Dec 112011

(some things never change – Indian politicians)

And one more artistic great makes his way to the world beyond… This year has seen a severe depletion in the ranks of the greatest and most beloved of cultural icons. Started with Bhimsen Joshi. and then there was M.F.Hussein, Jagjit Singh, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand, and now Mario Miranda. i wonder if there is a cultural event up there.

(some things never change – Mumbai traffic)

Thank you for Ms.Nimbupani, Bundledass, images of Mumbai and Goa.. thank you for all the smiles… happy journey :D

Dec 042011

And one more goes off into the sunset. What a year it has been for Indian Culture -both classical & mass..

Here is a bit a wrote a couple of years ago on his birthday.

Dev Saheb – the original Peter Pan of Indian films. The man who refused to grow up. In fact the films that he made in his first 5 years were far more mature than the films he has made in the last 25 odd years.  A few years ago, a leading magazine had done this list of mysteries. And, right at the top of the list was “Who Funds Dev Anand Films” – I remember sniggering about it, because the stuff he has made in the last two decades, or so, has been quite unwatchable.

Remember Aawal Number – starring Dev Saheb (almost 70) and Aamir Khan (25) – there Dev Anand played Aaditya Pancholi’s elder brother – who was the head of the board of cricket, who is also the head of the anti terrorist squad, who was also half a dozen other things – and of course the hero who saves the day by blowing up terrorists from a helicopter – or something equally inane. It was the last Dev Anand Film I saw (confession, i actually saw the film for Aamir Khan ).

A few years ago a friend of mine went to see Mr.Prime Minister as a challenge – he was the only person in the audience :)

But, when we guffaw at the films that Dev Anand makes today, it takes away from the rich legacy of films that he made till the mid seventies. I don’t consider his body of work post that – simply because it is unfair to him.

The time he made his debut, was just after independence. He ruled the roost with two other mega stars of that generation – Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor.
Dilip Kumar was the tortured hero, Raj Kapoor was the naive hero and Dev Anand played the lovable rogue – more the romantic hero than the other two.

Dev Anand’s collaboration with Guru Dutt produced some gems – Jaal, which i remember watching on DD when i was a kid and sobbing my heart out, Baazi and CID If India ever had a noirish bent of film making at any point of time – it was here .

There was then, the entire string of films as the boy next door – kind, fun and slightly goofy – but totally appealing. Munimji, Paying Guest, Tere Ghar ke Saamne and the ilk- films that were frothy and fun :)

I personally preferred his darker films – like Hum Duno – how i loved that movie and its music – Kala Bazaar – again a great story and great music; and Kala Paani – there was somthing about DevAnand the actor – that made the moral ambiguity or greyness not only plausible but also  attractive. Of all his characters none was more ambigious than Raju Guide – a man who embarks on an adulterous relationship with a married woman – Rosy – in the film Guide. He robs her, and he loves her and the audience doesn’t really see the contradiction in those two acts.

His other film that i thoroughly enjoyed was Tere Mere Sapne – based loosely and not as bleak as A.J.Cronin’s Citadel –  there is his tender little love story with Mumtaz, and of course his total fascinationwth the superstar Hema Malini. The former represents his values, the latter what he could become if he gave up his values.

For me, the final film in his repertoire was Hare Rama Hare Krishna – i personally refuse to consider his filmography after that point.   The film would have got theaters burnt, if it was made today. The story is a man who is in search of his sister who has fallen in – and been brainwashed – by a religious cult – The film is famous for it ‘dum maro dum’ song.

Today, as I remember him, I will leave you with my favorite songs from his films : Enjoy and do add yours to the list

Aug 142011

This morning Shammi Kapoor passed away.

My father was a huge fan of the actor. We grew up with music from his films. Later on when we got a Television – some time in 1985 – watching his films on Doordarshan became a favorite pastime. Ujala, Professor, Kashmir ki Kali, Dil Dekhe Dekho, An Evening in Paris, Junglee, Bhramachari, Teesri Manzil, – were movies that were part of my childhood. All India Radio kept his movies alive by constantly playing his songs.

Later, when I was in the 9th – I saw Hero. Obviously one drooled at a very young Jackie Shroff. But, one couldn’t but agree with Shammi Kapoor’s character who had an issue with his favorite child (Meenakshi Sheshadri) marrying a two bit criminal. The following year I saw Premrog – one of my favorite modern Raj Kapoor films… and again Shammi Kapoor had a fanstastic cameo as a man – Bade Raja Thakur – who wanted to do the right thing – get the widowed Padmini Kholapure married to Rishi Kapoor – but prevented by custom & tradition.

But, Shammi Kapoor wasn’t just the old patriarch in films.

He was the young rebel. The first modern Indian man in films – the one without the angst about life, being Indian, corruption, or any other thing. He was the Hero who laughed, sang, cajoled, flirted, was not just strong enough to beat up the bad guys, but also strong enough to shed tears. He was, for many my generation, the ideal Indian male. The man so secure in himself that he ddin’t need to humiliate women… He just loved us all…

Shammi Kapooraankh mein kaajal, mooh pe pasina ..yaala, yaala dil legayi Lata Mangeshkar & Manna Dey sing for Mala Sinha & Shammi Kapoor

He was a very physical actor – i am sure if you tied up his hands he would not have been able to talk. Legend has it that he ended up dislocating some bones in singing this song. He was trying to keep pace with Mohd.Rafi’s singing.

He had a fine flair for comedy. Though the comedy was also intensely bumbling and physical – the pie on the face kind of comedy. And he was very good at it. This scene in Professor, never fails to crack me up

He was romantic. the Ufff kind of romantic …what woman can say no to a man like this.

And, he could sizzle … passionately sizzle …Dil tera dewana …

and, Raat ke Humsafar with Sharmila Tagore in the film an Evening in Paris

And, he could sulk, and sulk and sulk and sulk …. till the heroine made up, and of course he would accept her eternal love. In that sense he reminded me more of Bhaloo the bear in the Jungle Book than the macho hero :D Here is Ameeta trying to get a sulking Shammi Kapoor to smile

There was no one – then or now – who could quite move like him on the dance floor. the women who could match him step to step – jhatka for jhatka were only two – Helen & Mumtaz

Aaja Aaja Mein hoon Pyar Tera – Shammi Kapoor & Helen

Shammi Kapoor & Mumtaz in Bhramachari … boy could they move

Baar Baar Dekho – Shammi Kapoor - am told that narrow trousers made a comeback after this song :D

No piece on Shammi Kapoor can be complete without talking about Mohammed Rafi – When you hear Rafi Sahab sing for Shammi Kapoor, he managed to capture all the energy, the playfulness, and joy of life that Shammi Kapoor brought to all his roles.

Shammi Kapoor – Jawaniyan ye Mast Mast … I truly love this song the ultimate road song.

And, finally, the song that was the ultimate Shammi Kapoor descriptor

My play list for SHammi Kapoor on Youtube is here – it is work in progress.

Jun 222010

A few days ago, I read that Jose Saramago had died.

I first came across Saramago’s works nearly 20 years ago, when I chanced upon a copy of “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”. It was a fascinating and thought provoking book. It was the first time that i read some thing that could be considered ‘blasphemous‘, though it wasn’t the last. Though, at the time I read it, I neither realised the extent of blasphemy nor the price the author had to pay for expressing it.

The Jesus that Saramago wrote about, was deeply human and terribly vulnerable. He wanted the things that everyone else wanted- peace, security, happiness, a partner, and children. However, divine chess between God and the Devil, ensured that he was martyred. Funnily enough, the Devil in the book, comes across as far more sympathetic than God. The God in this book is much more like Indra than like Ram, manipulative rather than beatific.

The next book that I read was Blindness. I reacted to it the same way that I reacted to Lord of the Flies – with a certain kind of nauseated fascination. While theoretically one knows that ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ are not even skin deep – it is the rapidity and brutality with which it unravels in both stories that disturbed me. It is almost as though morality and conscience are cloaks that we wear, without really internalizing either.

I bought seeing a few years ago, and i have to confess that i still have to read it. Somehow reading Saramago requires a lot of attention and concentration – and the last few years have left me empty of both.

Saramago, has one of the most interesting narrative styles that I have ever read. It is long sentences, with very few full stops. I line is possibly a page:) often sections seem like the inner ramblings of a lead character – but, it is difficult to say, since there are no ” ” marks .

Saramago introduced me an entire range of writers who were writing in Portuguese and Spanish – including Isabella Allende, Marquez, Paz, Llosa – and my life and views are better for that!

Jun 152010

Got this mail from Patrix in the wee hours of this morning

We are shutting down DesiPundit effective midnight (CST) June 15th, Tuesday. It has been a fun five years and we have enjoyed every moment. We wish to thank all Community Members for sharing your content with our readers and I hope we managed to win you some readers.

Over at DesiPundit, people have moved on to other things and time & resources haven’t been as plentiful for those who have remained. The Indian blogosphere and presence on other social media networks has expanded greatly and in our experience, it is no longer possible for human-powered aggregators to keep up; at least on a part-time volunteer basis.

We all will be around on our respective blogs and Twitter accounts and will continue to reading your excellent blogs.

Thank you for reading and contributing.


It was a long journey from the blogmelas from almost a decade ago, to Desi Pundit… and now, like all good things, it comes to an end.

i personally, made some good friends. read some interesting blogs – and finally moved away from MSM.

Good luck to all that put Desipundit together. and thank you for all the effort.

btw that (mis) quote is from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy