Wednesday, June 27, 2007

remembering the boss

[the post from last year]

On his 68th birth anniversary, the first thing one notes is the number of articles online paying tribute to the late great Rahul Dev Burman aka Pancham. One of the longest threads on RMIM (courtesy: Vinay) also ends up (fortuitously) discussing the numbers (useful when you get into debates comparing Pancham and the other great musical directors of yore).

It's been a long while since a compilation CD hit the stands with some of his minor works dusted and cleaned. It's not too much fun to take solace in MP3s ripped off vinyl by considerate fans. There's a certain glee in seeing that bespectacled cheerful enthusiastic face staring back at you on a spanking new CD on the shelves (not to mention the private ego boost at being the only one in the store to not just recognise the songs listed but also to have sat through the reeling wrecks that didn't really deserve them). But the day also makes listening to the scattered nuggets in his ouevre and marvel at the creative verve that makes them shine: the frenetic electric guitar giving way to a crooning Asha Bhosle in a.ndheraa a.ndheraa (from Rani Mera Naam); less-heard mujaraas like aap aaye GariibaKaane (from Sitara) and raajaa ke a.nganaa (from Yaar Meri Zindagi); the unreleased kisii Gariib ke dil se (from Sitamgar), the best song (perhaps) that Shailendra Singh ever sang; the creative hubris of ek hasiin gulabadan (from Karishma); the energy of sharaabii aa.Nkhe.n (from Madhosh); jaa re jaa mai.n tose na boluu.N (from Mr. Romeo), perhaps Pancham's only foray (ironically, given his nickname) into jhap taal... mahafil kaa ye na TuuTe jab tak subah na ho. The list could go on. You've been gone over 13 years now, Pancham, but there's still a lot to cherish and discover in your musical legacy. Here's hoping that the fruit of your adventures in song survives the spate of Revivals and Rare Gems compilations and finds a host of new listeners. A high five to the sultan of song.

wo jinakii na_ii hai ye duniyaa, ma.nzil hai na_ii
piichhe nahii.n dekhaa karate mu.D\-mu.D ke kabhii
sajate hii chale jaate hai.n jiivan kii galii

bag of links: Rishi Kapoor talks about how much Pancham's music contributed to his image | The debt the remix crowd owes him | Gulshan Bawra's reminiscences hosted on indiaFM and the TOI.

The TOI version of Bawra's flashback includes an interesting note about the compilation that I've heard mentioned (perhaps at the PanchamMagic shows):

Then suddenly, in 1994, there was a void. So, I took out all the tapes of our dummy song recordings, which also included our informal conversations, arguments, fights and jokes, and began hearing them. Everytime I miss him, I take out the tapes and listen to them. Aur aankhon mein aasoo aa jate hai," recalls Gulshan.

It was these chats and recordings that gave Gulshan the idea to compile these moments into an album. A unique album that comprises not only R D Burman's classics, but also actual conversations between R D and Gulshan, the creative clashes the two had while making songs and a whole bunch of trivia on Pancham Da.

That's a CD worth looking forward to, if the snatches from the sessions for mai.n huu.N lily (Bond 303) the alternative melody for ruup teraa mastaanaa from the sittings for pyaar hame.n kis mo.D pe (Satte Pe Satta) are any indication.

Monday, June 18, 2007

attack of the animated surroor

[many caps taken off in acknowledgement of JR's early announcement explaining the strange image I saw in news articles]

Since we last mentioned the protean agony incumbent upon us courtesy He-Who-Sings-From-The-Nose, His Mucorrhoeal Vanity has decided to unleash his nasal nuke upon the cherubic promise of the next generation as well. In a supposedly creatively innovative move, He-Maize and his director/comrade-in-ears Prussian Cheddar have found a way to attack the sensitive ingenuous eyes and ears of children using a cartoon featuring the Nose's animated alter ego, HR2 (the second human resource?). The pain of listening to a remix of a passionately snorted ye teraa meraa milanaa is offset by ghastly sights of budding love, synchronised toon dancing, bottle juggling and generous shots of one of the ugliest bearded caricatures in recent toon history. Thanks to the proliferation of information aided by technology, this travesty of techology is available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube. Watch, weep or wrawl. When, according to the Gospel according to Matthew (Chapter 19, verse 14), Jesus famously said "Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." he used the word suffer to mean permit; the barbate bellwether needs to get his Bible right. Teach your children well. Don't mishear his mayhem.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

collateral damaged: the killer

A modified version appears on

I submit that the core appeal of The Killer (in which we give you the pioneering rip-off of Michael Mann's Collateral by the Dhaaper Duo of Hasnain Hyderabadwala and Raksha Mistry and not the John Woo classic) lies in how subliminally Irrfan and Zakir Hussain seem to be undermining every pore of Emraan Hashmi's being on film. Listen carefully to the dialogues and you might walk away from this farce with a smile of satisfaction. While the Liplocking Loser preens, pretends to drive a taxi and offers enough proof that he's as capable of acting as men are of giving birth, Irrfan and Zakir Hussain deliver their bits with paycheque-earning delicious slices of stoked ham.

Zakir Hussain's interpretation of JABBAR (the capital letters come from the strange choice of case in the middle of a newspaper headline seen in the movie) derives from all the footage of Brando's egoistically extravagant contribution as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now combined with the axiom that just being in the same frame as Emraan Hashmi would beat standing in the middle of the dumping ground at Deonar. Irrfan's character, since it's based on one of the two main characters in Mann's original, gets some help from the writer's department. Hyderabadwala and Mistry take the prevailing Vincent, rechristen him as the strong Vikram, give him a passport in the name of Roopchand Swaroopchand, confer upon him a varied taste in music (Begum Akhtar, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, remixes), an interest in urdu poetry and even give Irrfan a chance to sing (which, in keeping with the character, would invite responses like "aaj gaane kii zid naa karo"). Did I mention that the two things his smart-talking wisecrack-spouting Intel Centrino Duo-using contract killer doesn't like are garamii kaa mahiinaa aur A/C me.n pasiinaa? The aforementioned laptop is also the victim of the most egregious bit of product placement in a while. It's bad enough that you can read and figure out what laptop it is; what's worse is that the filmmakers choose to cater to the reading-impaired market (the grotesque subtitles cater to the hearing-impaired cognitively dysfunctional segment of the populace) by giving Hashmi's character the subtle line " Intel Centrino Duo; Good Choice."

Which brings us to Hashmi himself. His presence in the film is assurance that Bollywood refuses to abandon its desire to make the "star" (a term loosely applied lest it offend reasonably good-looking and more deserving peons in government offices around the country) more important than the character. Hashmi plays a cab driver (first gulp) named Nikhil Joshi (second gulp). The name has no bearing on what are essentially the same rabbits jumping out of the same rejected magic hat that he peddles for his multitude of adoring fans. The effeminate woman-abusing platypus is rewarded by the writers with an annoying pet phrase ("correct boluu.N?") and invocations like "e hello! hameshaa khulii rahane waalii khi.Dakii!"

Which was addressed to Riya, played by Nisha "Strut-My-Stuff" Kothari, the latest bag of chaff from RGV's Factory (whose assembly line has been producing only interesting character actors and mostly moronic lead players). She's a bar dancer -- an inspired migration by the writers of this flick from the seemingly less noble federal prosecutor played by Jada Pinkett Smith in the original. Kothari embellishes the sparse opening credits in a dance number set to abhii to mai.n jawaan huu.N with her brazen jiggle and wiggle. Had this been the extent of her involvement in this star vehicle for the ragpickers, one could have rested easy. Alas, she attempts to act. This proves to be a development as disastrous, perhaps, as India's exit from the recent World Cup was to television advertising.

This wet dog gets a bonus shower thanks to the inclusion of a Dubai cop who utters lines in Urdu and then proceeds to translate them into simple Hindi, a counter official who thinks he's God's gift to cool, the predictable Bollywood song sequitur that transports our hero to the sylvan desert and the brilliant deduction made by investigating officials that Vikram is a professional killer simply based on the bodies found. A glimmer of hope comes when the film features a clip from the Sunny Deol starrer Indian featuring the classic snatch of dialogue " mai.n sirf ek police officer nahii.n huu.N; indian huu.N ." Alas, 'tis but a glimmer. If you're still thinking of catching this reeling migraine, I have a tip and a reference. The tip is, dear worshipper of Hashmi's stubble that he does not indulge in his trademark unobfuscated osculations in this film (this is revealed at the end when he says to the drooling camera, "abhii nahii.n"). The reference is to a Gaalib quote that Vikram drops in the film: dil-e-naadaa.N tujhe huaa kyaa hai.

Given that Hyderabadwala and Mistry are devotees of the Bhatt Camp of Inspired Filmmaking, their second release The Train [more about that earlier] is also a filch. The source is the Clive Owen starrer Derailed, which already found a local cousin in Gautham Menon's Pachaikili Muthucharam [more about that here]. Irony rears its ugly head thanks to the rest of the film's composite title: Some lines should never be crossed. Cross ye kiyaa re, kiyaa re!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

they were the wonder years

What would you do if I sang out of tune .... Joe Cocker's impassioned voice ushered in the opening credits of The Wonder Years, one of the gifts of the old Star Plus (specifically the early 90s, but in general when no one would have thought that it would devolve into yet another Hindi channel). Of course, when I first caught the show, I didn't know who Joe Cocker was. I didn't even know this was a cover. I hadn't even heard Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (just how bad things were without the Internet and streaming audio could be the subject of an entire post). I loved the Beatles, but all I knew about their albums was what I read in books in the reference section of The British Library (A series of lucky hunts in small little music stores around town in Pune greatly help restore balance in the universe). I was clueless as a dead robin. But that didn't take away the appeal of the show. I remember awaiting each episode, remembering the characters and their quirks (this, I take it, is standard TV show viewer procedure that has seen new zeniths and nadirs thanks to the K-soaps and other detergents). Subconsciously, I was also getting an education in rock n' roll. The series boasted an extensive set of songs playing in the background; Tragically, the music rights have prevented this series from being released on DVD (the two best-of sets were watered-down sops).

In April 2007, ION Television began airing reruns on weekdays (Monday through Friday) with 2 episodes a day from 2200 to 2300 Eastern Time (Star Plus had pulled a similar move with their reruns of Star Trek:TOS. I plopped before the TV set excited to uncover old memories and see if the show had stood the test of time. While nostalgia hadn't embellished my memories of the show (Winnie Cooper blinking because of her contacts, Joe Cocker's cover, Turn! Turn! Turn!), a few things felt like fresh discoveries: I didn't remember the voiceover being so fast; the soft filters(?) that underscored the TV show sheen of the proceedings. It was also a relief to watch a show free of the one-liners, slickness and references to pop culture falling like raindrops that inundate a lot of the shows of today. But despite the joy of watching each episode, I tuned out after a couple of weeks. I had given up on television a long while ago, getting by with the occasional rerun of shows I watched while I still gave television its due. Perhaps there was a dim hope that this show would find me back before the idiot box, but that was not meant to be. Just as time changed the characters in the show, it had changed me. I should probably be glad I wasn't succumbing to the "evil of television," but I think I lost something valuable. Childhood's end perhaps.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

not beer, not speech, just fine print

Cairbou Coffee offers FREE Wandering WiFi . This ain't gratis or libre. This is RTFP (Read The Fine Print). The ** accompanying the offer should be a useful hint; the essential bit reads: One free hour of WiFi usage per customer per location per day (24 hour period) at which point customer must enter a WiFi access code. Code is obtained by making a minimum purchase of $1.50 (including tax). So, essentially, it's not free for long. Strange things can happen when you use such "free" WiFi. Consider the case of Sam Peterson II in Sparta, MI (yes, the thread already has enough Sparta jokes).

If you want nice coffee, free WiFi and an interesting non-franchise place to spend some time, try Octane (a bucket of thanks to Amogh for discovering the place and recommending it through word and deed). It won Best Coffeehouse in the 2006 edition of Creative Loafing's Best of Atlanta awards, so one hopes that more people will be curious about the place. The WiFi enablers are Ripple (FKA 3rd Wave Hotspot), who've been enabling free Wifi hotspots over Atlanta for a few years now.

The EULA's another manifestation of RTFP. Heck! They've even got a community in Texas called Eula.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

hatless himesh: dismal dirge of the decapitated drone

It wasn't enough that's staff was fawning over the Abhiwarya affair, or the Fardeen knot, or the Karisma knot and not-knot; the absolute pits may have been achieved with the unveiling of what purports to be a photograph of the Toparch of Tristisonous Tautophony himself sans the trademark baseball cap laced with sweat, grime, musical mucago, dulcet dandruff and fabulous fanfare. The person responsible for the accompanying text makes the crucial mistake of assuming "Everyone is curious about how Himesh Reshammiya would look without his trademark cap"; Not so. Hapless readers like YT would like to request more proof that this is same individual responsible for launching Nostril-To-Ear missiles while preening like a rapper swan wearing the same cap and different long jackets. This looks like Suniel Shetty after a bath and some foundation. Should this indeed be The Nose and not Mr. Mischief Dosa, we have an interesting premise for a movie starring the two as twins, distinguishable solely based on bathing habits and choice of headgear.

Elsewhere: notes on the soundtrack and the auto-rickshaws.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

super spider me: now wonder i'm going batty

Most of us know about Superman starring Puneet "I punched Amitabh and he still lived" Issar as Clerk (no typo intended) Kent and Dharam paajii as the desii version of paapaajii Jor-El. If you need a copious refresher, check out the Stomp Tokyo breakdown.

Some of us have even been blessed with (as a friend had noted) the unfortunately less-touted collaboration between DC Comics and Marvel Comics on Indian soil: the song tuu meraa superman / mai.n terii lady / ho gayaa hai apanaa pyaar already from Dariya Dil featuring Govinda and Kimi Katkar dressed up as Superman and Spider[Wo]Man respectively (if you don't believe me, check out the LP cover or the video of the song). Now that the poster of this film featured in The Namesake (you don't catch that did you, dear reader?) one can hope that more people get a chance to view this classic.

For those of us deprived of either pleasure, Fool N Final (release date: today) promises to make up for it. This is choreographer Ahmed Khan's second directorial effort (the first one was Lakeer: Forbidden Lines -- portentous title that -- with a background score that ripped off Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", a Sunny Deol stunt that filched from John Woo's HARD TARGET and a subtitle that read ""are you angry? (reel 4)"). Reportedly, a sequence in the film features not one or two but four entities from the DC and Marvel universes. Take a look.

Ahmed Khan seems intent on riding the homage bandwagon that Farah Khan unleashed with Main Hoon Na. How else does one explain the presence of a character named Gunmaster G9 (played by Jackie Shroff) in the film? This reeling assault on the senses even dares to invite the rage of fans of the original Gopi aka Gunmaster G9 (from Surakksha, Wardar and, to an undocumented extent, Sahhas).
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