I am back to what I am best at – travelling the road. This time, infertility information pills it’s the interiors of Maharashtra. Pune is an old haunt, illness but this time it felt a tad too far off as the Volvo bus driver decided to pick up anyone and everyone to fill up the empty seats, before leaving Mumbai. The early morning journey ended in early noon.
Pune to Nashik followed immediately (since the bus had consumed the time I had reserved for there). Been used to the rugged Uttar Pradesh terrain, the route surprised me. It was lush green and weaved through little hills and hillocks (the ghats), passing through vast stretches of open and lush cloud-kissed lands, uninterrupted by man or nature. “What Switzerland? Why don’t our film-makers shoot here?” I wondered aloud. It was just the flawless location for a mesmerizing love duet!
En route Nashik, after one meeting at Sangamner, we saw a signboard of Shirdi. ‘Is it nearby?’ I asked. It seemed so. Since it would be late in any case for Nashik, we decided to pay darshan at Shirdi. It’s a typical temple-town, with all its infrastructure and business centered around Sai Baba’s Temple. We got a lovely darshan…that too on a Thursday, the day considered auspicious to the sage.
We started for Nashik after the sun had convincingly risen in some other part of the planet.
I fell in love with Nashik the moment I saw it. Wide roads, pretty clean and without any rush. It’s the ‘Pune of some fifteen years back’, my colleague remarked. A ring of mountains nestled the quaint town. The air was fresh and vibrant, and it must have helped my lungs, for I had a very deep sleep that night (it could also be due to the immense fatigue, as that day we did a whopping 9-10 meetings, in a row, one after the other – and by the end of which, another cup of tea or coffee would have made me throw up).
We stayed there for two days, and returned on Saturday late evening. It was a fruitful visit. And adds one more town in my long list of places visited.
It is the second consecutive year when, here on this auspicious day, recipe I am in a new town, without a consistent source of internet to type out a full-fledged message. But the solace is that I am breathing the same air, in the same city, as where the Queen of Melody resides.
It’s amazing how another year has gone by. And yet, in this added year, my love for that perfect voice hasn’t diminished one bit. Only, as I am away from music, the love has grown fonder, and deeper. I miss listening to Lata (Mangeshkar)Didi’s songs, and hope to be re-united with them soon, once my luggage arrives from Delhi. Still, whenever and wherever I can snatch those precious moments, I do try to listen to her. One such instance was when I travelled to Nashik, I put on my own CD in my colleague’s car, and listened to a bunch of marvellous Lata Mangeshkar-Madan Mohan combine songs.
Here’s wishing Lata Didi a very happy, peaceful, wonderful and melodious birthday, and praying to Almighty for her long life and health.
Happy Birthday, Lataji!
…and very soon. But just a quick update to those who have actually ventured into this space the past few days:
I am still home-less. More than me (after all, ask the company guest house is so comfortable) it’s my packers-and-movers guy (who is holding my stuff en-route from Agra at New Delhi) who is exasperated. From the gruff ‘when will you give me an address to send your dumb stuff’ he has now stepped down to a worried plea ‘boss, disinfection saamaan mangaa lo please’. I dread at thought of his final bill amount.
Nagpur is the new city added to my list of travels (and I type this post from a horrible cyber-cafe from there).
I stepped into Delhi for a brief while for Diwali. What to say? The four days simply whizzed by. My apologies to all whom I must have promised to meet, but didn’t.
I watch movies aplenty. And my current haunt is Cinemax at Versova. Their Red Lounge (with huge reclining sofas) is a treat, and the cheese pop-corns delicious. A bit late, but here are one-or-two sentences on the movies seen:
Jab We Met – A fantabulous film with some superb writing and excellent direction. Shahid, who had proven himself – in my opinion – last year with Vivah, carries forward his confidence in this one. And Kareena, for a change, endeared herself. Imtiaz Ali’s film rocks!
Om Shanti Om – Delightful, colorful, melodramatic, unbelievable, but just what a Hindi film should be. Various elements (and ‘items’) like the Filmfare Award ceremony or that full-of-stars-songs or the posters from seventies (including a hoarding of Ovaltine) keep the viewers glued. A quantum leap by Farah Khan from the monotonous Mai Hoon Na. Vishal-Shekhar’s music is scintillating! Deepika wows as the seventies heroine (all grace and ada) but average as the short-skirted bubble gum chewing youngster of 2007! Negatives – re-incarnation theme is not handled well (Karz and Kudrat were way above, though both are referenced), second half could have been crisp, romance between lead pairs is absent in this half!
However, my rating – must watch!
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag – Disappointing, dull and dumb film. Lacks the intensity that the subject and the heroine cries for. Too much of gloss. Rani’s pain doesn’t translate to the tears that everyone in the audience should have had. Music is pathetic. Few scenes (like the one where Rani has to take that crucial decision and calls up her mom) are well written and directed. But sadly, they are few and far. And honestly, by the time the climax came on, it looked much ado about nothing!
Bhool Bhulaiya – Did not comprehend what Priyadarshan wanted to make – comedy or horror – ends up as comedy of horrors! Akshay is brilliant; Vidya Balan as ever artificial, and Ameesha Patel – the poor girl – if she can find her role from the editing table, we can then discuss her. In all, an ok time-pass film. Nothing very spectacular.
That’s all from my side. But as I said, wait for me, I will be back on this space faster than you would imagine. Till then, ciao!
It’s the time to rewind and assess the music that hit the charts this year. As in the past four such compilations, store the below list is my own choice and does not in any way reflect the fate at the charts. Anyways, my music choice is so individualistic, often it doesn’t coincide with the hit parade.
Personally, I found this year’s music scene far superior to 2006. Where last year I had struggled to find one single fulsome album, this year I had at least six of them, and many more where the favorite songs exceeded that one single entry played relentlessly on the music channels and FM radio.
My own award to the music composer of the year goes, undoubtedly and unwaveringly to Vishal and Shekhar. The duo came up with not one, but two, wholesome albums which I thoroughly enjoyed listening to and revisiting.
So without much waste, here we go:
Ho agar kabhi koi gham bilkul na tum ghabrana – Tara Rum Pum – What a peacefully sensitive, mellifluous and optimistic number. The piano riffs are shimmering and Shreya Ghoshal’s dulcet voice simply melts in your ears. The song climaxes with some outstanding violins set to dholak beats.
I loved the music of Tara Rum Pum and loved it so much that after seeing the movie I stepped out and purchased the album right away and played it non-stop in my car for months. Breaking the current norm, the album was clutter-free: no remixes, no repeats, no sad/slow versions. It consisted of six clean and clear tracks that were fulfilling and richly intricate. Vishal-Shekhar drummed up an exquisite theme piece which they skilfully built into three songs Ho agar, Mere shona and Saaiyan ve.
Saaiyan Ve (Ik banjaara iktaare pe kabse gaaye), sung with gusto by Vishal Dadlani, has a thumping dholak, and pieces of vibrating strings. Despair and desolance never sounded so sublime. The third straight beauty in the album was the chocolaty sweet love duet Hey shona.
While Ab to forever made you dance in joy, the other title song made you skip with a child’s abandon. The only weak song, I felt, was Aaja nachle ve nachle ve, but then that was because all the other five were so bright that this one paled in comparison.
Mai agar kahuun tumsa haseen – Om Shanti Om -The second Vishal Shekhar album that I loved in its entirety. And amongst this variety, Mai agar kahun swished me off with its S-J-ish rhythm and tight but flush orchestration. As in Tara Rum Pum, here too the duo built a lovable theme piece that kept recurring in the album. Ending Mai agar kahun with that theme was an intelligent touch.
KK’s solo Aankhon mein teri ajab si is my love solo of the year (though it ties with another charming one, the film of which follows immediately after this listing) a catchy tune, it gives the feeling of walking into an uncluttered and neat house, where everything is arranged to perfection.
Karz-inspired title song Daastan-e-Om-Shanti-Omis an amazing piece of work that I relish listening on a huge surround sound system. The interludes blow you away with their melodic force. However, I felt Shaan’s voice a tad weak and perhaps a Udit Narayan could have done more justice.
Speaking of Udit Narayan, why has this singer completely vanished? Last year he was hardly present (barring an odd Vivah or Mr. Khujli here and there) and this year he reduced to a mere chorus singer in the 31-star-studded number Deewangi (a song that is best enjoyed on-screen than off it).
Other delightful OSO numbers include the pathos ladenChhan se jo toote koi sapna and the crazily written but nevertheless foot-tapping Dard-e-disco. In the spoofy Dhoom tana music composer Pyarelal (of Laxmikant-Pyarelal fame) does the arrangements, and seems he went berserk sighting a hundred piece orchestra still, it brings fond memories of the time when he ruled the charts alongwith his partner (who is unfortunately no more).
Oh re chhabila sajeela saawan beeta jaaye – Saawariya – What Dhoom tana couldn’t fully achieve, was remarkably and effortlessly completed by Pyarelal’s nephew Monty Sharma in his full-fledged debut – that is, compose a song that is straight from L-P’s stable, and in another era Lata Mangeshkar would have been an obvious choice for the singer (though Alka Yagnik, in her sole outing in an otherwise Shreya Ghoshal dominated album, does a splendid job). Nay, even Sameer, the lyricist, enjoys himself doing a complete Anand Bakshi-esque tuk-bandhi, with sajeela, chhabiila, rangiila, hathiilaetc sort of disarmingly careless but nevertheless very sharp rhyming. The sitar is sumptuous and exciting to my ears.
From the large bulk (eleven songs!!) Shaan’s solo Jab se tere naina is the other love ode that cuddles warmly into your hearts. Never mind the mini-controversy over Ranbir’s slipping and slithering towel, the song had enough sponge of its own to soak in listener’s interest.
My third favorite is the partially-deleted-in-film number Jaanejaan, which carries a strong flavor from Bhansali’s HDDCS.
Saawariya was the third album that I loved though not in entirety, but in large doses, and in the end, I usually play the songs one after the other, without ever getting that urge to change tracks.
Jhoom barabar jhoom – Jhoom Barabar Jhoom – Bahut hi kutte kism ke gaane hai, once they latch on to you, they are impossible to shrug off. You have to keep humming them the entire day. Whenever I mentioned S-E-L I always maintained that their songs usually lack that catchiness, or the full catchiness (tell me honestly, how many of you can really remember the first line before Aao na from Kyun Ho Gaya Na?) but with JBJ the trio erased this grouse. Be it the two-part title song, or the more rumbactious variant of the title, or the spiffy Ticket to Hollywood, each one came with claws and hooklines designed to cling relentlessly on to your memory. The silky Dhaage tod laao chandni ke noor se had an interesting santoor riff that erupted congenially at regular intervals. Finally, there was the rocking Kiss of love, with an equally mesmerizing picturisation that suited Bobby Deol perfectly. A proof of the impressive line-up came in an instrumental that featured snippets from each of the five songs, one after the other you could understand the unfailing energy behind the glorious tunes. Shankar Ehsaan Loy take a bow. Sad, the film let them down at the box-office, and snatched away the music from the charts.
Dil ki daro-deewar pe ae sanam naam hai tera– Fear – Every year I have the serendipity to stumble upon a deliciously angelic love duet that wouldn’t get past the lower rung of the various count-down shows but nonetheless, the song would endear me for its old-worldly and traditional charm and grace. Last year Mr. Khujli‘s duets had gripped my imagination. This year, it is Dil ki daro deewar pe an unheard of and unsung duet from a flop Himesh Reshammiya film Fear (has the film been released?). Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik who till a couple of years back were a staple in HR’s music room re-enter like a breath of Vicks clearing the nasal congestion.
They offer the same satisfying result as seen earlier in Kyun Ki or Julie or many others from that age. The supple piano and the syrupy tune, conjoined with a subtle violin-and-low-pitch-chorus to mark the mood of the film’s title, provide a tremendously terrific outcome. Not to be missed.
Cheeni kum hai thodi thodi tujh mein hai kum / Jaane do na mujhe toh jaane do – Cheeni Kum – Shreya Ghoshal received large impetus towards the higher echelons when music maestro Illayaraja entrusted her with four mellisonant solos, reworked from the musician’s Southern ouvre. But what the hell! Chances are you would never had otherwise heard these towering tunes earlier, unless you are a Tamilian! Illayaraja belongs to the old school, where the interludes matter as much as the mukhda and where the antaras are chiselled with the same care as the sound-design. My favorites are the two mentioned. But that’s not to belittle the other two, which carry their own sweetness. No dear, this is sheer cheeni cum honey rolled in one frugal but paradoxically grand album.
Yeh ishq haaye baithe bithaaye jannat dikhaaye o Rama – Jab We Met -A pleasing and bewitching solo by Shreya Ghoshal (sounding more like Chitra, though), in an equally pleasing and charming film. Preetam diverted his attention from mere sounds to create a more melody based number, with a handful of rivetting beats. What excited me were the very innovatively strung together interludes and sthaayis. When Preetam remarked Jab We Met is his pure and honest score, I believe him. Indeed it was. Nagaada and Mauja hi mauja, despite having their eyeballs firmly perched on the charts, had their own meritorious tuning. Shaan (who had a remarkable year) sang Hum jo chalne lage with a breezy elan, appropriate to the song’s mood. Mohit Chauhan’s anglicized diction jarred in Tum se hi, a slow number, though I found it very contrived and artificial and not at all exciting. Overall, a pleasing album.
More piya – Aaja Nachle – Frankly, Aaja Nachle‘s music disappointed. It didn’t befit Madhuri Dixit’s stature. Perhaps I was still living in a time warp expecting another Dil To Paagal Hai(considering dance and drama were the central themes in both movies), while the nation had moved on. If not Lataji, at least Madhuri’s considered ‘voice’ Alka Yagnik could have been roped in. But no we got a throaty Sunidhi Chauhan warbling Aaja nachle nachle mere yaar tu nachle, with an irritatingly Anglicized stress on the ‘ch‘ of Nach (Ok, I got it that the heroine was shown an NRI, but then I really don’t think the makers went in for too much realism in any other aspect of the movie!). My advice to Sunidhi Beedi is over , and it’s time to burn fresher sticks, before you burn-out and become cancerous to the ears! Show me your jalwawas a plain, downright and decidedly stupid number, resembling more an advertisement jingle than a full-fledged film song.
In the bunch of other non-descript songs, the only two that provided cheer were the love ditty Ishq hua and the best of the lot a Sufi-strained More piya re. In the latter, the harmonium and dholak tantalize, and it’s the antaras that are the song’s beauty. An applause is due to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan who has sung it with heart. Hear it. It’s a delight!
Na jis din teri meri baat hoti hai –Traffic Signal – Pray, why did this outstanding song loose its path and not traverse up the charts? A stirring love composition, the song presented itself in the album in two shimmering parts once, as a solo by the now-defunct-and-vanished Bhupinder Singh, and second time as a regular duet by Kunal Ganjawala and Sadhna Sargam-sound-alike.
Sajnaji vaari vaari jaaoon mai – Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. – A fun rolicking track that kept the nation on its feet the year around. It’s non-choreographed picturisation helped. A weak score by Vishal-Shekhar, only Sajnaji and to a smaller-extent Pyar ki yeh kahani sunowere the bright spots. Compared to their two big-budget scores, this one was like walking from a mansion to a home-shanty-home!
Zindagi ne zindagi bhar gham diye – The Train – Composer Mithoon (who gave two enormously handsome numbers in Anwar last year) is turning repetitive. Aggar was downright boring, with each song sounding like a yet-again-reheated left over from the previous one or worse, as a brainless clone from Aadat-singer Atif Ali’s album. That stretched out singing style has lost novelty and why does Mithoon sound so much like Atif?. In The Train, for most parts, there wasn’t anything to stimulate my ears, except for this poignancy-loaded Zindagi ne zindagi bhar gham diye. If only the arrangements were less bouncy and more touching. But then, I believe, this style is hugely popular with the youth today. And since it sells, so be it!
Mere dholna– Bhool Bhulayya – Now who would have thought that Preetam would cough up a full-fledged classical number? And that too in a Priyadarshan comic-cum-horrid (err, ok horror) flick! My ears perked and appreciated the straight-jacketed number but I think I still have to get over the sheer surprise factor. And it’s when you hear these songs you know why Shreya Ghoshal is the Ms. Dependable of the present generation.
From the others, Teri aankhein bhool bhulayya was just another Preetam composition that had a ‘hit’ written all over its grooves and hooves. Sridhar (of Bombay Vikings) did a good job. And there was even a Pakistani version that did away with the ‘Hare Ram Hare Krishna’ refrain to replace it with ‘Loon main naam tera naam chaahe subah ho ya shaam, tera naam tera naam, Baby all day all night long’
The third good song was KK’s Labon ko labon pe a routine romantic solo, which serenades the heart mildly. Unfortunately, I have my full doubts on the song’s lasting impact.
Gairon se kya shikwa karna, apne dhokha dete hain – Dhokha– Ideally, MM Kreem’s score should cheer me up. Especially, if it is within the prolific Bhatt-productions’ ambit. But sadly, Dhokha is several notches below Kreem-Bhatt’s combined efforts in Zakhm or Sur or that scintillating duet O saathiya o beliya (Saaya). Unfortunately, Dhokha is too much noise, too much sounds, too much electronics. It’s as if Kreem couldn’t decide whether to keep his own style or adapt to the current trend. In the end, what he delivers is a mish-mash that is neither here nor there. Still, the title song and Kab tujhe zindagi meinare mini-triumphs. But only when considered stand-alone, and not compared to his past works. Bhatts remained strangely low-key. Aawargi had the moderately listenable Tera mera rishta poorana; and their latest offering Showbiz doesn’t augur well either.
Ae chhori zara nach ke dikha zara thumka laga – Cash – Purely for the fun-factor. In this, Vishal-Shekhar break the traditional antara-mukhda mould. Basically, it’s a bunch of two-line mukhdas strung together precariously. But it works. A word of caution don’t hum or sing it in office. You are bound to elicit nasty stares from female colleagues!
Badh gayi dekho meri dhadkan – Marigold – Meant to be a spoof on ‘conventional Hindi film song’ I found the ditty pretty interesting. Equally surprising was the discovery of flop actor Vikas Bhalla as a decent singer. By the way, the song has to be heard on a big stereo system to appreciate the arrangements’ full effect.
Chakhna chakhna/ Rafta rafta– Namaste London, Ya ali ali (Teri yaadon ne tanha na chhoda mujhe) / Yeh tera mera mila– Aap Ka Surroor The Muvee The Real Luv Story , Meri awargi meri deewangi– Good Boy Bad Boy and Tadap tadap ho tum/ Akele tanha jeeya na jaaye – Darling – I am clubbing together Himesh Reshammiya’s regular scores that hit the market. Essentially, he continued his trend of assembly line compositions of one hook, one beat songs, largely sung in his trade-mark nasal voice. These were the ones that held my attention. Sheepishly I admit, some of them carried on with me for a long time, and the sound quality in each was of impossibly high-grade.
In Meri awargi meri deewangi he shamelessly re-uses the shehnai riff of Jhalak dikhlaaja. But that, I guess, is a lesser sin than ripping off tunes and rhythms from across the globe.
Akele tanha jeeya na jaaye could have sounded much better had it been sung by an Alka Yagnik or Shreya Ghoshal. However, here we have Tulsi Kumar piping her way through her nose, perhaps in a bid to out-nasal the composer. The song, however, did not make its way to the film, hence no one bothered about it.
I loved the two numbers from Himesh’s acting-debut film (and where has he vanished after the surprising super-success of the film? Doesn’t he know, out of sound is out of mind in these sad instant-fame, instant de-fame days!). From the two, Ya ali ali has a haunting effect.
Chal chaliye – Chak De! India – A rousing number that raises the spirits and urges you to act. Beyond this, the film didn’t require music, and hence there wasn’t anything worthwhile to ponder over, unless you count Ek hockey doongi mai rakh ke, which had some novelty factor, but it wore off soon.
The following songs held my attention for a while before fading into oblivion –
Johny Gaddar / Doob ja mere pyaar mein (Move your body) – Johny Gaddar – Rhythmic and bouncy the film’s score was like that spot of strange design which you are convinced you hate, but inwardly get drawn to its audacious attractiveness.
Kisne baandhi dori / Jaan phansi saans atki hai do paatan ki chakki hai – Just Married – Two modestly animating songs in a gem of a film. The latter is a bigger favorite. Gulzar’s lyrics helped.
Hey baby / Aankhon pe mohabbat likh de – Hey Babyy – Actually, you couldn’t avoid them if you have attended parties or marriage this year. Nothing here that made me flip a heartbeat.
You’re my love my love – Partner – Like any David Dhawan film, Partner had a use-and-throw score. I bet no one will recall it two months down the line!
Zara gun guna le chalo – Laaga Chunri Mein Daag – could have been a sugary love duet but for the horrible Afro-asian music attached to it. As an album, I did not register anything else, except, perhaps, for the title number, which in any case is a rework of the Roshan composition from Dil Hi Toh Hai.
Tere sawalon ke wo jawaab jo mai de na de sakuun – Manorama Six Feet Under – Himesh’s trusted aide Jayesh Gandhi made a hushed debut with a fairly average score in this noir thriller. Of the six songs, Roop Kumar Rathod’s silken voice attracted in this reasonably enjoyable song.
Hai tujhe bhi ijaazat kar le tu bhi mohabbat – Life In A Metro – I don’t understand rock, so no comments on the music. I liked the lyrics of this one, though.
Ek uncha lamba kad dooji soni bhi tu hadd – Welcome – Anand Raj Anand made a comeback with a chart-friendly song. Again, its longevity is a big question mark. I couldn’t comprehend his other contribution (in Dus Kahaniyan)
That’s all from the current music scene. However there are many other musical milestones that I encountered this year. But that I will cover in the next piece.
Wishing all readers of Random Expressions a very happy and melodious New Year!
Look at life’s irony – there was a time, unhealthy on this very blog, when I had wanted to give it up all and walk away. During those crises-ridden days, I sought escape routes that were not available, and as lazy hours stared back with their longing eyes, I would return to this page, trying to form words out the creative stupor and nether that I was in.
Today, the scenario is diametrically opposite – I have so much to tell, yet I am not able to find those lazy hours (nay, moments) where I can sit leisurely to sort that jumble of thoughts and events and celebrations into a neat and tidy readable post(s). Here is, in capsule, all those posts that never saw the life on this blog, but could have been, and who knows, might also find themselves written sometime in future:
a) A House for Me – Yes, after all the heartbreaks, heart-burns and heart-hurts, I found a house for myself in the big bad rush of Mumbai. The house is not very huge, but it gives me adequate space (without making it claustrophobic). Plus, I loved it’s locality, and that it is on a street named after a (forgotten) music director. The stuff which lay with the packers and movers reached me late on a Saturday – in not-so pretty condition, though thank heavens, all the electronic items are working well. Thanks to M, my friend, for helping me set up the place. The house-warming party is still due – and the champagne is ready to fizz over !
b) Midway to the Forties – Celebrated another birthday. Nothing really spectacular, except that I am now exactly, mid-way to the forties. Still young, eh? Holding on to the champagne…
c) Trip to South Africa – This happened quite by chance, through the office I work in. Honestly, it calls for a full travellogue, but I can’t promise that at all. The week long swept by. And there were some interesting sights seen. Cape Town, in particular, held much interest for me, because naturally it is enviably gifted with both mountains and a sea. We also visited Johannesberg for a night, Sun City (where Aishwarya Rai received her Ms. World crown in 1994) and Mabula Game Lodge (though we didn’t see any lions, it still made us proud to know the game resort is owned by a fellow-Indian.)
Before we left for South Africa, there was much drama over a cancelled flight, and all seventeen of us stranded at Sahar Airport. It took an entire sleepless and uncomfortable night before we got accomodation at a nearby five-star hotel. We left tired and haggard the subsequent next night.
d) Random Expression completes 4 years – Last, and certainly not the least, this blog completes its fourth year! Can’t hold that champagne bottle any longer now… Started in 2004, on this day, as a personal faucet for my brimming creativity, the blog has seen a few changes in its life-journey – in its readerships (from those hundred plus comments, to the few loyal ones now) , in it’s place of residence ( from Delhi to Kathmandu to Agra to Mumbai) and in its tone and tenor and timing. These past days have been low, but then I still hold a tremendous hope of coming back (as I have promised in several of my last posts) with a bang!
Thanks to all readers of RE for being here with me. You all rock!
*Pop* * Fizz * Cheers…
It is the comeback season. Not mine. That is still time away. (I will continue to visit this space off and on for some more time).
But two of my favorites have come back with a proverbial bang – Director duo Abbas- Mustan and author Jeffrey Archer.
Isn’t it curious how much a fan accepts his loved artiste’s failure as his own, help and then tries to defend it weakly or pompously (as his character is wont be)? Well, disorder this post is not to dwell on a fan-artiste relationship. That would need to much of input and time, tadalafil and more concentration that what this cyber cafe offers (with the lady at the desk happily viewing sobbing bahus in variety of soaps spread over multifarious channels).
Fact is, last year, when Abbas-Mustan gave a vastly off-color Naqab, I had offered a polite review to all, though secretly hoping that the flick would simply veil itself in oblivion (which, mercifully, it did). The one before that, 36 China Town, had been interesting but it still lacked the full-on punch associated with the director-duo-in-forever-whites.
When Race released, I worriedly booked myself the first weekend (that it was a Holi-weekend, and I was in Delhi, aided). Would it be what the promos promised? Or, would it be as weird and lack-lustre like Naqaab?
Race, thankfully, is a thumping comeback for Abbas-Mustan. The film is a full-blast thriller, and despite few loop-holes and some cliches – and excuse my using cliches – it is full of thrills, chills, spills, with enough race and pace and grace and dollops of action, humor, emotion and anything and everything that makes up a fine commercial masala entertainer.
The film is exceedingly well written and executed, with the viewer given no space to use his mind above the never-resting adrenalin-rush that gushes in your veins, and as twists over twists pile on in an unwavering avalanche, you have to submit to the director’s magical concoction unspooling over the silver screen. I won’t bother you with the story (it’s about two brothers and the power-play between them), nor with finer details, for that would mean revealing some surprise packages that are best left experienced.
All the six lead characters look glossy and generously glamorous – Akshaye delivers another power-punch performance, and Anil Kapoor (much seasoned, and looking fresh) notches up yet one more success; Saif Ali holds his own with his freshly-toned body and freshly -honed expressions. Clearly, he has come a long way since his ridicule-aspiring days of Aashiq Awara and Parampara – via the route of Omkara two years back. The ladies are in second-line, but the porcelain-fragile Katrina Kaif evinces maximum audience interest, followed very closely by Bips Basu (in not a very strong role, and often in very familiar territory).
Kudos to Abbas-Mustan for a well-directed film.
Overall – Must see
Now for the second comeback of this season – Jeffrey Archer. His last two fiction releases left me pretty distressed. The master story-teller left me bored with his collection of short stories – Cat O Nine Tales. His prison-days were taking a toll. After the three prison diaries, the obsession with crime and prison and that hangover, continued in all the stories, and frankly, I think it was getting a bit too much.
And when he did a Dan Brown in False Impression, it was disheartening & demotivating.
I had almost resigned myself to several re-reads of the outstanding saga sweeps of Kane and Abel and Sons of Fortune (the last novel before his imprisonment) or the clever crinkles of Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less.
But not any longer.
A Prisoner of Birth still has the prison hangover. But it is most unmistakably in Archer’s own style. No Dan Brown cuts. No running across continents. It is a simple story, simply told, in a simple setting. Just the way good ol’ Archers were meant to be.
I am still half-way through the book (and I started reading it only in the morning), so am yet to know how it turns out to be overall. But from what I have read, I can safely say it has the same familiar story narration style (that I love and often emulate).
And despite half-read, I can safely recommend – it’s a must buy.
( To all readers who left messages and wishes in my last post – many thanks. I read each one with interest and eagerness, though was unable to reply like in the past. Continue to leave your messages, and be rest assured, I read them all).
Another thumping return:- Udit Narayan makes a resounding comeback! And how! In ‘Dil dance maare’ he simply lets loose his vocals, generic and his enjoyment in singing those bizarre lyrics, neurologist is more than audible and palpable and perceptible. Though Sukhvinder and Sunidhi give him tremendous support, however, for me, it is Udit who outshines both. Vishal’s crazy and inane lyrics (in their latest release Yash Raj Films’ Tashan) are…well, crazy and inane. But tell you what? They work! This unabashed and undiluted celebration of nonsense is the most sensible to hit the charts in the past few seasons. Vishal-Shekhar effortlessly tune words that go White white face dekhe dilwa beating fast sasura chance maare re, and the harmonium hookline is addictive, to say the least!
After Tara Rum Pum and Om Shanti Om, where Vishal-Shekhar displayed a keen sense to break away from the contemporary audio trend, (without fully discarding or alienating it), my personal expectation from this album were huge. Though I missed the serenading cascades of violins (Mai agar kahuun), or the tender tones of piano (Ho agar kabhi koi gham), still Tashan has enough sponge to sink one’s senses into! In fact, Vishal-Shekhar are the few new composers who actually look like working on the music between the antaras.
Take for example, the Hey Shona-ish love ditty in Tashan, ‘Falak tak chal saath mere’ : there is a tingling santoor riff in the second interlude, which is instantly uplifted by a sonorous flute strain, leading to the soft and supple antara – that in itself breaks into a dholak-based rhythm mid-way. Now, hearing the dholak so prominently, and so well-used, is surely a cause for joy!
Falak tak chal is the second Udit Narayan number in the score, and this time he is on more familiar ground, having sung innumerable love songs in the nineties. Mahalaxmi Iyer, who is rarely heard, accompanies him in this beautiful number. I liked the lyrics (by Kausar Munir) in this one (even if the chand and suraj metaphors/imagery reminded me of Gulzar’s poems)
Other than Dil Dance Maare, the folkish- or rather , more correctly put, the ‘hinterland effect’, is also found in Sukhwinder Singh’s opening solo ‘Dil haara re’ , another pleasurable song. A teeny weeny complaint, though – did they have to change the rhythm and pattern towards the end of the song?
The dope-y Tashan mein , sung with verve by composer Vishal and singer Saleem takes a while to intoxicate you, but once it does, there is no point in getting away. Surrender to the electric guitars and the curvaceous tune!
I found Sunidhi’s Chhaliya the only weak number in an otherwise inspired album.
Tashan is a unique North-Indian word that can mean style, attitude and arrogance all rolled in one. In the album, all the lead actors speak a line or two of what tashan means to the characters they are playing (interspersed between the songs).
Dunno how the film will end up, but the music sure has lot of tashan!
Overall – Must Buy
If there is one woe common in India (and extended to Nepal since I have stayed there too) it’s that of the maids – especially those who work for bachelors, denture staying alone. I know the NRI’s will snigger that at least we get them pretty inexpensive here (unlike abroad, where they skim off your wallet by the hour!). But given the fact that labor is cheap here, and home-help is indeed abundant, let’s not deviate too much, and accept that hiring a maid is a necessary evil than luxury.
But their irregularity irritates & irks. And when they work for bachelors the excuse for not turning up is uncannily similar and non-innovative all across (at least it has been through the three cities that I have stayed) – ‘ we came but you had left by then!’ Simple! Who’s going to check whether they actually came or not! I don’t really keep a time-guard or attendance register outside my home.
In Agra, the first maid made a wholesome career out of this excuse. And that,when I used to leave for office pretty late (since it was a mere five minute drive). On days at length, she’d make this silly excuse till the time I sent her packing off. Mercifully, the second one was more time-conscious.
In Nepal, I worked from home. Yet, weirdly & by some strange insight into my schedule, she chose to get late on the very days that I had morning client meetings to attend. That is, other than the innumerable festivals and temples and family gatherings that she had to attend and consequently, skip work.
In Mumbai, finding a maid was tougher than obtaining the house. But when I found one, I heaved a sigh of relief. She looked sincere, and over the past two months, I must emphatically admit her work is indeed so. Hence, I was taken aback that the next day after she took a day off without any prior intimation, when she arrived all apologetic and sorry-looking, her first words were – ‘ Mai aai thi, par aap jaa chuke the’ ( I had come but you had left ). Touche!
Despite my anger, I just couldn’t help but smile. I reckon, some things do not change across cities -and perhaps this one is uniform for all maid in India…
I have nothing against the prolifiration of reality shows on Indian sattelite channels. After all, artificial everyone will try to encash on a successful formula – and frankly, illness if people are watching, what’s wrong in it?
It’s the lack of creativity & innovation within this genre that gets on the nerves. When one channel starts a kid-hunt show, all of them round up tiny tots in different size & shapes to croon those essentially-adult numbers (admittedly, watching a barely into-teens youngster extolling about burnt beedis and raving about kajra-re eyes is a wee bit discomforting). Why can’t the channels sit together and time their shows differently – at least, the audience will get a wider variety, and perhaps, help the channels garner better TRP’s in the long run.
The current flavor is getting dadajis and dadajis and mummyjis and daddyjis to shake their collective left feet in a ‘family dance show’. Worse, the format & the judges’ comments & the scoring model (and then that urge to vote, vote and more vote) is typically the same in all such shows. I haven’t watched any. But I believe the one with Kajol and family is doing good. Strangely, Kajol (despite being one of my most favorite stars of the nineties generation and one who has starred in most of my favorite films) has the dubious distinction of acting in the most insipid, irksome and irritating advertisements. Perhaps the words on the cheques were much more interesting that what was written on the script!
Anyways, in the clutter of reality shows, one has finally managed to get my attention – Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar on Star Plus (shown every Fri & Sat night, but I generally watch the back-to-back rerun on Sunday mornings). It’s a challenge between winners of various reality shows (Abhijeet Sawant, Ishmeet, Rooprekha Bannerjee, et al) pitted against the runners-up from the same shows (Rahul Vaidya, Harshit, Vineet etc).
The show is sans any hyperbole. The production value is superb. The contestants have the basic singing ability. The judges are cool and give pithy comments (often ticking off the bad performances justfully)-Farah Khan has a very practical demeanor that helps the show. I like her. And both Vishal & Shekhar display the same grace & dignity that they did in their previous outing as judges on Zee Sare Ga Ma Pa (unlike certain other blabber-mouths in the same show).
Honestly, it is nice to hear Abhijeet Sawant’s voice again – and in the show he is doing pretty well, and I am rooting for him to win this one too. Rahul Vaidya is the second favorite – and his confidence & control should get him more playback offers (beyond the farcical God promise dil dola hai & O Madam I am your Adam numbers in the deservedly super-flop Shaadi No One).
Harshit had fallen from grace the day he was interviewed by channel on Lata Didi’s birthday and asked to hum a few lines of his favorite song from her vast ouvre. The man made the unforgiveable mistake of crooning O saathi re tere bina bhii kya jeena, which anyone who professes to be such a big ‘fan’ and studying music, should know is not a Lata Didi song!
If I overlook this terrible faux pas, he certainly has an ear-friendly and ‘playback material voice’ – sort of in-between Kumar Sanu & Babul Supriyo. And in his past two weeks’ performance, he has stunned the judges as well with his superb rendering of Phirta rahuun mai dar-ba-dar and Ruth aa gayi re ruth chha gayi re.
Once he sang a song that was pretty unknown. Farah Khan commented that he should choose songs that are more known. Somehow, I don’t agree with her at all. I always carried this grouse that singing songs of others is both easy and unfair – easy because the road map is already prepared by the original singer, and un-fair because comparisons can sometimes be odious. So, when one is judging a contestant, it should be done stand-alone and not with what the original singer did.
Since in these shows getting music composers (or judges) to compose fresh songs and evaluate their talent through that is not possible, the next best step is indeed to select not very popular songs & render them in your own individualistic style. Perhaps, Harshit too had that in mind. Unfortunately, he was reprimanded pretty badly for it, and lost points due to this. In any case, not knowing a particular song is a judge’s problem and not the contestants ( for example, last week too Farah repeated this ‘kaunsa gaana hai’ grumble at ‘Phirta raha hun’ number. Well, I had heard it pretty often, and if Farah Khan was busy shooting for Om Shanti Om when The Killer promos/film hit the marquee, it is entirely her issue, not Harshit’s. Mercifully, Vishal & Shekhar knew of the song and thankfully sense also prevailed on Farah to evaluate on the singing per se & grant Harshit full marks).
Ishmeet is the fourth contender I am rooting for. He has a very soft personality and love songs suit him rather than the mess he created with the Chak De number.
Amongst the ladies, I liked Priyani’s voice – it is the only one that is not throaty (read: Sunidhi Chauhan type). She sounds a bit like Sadhana Sargam, and did an immensely melodious job with Chhalka re kalsi ka paani and Nimbooda. But I fear she might not go too far off, since clearly the more favorites are those ‘item’ kind of voices.
And now for the ones that I can’t bear – Rooprekha Bannerjee tops the list. I am shocked she ever won any reality show. Her voice is exasperatingly nasal and annoying and her attitude is even more galling. She feels she has some superiority factor, and I fail to see any – either in her conduct (the only one to burst in copious tears when on verge of ouster but headstrong enough to pass nasty comments on every other co-participants) or her singing (she cooked an unpalatable mince-meat of Mere dholna from Bhool Bhulayya – breaking into a Bengali line at the end of the song, when the original audio version does not have that line (it is used only in the film in parts) – vote gathering tactics, eh?). Amit Tandon is another non-singer who should pack up soon.
Let’s see how the show unfolds and who actually gets some more fifteen minutes of fame and superstarr-dom!
There is absolutely no harm in showing attitude. This year’s top hit Race had oodles of it. Problem happens when there is no substance to support the style. Tashan – like Musafir – fails because the sexy swaggers and svelte styles has no back up in sense of script or soul. Leave soul aside, cheapest it even eschews a coherent story-line.
There is also no harm in simulating the seventies/eighties drama and melodrama and package it to suit the current sensibilities. After all, a sizeable audience slice still lives in the hinterland who feel alienated from the current trends. And dammit, we – the generation born in seventies – are not dead or transported to some other planet. We live too! So why not give us once in a while the kind of films we grew up with!
Farah Khan has delivered two bumper hits – Mai Hoon Na (a film I hated) and Om Shanti Om ( a flick I enjoyed) – keeping all those ingredients of the past painstakingly preserved ( in MHN, when the mother sobs in the climax, ‘ Mujhe mere dono bete zinda chahiye’ it was such a shining harkback to Nirupa Roy’s motherhood that wetted many a screens in the seventies) but gloriously packaged. There is a way of doing things and conjoining the two largely differing eras. There are films and then there are films. While OSO showed how to do it, Tashan spells out how not to do it!
Tashan is essentially a seventies/eighties film crash-landed into the new millenium and just doesn’t know what it really wants to be!
Tashan carries strong traits of the seventies/eighties film – a dash of anger, a dose of romance, a bit of melodrama, some comedy, full-on songs (completely lip-sync-ed), characters that essentially have no locus-standii or rooted to any connectible reality, lost-and-found childhood lovers, an elaborate dishum-dishum climax & a larger-than-life hideous villain!
But the director (Vijay Acharya) simply forgot that when Manmohan Desai strung together all this, he topped it off with a congrous narration and perhaps just that bit of magic, which makes the viewers of that generation still fondly remember those 70 mm creations!
I’ll not dwell on the story, because one can’t dwell too much on vacuum. I can’t even really comment on the script, because it so shamelessly meanders that it would make a jaywalking drunkard look like a marching army leiutenant!
I’ll come straight to the performances – Anil Kapoor aggrieves and irritates and does not just get on your nerves, he nauseously tramples upon it and then sadistically rubs salt over it. What starts off as an interesting character, with his faux English and garish elaboration, is – within a few reels – converted into a torture factory. Didn’t someone inform the director that over-dose of anything is dangerous? It hurt more because Kapoor is one of my favorite stars, and to see him go through this crass caricature pained.
Kareena looks good and performs pretty adequately (given the feeble script), and her flourescent bikini definitely adds brilliance. Saif is just about average – the same, basically – a non-serious flirt, naughty- yet- good at heart bloke. Haven’t we seen him do all this in Tara Rum Pum, Salaam Namaste, et al before? And psst, here’s a secret – the two are not exactly paired together, so all that pre-release hype of their first film two-gether (after their pair started), was well…just a hype!
Finally, we come to Akshay Kumar – the sole saving grace! If it hadn’t been for him, the film would have been a total washout. In fact, his portions in the second half are the film’s key highlights and the most interesting, entertaining and enjoyable parts.
Yeah, of course, the second highlight is Vishal-Shekhar’s super music . I am still hooked on to Dil dance maare, and even though it looked forced into the script, it was pretty good to see as well. In fact, full marks to Acharya for the song picturizations (with inspired choreography).
The film moves over one exotic locale to other – from the breathtakingly expansive Leh/Ladakh to the dreamy Kerala backwaters to the no-nonsense Mumbai streets to the sweeping Rajasthani sand-dunes to the clutter of Kanpur and the Ganga-washed ghats of Haridwar, with the occasional detour into the archaic cobbled Greek streets and crisp blue Hellenic Medittaranean shores. The cinematographer deserves kudos for his outstanding work in capturing the beauties from such a diverse back-drop.
In totality, it is a very disappointing Yash Raj Films – even though last year their films weren’t really burning up the chart, still the content was pretty interesting (barring, perhaps, Laga Chunri Mein Daag, I actually enjoyed all the others – including Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, which I discovered I relished better in second viewing).
Sadly, Tashan is a deserved flop!
Overall – Avoid