Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the heart was a neighbour but it was the robe after all

A little less than two years ago, I happened to catch a recording of this TV programme from the day that R. D. Burman (aka Pancham) passed away. A point came when Gulzar spoke about his late friend. The feature cut to a rehearsal with Pancham on the harmonium, Asha to his right with a lyrics sheet, and Gulzar to his left. Pancham was guiding Asha along the tune for a couple of lines. I could make out a few fragments (jab bhii aa.Nkhon, aa.Nsuu bhar, log kuchh). A Google search yielded a song from Visaal, the 2001 collaboration between Gulzar and Ghulam Ali, jab bhii aa.Nkho.n me.n. For the Pancham version, the first two lines seemed to have been:

jab bhii aa.Nkho.n me.n aa.Nsuu bhar aaye
log kuchh Duubate nazar aaye

Reuse of lyrics isn't uncommon: Javed Akhtar reused a song (mai.n aur merii aawaaragii) from Duniya (1984) in Sangam, his 1996 collaboration with the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Gulzar himself visited shaam se aa.Nkh me.n) several times (something that deserves a post of its own) including the famous collaboration with Pancham and Asha, Dil Padosi Hai.

Dil Padosi Hai was my first guess as I wondered what album the three might have been working on. Or perhaps (and the eyes of the Pancham fan within widened) it was another collaboration that never came to fruition. An email went out soliciting more insight. The timing was bad and there were no responses.

A year later, another email went out to more perceived fonts of information. The well of luck was dry on arrival.

In February 2008, the video fragment showed up on Youtube and a post went out on the Pancham Yahoo! Group. Hopes were rekindled and this time around luck didn't strike out. Pavan Jha, who owns and maintains the Gulzar portal, managed to dig up more: it turns out that the song was meant for Libaas. This interesting note comes shortly after rumours of that film finally making it out of the cans. Would the Lata-dominated soundtrack (with space for a duet each with Suresh Wadkar and the late music director himself) have featured just this sole Asha song or, perhaps, was the soundtrack destined, at some early stage in the development of the project, to be, as Ijaazat was, another solo Asha vehicle? The wordsmith must know more. One awaits more insight. Meanwhile, it's time to discover the sa.ngiit of the sultan of song yet again. ta ra ta ra ta ra ta ra ...

update [May 23, 2008]: The smoke clears further. A recent post on the Pancham Yahoo! Group offers more chocolate flakes on this cake, courtesy Gulzar himself. Apparently, during a recording session for Libaas, the "camera people" had arrived to shoot RDB composing a song. To humour them, the late great man asked the big G for a line and he obliged. A composition was born and he began guiding Asha along the melody. This means that the tune was never really for this film or for any another planned non-film collaboration. Now, who's got the rest of that footage?

film festival of india at the high museum in atlanta: the 2008 edition

The lineup for the 2008 edition of the Film Festival Of India at the High Museum in Atlanta is up. Brownie points are due for not featuring Bollytrash. The festival opens with Buddhadeb Dasgupta's latest film Ami, Yasin Ar Amar Madhubala/The Voyeurs; this one, just as his last film Kalpurush (which snagged the National Award for Best Film, and also figured in the High's lineup for 2006) features Sameera Reddy. It can't really compete with the range of the recently concluded Indian Film Festival Of Los Angeles (IFFLA) or even boast entries like Brahmanand Singh's documentary Pancham Unmixed: An Unending Journey (which had its world premiere at IFFLA) or something like Mumbai Cutting, but comparisons would be quite unfair; LA is LA, Atlanta is Atlanta and it'll be a long while before the Sprawl of the South generates as much interest in such a film festival.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

pritam's blessing

On March 18, 2008, Barack Obama spoke at the Constitution Centre in Philadelphia, PA. Three days later, the Abbas-Mustan thriller Race hit the marquee. The connection? Race is on my mind.

Friday, April 25, 2008

LipLock Lallu returns

The cheiloproclitic serial kisser returns to scorch the screen with his notorious exosculation in Jannat. The plappering recipient of the amorous attentions of the crinigerous cretin is Sonal Chauhan who was reportedly the first Indian winner of the Miss Tourism International title (she claims to have been crowned Miss India in 2005, although the only title she actually snagged was Miss Provogue 8888). The kissee has this to say about the smoocheroo:

He was not forced to kiss me. The scene required it. It was not hot and steamy. I was not comfortable kissing; neither was Emraan. But the scene demanded it.

Meanwhile, the kisser waxes eloquent as he addresses the issue yet again:

You said you were forced to kiss in the film. If you had it your way would Jannat have been 'smooch-free'?

My director got greedy, I think. He wanted something that young couples could identify with. So one thing led to the other and that probably explains the kissing spree in Jannat.

So, yes, in a way, I was forced to kiss.

Are you comfortable with your 'serial kisser' image?

I don't know why it gathers so much news when I kiss. It becomes a topic of national interest. There are so many others kissing onscreen. I don't give it much thought. It's not even there at the back of my mind. I just want to do good, substantial roles. I am not vying for an image makeover.

I aspire to do films that are different. I don't wish to be a part of stereotypical love stories. I don't see myself duplicating an image or living up to an image. I just do films that I find interesting. For instance, I didn't ask Kunal Deshkmuh if there was a kissing scene in Jannat. I did it because I loved the character. I loved the concept of match fixing and the bookies angle.

Kissing spree?? K for Kiss Sore, anyone?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

a pair of pointers

A Slurry Tale is what happens when the Bard takes over from Quentin Tarantino. [courtesy: GreenCine Daily]

As CAPTCHA continues to march towards Internet ubiquity, it has also started becoming a challenge even to human readers. Here's one example.

update: [April 29, 2008]: Here's more about the feline fecundity unvealed by the footle RapidShare. And then there's the rather interesting step in the evolution of the CAPTCHA. [courtesy: digital inspiration]

Friday, April 18, 2008

alphabet snot

The receding Zs fresh in our minds are merely a portent. The ever successful music producer/director/singer/and-now-actor was only getting started.

There's Pooja Bhatt's Kajra Re, scripted by Mahesh long-resigned-to-filching-for-kicks Bhatt and Bhatt camp regular Shagufta Rafique (who did a Sanjay Gupta with the Korean film A Bittersweet Life and churned out Awarapan on her word processor); the film is rumoured to be a remake of Sadak (which in turn took Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and tried to do a "Computational Complexity for Chimps" with it); Ashutosh Rana does the honours of stepping into Sadashiv Amrapurkar's skirt and sandals.

After sinking to the depths with Shikhar, John Matthew Matthan is hoping to give his marquee worth a shot in the arm by signing the repository of talent for A Love Issshtory, whose title must clearly be a tribute to S4H3.

After unveiling his locks for a brief moment and threatening to parade 'em for more screen time, the man who owes his celluloid beginnings to Salman "The Shirtless" Khan has decided to take a leaf out of the beefcake's book and build up a six-pack to go topless. This masterstroke designed to cause his fans to collapse in joy and the sales of smelling salts to soar was called Chemistry, before creative bankruptcy set in. The new title is Mudh Mudh Ke Na Dekkh Mudh Mudh Ke (that's 4 Ks ... krazzy isn't it?). Also referred to by the heptagrammaton M2KNDM2K (pronounced: emaTuuke aur emaTuuke), the film finds H flanked by Jennifer Kotwal (a model from Bombay who struck gold as a looker in Kannada cinema) and Niharika Singh (Miss India Earth 2005), who, incidentally also shows up in Matthan's paean to scandalous spelling. H's father is reported to have contributed a song to the soundtrack -- a contemporary number that he had composed 30 years ago (euphemistically referred to as "timeless" music). Lest we miss the record, this is H's first triangular love story. Other emotions and geometrical shapes are likely to get their due as time goes by. A nose is just a nose. uu.N!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

another whiff of vishal

[This also fuels my maiden post on the Vishal Bhardwaj blog]

An April 16, 2008 interview with Arshad Warsi beats about the Krazzy 4 bush for the most part and ends with an interesting note: Up next are Golmaal Returns, Shortcut, Munnabhai Chale Amreeca and a film with Vishal Bhardwaj. Now what film is he doing with Vishal?
update: [May 03, 2008]: An April 20, 2008 TOI scrap has another tidbit: The Vishal Bhardwaj film that I'm a part of is a bit strange in terms of language and behaviour.. The only film that seems to match right now is Ishqiya and that has VB as a producer with his long-time associate Abhishek Chaubey making his directorial début.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

pilferaaj pigeon snips again

Sanjay Gupta looks across the seas, but as long as the Malayalam film industry continues to thrive, the patriotic furacious filmophagous purloining P continues to be faithful to God's own country; if he had to remake a foreign flick he'd try and find a Malayalam remake of that flick (either his own doing or someone else's) and thus continue to remain faithful to the frond. Malamaal Weekly proved to be an exception only because the responsibility of remaking it in Malayalam seemed to have fallen on his trusty shoulders and our Arabian sea-facing Atlas shrugged and decided to do the Hindi remake first.

He makes no mistake this time. He chooses last year's hit Kadha Parayumbol, ropes in Irrfan to replace Sreenivasan (who also wrote the original) and HamStar Khan himself to substitute for Mammootty. The name's Billo Barber and it promises lots of laughter. kisii ke waade pe kyo.n aitabaar ham ne kiyaa, wrote Sahir. I agree. I hope he ropes in Pritam for the music. The highest-paid (in all likelihood) user of torrents in South Asia has been churning out unexciting homogeneous product of late. Being associated with a lift won't hurt in any way -- Anu Malik did that with Akele Hum Akele Tum (with some of the most rewarding stratified stealing on display), Sanjeev-Darshan did it with Mann ... heck! Pritam been doing this with the big P for a while now (Bhool Bhulaiya, Dhol, Bhaagam Bhaag, Garam Masala). One hopes that Priyadarshan will learn from the turmoil surrounding Bhool Bhulaiya and include credit for Sreenivasan.

The Rediff article includes a nice little note (my emphasis): Since the film is made in Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan will romance three girls -- Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. Juhi Chawla will play Billo's wife. And one thought that having multiple heroines was something right down the alley of the likes of Pawan Kalyan, who, in his last release Jalsa managed to spend screen time with Ileana D'Cruz (born to a Muslim mother and a Christian father), Parvati Melton (born to a German father and a Punjabi mother) and Kamalinee Mukherji (from Calcutta; last seen by YT as Kamal Haasan's wife in Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu).

One cannot end without noting another Priyadarshan/Pritam collaboration that packs so much belly-aching irony that it deserves to be made (or remade, if you will). It's a film about a music band fighting piracy. And the film's called Pirate. ##black pearl## ke baare me.n kyaa jaanate ho?. And apparently Pritam's been roped in for the music to Golmaal Unlimited, Rohit Shetty's sequel to his comedy Golmaal [notes on the music], a film that echoes, only in the title, the wonderful middle-class classic of identity creation and theft directed by the late Hrishikesh Mukherjee, which included a reference to Pele and it all comes back to Jack's ship and the mind is now buzzing with references and connections. Oh Möbius!

update [April 17, 2008]: The clouds have sprung a leak. There's another offering in the pipeline from the Raja of Refurbished Reels. It's called Mere Baap Pehle Aap (kindly ignore the grammatical liberties here -- one can always blame Guru Dutt for convincing Majrooh to go with sun sun sun sun zaalimaa pyaar hamako tumase ho gayaa and starting it all). He raids the cellar of Sibi Malayil this time (having done it before with Gardish) and comes up with Ishtam.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

steal krazzy after all these years

The plot thickens and Bollywood sickens. Continually. Unfailingly. The Malayalam film referenced earlier here as being the source for FilmKraft's Krazzy 4, has, it turns out, a parent across the seas in the land where such parents abound -- a film called The Dream Team, a film I only remember by name and star (Michael Keaton). This merely serves as the cake whose icing hit the fan when Ram Sampath (Khakee, Tanha Dil, you know the drill) decided to drag the Roshan butts to court for Bollywood's original sin, plagiarism. In a stunning display of finesse and speed rivalling that of Bollywood producers churning out desii-ised ghosts of foreign flicks, the High Court tossed the cherry to Ram Sampath. The murky aspects on display included SMSs from Hrithik Roshan to Ram Sampath that strengthened the case for the plaintiff asserting that they had gone ahead with using bits from the Sony Ericsson jingle only after receiving a No Objection Certificate from Sony Ericsson. This seemed like Plan B after the affidavit from Rajesh "Vangelis" Roshan stating that the music was his own (bhole o bhole). A sorry state of affairs. A Rs. 2 crore (1,77,34,600 after tax) out-of-court settlement seems to assuaged Ram Sampath and ensured that the comic filch will hit the marquee as planned with the songs intact (imagine the risk of releasing it without the Hrithik and SRK items designed to reel in the crowds). There's this irksome bit from Rakesh Roshan that lingers (note that another article has the date of the letter as December 13, 2007 -- but this is Bollywood; why bother about such small details?):

When I saw Hrithik's 'Thump' ad for Sony Ericsson mobile, I thought I could use some portion of the theme in my film Krazzy 4. In fact, I had requested Sony Ericsson for the same and they wrote to me on December 18, 2007, granting me permission to use the 'Thump' tune. Accordingly, with certain modifications, we recorded the 5.5-minute song.

A careful examination of the covers and sleeves of the CD of the soundtrack fails to reveal any note of acknowledgement for this permission (but this is Bollywood, the crowd screamed again). The case of the uncredited Pyarelal on Om Shanti Om comes to mind.

There's a victory somewhere in this, but one wonders how many more victories will result in a formidable defence against tidal waves such as Pritam Chakraborty.

Do it anyway, just put the K. Krafty Kriminals. Kalm Kchors.

update: [april 20, 2008]: In an interview that covers this and more, Rakesh Roshan notes There should be a novelty in everything you do, every time. I see to it that I don't fall into the trap of making something that has already been explored. That must explain why Khoon Bhari Maang exists even though Return to Eden was around and why Khel exists despite Dirty Rotten Scoundrels having come first.

update: [may 05, 2008]: More pearls from the pilfering pasha himself in a feature dedicated to the making of the video for Break Free: [...] jo ##hip-hop song## hai ... ##I have made a song on that beat for the very first time##. Right!

Monday, April 07, 2008

a cold stab of memory

We were in the middle of a discussion about a little donkey as commonly found in restaurants in the US being probably different from the real deal, when a sliver of memory flashed by the mind: a unique burrito place on Howell Mill Road and its vindaloo burrito. And yet the mind refused to yield its name. Ths cold knife bearing the drips of recollection probed further: the place didn't last long and was soon replaced by an Italian restaurant, which I remember having visited at least once (Figo Pasta and Osteria de Figo continued to dominate as favourites). Once again, the name escaped me. It was only a Google search later that yielded something more substantial than the sign for the burrito place (which boasted the sketch of a little donkey). The magic words: Burrito Art. It's Italian successor (in 2003) was Misto. The original Emory location for Burrito Art closed in October 2005 and the phoenix was another Italian restaurant called Saba. Some say that the ba in the name is a reference to the now-a-thing-of-the-past home of the vindaloo burrito.

Currently playing: Trains by Porcupine Tree

Sunday, April 06, 2008

resurgence of the robe

Buried near the end of a Subhash K Jha exploration of the Shabana Azmi/Smita Patil relationship with tidbits about Shabana Azmi taking the late Smita Patil's sun under her wings[sic] and her noting how much Chitrangda Singh echoes the late Smita Patil is a nugget about Gulzar's Libaas that, despite an impressive soundtrack by the late R. D. Burman and a strong cast, has languished in the cans for years:

Strangely, there's news that Gulzar's long-delayed film Libaas, which was made 20 years ago with Shabana and Smita's husband Raj Babbar, is finally going to be released. Libaas was one of the films Smita had accused Shabana of stealing from her.

Friday, April 04, 2008

transit goes great guns

Georgians (that is to say, residents of the state of Georgia in the United States of America) with concealed weapons permits could carry guns on MARTA trains, and into restaurants as long as they don't drink, under a bill that passed the Senate ... [more].

update [May 18, 2008]: Things like this could happen.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

the daunting stack

Almost a year ago, I waxed in glum disarray about needing to rekindle the reading habit. The library hauls have resumed over the last several months as has the effort to actually read some of those books I snagged in book sales. Although those pesky addictive DVDs still show up in the lists, I've been able to sample a few interesting books, been unable to get through a few before they were due back on the shelves and been able to slap the back cover shut in triumph on a few. The mixed bag has featured clusters by writers who have been favourites:

* Neil Gaiman: Fragile Things: Short Stories and Wonders, Smoke and Mirrors

* Jonathan Lethem: You Don't Love Me Yet [in a strange coincidence, the stash bearing this book also featured the Criterion release of the Preston Sturges gem Unfaithfully Yours containing an essay by Jonathan Lethem

* Shashi Tharoor: Bookless in Baghdad, The Elephant, The Tiger And The Cell Phone -- both unfinished for want of time

* Kurt Vonnegut: Breakfast Of Champions, Cat's Cradle

There were books that had languished long on the "Must read this some day" list:
* Love And Longing In Bombay by Vikram Chandra (please pray for me as I embark upon the mission of trying to get through Sacred Games, the large tome dedicated to Sartaj Singh.

* Hard-Boiled by Frank Miller and Geoff Darrow with its excrutiatingly detailed art and its seductively horrifying exploration of a world ridden with vice

* Kafka Americana where Jonathan Lethem (yes, him again) and Carter Scholz collaborated in solo and duet with a post-post-modern, reflexive set of tales laced with pop culture that presented Kafka as (among other things) the creator of Batman and as a Hollywood screenwriter. This is so much more fun that it sounds like. Then we had the Dennis Hopper biography, the engrossing Bernard Herrmann biography A Heart At Fire's Centre and Sprawl City: Race, politics, and planning in Atlanta by Robert Bullard.

The ones that never got done included

* An Infinite Summer by Christopher Priest: I only managed to read one of the tales, Whores, which offered a delirious experience in synaesthesia (as the train clattered through the devastated towns and countryside, I seemed to taste the music of pain, feel the gay dancing colours of sound)

* Dreaming In Code by Scott Rosenberg

* Samuel Fuller's delightful memoir A Third Face.

Time to get back to Reading Comics and Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons.

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