Wednesday, December 31, 2008

~*~Childhood Dreams~*~

Analyze this
Morning 6.30, December 10, 1995
My mom shaking me up “Rinku, juss get up beta, you are getting late for school? Jaldi Utho nahin to der ho jayegi!!” And some how I was not in mood of going school, so I started making excuses “Amma, Tabiyat theek nahin lag rahi hai, pet me dard hai”. Mom: “Arre kya ho gaya?? Kya khaya tha raat ko??? Lagta hai Thand lag gai hai, koi baat nahin, aaram kar lo” and I was more than happy, reason being I have to go for a cricket match that day and I might have missed it if I have gone to school. At 7.45 I get out of the bed and said “Amma, now I am feeling good, but ab to school nahin ja paunga, Poora din kya karunga ghar pe” and finally got the permission to go for the match after all this drama…

Did this ever happen to you?
Did you ever escape from your school to enjoy and to roam around or to play?
Did you ever tried to explore the world around you and try to understand it?

Oh confused, now let me ask you what was your wildest fantasies in childhood?? Let me try, to become Superman, a Doctor, an inspector or to be a Chor, a rickshaw-wala or a train driver..
Till age of 8, I always wanted to be a train driver, who can run the train at fastest speed possible and can roam anywhere, then I wanted to be Richard Hadley (My cricket love came in pic), then I wished to be Amitabh (yeah it was influence of his movies) and then Aamir (after watching QSQT, I planned for dying for love) but then the reality hit me hard and now I am sitting in front of the computer writing my random thoughts.
But did we ever try to visualize our journey through all these phases??

No, we don’t have time now cos we are busy in earning bread and butter for us. But yesterday I got my hand on VCD of movie KITAAB and all those things just came in front of my eyes when I was watching this movie.

The movie: Kitaab was released in 1977 and was directed by Sampooran Singh Gulzar (known as Gulzar). This movie tells us ominous and dark story of a boy’s journey, who is budding and trying to understand the world around him.

The Plot: Kitaab is story of a kid Babla, who lives in a village with her mother. His mother don’t want to destroy his future so she sends him to his sister’s place in a city so that he can go to some good school and can make a future... For first few days he liked his school and found a good in form of Pappu, with whom he started to explore the world around him to learn how to make sweets, how magician do their tricks.
In the mean time he started making fun of his teachers at school and enjoyed these things thoroughly. But, when the reports of his apathy towards studies and objections from the teachers concerning his careless activities (as making mockery of teachers, singing in the classroom), reaches to his sister and brother-in-law’s year, they started scolding him. He tried to make them understand about his feelings but then realized that that nobody appreciate what kids think nor they realize their virtue and their perspective for life. He tried to get accustomed to the expectations which his sister and his brother-in-law expects from him but one day he decided to leave off to his village to live with his mother and ran all alone on a train without having any ticket or money.
Ticket-master catches him without a ticket and makes him get off on the next station, where he meets lots of uneducated people who are living in destitution and adversity. In night, he slept under the blanket of old woman beggar and found her dead in the morning. Then he realized that existence is indeed not that uncomplicated for those who are deprived.

What happened to Babla after that??
Was he able to reach home??
What he learned from his venture??

Acting: Master Raju Shrestha as Babla has given a impressive performance as a child who is living in his own dreams and thinks that no one realizes the dreams of kids, their virtuousness and their perceptions. Raju has shown his worth in the movies like Woh 7 Din, Nastik, Khuddaar, Khoon Aur Paani, Khatta Meetha, Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein, Chitchor, Faraar, Deewaar, Abhimaan, Daag: A Poem of Love, Bawarchi and a lot more, as a child artists for various hot-shots of industry. But in this film for the first time he came as a hero around whom the whole movie was build up and he didn’t fail. He beautifully portrayed not only the role of a naughty school boy who has it own fantasies but also as a learner who learn through his experiences. You can just read his eyes to know what is going in his mind, especially when he realized that the old lady with whom he had been sleeping in that cold night was dead. A splendid performance...

Master Tito as Pappu, Babla’s best friend and mate in all mischievous activities. Previously, he appeared in movies as Amar Akbar Anthony (as Young Akbar), Dream Girl, Parvarish, Laila Majnu (as Young Majnu) and Aa Gale Lag Jaa. His mischievousness will make you laugh like anything and I am sure he goona remind you of your good old days.

Vidya Sinha as Mrs. Komal Gupta or Babla’s sister and a model working in an Ad agency had given a nice performance as a sincere sister who thinks of his brother future and scold him for so. Dina Patahk as Babla’s mother, Uttam Kumar as Babla’s brother-in-law Nikhil Gupta, Shreeram Lagoo as Baijuraam, Lucky Ali (yeah i am talking about singer Lucky Ali aka Master Lucky that time) as his friend, T.P. Jain as his always sleeping English Teacher and Keshto Mukherjee as Pandit Shankar Lal had given a superb performances and helped in building the plot.

Music: The music of this movie was given by legendry by R. D. Burman saab and lyrics are by Gulzar himself (as far as I know). Now coming to the songs, tell me how many of you remember the song that ends with VIP underwear Baniyaan!!!
Yeps I am talking about

“a aa i ee, a aa e e, maastarji ki aa gayi chitthi
chitthi mein se nikli billi chitthi mein se nikli billi
billi khaay zarda paan, kaala chashma peele kaan
din taak taak din, din taak taak din,
kaan mein jhumkaa, naak mein batti
haath mein jaise agarbatti
nahi magarbatti, agarbatti, magarbatti, agar agarbatti
agar ho batti kachhua chaap, aag pe baitha paani taap
taap chadhe to kambal taan, VIP, VIP underwear baniyaan”.

I still remember this song by Shivangi and Padmini Kolhapure and it’s picturization. This song is still famous in kids.
OK how about “dhanno ki aankhon mein hai raat ka surma, aur chaand ka chumma” by RD saab himself, must have heard this one cos this is still a hit number. I was shocked when I saw this number over there but it fit well in the situation.
Besides “Hari Din To Beeta Shaam Hui Raat Paar Kara De” by Raajkumar and “mere saath chale na saaya” by Sapan Chakraborty were superb and just fit in the situation.

Direction: Gulzar is famous for his movies that are always very realistic and close to our hearts. In this movie he showed the journey of a growing child where he tried to understand the world around him. In whole movie, he thought like Babla himself to show that how an innocent child observes the world around him. He never failed to capture even a single emotion that can genuinely comes in Childs mind (be it natural disobedience or teasing his teachers or fear when he found that he was sleeping with a dead lady or desperation when he was searching for water , everything was so natural). Hit or flop, this one is will always be among the best creation by Gulzar.

My Take: Kitaab effectively portrays the psyche of young children and their wild fantasies in which they want to do everything. This movie shows the expedition of a boy not only in the world outside his fantasies but also the inside a child's consciousness where they have a thousand of thoughts to do wonders. Childhood is the best phase of anyone’s life but in today’s hectic world children are exposed to harsh realities of the world in their early childhood and are forced to delivery out of their caliber. Through out this movie, Gulzar stepped in the shoes of a young child and showed the journey of an innocent arrogant child who learn from the world around him and choose his fate.
A must watch…..

Friday, December 19, 2008

~*~Colorless Rainbows~*~Whats in their heart???

A girl coming back from school, shocked to see the mourning at her home, she was a bit startled. Suddenly someone asked Do you remember getting married? Girl, aged 10, replies No. A man responds, Your husband is dead.

So now what is her future? What will she do? Whether she will be able to live a happy life there after or will be eschewed for her husband’s death whose even face she don’t remember? During old time in India (and in some places even now), widows have three alternatives to choose after their husband’s death– to be burned with their husbands (as a Sati), to live a life of solitude and confinement in Brindavan or Kaashi (shaving heads and devote their lives to prayer in an ashram) or marry the husband’s younger brother if he is willing and to live on his mercy. In India Brindavan and Kaashi are the cities having widow houses or Vidhwa Ashram that house a lot of widows. In fact, Brindavan is also called as the city of widows, because of the numbers of widows that stay there. Though, they got place to live but still it was never guaranteed that they would now lead a better life and they still are susceptible to sexual and mental abuse, poverty and illness. This twinge and plight of the widows was the theme of movie White Rainbow.

Movie: White Rainbow was released in 2005 and was directed by Dharan Mandrayar. White Rainbow displays an appalling description of widows stripped of their seemliness and dispatched to a life of abject emptiness in a sorrowful city of widows. This movie was said to be inspired from the life of V. Mohini Giri, who guided the social improvement of Vidhwa Ashrams and the rights of Indian widows and was Daughter-in-law of Late V.V Giri.

Plot: White Rainbows was set in the pre-1971 socio-economic problems of widows and tells the story of four widows and their struggle for overcoming the ignominy and vindictive veracity of widowhood in Indian society. Priya Giri, a well educated and well-off young woman is tragically widowed. After her husband’s death, her superstitious in-laws started seeing her as inauspicious and in the mean time some of her friends and in-laws try to sexually abuse her. Totally dejected, depressed and anxious, she finally seeks succor in Brindavan, as other widows of India. But instead of finding solace, she finds a more cruel world filled with viciousness and there her life takes a new turn when she meet Roop, who was rejected by her own children and forced to make her way on the streets and was surviving in the temple town from last 30 years keeping her secrets at her heart, Mala who was brutally disfigured by her mother-in-law who thinks that she was the reason behinds her son’s death and Deepti, a young widow who was forced in an underground prostitution racket run by the pandas of the city. With time there bonding keeps on growing and they started seeing the power of their confidence taking charge of their fates.
Together, this incongruent group confronts the folklore and customs of society that affects not only the treatment of widows but also the widows’ own acquiescence to their misfortune. But, their voyage through a society subjugated by male who always see woman as source of entertainment is not without privation and tragedy. At last, Priya finally realizes that, "Her destiny was to change their fate!"

Are they able to save Deepti from flesh-trade racket?
Will be they able to fight against the myths of society??
And above all will they be able to save themselves?
Watch the movie.

Acting: Sonali Kulkarni as protagonist Priya has given a sincere performance showing the pain of an educated widow who was well off initially but later have to suffer the hardship with right combination of confidence, sophistication, and vulnerability that the central character needed. Amardeep Jha (also known for her role in Naina, Lajja and Zakhm) as Roop, has brilliantly played the role of a rejected widow who is surviving on the money earned by beggary. After giving splendid performance is Shwaas, Amruta Subhash again give a performance of life time as Deepti, a young widow forced in prostitution. Her cries and the pain in her eyes were strong enough to melt the toughest of the heart. Shameem Shaikh as disfigured Mala was back again in a superb performance after playing the role of Shabbo in Chandani Bar. Besides, Virendra Saxena as lewd Pramod Panda who runs a sex-trade racket and Gaurav Kapoor as Dr. Vikram and others as the TV host, the child artist has done a brilliant job in maintain the pace of the movie.
Direction: Before directing White Rainbow Dharan Mandrayar has directed Ele, My Friend in 1992 and won several prestigious awards. After around 13 years he came back with White Rainbow, a movie based on the plight of the widows of Brindavan. White Rainbow brilliantly tackles the topic of widows in India, which has been addressed impassively, unemotionally and plainly; and personified it by focusing on the story of four women who are envoy of many. The best thing about the title White Rainbow, why so? For Indian women, Color is an essential part of their being (in form of Chudis, Bindis, Sindoor and colourful dresses) but when widowed, they are forced to strip of all colors, jewelries and Bindis and are forced to wear white but still they have a countless colors within their hearts and they are like White Rainbow which is colorless, mostly unidentified (to a passing eye, they will look like beggars but still one can see anguish in their eyes) and blending in with the regular clouds or better to say with beggars. A well narrated and handled story without hurting the sensitiveness of the issue.

My Take: White rainbow tells hideous and poignant veracity of yet another essential part of our society–widows, who are considered not only as inconsequential and useless, but also as objects of abhorrence and lust. It provided a platform to a theme that often gets swept under the rug. Through gleaming cinematography and mesmerizing direction the grime and meanness of Brindavan’s streets and ashrams was brusquely shown. Brindavan is a quite dirty city (as i have seen) and to see widows sitting on the dirty streets or lying in some corners was disturbing but still that is the truth. The filth and hideous crimes over there was marvelously contrasted with the immaculate character of lovable and submissive widows who are rejected by their own (not only by their in-laws but also by their children) and constantly abused and totally despondent. But, still one can bond with them, love them, can feel their anguish, hope for them and believe them. White Rainbow also gives a message that we all have the power to change our lives and fate; All we have to do is to just do it!! In spite of being a non-commercial film and a bit slow at places, this movie has the power to hold the viewers attention as ray of light in a bleak world!!!
A worth watch.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

~*~Mesmerizing Music~*~

India and Pakistan, the two countries which are still at odds over Kashmir and terrorism but the music knows no border. Despite all the odds, Indians always looked past the unhappy tirade between the countries and have overwhelmingly accepted Pakistani music. Pakistan is blessed with talent and this talent firstly crossed the forbidden Pakistan-India border in form of Nazia Hasan to sing Aap Jaisa Koi which later on became a youth anthem both side of borders and opened the door for Pakistani singers in India.

This followed by album Disco Diwane in 1984 (by Nazia, Zohaib and Biddu), Gore Rung Ka Zamana (by Vital Signs), Hawa Hawa (by Hassan Jahangir-this was my fav during 90’s), Mehndi ki Raat (by Vital Signs), Ankhain Milane Wale (Nazia Hasan), Purani Jeans and Chaand Sa Mukhda (by Ali Haider), Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar (by Strings), Sayonee (by Junoon) and presently by bands as Jal, Dhaani and Fuzön along with Rahat Fateh Ali khan.

Band Fuzön created a stir in the music arena by there first album Saagar (Specially by their song Akhiyaan, Tere Bina and Khamaaj) but later on the Band split and their main vocalist Shafqat Amanat Ali khan (son of the legendary Pakistani singer Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and their family is also known as Patiala Gharana which is known for its concentration on obscure taan and sargams. After singing in the movies like Kal Ho Na Ho (Mitwaa), Dor (Ye Hosala), Hello (Caravaan), Ramchand Pakistani (Phir wohi Raste) and now he is back with his first solo album Tabeer which is based on Sufi and Folk works.
Here is my take of the album…

Khairheyan De Naal: is the first song of the album with borrowed chorus line from Tufail Niazi’s famous folk song of the same name. This song is about never wanting to leave ones home or desh.
Naam Aaye Naa Bhej Mujhe
Mein Nahi Jaana Pardes
Jis Raanjhe Sang Saans Judi
Woh Ranjha Hai Is Des Re
Mein Nahi Jaana Khairyehan De Naal

The best thing about this mellow song is its unhurried smooth natures which will keep you indulge in emotions. Besides his initial Alaps, use of delicate guitar beats and undulating drums and dhols adds further charm to the song but what does the magic is his classical voice and fortunately this song gave him a platform to show his strong classical based singing.

Naina: oh still floating in emotions, now listen this…

Din me na soye bairi
raaton jaage
Jab se ye pagal naina
tere sang laage
Din me na soye bairi
raaton ko jaage.. Sajna
Piya jag rahi meri akhiyaan
karun yaad me teri batiyaan
karun yaad me teri batiyaan
na bhaye mujhe ab sakhiyaan…

This is a song that achieves his full splendor in a gradual way. And this shows Shafqat talent as a lyricist also. Songs talks about the one who is in love, the emotions, the romance, singing (soft tone alaps ), music (use of dhol and ghughroo and a typical tune between the lines) everything is just superb. Gonna love it for sure.

Dum Ali Ali Dum: This is the song that ruled our hearts for years and here is the Shafqat’s version for us. If you are not going to compare it with legendry Abida Parveen’s and late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s version it is a gem in itself where Shafqat’s classical rustic voice does the magic which he sings it on the softer tones. Incessant techno beats and pleasant-sounding support for the chores helps in arranging a a typical dance number for weddings.

Rang Le: Next track is Rang le, a popular devotional qawalli by Ameer Khusro. This song is a fabulous fusion magnum opus where Shafqat radiantly added Jazz and western tune to this devotional sound track. The gloomy, lingering and evocative melody of the song with soothing lyrics and impressive music arrangement gives this song an edge.

"Humari chunariya, piya ki pagariya, Wo to dono basanti rang de
Tu to sahib mera, Mehboob-e-Elahi, Mohe apne hi rang main rang le."

Bulleh Shah: This song is a Raag Bhairavi based sufiana kalam of Baba Bulleh Shah with a dark haunting but delicate tune. Use of traditional table and flute (by Sajid Ali) was amazing and on top of that is Safaqat rendition. A superb composition.
“Aao saiyo ral deyo vadhaai
Main var paaya raanjha maahi.
Ajj taan roz mubaarak chaddeya
Raanjha saade vedde vaddeya.
Hath khundi, modde kambal dhareya,
Chaakaan vaali shakal banayi.
Aao saiyo ral deyo ni vadhai”
(Come, my friends, congratulate me.I have found my beloved Ranjha.
This day has arrived, this auspicious day,Ranjha has entered our courtyard.Staff in hand, a blanket on his shoulder,In the guise of a menial.)

Pagalpan: This track is taken from Sindhi folk song based on Raag Kaafi and was originally sung by Abida Parveen. This song quite different from the other songs in the album because of extensive use of electronic instruments but due to all this arrangements somewhere Shafqat’s voice got lost and this songs became a mundane one. But still the fusion was amazing although it has a contrasting effect with the rustic tune and his voice.
“Sehra, parbat, basti aur ban
Tujhe dhoond hi lunga main ek din
Rahe mera salamt pagalpan”

Rohi: Next track Rohi (which means desert) is based on Raag Kafi and was sung originally by late Zahida Parveen (a famous punjabi folk singer and mother of Shahida Parveen). This song shows a very appealing merger of its conventional origin and contemporary music giving it a calming feel and Shafqat’s pleasant rendition was simply amazing. Listen it when you are all alone, you will feel its power…

“Rohi ke peer fareed ki, bas chaah hai ek deed ki
mujhe aas hai us eid ki, jo milaye bichhda hua sajan
ho jindadi...jindadi bujhi o yaar sajan”

Kartar: Next track is a Raag Darbari-based Kartar which combines heavy metallic tune with a thespian high-pitched orchestra along with Shafqat’s superb vocals on high pitches. This is the song that Shafqat’s father Ustad Amanat Ali Khan used to sing. This song starts with a raunchy guitar vibration followed by a skilled Alaap and then comes the energetic classical singing by Shafqat. Truly amazing piece of fusion…

Manqabat (Ya Ali): Ya ali is a sufi devotional song where Shafqat had shown the brilliance of her singing. Use of lengthy haunting Alaaps and western music instruments along with sarangi gave song the effect which is required to show the strength of omnipotent. Amazing composition..

My Take: From traditional uniqueness to phenomenon, Shafqat has made his mark through out his journey and earned distinction as a vocalist but not as a composer or musician and this album gave him the platform to show is worth. Though there are some drawbacks too, as in the arrangement of some of the tracks (especially with Pagalpan, which became too synthesized leading to the vocals getting disconnected from the melody.) But overall the album is simply superb especially when Shafqat takes music to an entirely diverse level by splendid elucidation of melody and the mesmerizing orchestral arrangement. A superb album…..

Monday, December 1, 2008

~*~Media: A friend or a Foe~*~

Scene one:
11.30 pm India, 27th Nov 2008, In front of Hotel Taj, Mumbai

NDTV reporter Barkha Dutt reporting Live: “ Aur ye aap dekh sakte hain ki kis tarah se NSG ke commandos andar jaa rahe hain. Aur hum aap ko ye bhi bata de ki theek isi samay pe NSG aur Army ke commandos ne hotel ke peeche se bhi entry shuru kar di hai aur kuch commandos khidki ke raaste bhi andar ghus rahe hain..." (As You can see that how NSG commandos are entering the hotel. And for you imformation Army and NSG commandos are also entering from the back sideand some are trying to enter through the windows too)

Scene Two:
At the same time somewhere near Pakistan Border

A person in black dress, after watching Barkha Dutt Live, switches on his satellite phone and dials a number. After 3 rings some one picks up and then after sharing greetings " Janab abhi humne TV pe dekha hai ki Kuch Commando andar ghusne ki koshish kar rahe hai peeche ki aur kidki se, Aap sab hostages ke saath apni jagahe badalte rahiye, Khuda aap ke saath hain. Hume jaise hi aur khabar milegi hum aap ko batayenge. Hum bharta ke halat aur bure kardenge. Khuda Hafiz..” (We just saw that commandos are trying to enter through backdoor and windows, so keep on changing your position with hostages. God is witj you and we will keep on updating you guys. We have to make situation worse for india)

and then phone went dead…

Scene Three:
11.35pm, India, 27th Nov 2008, Inside Hotel Taj, Mumbai

Abu to kaleem “Abhi message aaya hai ki commandos Ghusne ki koshish kar rahe hai, Sabko pakad ke dusari manjil pe chalo jahan abhi koi nahin aa raha hai. Aur agar koi aayega bhi to hume khabar aa jaye gi” (Just received a message that commandos are entering the hotel. Let’s grab all the hostages and move to second floor where no one is coming. And even if some will come we will know)

Now comes the question, is it ok for media to discuss and divulge all the details of any operation against the terrorism. Aren’t they helping the terrorist by providing them all the live reports how and what Commandos are doing?? But yes, before divulging the plans, every time they say that they are not supposed to say these things but they some how manage to show theses things through their reporters.

Aren’t we going to take some thing seriously? Or Media will be allowed to show the whole exercise and action plans in form of BREAKING NEWS and in term helping the terrorist by providing them information regarding NSG and Army position and Plans…

Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.~~ Hafsat Abiola