15 May 2019

The Nav Ketan Ladies

I seem to have been gone a long time. Well, seven months is a long time in blog land. It was an enforced sabbatical that went on far longer than I'd estimated. But... like all good things, all bad things must also come to an end. In the meantime, a blog acquaintance contacted me to ask if I would write for an online magazine that is all about films - not reviews of films as I usually do, or song lists, but a personal essay. We threw around a few ideas - ideas that I'd often thought of, and even remarked upon either in my own writing, or in comments on other blogs I frequent. She found one of them rather interesting and asked if I would be interested in expounding on it. I hadn't written anything for these seven months, so I was a bit hesitant, but it was only a momentary hesitation. I had been given an opportunity to brush the cobwebs off my writing and write about something that interested me. It seemed the right time to break my self-imposed exile from my blog. So, onward then, to the article that ended my sabbatical.

14 October 2018

House No. 44

Directed by: MK Burman
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Starring: Dev Anand, Kalpana Kartik, 
KN Singh, Bhagwan Singh, Rashid Khan, 
Jagdish Raj, Sheila Vaz, Kumkum, Shivraj
Madhu (Dustedoff), Bollyviewer and I have all sometime or the other rued that we often follow great songs into bad movies. For a long time in our early movie-watching days, we assumed, I think, that a great score meant the movie would be equally good. We learnt, over multiple experiences, that that is not always the case. We still occasionally fall for it. But this time, I was wary. I love Dev Anand. Phaili hui hai sapno ki baahein is one of my all-time favourite songs. And this was a film I hadn't watched before - yes, a Dev Anand film that I hadn't seen. How could that be? A supposedly-noir film too. Matters had to be remedied.

5 October 2018

An Intangible Legacy

I'd really liked RD Burman, The Man The Musician. While I'd mixed feelings about Gaata Rahe Mera Dil, Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal's selection of 50 songs, their immaculate research still made it an invaluable addition to my books on Hindi cinema. So, buying SD Burman: The Prince Musician (Tranquebar, Westland Publications Private Limited, ₹799) was a foregone conclusion. 

1 October 2018

In Tandem: SD Burman – Majrooh Sultanpuri

My previous post came about because Hemant Kumar’s demise coincided with Dev Anand’s birthday. Coincidentally, nine out of ten songs in that post were composed by SD Burman. Today is SD Burman’s birth anniversary. It is also the birth date of another man, who was closely associated with him – lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri. 
SD with Majrooh and Anand Bakshi

26 September 2018

In Memory

Today is Dev Anand’s birthday – he would have been 95 – and, coincidentally, Hemant Kumar’s 29th death anniversary. Why am I mentioning this? Because, despite the fact that many of Dev Anand’s earlier songs were sung by Mohammed Rafi and his later ones by Kishore Kumar, Dev has had many other singers give playback for him. One of them was Hemant Kumar.

23 September 2018

The Masters: Rajinder Krishan

06.06.1919 23.09.1987
Rajendra Krishan Duggal or Rajinder Krishan was born on 6 June 1919 in Jalalpur Jattan (in present-day Pakistan). A precocious child, he was always interested in writing stories and poetry, much to the consternation of his parents. When he moved to Simla (now Shimla) in his teens to live with his eldest brother, Madholal, he was a frequent visitor to the poetry gatherings that were held in that hill town. In fact, Simla was famous for hosting all-India mushairas every year. Attending one such gathering when he was barely 15, the young Rajendra plucked up enough courage to recite one of his poems the response was staggering. In an interview given much later, Rajinder Krishan would affirm that the poem garnered him much praise from the celebrated poet Jigar Moradabadi; praise that gave him the confidence that he could write well. 

17 September 2018

More Adventures... and Some Misadventures

Photo: Young A
We were back in our hometown, and Dad’s birthday was looming. The head count was beginning to go out of control. At one point, my cousin had enough – ‘I think we should stop inviting people,’ he said. In principle, we all agreed. But we were stuck – if we called these relatives, then surely, we should call those relatives too? But finally, even we gave up – the guest list was the size of a small wedding.

My sister and I diligently worked our way through the list; in some cases, having to call to invite someone and then ask for someone else’s telephone number. My sister, sotto voce: If we don’t even have their telephone number, why are we inviting them? Well, apparently, ‘because’… By the second day of cold calling people, my sister and I had our delivery pat: ‘Hello, is this …? I am ….' 'Who?' 'Oh, elder/younger daughter of Mr and Mrs…' Still no idea who we are? 'Oh, we belong to this family; we are ….’s granddaughter. No, I’m not in Bombay/US; that’s my sister…. We would like to invite you to our father’s 84th birthday.' Who’s our father? Well, he is …. Through all of this, my mother sat like a sphinx. (That’s her usual expression.)

11 September 2018

My Indian Adventures – Kerala

Photograph: Young A

Soon, too soon it seemed, we were winging our way back to our hometown. My sister and S’s brother joined us, and sundry cousins made their way home in a couple of days. We were all in town to celebrate my father’s 84th birthday, which had morphed from a small, intimate family occasion to a big, messy, extended family celebration in a manner that only fellow Indians will understand. Dad’s only request when we had talked to him last year was that his children be there, and that we invite his only surviving sister and her children. Turned out mom wanted to call some of her closest relatives – her ‘girl gang’ so to speak – and it seemed odd, then, that we wouldn’t invite my dad’s other nephews and nieces. Or even others from my mom’s extended family – I mean, you could hardly call one sibling and not the other.  You can see where this is going. Right?

7 September 2018

My Indian Adventures – Bombay

Whew! It seems like I’ve been gone ages. Certainly, it’s been a while since I last tended to my blog. Usually, I tend to pile up a stock of articles with which to keep my blog going while I’m away. This time, I didn’t get a chance to do so. Of course, there were plenty of drafts. But, as they say about the plans of mice and men, I didn’t have a good Internet connection. After initially trying to muddle through however I could, I happily gave up the attempt. It was nice to be disconnected for a change. Not having a smartphone meant I was completely free. I had an ordinary flip phone, and initially, I found it irritating I couldn’t look up a link or figure out the address. Slowly, I began to enjoy the freedom. You don’t realise just how much you’re bound to your devices until they aren’t there anymore.

25 June 2018

Jogan (1950)

Directed by: Kidar Sharma
Music: Bulo C Rani
Lyrics: Kabir (bhajan), 
Meera Bai (bhajans), 
Pandit Indra, Butaram Sharma, 
Himmat Rai Sharma
Starring: Nargis, Dilip Kumar, 
Baby Tabassum, 
Protima Devi, Poornima, 
Rajendra Kumar
My Nargis retrospective continues with one of the finest films made during the period. Kidar Sharma’s Jogan. Based on a one-line idea told to him by producer Chandulal Shah (who had been inspired  by an English film in which a man falls in love with a nun), Kidar Sharma took on the challenge of shooting the entire film in 29 days with stars like Nargis and Dilip Kumar. This was one of Nargis’s finest roles, and she – as usual – rose to the occasion.

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