Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The angst of Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya

If you thought Nayan Tarse made your world go round than 'Zaar Zaar Aitbaar' will spin your world around twice over! The song 'Aitbaar' from Amit Trivedi's recent album called 'No one killed Jessica' is an amazing example of a new language of music that we as a generation are getting introduced to. It starts with an oriental instrument, a little bit of rap follows, the electronic mood settles in and then to launch the song comes Vishal Dadlani, Mame Khan and Bob and with them the sheer madness of screaming in mike and yet make it sound resonating!

Now, if I made my father hear this he would instantly take out the earphones from his ears and put it aside and then ask for an Aspirin! Well, a few years ago I too might have done that - but Amit Trivedi is getting me introduced to this madness of electronics, rock and god-knows-what-is-it-called - 'head banging?' (ahem not sure) am not sure though! But hear the song here and try to imagine the sheer angst with which it is composed. The idea of getting hurt, the idea of your faith getting trampled, the idea of faith becoming the edge of a knife and murdering you inside out! - oh man!
Hear it on mind-blasting volume!

Just yesterday I told this to my colleague while we were traveling back from the shoot: 'The mood of the song you are hearing on your earphones has to be directly proportional to the speed of the vehicle you are driving!' (it could be vice-versa too and could be as true) And its then that everything suddenly starts making sense, life starts giving you a picture of yourself -flashbacks, moments, words, memories, people, incidents and a whole lot of stuff that you would not have imagined it would come to you through that particular song!. It always happens to me. It could be any random song but remember if the mood of the song, the speed of the vehicle and the visuals that pass-by come together it can lead to amazing fruitful results like a tear, or maybe a smile and maybe- anger!

And now read the following words:
darr ka shikar hua aetbaar
dil mein daraar hua aetbaar
kare cheetkaar baahen pasaar karke
nashtar ki dhaar hua aetbaar
pasli ke paar hua aetbaar
choosay hai khoon bada khoonkhar banke..

jal bhun ke raakh hua aetbaar
ganda mazaak hua aetbaar
halli sa chaakh* hua aetbaar
raste ki khaak hua aetbaar
galta, pighalta hai, khalta hai raaton mein

Such is the angst in the words of Amitabh Bhattacharya that a 'Ganda Mazaak' suddenly makes you cringe from within! Wow - Ganda Mazaak - hasn't life done that to all of you at a particular point - and if not? wait - it might be just around the corner. Trivedi and Bhattacharya struck gold with DevD and believe me that 'Nayan Tarse' has always been the numero uno song that represents DevD so very well. The idea of loss in love - Stuff that smashes your ear drums and yet makes you 'love...', mind you - 'love the idea of loss!
How many songs could do that in last few years and thats why Amit Trivedi the man, is a very very interesting guy to keep a track of.

Now, for a fact: the songs composed by Trivedi are not so easy ones that you could humm along as you drive. His compositions are difficult to sing and to sing without any music to support. They can't be sung on college stages, amateur music competitions or in front of family members for the guests to be impressed. Their pattern is something that I am still trying to figure out. But make a list, except Iktara: Songs from DevD, Udaan, Aamir to No One Killed Jessica - all of them are amazing to hear but can't be sung easily. And that's what makes him so special.

I have a plan from January: the so-called new year resolution: To start running in early mornings and am sure Amit Trivedi's music will help me a great deal in sweating it out and how about to start the day while returning from the run and start typing all that that came to you during that run!

Bye-Bye Assisting bollywood!

P.S: Hear the song again from 1: 33 onwards: that music piece: Is that a SlumDog-A R Rahman influence?

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Patiala Tales

When you get First hand movies and Second hand books, you know you are in a Big City in India and when its the vice versa: Second Hand Movies and First hand Books, you know its a small town. Patiala is one such small town where almost everywhere you can find posters of movies that probably were a part of your childhood in the big city. Names like Tabu, K.C Bokadia, T. P Aggrawal, Sunny Deol still adorn the re-hashed movie posters and titles like Khuda Kasam, Maharaja, Trinetra are posted on the market walls, fly over pillars and street light poles. Of course there is the regular fare 'Break Ke Baad' and Guzaarish which do below average to bad business. After all who cares for stuff like 'Mercy killing' and 'Live-in, Break-up' type pseudo stuff. And oh yeah, there is a new Mall, yes..those bloody creatures have invaded this small beautiful town of Patiala with a dreadful caption: 'Patiala will never be the same again' - but I happened to meet one of my colleagues from dairy technology who lives in Patiala and had a different opinion of the Mall - he said: 'at least now there is something for us to look forward to on weekends' - well, so why am I cribbing?

A fascinating aspect of small towns of Punjab: In early winter mornings, sometimes one can see scores of young boys, girls running in their sportswear and spiked shoes - I got a feeling that our various Asian Games, Commonwealth Games medals actually come from here and of course not from those smoke-emitting cities. While having a conversation with actor, Kamal Tewari (he's the guy who played Kareena's father in Omkara. Remember the legendary dialogue he spoke: 'Jo ladki apne baap ko thag sakti hai, woh kisi aur ki kya sagi hogi?'), he gave me a list of few places to visit here: The Central Library ( a grand building but has more bricks than books), the Baradari Gardens, the Palace, the Museum and the best place he suggested: Dukh Niwaran Gurudwara: what a place! Its almost as big as the celebrated Golden Temple in Amritsar and they say the pond, or should I call it a Lake, inside the Gurudwara has some great healing powers. One can see pilgrims come here in huge numbers and the fish inside the lake in gurudwara come frighteningly close to your feet almost as if they have been kept there for some kind of pedicure!

By the way, If one wants to know what exactly was the small town before it joined in the race of becoming a part of 'modern India', then go beneath the newly made Flyovers. Its where you will see myriads of eateries, markets, shady bars and of course something that we have forgotten completely: 'Railway Crossings'. When a Big train comes, the world around the Railway crossing comes to a standstill. The Tughlakabad-made Diesel engine passes by with great arrogance in the form of a blaring horn. Such is the aura of the passing train that vendors, shopkeepers, customers, drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, passengers - all stare at the passing train and a smart sardar kid gets an opportunity to steal an apple from the fruit cart, while the vendor stares at the train that might take him to his village where he migrated from.

Music Video Madness:
What's Punjab without its Music videos. A few years ago, One day, Psycho, my best buddy was reading an interview by Punjabi singer Sukhbir published in the Times of India, where his statement was printed in bold: 'People do not take Punjabi music seriously' and I still remember Psycho remarked: 'Dude, Punjabis do not take their music seriously' - which pretty much sums up the way the Music Industry operates here. Of course by now we know every third person has launched a music album in Punjab, but now the music video madness is reaching to extreme levels. The Videos are shot in Dubai, London, San Francisco, Montreal with cheap-blonde girls and generally you will find the singers with their high-pitched voices standing against a swanky Merc, or a big Hummer or any such flashy SUV or if one wants to go even bigger then they show the lead hero having his own chopper or a Cessna-kind of an airplane - believe me - I see these videos daily while we travel to locations that are generally an hour from the city. And you will see a 40 year old dancing on words that go something like this: 'College ke bandeyaaan, mauj-mastiyaan kar diyaan..Saaanu koi kuch naa kahe..' Another intriguing aspect would be about alcohol. Almost 50 to 60% of songs are made on one topic: Daroo (alcohol). Its like my colleagues and me are waiting while the song plays and within two to three lines every singer will come up with his version of this poetic line: 'Daroo da nasha chad gaya..oye!' Poets like Pash must be turning in their graves, while seeing these music developments in the cities of Punjab.

Let me end this adventure of Patiala with a quote by Pash that I really admire:

न होना तड़प का सब सहन कर जाना
घर से निकलना काम पर और काम से लौटकर घर आना
सबसे खतरनाक होता है हमारे सपनों का मर जाना..

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Economics of the Generation Next and the idea of balancing the two worlds.

This Sunday a curious incident happened. It was a fine morning, just a little lonely, so I decided to pay a visit to my cousin bhaiya-bhabhi. They stay in Malad(Mumbai) and are proud parents of two wonderful boys - I love spending my time with them!

That morning when I entered their flat, looking forward to ganging up with the boys... I saw an unfamiliar face sitting in the drawing room with great familiarity. I was introduced to him, in the way I am always introduced to everyone, generally sounding something (detestful to my ears) like this- 'Yeh Film line mei kaam karta hai..'
Not that I blame my bhabhi-ji for those words. But I don't know, just the sound of it - 'film line'... almost makes me feel as if I do some illegal-gambling-sort of activity by the side of railway line.

Well, that's not the point, the blog is about that unfamiliar-someone sitting there. I was told that the gentleman had just moved in next doors, infact today itself, and had come to give a casual-introductory visit to his neighbours (i.e my bhaiya-bhabhi).

So as the conversation went by I came to know that he was what you call a specimen of the most refined breed of Generation Next! An Engineer from an IIT and a management graduate from an IIM. Wow! I can already see the fathers of eligible daughters going ga-ga over him and asking his hand for their beautiful 'fair and lovely' daughters. Now what term do you exactly give to such lethal combinations: IIT + IIM? Its like NSD + FTII = Iske baad filmon mei kaam nahi kiya toh kya jhak maaraa!!

Let me clarify this on the outset, I really don't have any personal grudges against people who have got the best of the worlds. I have known people who have worked much harder than many to be there. Sacrificed much more than many. SO they've worked their sweat/heart to it, and deserve this best of the worlds they aspired for. Its just that Harvard jaaoge ya Princeton jaaoge toh scientist ya millionaire toh banoge hee na. Isme kya badi baat hai?

But well, what provokes me is that extra-sweet smile on that unfamiliar-kind-of-faces - that bloody Chetan Bhagat kind of a wise-man, rimless spectacled look: 'we know everything, we drive the world, we are the ones who have sold our Ferraris. Remember Subodh in Dil Chahta Hai.

So as the morning cup of tea was passed to us, I casually asked about the deposit that he payed to the owner of the flat.
He said: '1.5 lacs'
I looked up from my tea cup.

My bhabhi-ji matter-of-factly said: 'Well, its everywhere nowadays. All of them ask above 1 lac!'
(For people who live outside Bombay, here's a fact: you pay a vulgar amount to the flat owner for an 11-month period, so that he can reap the benefits of good interest rates laid by Shri Chidambaram-ji in banks or wherever.)

Then came my next question to the IIT+IIM gentlemen: So, what about the rent for your 1BHK (one bedroom-hall-kitchen) and let me remind you this is Malad West, we are talking about. With the help of his finger he pushed his spectacles from the bridge of his nose to their exact place and replied: 21, 000/-
I almost spat the tea on his shirt! whaat!!

A moment of silence.

Soon I regained my consciousness and asked him: 'But you get 1BHK flats here for 15K to 16K, why so costly?

Now of course he works in a multinational with all the 'packages' that they promise: So taking the support on the 'package' shoulder, he fired:
'But all those flats were very dirty - those in the range of 15K to 16K. This one was very good. It had a wooden door and some wood work, so I thought this should be it for us!'
Well, I asked my Bhaiya a little while later, how the hell did you manage to buy a flat in Malad West?
He made me understand the process he went through. The estate prices then and some old family land they had owned etc. Infact he even recalled how his childhood was spent in Mumbai during the late 70s. When he used to get a rupee from his grandfather for the bus ticket to return from his school in evenings. And he would instead use that rupee to have pani-puri at the nearby stall and then to match the bus timings, he would run down to home. Of course the SV Road then wasn't as packed as now. Then he lived in Santacruz, now he has to shift further down to Malad.

Soon, our Lethal Weapon guy was back to his-business- he enquired about the availability of domestic help-the maid and what all work she does like washing the utensils, clothes, cleaning etc. My bhabhi-ji now plunged with all the information she must have collected over the several years of living in Malad. She started explaining: Right from where have the maids actually migrated from to what all kinds of holidays they ask for? While she was explaining him this 'Maid Mafia', she was constantly, repeatedly urging him to not pay more than 500/- bucks for any given work. i.e If she only washes utensils for the month - then 500/- and if she does cleaning and mopping in addition to washing utensils: then 1000/- I didn't pay much attention to that discussion and went back to the Sunday Times time-pass. But every time she would tell him something, then she would again add her punchline in the end: 'So...don't pay more than this, 500/- per work, because that is the price in every flat in every apartment block'

I was amused at this repetitive chanting from Bhabhi-ji and that Chetan Bhagat like smile, kept nodding. After, he left, I told her: 'Do you think he would care for a couple of hundred bucks, if he pays almost 5,000/- rupees extra per month for a flat?'
To which my Bhabhi-ji replied and I was taken aback, why didn't I think like this?
She said with an emphatic worry ringing inher voice: 'The problem is not him paying a couple of hundred extra to the maids, the problem is that when the same maids will come to our home and expect the same amount from us too, which we neither budget it nor we can afford, its then that him paying more will become a nuisance to us'

It struck me like lightening that how we, the Generation Next with our sudden economic freedom, yuppie lifestyles and boastful salary figures have almost sidelined some people who probably are as good as us in everything, but their only crime is that they are just a generation behind us. We unconsciously spend obnoxious amount of money for the very trivial things.
The idea of spending money with a conscience - does it exist?

The generation before us wasn't as privileged, they have struggled their way to reach to a particular level and now they find themselves still not 'upto the mark'. They enter a mall expecting that Nike shoes must be costing worth some: 1200/- bucks, but since their son really wants it, they would buy it for him. And to their surprise they will see the starting range from: 2100/- only! If they dare to mention that, the fact that these shoes are costly, the sales boy will behave as if they are asking for it for free,and instead he will attend to the guy sitting on the next chair with a Manchester United T-shirt.

Imagine this and I have seen it happening umpteen times: an old man after a day-long work is getting ready to jump inside an incoming local train and a couple of youngsters get in before him with ease and take his favourite window seat before he can get in. The window seat that he must be enjoying it since last so many years. Of course, I do not have any solutions to these incidents. There can't be any solutions, in a way, except that our generation might show a little more care and concern that could make the generation before feel better. As a writer, all I can do is think, feel bad, maybe blog and then again get back to earning my share of money.

But if anyone in my generation is reading this and feeling as guilty as I was on that Sunday morning: Whatever f**king figure salary you earn, don't indulge in the vulgar display of money. I know the IIT+IIM guy didn't mean to hurt anyone, but its just a subtle unconscious change in the society that the Generation Next is bringing about and more so in a city like Bombay that has several centuries and generations existing together.
Guess what? The IITs and IIMs might not teach you this gesture. Life will.

The idea of spending money with a conscience. And take that from someone who sees money being spent lavishly on bollywood sets with absolute zero idea of productivity.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Monday, November 8, 2010

The 10 Best Motion Picture Soundtracks of this Decade (hindi)

Warning: The Baap of all posts in length.

We can safely assume that by November of the present year, almost all the soundtracks of the Hindi movies that are going to come, are out. Thus, the post -of considering the 10 best motion picture soundtracks of this decade. Taking 2001 as the start of the decade.

The soundtracks in Hindi movies also go hand-in-hand with the lyrics written for them and thus if you think your favorite soundtrack isn't featured in this amazing list, then words might just be one of the reasons. And by the way that doesn't mean that I will feature all ten albums of Gulzaar saab! The soundtracks listed here are in no particular order - thus 10 means, they could fit anywhere between 1 to 10. But would always remain in the top ten! Also the box office status of the film doesn't matter - its pure music that matters! While I feature my ten best soundtracks, I would also try to highlight that one best feature of that every soundtrack.

1. Delhi 6 (2009)
Music: AR Rahman

An album that could make Slumdog Millionaire feel a poor cousin of its. The best in the AR Rahman collection in the last decade. A bhajan, A muhalla song, A prayer, A qawwali, A Romantic Balled, A duet, A Hip-Hop number. You name it and Rahman sir composed it for Delhi 6. Extremely sad that the film didn't even do an iota of justice to the music that AR Rahman served it so passionately. Amit Trivedi, in one of his interviews said: 'If the Oscar guys would hear Delhi 6's soundtrack, they would come to Bombay and hand the trophy to AR Rahman!'

Highlight of the soundtrack: That amazing magic of Prasoon Joshi's words in the Qawwali: Arziyan:
Darare darare hain maathe pe maula,
Marammat muqadaar ki kar do maula,

Ab kya bataun yaar. Jisne hindi nahi jana, unko kya khaak samjah aayega!
Sample this: the effervescent Mohit Chauhan with words like:
Zara Phank Jhatak
Gai Dhool Atak
Aur Lachak Machak Ke Duur Bhatak

Ude - Dagar, Kasbe, Khuche, Nukkad, Basti..aha...What flight of words! and a little while later comes 'Badal ki Colony'

2. Gulaal (2009)
Music: Piyush Mishra
- the genius!

Every song. Every word, Every line of this motion picture soundtrack is history. Never has such revolutionary music come in hindi movies and I can bet it- that it would almost take a decade to come up with something like this Again. Even Piyush Mishra himself can't come up with stuff like this now! When Ransa is killed half way in the film and the point when the song 'Sheher' starts - its pure genius. I had never felt so strong sitting inside a theatre. I went back again to watch Gulaal only to re-live that moment. Once that song went by: I came out of theatre:

Also there has never been an ultimate tribute to an old song like Piyush Mishra's tribute to Guru Dutt's 'Duniya'.
Kya dard se gaate hain Piyush bhai! Aah! It hurts to even know how the poet had imagined this world and how it has turned out to be.

Who's got the talent to write stuff like this:
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,

Try and imagine this: Aag ki lapat ka baghaar...!! waah!

Shilpa Rao's haunting: 'Aisi Sazaa' to Rahul Ram's 'Raat ke Musafir' to the brilliant satire called 'Ranaji' by Rekha bharadwaj - every song pe ek Mohor hai! One of the highly under-rated soundtracks of this decade: I recommend you Gulaal. Again and Again.

Highlight of the soundtrack: Piyush bhai himself singing:

Ghalib ke Momin ke khawabo ki duniya,
Majazo ke un inqlaabo ki duniya!
Faiz firako Sahir u Makhdum,
Mir ki Zauq kitabo ki duniya,
Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai?

(I hope I am not wrong somewhere in typing the lyrics and the names)

3. Hazaaro Khwaishe Aisi (2003)
Music: Shantanu Moitra

Shubha Mudgal, Swanand Kirkire and Shantanu Moitra. The three responsible for the timelessness of this soundtrack. The title track by Shubha Mudgal is pure meditation.

I could also feature Shubha Mudgal most amazingly sung Raincoat number: Mathura Nagarpati. But then the magic of :
Bahut be-aabaru hokar tere kuuche se ham nikale! isn't there in Raincoat.

Swanand fetched a National Award for 'Behti Hawa sa tha..', but indeed If I was the jury then it should have been for 'Bawra Mann Dekhne Chala Ek Sapna'

Highlight of the soundtrack: Like it or not but Sudhir Mishra doing a Baz Luhrmann and Shbha Mudgal rendering in the background was great stuff.

4. Om Shanti Om (2007)
Music: Vishal-Shekhar

The tune of the decade. Use a piano, Use Violins, Use Flute, Use Orchestra, Use a dusky voice or Use a Chorus and it will still sound so beautiful. Once you hear the beginning of 'Main Agar Kahoon', its hard not to fall in love. And then those little little ideas of finely executed choreography. The tea from the Tea kettle in the Wine glass. The toy couple in the glass, the special effect of a running car and the Storm Fan making the hair blow, adding to the effect. Very well done!

Take in case, the choreography of 'Dhoom Tana' and the design of that song: the instruments, the genre it mixes, the amazing Jeetendra expressions, Sunil Dutt And Kaka inside: Absolutely well thought of. Farah Khan & SRK exactly know how to celebrate bollywood and indeed they executed it in style! The rest can keep giving tributes. Infact Vishal-Shekhar themselves gave a score so typical to bollywood - like making every song from the same base but always a new lay (speed in music), a new instrument and a new arrangement! . To make, sell and market a whole motion picture soundtrack based on only one 'dhun' and yet having a variety is not a small task. Vishal-shekhar pulled it off in style.

Highlight of the soundtrack: Needless to say: the tune as heard in the video above.

5. Omkara (2006)
Music: Vishal Bharadwaj

The maai-baap of all item numbers thread with words that could expand your Hindi dictionary multifold. A Sukhwinder Singh led title song that had Gulzar saab at his creative apex. A Rahat Fateh Ali Khan song that could give you goosebumps, a musical with chorus that defines tragedy at its best and a romantic duet that gives you a whole new perspective on the small town romance. With gems like these Omkara is a soundtrack that one could listen to forever. Of-course nothing beats the high of Jhin-Mini Jhini, Ustad Sultan Khan singing and Abbaji dancing, but songs in Maqbool weren't given the justice, the way they were given in Omkara. If someone has heard Chingaari, Dheemo Re and Rukhe Naina from Maqbool, they never came as effectively on screen. Similarly Laakad in Omkara was also given step-motherly treatment though.

Highlight of the soundtrack: This one line:
Na gilaaf, Na lehaaf thandi hawa ke khilaaf sasuri

6. Swades (2004)
Music: A R Rahman

Have you ever heard something like: 'Pal Pal hai bhaari?' One of the most unique compositions of the decade. Once my father remarked on hearing this song: Imagine its Javed Akhtar writing, AR Rahman omposing, Shah Rukh Khan performing and you have a song about Ram! What better example of secularism than this? Ashutosh Gowariker and A R Rahman almost outdid Lagaan with a fantastic soundtrack of Swades. My favourite and I agree with Mr. Gowariker is the beautiful lullaby: Aahista Aahista
If Udit Narayan has to ever make a resume then Swades should be on his top employer list. But as usual Rahman kept the best song for himself - the title track. And could we please have some more songs being sung by Hariharan. At least Rahman should use him more often.

Highlight of the soundtrack:
The accordion theme when the opening titles come and we see Mohan Bhargav inside the flight. alternatively this music is also known as: Kabhi nahi badalnewaali Tanmay's ringtone!
2. The Reunion theme: The flute when Kaveri Amma sees Mohan Bhargav for the first time.

7. DevD (2009)
Music: Amit Trivedi

18 numbers in an album!!! A feat completely unheard of. Overnight Amit Trivedi took the music industry by storm. Infact Anurag Kashyap got recognized as a mainstream filmmaker, which was due anytime though! An array of singers came on the board in this one album: Joi Barua, Trivedi (himself), Bonnie Chakroborty, Shilpa rao, Labh Jajua, Shruti Pathak, Tochi Raina and some more. If you figure the genres in the album, they range from Punjabi Bhangra to Fusion to Rock to Folk to Pop to Remix to Themes to what not! Amitabh Bhattacharya and Shellee had their words spot on. I remember when DevD's music was out - my iPod was never given any rest. Ganga and me played song after song day-night. Although Ganga also had Aamir in his play list.

Highlight of the soundtrack: Needless to say: The Brass Band but for me Nayan Tarse and the mood that the trumpet sets in was an ultimate high!

8. Taaren Zameen Par (2008)
Music: Shankar Ehsaan Loy

Its interesting to note that although Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy has been very consistent in delivering absolute winning soundtracks over the last decade, but there is just one entry on the top ten. Sample this: Dil Chahta hai, Kal Ho Na ho, Bunty aur Babli, My Name is Khan, Rock On! - all of them had great songs. But the idea of going back to them doesn't occur as much as it occurs with Taaren Zameen Par. Prasoon Joshi is giving tough competition to Gulzar saab in this list of mine. Sample these absolute gem poetry :

Muhaley Ki Raunak Galiyan Hain Jaise,
Khilney Ki Zid Par Kaliyan Hain Jaise

Muthi Mein Mausam Ki Jaise Hawayein
Yeh Hain Buzurgon Ke Dil Ki Duwayein

Kho Na Jaaye Ye Taare Zameen Par

Highlight of the soundtrack: That one song that immortalized Shankar Mahadevan and Prasoon Joshi in every kid's imagination: 'Maa'. I have seen the most strong-hearted people crying on this song. Such is the gift of art. Shankar Mahadevan truly has a gifted voice. I make sure whenever he performs in Mumbai or Delhi - I almost always try to be there.

9. The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)
Music: A R Rahman

Revolutionary, Patriotic and lots of Sukhwinder Singh!. The Legend of Bhagat Singh has timeless soundtrack features. Namely: The harmonium in Pagdi Sambhaal Jatta, the powerful percussion in 'Shora so Pehchaniye', the march past trumpet of Desh mere Desh

Highlight of the Soundtrack: Hariahran and Sonu Nigam coming together for 'Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna' (the slower version)

10. Lagaan.
Music: A R Rahman

The soundtrack is the Highlight of the decade. So no highlights for this soundtrack.

Also the background score of the film was an out and out winner. Actually Lagaan is above all this yaar. The Academy never realized it in 2001 and then it took them a decade to understand the genius of this man. And that too for what - Slumdog!! Haak Thoooo...Aisa toh Rahman apni neend mei banaa deta hai.

For Rahmaniacs - the day I heard Ghanan ghanan, I caught Rahman copying himself! - the rhythm of this legendary song is exactly like the rhythm of one more Rahman number that was easily forgotten. Here's the song from Priyadarshan's Doli Saja ke Rakhna. Hear it from 0:40

And here's the fantastic Ghanan Ghanan: Hear it from 0:19

Of course I am not complaining. Yeh toh Rahman ka paagalpan hai yaaron! Even if they play Lagaan without visuals in a theatre, you know one will still be entertained as much, such is the sheer power of the sound and the soundtrack of Lagaan.

Now, if you think that I have missed any of your favourite soundtracks, let me know. Oh Ok, RDB??

P.S: If there was one song that I could include and not the album but that one song: then it would have been:
Maula mere le le meri Jaan from Salim-Suleiman's Chak De India. Sung by Krishna who me thinks has the highest range amidst contemporary singers. He can be a stiff competition to Rahat saab.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Monday, October 25, 2010

This Week is Housefull!! & my take on Do Dooni Chaar

Dear Friends,

This week, I want to make sure some of you do watch/go/hear/meet a few highly recommended programs. And I mean with all honesty that these recommendations should be worth all your time/money/resources.

1. Paresh Kamdar's film that swept away many awards at last year's Osian's film Festival 'Khargosh' is going to be screened at Fun Republic, Andheri West on Friday at 10:00am as a part of Third Eye Asian Film Festival. People in and around Bombay make sure you dont miss this gem. According to Paresh, there are only 2 prints of the film made and are doing rounds wherever possible. Now that they have come to Bombay, make sure you do not miss it. That's the first!
Here's a wonderful article about the film and the filmmaker by Tehelka. Click here for the schedule.

2. Lots of passions and only Rs. 40,000/- is what it takes to make a feature film, 'agar seene mei dil hai tumhare toh'.
As a part of MAMI Film festival in Bombay. Please go and watch 'The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project' by Srinivas Sunderrajan and starring the guy who thinks he knows everything about cinema and doesn't like if someone corrects him! :) It plays at PVR Juhu, Screen 2 at 5:45 pm today! Its in Black and White and here's the trailer

3. Watch this now!

Now you dare tell me that you are not interested in watching this. Daayen ya Baayen has Deepak Dobriyal as the lead! I hate the director for getting this idea first, But I had always thought that Deepak, who I am a huge fan of, will star in my film! Oh! well, I still want him to be there in my film, which is I am sure a couple of years from now. But its definitely on! The other day when I was walking at Yari road, I saw him coming back from a gym, thought of walking along and pitching the concept, then thought otherwise. Back to my recommendation. This wonderful little film is getting a limited theatrical release, so please make sure you catch it in your city multiplexes. It releases on 29th Oct 2010 and it is directed by Bela Negi. I hope it plays for some more weeks, but make sure you watch it in the first week.

You remember Bhaati with his cap from Gulaal and the wonderful Omkara scene:
'Langda tyaagi...bahubali..bahubali...langda tyaagi.
The pants, the hair style, the walk and the 'ucharan' - 'langda bhaiya!!'

4. Vishal-ji se yaad aaya...Did anyone see last week's Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Reality show on Zee TV? I had not seen a taciturn filmmaker like Vishal-ji to be so happy for someone and speaking for him on a television reality show.
It is one thing to be a part of a Singing Reality show and another to master a genre and then deliver it to a variety-thirsty audience. It takes amazing talent to re-introduce an old format of Indian music to today's generation and then stick to it with as much passion. - Am referring to Ghazal. Ranjeet Rajwada is a sensational talent to come out of India at a mere age of 17. 'Zee TV ke bhaag khul gaye!'
Watch the video and hear him sing the word 'Hungama' at 1:05. You get goosebumps on hearing him. How many in our generation can play harmonium like that? Sheer genius!

5. 'Film Festivals, Sales & Your Film-a misunderstood & romanticized issue is going to be chaired by Dev Benegal at PVR Juhu 28 Oct 2:15pm. Now I don't think I need to add anything about our beloved film:'Road, Movie' and its journey around the globe. But Dev should have an interesting opinion on this topic. My question to you is ready and it was the question on Day 1 itself: 'Why Starbucks!?'

Now my short take on Do Dooni Chaar:
It has beautiful moments, its a little loud but what a moment to watch Neetu Singh and Rishi Kapoor shake a leg. How many films have shown middle class the way it is: money in aquarium! what an idea! Father-Son eating Parathas in the middle of night, daughter wanting to work for call centre and the best: All four in the family want to help the father's earnings by contributing and trying to run their home smoothly! Disney and Arindham did a wonderful job by making this movie happen.

And now, over to my issues with the film: The underlining! Every small movie in India these days believe in underlining, stressing, over-killing! The problem in Do Dooni Chaar is from the first line till the last line and both are in a voiceover: The voiceover says:
'Kaun kehta hai ke Consumerism bad hai
Jo bhi kehta hai, woh idiot hai!'

Dear writer, your first line has already put forward a point that you wanted to make. 'Jisko samajhna hai, unko apne haal pe chhod do na, unko Idiot kehne se kya hoga?' Completely needless and utterly useless second line.

Now to the first sentence of the film as a voiceover: The titles open the film Do Dooni Chaar and like that disastrous shit called Ghajini either a bloody doctor or a f**ing voiceover will come and explain you what you need to do for the next couple of hours:

'Do Dooni Chaar kahaani hai hamare do pahiyon ke scooter se chaar pahiyon ke Gaadi tak pahuchne ki''

Well thank you! Do you think the Dabangg/Wanted crowd is gonna come to watch your movie? Forget it, make it at a small budget, make it for the audience who know what a 'Do Dooni Chaar and a visual of a family of 4 on a two-wheeler means! Are Indians so dumb? i don't believe you Habib Faisal. I disagree. Where's your use of cinematic elements when the daughter realizes how wonderful teachers are in the world and how my daddy is the best! I would cry if I could shoot like that with all its honesty! It gives me goosebumps even while typing the idea of a small track-in and the daughter's eyes doing all the talking. Maybe your music could help and the next cut of her sitting on scooter without any complains! Well, Dardene Brothers would even object to all of this that I wrote above. They would just end the film with suddenly the credits rolling on screen, and the audience realizing the importance of the moment gone by!

Anyways, I would rather appreciate the fact that this year has been a landslide for small movies.
Time to make one now!
Deepak, are you around?

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Aapdo Rohinton Rocks!

Believe me when I write this. I have read the Amitav Ghoshs, The Desais, the Rushdies, the Seths, the Mehtas of the world, but none like Mistry.

Here is an excerpt from my all-time favourite work in Fiction. Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters: Read each word carefully.

With his umbrella, which he used as walking stick, Nariman Vakeel emerged from Chateau Felicity. The bustling life was like air for starving lungs, after the stale emptiness of the flat.

He went to the lane where the vegetable vendors congregated. Their baskets and boxes, overflowing with greens and legumes and fruits and tubers, transformed the corner into a garden. French beans, sweet potatoes, coriander, green chilies, cabbages, cauliflowers bloomed under the street lights, hallowing the dusk with their colour and fragrance. From time to time, he bent down to touch. Voluptuous onions and glistening tomatoes enticed his fingers; the purple brinjals and earthy carrots were irresistible. The subjivalas knew he wasn't going to buy anything, but they did not mind, and he liked to think they understood why he came.

In the flower stall two men sat like musicians, weaving strands of marigold, garlands of jasmine and lily and rose, their fingers picking, plucking, knotting, playing a floral melody. Nariman imagined the progress of the works they performed: to supplicate deities in temples, honour the photo-frames of someone's ancestors, adorn the hair of wives and mothers and daughters.

The bhel-puri stall was a sculptured landscape with its golden pyramid of sev, the little snow mountains of mumra, hillocks of puris, and, in among their valleys, in aluminium containers, pools of green and brown and red chutneys.

A man selling bananas strolled up and down the street. The bunches were stacked high and heavy upon his outstretched arm: a balancing and strong-man act rolled into one.

It was all magical as a circus, felt Nariman, and reassuring, like a magic show.

Isn't the Bhel Puri stall description the most amazing, one could have imagined about that dirty little thing in the corner of Bombay?. For a quick read, just go to a bookstore nearby and pick up Family Matters and read page: 204-205: what does Merwan, the owner of an Iranian cafe, has to say about the youth of this country by citing a hilarious example.

Thanks to a friend, I could open my heart and speak to a journalist, Graham Smith from The Globe and Mail, a Canada based publication on the recent issue. As the conversation went on, I told him, its a wonderful feeling to see my favourite writer on page 1 of all the national dailies. Its all the more promotion for a writer who is so good that he desrves to be read by every soul before he or she dies. Mistry is someone who sees life so closely; that the reader is humbled. Every chapter in Family Matters ends with tears of joy.

Thanks to the Thackreys, Rohinton Mistry is back as the best-selling author. Landmark and Crossword have to order more copies. Earlier this year, the Thackreys made an ordinary movie turn into a super hit product: 'My Name is Khan' and now they selected 'Aapdo Rohinton'. At least this time they made a smarter choice by telling the world that we are indeed people with a propensity for good artistic work. This, infact is a wonderful opportunity to pick up his work from the corners of a book shelf and put it on display in the No. 1 to No. 10 position. Chetan fucking Bhagat - stay away, your days are numbered. The father of fiction is back and how.
Zalzala Jaag Utha hai Aditya Thackrey. Ab Gang War start hoga!' Civil Society has removed their trishuls and damroos: Here's what they have been doing on youtube.

Also for all of you who love your signatures, here's the petition to sign.

Its been close to a decade now since the release of Family Matters, his last novel and we the Mistry maniacs have been waiting for his pen to start doing the talking again. I hereby take the opportunity of thanking this amazing writer and his works, who have indeed taught me much more than what life could have taught me.

Here is another wonderful slice of life excerpt as I end my ode:

'After he finished, Jehangir announced with importance that he had to write an essay titled Why India Is a Great Country.

"Will you help me, Daddy?' he asked hoping it would please him.

"Come to me when your teacher gives an essay about why India is a hopeless country."

The remark provoked Roxana into forgetting her resolution. "that's such a cruel thing to say to a little boy."

"The truth is cruel sometimes. You can help him with lies. Or Professor Vakeel will invent some facts."
"With pleasure" said Nariman.
Jehangir looked to his mother for permission. She nodded, and he sat at the dining table. "Okay Grandpa, I'm ready."

From his chair in the corner, Yezad observed his son's intense concentration, and the pleasure written all over Nariman's pain-filled face. What had his life become, that he no longer had the patience to sit besides his own son and help with an essay?

Aah! life in its purest form!!

Photo courtesy: January Magazine website.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Make Music, Not War!

Back in 2001, when I was in my hostel, there was a guy who was absolutely in love with music. A delicate strumming of guitar, a finely touched key of the harmonium or the slightest wind blown in the flute and you would automatically see him present there, at that very place where the that sound originated, with a trance-like expression on his face. And then one day, as I was humming in the hostel bathroom, he was right there standing outside with his toot brush! As soon as I came out of the bathroom holding the bucket in my hand, he came forward and looked straight towards me.

'have you learnt music?'

I didnt deny and he said.
'For the next 'god knows' how many years in this lonely hostel, in this tedious college, in this deserted town, in life's most unfriendly moments, promise me that you will sing. You will sing to your heart's content'.

I was elated. Not that someone asked me to sing, but for a junior student, who had to put up with that hostile atmosphere of that god-forbidden hostel and had to face those draconian ragging sessions, those intimidating senior students and a hell lot of extra-convoluted diagrams to be drawn in someone else's journals, that statement was a respite. I didnt particularly dislike singing, but that guy's encouragement was enough for me.

On the Freshers' Party day, the same guy turned out to be the host of the function and when my turn came on stage, as every junior is asked to perform some or the other thing, he asked me in simple words: 'Son, you need to sing!'

The professors, the academicians, the principal, the seniors all of them were there in that auditorium, 'singing here would mean that one will get a permanent tag of being a performer on the college stage', I certainly didnt need that tag - but when the same guy turned out to be the host and his request and that anticipation in his eyes, I knew that come what may, even if the whole auditorium is bored to death, I will sing for this one person.

I sang to my heart's content and got a tag of 'Bhaand' from the senior students for the coming next four years of graduation. Thus, the professors knew that when a Chief Guest of a particular function gets late, its time to call 'the Bhaand' on stage and ask him to sing or perform. In a way I loved the idea of being on stage and performing, whether people liked it or not, but I loved singing in that hostel lobby. My voice would hit those semi-plastered walls and create resonance, it would pierce through the hollow bricks and seep into the rooms, it would make the pillars sway as if they were intoxicated and for all the Aurangzebs it would provide an excuse to get out of their rooms and curse me. This is when I thought that I was good, but not so sure about the present.

That guy was in a way responsible for the name of this blog. He accidentally gave birth to 'bhaand'. But why him here, read on.

Recently, almost every netizen has been following the progress of a phenomenal show, conceptualized and made in Pakistan called Coke Studio. To know what Coke Studio is, click here.

Names like Abida Parveen, Atif Aslam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Azhmat, Sahi Zahoor, Shafqat Amanat and many more are performing on it and creating a whole new pallet, coloured with amazing fusion elements. The fantastic combination of live folk instruments, passionate singers, amazing musicians and contemporary sound makes this show extremely popular. Once upon a time, I had overheard my uncle telling it to someone: 'the power that Sufi music has it, is possessed by none in the world - its a straight connection to the almighty'. My uncle often sings Qawaalis for his connection to that force.

Uncle, you were absolutely right! At the cost of sounding a little off-beat, but have you ever felt like closing your eyes and keeping a particular song on 'repeat' in your playlist? And even after hearing it for the umpteenth time, you would still not feel like opening your eyes. OR If you felt that your feet have suddenly got rhythm and you circle around the speakers as if it was a holy shrine.

'ho wanga chada lo kuriyon,
mere daata de darbaar diyaan'

Translation: 'Put on your bangles, girls
Those that you brought from Master's shrine'

These words when sung, takes me to that kind of trance. I need not go to any temple or bow before any god or idol, such is the purity of the language, such is the purity of the sound emerging from Arif Lohar's throat, such is the purity inside me when I hear this and I sincerely hope that 'Daata' gives me that purity If I ever try to sing this!

Hear the sound below and feel elated. esp after 5min: 30s. But I suggest you hear the whole song to feel how it would be to be inside the singer's heart while he must be singing this. Also on youtube you have the translated subtitles! And not to mention, do observe the musicians while they play the instruments, its as if they are having a ball while playing this, its that emotion that music needs to bring inside you.

Now being inside some of Bollywood's music studios and seeing a few songs being recorded you come out feeling cheated. 'Are these the same songs we humm, the radio channels continuously play and they instantly become chartbusters? Why do they record everything separate, wont it be amazing to have all of them sitting together and doing the harmony?.
'Kya hai, thoda mehnat hi padega na, lekin socho kitana Anand milega dil ko.

Imagine the harmonium keys giving way to an acoustic guitar and the singer observing that transition and looking at the music director who in turn instructs the Arranger and the later asks the Flautist to join in and you standing behind that glass wall and not able to contain your excitement?

You dont believe me? Watch this Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performance at Coke Studio and most of you will gift your right hand to have a voice like that. esp hear from 3 mins to 6 mins and I assure you, you will be a changed person at the end of it.

And for Atif Aslam fans, here is his tribute to Nusrat saab's Aur Pyar Ho Gaya number 'Ek Din kahin' and truly a deserving tribute at the end of this amazing Atif aslam number 'Jal Pari'. For the tribute hear from 4 mins 30s
but again I suggest, you hear the whole performance.

I can now understand how that guy felt so lonely amidst those crumpled walls and a deserted town without music, without the fountain of life. After hearing the Coke Studio sessions, one thing that I felt honestly is: forget getting up early morning to exercise, tomorrow onwards I will get up early and sing. Sing to my heart's content. Sing as if I am back in my hostel, sing as if that guy is hearing me. I know wherever he is, he is all ears for me. We went to the Rahman concert together in West Delhi. Ah, the joys of knowing that wonderful permutations and combinations of those seven letters: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa.

Amit Trivedi, are you gonna go to Coke studio? You would be our best export combined with a folk artist from the hinterlands of Gujarat, Rajasthan or Bengal.

Thank you Rohail Hyatt for continuously putting up such wonderful performances and getting the best artists from all over. Your country needs more people like you. And so does our television producers instead of making a 4 year old sing: 'breathless' on national television and terming him or her as 'Chotte Ustaad' and making their parents go hysteric over it.

And to the neighbours, one simple message - 'Lets make music guys'. Easier said than done though, ah those Rediff commentators-wala India!

By the way did I tell you I fell in love with that girl who features near 5:21 in the 'Jal Pari' video.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Monday, September 20, 2010

Images from a Bhojpuri Film Set!

Given Bhaand Group's fascination for the 'other' cinema, this was always on cards. Watching Bhojpuri films and more importantly visiting their sets/locations. Thanks to a wonderful friendship made on a bollywood movie set, I got this amazing opportunity to visit this season's mega budgeted, multi-starrer and the most expensive Bhojpuri film being prepared for a grand Diwali release. 'Ganga Jamuna Saraswati'

This is the kind of a name that will attract all the migrant population to cinema halls when they go back to their homes during festive season. So as the slogan goes by Farah Khan: 'Without much ado, Entertainment Shuru Kiya Jai'

Up first is the Police Jeep being prepared for the scene with a Uttar Pradesh number plate. The numbers on it look so fresh, as if the production designer wanted to impress the producer with his neatness!

A sneak peek of the 'extra'-decorated faces inside the dilapidated make up rooms

Every Bhojpuri film has to have the police as its essential part. I thought the so-many characters played by the great Iftekar and Jagdish Raj must be wandering inside. What! you don't know who are they? maybe you are on a wrong blog!

One object that is synonymous with the magical world of movies.

Lunch time!

The Making-wala.

'Spot Boy! One Issspecial Tea'

Every Junior Artist worth his/her salt is always looking forward to a Break and they invariably find an opportunity to flash their mobile models.

The shooting resumes and the audience is at their windows to see their superstars.

Its time for melodrama. Bhojpuri style!

Remember this frame. You wont see all the superstars of Bhojpuri cinema together ever. Starting from Left: Pakhi Hegde, the numero uno actress of the East, Dinesh lal Yadav, the highest paid Bhojpuri actor, Manoj Tewari, the evergreen face of Cinema Errite, Rinku Ghosh, the B Queen, sorry the B for Bengal Queen, Ravi Kisshan (need I say more?) and finally Rani Chatterjee, the dehati version of every bollywood heroine. She can walk bhojpuri, she can talk bhojpuri and she can laugh Bhojpuri because Bhojpuri is a very phunny...

And finally, as the day comes to an end, a secondary actor waiting for those golden words: 'Pack-up!'

p.s: After the decision of Mumbai municipal corporation that the auto rickshaws have to be shared from various local train stations, I have decided that now you can also share your favourite posts from the Bhaand blog on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. 'Sharing karna hai?'

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dabangg: Live from Chandan Talkies!

Let me start by telling the K Jos and A Chos what they have been missing in their movies and why does a Dabanng come and leave them with a feeling of powerlessness. So much so that K Jo had to release his movie one week earlier. Sample this: Dharma productions, the production house of Karan Johar is coming with stuff like: Agneepath's remake, I Hate Love Stories (a trashy remix of its own cliched rom-com movies), Dostana 2 ( a sequel to an already dim-witted original), We are Family (remake of Stepmom), Cootchi Cootchi Hota Hai (animation remake of their earlier hit Kuch Kuch Hota hai) - now take that: how many times did you read the word 'remake'.
Can anyone get more original than this? Are you done with your stories? If you do not have the ability to tell a story, please dont keep making movies, just because you have a production house to run and some fashion designer's nephew and some heroine's brother waiting/wanting to test their directorial skills.
Same goes for priya Aditya Chopra sir, the other day I was watching DDLJ on Set Max and it made me think, what a genius of man to have made this movie. It's like The godfather of bollywood, the one that set trends for the decade and more...for movies to come. Its almost like cause of that one film - bollywood survived the next decade; by making its remakes and adaptations and other loosely-inspired to the blatantly copying forms. The problem that happened later is that people even started loosing respect for DDLJ which was a genuinely made great film. But look at this year: your titles suggest that could you have lost the plot?: 'Lafangey Parindey, Badmaash Company: hangovers of a Kaminey. 'Yaar tum logon se nahi hota toh rehne do na'

Now lets come back to the topic: Abhinav Singh Kashyap, the man on the fringes of bollywood comes up with this absolutely winning formula called Dabangg. If someone has seen Spike Jonze's brilliant film Adaptation with Nicholas Cage in double role then thats whats happening in the case of the Kashyap Duo. The brainy Charlie Kauffman like screenwriter is making movies that are completely anti-bollywood (but within the realm of bollywood) and his twin brother Donald Kauffman in this case Abhinav Singh Kashyap comes up with this stylized trashy potbolier and with all the winning collections at the box office. Anurag Kashyap tweets that Dabangg's first 2 days of collection is equal to the collection of all his movies combined till date. Take that: The curry western music in background, the guitars free flowing and from the sunset comes a silhouetteish figure of Abhinav Kashyap and stands tall, takes out his gun and clicks the trigger and we hear the gun shots ring in the air! dhiskiyaaon! Of course Donald Kauffman is a result of imagination but its come true in the case of these two Kashyap brothers.

Essentially what makes Dabangg special is the way it remains true to the nature of bollywood: The audience goes inside the dark hall not to feel cheated but to get entertained. And entertain toh bahut kiya Dabanng ne! Its a movie that people in Mumbai will tell you: 'It has to be seen inside a Chandan or a Gaiety/Galaxy to know its true value. I went to Chandan, Juhu - one of the last 'action heroes' cinema hall left in suburban Mumbai.
Chandan cinema is the pulse of a nation like us, stuck between development and its third world nature. The seats in Chandan are all plush, it gets all the big movies on day 1 and yet when it comes to the crowd and ticket-price: Iska dil abhi bhi hindustani hai. Salman Khan's entry into the movie gets such a huge roar that it would have been wonderful if the screen would have frozen for a good 20 seconds and the camera could revolve inside a theatre doing a bullet-point photography and get the slow motion reactions of the people in frenzy. Popcorns being thrown in the air, whistles, catcalls, cheering, jeering - all happening in slow motion -As all of this was happening around us, for a moment I thought: 'Hey we are back to the wonderful days of Housefull boards, the madness and the magic of cinema. You go to a cinema to sit with a thousand people and watch the movie, together. The multiplex movies have not given us those moments.

If you gauge the situation of the previous two Super Hit movies then the secret of their winning formula remains: the content has to be re-hashed from bollywood's own repository of revenge stories, but the stylized packaging has to be unique to get the product moving inside the market. 'Once upon a time in Mumbai' was exactly that. Ajay Devgan's character was very well written and so were his dialogues. You can read them here. But Dabangg didnt have many such dialogues, but it had Salman Khan coming on a Eid Mubarak day. 'Dialogue se yaad aaya...' The writer is back in bollywood, so what if right now 'clever dialogues' are the need of the hour. But great writing is being paid off. And great writing while being honest to the cliched content of the movie. Don't try to be too clever, else the audience will reject you. Be clever in the realm of the content-of their context. Just take this case in point: Mr. Stephen Chow. highly highly creative films packaged with amazingly stylized content. That brings me to one more secret formula that we have (and Mr. Chow doesn't have). Songs! We love our songs: 'Tere Mast Mast do nain" led to amazing lunacy levels inside Chandan talkies. The crowd was whistling in rhythm of the song! And when Mr. Chulbul Pandey came on the terrace top in Munni Badnaam hui, it was chaotic rhetoric, I thought the theatre would break into a happy joyous riot-like situation.

So the conclusion remains: Watch Dabangg inside a single screen cinema hall and you will know where these mind-boggling figures of opening collections come from. Inorbit multiplex ki Rs. 280/- ki ticket mei woh power kahaan jo Rs. 60 ki ticket ko Rs. 200/- ko black mei bechne se hai...

p.s: Once the junta is done with this Dabangg mania there is a very interesting film coming up at a theatre near you. please dont miss it. For Real by Sona Jain. I will be writing more about the film. but for now here's the theatrical trailer of a very very fine and sensitive film.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Making of Raavan & rambling about film academicians!

I am sure everyone loved hating Raavan. I am not going to defend here, coz I myself fall somewhere in that category. But wait, am I sure? One look at the visuals on the big screen and you are left open-mouthed. For starters, buy a DVD of Raavan and check out its 'The Making' or 'Behind the scenes' as they say. I saw it yesterday and was entertained thoroughly! The movie might not be as entertaining as 'The Making' is. Leaving the actors aside, you have the biggest technicians/artists of the industry coming together. And now see what possible visuals they all can come up with.

In a way I was lucky to know almost everything that went behind the megalomaniac sets and locations of Raavan. courtesy: for 2 months in Scotland, the guy with whom I was sharing my room was sir Samir Chanda's Assistant Art Director on Raavan for almost all of the 2 years. The story behind the gigantic Vishnu statue, the story behind that wooden bridge and how they shot it, the story behind the action sequences in midst of waterfalls & rivers and and and...the biggest story of how to make a bilingual film: with one shot of the Hindi film being taken and then right after that going for shooting the Tamil version and not just dialogues or actors that go into change, its the whole locations and the cultural references that go with it. All of this within 30 mins, so that your shoot time doesn't get prolonged.

Now I know the reader must be thinking: 'arey itana sab kuch kiya aur baad mei flop ho gayi film, kya faayda?' (what's the use now, the film failed at box office, no one watched it!)
But hey hey, Colours or some such channels will be showing it on weekends and make sure you try and catch some visuals, if not the whole movie. And then try watching 'The Making' - I am sure you will be blown away by the efforts. Sample this: Samir Chanda (for people who don't know him. He is the production designer for some of the most amazing hindi movies. Omkara, Rang de Basanti, Guru, Kaminey, Netaji Bose, Dil se, Iruvar, Delhi-6, Zubeida, Aks and many more) builds the hanging bridge between two huge cliffs. And after the bridge is done, there is an action scene with fire on it to be shot! Here's a short clip I thought I should upload and not put words for what he and his team did.

If someone tells me that you know these guys have so much money that they all can do this easily. No! after a point of time money becomes secondary, the whole idea of plunging into such a situation and to get the scene exactly as visualized: Thus as you saw in the clip, Samir-da ends up making 4 different bridges for the whole sequence. One miniature, Two for the close shots on green screen and the one on Location. Isn't that a huge effort for that thing called cinema? Now its ok if it didnt work, people didnt go and the film failed. All these efforts are so much better than the Anjanas and Anjanis and the Dharma movies that conveniently go abroad and shoot the whole film there and capture visuals that are already beautiful. Its like if one goes to Ladakh and takes a beautiful photo, its good but its not great - After all anywhere you put the camera and its going to be a picture post card frame.

So for readers I highly recommend to watch 'The Making' and more so for people who are associated with media, movies or television. What all it takes before the camera is placed on a tripod and switched ON.

Now the rambling part:

P.S: Had to write this somewhere: attended the FTII seminar on 'The uniqueness of Indian Script" and the problem with seminars and workshops is that due to the way bollywood movies are and their subsequent box office success over the years has resulted into more academics and 'researchers' than actual filmmakers who want to turn the popular bollywood around. Sample these terms from one such academician or researcher called Eeeeeeerrraa (to be spoken in Utpal Dutt style) Buskar!! (first put off: she comes with a bindi that is so reminiscent of the elite delhi leftist people who dont want to do anything but keep commenting on world affairs): The terms are as follows: 'Hyperbolic cinematic exteriorization', 'Desacrialized sacred space', 'Semi-operatic Indian melodramatic form with Idioms that subtended the content' - I mean what the f***' - what are you doing in life? I mean get a life - who is she trying to fool here by using such terms. And just by the way If she didnt look up while she was reading these pathetic terms: 'Ma'am half of the auditorium was snoring, not just sleeping and that includes the 'big' personalities that were sitting on the front row'! Ranjani Mazumdar with her paper on Urban Fringe with examples of Dombivali Fast, Being Cyrus and No Smoking was so much better. At least she was making sense.
Eeeeeeeeraaa (to be spoken in Utpal Dutt style) Buskarrrr!!!

Copyrights for Video belong to Madras Talkies and the picture is Google courtesy.
© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Saturday, August 21, 2010

'what is salvation'? asked 20 year old Johnny Boy

Now dont go by the title. I am not going to initiate the reader into a cult or a religious following. Neither am I trying to tell how my Babaji is greater than other existing Babajis or Gurujis of the world. Hell, I dont have any Babajis and I am the strongest opposer of this kind of mentality. But why this post then? Coz I was having this conversation with a 20 year old boy, who comes from a very rich family, living in the suburbs of Bombay but interestingly he chooses not to go to college but to start working. Why? coz ultimately he wants to be in the movie industry, what's education got to do with? yes, Johnny boy - education has got nothing to do with movies, no need wasting your time behind even graduation. School is enough. Oh dear Johnny Boy!

Welcome to the world of high-income earning, high life-living, supposedly modern 'liberal' and outgoing people who believe that to get salvation you have to understand what the Guruji or some Babji with a beard is telling you. And it is only then that you will understand the purpose of life. At 20, Johnny boy knows what his purpose in life is.

'Its all about your karma in previous birth. Today If someone is born rich, then it is because of the good karma that they did in previous birth. Look at the bollywood stars!'

Ok, Johnny Boy: 'what about the poor on the streets of Mumbai?'
Johnny Boy, almost as if that Babaji has come inside him: 'of course, they must not have performed their proper karmas in previous life'.

So Johnny Boy: 'Did people living in US did a lot of good karma?'
Johnny Boy (get ready for the shit now): 'yes of course!'

'And people in Iraq and Afghanistan did a lot of bad in their previous birth thats why they are being bombed'
Johnny Boy: 'Maybe!'

But he added more spice to the conversation:

Johnny Boy: 'If the US-wala are doing something wrong in this birth then in next birth they may take birth in some poor country of Africa!'

Oh All right! so the Zambia-wala who does good karma may get birth in US. Hmmm. Interesting!'

Take that crap coming from a 20 year old. Dude, get real. get yourself some education. You belong to such an affluent family, you have the world by your side - you can study, read, become whatever you want to - why get into this nonsense. Leave this 'truth-seeking shit' for your parents and grandparents. This aint your age to meddle with it. Let life be a good teacher. After that you can choose whatever you want to be - you can preach, teach, murder, become a hero, flex your muscles, go to rishikesh, become a rockstar - whatever.

And the way these cults have to present themselves outwardly - we all are good, we only do good, we dont smoke or drink, we all wear white, we all know what the ultimate truth is - 'You guys dont know, you need to come once to our 'gathering' to know yourself.: Thats exactly the kind of bull shit these cults, organizations will give you. The more they try to prove that they are pure, the more the criminals, murderers I see inside them.

I asked him: 'So does your cult leader accept poor people? Johnny Boy says: 'you should not comment on something you dont know and well about poor, you should just come there ONCE and you will know your answer.'

Well, next week I have it reserved for the FTII seminar, maybe the next to next week I need to try and seek the truth!

copyrights for the photo belong to
© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Monday, August 16, 2010

Once upon a time, Mumbai had a verbal diarrhea: The last to review

"Jo apni maa ki izzat nahi karte, unka baap banke mein aata hoon" -
Just when Sultan Mirza speaks these amazing pulp lines, on the screen the credit comes: written by rajat arora. Now, was it deliberate or was it just an accident? lets leave it to that. But having said that, Once upon a time in Mumbai has so many such pulp lines that you start wondering "dude, everyone's poet in the movie". Something that the phenomenal Kanti Shah and his writer Bashir-ji can do even in their sleep. Now coming back to the topic: Once upon a time in Mumbai isn't a Gunda, no it can never be - but it is a movie that I so loved watching it, mind you, i didnt like it esp the later half, but i enjoyed it.

In the world of multiplex movies, here is one movie that you would want to watch in a single screen with its amazing ambience, seeti-maaroing masses and something that the whole India loved to do before the dreaded multiplexes came. And when a dialogue like "har kitab ki kismat main library nahin hoti, kuch kabadi ki dukan main milti hain", comes, you know what you are in for -its like Ajay Devgan trying to get his 'Dilwale, Diljale', 'Jigar' fan-base back in his kitty. But leave those inhibitions because the movie "Once upon a time" is a super entertainer at least when Ajay Devgan is there on the screen.

The best part about the movie according to me is that it tries to be as politically clean as it can be. Take for example a ridiculous popular film like Wanted, it was shot so badly, it had all its politics wrong esp the way women characters were shot, as if the audience is dying to see how the character of mahesh manjrekar looks at a woman's bust. Outrageous Prabhudeva, I am so sorry, you are a loser! Here's hoping that Dabanng entertains and doesnt get into other territories. That brings me to the camera of "Once upon a time". The movie is very well-shot, watch the sea shots in opening sequence (of course they were digitally worked upon), but wow they do give an idea of how entertaining the half-biography of Sultan Mirza would be.

While sitting in the theatre and listening to lines like "Jinki manzil ek hai woh raaste par hi milte hai" - I simply loved it. Yess!! don't you know the other India always talks in idioms and phrases. The simple ones. Get into a railway compartment and strike a conversation with the uncle sitting opposite and in a while he will speak in idioms, "beta sab oogte sooraj ko salaam karte hain", and "beta aam tabhi girta hai, jab woh poori tarah se pakk jaaye". Now havent you heard that so many times, thus if these kinda lines come on screen and a star delivers it the way it is meant to, then you have a winner in your hands, undoubtedly!

And by the way, these are dialogues that very few, take my word: very few writers can write like this. Its an amazing flourish on the paper: take some more punchlines:
"bus, dua mei yaad rakhna"

- "Barf ki tarah thanda rehne ka bhi kya fayda sahab… Thodhi der akde, phir pighal gaye?"

- "Kya Khan, athaarah saal mein kabhi tune prasad nahin khaya, aur aaj bhagwan badal liya"?

- "Tasveer kheench ke apni dukaan mein laga le, Shoaib, Kabhi zaroorat padhe, to donon mein se ek bhagwan chun lena"

- "Vardhan main un cheezon ki smuggling karta hoon jiski ijaazat sarkar nahin deti…unki nahin jiski ijaazat mera zameer nahin deta".

(the last one had audience clapping on it! Someone shouted paisa vasool)

Rajat Arora is a genius. We knew it post-Bluffmaster:

Sample these lines that Nana Patekar speaks:

- "line achchi boli hai tunne, likh leta hoon, kaam aayegi kabhi"

- "2 crore rupiye chahiye, Kis Liye? Picture Bahot Acchi Chal Rahi Hai..Parade Pe Fekne Hai".

- "Goli sirf wahi chalate hai jo apna dimaag nai chalate"

Waah Rajat-ji, I am a fan for sure!

The point is that "Once upon a time" is an amazing popular movie that takes me back to my world of late 80s yes 80s and not 70s. The time when I used to hover around video cassette parlours and choose titles to watch - the pomp and galore of Tridev, the three-hero multi-star sagas, the dialogue baazi of Shaheshah (remember the famous line from Shahenshah. "Jab bhi mei kisi hassen ladki ko dekhta hun, toh mere andar ka kutta jaag jaata hai, aur tab mei Black Dog peeta hoon' courtesy: Kadar Khan)

But my only complain is that a little bit of restrain in the dialogue-baazi was required esp for actors/characters who cannot carry the dialogues with them. The police commissioner character was a serious case of verbal diarrhea. Like Ajay Devgan knows how to deliver the written lines but some actors cant pull it like him.

The music is pretty neat. esp the sufi-inspired stuff, but hello did they credit Guy Ritchie's Rock N Rolla or Black Storbe for lifting the "I'm a man" soundtrack. coz that sound goes good with Sultan Mirza too. By the way there was a random song called 'Baburao' - a perfect misfit. As in just when you were enjoying the soundtrack with some harmonium, some tabla and somethign melodious, out comes Mika with his 'Babaurao mast hai..' aaargh!! Its as if the Ekta Kapoor brigade pulled out an unused song from Shootout at Lokhandwala.

By the way what went wrong with the sound of the film. It was so bad. A movie that heavily depends on the dialogues and taali-maaro lines, has to at least have a clean sound, thats the least someone would expect, anyways those are complaints that a cinema fan like me will always have, if only they would care for sound as much as they spent on camera and creating digital images.

But if there are people like me who were brought up on regular 80s hindi movie masala, then this is the movie you should go for. By the way, my favourite dialogue in the movie and I was right there when Emran Hashmi speaks it:

"Supaari li hai, toh chuna nahi lagaunga...."

yeah boss!! style hai!!

On second thoughts how would someone enjoy these movies with subtitles? You dare not watch it! There is always a festival movie for you!

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta

Monday, August 9, 2010

Connecting the World!

While browsing through some of the pictures in last 6 months, I came across these two very very similar pictures that I had taken unconsciously at two very very different locations. And guess what, they both were exactly 6 months away from each other.

The first is taken at midnight on 1st Jan 2010 at Katni Railway Station, Madhya Pradesh. Its like the melting pot of India, where every train that goes from west to east or vice-versa passes through this junction. You could find the best of the both worlds here. Tea available in glass and tea available in kulhads (earthen cups). Trains arriving and leaving, Announcements being made on screechy speakers but people, who were suppose to catch the trains in morning, still sleeping on platforms unperturbed. We also had an amazing adventure at the Katni station.

The second picture again was taken at midnight on 1st June 2010 at Dubai airport. And well, if someone has been to Dubai airport then its the ideal melting pot of the world. Almost every destination on planet earth could be reached through this one city. This airport, was my first visual outside India. And to my surprise in the middle of the night, I saw Africans, Japanese, Europeans, South Americans, Indians, South-East Asians - all sharing the Starbucks Coffee and almost everyone looking for a lounge-like chair for catching a quick nap before their flight announcements are made.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta