Thursday, January 28, 2010

Phir Mile Sur

The reactions to Phir Mile Sur, the sequel to Mile Sur Mera Tumhara have not been nice. People have been saying that it is not up to the mark of its predecessor. they are pointing out to the grave mistake of passing over Sachin Tendulkar and A P J Abdul Kalam. While I agree with that people may say, I still feel that the new version fits in our times.

Let me explain.

The first version, released in 1988, came out of nowhere and captured our imagination, and it is not hard to imagine why. Here was a song, with just a line sung in many variations, by a host of known persons. In those days, when we had just Doordarshan for entertainment, it was easy to reach out to a large audience. Also, this was a time when we were starved for celebrity viewings. Fast forward 22 years later, and it is a different India today. There are more than 100 channels to choose from, that compete for the average 10 seconds of the viewers' attention span. The media today is saturated with celebrity news. We don't miss our celebrities as much as we used to. In such a scenario, it is impossible for the song to have the same impact.

When the song was first released in 1988, we were still a closed, protected and socialist society. Our only celebrity news came from rags like Stardust, Filmfare, Screen, Manohar Kahaniyan, Sports Today etc. To be able to see 37 celebrities in one song was a novelty, and people were hooked. I remember people playing the game of naming all the personalities, and when the names became fairly known to everyone, identifying them. But for the sequel, we knew what to expect. The only question was who to expect, and people had their own expectations. When these were not met, they protested, which they could not do in 1988. In 2010, however, the media is saturated with celebrity news, people are famous just for being famous. Them doing a crossover to other media is commonplace, and with user feedback a norm now, people are more vocal now about their choices. Hence, there was no protest when Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar did not participate in 1988, but when Sachin Tendulkar is omitted, people and press go to town about it.

Another difference between the two pieces is the music. Both have the same melody, but the interpretations vary a lot. In the 1988 version,  each artist gave his own interpretation of the melody. The pieces sung by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and M Balamuralikrishna are markedly different. Each has a different interpretation to the tune. Fast forward to the present, and frankly, the pieces sung by all the artists does sound a lot similar. The approach has changed, and the culprit here, is the song itself. In 1988, it came without any expectations. The artists were free to interpret it in their own ways. But over a period of time, the song has become an anthem, and people approach it as such, with a lot of reverence. The people who composed it now have approached it with a lot of reverence, not changing it too much, just their own personal tweaks. Hence my earlier judgment that it was one big jazz number. Each artist has taken the basic structure of the song and improvised on it. But none has been very adventurous. I had great hopes on A R Rehman, Ustad Zakir Hussain Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, but even they were not too adventurous.

The earlier version was reflective of the states more than the current one. Punjab was represented by the lush fields, Kashimir by the Shikaras and the Kahwa drinking., Bengal by the metro line, Goa by the beaches, North East by the Bihu dance. People were not so important in that one. In contrast, in the current version, the celebrities represent their states. This is indicative of how as a society we have moved from a collective society to an individualistic one. The person is important, and he represents the state.

In 1988, the song ended with children running to make the tricolor, while  2009 ends with the Passing Out Parade at the IMA. We looked at out children as our future, and now, the future has matured. The song makes it clear that the future is now.

Update: Stop Presses!! Sachin will finally be doing the song!! Ah well, the user feedback worked.  Not that it will actually help the song. But this a clear example of people power. More power to the people.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vande Matram!

Heres wishing everyone a Happy Republic Day. Hope you enjoy your holiday.

And have you seen the Phir Mile Sur song on the tv today? I liked it a lot. The song it nearly 23 years old, but still retinas its message, which is relevant till today - more today than previously, in my opinion.

The concept itself is so simple - one line sung by many people in their own language, in their own style. And the array of stars is mesmerizing too. While the earlier program was smaller in scope, this one is definitely grander. Just take a look at the places. The have been to the length and breadth of India for this.

And as the musical talents show the variations to the simple tune, its absolutely mesmerizing. I counted A R Rehman, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Bhupen Hazarika, Louis Banks, Anoushka Shankar, Sivamani, Dr. L Subramaniyan, Kavita Subramaniyam, Ustad Rashid Khan, Shaan, Amir Khan (yes, thats his voice), Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Rahul Sharma, Gurdas Mann, Ustaad Zakhir Hussain, Taufiq Qureshi, Fazal Qureshi, Sonu Nigam, Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan, Ayan and Aman Ali Khan. What a list!! And thats not even the entire list, as there were many I did not recognize, each lending their own improvisation to the simple raag. Its almost like a big jazz number...and what scope!!

While the musicians lifted the piece, the sports persons and IMA passouts did manage to choke me with emotion. These are the real heroes, unsung, doing what they do best.

On this day, this song was the perfect tribute to the nation.

Long Live India!!

And Again

Vande Matram!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Good News!!!

Good news folks, WINTER IS FINALLY ON ITS WAY OUT!! I felt it today in the breeze. Its getting warmer, the sun is making its presence felt.. Nice time to be outdoors now during the day. No more wearing four layers of clothing, gloves, cap, and wishing there was some clothing that could cover your face as well, without making you look like a mugger. This weather makes want to take my bike on a log trip. Ladhak? Oh yes!! But I'll settle for Mathura, or even the Greater NOIDA highway. As long as I am out with my friends, crusin' on my bike, stopping by for a nice cup of tea.
To anyone visiting my blog (including googlebot), aaya saawan jhoom ke, so enjoy the season. And start your countdown to Holi :-)

Oh, and btw, and older post is ready here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tagged!! "5 things on my mind right now"

Nearly four years old, and I have been tagged for the first time!! Here goes:

1. I have had enough of this winters. Looking forward to summers.

2. While at the topic of change, looking for to a change of job as well.

3. I have bloated during the winters. Need start gymming soon.

4. A trip. To Ladhak. On my Bike. This is almost my wet dream!!

5. Have dinner.

And now to tag someone...I tag Renelyn Marcos. You go girl!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ek Anokhi Prem Katha...

Not all love love stories have a happy ending...and not all love stories make sense.

Theres a girl, lets call her A. She loves a boy, B. The boy B is, from all accounts, a lout. Does nothing all day except watch TV and booze. Keeps saying that he has plans for the future, grand plans. Girl A believes him, and is prepared to support him. In fact, boy B lives at her place, while the girl goes to office, earns money to support him and is generally happy with the arrangement. Now, boy B has to go, so girl A is all alone. Enter boy C, who is a bit of a simpleton. He falls for girl A. So badly, that he even decides to marry her. Girl A, being lonely, puts up with him, and boy C is very loyal to her, treating her like a princess. Girl A too likes to be treated like one. But she hasn't broken off with boy B, and boy C knows that. But he is hoping against hope that one day, she will see his love for her, also knowing that it is futile. Add to the mix is the fact that the girl also knows that boy B wont marry her, that its a dead end.
This is a Mexican standoff, where girl A and boy C stand to lose, the boy more than the girl. But each is not willing to back off either. There are love stories, and then there are these...

Update: The Mexican stand off is over!! Girl A and boy B finally decide to part ways. Boy C, still in love with girl A, but getting frustrated, hoooks up with his ex-flame. He then goes to girl A and gives her an ultimatum - either profess your love to me, or I go steady with my ex. Girl A refuses again, so boy C goes back to his ex. Last heard, they are planning to get engaged. Girl A has found another guy to fancy. I love love stories, espically how they end!! My mind is working overtime, thinking, this would make a very good movie. Think about it, theres love, theres tension, much rona dhona, suspense over who will get the girl. It all leads to the standoff, with neither party backing off. It is a suspenseful waiting game. Ten minutes to the climax, and we still don't know who will get the girl. Finally, it all unravels. Each go their separate ways. It has all the things going for it to make a dark comedy. The ending is a steal, but what an ending!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Woh bhooli dastaan...

A post, long time in preparation, finally makes its presence felt here.

The Awesomness of Wake Up Sid

A look at my blog's webstats reveals that one of my most popular posts has been my review of Wake Up Sid - even during the few months when this blog was not updated, I got traffic based on the websearch for this review. I am beginning to think that this film might just become a classic in the future, given how people still google it up. Now, this blog is not shy of playing to the gallery, so in a big to get more people, I shall talk some more about the awesomeness of Wake Up Sid.
That movie is a homage to the city is already made clear in my previous post. Hell, they did not even call it Mumbai, it was always Bombay! This issue has not been resolved till now, even 15 years after it was renamed. For old timers, it is still Bombay. But whatever you may call it, the city is still unique.
And the rains. Mumbai rains. The film makers know how to use them to their own benefits, like Ram Gopal Verma did in Satya. But unlike that movies, which caught rains in its fury, Wake up Sid catches it in its laziness.
The beginning of the movie needs mentioning. It starts on a very slow note. We see Sid,trying to learn an economic theory. But just a he starts paying attention, it wavers. Then he focuses again, only for it to waver again. A perfect introduction for the character, who is clueless and laid back. Of special note is the look of serenity on his face, as his focus wavers. We instantly know that Sid does not take life seriously.
The character of Sid is well sketched. For a person who does not know what he wants and does not even care, he shows a lot of shades in his character. They may be subdued, but they are there. In contrast, Aisha comes off as a little superficial. Big, independent girl, alone in the city, who loves all things traditional (purane gaane), falling for her boss...all these seem to be created just to make her the opposite of Sid. It is a nod to the talent of Konkana Sen Sharma that it comes off as believable. Other characters, of the mother and the father have their moments of believability. The father Anupam Kher, sleepwalks through most of his part, but the part where is scolds at Sid for failing his exams, he shows his talents as an actor. This is not a father screaming belligerently at his kid, but a frustrated father, telling his son to mend his ways. He wants to scream, but he doesn't. Instead, his voice grates in helplessness. The mother, Supriya Pathak, is endearing when she is seen trying to learn English, and also when she comes to visit Aisha when Sid id not at home. But in all this midst, there is one ultra fake character, and that is Rahul Khanna. I could not help laughing whenever he came on screen, trying to be an overstressed intellectual. I have met quite a few editors in my time, and none of them have been overstressed. On the contrary, editors, with their flunkeys, are expert at delegating, tasks to other people, while they pretend to be busy.
The decor of the office and also Konkana's home, though is done well. I happen to like homes and offices done in that manner, with a very Indian tough, bright colors, Indian motifs. Full marks to the set designer here.
Another big surprise for me was to find the song 'Shaam Tanha' by Agnee in the movie. I was not expecting it at all, and was surprised it played in the movie. To those who haven't heard the song, I highly recommend along with the other songs in the album. Also recommended on the album is 'Karvaan'.
The movie does follow a predictable path, but the able direction sets it above similar movies, though I can't think of a Hindi movie with a similar theme.
Like I said earlier, its been a long time since I wrote a review for the movie, but people are still searching for info about the move. Though 3 idiots may be a bigger hit and more talked about, I have a feeling that this move will prover to have a better staying power. Twenty years from kids from today will fondly remember this movie as an overlooked masterpiece. And if it is overlooked, it will be.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hello World

Been away for months, need to say it all over again...Hello World.

Just to share a random observation,

sitting in my room, alone, sunless light coming from the window, staring at my computer screen, listening to 'Shine on you crazy diamond' followed by 'I am a rock' will being about a sweet depression in you. Its not bad, that feeling, worth experiancing.