Guru Dutt and Shantaram

Saw a film each of these two, Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam and Geet Gaya Pathharon Ne. Liked both. I had always liked Guru Dutt, particularly his angst-ridden films like Kagaz Ke Phool and Pyaasa. This one is where the angst-ridden person is Meena Kumari, the heroine. Again, a classy black and white film, very skilfully directed (by Abrar Alvi), with a very clever screenplay and edit. Some great songs too.

Geet a beautifully crafted modern movie, though it is old, and in colour. About a woman who fights back on being unfairly rejected by a sculptor husband for no fault of hers, it is a bold statement on women's equality, while being conventional too. The title song is haunting. C.H. Atma has sung a couple of songs too, for a character who is a fan of Omar Khayyam. I hope to sample more of these past treasures as time goes on. Thoroughly enjoyed these two movies.

In Defence of Hindi Films

Someone (an idiot?) was saying the other day that Hindi films should be banned. What would a person with three hours to spend do without Hindi flims? The decline in quality of movies is directly linked to increase in violence in society (Maoists are a great example). To extend the logic, would Telangana agitators be on the streets in the hot sun, if Telugu movies had succeeded in keeping them in an airconditioned hall? It could also be because Manoj Kumar has not made any movies lately, that all these separatist tendencies are burgeoning.

Where would all the “maa”s be without the immortal Salim-Javed tribute to them in Deewaar- ‘Mere Paas Maa Hai’ ? Where else could one fantasize about beautiful girls/handsome men (with adequate makeup on, of course)? Where could one escape from reality of sugar- wheat-rice shortages and rationing (60s India), goal-lessness (70s), and corruption (80s and beyond), and again food inflation and consumerist angst (present)?

Imagine as a student, that there were no morning shows to go to. That would mean attending every class in college. What unimaginable agony! Plus all the barbers/hair-stylists and beauty salons would go out of business, if we did not have Katrina cuts, or Bipasha tresses to imitate. Not to mention the fashion industry, the cosmetic industry, and many others. In other words, the nation’s future would be bleak, and Vision 2020 would remain a pipe dream. And Helen may have become a nun.
Urdu would have been long dead but for the Hindi film lyricists. In spite of them, it is barely alive. Imagine Dharmendra tilling the fields, Dev Anand in the army (where he once wanted to be), and Amitabh selling soap! Or even worse, Hema Mailini as a dance teacher, Sridevi as a nurse and Madhubala as a school teacher. What a national waste that would have been. Though I must say, if Katrina retired, spoken Hindi would improve instantly. And Ajit growing grapes on his farm, with Mehmood as his neighbor. What would happen to Michael, Mona and Samba, without their bosses? They would surely be orphaned.

But maybe, the matrimonial industry would have boomed. If you couldn’t take a girl out to a movie, very few avenues (like temple visits, ughhh) would remain to check them out, and the only recourse left would be to go to the matrimonial sites-assuming of course, you wanted to marry.

People who do not talk about cricket would also have nothing to talk about- think back on the hours and days spent discussing the finer aspects of blockbusters like Sholay, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, and many others? That would be a calamity for the nation, but may be the mobile phone would have been invented a lot earlier. Maybe in India.

Most mind-boggling of all, what would all the Kapoors have done? Maybe run a truck company?

How to be Idle and Umberto Eco

I came across Umberto Eco, an Italian author, through a book called Faith in Fakes recently. He has a different style and the content is very interesting too. Probably Italian translated into English. Essays on many things like real art versus fake or proxy art, the view that all spectator sport is a waste of time (unlike individuals playing something for health, fun, etc.), and a lot of other intellectual discussions abound in this book. An interesting idea is that people congregate at events like talks, lectures, not for the speaker/entertainer, but to "do it" as an in thing, to be a part of a whole- hope I am conveying this correctly. (classes at IIM Indore excluded!)

Another good book I just started on is "How to be Idle". This has a take off on Einstein and his anti-idling ways- if he hadn't invented the light bulb, life would have been simpler and stress-free. We would all have slept at night and worked in the daytime, according to the author. Many more gems like this in it. An interesting and hilarious read.

3 Idiots

The unseemly controversy over the story credits has not stopped 3 idiots from becoming a big hit. Chetan Bhagat does have writing skills that connect with the masses. The same can be said of Rajkumar Hirani who made two brilliant films caled Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai.

I have not seen the movie yet, but will see it because it was shot in my alma mater, IIMB. It would be good to revisit the campus anytime. But coming back to author's dilemmas, usually authors are not treated very well by the film fraternity in India is what I feel- I am not referring to the current film here, because I really don't know what happened. The mediocrity of most stories used for films is amazing. It cannot be due to the dearth of good writers. I see old movies (I just saw Ram aur Shyam, and Bobby again) and there were good stories in them. Rather than copying a Hollywood script, film-makers should encourage original writing for their movies. Some examples even in recent times are Lagaan, Jodhaa Akbar, and Gangster.

Telangana and good governance

I wonder what the real motive of anyone demanding separate smaller states is. True, the U.S. has 50 states and is reasonably well governed. But are we governing the best we can with available resources and technology-using it? I doubt it.

Good people at the top may actually do wonders for governance, rather than shrinking the size of the state. A Chandrababu Naidu made a lot of difference, Nitish Kumar seems to be doing the same. Even appointing a few good people can do the trick, as in Mr. Sridhar for the Delhi Metro project. The common man needs to see visible change for the better. Of course, some people would argue that they would rather be left alone by the government. But some interactions are inevitable. Registrations of marriage, birth, death, ration cards, driving licenses, passport issuance, roads, water and power are basic things every citizen must have. The unique identity card project is a good move, hope it succeeds. It is great that professionals like Nilekani are being sounded out and agreeing to get into public service. Let's hope there's more of it in 2010.

Woody Allen

Having seen a few of his movies, I was aware of the wacky sense of humour. So it was with some anticipation that I bought a book (Without Feathers)written by him recently. And he did not disappoint. The same wacko humour is evident on every page. It seems he can take off on anything. The book is a collection of writings about a myriad subjects. His movies are mainly about man-woman or man-God relationships, but this bunch is a lot more diverse.

Another comic from the U.S. who I like is Mel Brookes. His movies from the classic Silent Movie, to Spaceballs, History of the World Part 1, Blazing Saddles, and To Be or Not to Be are all uniformly good. His brand of humour is unique, though some people don't identify with it.

Beach Holiday at Shreewardhan

There is a beach called Shreewardhan. actually, it's a small town on the Maharshtra coast. We went there in a motley group of about 15 extended family members- ages 2 to 80. Had a fabulous time, doing almost nothing except eat, drink and sleep. If you exclude the swimming, the long walks, the meditation sessions including Kriya yoga and Zen meditation, and gup-shup about everything under the sun, from American politics to Indian sports.

Highly sporting dance and music sessions, dominated by the 2 year old (my niece) who danced non-stop for 2 and a half hours. The resort had a tree house, a hammock, charpoys, lots of trees, and no one else but us- I felt as if paradise had been relocated, for the three days I was there. Great place to chill- they even had chilled beer in the town.

Reunion at IIMB

Quarter Ke Baad. That was the brand name of the batch reunion, 25 years later. The campus was welcoming, and a few other batches were also there. We had a feedback session for IIMB with a prof., a session where we debated our own learnings from life, (zindagi kya hai?) and what we could still accomplish, a couple of side trips with no agenda, some good drinks, with music and singing, and a great feeling to carry back- along with the t shirts and caps to keep the memories alive.

The batch has a lot of entrepreneurs and quite a few professors (three or four of whom were there), three guys in the govt services (IAS and IPS), and a bunch of CEOs. Most looked happy with themselves, and a few even shared the secrets! We had been at it for a year almost, from choosing the name (it was a tossup between Pachchees Saal Baad and QKB), to setting up the reservations, mementoes, and the program. All's well that ends well. Looking forward to the next round-quarter ho ya half!

My Name is Anthony Gonsalves

No, of course, it isn't. I am simple trying to recall some songs which made an impact when I first saw them on screen. Some like this o...

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