Posts filed under ‘Mind Musings’

“Raga On” Anyone?

“Rock On” seemed to have become a cult movie already within days of its release. The Monday late-night show in the neighbourhood multiplex (which usually isn’t jam-packed on a weekday) was proof enough that the curiosity had got the better of me & despite a tiring work day, I went on to see what all those rave reviews were about.

I couldn’t agree more to the fact that the movie managed to blend its soundtrack perfectly with the story, without any one overpowering the other. Now I’ve never been a rock fan, but my musical sense thoroughly enjoyed the rock tracks, at least in the context of the movie. What, however, impressed me more was the sincerity of the characters! Each performance in the film was first-grade and I can bet that this is what will keep the movie going. What stood out for me were the performances by Luke Kenny and Prachi Desai.

Luke’s Rob is perhaps the most understated of all the characters. He doesn’t have a wife or a romantic inclination and compared to the opportunities Farhan or Arjun had to show their prowess, Luke’s canvas was limited. And yet he not only stood on his own, his portrayal of a man passionately in love with his music and friends was endearing. Just watch him in the scene when he receives a call from KD (Purab). His eyes light up, his voice can’t contain the excitement and the ecstasy of a long-lost friend calling makes him rush to the balcony. It’s a brief moment, but one that shimmers.

Another one is Prachi trying to sing “Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh” – the hesitation, the innocence and the rough edges of her voice used to great effect! She brilliantly manages to bring forth her character, that of a dedicated wife who finally begins to understand her husband and his dreams, through this moment.

 (I will now completely digress from what I started with.) 

It was also this particular scene that got me thinking of why Indian Classical Music doesn’t bring about the same passion as Rock Music does. My guess is that the houseful multiplex would have been devoid of an audience had a similar film with Hindustani music as the theme been shown. I’m not trying to put any genre of music above the other. What follows are just some observations from someone who doesn’t get to hear too much of his musical taste in the public domain.

Though even in new age Bollywood, some songs are inspired by Shastriya Sangeet, the brilliance of our musical heritage is limited to a Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas or Mahesh Dattani’s Morning Raga (albeit it was more fusion than pure classical). I was looking forward to Jodha Akbar to recreate the Tansen era in its full musical grandeur. However despite good songs, it was a far cry from the expectations a classical music fan would have had from it.

I do not entirely blame the Bollywood fraternity from shying away from embracing classical music in a big way. They deliver what the public wants. I’m often surprised how very few Indians enjoy a classical raga-based bandish or a thumri. Most of the people around me think of classical music as a musical affliction, consider the case in point.

DD Bharati is Doordarshan’s endeavour to promote Indian heritage and, once in a while, it does beam some really good archival recordings of Classical stalwarts. But the channel is lost in obscurity in the sea of MTV’s and Channel V’s. And when I switch on this channel in the presence of family or friends, I get responses ranging to shock to repulsiveness and in almost all cases I have to flip the channel.

There have been attempts where popular artistes have tried their hand at trying to blend classical with popular music such as Shubha Mudgal, Pohankar father-son duo (Piya Bawari) or the recent “Classically Mild” album by Sonu Nigam. The success has not been overwhelming; in case of Sonu it was a let down, and this perhaps explains why such initiatives are far and few.

Organizations such as SPIC-MACAY have been doing their bit by conducting classical concerts, even though largely concentrated in metro cities like Delhi. At one such concert where Kishori Amonkar performed, I was amazed to an impressive crowd turn up. It was one of the few moments when I realized that I am not alone in my love for Hindustani Classical. But I had my sister along with me, whose stolid behaviour constantly reminded me otherwise. Perhaps Kishori ji read her mind when rebuked the audience, who were also getting fidgety towards the end of the hour long performance, that these days people were lacking the discipline while attending a concert.

I’m not sure if like the cyclical nature of all things, we would ever get back to roots of our muscial traditions. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a “Raga On” meeting with the success of “Rock On” and winning the adulation of a progressing India.

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September 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm 6 comments

The Importance Of Being Sanju

I had confused feelings when I first heard the judgement on Sanjay Dutt last week. My initial thoughts were how would Sanjay Dutt, the loveable Munnabhai of Bollywood, cope with six years of jail. But at the same time, the fact that our judicial system had viewed him as a citizen, who went against the law, not considering his Bollywood celebrity status, was reassuring.

The news channels kept beaming his images all day long, in addition to interviews of scores of Bollywood icons refuting the “unfair” verdict. The next day, newspapers were splashed with statements of every possible Bollywood actor condemning his imprisonment.

And that’s when it got on my nerves.

I know Mr. Dutt only from his films, but when the whole of Bollywood says, I can acknowledge that he is a nice guy. But does that take away the fact that (at one point of time) he was involved with the underworld and was in possession of arms? The law took its course, even if delayed, so why is the issue getting undeserved mileage? Sanju, might be a much-adulated public figure, but why is he being depicted as a child of a Higher God, who has been wronged in every way possible? Even a week after the trial, not an hour goes by when the news channels don’t have someone or the other voicing their sympathies to Sanju baba.

I’m not against Sanjay Dutt, nor do I have a problem if he is let off. But this issue is no longer about an individual. In a country where millions languish in jails, there would be many among them who would have undergone a transformation from their criminal past to a humane present or several innocent ones who are imprisoned without even being guilty. Has Bollywood thought about them? Would it be just to give preferrential treatment to an individual due to his star status and absolve him of his past guilts? If today one star gets to distort justice, tomorrow we may have others, who by their influence and media’s endorsement, will get away with more.

India is a free land and everyone of us has a right to opinion. But why are our news channels and newspapers trying to project this through the eyes of celebs by giving them undeserving coverage to lobby for an individual?

Have we run out of pertinent issues that impact the lives of a collective nation that the entire Indian media has the spotlight on a single man?

August 6, 2007 at 1:43 pm 5 comments

Love – Compromise?

Disclaimer: I'm back to babbling my notions about love. Let me state outright that my feelings are not first-hand, it is observing what I see around. And again, it is more questions than answers.

I have a friend who is so in love, or so his phone inbox tells me; it is filled with countless mushy smses – sent & received. And yet when I probe his feelings, it does not ring true to me.

Yesterday, when I met them together for the first time, I just didn't see the chemistry between them. Infact, the "loved" one later asked me what the likes & dislikes of my friend were. I did not fathom the amplitude of this question, but later when I thought about it, I found it weird that two people could be in love without knowing each other to that level.
Maybe, this is just a case of faking love, but I have seen umpteen people in "love" when you can clearly tell that there is a lot of disconnect between them, when love ought to be a state of effortless compatibility. So is it that people fall in love due to reasons other than love?

I am tempted to believe that sometimes one just decides to get into a relation out of pressure. It could simply be peer pressure; the need to please others around & gain acceptability or it could arise out of a self-need to fight loneliness. Whatever be the case, it does seem to be compromise at the core of it all.

So are we justified to bite into a half-baked loaf just because we haven't been offered a scrumptious piece of cake? Is love akin to a primeval need like food or sex which needs to be fulfilled even if at the cost of "lowering the bar"?

June 22, 2006 at 7:00 am 7 comments


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