The Golden Gaans of Bappi Lahiri

Back in the 1980s when the primary sources of entertainment were Vividh Bharati and Doordarshan’s Chitrahaar, it was quite typical to wake up in the morning to neighbourhood radios playing the latest Hindi film music interspersed with advertisements and the soothing announcements of Ameen Sayani et al. The radio and TV announcers would mention the credits diligently – singer, lyricist and music director. In the latter case, there were three names that were repeated all the time – Laxmikant Pyarelal, RD Burman and Bappi Lahiri. In some of the programs which were request based (Jhumritalaya se Sonu, Monu, Deepak aur saathi farmayish karte hain…), RD Burman and Bappi Lahiri generally got more mentions. It is this upbringing, if I may say, that leads me to pick my favourite music directors of all time – RD and Bappida.

In the case of the former, there is a lot of literature by his legion of fans. Bappida always seemed to get subaltern treatment from so-called critics who were more influenced by his appearance, inarticulateness and general demeanour. Not that it matters, but those who have heard Bappida beyond the overplayed disco songs will know that he was a much bigger talent than otherwise perceived. In this post, I will list 10 songs which I don’t think most people would have heard of, let alone heard. Once you hear these songs, we can then talk.

Song #10: Jalta Hai Jiya Mera, Zakhmee (1975)

The film, according to reports, did relatively well. 1975 was the year of Deewar and Sholay, so the word “relatively” is the keyword. Produced by Tahir Hussain, brother of Nasir Hussain and father of Aamir Khan, the movie was a typical multi-starrer convoluted story based film. But like all Nasir Hussain films, this film had good music – by Bappi Lahiri. This was his first major hit score.

In the 1980s, Bappi Lahiri scored a number of films of Jeetendra which involved, what people like to call, “raunchy” song sequences. These sequences involved Jeetendra cavorting with the likes of either Sridevi or Jayaprada singing songs with “suggestive” lyrics. But, back in 1975, in his only third year of his career, he did this song featuring Rakesh Roshan and Reena Roy.

Songs #9: Main Deewani Radha Tumhari, Shikshaa (1979)

A young man, with a privileged upbringing, drives around showing off his fancy wheels. He runs over someone killing that person. When the police come to arrest him at home, his privileged surroundings intervene and the driver steps up to take the cosh. The driver goes to jail and the young man is back on the road. This does sound familiar. And very recent too. Writer M Balaiah and director S Ramanathan might well be pre-cogs when they weaved this story into their 1979 film Shikshaa. Raj Kiran plays the young man. The film did moderately in the matinee shows and faded away. With films like Mr Natwarlal and Kaala Patthar anchored by the Big B doing the rounds, this film had no chance. But we may remember this film for two songs.

It was always difficult for any singer, especially female, to break into Hindi playback singing in 1950s and 1960s when Lata Mangeshkar was around. The occasional song offered by Hemant Kumar and Salil Chowdhury notwithstanding, Arati Mukherjee would be a less familiar name for most listeners. Though popular in Bengali cinema sharing space with Sandhya Mukherjee for the coveted honour of doing playback for Suchitra Sen, Arati Mukherjee found fame in 1982 when she won the Filmfare and National Award for Do Naina Ek Kahani in Masoom. Here, she is singing this lovely Gita Govinda style song (poetry where Radha sings of her love for Krishna).

Song #7 & #8: Humse Tum Mile & Zid Na Karo, Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979)

This Mahesh Bhatt film starring Vinod Khanna was a reasonable hit but is notable for a more than significant role for Helen which got her a Filmfare award for best supporting actress. An interesting casting choice was to have Danny Dengzonpa as the son of Helen, suggesting some realistic film making techniques rather than pandering to box office formula on casting. There are two very interesting songs – a gem by Yesudas (I could not find the original film scene featuring the song. There is a Lata Mangeshkar version also).

The lyrics are by Farukh Kaiser, a lyricist who started song writing in the 1950s itself but his best work were in the late 1970s-1980s). Again, we see a lot of poetry in the songs. The second song from this film that I will direct you to is performed by Danny Denzongpa and Chandrani Mukherjee. Danny was a very competent singer with a unique voice.

Song #5 & #6:  Aawaz Di Hai & Kisi Nazar Se, Aitbaar (1985)

Mukul Anand had a brief but extremely exciting 12-15 year film making career. He started with the remake of the 1962 Gregory Peck film Cape FearKanoon Kya Karega in 1984. One year later, he took a Hitchcock classic Dial M For Murder and made a very competent remake – Aitbaar. Dimple Kapadia, Raj Babbar and Suresh Oberoi come together in this thriller and Raj Babbar as the insidious husband puts in a fine performance. The trio were however topped by Danny Denzongpa as a coughing Inspector Barua providing the denouement

Suresh Oberoi plays a ghazal singer and Bappi Lahiri produced a couple of ghazals for the film. Written by Hasan Kamaal, these two songs show the range that Bappi Lahiri was capable of. 1985 was bang in the middle of the decade and Disco Dancer, Sharaabi, Namak Halaal, etc had already made Bappi the leading contender in discos, pubs and parties everywhere. Here he was suddenly breaking the trend and producing these two gems.

Both the songs are duets featuring Bhupinder and Asha Bhonsle. I must say that Bhupinder’s voice does not quite cast well with Suresh Oberoi’s hamming. It may even be distracting. I suggest you listen to the audio and forget about the hamming.

One of the features of Bappi Lahiri’s songs is the fine poetry in his songs. While they cannot rival the greats like Shailendra, Sahir and Majrooh, Bappi Lahiri had the likes of Gauhar Kanpuri, Anjaan and Hasan Kamaal pen some fine words.

This stanza from one of the songs captures relationship between the three main characters, from the point of view of the woman. It also brings out the essence of the film’s story to follow.

Kabse khadi thi baahein pasaare
Is dil ki tanhaaiyaan
Duniyaa se kah do na ham ko pukaare
Ham kho gaye hain yahaan

Song #4: Pyaar Chahiye, Manokamna (1979)

Can we have a list of Bappida songs without Bappida singing? For that we pick a film starring Raj Kiran and Kalpana Iyer. I am not too sure anyone saw this film. I can’t find any review of this film online. This particular song, with lyrics by Indeevar, is filmed along Juhu Beach.

Song #3: Jaana Kahan Hai, Chalte Chalte (1975)

Incidentally, there are a whole lot of Bappi songs filmed on beaches. Like this one from Chalte Chalte. Vijay Anand moves in front of the camera and tries to work his elder brother’s charms.

Song #2: Zindagi Hai Zindagi, Shart (1986)

Ketan Anand, song of Chetan Anand, was a long time fan of Bappi Lahiri and had him as a music director in many films. Shart starring Naseerudding Shah, Shabana Azmi and Kanwalijit is an interesting film inspired by the Jack The Ripper story. Yesudas gives voice to this song.

Song #1: Mana Ho Tum, Toote Khilone (1978)

It is quite revealing to see the number of songs that Yesudas has sung for Bappi Lahiri. One normally associates the great singer with Salil Chowdhury or Ravindra Jain. I have already played two Yesudas songs earlier. Here is by far the best song from the duo. The film, directed by Ketan Anand, is notable for featuring Shekhar Kapur in the lead role. Not much of an actor, thankfully he was better off as a director.

And just to round it off, here is Sonu Nigam recreating Yesudas’ song.






Remembering & Re-watching Pyaasa, 1957

While roaming around Mutton Street in Nagpada area (popularly called Chor Bazaar), I entered one of those small shops which stock old cinema posters. As I was scanning through the displayed specimens of Ganga Jamuna, Suraj, Patthar Ke Sanam, etc., I tentatively asked the fellow there for Pyaasa. He pulled out a huge 3 feet tall poster, the classic one which has become an icon in Indian pop culture. I bought it there and there, Rs 1500 for it. It is still rolled up and kept in my house and I am yet to find someone who I can trust for framing it so I can hang it on my walls.

Pyaasa does that to you. The moment in the film is not in the film but immediately after. As the two lost souls walk away and The End splashes on the screen, your mind goes back to three things:

First, you are thinking:

Ye hanste hue phool / ye mehakan hua gulshan
ye rang mein aur noor mein duba hui raahen

Then you are thinking about the scene where a hungry coat-clad Vijay (Guru Dutt) helps a bhadralok load his suitcases into a taxi and gets a copper coin for it. The bhadralok mutters “what a state of affairs, educated people have turned to becoming coolies”, an ironical moment given that the copper coin he gives as payment turns out to be counterfeit.

This is immediately followed by a scene that forever puts that glimmer of hope into whatever dungeons of despair you may be in:  the scene where  Gulabo finally traces Vijay when she finds him in a lunch house trying to get a meal. (move to 28:52 in the video below)

There is nothing else one can write about this film which has not already been written. Just the thoughts that it evokes in you when you watch it. 55 years after the film, you notice the contemporaneity of the themes, themes which you can still see around you. Anurag Kashyap brought those themes out with Gulaal and for those who still didn’t get the message Piyush Mishra all but says it in the last song (and indeed the last bit) of the film.

har ek jism ghaayal, har ek ruh pyaasi
nigaho men ulajhan, dilon me udaasi

It is my personal opinion that Pyaasa is the greatest Indian film made – it is the Citizen Kane of Indian cinema. The emotional drain of Pyaasa and later Kaagaz ke Phool killed Guru Dutt but if he had survived, in my book, he would have become a greater film maker than Satyajit Ray, possibly the greatest. Where Ray was a master professional and used his craft to the fullest, Guru Dutt started with the core idea and worked backwards. He was happy to delegate all the craftsmanship duties to Abrar Alvi, VK Murthy, SD Burman and Sahir Ludhianvi. He focused on moving the audience. In hindsight, one can say that the audience walking out of the theatre in 1957 when the film was released was an indicator of Guru Dutt’s success. He evoked those emotions he wanted and those emotions frightened the audience who had innocently come to watch some song and dance extravaganza.

The Motorcycle Diaries – Movies I Watched in 2013

Valparaiso, the Chilean port town, was for many years the home of Pablo Neruda. He called it a lunatic, crazy port like a man with disheveled hair in his Oda a Valpariaso. When Che Guevara and Alberto Granada, having disposed of their ill-fated motorbike, ride into Valparaiso sitting in the cabin of a truck, Che starts reciting this poem and is spontaneously joined by the truck driver. This, to me, was the reason to watch this film.

I had read The Motorcycle Diaries a few years followed by Che’s account of the Cuban Revolutionary War. I have his other works including the Bolivian Diaries and the African Dream (as yet unread). Having this background and with all that is written about Che, one must ask what is it that a movie can give that is not already known. The answer, as I said earlier, is best explained by the above passage.

One must see the film to experience South America. Stripped of the political messages, the film is a road trip movie without the crass American humour. The film lingers tenderly on the landscape of the continent as it moves from ranches of Argentina into the southern Andes of Chile then to the arid dry Atacama with its silver mines then climbing up to Machu Pichu and then coming back down to the Amazon rainforests. Every place has its uniqueness but there is a common thread throughout which the two travelers highlight – a continent where two diverse races struggling to create a co-existence.

There are many deviations from the book – one of the reasons being that Alberto Granada supplied half the material from his own memory. But this post is not a review or criticism of the film. It is a piece on the ideas being brought out by the film. In the book, one can easily discern the slow evolution in Che’s worldview. There are key moments – the miner couple who joins them in the Chilean desert, the leprosy hospital with the patients divided from the rest of the world by the river and so on. The film seems to exaggerate some of these scenes.

But the success of the film lies in the fact that it makes you one of them – you are going through the same experiences and in your mind, you are making the same arguments that Che is probably making. Whether you agree with his world view or not, you have the opportunity to broaden your mind and consider the development of that world view.

One must also remember that while Guevara is the more famous and by default central figure, one cannot ignore the contribution of Granada. After all it was his idea to travel around the continent. In the movie, he is made out to be a guy looking for the easy way out, making up stories to con people to letting them spend the night in the barn for free or getting a round of drinks on the house. But this aspect of the character is balanced by his regular acceptance of what is the right thing to do. The real Alberto Granada makes a cameo appearance in the final scene of the film – watching the plane taking off in Bogota with Guevara on board.

Iconic Indian Films Revisited: Do Aankhen Barah Haath

2013 is going to be the year of the revisiting (and in some cases, watching for the first time) iconic films.  The Sight and Sound Top 250 and IMDB Top 250 take care of world cinema. For Indian films, specifically Hindi, I did a small list for myself – my own picks for iconic films right from Raja Harishchandra to whatever shit is getting released today. After watching each film, I thought of putting down some words – not a review, not a criticism, not an IMDB trivia bit. Rather, describe a key insight that I may have gathered from it. Being a person with a fondness for things related to the humanities, most of these insights deal with the ideas present in the films. Observations on the technical aspects of the films are avoided because a) I am not qualified and b) There is enough material by experts and film students on the same. Remember these are the greatest movies.

Do Aankhen Barah Haath which features in my top 10 Hindi film list (I haven’t made an all languages list but if I do, I am sure it will feature in the top 50).

The intriguing opening scene
Image Source:

In the context of the current rage (or outrage) against rapists and the screeching demand for capital punishment, the subject of this film from 1958 might seem extremely utopian and almost unreal. However, present generation folks who think this a story of a lunatic need not be outraged. Even in the 1920s, the fellow who did this project was called a lunatic by his peers. In short, irrespective of the times, if someone tries to do something that deals with humane treatment of groups like criminals, he or she will be called a lunatic.

The greatness of Do Aankhen Barah Haath is not the idea itself. Neither is it the production value which one must know is of the highest order (given the available technology of that time). The greatness of this film is in the successful marriage of the two. This is best explained by describing this particular scene which has got imprinted into my consciousness.

6 roughneck, seemingly incorrigible death row convicts have just been told that they will be released from jail and will have to go live in a farm with jailer Adinath. The screen fades out and becomes pitch black. There is a cut here of course. This black screen suddenly gets split down the middle as you realise they are the gates of the jail and they are being opened. Six silhouettes are walking out. You see their lumpen massess trudging out. No faces. Each one as unidentifiable as the other. As they cross the gate, they come into the sunshine. You see their clothes – they have changed their clothes from prisoner stripes to their own clothes. Each person is wearing a different shade (this is black and white, so cannot say different colour). As they come into the sunshine, they turn back and look into the camera smiling partly at the joy of being free and partly because they are amused at this whole idea of living in a farm. Now you can see each one of them clearly. Each one has his own unique features and personalities – Tamanna, Keshav, Kishen, Shankar, Hiroo and Jalia Nai.

The concept of the film sits in this scene – the transformation of the non-human criminal identified by serial number and his crime into a unique personality with a name, a swagger and a mind of his own. The story carries on of course and there are many events that occur. But this use of black and white photography, the screenplay and, shall I say, bindaas performance of the six actors playing the convicts make this scene extremely powerful. There are other powerful scenes too but this one, at the cost of repeating myself, is outstanding.

There are flaws in this film. The female lead character in the film is extremely strong. There is the obvious attraction to a woman for six convicts who have been living away from society. But instead of playing the victim, she stands up to them. But, she is the second person after the jailer to treat them as normal human beings. When one of the convicts gets his kids over, she is the one who teaches them how to take care of children and in the process kindling in them the hope that they are good people and they can lead normal lives. A half decent actress would have brought out the power of this character and the top actresses would have truly explored the many nuances of it. But V Shantaram had to choose his wife. Sandhya, the lead actress, is by far one of the worst actresses ever. Of course, being the wife of a producer-director helps getting acting jobs. But she does know how to dance which she had to learn before working on Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje.

In the end, does this film mean anything in this day and age? As a student of human nature (and one who has been using it in his trade for quite some time now), I can say that the premise of the film is not untrue. People do change – given the right environment, impetus and encouragement. And what was an experiment in the film can very well be made into a large project. But in the process of making it into a large project, there is a key element that usually gets lost out and therefore leads to failure. In the entire film, Adinath’s only weapon is his trust on the convicts and the faith he has on his theory that his good intentions will thaw the cold criminal mind. He does not carry any firearms, he does not lock the doors or fence the farm, etc. I am not sure whether in a large project, where many Adinaths are required to manage, coordinate and execute the plans, how many of them will be able to sustain that same level of faith and trust. That very few people follow Gandhism is not a reflection on the quality of the thought, rather it is the reflection on the strength required in the individual to live a Gandhian way.

Useful links:

Aye Malik Tere Bandhe Hum (SLYT)

A piece by Raghu Krishna from 2003 “The Eyes Have It” where he writes of the tugging of his heart by by the film.

On Evil, Ideals and Not Sticking to the Past

The Evil One is a common character right from The Bible and the epics through Shakespeare and the Gothic novels right down to The Dark Knight Rises. There are infinite personifications of evil in all the arts, each artist trying to outdo the other in their attempt to horrify or terrify the audience. There is evil in real life also – Hitler and Nazis are the embodiment of all evil for Jews. The physical descriptions of these characters always focus on certain deformities or anatomical abnormalities or idiosyncrasies of the Evil guy – the ten heads of Ravan, the body-less Nazgul, the tooth-brush moustachioed Hitler, the artificial respirator powered Darth Vader and now the anaesthesia-injector-mask of Bane.

The character of Bane in the film is a continuation of the canonical style of representing an evil person, more powerful and more invincible than anything imagined. More than the literary (or comic book) representation, the vileness and inhumanity of the character is manifest in the cold-blooded performance of Tom Hardy. In fact, in the entire trilogy, Nolan ensured that the villains were loud and in your face and there was a full exhibition of their intellect, resourcefulness and power juxtaposed with a complete lack of concern for humanity and parts thereof.

The Dark Knight Rises demonstrated evil and the final performance has ensured Tom Hardy’s Bane will be in the Gallery of Horrors of all time villains in cinema history.

But the film also showcased another form of evil.

Italo Calvino edited an anthology of stories called Fantastic Tales. Originally published in Italian, there were editions in all major languages including English. And like all anthologies, one of the richest pieces of writing in an anthology is the introduction, in this case written by Italo Calvino himself. Calvino explains the two styles of writing – the visionary and the everyday. In the visionary style, all elements are made physical and visual (through words of course). There are detailed descriptions of the fantastic, the evil, the terrifying, etc whether they be ghosts, demons, monsters, trolls, vampires, etc. In a visionary style, the supernatural is real and the author makes you see it as if it actually happened. The everyday, however, is different. Here the fantastic is hardly mentioned. Rather it is the everyday images, a curtain fluttering in a window of an unoccupied house or ostentatious furnishings in a house with poor lighting (a common Edgar Allan Poe style), that creates the fantastic, the terrifying, the tension in the gut. There is evil but you can’t see it. You don’t even know for sure, sometimes.

The Dark Knight Rises had another evil hidden by the normality of human life. It was not apparent in the first two films of the trilogy but with the story fitting into place with the third film, this evil entity manifests itself quite clearly – Gotham.

Gotham is a city which has lost its soul. It prefers to worship two-faced frauds as heroes. Rather than chase the terrorists they want the vigilante to be kept out – no vigilante, no crime. And when the city is under siege, everyone looks at the other person to do something.  The evil of an apathetic city is far more insidious than the overt violence of Bane or The Joker.

When a city fails its citizens, it destroys hope. It makes everyone cynical, pessimistic. There is no effort or energy left to do anything, to even bother thinking of progress. A villain like Bane can still be fought, vainly of course, but an effort is still made. However, when your neighbours, your councillors, your mayors, your police commissioners, your citizens are happy living a lie, unconcerned with the discontent that it is getting triggered, then you can’t do anything but be sucked into that apathy. That is a bigger evil than the visible enemy.

The scene where Bane crashes into the stock exchange and has certain trades inserted into the exchange records had all the financial whizkids and geeks merrily chirping away. In various forms of stockmarket-speak, the geeks tried to explain to us laymen the intricacies of trading and why technically the scene shown in the film was wrong. At the time of seeing the film, being completely unattached and unsympathetic to stocktrading, I simply ignored the details of the scene and instead had a simple take-out from it – re they have engineered to make Bruce Wayne bankrupt. Right, got it. Move on.

But after seeing the reaction afterwards, I went back to the theme of the apathetic evil city  –  here is a system which none of us ordinary people have a clue about. Off the millions who would have seen the film, only the 1% who work in NYSE or BSE or LSE etc would have paid attention to the details. The financial system in real life is a black box that takes billions of dollars, money earned by people through their labour, and plays with it in a giant virtual roulette. Investors trying to get clarity or visibility into it are fobbed off using jargon, technical descriptions and mis-representation. This black box is known only to a small number of people. These small number of people are motivated not by the responsibility they have to the people whose money they have taken but rather how much money they can make. And to make money,  if it means dumping your responsibilities, then so be it.

The last 5-7 years has seen some of the worst incidents of unethical behaviour in the financial markets. These incidents may or may not have been illegal but they were heartbreaking for millions. More importantly, they led to huge deficit of trust in the profession. From personal experience of meeting a few affected people, the “Investment Banker”, the “Stock Analyst” and the “Fund Manager” are words which sit up there with frauds, loan sharks and Judas.

Whether Nolan genuinely made an error or was it a deliberate distortion of the technicalities, I do not know. But the scene along with the post-film discussion just adds to the terror of the city on its citizens.

But why did Nolan make Gotham evil?

The answer is because Nolan’s Batman is not a vigilante.

Batman as a comic character has many representations. To me each representation is independent and I have, over the years, broadened my mind to ensure that I unload any baggage from past representations. Therefore Bob Kane’s Batman is a completely different personality as compared to Nolan’s Batman.

In the earlier films, Batman was there to save the city. Or so we thought. The city instead called him a murderer and wanted to have nothing with him. So why does Batman come back to save this city in spite of having given everything to it? It took me 2 weeks to understand it (with a little help from some triggers through my other readings like Gorky’s Mother which I started reading on my Kindle.)

When Nelson Mandela came out of prison, instead of immediately ordering all his cohorts to go take revenge on the white Afrikaaners, an act which would have made logical sense to all, he instead started talking in Afrikaans. Then he started playing rugby and wearing the springbok jersey. He did a number of things which were completely unreal for most rational observers. Because, rational observers can never justify living to an ideal. For Mandela, his ideal was a country of multiple tribes coming together to form a single nation. To achieve that he had to do his part. If he faltered, then the very purpose of having ideals would be lost.

Rationality says if there are constraints, optimise; or cut your losses and get out. But idealists don’t get out. They stay there till the end. Most often they lose their lives before they are able to achieve their goals. But a few manage. Mandela managed. Batman managed too.

Batman is not a vigilante. He was a person whose ideal was a crime free city, where there will be no more orphans like him. He was not concerned about whether the people of Gotham were with him or not. It did not matter to him. What mattered was that if he did not carry out his role till the very end, no one, not even the most optimistic of orphan boys, would ever again have any hope. He had to do what he had to do. He had to hit the very soul of the city and awaken it, to restore the sense of citizenship that drives human society.

This huge shift from the traditional Kapow! Thump! stuff of Batman comics is significant. While Nolan does credit re imaginings of Batman by Frank Miller in the ’80s, his and Bale’s final output is a different personality altogether. His villains are different. And his Gotham is different – it’s a human city but it is an evil one.

… and Bruce Willis saves the world

So this fellow lists out ten Hollywood plot generators for action / disaster / save the world movies.  They are interesting but not really convincing.

I present my list of  Action / Disaster / War lots with how to use them

1. Bruce Willis Saves the World

  • Figure out a new way to f#$@ the planet – e.g. nukes all over the place; renegade comet; disgruntled German bounty hunters, etc
  • Give him a reluctant partner who is good at breaking locks or hacking into computers
  • Women are optional though a separated wife helps in adding angst and an occasional dramatic moment
  • Extensive research on guns, rocket launchers, cars crashing into choppers, tanks, missiles, space ships, astronauts carrying guns in space, manual switches on nuke bombs, spaceship parts made in Taiwan are essential

2. The Nam

  • Most Americans still can’t point out where Vietnam is on the map. But they love to see a grizzly haired hobo lumber through paddy fields and chuck napalm bombs on little Vietcong soldiers
  • Mandatory scene of hairy hobo having an emotional epiphany seeing a young Vietnamese mother taking care of her infant in a rain of bullets
  • Hairy hobo knows exactly how to win the war. Lyndon B Johnson, the US Army, Douglas McArthur, etc are just too theoretical

3. Daylight Saving Time (took the line from an XKCD piece, can’t find the link now)

  • Cook up a scientific experiment and announce that it has all gone wrong – experiment to increase immortality has converted humans into baboons; genetic experiments have been compromised and in the control of communists;
  • Remember scientists can’t do action; and those who do action don’t know science. That’s the creative space for dialogue writers. Here’s a sample

“Remember the laws of thermodynamics in zero gravity”
“What does that mean in English”
“The world will explode in 3 hours”
“What can we do?”
“We need to reach the Control Room and switch of the Brain”
“Follow Me”

4. The dormant volcano

  • A volcano that has never erupted in 5000 years gets fed up with the local politics and erupts. You need to plan for the scene of lava flowing through the streets in downtown NY, LA, London, etc.
  • Retired / forgotten government official in some nondescript department becomes the only man who can save millions
  • Every person in the city except the politicians becomes Mother Theresa.
  • Volcanoes can shut down airports. They can also be used as locations for Mordor.

General Rules

Always follow the Clint Eastwood Rule: Have two people in any action / war movie – one of them does the talking, the other does the killing.  This rule was first executed successfully for Where Eagles Dare.

Every movie has one great line. Broadsword calling Danny Boy; I’ll be back; … This must be respected.

Ok, running out of ideas. More later.


After Dhan Ta Naan, I will now take up another brilliant song from Kaminey, Fataak

There’s a clear message about AIDS and unsafe sex and all that. However, it is not preachy unlike most others. In fact, there is a subtle hint of sarcasm at Indian attitudes. I will focus more on the use of a few words or phrases.

“bhavra” – a bee, no doubt. What is a bee doing here?  I have two guesses a) the “sting” of the virus floating around human habitat and b) “bhavra” a better way to say “bhadva” i.e. a pimp – some one who tempts you in to lust. By a fair stretch of imagination, “bhavra” could mean your own death warrant in the form of a debilitating disease.

ke bhavra bhavra aaya re,
gun gun karta aaya re,
sun sun karta galiyon se
ab tak koi na bhaaya re

fatak, fatak..

sauda kare saheli ka
sar pe tel chameli ka
kaan mein ittar ka phaya re

fatak, fatak

ke bhavra bhavra aaya re,
gun gun karta aaya re

Trying a free verse translation

The bee flies in
Buzzing through the streets
Still looking for its prey

Fatak, Fatak

Lo, here he trades off a friend
Who has come with hair glistening with Jasmine oil
And ears doused with the scent of roses

The verses that follow describe the different consequences and manifestations post the sting.

Piyush Mishra and Swanand Kirkire

Three songs in the recent past that I have heard, I would like to write about. Given the current elections climate, some of these lyrics seem so eloquent and thought provoking.

Let’s start with Piyush Mishra and two songs from Gulaal – Aarambh (sung by him) and Ranaji (sung by Rekha Bharadwaj)

Aarambh first:

In a strong war-cry like tone, Piyush Mishra sings:

Aarambh Hai Prachand,
Bol Mastako Ke Jhund
Aaj Jung Ki Ghadi Ki Tum Guhar Do

Straight and direct, a call for war. Further on, he advises:

Ishr Ki Pukaar Hai
Yeh Bhagwat Ka Saar Hai
Ki Yudh Hi To Veer Ka Pramaan Hai
Kauravo Ki Bheed Ho Ya Pandavo Ka Neer Ho
Jo Lad Saka Hai Wo Hi To Mahaan Hai

And further on

Jis Kavi Ki Kalpana Mein Zindagi Ho Prem Geet
Uss Kavi Ko Aaj Tum Nakaar Do
Bheegti Nasso Mein Aaj, Phoolti Rago Mein Aaj
Aaj Aag Ki Lapat Ka Tum Baghaar Do

There is no metaphorical thinking in this song. Very theatrical but without using crappy Bollywood junk words. Piyush Mishra goes into allegory with Ranaji

Haayeee Ranaji Maare Gusse Mein Aaye
Aiso Balkhaaye,
Agiya Barsaaye,
Ghabraaye Marro Chain

Sounds like typical chamiya village item numbers. Then comes the punch lines used to describe the proverbial Ranaji’s temperament (Translation provided for those who don’t understand Hindi – tried to get as much of the spirit as possible)

  1. Jaise door desh ke tower mein ghus jaaye aeroplane (Like how an aeroplane piled onto a tower of a far off country)
  2. Jaise sareaam eeraaq mein jam gaye Uncle Sam (Like how Uncle Sam made merry in Iraq in front of everyone)
  3. Jaise bisleri ki botal pee ke ban gaye Englishman (Like how drinking “mineral water” differentiates an English educated guy from a rustic bumpkin)
  4. Jaise har ek baat pe democracy me lag gayee band (Like how democracy gets f*** at the drop of a hint)
  5. Jaise bin baat ka Afghanistan ka baj gaya bhaiya band (Like how Afghanistan got f*** for no fault)

The movie of course has its merits. I recommend listening to the soundtrack independently.

Now to this song from Welcome to Sajjanpur. I watched the movie on cable the other day and I quite liked it. A light comedy from Shyam Benegal with all the usual sarcasm and jibes at life and society. The music by Shantanu Moitra was quite pleasant if not outstanding. I would like to point out to two songs – Aadmi Aazad Hai and Munni Ki Bari

Aadmi Aazad Hai first. Sung by Kailash Kher, it’s sounds like all feel-good patriotic numbers but for two things – the ektara twangs that give it a nice folk (esp eastern India) touch and these lines by Swanand Kirkire:

Khil Rahi Thi Kali Kali,
Mehke Thi Gali Gali
Aap Tabhi Saanp Huye,
Hum Ho Gaye Chhipkali
Satta Ki Yeh Bhuk Vikat,
Aadi Hai Na Ant Hai

Abb Toh Prajatantra Hai
Aadami Aazaad Hai

Arre Jiski Laathi Usaki Bhains,
Saanp Ne Bana Diya
Hey Note Ki Khan Khan Sunaake Vote Ko Gunga Kiya
Party Fund Yagya Kund Ghotaala Mantra Hai

Abb Toh Prajatantra Hai
Aadami Aazaad Hai

No longer is it a feel-good number but some really good lines telling many things within the mood of hope. The chorus line “Abb toh prajatantra hai, aadmi aazaad hai” are both a celebration as well as a plea, a prayer of hope.

Then there’s this eunuch song which may be a good dance number but do observe these few lines:

Are Mardo Ne Khub Kiya, Haan Ji
Are Aurat Ne Khub Kiya, Haan Ji
Are Dono Ne Khub Kiya Raaj,
Ki Aayi Abb Munni Ki Baari

Aa Gai Hai Munni Bai,
Dholak Pe Mohar Lagayyo
Munni Bai Kohi Jitayyo
Dham Dolak Baajegi,
Munni Bai Jitegi
Dukh Ki Ghadiya Bitengi,
Aur Munni Bai Jitegi

This is another post on Hindi lyrics. I had done on Gulzar’s Jai Ho and Piyush Mishra’s Kaala Bandar.