Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Mac 'smacking' Mohan and We Dares You

Mac Mohan came to Bombay to play cricket but ended up sitting atop a boulder occasionally screaming something about 50 thousand rupees, maybe the sun gave him a streak of white hair that was perhaps second only to Indira Gandhi's ice mane (she of course got it for other reasons).    
At the start of this year I saw Mac Mohan dancing in a song from Chetan Anand's Heer Raanjha (1970) and then saw him without his without his signature streak, uncharacteristically, doing ChaChaCha ( it seems he did a lot of dancing in year 1964). I was shocked. But nothing prepared me for this:

giving 'mouth-to-mouth resuscitation' to his girlfriend(!) Laverne Hall
 Found it at Picasa Galley of Karen having old Magazine scans
Actually I remember a rather strange incident in India's Television space that involved girls stripping in the middle of a busy Mumbai road and Mac Mohan. It happened like this:
In late 1999, Channel V came up with a show called 'V Dares You' in which would ask people to do all kind of crazy stuff for little cash (1,500 Indian rupees or $35). In an episode aired in June 2000, two university girls were dared to strip down to their essentials in the middle of a busy road. A stereo placed next to them, music blaring, they happily went about it. The traffic came to halt, people gathered, girls kept going, crowd was grim - 'A strip in the face of Indian culture. Like cows weren't enough to stop the traffic! Bachao! Bachao!'. It was a nasty scene. Just when you thought it would all end in a tragedy, from across the road towards the girls came running a man with a familiar white steak. An infuriated looking Mac Mohan started waving hands in the air, his expression reading, 'Stop this madness! What's going on? Stop! You can't do this! Don't do this!'. Villain's sidekick to the rescue. And the show was stopped. Girls disappeared. Someone called the police. Later there were arrests (actually the show was already on the watchlist as they had earlier got boys to drop their clothes in Delhi).The show was scrapped, its makers and the channel were dragged to the court on Obscenity charges. It was news for some days but not single report mentioned Mac Mohan.

Coffee, Butter, Chocolate, Chappal, Toothpaste

5 Star Energy Bar ad 1971. More than a decade later it was selling for a princely sum of Rs. 5.

Recreating an Old Song from a page of History

While reading G.T. Vigne's 'Travels in Kashmir, Ladak, Iskardo ' (1844) I came across a sheet of music in which the English traveler had a recorded a tune which he called 'Kashmirian Dancing Girl's Song'.[More about the song at my Kashmir Blog]

Here's a rough rendition (a mix of two variations) of the old song recreated using a software called SharpEye2 that reads sheet music from images and then converts it to Midi form.The output in not entirely perfect (needs lot of manual editing) but the result is really interesting specially the opening tune that does in fact sound Kashmiri:

And it was the opening note that G.T. Vigne found really intriguing as it reminded him of "Liston's Kitty Clover". I tried searching for this Kitty Clover song but the result didn't show up much.

'Women' by Prabuddha Dasgupta, 1996

The book has an introduction by poet-writer Dom Moraes. He drops lines about India's rich erotic past - the poems, the paintings, the books, the sculptures et cetera. It reads almost like a plea that goes - a book like this should not be seen as an anomaly.

In year 1996, a book of nudes featuring Indian women could have been nothing but an anomaly.

Sabse pehle Kuch nahi tha

September 26, 2009
Late last night I got an email from Varun Grover of Jayhindtv appreciating my little blog. Jay Hind is a funny online Tv show, first of its kind, hosted by Sumeet Raghvan (of 'Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai' fame, perhaps the last funny Indian sitcom. Or maybe I long damaged my funny bone). Here's their Youtube channel.

And here's Sumeet Raghvan singing the 'Bharat Ek Khoj' inspired title track 'Sabse pehle Kuch nahi tha' for Jay Hind taking a major dig at the monstrosities that reach our homes through TV. It's funny. Just so that you know who to blame, the evil lyrics are by Varun Grover.

aur chindi type toh bilkul nahi

I actually get a couple of appreciative email from all kind of people every odd month now. I would just like to publicly thank everyone who send me emails. Thank you!

Zeenat Aman Mosaic. Fickle, Cool, Beautiful, Soft

Zeenat Aman Mosaic having 5198 tiles selected from  8793 frames extracted from famous trippy (What was he smoking!) dream sequence song 'Chanchal Sheetal Nirmal Komal' (Satyam Shivam Sundaram,1978). [Click the above image to get a better view. For a still better view, download 3425×4740 pixelss – 7.7 MB Image Here and you may spot the giant pink mushrooms, plaster of Paris Lotus, purple haze, few nebulas,  some  and everything in between]

Created using Andreamosaic . Earlier : Nargis-Raj Kapoor Mosaic

Awara Dream Mosaic. Nargis-Raj Kapoor poster.

Nargis-Raj Kapoor mosaic having 5218 tiles consisting of 5514 frames extracted from famous dream sequence song 'Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi' (Awara,1951). [Click the above image to get a better view. For a still better view, download 4566×3424 pixels – 3.71 MB Image Here]

I created it using a wonderful piece of fee software called Andreamosaic that not only lets you create mosaic from simple images but also from movie clips by extracting images from them.

Honey, You have a Horn on your head!

Asha Parekh and her 'horn' headdress in film 'Mera Gaon Mera Desh' (1971). Can catch it in these songs from this film 'Kuch Kehta Hai Ye Sawan', 'Sona Lai Ja Re' and famous "Maar diya jaaye ya chhod diya jaaye' (but Laxmi Chhaya gives it a pass). Dharmendra may have been enticed by the sight of it on Banjari Asha Parekh's virgin head but here's the interesting thing:

The most distinctive ornament of a Banjāra married woman is, however, a small stick about 6 inches long made of the wood of the khair or catechu. In Nimār this is given to a woman by her husband at marriage, and she wears it afterwards placed upright on the top of the head, the hair being wound round it and the head-cloth draped over it in a graceful fashion. Widows leave it off, but on remarriage adopt it again. The stick is known as chunda by the Banjāras, but outsiders call it singh or horn. In Yeotmāl*, instead of one, the women have two little sticks fixed upright in the hair. The rank of the woman is said to be shown by the angle at which she wears this horn.

-  'The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India' by R.V. Russell,  Vol. II. 1916. [at]
* Yavatmal district in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Hippie Dharam and a great Indian Comics blog

 Found this in a post about The World Of Illustrated Weekly Of India at an awesome blog called Comic World . The blog is not just dedicated to Indrajaal (long gone, but still synonymous with comics in India) but it is a blog delightfully filled with lot of Fauladi Singh, obscure Hindi comics and strips ('Film Reporter Kalam Das' anyone ), covers of old Hindi novels, vintage ads, Newspaper clippings, film trivia and vintage. Stuff like:

Do visit!

Dancing with strings and sticks

A Navaratri Special. Garba-Dandiya, flashback.
Gujarati girls doing figures with strings and sticks

found it in 'The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India' by R.V. Russell,  Vol. IV. 1916. [ at Project Gutenberg]
Update 20/2/11
Can across a south Indian version of the stick and strings dance. This one is called Goph Guntan.

Graham Gooch Greg Matthews Shave off

England cricket selector Graham Gooch has his moustache shaved off by Australian Test cricketer Greg Matthews in London  when both donned a new image in time for the summer Ashes series after they chose a hair replacement procedure. Year 1998.

Some old Cartoons and Cartoonists

Cartoon by famous Indian cartoonist Shankar dated August 29, 1935. Cartoon mocks the way Sir James Grigg, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament from 1934-38, adopted to allow Great Britain to drain India of its wealth.

Shankar on America Atomic Bombing Hiroshima , published in Hindustan Times dated September 11, 1945. [previously posted]
 Some cartoons by Rajendra Puri who had a corner called 'What a Life!'

February 20, 1963. A take on Railway budget presented by Swaran Singh.

April 17, 1963 A dig at Congress' claim of being secular.
Some cartoon by Sudhir Dar who had a corner called 'This is it!'. He is not to be confused with Sudhir Tailang who also worked with HT for some time just after Sudhir Dar left. I grew up following work of these two artists.

September 1, 1970. In 1971 Indira Gandhi ended privy purses given to princely states by making changes to the Constitution (twenty-sixth Amendment) Act. The changes were proposed in what was called the "Privy Purses Abolition Bill" that was defeated by one vote.
Next, two cartoon by Sudhir Dar from year 1976 and 1981.

Found these in a HT special dated July 11, 2009.

Happiness Is a Pinkie Finger

Rajshree in song 'Ooi Amma' from Dil Ne Pukara (1967)
The song had a Tamil sound, that may explain the pose. Kinda cute. [Youtube link]

P.Ramar Pillai - The herbal fuel man who saved the world. Almost.

Pillai with his herbal fuel making machine.Year 1996-97.

In August of 1996 a man named P.Ramar Pillai, a high school dropout, claimed he has managed to convert water into fuel -a hydrocarbon fuel- by boiling certain ''secret' herbs in it. The method simple: Boil two ounces of special leaves and bark in a liter of water, cool, and add a small amount of salt, citric acid, and some (patent awaited) chemicals . Thirty minutes later you get: About a pint of combustible liquid floats to top (fuel being lighter than water) that smells and burns like kerosene. The world was saved. He gave demonstration of the process at the Big institute - a IIT. The people there conferred. People at The National Chemical Laboratory (Pune, India) tested it. People at  the Indian Institute of Petroleum checked the process. 'It is hydrocarbon for sure, boiling point 170° C,' they all agreed (Oh! don't we like these stories. Stupidified Scientists. School dropout Scientists. )and some of them further added it is, 'more efficient than gasoline, and no sulfur too.' The world was saved. The world was saved. And what about the foreign exchange. Take that you Saudies! Everyone was baffled. Some were cheering. Could this be? Media went into tizzy. But then it all came to boil. Some said it was all a big hoax, a scam - The pills are suspect, the stirrer is hollow with fuel stuffed inside, it is a case of fuel mafia. And all the while Pillai claimed he was being tortured for his brilliant find. Because he could make fuel from water. He was given 20 acres of land to grow the miracle bush. By the end of the decade, the law was still on his back. This world was still doomed.

'Man in Bulb' Logo. With Malice

from an issue of Hindustan Times, year 1997
Mario Miranda designed famous logo 'Man in Bulb with Wine, Books and Girlies' for Khushwant Singh's quirky column 'With Malice Towards One and All...' that was first published for The Illustrated Weekly.

Dish-kyow Dishkyow

Shashi Kapoor in Deewar doing Dish-kyow Dishkyow

Mera Joota hai Japani. In Literature.

Famous Shri 420 song:
Mera Joota hai Japani
Yeh Patloon Inglistani
Sar pe lal topi rusi
Phir bhi dil hai hindustani
A really rough translation:

My shoe is Japanese
This pant, English
Red hat on the head, Russian
And yet my heart is Indian
It is almost a relic from the Nehru-Socialist-Raj Kapoor-Idealist era. Shailendra, the lyricist of the song, had a knack for writing such songs - he also wrote the other (what I like to believe to be a) Nehruvian song - Jeena isi ka naam hai from the film Anari) 

Here's are two instances in which the song made its way to literature from this part of the world.

'O, my shoes are Japanese,
These trousers English, if you please.
On my head, red Russian hat;
my heart's Indian for all that.'

sings Gibreel Farishta while plunging down to earth in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.

Next one comes from I. Allan Sealy's The Trotter-Nama. At the end of a Hindu-Muslim riots some boys sing the song:

My shoes they are Japani
These pants are Englishtani
My red hat is Russi
But my heart is Hindustani


Vintage Lux Ads: The Beauty Soap of The Film Stars

Nanda, Star of B.R Films' Kanoon.

Nanda and her Bindi.

The look that lingers. Shakila, star of K. Amarnath's  Baraat.

Both the above Lux ads are from 1960.

Saira Banu and Hema Malini in Lux ads.

Parveen Babi

Madhuri Dixit in Lux Ad
Found these in a HT special dated July 11, 2009.

What were you thin king?

No, I don't think Lord Mountbatten's Chief of Staff, Lord Ismay, was really thinking about 'Samosa and Tea' in that meet of 3rd June 1947 when Nehru and Jinnah signed on the Partition Plan.

Air-India Air hostesses, 1946

Hello ladies!
Caption: Air hostesses were first introduced in Air-India way back in 1946. Beautifully tailored European dresses with caps set at a jaunty angle formed the uniform. Sari, as a uniform, was introduced when Air-India acquired its first Boeing 707 in 1960s.

Found it published in Hindustan Times (1997-98).

Baa, ba ba baa, bum, ba ba baa, ba ba bara rara rara ra

India has to be the coolest country in the world. I just caught India Today Group's 7th State of States awards on TV. A recent phenomena, it's were they give awards to various states based on performance in various fields like Education, Law and Order, Consumer Markets, Housing for Poor, Rural Roads, Irrigation, E-Governance...wagaraywagaraw et cetera. It's great but that not what makes India cool. Here's the cool part. At the function held at Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi, each time an old bloke (a chief minister) representing the winner state got on stage to receive the award, the entire hall reverberated with that celestial tune - Baa, ba ba baa, bum, ba ba baa, ba ba bara rara rara ra, the Starwars theme. No they couldn't commission some local artist to some up with an original piece. Banish the thought. It's just an award function where people come and listen to poetics of politicians. Rest of it is just news report. 

Who cares about what music we play while they get on the stage? Baa, ba ba baa, bum, ba ba baa. Just use that. Always gets me in mood. It's so apaar, uptempo, uplifting...

And so they hired John Williams. Now, if only they could get Darth Vader to give away the awards instead of Pranab Mukherjee. No actually even Pranab Mukherjee isn't too bad.

Andy Green - the fastest man on earth

Andy Green, the first person to break the sound barrier on land and the current holder of the World Land speed record reached a speed of 763.035 mph (1227.99 km/h) on October 15, 1997, exactly 50 years and 1 day after the sound barrier was broken in aerial flight by Chuck Yeager.

Andy is now working to break the 1,000 mph mark in a car called Bloodhound SSC. It should be complete by the end of this year and the first attempt may come in 2011.

Image (left): Castrol celebrating the feat and its contribution to the machine in an ad published that week of year 1997 in Hindustan Times.

Art of Boulder Painting and How to settle border disputes

September 13th, 2009

Last week there were reports that Chinese troops  intruded 1.5 km inside the territory of India in Ladakh and spray painted China (* in red, no less) on boulders and rocks. They did this near Mount Gya (22,420”), that (experts pointing to strategic significance) touches Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, Spiti in Himachal Pradesh and Tibet in '?'.

Chinese response to these reports, 'No! No! We don't do rocks. War monger Indian media sells opium. Indian people, don't let them dope you. China loves you'

As often happens, China misunderstood the significance of these reports in India. In reality Indian received the news as one of those Ashok Kumar-Shammi Kapoor 'Pan Parg: O'Ho! Humein kya maloom tha aap bhi... ' moments: 'O'Ho! How could we know that you people also love to leave your name on insignificant inanimate things that will outlast significant human existence of this planet.'

I am sure if the Indian media, in an unbiased mode, had looked carefully they would have found a 'Raju loves Pinky' chalked on a nearby boulder. (Apparently, Indians, did quite deftly and artfully, respond by spray painting that same rock - INDIA. Sadly the chosen words were not - 'Raju loves India'. That would have been real triumph of Indian democracy.) It was such a big news in India because we didn't expect Chinese soldiers to do something like this without taking orders from higher up (Orders that must come with exact geo-location of the boulder to be painted and a fixed ration of red paint 'Not to be Inhaled'). In China of India's collective conscious nightmare, an artistic soldier who acts in such an independent manner probably have his fingers (and two thumbs) burnt in hot hand, and have his toes fed to hungry fish. Today he is painting boulders in morose highlands and tomorrow he is painting Groucho moustache on dear magnificent Mao at busy Tiananmen Square. Okay, that's too far fetched. But one can't be too careful with these painter-disciplined types, remember Hitler was a sad painter in Vienna. But, if one believes the reports then these sad and lonely Chinese painter-soldiers can start a war (at least a little skirmish) between the two big brothers of the region.

Okay, on a serious note, maybe there is more to this bizarre Chinese act. Maybe they took the history of this region too seriously (can't blame them, unlike Indians, Chinese always took history very seriously).  In this mountainous Himalayan region, in days of yore, ancient kingdoms used to demarcate their boundaries by leaving special diagrams ( usually eight in number and called måtrcakras - 'circles sacred to Mothers', as mentioned in Rajatarangini) engraved on rocks and boulders present at special locations, usually the 'gates' or mountain passes to the valley.

So may be these Chinese are mocking India in a very subtle manner. Maybe before moving to more basic,  powerful and finalistic method of demarcating boundary - men pissing on rocks and boulders, maybe, just maybe we can try that old Indian device used for claiming space- leaving handkerchief at the desired spot first. It works fine in Blueline buses of Dilli. Maybe it will work at the borders. But then its not a very practical solution because the Handkerchief solution works only till you later show up to actually claim the spot, so men will have to be deployed to guard the piece of cloth (Is flag a piece of cloth?). (Also the wind may blow the Hankies at such outdoor locations.). But if you think about it, may be that's how the two sides first decided the locations to be manned, and built posts. Since we still haven't decided our borders after all these years of talk (Damn Angreez people for eternity! Do we always have to fight to settle these things?), may be we can let a unbiased, well-fed, drunk horse decide the border.
* Wily Chinese! The Chinese text on the boulder actually translates as cryptic, 'In Yellow River'. So, maybe we can write enigmatic 'Dr.Bengali' on the same boulder in place of 'India'.

Bewitching Mumtaz. Nose.

Beautiful Mumtaz in song 'Aaj Koi Pyaar Se' from Sawan Ki Ghata (1966)

Initially, Mumtaz only found work in films like Boxer (1965), Tarzan Comes to Delhi (1965) and Rustom-E-Hind (1965). Most of them opposite strongman Dara Singh. Because of her little pug nose they all told her that she could never by a popular actress. In fact, it was Dev Anand who told Mumtaz : "You can't be a heroine, look at your short nose !"
They all were wrong. It was beautiful nose.

Mithun Chakraborty Kitsch (NSFW)

Mithun da at his best. Found at auction site Going at around $20
If you have regained your senses, my deepest apologies for posting this 'Erotica' ( check out the bottom right corner of this center-spread from Stardust). Having suffered the monstrosity, I just couldn't stop myself from spreading the pain. I think my eyes are bleeding!


in books of Doordarshan

"The hiss of TV static denotes remnant radiation that still lingers from the big bang 14.5 billion years ago."

 - National Geographic, February 2003

September 2009 marks the 50th year of dear old national broadcaster Doordarshan. 

Yeah, it's kind of hard to believe, I told my Uncle about it and he didn't believe it. He thought Doordarshan must have started in 1960s, it should only be around 40 years old. 

Madhu Sapre, Ice Cream

Search 'Censorship in India' and there is absolutely no chance that you won't find 'Madhu Sapre-Milind Soman year 1995 Tuff Ad' mentioned in articles of any merit. Without doubt '90s would have been duller without Madhu Sapre. Madhu Sapre is now married to an Italian man who is into ice-cream business. I think 'Tuff' case is still in court.
Found the image in A&M Magazine (March 1999)

Ride a Sad Eyed Lion


Luminous like the moon is her face,
and a sight of it charms away many a woe.
Her hair hangs like Shivji's serpents;
her eyes are the envy of both the lotus and the gazelle.
Her brows are in the manner of a bow;
her lashes like the arrows.
She has the waist of a lion
and marches with the majesty of a royal tusker.
She abides on the mountain-top;
none can resist the splendor of her charms.
She holds a sword in her hand and rides a lion;
Flaming like gold is her presence.
In another hand she carries a bow of war.
The fish are shamed by her restless energy;
The lotus and the gazelle by the softness of her eyes;
The parrots by her nose;
The pigeons by her neck;
The cuckoo by her voice;
The pomegranate by the pearly row of her teeth.
Touching the person of the goddess,
The moonbeams have become more lustrous.
- lines from Var Sri Bhagauti Ji Ki (popularly named Chandi-di-Var) written by tenth Guru of Sikhs, warrior-poet, Guru Gobind Singh.  This translation (from Punjabi) by Harbans Singh, can be found in his book 'Guru Gobind Singh' (1966). I came across them in 'The feminine principle in the Sikh vision of the transcendent' by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh (1993)[Google Books].

L'eau Life, A Jeff Scher film

A beautiful short video by Jeff Scher. More of his awesome stuff at scherfilms.
 The music (by Shay Lynch ) reminds me of background score from some of those old B&W Hindi movies with  'Happy princess enjoying royal fountains' kind of scene.

A Very Pixelated Bombay Girl And The Wisdom in Censorship

2nd September, 2009
The video of Alisha Chinoy song 'De,de,de,de dil de de Mujhko', a single from her 1994 album 'Bombay Girl', was deemed too improper, almost indecent, outright Adult for the vetted audience of the national broadcaster - Doordarshan.  The hot video directed by Ken Ghosh came out in 1996 quick on the heels of success of their previous collaboration for video of 'Made in India' - a phenomena that led to the boom of 'Indi-Pop' which continued for about half a decade till the fizz slowly died down. 'Indecent Exposure' by Alisha Chinoy didn't keep Doordarshan.from showing the video in one of their 'Indi-Pop' countdown shows running on DD Metro. They did show it, complete, no cuts, it wasn't banned outright, but they did pixelate the offending parts. So the audience, perplexed, got to see heavily pixelated cleavage of Alisha Chinoy. Let's just say, as you can see from the sample image, it didn't have the desired effect. Let just say it left a substantial audience imagining things.
If you got kicked out of the room every time the video played, or if the channel was deliberately changed, or if the TV was shut down, or if you were ordered to fetch water every time the video played - or if any other Indian Home Censorship Stratagem was unleashed on you to keep you from watching this 'bad' video or if you were just too young to care, you can now watch the video on Youtube [Here].
But. First, this friendly message will greet you:
This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube's user community.
By clicking "Confirm", you are agreeing that all videos or groups flagged by the YouTube community will be viewable by this account.
[Confirm Birth Date]
Veteran users of Youtube will know that Youtube has a flagging system in which objectionable material (anything Sexual, Hateful, Spamful, plain Malicious) can be flagged by registered viewers and when enough flags have been raised the video is considered 'inappropriate' and from them onwards, users (only registered users) can see that video and that too only after an explicit consent which comes in the form of some button clicking to 'Confirm Birth Date'.And the video is thought 'not be suitable for minors'.

It is a baffling case. Here's something more interesting, 'Dil De De' video has been up for almost two years but has only about twenty thousand views. So, the flagging certainly hurts the incoming traffic (chances are you won't see it in search result) just like an 'A' rating hurts a film's ability to generate revenue. By flagging the Alisha Chinoy video, in a strange and ironic way, The Wisdom of Crowds has vindicated the oft-ridiculed rigid stand of Doordarshan (and governments and their boards) on Censorship according to which it is ############and############of nation. Nothing beats pixelation.


Miike Snow 'Burial'. Benares. video

Beautiful video of three man Swedish band Miike Snow's awesome single 'Burial' directed by Daniel Wirtberg and Jonas Rudström, capturing the sights of incredible Benares Varanasi.

Miike Snow My Space Link

Even gods love(!) Squirrels

I look out the window, and there they are.

Every time I call up my Internet provider about dead connection, they always start with the line, 'Sir, it's the squirrels. Your area has just too many of them. They eat all the wires.' Actually, more often, the field people of rival Internet providers cut off each others wires.

They say the Indian Palm Squirrel actually earned its stripes. Squirrel got the lines when Lord Rama stroked its back for kind services rendered while building the bridge to Lanka.

A 'Ramayan' Poster picked off the streets. Sita feeding wild berries to squirrel while living in Banvas, dwelling in a forest. In that Golden era even squirrels were a bit fairer.
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