Sunday, August 23, 2009


In the past, I have discussed salesmen and their salestalk, that I dislike. But then there are two sides to each coin. If there are salesmen, then it follows that there must be shoppers as well. One may keep salesmen at bay, but what can one do with a shopper ? Unlike the salesman who is a stranger, the shopper is no stranger to you . She is your own spouse ! And try keeping her away from shopping !

Most ladies are not given to reading newspapers, but they open the local newspaper and find out the ads of "Sale" in the newspaper and decide that they need to go there.

I have mentioned while discussing salesmen that salesmen are trained to regard their customers as naive and fools. They may have valid reasons for their belief, I am sure. Most women, for some reason love to shop. And no, a lady does not like to shop alone. She needs to take at least one more female shopper with her. In case of my wife, it is our 11 year old daughter most of the time. So the two go and do shopping to their hearts' content.Salesmen certainly know how to attract shoppers to their shops. Write "Sale" on a board and display it outside the shop and women will invade the shop in droves. Women like to feel that they get items at lesser prices in shops displaying "Sale" board.

I like to tell her that one should purchase things when one needs them, not when there are shops with "Sale" board on them. I also tell her that doing shopping just for the heck of it is like being a slave to the shop keeper. The money that is with you now, ends up in the hands of the shopkeeper, and you end up with a item you do not need. Such logic falls on deaf ears obviously. My logical remarks are countered by sentimental rhetoric like-"Why is one earning money if not for buying things that one likes. Look at Jains (Indian equivalent of Jones with whom one must keep up) and see how they live in style.What would they think about us." There is no point telling her that the Jains suffer from health and psychological problems and they must surely look at us with envy on these fronts. Moreover, why should one bother what others think about us. But to her, it certainly matters.

Once ladies reach a shop,they love to haggle over price. The shopkeepers know about that, so they suitably inflate the price of the item. After some haggling, the shopkeeper "reluctantly" agrees to sell at a lower price, telling the lady how he is selling the item at a loss just because she is a valuable customer to him. And the lady feels very happy that she got an item at a "good" price.

Ladies also love to go to handicrafts exhibitions.The price available there are already low because there one is purchasing directly from the manufacturer, and moreover the sales in these exhibitions are tax exempted too. But ladies do not realise all this and they haggle over price even in these exhiitions.

The shopkeepers think of new ways to outsmart the ladies. One new trend these days is the offer of "buy one get one free". This in fact has become "old fashioned". Now it is "buy one get four free". The ridiculousness of this offer is lost on all the shoppers. Why would a shopkeeper give you five items for the price of one ? The fact that the price quoted for that one item is in reality the price of all five items is not something that the shoppers are prepared to exercise their brains over. And since they are made to belive that they are getting five for the price of one, their tend not to haggle over price at these shops.

And what are the products that these shoppers tend to buy? It is not books, it is not artifacts, it is not gadgets- it is garments,garments and garments 90% of the time- and remaining 10% of the time it is footwears.

The reason why women buy garments and not books is similar to the reason why they watch TV serials instead of reading books, the former is enjoyable and requires no exertion, and the later is sheer drudgery for them.

And what exactly is the modus operandi of shopping for garments ? The lady goes to a garment shop, and asks for garments to be shown. They are not very articulate in expressing what they want, and as a result end up with thirty-forty of even more pieces of items. And how exactly do they scrutinise and choose what they want ? They take the item in their hands, look at it from one side, then from the other side, and ask "intelligent" questions like, "rang udega to nahin" (the colour will not fade, I hope), "dhone se fatega to nahin" (I hope it will not get torn while washing it"). I have yet to come across a salesman who has replied to these questions in the affirmative, so why waste your breath asking these questions ?

Finally, after spending some couple of hours in a shop, the lady may decide that none of the items suited her requirement. But what exactly was her requirement ? She is not able to explain.

And even when she finally likes a piece, she is not able to explain why she liked it.

What is the role of the spouse of the shopper all this while? Most spouses could well be like the shoppers and they too may enjoy shopping. So they are beside their better half, enthusiastically participating and enjoying their shopping experience.

But what about someone like me ? I agree to take her to the shopping place, that is all. I make it clear that I am not going shopping with her.I mostly wait outside. But sometimes, I am forced to accompany her against my wishes. Most of the time, when she asks me whether I need some new clothes too, I say no. But sometimes, she decides that I need them, and so I am forced to go inside the shop.

The arduous process of choosing the garments commences. I half heartedly participate in choosing them. I do not make any intelligent enquires about the clothes. Then comes the part that I dread the most. Try out these ones, I am told. Taking a few chosen clothes, I am asked to go to the change room and try them out. After putting on each of them, I would come out and demonstrate it to my wife that the garment in question is alright, tight, or lose or whatever. After that ordeal is over, and I am back in my original clothes, I finally try to have a say- this pant is tight, it will not do. The salesman states that it would get loose after a wash. That one in loose, so that will hopefully shrink after a wash, I add sarcastically.

Later, the wife admonishes me not to make such remarks as the salesmen are only doing their job. Yes, they are doing a good job because no one applies one's mind when these salesmen glibly talk about these clothes shrinking or spreading after a wash.

It is because of these dreaded experiences that I prefer waiting outside the shop if I can help it. And this wait could turn out to be quite long. Evening may turn to night, and vehicles of other shoppers, who arrived later, also leave, but there is no indication of my two inhouse shoppers coming back anytime soon. And it is not just a question of walking down a shop and finding where they are. In all this while, they may have visited many shops, and may have gone to some shop in the small bylanes, looking for bargains. Good that we have mobiles these days, I think. I take out my mobile and ring her. What do I hear ? " This mobile is switched off" is the message. The feeling is one of anger, as well as concern. Why keep your mobile switched off, when you have one . It is night time and they have gone somewhere to the interior of the market, which is not advisable. This and other worrying thoughts come to one's mind.

Just as I am despairing and deciding that things are not looking good, what with all others shoppers gone, there they are. They are carrying a few purchased items alright, but she states that she could not get what she wanted . Why should it take her so long only to discover that what she wanted was not available. But I wisely keep my opinion to myself. I only tell her that she should have kept her mobile on . My mobile, where is it ? She searches for it, but as usual she is unable to find it. She asks me to call her number, and I tell her that the phone was switched off, so there was no use calling that number.

By now, I have realised that shopping is her way of unwinding. More than buying a thing, it is going to a shop and spending time making enquiries etc is what matters to ladies. Just going there, buying an item and coming out of the shop in a few minutes is not for them. If I have to buy something ( it would mostly be a book, not a garment), I would just go to a shop, locate the book, buy it and come out of the shop, and the whole exercise will not take more than a few minutes. I will not ask for ten copies of the same or similar books and I will not make enquiries like "will the pages of the book get dog eared", "the cover is not looking right, show the cover in some other colour". In fact, if I go to a shop and end up spending some time inside the shop, I feel obliged to buy something. But that is not the case with ladies. They have no compunction wasting their own time as well as that of the shopkeepers. Of course, neither of the parties regard it as wastage of time.

So we come back home, and it turns out that her mobile was left behind in the home. She switches it on, and rings her sister/ cousin/ acquaintance and gabs for half an hour talking about her shopping experience. Yes, ladies can spend as much time talking on phone as they do in shopping. While shopping, they are filling up the coffers of the garment sellers. While talking on phone (they too have the equivalent of "Sale" tag- they call it cheaper talk time), they are filling up the coffers of the telephone companies. Now I realise why the garment and telephone industry in India is flourishing.
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Once upon a time I watched a reality show on TV

Saas bahu serials
When cable TV came into India, they did not have much idea what to do in the early days.Initially, they had song and dance shows like chitrahaar. Then came serials. Then came Ms Ekta Kapoor, daughter of the erstwhile Jumping jack of Bollywood movies, and she hit upon the jackpot- in the form of Saas Bahu serials. Now, Ekta means unity, but her saas bahu serials have actually caused disunity in many families which have been avid watchers of such serials.

Quiz shows
Then came quiz shows.These quiz shows, hosted by celebrity actors,would reward participants who could reach the hot seat. Of course, reaching the hot seat through by dialling the given numbers was tougher than the tasks that mythological heroes were called upon to perform in the past. These quiz shows in turn were often used to launch new saas bahu serials which followed just after the quiz show.

Reality show
Now, these channels have hit upon another formula. It is called "reality shows". In these shows,people typically sing and/or dance,and their performances is judged by celebrity judges. After their performance, jugdes give them marks. A few participants, getting the least marks get eliminated. Not just the jugdes, public is also asked to jugde the fate of the participants. After the performance, the participants has a message for the audience in which he requests the audience to vote for him through SMS.

Presenter of the show takes sadistic pleasure in announcing which participants are in danger zone, and then it is with great fanfare and melodrama that the eliminated participant is thrown out of the contest.

Dissenting Participants/Judges
Often, some participants who get poor marks allege foul play and stage a walk out. Not just that, sometimes, one of the celebrity jugdes also alleges foul play when his favourite participant gets eliminated, and he too stages a walk out.

Vote through SMS
And there are a huge number of audience who enjoy watching these "reality" shows, but the people who really enjoy it the most are the serial makers and the mobile companies, who roll in megabucks through the millions of SMSes that the public sends to vote for their favourite participants. The revenue thus generated in a matter of hours is easily more than what the sponsors of these serials pour into the coffers of these serial makers.

Watching a reality show
I am one of the few who can never watch these kind of shows, and I make no secret of my aversion for such serials.And as if to tease me, every channel has got this kind of serials at prime time. And incidentally,there are quite a large number of Indian channels these days.

Against the best of my judgement, I decided to watch one such show on 26th january.

What was this show
It was a Zee TV show called "Sa Re Ga Ma" where kids special contests were going on. Kids would sing songs and they would be judged by two celebrity judges- viz playback singers Suresh Wadkar and Sonu Nigam. The show, like all such shows had a host too, the host being son of another playback singer (Udit Narayan).

topic of show for 26 january
So, the programme begins with music, and the teenage host welcomes all, like the grown up hosts do in other such shows, using big high sounding words. The show apparently has songs sung by kids on a particular topic. The topic for 26th january was patriotic songs.I had actually managed to find out beforehand that the topic had to be patriotic songs. You see, I have access to a cluster of supercomputers, which we Rocket scientists use to decode such hard to guess information.

Chief guest arrives
These programmes have one more mandatory member- viz the chief guest. And the host welcomes the chief guest- the one and the only Bipasha Basu. She arrives on the stage, accompanied by background music of "back to the future". And before you have any naughty ideas, she was properly covered in a white sari, which, it appeared to me was not washed with Super Nirma. Not surprising, as she, like Mallika Sherawat, does not have any endorsements with companies that have anything to do with garments.

The kids may be only 10-12 years of age, but they appeared well versed in the manners of such reality shows. It appears that one of the kids had thrown a tantrum in yesterday's programme, like Rakhi Sawant throws in another such reality show, and had walked out of the show. The judge lectured her against such conduct- "buri baat hai", "hamare show me aisa nahi hona chahiye" etc. And if the kid was anything like kids of her age,the message fell on deaf ears ( ek kaan se sunkar doosre se nikaal diya).

Contest begins. A kid comes, and she sings a patriotic song which was at least 50 years old. I am stumped, because I have never heard this song. The judges are equally clueless, going by their facial expressions. But after the song was over, Sonu Nigam must have found out about the song by googling, and he displayed his knowledge nonchalantly by saying things like" How come you sang this song. You are a girl, this was sung by Rafi, even boys would shy away from singing such a difficult song". The girl mouths some sentences memorised by rote- viz I love this song, this is such a nice patriotic song, I always wanted to sing this song, and the jugdes go, wah wah wah wah, bahut achche, bahut acche, taaliyan. After the song, the girl requests the audience to vote for her through SMS, just like the participants do in other such programmes.

Another participant, a boy this time, comes and sings another patriotic song of equally old vintage. But I could vaguely recall having heard the song sometime in the past. And I feel so pleased about myself.

Chief guest intervenes
Then a girl participant comes, sings another patriotic song. Judges, like me, are on a strong wicket this time,as both have actually heard this song before. So, they start finding fault with the performance, something which they could not do with the earlier songs. You misspelt one word- says one judge. You lost the sur at one place,comments the other judge. Bipasha Basu, unable to take this nitpicking, compliments the girl in Bangla that she sang well, and do not get discouraged by such criticism. And it turns out that the girl is Assamese ! Does not matter, Assamese people can understand and talk in Bangla, but the two jugdes are once again stumped. Sonu Nigam tries to curry favour with Bipasha by trying to speak some Bangla, but not with much success.

Another participant sings, followed by another nitpicking by the judges on the diction of the singer. When Bipasha basu intervenes, Sonu Nigam pulls her leg ( figuratively- you naughty!) saying that yes, the singer at least did not get her "ra" and "da" mixed, insinuating that Ms Basu gets them mixed.

Then one kid came, and he sang the song "kar chale hum fida jaan o tan saathiyon" from Haqeeqat. This was one song that everyone had heard about, and everyone appreciated the singer.

Voting by public
Then audience are urged to vote for their favourites, and it turns out that whichever singers are praised the most by judges are kicked out by the audience. Lovely. I enjoyed this part ( wearing my sadistic hat) to see the expressions on the face of the judges.They express their disappointment that the best singer should be kicked out of the show. Their reaction, as well as the reaction of the public is priceless.

I will let you know when I watch another such show. May be I should watch a saas bahu serial next and present my report. So keep watching this space.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kishore Kumar's sad/serious songs- part II

When I decided to post a list of Kishore Kumar's sad/ serious songs, I thought that one post would be enough, since Kishore Kumar is associated more with happy, romantic and comedy songs and I did not think he may have sung more than a dozen or so sad songs.

But when I started digging deep, I began to find many such songs. So I decided to post them in two parts. Now that I am presenting part II, I have come to realise that even two parts are not enough to accomodate all the memorable sad/ serious songs of Kishore Kumar. And that has been quite an eye opener for me.

Kishore Kumar may have sung nearly as many tragic songs as many singers associated with this kind of songs. And I am only talking about those songs that are truly memorable and ever green.

In fact, I even found songs which are not very well known, but they deserve to be bracketed among the list of all time great Kishore Kumar songs. If they are rather unknown today, then it is mainly because these movies where these songs featured had flopped badly.

Now I have become certain in my mind that this is by no means the last part of my my lists of Kishore Kumar's sad/ serious song. I already have enough material for at least two more parts.

I had already presented some 20 memorable sad songs in part I , and here in part II, I present 20 more memorable sad songs of Kishore Kumar. Just go through the list of songs. Wow! I just cannot believe that Kishore Kumar had such a large number of such classy songs under his belt. And as mentioned earlier, there are more to come.

Song 1

Kishore Kumar, otherwise known for his funny roles and lighthearted exterior, made one funny movie "Chalti ka naam gaadi", but afterwards, he tended to make movies on serious subjects, starting from "Door gagan ki chaaon mein." I had presented one song from this movie in part I. All the songs in this movie were serious songs.Here is one more such song from this movie.

Aa chal ke tujhe (door gagan ki chaaon mein 1964) Singer-Kishore,Lyrics-Kishore, MD-Kishore

Song 2
This is one of the first sad songs that Kishore Kumar sang under the music direction of Laxmikant Pyarelal.
Ye dard bhara afsaana (Shriman Funtoosh 1965) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi, MD-Laxmikant Pyarelal

Song 3
This was one the first sad songs sung by Kishore Kumar for Rajesh Khanna under the music direction of R d Burman. Since then. this combination churned out songs after sad songs, all memorable and evergreen, as we have already sen in part I and will see in this part too.
This song finished third in Binaca geetmala final of 1971.
Ye jo mohabbat hai ye unka hai kaam (Kati patang 1971) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi,MD-Laxmikant Pyarelal

Song 4
Kishore Kumar sang most of his classic sad songs under the baton of R D Burman, but papa Burman was the one who mentored and nursed Kishore Kumar into a legendary singer. Here is a memorable sad song sung by Kishore Kumar under the baton of S D Burman and picturised on Dev Anand.
Dil aaj shayar (Gambler 1971) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Neeraj, MD-S D Burman

song 5
When most other music directors were being threatened under the onslaught of the Kishore Kumar-R D Burman hurricane, it was Laxmikant Pyarelal, who turned this threat into an opportunity and composed some memorable sad songs on Kishore in 1970s. Here is one of them.
Mere deewanepan ki bhi (Mahboob ki mehandi 1971) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi,MD-Laxmikant Pyarelal

Song 6
"Amar Prem" had three memorable sad songs sung by Kishore Kumar. Here is the first of them. This song was fifth in Binaca geetmala final of 1972.
Chingari koi bhadke (Amar Prem 1971) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi, MD-R D Burman

Song 7
And here is the second memorable sad song of Kishore from "Amar Prem".
Kuch to log kahenge (Amar Prem 1971) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi, MD-R D Burman

Song 8
This was a Kishore Kumar song sung for an offbeat movie. This song finished 8th in Binaca geetmala final of 1972.
Ye jeewan hai is jeewan ka yahi to hai rang roop (Piya ka ghar 1972) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi, MD-Laxmikant Pyarelal

Song 9
This song finished 25th in Binaca geetmala 1973.
This song paints such a vivid picture of the protagonist leaving his familiar surroundings and venturing into the unknown. And one can visualise it even without watching the video. And the picturisation of this song on real locations is quite impressive.
Musafir hoon yaaron (Parichay 1972) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Gulzar,MD-R D Burman

Song 10
Here is just one of several sad songs from the movie "Namak haraam"
Nadiya se dariya (Namak haraam 1973) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi, MD-R D Burman

Song 11
And here is a memorable song from Majboor, composed by laxmikant Pyarelal. It was one of the first sad songs of Kishore picturised on Amitabh Bachchan.
Aadmi jo kehta hai aadmi jo sunta hai (Majboor 1974) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi, MD-Laxmikant Pyarelal

Song 12
One of the most memorable songs sung by Kishore Kumar was this Laxmikant Pyarelal composition
Gaadi bula rahi hai (Dost 1974) Singer-Kishore,Lyrics-Anand Bakshi,MD-Laxmikant Pyarelal

Song 13
Mili was a remake of Anand, where Jaya played the role of Rajesh Khanna. This movie had two extremely moving Kishore songs. Here is the first.
Aaye tum yaad mujhe (Mili) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Yogesh,MD-S D Burman

Song 14
And here is the secong haunting Kishore Kumar song from Mili.
Badi sooni sooni hai Zindagi ye Zindagi(Mili 1975) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Yogesh, MD-S D Burman

Song 15
This song was 12th in Binaca geetmala final of 1975. But I would rate him at the very top of my personal rating. This song is magic, pure magic !
O manjhi re (Khushboo 1975)Singer-Kishore,lyrics- Gulzar,MD- R D Burman

Song 16
It may not be mere coincidence that a large number of Kishore Kumar's songs were picturised on Rajesh Khanna. Here is another such song.
Mere naina saawn bhado (Mahbooba 1976) Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi,MD-R D Burman

Song 17
A superb song from "Anurodh".
Jab dard nahin tha seene mein (Anurodh 1977)Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi, MD- Laxmikant Pyarelal

Song 18
and here is another song from "Anurodh".
Aate jaate khoobsoorat awara galiyon mein (anurodh 1977)

Song 19
Kalyanji Anandji, another survivor of Kishore Kumar-R D Burman onslaught, makes good use of Kishore Kumar's talent in this song. This song topped the list of hit songs in Binaca geetmala final of 1979.
O saathi re (Muqaddar ka Sikandar 1978) Singer-Kishore,Lyrics-Anjaan,MD-Kalyanji Anandji

Song 20
This movie was made with such hype by the makers of Sholay that one felt this was going to be the biggest blockbuster of all time. But when the dust settled, the only thing that survived from this disaster called "Shalimar" was this memorable song.
Hum bewafa hargiz na they (shaalimar 1978)Singer-Kishore, Lyrics-Anand Bakshi, MD-R D Burman
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Friday, August 22, 2008

Mad ads and fads in India in 1960s and70s-part II

After sartorial fashions, we were subjected to a different kind of fashion. It was not associated with clothes, but with physical appearance. People were subjected to the magazines ads of bullworker where skinny 95 pound kids were shown getting transformed into a clone of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 14 days, else your money back. And at Rs 273/- for one bullworker set ( including VPP charges), it was lots of money those days.

But I do not think bullworker ever refunded any money. In case someone asked for their money back, they would point out fine print which the user did not follow which prevented them from bulking up, hence no refunding the amount.

Then there were ads to increase one's height. Lesser the price of the product, higher the result promised. For instance, for Rs 85/-, you could increase your height by 15 cm, where as Rs 300/- for another product increased your height only by 5 cms. Ads showed the heights of the leading film actors- Amitabbh Bachchan 188 cms, Vinod Khanna 185 cms and Dharmendra as 185 cms. Now I agree to the heights of Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Khanna, but I cannot accept that Dharmendra was 185 cm. He looked much shorter than Vinod Khanna in the movies in which they acted together.

I wonder what has happened to those height increasing ads now a days? Instead of the average height of the leading heroes increasing, now a days, we have the leading heroes half a foot shorter than the heroes of 1970s.

Now a days those ad givers have a much easier job, if they decide to mention the height of the leading heroes of today- something like Aamir Khan 167 cm, SRK 168 cm, salman Khan 166.37 cm, etc. But considering that most leading ladies are taller than the leading heroes, there may not be too many takers for these ads now a days, what with even Rajpal Yadav becoming a celebrity that would make Mukri green with envy.

These days, we have teleshop marketing on TV, in which foreigners tell us, in dubbed Hindi, how they were losers in their lives and how buying the teleshop product made them winners.

I think I have digressed a great deal. It was like going from Bombay to Goa and landing at Kashmir. There was actually a bollywood movie in which it happens.

What I wanted to say was that all these improve your height or get bulky ads required you to sweat out a lot, in addition to parting with your hard earned money. And we Indians being the way we are, we want things for free without sweating it out in the process, and we want results instantly. And "martial arts" offered exactly that. It promised people that they need not improve their height or physique, but they could still thrash big built people by making use of martial arts.

Mainstream audience would not go for "English movies", unless it promised some eye candy. And in case of desi movies, they would keep away from "art" movie. So it was a big paradigm shift for people when they began to throng for movies that were in "English" and moreover they were called art movies- viz "Martial art" movies.

It was the first time in India when tickets of a non desi movie were actually sold on black even in smaller cities, like the one where I was growing up in those days. These movies, called "Enter the dragon", followed by "Return of the dragon" had a skinny hero called Bruce Lee, who was regarded as the best martial art expert in the world. Of course, he was already dead by that time, and that helped add to his legend. Indians could for the first time identify themselves with a hero who was of similar built as compared to most movie goers, and that must have enabled the audience to feel a rapport with him, which they never felt with big built Western actors. Chinky looks suddenly became fashionable.

And believe it or not, people who earlier used to adopt boxing pose while in a street brawl, began to adopt "martial arts" pose while fghting. And in absence of background "dishum dhishum" noise, they would make this noise themselves, accompanied by the yelling, which every self respecting martial artist was required to use as part of his arsenal. No, I am not making this up. I have actually seen people fight in a "martial art" or in more simple terms- "judo Karate" method.

Bollywood too tried to jump into the bandwagon. The resident chinky Danny was roped into a few movies. One new chinky looking actor, Ardhendu Bose, who also had the formidable credentials of being the nephew of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, was signed in a movie. But all these ventures failed.

There was a vacuum in Bollywood movies.Bollywood badly needed a desi Bruce Lee.

In came Mithun da. He proved a package deal. Front stallers could readily identify with him as he looked like one of their own. And he was supposedly trained in martial arts, and looked more convincing in fight scenes than say Rajesh Khanna, Sanjeev Kumar and Dev Saab. And that was enough of a credential for Mithun da to become public's desi Bruce Lee.

In addition, Mithun Da, in between his fights, would also dance ( pronounced as "dense" by him) gyrating around his pelvis. So he got the additional sobriquet of desi John Travolta as well.

Not content with that, his film makers would cast him as top secret agent too. His designation with the word "TOP SECRET AGENT" would be written in big bold letters on his car. In short, Mithun da was Bruce Lee, John Travolta and James Bond, all rolled into one. What more do you want ? His fans simply loved him. The less charitable fans and critics called him poor man's Amitabh Bachchan.

So that sums up my discussion for the day. I will be back for more, obviously.

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Mad ads and fads in India in 1960s and 70s- part I

When I was a young kid a few years old in mid to late 1960s, I noticed that "twist" was a craze among the happening crowd. People would wear tight pants and swivel over the front of their left toe, as if crushing a cigarette butt with their toes, their hands hanging behind their back. This was how one twisted. Bollywood movies those days had a dance scene showing a twist, which was like an item song. One popular "twist" song sung by Manna Dey was "aao twist karen".

People, both men and women, at least in movies, wore very tight dresses. Just look at the Salwar Kurta that bollywood actresses wore those days. To this day I have not yet understood how they managed to get inside such dresses, and once inside, how did the blood circulation fare in their bodies. My admiration for actresses like Mumtaz goes sky high, when I see her dancing and singing with abandon in such tight outfits, and even seen enjoying them.

And as "Om Shanti Om" has shown, the fashion for women those days consisted of hairdo that now appears like Khosla ka ghosla. The women in their 20s looked like Behenjis. Look at Vijayanti Mala in 1950s or Hema Malini in 1970s, for instance.

Just as 1960s was giving way to 1970s, Hippy craze hit India, and the person who capitalised on it was Dev Anand, with his "Hare Rama Hare Krishna". People would keep long hairs and that was called hippy cut.

On the other end of the spectrum was Rajesh Khanna. Though his pants were tight, he would wear Kurta ( or shirt that looked like Kurta to me), and would remain untucked. It was called Baba kurta, I have no idea why this name was given to this dress. But he was the superstar, and his mannerisms and dress had millions of adherents.

When Rajesh Khanna was upstaged by Amitabh Bachchan, we suddenly saw the hair style of people changing. Everyone would instruct the barber to cut his hair in Amitabh style, even though Mukri style may have suited them better. When emergency came, Hippy style (mentioned earlier) became untenable. One of the emergency excesses was on Hippy cut hairs. policemen would round up hippy cut youths and have their hair cut short. I feel that their orders must have been to round up eve teasers, and they decided that eve teasers were those who wore hippy cut, so all people with hippy cut hairs had to pay the price.

Not just fans, even other leading actors like Shashi Kapoor etc started sporting Amitabh Bachchan's hair style. In case Amitabh Bachchan had to be shown growing up as a child, that child too would sport the same Amitabh Bachchan hairstyle- for instance, look at Muqaddar ka Sikandar, where master Mayur, playing young Amitabh has the same hairstyle. I suggest that we should make a movie with Amitabh in lead role called Muqaddar ke Sikandar ka Shahanshah, and in this the kid playing childhood role of Amitabh should sport the same hair style, and in addition, he should sport a while goatee as well, lest viewer are left in any doubt.

There were people, especially in small towns ( farmaish sending towns), who would model themselves on their favourite actors. Filmy magazines often published pictures of people who resembled their idols the most. I recall a filmy magazine publishing the picture of such people, and that included one "Gondia ka Amitabh"

Stars and super stars were not the only ones who had fan following. Small budget movies,e.g. Rajshri Production movies, or those made by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Bhattachharya, Basu Chatterji ( frankly I cannot tell one Basu from the other) had their own following. Amol Palekar, who played the roles of friendly next door neighbourhood youngster, was forever getting outsmarted by a street smart Asrani (Bhondu is the Hindi word that comes to my mind), like in the cartoon serial road runner show. These movies tended to have nice music and it was this which may have saved the day for these movies.

Bell bottoms also came into vogue those days. Look at the movies, and one can find actors and actresses looking ridiculous ( with hindsight), but I, who call this ridiculous now, too wore bellbottoms those days. And naturally I too looked just as ridiculous.

The fashion of bell bottoms which raged like wildfire vanished one fine day, and people no longer wanted to be seen wearing them. What is this fashion, where people suddenly start avoiding to wear that they wore proudly till the other day ? It can only be herd mentality, I am sure.

Fashion for narrow pants was there for a couple of years and then a milder form of bell bottom threatenred to make a comeback, and it did for some time.

And during those days, some other types of fashion were also emerging that would soon take the nation by storm.
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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ravi- composer of iconic songs in Bollywood movies

1950-60 was the era when Bollywood had an embarrasment of riches as far as quality music directors were concerned. There were so many of them that it was difficult to keep track of all of them unless you were a statistian or a historian of Bollywood music. The songs that they composed are popular to this date. Sometimes we may remember the songs and hum them, without being aware about who the music director was. The present generation have heard about the more prominent among them, but even those whose names are not that well known gave us songs that are very well known.

One of the lesser known music director from that era was Ravi. Like Roshan,he bacame popular by his first name whereas His full name was Ravi Shankar Sharma.He started his career in Hindi movies in 1955 with "Vachan" and his last movie was as late as 1990 in a movie called "Aulad ki Khatir". In addition, he gave music in some Gujarati and Malayalam movies as well in 1980s for which he got best music director's award for the state Governments of Gujrat and Kerala as well.For all practical purposes he can be treated as a music director of 1950-70 ( the golden era) though he gave us some good music in as late as 1980s as well.

He may be lesser known today, but when I looked at the list of his popular songs, I was simply amazed.There are quite a few movies under his music direction, where almost every song ( not just one or two) were huge hits and are popular even today. For example movies such as Chaudhavin ka chand(1960),Waqt( 1965), Kaazal(1965),Do Badan ( 1966), Hamraaz ( 1967),Ankhen ( 1968), Ek phool do mali ( 1969)had Ravi's music and almost every song( there used to be 7-8 or more songs in each movie in those days) is popular. These movies were hits, and Ravi's music played a role in making them hits.

In fact, Ravi gave some memorable music even in movies that have been long forgotten.For example, who remembers now that there were movies called Ek Saal(1957),Dilli Ka Thug( 1958), aaj aur kal ( 1963) and Ustadon ke ustad( 1963). The only reason why these movies are still remembered is because of their songs.

Ravi had a long career, spanning over three decades. There have been very few music directors enjoying such long and fruitful career. Here is a list of some of the most memorable songs that Ravi has composed ( or help compose, e.g. in case of the first song). There were many memorable songs that I had to omit from my list.

Here are some of the more memorable contributions of Ravi in Bollywood filmy music

Song 1
Man dole mera tan dole(Nagin 1954)-

No, Ravi was not the music director of this movie, Hemant Kumar was, but Ravi was his assistant in this movie. The been music in the Nagin song was played by Ravi on harmonium. There is a general misconception among fans that Kalyanji had played that on claviolin ( a new instrument- that could be called a synthesiser of that time). He was playing the claviolin but the main tune was on harmonium played by Ravi and not on claviolin. Kalyanji was called only for the tone. Ravi was the chief assistant, rather only assistant of Hemant Kumar and he was the incharge of this song. This fact was brought out by Ravi in a very long freewheeling interview on Vividh Bharati. When Hemant Kumar got the prize of the best music director of the year, he went down to the rear of the hall where Ravi was seated and handed over the trophy to Ravi saying that Ravi too deserved to share this award.
This song finished in Binaca geetmala top three in two consecutive finals- viz 1954 and 1955.

Song 2
Chanda Mama door ke (Vachan 1955)Singer-Asha,Lyrics-Prem Dhawan, MD-Ravi
This was the debut movie of Ravi as a movie director and he delived this song that became one of the first great lullabies to come from Bollywood movies. In this same movie he also composed a song that became popular with beggars all over the country, viz "Ek paisa dede babu". In fact, almost all songs of this movie became very popular at that time.

Song 3
Sab kuch luta ke hosh mein aaye to kya kiya
(Ek Saal 1957)Singer-Talat, Lyrics-Prem Dhawan,MD-Ravi
An iconic tragic song, as everyone would readily agree. It was the first time Ravi worked with Talat, and the result was this fantastic song.

Song 4
CAT cat, cat maane billi (Dilli ka thug 1958) Singer- Asha, Kishore, Lyrics-Majrooh, Ravi

And this was the first time Ravi worked with Kishore Kumar. The result was several outstanding comedy songs in this movie sung and acted by Kishore, ably supported on screen by Nutan, and on playback singing by Asha Bhosle. Other memorable songs from this movie being- "hum to muhabbat karega" and "ye raatein ye mausam, nadi ka kinara". This song finished second in Binaca geetmala final of 1958.

Song 5
Chaudhvin ka chand ho ya aftab ho ( Chaudhvin ka chand 1960) Singer-Rafi, Lyrics-Shakeel Badayuni, MD-Ravi
Producer Guru Dutt had signed Shakeel Badayuni as lyricist, but Ravi wondered if Shakeel Badayuni would agree to work in a movie without Naushad. But Shakeel Badayuni agreed and put Ravi at ease by grabbing his hands and telling him- "maine baahar kahin kaam naheen kiya hai, mujhe sambhaal lena" (I have never worked in outside movies .So please cover up for me.) And the result of this partnership between a nervous lyricist and a nervous music director was a spectacular musical blockbuster.
This sond finished at number 2 in Binaca geetmala final of 1960.

Song 6
Ek woh bhi diwali thi ek yeh bhi diwali hai( Nazrana-1961)Singers-Lata,Mukesh, Lyrics-Rajinder Krishan,MD-Ravi

Need one say anything about this song ?

Song 7
Wafa jinse ki, bewafa ho gaye ( Pyar ka saagar-1961)Mukesh, Lyrics-Prem Dhawan, MD-Ravi

Ravi used Mukesh's voice sparingly, like Talat and Kishore's voice heard earlier, but when he used them, he made their voices count.

Song 8
Ai mere dile naadaan tu gham se na ghabraana (Tower House)-Singer-Lata,Lyrics-Asad Bhopali,MD-Ravi
Surely this song is a music aficionado's delight.

Song 9
Yeh wadiyan, yeh fizayen bula rahin hain tumhe (Aaj aur kal 1963) Singer-Rafi, Lyrics-Sahir,MD-Ravi


Song 10
Sau bar janam lenge( Ustadon ke ustaad 1963)Singer-Rafi, Lyrics-Asad Bhopali,MD-Ravi

A divine voice at its most divine.

Song 11
chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jaayen hum dono (Gumrah 1963)Singer-Mahendra Kapoor, Lyrics-Sahir

Creating great songs using the voice of great singers is alright, but Ravi could make the most of the voices of less gifted singers too. For instance, it is Ravi who utilised Mahendra Kapoor's voice the best. This song is just one of the earliesr example of this fact.

Song 12
Chhoo Lene Do Nazuk Honthon Ko (Kaajal 1965) Singer-Rafi , Lyrics- Sahir, MD- Ravi
Every song in this movie was hugely popular.

Song 13
If Lata/ Asha ever had a Deevar like showdown about singing Rakhi songs, and Lata says- I have sung a great rakhi song like-"Bhaiya mere rakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana", what rakhi song have you sung, haain ?. Then Asha can calmly point at this song.
Mere bhaiyya mere anmol ratan (Kaajal 1965)Singer-Asha, Lyrics-sahir, MD-Ravi

Song 14
Incidentally, this movie is a musical treasure trove. In addition to the above two all time great songs for dipsomaniacs and Rakhi tying sisters,It had an alltime great bhajan too,
Tora man darpan kahlaaye (Kaajal 1965)Singer-Asha, Lyrics-sahir, MD-Ravi

Song 15
Ae meri zohra zabeen (waqt 1965)Singer-Manna Dey,Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi

What a mast song ! It give one goosebumps every time one listens to it.
Waqt was the first multistarrer movie of Bollywood after Kismat (1943). It was thought that a word like "zabeen" would turn off listeners from this song, but that was not to be. It became perhaps the most popular song of the movie where every song was popular.

Song 16
Aage bhi jaane na tu(waqt 1965)Singers-Asha,Mahendra Kapoor,Lyrics-Sahir,MD-Ravi
Another very popular song from Waqt. Incidentally, this movie was the one that pioneered the lost and found formula where familiy members would be lost in a tragedy only to unite in the last reel.

Song 17
Gareebon ki suno (Dus lakh 1966)Singers-Rafi,Asha,Lyrics-Prem Dhawan,MD-Ravi

Just as beggars were despairing, having to sing old songs, they got this brand new song which became their anthem all over the nation, and local train commuters in Bombay those days would readily vouch for this fact.

Seriously, there were quite a few nice songs in this movie, as was usual in most movies with Ravi as the music director.

Song 18
Lo aa gayi unki yaad( Do Badan 1966) Singer-Lata, Lyrics-Shakeel Badayuni,MD-Ravi

There were half a dozen memorable songs in this movie, and this is just one of them.

Song 19
Neele gagan ke tale (Humraaz 1967) Singer-Mahendra Kapoor, Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi

This suspense movie ironically became a hit not because of its story, but because of its songs. This movie provided Mahendra Kapoor with his finest moments in his singing career. I recall this song and other songs from this movie being played on loudspeakers on carts selling ice cream in those days, it was that popular with ice cream vendors.

Song 20
Babul ki duayen leti jaa, jaa tujhko sukhi sansaar mile ( Neel kamal 1968)Singer-Rafi, Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi

This mother of all bidaai songs ( or should it be the baap of all bidaai songs ?) was Ravi's composition. A song that has transcended the barriers of time and this song continues to be uppermost on the mind of every bride's baap in Indian weddings.

Incidentally, there was a very popular timepass song in this movie too that went "khali dibba khali bottle lelo mere yaar".

Song 21
Milti hai zindagi me muhabbat kabhi kabhi ( Aankhen 1968)Singer-Lata,Lyrics-Sahir,MD-Ravi

Song 22
Tumhari nazar kyun khafa ho gayi (Do kaliyan)Singers-Rafi,Lata, Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi
A nice duet song in a movie which had a story of twin siblings. This double role was played by Ranbir Kapoor's mom, who was a kid at that time.

Song 23
Tujhe sooraj kahoon ya chanda (Ek phool do mali 1969)Singer-Manna Dey,Lyrics-Prem Dhawan,MD-Ravi
I can count 8 very popular songs from this movie, and this moving song is just one of them.

Song 24
O Neele parbaton ki dhara (aadmi aur Insaan 1969) Singers-Asha, Mahendra Kapoor, Lyrics-Sahir, MD-Ravi
Like many other movies of Ravi, it had quite a few nice songs.

Song 25
Aaj mere yaar ki shaadi hai (Aadmi Sadak Ka,1977)Singer-Rafi,Lyrics-Sahir Ludhianvi,MD-Ravi
Another very popular song for Indian weddings

Song 26
Dil ki ye aarzoo thhi (Nikaah 1983)Singers-Mahendra Kapoor,Salma Agha,Lyrics-Hasan Kamaal, MD-Ravi

The topic of this movie was not a mainstream topic for a bollywood movie ( unlike 1960s), and public taste had undergone a sea change, still Ravi came up with songs that became very popular, and this song finished at number 2 in Binaca geetmala 1983 final, ahead of another Nihaah song at number 3 ( Dil ke armaan aansuon mein bah gaye).
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Monday, August 18, 2008

India in Olympics-proposed plan

Enough of looking back at Indian sports in the past. Let us look ahead. For the last four Olympic games, Indians have been managing to win one medal each, and the medal's metal is improving too. If it was bronze in 1996 and 2000, it was a silver in 2004 and gold in 2008.

But one medal in one Olympics is just not good enough. It is time when India sports authorities did some thinking.

Knowing fully well that Indian authorities are not likely to exert themselves in such strenuos tasks like thinking, planning, etc, I have done all the hard work for them. So ladies and gentlemen, here is my master plan.

Ancient Olympic games only had individual games. Modern Olympic games too should have included only individual games, but the Olympic movement has been vitiated by the inclusion of team games. With the inclusion of many modern games, each with their own rules, Olympics games no longer offer a level playing field for participants of different disciplines.

For example, look at a team game vis a vis an individual game. In football or Hockey, about two dozen people and officilas huff and puff for many matches before coming up with one medal. On the other hand, an individual game like swimming offers individuals the chance to win many medals. Surely one cannot say that a team winning Hockey of football gold is aless worthy Olympian than someone like Michael Phelps or Mark Spitz. So it makes sense to expend one's energy in individual events rather than team events. If one looks at the most successful Olympic nations, they indeed have adopted this plan.

But even the individual games cannot be said to have level playing fields either. In swimming, we have different events, where you are required to swim differently ( freestyle,backstroke, breaststroke etc) and for different distances and each of these events have medals. Often the same swimmer can participate in many of these events. On the other hand, sports like boxing, wrestling,weightlifting etc have entirely different rules. Here one individual can only participate in one event, but there are many events based on weifght categories, and a team can have participants in all these weight categories. Now, it is not as if the boxing methods are any different for the different categories, so why should we have people of different weight categories take on opponents of similar weight only. Why the same principle should not be followed in atheletics, for instance.In atheletics too, we have huge discuss throwers from European countries having undue adbnatage over small built South Asians. Why not have different weight categories in throwing events too? Then I am sure cricket playing nations from the Indian subcontinent may find a few of their players in the podium in the lighter weight categories.

But I agree that old habits die hard. Indians and their neighbours are so used to playing cricket that they will find it difficult to take to individual games, so instead of turning bowlers with congenitally defective elbows into javelin throwers, why not try and get cricket itself into Olympics. If team sports like Hockey, football etc can be played in Olympics, then why not cricket?

But while trying to get cricket introduced in Olympics, the ICC ( BCCI by default) should not make the same mistake as Hockey or football bodies do. BCCI should try and ensure that there are many sets of medals available in cricket events,like in individual sports. Having many sets of medals in a team game like cricket will be possible, if we can have different formats of limited overs cricket in Olympics. Thus we can have T20, F15, T10 and F5. This is not my idea incidentally. This was the idea of my friend Raja. So I hereby call this idea Raja Babu method of playing cricket ( Raja Babu sounds similar to Duckworth Lewis, and it incidentally is also the name of a tharki Bollywood movie starring Govinda).

OK, if this idea goes through and gets implemented, what is going to happen ? We may find out that India may once again find themselves on the lurch as teams like Korea, Argentina, Netherlands etc may soon catch on and start beating India the way they have started beating India in Hockey these days. Just as England's T20 euphoria evaporated as Chris Broad's over went for six sixes, Indian euphoria with IPL may vanish ( of it has not vanished already) once T20 and its lower variants become Olympic events.

What to do then. I have another plan. and this draws inspiration from events of weightlifting, boxing etc. Just as we have these individual sports based on weight, let us have the team sports of cricket played on the basis of height. There could be cricket events for three height categories- viz short ( players below 5'6"), medium ( 5'6" to 6'), and tall ( over 6' tall players). This will not only ensure that the number of sets of medal will triple ( 3 sets of medals for T20, F15, T10 and F5 each), it will also ensure that India will stand some reasonable chances in the lower height categories. I can visualise Australia, South Africa etc struggling to put up playing XIs in the short category. But Indians should not get complacent. Team like Bangladesh may really become a powerhouse and capitalise in the F5 (short) category.

I would have given this method of playing cricket my name, but I could not come up with the name of a suitable bollywood movie including my name and featuring a tapori set of actors. So I have decided to name this method on a movie featuring another set of tapori actors. Yes, I hereby name this method of playing cricket as Munna Bhai method of playing cricket.
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