Saturday, April 29, 2006


Totally random...

All right, have been away from active blogging for too long. A Saturday in office, where I am the only one from our team here, is as good a time as any to write something on my much-neglected blog! There's only one slight hitch: I have no idea what I am going to write about! "But since when has the want of a topic stopped you from speaking?", my friends will immediately object...and rightly so! For someone who takes great pride in 'never saying in 2 words what you can say in 20', writing without a topic should not be a big deal at all! So, here goes...

The 1st thing that I have decided is that there won't be any cribbing at all in this post, this will be a totally positive post. For too long now have I been going on and on about my inhuman working hours, undue stress, and the worst... these strange creatures called 'demons'! Not any more(at least till the next post that is!).

I am sitting on my desk, watching 'Hum' on a cable channel! Was getting slightly bored of watching my channel constantly, so started surfing, and stumbled upon the movie. It's just started, and the cult song of the movie is currently on! No prizes for guessing this one: 'Jumma Chumma de de'! I love watching Hum again and again, it is a totally filmy film! Formulae galore, Bachchan sa'ab at his best, with a new 'distinguished' look with grey hair, lost-and-found, twists-and-turns, but most importantly, cult dialogues and characters. Sample some of them: Amitabh as Tiger, the 'dada' of the dockyards(godi), Danny as Bakhtawar(the king of the godi) who loves his children so much that he is ready to kill anyone who disturbs their sleep, Kimi Katkar as 'Jumma'- the love of Tiger's life who sacrifices her own happiness so that Tiger can take care of his step-brothers... The list goes on and on. But my favorite character from the movie is 'Private General Giridhar', played brilliantly by Anupam Kher! Who can forget his famous Haryanvi accent(and pronouncing 'j' as 'z') when he addresses his sidekick Annu Kapur-"Arzun Singh, kitni baar kaha hai tuzhe, teer mat chhorha kar"(Arzun Singh, how many times have I told you- do not shoot arrows)! Or my personal favorite, when he is just about to set fire to Bakhtawar's wife and daughters - "Bhabhizee bhabhizee swweet bhabhizee! Ab bhabhizee aur bachchezee aag se khelenge"(Sweet sister-in-law! Now sis-in-law and her kids will play with fire!)! He is corrupt, cruel, totally black, but with a wicked sense of humour. You hate him, but you also love him for the panache with which he carries this role off! I just love 'Hum'!

5 new releases this weekend: Darna Zaroori Hai and Gangster in Hindi, Pink Panther, Zathura(A Space Adventure), and Mistress of Spices in English! Ideally want to watch at least 4 of them over the next two days, not too kicked about Mistress of Spices, but everything else, since Monday too happens to be a holiday (Maharashtra Day), though we would have liked it to be a holiday because May 1st is also International Labour Day, and we are all labourers at the end of the day :-)

Also on the agenda is some long overdue shopping: clothes, baaja(music system), and a new mobile if I can freeze upon a good Nokia model! Don't be shocked... I shop like once in 2-3 years, and so it's perfectly normal to have some expensive items in the 'grocery' list :-) Wait, I am forgetting my weekly visit to Crossword... and I also need to check out the new Landmark bookstore that has opened up near my place this week! All in all, this weekend is going to be pretty hectic methinks!

That's all for now folks! This post was more an attempt to get back into the blog-writing habit than anything else! Hope you'll understand and hence pardon the unstructured ramblings!

May the Force be with you!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


The best Bollywood OST in years...

As if all the work/deadlines/dipping TRPs related stress was not enough, my colleagues now have to suffer from my latest craze: the music of Gangster. The day starts with me calling out to a fellow-fan Namita(since I do not have speakers on my comp, having donated them to another colleague long ago):"Apne waale gaane lagao!" And the madness starts...

It's been a long time since I have been so affected by the music of an upcoming film that I've found myself desperately wanting to watch the movie asap, even though I know that in all probability, the movie is going to be a huge disappointment(what else do you expect from Emraan Hashmi anyways!!!) But watch it I will, because the makers of such kick-ass music need to be encouraged, but more importantly, because I can't resist this urge to go and watch this movie First Day First Show types! I am not even going to attempt a proper music review here, I am no critic. What I will do, however, is, give you a glimpse of the music, and what it can do!

The 1st song that I heard from the movie was 'Tu hi meri shab hai...'. Sung marvellously by KK, this is a melodious, catchy, romantic number that you will want to sing to the one that you love! KK remains one of my favorite singers in recent times. Though most people remember him from his private album 'Pal' and 'tadap tadap ke...' from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, my favorite KK number is a Tamil song, Uyirin Uyire' from a movie called Kakka Kakka. I was exposed to this song when I was posted in Bangalore a couple of years ago, and fell in love with it instantly. The music for that movie was by Harris Jayaraj(music director of Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein/Minale). But I digress...

The 2nd song is 'Bheegi Bheegi...' by a Bangladeshi singer called James. It's an intense, passionate, fast-paced song, and is crazy enough to drive you crazy! James does not speak/read a word of Hindi, so the song was written for him in Bangla script, and he sang it in Hindi. The music for this song is not by Pritam, it is an old composition by Gautam Chatterji called 'Prithvi' that used to be sung in Kolkata clubs apparently.

But what takes the cake, for me, is a song called 'Ya Ali...'. Sung by a singer called Zubin from Assam, this song so evocatively brings out the pathos of this love story that it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Sample my favorite stanza from this song:
'Bina tere na ek pal ho,
Na bin tere kabhi kal ho,
Yeh dil ban jaaye patthar ka,
na isme koi hulchul ho
Sanam Pe Haan, Ishq pe haan,
luta doon, mita doon,
main apni khudi'

Loosely translated: Let there not be a single moment without you, nor should tomorrow ever arrive without you. Let this heart turn to stone, and hence not have any emotions/feelings any more. I want to lose my identity for my lover and my love!

I rest my case!

P.s.: The music is by Pritam, the music director of Dhoom(average) and Chocolate(inspired). The brilliant lyrics are by Sayed Qadri(Bheegi Bheegi by Mayur).

P.P.s. Have been absent from my own blog for a long time now, mostly due to lack of time and mind-space, my standard excuses :-) Have been fighting some demons of my own, but that is another story! May the Force be with you!

Monday, April 03, 2006


A public apology to Babu Devakinandan Khatri

Some time ago, I'd written about the fantasy books that had influenced me the most, and were my favorites. Then, some time later, I stumbled upon Adi's blog, where he'd written about an old favorite of mine, a masterpiece which I used to cockily think I was the only one of my generation to have read. Evidently, I was wrong. Like me, Adi too had read this book, and in response to my comment on his blog, he rightfully asked me why I hadn't included it in the list of my favorite fantasy books. I promised him a public apology...and hence this post! The book, or rather books, that I am talking about are Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati, the 'mother of all fantasy fiction', and those who have been fortunate enough to read them will agree that I am not committing blasphemy by saying this!

I was 12 years old at that time. We were on a family holiday trip to the south, and it happened to be my first journey in an AC compartment(Tamil Nadu Express to Madras). Being used to reading something before sleeping every night, but not having anything on my hands(this being a 3 week long journey, mom had prohibited me from carrying any books- "waise hi samaan bahut hai" types), I did the next best thing - looked around for a fellow traveller from whom I could borrow a book. As luck would have it, there was an uncle who was in the berth next to ours, and he was reading a Hindi book in an attractive black cover. When he turned in for the night, I sweeetly asked him what he was reading. "Chandrakanta Santati", he told me. I then asked him, very sweetly this time, if I could borrow the book for some time since he was anyways going off to sleep. "Read on", said he,"but only at your risk", or he should have said that if he didn't, because it turned my world upside down for the next few months. I started reading it and discovered that it was the sequel to a book called 'Chandrakanta', which apparently was a rage when it was published. Worse, it was spread over 6 books. Anyways, I started... and kept turning the pages. Must have read some 100 pages only of the book that night before being forced to sleep, and the uncle left the next morning, but I was as hooked as hooked can be.

As soon as I got back to Delhi, I started making efforts to get hold of the book so that I could complete the madness that had started that fateful night in the train. Luckily, I didn't have to fight too much for it. My chachaji(uncle) was a professor of Hindi in Delhi's Hansraj College at that time, and he used his contacts to arrange for the books for me over the next couple of months. But in my description of the seduction process, I seem to have completely omitted telling anything about the books themselves. My apologies to the readers.

Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati were written by Babu Devakinandan Khatri in the late 19th century. What are they all about??? Well, its fantasy fiction in an Indian context. The original Chandrakanta is about a prince Virendra Singh, who is in love with the princess of a rival kingdom. Her name: no prizes for guessing this one, is Chandrakanta. Thrown into this love story is a 'tilism', a magical maze in an old abandoned fort which is there to guard a huge treasure trove. Virendra Singh and Chandrakanta have to ensure that their love wins against evil villains like King Shivdutt of another kingdom, who wants to capture the treasure, and rival 'aiyyars', sort of super-spies with almost magical powers of transforming themselves into another person, and experts in all modes of warfare. Virendra Singh has his own group of 'aiyyars' led by Tej Singh, to support him. Its swashbuckling fare, with sword-fights, magic, treachery, deceit, bravery, and above all love at it's best!

It's sequel, Chandrakanta Santati, is to Chandrakanta, what Lord of the Rings is to The Hobbit. Its a much more monumental and complex work, spread over six thick books(against the single book of Chandrakanta), and by the time you reach the end of the 6th book, you realize that its been some time since you last breathed! It is the story of the 2 sons of Virendra Singh and Chandrakanta, and has the added attraction of a mysterious mercenary 'aiyyar' called Bhootnath, who has a magical dagger, and plays such an important role in the book that there followed a separate book on him, called 'Bhootnath'.

A small aside on the popularity of the books in their era. Apparently, the publishers used to print one chapter at a time, as and when the author kept submitting them, and on the day the chapter was to be released, there used to be a huge crowd outside the press, and the chapter was sold to people like in an auction.

The sad ending of this story: I have been wanting to buy these books for the last so many years, but they're not available anywhere. I tried on the net, I tried some bookshops in Delhi which keep Hindi stuff, but nothing. All I found was a Diamond Pocket Books version of Chandrakanta, with Shikha Swaroop's photograph on top. I threw the book down in disgust. Some people might recall that Neerja Guleri had made a TV serial called Chandrakanta long ago. I wanted to murder her after watching the serial, because she had made a royal mess of it, totally slaughtering the beautiful story in the process. It had Shikha Swaroop as Chandrakanta, and Shahbaz Khan as Virendra Singh. Anyways, too depressing...

This post is also doubling up as a public appeal: If anyone of you ever comes across these books in any bookshop, or know of any senile old man who wants to sell them before he dies, pls get in touch with me immediately. My kingdom for these books...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?