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