Monday, June 29, 2009

Ek Chatur Idea and How to travel, when in Mumbai

Its something that almost all of us who travel in Mumbai observe. especially when we are returning towards our homes on the sweaty and crowded evenings. Faces - Faces that tell stories - of people who are tired, who are weary and who are returning after "god-knows what kind of day at work". The usual scene inside a public mode of transport is - Men either thinking or sleeping. Young girls perpetually busy on their mobiles, women lost in their thoughts about preparing meals after a tiring day. Yes, life is tough here. And oh did I forget the "horny" drivers, the motionless traffic, the ubiquitous smoke, the permanently "under-construction" infrastructure and add to all of these nightmares, the incessant Rains –all of them contributing towards the agony of reaching home. My purpose for pointing out this fatigued atmosphere is something that I happened to experience today.

In midst of all of the above mentioned factors, since last few days - the BEST bus service has started a new initiative. On the two screens installed inside the bus, they regularly show popular hindi film songs especially old songs. Its not as if this is an "out-of-the-box" idea, but it surely seems to be working. Why Old songs? – coz of the wide target audience that the public transport caters too. Now, as I entered Bus no. 266 on a rainy evening, I heard two glasses – clinking against each other and out came Vijay Arora holding his guitar. Zeenat Aman started singing “chura liya hai tumne jo…bolo ticket…” – seeing me getting inside the bus, the conductor was quick to pounce.

As the journey went on, after the “yaadon ki baarat” song, some “badly-made, less said about them” commercials came and went without disturbing the Corner Seat Uncle from his slumber. Inside the bus, the atmosphere was like the first paragraph of this write up – dull and boring. A little while later, the bus – like a giant elephant roared, stuttered and halted. The aunty sitting ahead of me got irritated.

“ye roz-roz ka traffic jam ho gaya hai…”

The visuals on the screen inside the bus flickered and then began the song. Mehmood, Kishore Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Saira Banu – “Ek Chaturnaaar….”. Now I consider this song as one of the most difficult songs ever to be composed and sung in hindi films. Manna Dey & Kishore Kumar were the singers and of course RD Burman’s music. The song had just begun and my eyes were instantly fixed to the screen. People in the bus were still fighting with either their or the city’s demons. As the song progressed, Mehmood’s antics began – “jis naari ka das…” – Back came the answer from Kishorda. And the battle on screen had just begun. I started to sing along, the guy sitting next to me started to talk on his cell phone. The Bus was still at its snail’s speed. The conductor had probed everyone over ticket and was now glued to the screen.

On screen, the “ghoda-chatur, ghoda-chatur” conversation began amongst the singers and actors. It started to turn hilarious. I could hardly control, I laughed out. A few men in the bus now started enjoying the song. A girl stopped staring outside the window and looked at the screen. The guy next to me put his cell down. The Deep Slumber Uncle now moved his head and in a while was staring at the screen like a kid. People started watching the song. They saw Mehmood confused with his harmonium keys. Sunil Dutt confused over the words. Kesto Mukherjee with his Chaplinsque moustache permanently confused. Inside the bus, those weary faces, those tired souls smiled. A sense of cheerfulness spread amongst the passengers. It was a wonderful sight, watching those “lightened” faces. Almost everyone knew about the song. By the time Mehmood had jumped from the window and the song had reached its ultimate crescendo – It was an amazing sight. Kishore Kumar had psychologically strangled Mehmood. I laughed out so loud that a few passengers were taken aback but chose not to respond. Infact they too smiled. Happiness had spread through the air. The smoke was now having a bad time. It was choking. Happiness was the cause. The bus in the meantime had started traveling. As the song came to an end, I was wondering at the genius of the people behind Padosan’s song and suddenly – the conductor came:

“tumko Apna Bazaar utarne ka tha na?”

And suddenly I realized that I had missed my bus stop. Movies, I tell you. It can surely work wonders on you. As Dev Benegal would put it “the magic of cinema”. I jumped out and saw the bus passing by me – in a second’s glance I saw the stern-looking conductor on his seat, smiling. No, not at me – to himself, to the song, or to the song called “life”

Note: So when you are stuck in those traffic "jams" while returning after earning your bread & "butter" – Take the BEST buses and the songs would surely provide you a reason to say "cheese"

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

No comments: