The ghazal singer, Rajinder Parekh, employed by the hotel, has a mellow voice, with just the right tinge of Jagjit Singh’s tenor and the sound system was of superior quality. A magician, that I had liked when I had visited the hotel scouting for entertaintment options, regaled with his few tricks at each table.

By the time the guests left the next day (after a lunch arranged en route at Vrindavan that s why I was there the other day when the monkey episode happened), we were all terribly fatigued and couldn t stand a minute longer on our feet.

In the end, it was worth all that effort the conference was a success, and I am sure people in our company will remember Agra for a long time to come!

It happened faster than a snap of the finger. My colleague (A.) and I were walking back from Bankey Bihari Mandir with two peda boxes in hand, website A being a few steps behind me. Suddenly a commotion paused my stride. I turned to have a look, angina and found A. harrassed. My first thought was obvious the monkeys had snatched the peda boxes. But closer inspection brought forth an amusing laughter. A monkey had coolly walked off with A’s spectacles and stood near a stone sign board, diabetes and pregnancy chewing the spectacles stem and eyeing us naughtily. A. told that the monkey’s finesse in pulling off the spectacles from his eyes displayed an extraordinary sense of practice and polish.

A helpful hand nearby tried to lure the ape to return the specs in exchange for two mangoes. But the animal was smart. He ran off with the mangoes and the specs towards a nearby building’s terrace. Unfortunately we humans aren’t that adept in climbing pipes, so the helpful person had to climb the stairs but eventually managed to retrieve the glasses.

Next time you are in Vrindavan be cautious and don t take the signs of “Take care of your specs, bags and other belongings”, put up by the town administration, lightly or casually. They truly mean it!

Simian Trouble

Simian menace is increasing in both Delhi and Agra. Here, the hazard is in higher proportion. It’s not exactly rocket science to fathom why so! The entire stretch of Western Uttar Pradesh right up to Delhi is devoid of any proper forest or jungle (unless you count the concrete blocks erupting faster than teenager’s acne as so!)

At our office compound we are surrounded by monkeys, in various size and shapes that create utter nuisance. My car’s rear window wiper is a favorite swing for the kiddo-apes, so much so that I have now stopped getting it fixed. The scooter/motorcycle seats and rear-window stems are their chewing gums . Though they don’t often enter the premises, but once in a while when they do, trust them to walk off with a few important papers. They are ready to snatch and rob anything they can lay their hands off. One huge greedy lot, they are, for sure! Must say though, I quite enjoy watching their antics – from a respectable distance, that is!

At my house the problem is lesser. But it is best to keep the balcony doors closed lest some enterprising monkey decides to pay a visit. I have heard the lower floors get their patronage more; staying on the fifth floor has some little advantages, I guess- though, the pigeons make up for any wild loss I might feel, and that’s a different story altogether!

Strangely, my association with the monkeys goes far beyond the common evolutionary ancestral link that we share. In Nepal too, I was surrounded by monkeys and they often entered my house’s compound (and boy, were they huge!) and here once again I get greeted by them regularly. Perhaps, there is some cosmic design in this too. And this looks like no monkey business!

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If director Anurag Basu’s film is to be believed then everyone in Mumbai is sleeping around in a shockingly loose manner. Relationships sever at the drop of the pant. Honesty and hardwork do not matter. Life is a bitch forever ready to bed, melanoma bite and betray. Come on, physician even I have stayed in a metro agreed it is not easy, infection but it is not really that bad. As a film depicting a slice of life in a huge city, the film is way too simplistic, salacious and rather unrepresentative.

However, if you see the film just about a bunch of characters (I guess the genre of multiple stories is here to stay), who incidentally happen to live in a big city where some insecurities have seeped in them, it works tremendously well. Especially since characters are not randomly selected, they are all interconnected; hence the film doesn’t look loose or haphazard like Salaam-E-Ishq (which remains the worst movie in this genre).

The film is glossy and slick. But that’s just the surface. So don’t be fooled by the film’s exterior. At heart it is quintessentially and supremely old Bollywood stuff, perhaps highlighted best by Sharman Joshi s track, which is nothing but Shri 420(or Yes Boss or Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman) revisited. Ambition is bad and betraying your love for sake of ambition is worse. The scene where he bitterly explains that he has chosen his path to fulfill pitaaji ka adhura sapna (of building a restaurant) is a salute to innumerable seventies film where the angry young man took to the wrong way to fulfill his parents dreams or avenge the wrong done to them. And then there is the filmi climax set at where else? the railway platform, where Irrfan and Kangana seek their respective departing loves.

Yet, despite its back-hand compliments to age-old Bollywood tracks, the film is highly* quite original, not a spoof and certainly not cliched.

It’s difficult to write a review without revealing any details since the characters and their plot are tightly interlinked, which actually is the film’s triumph. The screenplay (by Anurag Basu) is neat and keeps the viewer s interest firmly glued to the on-screen proceedings. Characters connect with each other and the audience instantaneously. In fact, I simply adored the way the film introduces characters and their lives right from the first shot, without wasting time, and adds little details on the way. Sanjeev Dutta’s dialogues do their part well, giving insightful comments at appropriate places and leaving things unstated but hinted at other moments. At times, the film reminds you of Page 3.

The performances are superb. Shilpa Shetty can proudly display the film on her resume (which till date had Phir Milenge as the only other worthwhile mention)- as a housewife caught between a wrong marriage and a wronger romance she comes across very sensitive and mature. Kay Kay Menon, Irrfan Khan and Shiney Ahuja are beacons of new age parallel cinema, and none of them lets the fire die. I love Konkona Sen Sharma – she has a spunk which immediately connects to the audience. Here, she plays a late twenties virgin desperate to get married. Her pairing with Irrfan is the most ideal and sensitive one in the film (though she herself doesn t realize it till the end).

Dharmendra has aged a lot but makes a decent comeback, and so does Nafisa Ali, playing aged lovers who re-unite after years- the track that leaves with you stifled sobs and moist eyes.

Negatives? Yes, a few. First, the character s obsession with love and bed seem a bit too much. Even though Kaykay, Kangana and Sharman are placed in a recognizable office (the ubiquitious call-center); however they don t really have too much botheration about work or its related problems. If I am not wrong, most people have sleepless nights not due to a sexy secretary lying besides them but because of up-coming presentations and ruthless sales targets! Showing them carrying Lenovo lap-tops doesn’t solve the problem ;at least they should work on it as well.

Second, the music is pathetic ** not to my liking. I don’t understand rock at all, and here all songs are from this genre. Preetam and his band come in at regular intervals (as some sort of sutradhar), hair flowing and guitar strumming. At first it looks good and innovative. But by the third song they are irritating and boring, and one wishes the director had chopped off the songs altogether.

Lastly, I am not sure if I am convinced about the ending given to Shilpa Shetty’s character. Either ways she was in a hopeless situation, but which of the two would be lesser one, is an unanswered question!

In all, after Murder and Gangster, Basu has a clear winner on his hands – less dark and manic, more intricate and deep and definitely more entertaining.

Overall- Worth viewing!

[*Reader V informs that Sharman Joshi’s track is inspired from a Hollywood film, The Apartment]
[** I realised ‘pathetic’ is a strong word to use when I don’t understand this genre]

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The blurbs say “sugar-free romance.” Don’t take it too seriously. After all the film comes from advertising guy (R. Balki), geriatrician there is bound to be some amount of exaggeration. The film is most definitely sweet though not cloyingly so.

And at last there is a mature romance where the characters age is just a number, this web outside Yash Chopra’s banner (at least, till the time the veteran made films we got some delectable and sensitive films). The film has more weight and words than Nishabd, and while watching Cheeni Kum I had this huge urge of dragging Ram Gopal Verma to the theater and show him that this is how old man-young woman romance should be made!

The story is simple boy-meets-girl-in-foreign-land, falls in love, girl s father doesn t approve, boy goes to India to woo her father. If you think I am narrating DDLJ, think again! The boy here is 64, the girl 34 and the father only 58! There you are, Balki surely gives a wicked wink to Yash Raj Films, with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

Budha Dev Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan) is a hard-task-master chef running Spice 6, an authentic Indian restaurant in London (and not just a phoney one which thrive on simply putting up pictures of elephants and Taj Mahal), living with his brattish mother (Zohra Sehgal) and is friendly with a six-year old cancer patient, Sexy.

He is egoistic, pompous and full of himself only till the time Nina Verma (Tabu) walks in his restaurants and returns her ordered dish Hyderabadi zafrani pulao, stating it to be too sweet. It’s an affront Budha is not going to take lightly. Worse, the next day she cooks the dish the way it should be made and sends him back. Budha finally meets his match.

The first half moves forward in a delightful play of words (the one liners are straight after my heart!), where umbrellas and dialogues are exchanged rapidly, without really defining when the romance actually begins. It just happens pyaar kiya nahi jaata ho jaata hai! Here the comedy, involving a bunch of cooks (including a British waiter forced to learn tough Indian dishes’ names), is feather-light and amusing. The second half is about the problem about getting Nina’s father (Paresh Rawal) to agree to the match. Even though Nina is no Simran ( over my dead body booms the father when he learns about the impending marriage, so when are you kicking the bucket? asks Nina without batting an eyelid!) still she is not the one to run off just like that.

Few things which jarred – Delhi is shown not as beautifully as London is, plus Balki should have worked a bit on the geography too. Not all routes have to necessary pass through India Gate or North/South Blocks everytime (But I guess this is a minor grouse, and comes from me since I belong to Delhi). The motorbike mob that teases Tabu wasn’t really required, it doesn’t add to the story. Why does Balki re-inforce the superstition that if you are able to hold the Ashok Pillar (at Qutub Minar) with your arms back-stretched, your wish will be fulfilled? If it gets more tourists to the nearly-forgotten monument, I am not complaining. The climax scene is set again at Qutub Minar, where Amitabh gets into an illogical outburst that simply doesn’t match the tender tenor of the entire film. It’s like a shrill whistle blown in between a soulful symphony.

By the way is Balki the man behind Jeetey Raho campaign of ICICI Prudential I suspect so, because he sort of mentions it in the film!

Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu share a rare cerebral chemistry. Both are actors in their prime, and that helps the film in large doses. I wouldn t think of the movie with anyone else but the two. Paresh Rawal does his role well (well, that’s also expected, isn’t it?) and Zohra Sehgal is simply delightful. A special mention to the child star Swini Khara she is cute and lovable. Though I felt that sub-plot wasn’t too well handled, other than being a counter to Budha’s actual romance.

Illayaraja’s music is great and just the right ingredient for the film. I am in love with Jaane do na and Cheeni kum hai and Shreya Ghoshal is inching up on my favorites list!

I have left out a few points that I wanted to say, but this review here has covered those up brilliantly. Why repeat? Read it!

Overall – Must See!

Here I pick up another beautiful number (sung by Lata Mangeshkar) that could not survive the tides of time, physiotherapy but nevertheless, condom is a delight to listen to.

First the lyrics:

Pyaar kya hota hai, samjhaye koie
Banke gham-khaar to aaye koie

Raasta kis liye hum poochhte hain
Jab ki apni koie manzil hi nahin
Ek thehre hue dariya ki tarah
Zindagi mein koi hulchal hi nahin
Meri soi hui paayal ki sadaa
Na to jaage, na jagaye koie
Pyaar kya hota hai…

Subah se shaam bhi ho jaati hai
Raat bhi aake guzar jaati hai
Apne darwaaze pe aawaz koie
Bhool kar bhi to nahi aati hai
Hum jahan hai wahan ek muddat se
Na koie aaye , na jaaye koie
Pyaar kya hota hai…

This beautiful gem is from the film Ek Kali Muskayee (which had the superhit number, Na tum bewafaa ho, na hum bewafaa hain), and is composed by Madan Mohan with the pain-lashed lyrics penned by Rajinder Kishen. The soul to the words is provided by the inimitable Lata Mangeshkar.

From Kadar jaane na in Bhai Bhai to Tere liye in Veer Zaara, I am an undoubted fan of Madan Mohan’s compositions. For someone like me, who places a strong emphasis on the music put in between the antaras (sometimes at the cost of the lyrics also) and a tune that should sound natural (not forced), Madan Mohan’s music is manna from heaven, as it combines all the three ingredients in a perfect mix. Also, the ‘sound’ of the orchestra of Madan Mohan touches me a lot. (It is this fetish for the lush musical interludes which explains for my choice of Shankar Jaikishan, Nadeem Shravan and Uttam Singh as my other favorites).

This song opens with a gentle flute prelude before Lata Mangeshkar’s vocals take over. Each line of the short mukhda is repeated twice in the tradition of a ghazal rendition.

The first interlude is the most interesting music passage. The same tenor of flute follows the mukhda with a small break filled by quick three chimes of a jal-tarang (type of sound) that is immediately pursued by a supple orchestral combination of violins and flute in a very slow ascent – as slow and as even as milk rising on a boil.

The antaras begin with minimal music, and the first two lines are repeated, with the second repetition supported by full tabla beats. In between the two repetitions there is a petite flute division. The tune in the antaras takes a sharp swing at the last two lines before sliding effortlessly into the mukhda.

The lyrics beautifully capture loneliness with some excellent imagery – soyi hui paayal and raasta hum kis ke liye poochte hain are lovely metaphors. Also, the feeling is conveyed in a very straightforward, simple but nonetheless poetic manner.

Lata Mangeshkar’s intonation is filled with immeasurable pathos, ache and weariness of living a lonely life. The frustration of constant questioning; the wait at the doorstep for the elusive guest; and the anger of watching the minutes tick by without any happening are all captured in her honey-sweet voice.

Generally, most singers eat up the ‘h‘ sound in the word ‘subah‘ – but, trust Lataji to even catch hold of that tiny syllable.

In all, this is a song that seeps into the heart and remains fossilized there forever.

Madan Mohan

For more details on Madan Mohan please click here – Madan Mohan : The Emperor of Gazals

For those who think Madan Mohan could compose only ‘serious’ gazal-numa songs, let me break the myth by informing that the jovial Kishore Kumar number Zarurat hai zarurat hai (Manmauji – 1962) was his composition. And can anyone forget the easy banter of Chhadi re chhadi (Lata and Rafi/Mausam) ?

I wil end this post with two more incidents: Once Madan Mohan was explaining a song to Asha Bhonsle when the songstress pointed out, a trifle disinterestedly, that this song is good, but if he could give the other one as well to her. Madan Mohan’s angry retort was – that song is for Lataji, and only for her, and no one can replace her for that other song.

Lataji claims that only Madan Mohan was a composer who never deserted her ever!

The second incident diplays his passion for perfection: Once during a recording of another song, when Madan Mohan realized that some musicians were playing out of ‘sur‘, he got worked up that he walked towards the playing area in anger. There was a glass door in between; he was so angry that instead of opening the door, he broke the glass with his hand. Lataji recalls with horror that his hand was injured, the blood was flowing out, but Madan Mohan continued his tirade against the erring musicians – “besura bajate ho; sur ke saath be-imani kar rahe ho, sharam nahin aati“!

This was the zeal and passion of this great man.

After all this, the recording happened the same day, and the song went on to be a big hit – Naino mein badra chhaye, bijli si chamke haaye from Mera Saaya. It won the Sur Singar Sansad Award – 1966.

I wonder if this kind of artistic fervor exists in today’s times!

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