Wake Up Sid: Serene Serendipity Tuesday, 6 October, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Amit Trivedi, Anupam Kher, Bombay, career, entertainment, family, Iktara, Konkona Sen Sharma, life, Love, movie, Mumbai, Music, photography, Ranbir Kapoor, Review, Rom-com, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Supriya Pathak, Wake Up Sid
I know, I have developed a reputation of writing bad movie reviews. The interpretation can either mean reviews of bad movies or bad reviews of movies; depending on how much disgusted you are with my reviews.
The point is that, I find it much easier to write on bad Bollywood movies. I normally don’t write on movies I like. There are two prime reasons for it.
One- the movies I like are quite obscure, mostly non-bollywood, sometimes even non-hollywood, rare and unheard of [check this article], which restricts my readers putting any useful comment. I find, getting a paltry response and not adding any value (other than notifying handful cinephiles about the existence of such movies) is not enough motivation for me to write about them. However, I have the intention of writing about them in future.
Two- the other type of movies I like are already famous and have obtained a cult following. The reputation of those movies won’t change irrespective whether I write about them or not. Such movies are too popular and have been discussed to death in popular forums. Hence there’s little left to be discussed afresh. So there’s not enough motivation to write on them either.
That leaves me with a very rare occurrence- a new Bollywood movie which is also a Directoral debut, that I can’t resist writing about. Examples- Khosla Ka Ghosla (Dibakar Bannejee),Manorama 6 ft Under (Navdeep Singh), Taare Zameen Par (Aamir Khan), Barah Aana (Raja Menon), 99 (Krishna D K). I beleive a good debut deserves a good review.
I liked Wake Up Sid, the debut film of Director Ayan Mukherjee [writer and asst director of Swadesh and KANK]. Honestly, I kept my fingers crossed knowing it’s the first bonding between K-Jo and Yashraj, both I hate to the core for their overdose of romance, melodrama and uncommon nonsense.
The basic story of Wake Up Sid is an intelligent cocktail of the ingredients taken from the following successful movies, especially the ones by Farhan Akhtar -
1. Jane Tu Ya Jane Na – Today’s youth culture, electronic lifestyle, hedonism and confusion between love and friendship.
2. Dil Chahta Hai- A today’s perspective of urbane and jovial youth, living for the present, escaping from the future
3. Lakshya- Dilemma of youth towards the right choice of career, life, ambition and it’s repercussions
4. Luck by Chance- Tale of struggle and aspiration of a newcomer in Mumbai.
5. Life in a Metro- Relationship and stress in a big city life.
As it should be well understood, nothing in this script is ‘new’ at all- a young boy, college friends, parties, rich self-made dad, a sweet mom semi-blind with affection, hedonistic lifestyle, carefree friendship, defocused future and love disguised as friendship. On the other part we have a new girl in town, confident and aspiring, looking for independence and a future in the big city. They meet, they live together and the rest is formula. Like most rom-coms, the script takes some liberty of over-romanticizing of the situation.
Yet, the movie is a superior from the bollywood bandwagon in lot of aspects. Unlike other bollywood potboilers, it’s not an over the top, melodramatic family drama soaked in bucketful of emotion and impossibilities. Rather it’s a sharp, soft, suave, elegant, practical, colorful, joyous presentation of humdrum life sequences which involves the audience with its not so unexpected twirls. It’s simple, feel good entertainment.
For a change, I would keep this one short and list out my reasons for liking the movie-
Exceptional direction by Ayan Mukherjee with a difficult combination of fresh faces and veteran actors like Anupam Kher and Supriya Pathak. Like most Bollywood movies, there’s a radical and distinct change in ambiance in first and second half in terms of pace and progress, which would have different appeal to different viewers depending on which generation s/he belongs to.
Ranbir Kapoor is outstanding in his roles, with his natural and high coolness quotient, expressive eyes and just the perfect body language. Konkona heavily reminded me of her role in Luck by Chance and Life in Metro, especially for the conversations on overhead tank scenes of the latter. She is brilliantly ordinary and poignant. I think, this would be one of her best role in commercial Hindi film and one of the best on screen chemistry after Irrfan Khan in Life in a Metro. Anupam Kher’s rock-steady performance as affluent but unconventionally responsible dad, complements Supriya Pathak’s projection as a lovable mom, trying to bond the pieces of mother–son relationship with her broken English. Rahul Khanna did much better than Bobby Deol (Dostana) and himself (Love Aaj Kaal) in similar roles. In other short roles Namit Das (Rishi) and Shikha Talsania (as Laxmi, is she daughter of Tiku Talsania btw ?) did wonderfully well, the sparkle in Namit’s eyes and friendship in Shikha’s heart is too bright to be missed. Kashmira Shaw does her bit believably. However, the eye candy girl Tanya’s (Kainaz Motiwala- weirdly fair and fresh) story ended abruptly. The Amit guy (Munir Kabani- facebook profile) of the Mumbai beat magazine was prominent with his intellectual-photographer get-up ( something like Prateek Babbar in Jaane Tu, who was also named Amit)
Shankar- Ehsan- Loy’s music with Javed Akhtar‘s lyric is trendy, catchy and groovy. The title track is a potential chartbuster, but I liked the softer ‘Jaisa hai koi Iktara Iktara’ composed by Amit Trivedi ( Aamir, Dev D) sung by Kavita Seth/ Amitabh Bhattacharyya. The song and visual combo of “Life is Crazy” is probably the most conventional one, yet enjoyable.
The details in the movie is well thought out, the continuity objects are used very well, like the red Lamy used by Konkona or the DSLR of Ranbir. The production quality, camerawork, locations and overall theme is artistically vibrant, urban and contemporary. The set design of the Mumbai Beat magazine office resembled more like a Artist’s studio! Some part of the movie reminds us about the fading romanticism of Bombay (Mumbai, for some sick touchy retard whose a*shole is bigger than his brains) which most of us have lost, in the run. It talks about loving it’s people to love a city.
The movie talks about one’s choice of passion over convention as career, in Sid’s case – Photography. I could connect with him when he realizes that he inherited his flair for photography from his dad, and gives his first pay check to him. That was one of the most emotional yet life like moment of the movie.
This movie would definitely connect strongly to the generation of the achieved Ram Mehras and the generation of the aimless Sids, yet for us who belong somewhere in between, who has lost something to gain something, can pause to say ‘been there, done that’, before stepping into bigger responsibilities of life.
Overall, a clean cinema with abundant light humour, nominal drama about subtle sweet truths of life packed in a superior production design- a perfect treat for the family!
Baul Gaan: Minstrels of Mystic Melody Tuesday, 29 September, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in India, Music, Soceity & Cultures, Videos.
Tags: Auchin Pakhi, Baul, Cryptic lyrics, Ektara, Folk, Hippie, Khanjani, Khartal, Khol, Lalon Fakir, Mistrels, Mridanga, Music, mystic, Paban Das Baul, Purna Das Baul, Rabindranath Tagore, Songs, Video, World Music
This is the second video blog of the series on the context of Durga Pujo and traditional Bengali Culture. The first was on Dhak can be read here.
I have been influenced by Baul gaan since the very first time I have heard a song as a kid. It was a song by Purnadas Baul, the king of Bauls -
Piriti kathaler aatha lagle pore chhare na
Golemaale golemaale piriit koro na
(Love is like sticky juice of jackfruit, it’s too sticky to get rid of
So don’t fall in love when chanced within the perplexity)
I liked the song instantly, though understood the real meaning much later in life. Years later, I got the opportunity to listen to songs of Lalon Fakir and they left me mesmerized. In today’s world of religious divide and materialistic gain, his songs spoke about basics- truth, love and human soul. His songs were like a crack in the wall of my prison, which gave me a glimpse of another world where Icould never go, but wished to. However, Lalon Fakir is a subject in himself and before me; there was another dude who liked him- Rabindranath Tagore.
Khachar vitor, ochin pakhi kemne ashe jai!
Tare dhorte paarle mono beri, ditam pakhir paay.
(Look, how the strange bird flies in and out of cage!
If I could catch, I would bind it with my mind’s fetter)
Thus sang Lalon.
Amar praner manush Achhe prane tai heri tare sakal-khane.
Achhe se noyon-taray, Alok dharay tare na haraye ogo tai heri tare Jethaye sethaye
(The man after my heart lives inside me,
That is why I see him everywhere.
In the gaze of my eye, in the sparkle of light
Oh I can never lose him –
Here, there, everywhere,
Wherever I look, he is right there for me.)
Thus wrote Tagore.
The Baul philosophy of liberal love, life and music existed much before Woodstock happened. A Baul dejects himself from all material bonding, is a wanderer and travels with travels with his Bostomi, his lifemate. It was the Baul culture that made me realize that wearing torn jeans and smoking pot doesn’t mean liberty or being ‘hippiee’, there’s a force much deeper and larger, required to unbelong and love what you love. It’s a state of mind. The biggest expression of Baul philosophy is it’s music- which is melodious, memorable and highly influential. Baul music has inspired poets at home and lyricists and musicians across the globe, time and again. Undoubtedly, Baul gaan today can be considered as one of the influential contribution to World Music. Paban Das Baul’s [Facebook page ] album with guitarist Sam Mills called Real Sugar was released in 1997 featuring the heart-wrenching plea to Khoda, Dil ki doya, he became an instant celebrity on the world music circuit. [Ref link]
Traditional Bauls are conspicuous with there saffron or golden yellow robe, rudrakhsha bands, long beards and hair tied up in top-knot, the single stringed Ektara, the Dugi, the ghungroo and rustic melodious voice. Some of the musical instruments used by Bauls listed below [Ref link ], are featured on the video.
Image found here
Ektara – A plucked single string drone – fingers and thumb are used.
Khanjani – A tabourine without jangles. [ Remember Dylan’s ‘Hey mister tambourine man……’ ?]
Khamak – A rhythmic instrument with one or two strings attached to the head of a small drum. The strings are plucked with a plectrum and they are alternatively tightened or slackened to generate an amazing array of rhythmic and tonal variations.
Mridanga or Khol – A barrel-shaped clay drum with two heads – sort of a combination of the baya and daina of tabla as described above.
Mandira or Kartal – Small bell-shaped cymbals, usually used in Bhajan/ Kirtans.
Ramchaki – A pair of wooden clappers with jangles.
The lyrics of Baul songs are mystic, often cryptic with deeper spiritual meanings hidden under witty wordings. Unfortunately, because the lyrics are deeply related to simple household terms contextual to rural Bengal, it is difficult to literary translate without distorting the theme.
For example, the song featured on the video “Rattir Belay Bou Amake Baba Bolechhe” literally means’ My wife addressed me as dad at night’ is one of the famous song.
I also have the video of the Piriti Kathaler Aatha ( Love is sticky like jackfruit juice) and ‘Jamai Nangta’ (the naked son-in-law), will upload at the next best opportunity.
I should stop here, before it looks like I am writing an essay on Bauls. Let me just conclude this post by adding some facts which might help updating the general knowledge for those who think Baul Gaan is just another form of folk music -
1. Baul Gaan is listed under Performing Arts in UNESCO’s Asia Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage.
2. Mention of Baul culture is found in texts as old as 15th century.
3. Baul philosophy of Syncretism is a subject of philosophical research. The Baul tradition is a mysterious fusion of elements from Buddhism, Saktism (worshippers of goddess Kali – the source of all energies), Vaisnavism (worshippers of Lord Visnu) and Sufi Islam, may well have its roots in the Tantrik Buddhism of Bengal in the 9th and 10th centuries.
4. Rabindranath Tagore was deeply influenced by Baul. His speeches and writings on baul has been compiled into a Book “The Religion of a Man”. Pous Mela (the traditional Bengal version of the festival of Holi) in Shantiniketan still celebrates the festival the traditional way. His song Amar praner manush Achhe prane was a tribute to his attachment to Baul music and Lalon Fakir.
5. A Baul can perform 3 or more musical instruments (the Ektara, the Dugi, the Khanjani and the ghungroo) simultaneously while singing and dancing. [See video]
6. I have seen Bauls using hitech gadgets like Casio keyboards and electric Ektara with pick-ups and portable speakers, even when performing in Kolkata suburban local trains (Sealdah South), for money.
7. Bob Dylan is probably a Baul in disguise.
Related reads for the interested mind-
Dhak: The Sound of Durga Pujo Monday, 21 September, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bengali, India, Videos.
Tags: beat, Bengali, Cluture, Dhak, Dhaki, Durga Pujo, Music, Percussion, Puja, Sound, tradition, Video
This is the first of the series about some of the cultural traditions of Durga Pujo. This year, at the onset of Pujo, I though of sharing some of my old videos.
The sound of Dhak is an inseparable element of Durga Pujo. When the Dhakis (the dummer) hit their sticks on the drum, the unique beat fills the air and creates an atmosphere of joy, mileu and harmony. The gradually rising tempo signifies the mood of the Pujo and the of euphoria of celebration . The video captures some samples from my neighourhood Pujo in 2007.
In the forthcoming posts I would to capture Dhunuchi Naach (the special dance with the Dhunuchhi), Baul Gaan and some more.
Wish you all a very joyous and memorable festive season !
On the context, I found this outstanding student animation work on you tube. by Rajesh Chakraborty, which captures the esssence of Durapujo beautifully. Loved the concept and artwork.