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Showing posts from January, 2008

Satyajit Ray’s Agantuk for Kupa Mondoks

Agantuk (The Stranger), 1991 directed by Satyajit Ray

I really enjoyed watching the movie.

In a way, the film was reflective of the attitude of knowledge worship among Bengali middle class of his era. On one hand, there are people who use knowledge as a utility, a tool, and a social propellant; and on the other hand, we have the fascinating character played brilliantly by Uttpal Dutt who knows it all but is he is after the family Money, is what people around him wonder, but it seem so strange. What does he really want? Thoughts of the family member and by now the viewer: He truly is The Stranger

Satyajit Ray managed to weave an eclectic web of philosophical meanderings, discourse on culture, society et al into the story, stired it up like steaming sweet tea and then served it in a Bangla Adda teeming with characters who love talking.
And he managed to pull it off. Fascinating!

Mamata Shankar was great. The scene towards the end of the movie, when she dances with people from lo…

Urdu Poets and Dilli: Love, Longing and Loathing

Mir Taqi Mir (1723-1810) born in Agra but raised at Delhi. When Delhi was savaged by Ahmad Shah Abdali of Persia, Meer left for Lucknow. There he took the patronage of Asafuddowla of Lucknow.
A poem that he recited as areply to the bantering of the elites of Lucknow mocking his battered condition:
'Kiya bood u baash poocho ho poorab kai saakino
hum ko gareeb jaan kai huns huns pukaar kai
Dilli jo aik shahar tha aalam mai intikhaab
rahtay thay hee jahaan muntakhib roozgaar kay
us ko falak nai loot kay weeraan kar diya
hum rahnay waalay hain usee ujray dayaar kai'.
Ye the residents of the east what are you mocking at to know about my where abouts and my origin/ finding me poor addressing me mockingly/ once there was a city of Delhi a select place of the world/where only the chosen professionals lived/ the heavens have looted it to make it a desolate place/I am the resident of that devastated land.

Some other lines of Mir about Dilli

Dilli mein bahut sakhat ki ab ke guzraan―dil ko…

Japanese Jungle Book on Doordashan, it was

Jungle Jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai, aarey chaddi pahan ke phool khila hai phool khila ha)
Ek parinda tha sharminda, tha woh nangaa, aarey aisay to andey ke ander tha vo changaa
Sooch raha hai bahar akhir kyo nikla hai
Aarey chaddi pahan ke phol khila hai phool khila hai
Jungle Jungle pata chala hai, chaddi pahan ke phool khila hai
Jungle Jungle pata chala hai, chaddi pahan ke phool khila hai
- The famous title song of Jungle Book, a cartoon series shown on Indian National channel – Doordarshan, in early nineties.

Most people in India remember Jungle book as a delightful cartoon series that was made popular by a memorable title song composed by famous lyricist Gulzar and set to music by musical genius Vishal Bharadwaj (at that time he was a budding musician, and is now a critically acclaimed film director).

In a previous post about another anime series Taro Ek Dragon Ka Beta, I claimed that Taro was the series that introduced Japanese animation to India. I was wrong.

A closer …

Bandar Log

‘We pretended to be real, to be learning, to be preparing ourselves for life, we mimic men of the New World’

- Ralph Singh narrator of V. S. Naipaul’s The Mimic Men

Road-Song of the Bandar-Log
by Rudyard Kipling

Here we go in a flung festoon,
Half-way up to the jealous moon!
Don't you envy our pranceful bands?
Don't you wish you had extra hands?
Wouldn't you like if your tails were--so--
Curved in the shape of a Cupid's bow?
Now you're angry, but--never mind,
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!

Here we sit in a branchy row,
Thinking of beautiful things we know;
Dreaming of deeds that we mean to do,
All complete, in a minute or two--
Something noble and wise and good,
Done by merely wishing we could.
We've forgotten, but--never mind,
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!

All the talk we ever have heard
Uttered by bat or beast or bird--
Hide or fin or scale or feather--
Jabber it quickly and all together!
Excellent! Wonderful! Once again!

Now we are talking ju…

Missing Children in Popular Hindi Cinema

I believe it was Nirad Chaudhuri who said something to the effect: Children in India grow old as soon as they are born. Depiction of children in Indian Cinema is just an illustration.

Remember the countless Hindi movies― old and new― with perverse logic of young children singing ‘Kya hua tera wada’ or ‘Bachpan ke din bula na dena’, Son of India conducting intimate monologues with God and singing ‘Nanha munna rahi hu’. Young Bootpolish wallay bachay are asked ‘nanhe munne bacche teri mutthi may kya hai’and wisely they reply ‘Mutthi may hai taqdeer hamari’.

Angry youngling with ‘Mera Baap Chor hai’ tattoo gets angry with God in another movie and in a frothy dialogue declares self to be a Nastik, just as the opening credits start to roll. In another movie he pulls a cart carrying his dead father, recently butchered by a mob, all the way to the shamshan ghat. In another movie, he is a beedi smoking foul mouth young would be krantiveer, he is a son of an ex-freedom fighter.

The lineage o…

City That Does Not Sleep

Last year ended with me flying in a plane for the first time in life.
As the plane was seeking higher elevation, on its way to the invisible pathway guided by some Einsteinian equation, I looked out of the window and saw the city I live in. The high roads, brightly lit at geometric intervals by yellow sodium vapour street lights, look like one giant incandescent caterpillar keeping guard of its billion glowing eggs and feeding its tiny crawling larvae.

At four past midnight into the start of this year, I found myself walking all alone on some unknown dimly lit road, with a plastic Bisleri Bottle in hand, somewhere on the outskirts of the city of Panjim in Goa, looking for an open petrol pump.


City That Does Not Sleep

         By Federico García Lorca

In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.

Nobody is asleep.

The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.

The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,

and the man who rushes out with his …