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Showing posts from November, 2009

Saree Falls

and Manju Falls.
Picked it off from the street.

Choli pay nazariya jaye

The courtier is perturbed by what he hears. What type of a song is this. Vulgar. He asks the girl singing the song to explain.

It a good kind of song. It's a love song of Radha-Krishan. Listen. Radha says to her friend:

More angana mein aye aali, main chaal chalun matwali
angana mein aye aali
Jab aanchal hamra pakday, Hum has has unsay Jhagday
Choli pay nazariya jaye, mori chunari lipat mosay

' Bas! Bas! You will destroy the truth of daughter-in-laws and daughters of Mithila. Choli pay...uff!'

Courtier walks away fuming. Mocking him, the girl continues singing. Courtier listens some more.

Woh aur Bhay, morey paihya paray, Kahay mano baat hamari
Woh aur Bhay, morey paihya paray, Kahay mano baat hamari
Main aah baro mukh pher kahu, Main aah baro mukh pher kahu
Nahi manugi baat tihari, Nahi manugi baat tihari
Nahi manugi baat tihari
Nahi manugi baat tihari

Courtier walks out saying, 'Now I know. Now I know. Now I know why our women sing this song '

The song-scene, s…

Gandhi‎ by Taya Zinkin , 1965

"Gandhi landed in Bombay just in time for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. He was extremely loyal to Britain. British rule in India was not perfect but it did India much good. He took part in the celebrations, proudly singing ""God Save the Queen", and waving the Union Jack."

- opening lines of Chapter 8 titled 'To India and Back'. Gandhi was visiting India after his first trip to South Africa where he had already started defending the 'Coolies'. After a short stay he sailed back to South Africa, this time with family. On reaching Durban, after not being allowed to get off the ship for days and with whites demanding that he be deported back, bravely walks out with an English friend but gets mobbed, passes out and is saved by the wife of a white Inspector of Police who takes him to her house. The crowd soon descends on the house asking that Gandhi be handed over to them. Realizing that the situation can get riotous, Gandhi put on the unifo…

Young Manorama, 1945

Manorama in Mujhe Jeene Do (1963). Probably the most famous eyebrows in Indian Cinema. Her arched eyebrows and puffed, caked cheeks from 'Seeta aur Geeta' are things of legend.

Manorama was half-Irish and her real name was Erin Isaac Daniel. She started working in films in 1920s and appeared on screen regularly right till 1980s. In the 90s she did a cameo in Mahesh Bhaty's Junoon (1992) and in 2005 she had a small role in Deepa Mehta’s Water. Thus she had a release in every decade starting  1920s and ending with 2010. A no small feat. Manorama passed away on 15 February 2008.

Manorama in a photograph published in year 1945 in Telugu film journal Roopavani. Found it in the archives of Centre for the Study of Culture and Society

Shat Putra Vati Bhava and may all of them find a Vadhu

Traditional Hindu blessing for women 'Shat Putra Vati Bhava' (May you have hundred sons) also comes in a (lesser used) variation that promises eight sons - 'Ashta- Putravati Bhava' - eight being a 'good' number for Hindus. Not good enough. If we are counting on blessings alone, the old 'blessings' need an upgrade - a beta version, fast.
"A United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) study in 2007 said even if the sex ratio at birth were to remain at the ‘normal’ level of 950 girls per 1,000 boys until 2030, India is likely to have a female deficit of 25 million by 2030 in the marriageable age group of 20-49. More realistic studies that have factored in a limited and even further decline in the ratio have suggested the deficit could be anywhere between 29 and 34 million."
- from a fine feature article 'The Lost Girls' by Shreyasi Singh for Japan based current-affairs magazine The Diplomat. [Got the link via an email from Jason Miks, editor fo…

Chacha Nehru (and Chachi)

Jawaharlal Nehru and Kamla Nehru in their wedding dress.

There is something strange going on at Doordarshan. On the occasion of Nehru's birthday, which is celebrated in India as 'Children's Day', they showed Sai Paranjape's Bhago Boot (2001). True to the old time-tested tradition of Doordarshan, that's all well and fine. I used to enjoy these kid movies shown religiously (often repeated) on this particular day . But this year, thanks to the digitalization and restoration of old archives, the film was preceded with a special presentation - an old reel having Chacha Nehru talking to a group of Kids about need for Children's cinema whose 'best judge should be children'. Between the clicks of camera, you could see the old man entertaining the kids with his famous talking skills. Rapt audience, which included his grandchildren - young Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi, he told the kids that American films are sometimes good but often they have too much viol…

Iqbal Masud's 'Dream merchants, politicians, and partition'‎

Dream Merchants, Politicians & Partition: Memoirs of an Indian Muslim (1997, Harper Collins, Pages: 152; Rs:95) by Iqbal Masud

Born F G Jilani in late 1920s into a South Indian Muslim family, his father a officer in education department under British government and his mother a burqa wearing Khilafat activist puritan Muslim woman, the contradictions, as he recounts it, were present in his life from the very beginning. The memoir starts in early thirties with an eight year old Iqbal Masud, seated between his burqa clad mother and aunt, in the balcony of a theatre, and him almost managing to catch Sulochana and Dinshaw Billimoria kiss on the screen ( in year 1935 talkie film 'Anarkali'). But the scene, at the last moment, gets censored out as his aunt clamps her hand down upon his eager eyes.   

F G Jilani became critic-writer Iqbal Masud - Iqbal for his favorite poet and Masud his urf , a name 'adopted for various administrative and self-preservatory reason (the Emerge…

Inhi logon ne / These People

On the last strains of the song, the camera moves up and away from spinning Sahibjaan and pans in on the background - roofs, other spinning girls, tawaifs of other Kothas.


'le leena dupatta mera'

I have often wondered about this. Majrooh Sultanpuri used the word 'le leena' while the common usage would have it as ' le liya'. Is this Braj?


Choreography for the song was by Lachchu Maharaj. Meena Kumari was ill and in a lot of physical pain while shooting this film (and this film was in shooting for the longest time)  but there are only few scenes in which you can tell.

Making of Pakeezah

Last moments of Netaji by P. N. Oak

"It was a strange sight at Taihoku airport near Taiwan on the morning of August 18, 1945. Hot steam emanated from the body of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Clad in tight woolen riding breeches, tight belt, his body was blistered by hot oil from the plane that had crashed minutes ago. Strewn around Netaji were jewels, ornaments, gold and pearls donated by Indian for the independence struggle, which he was carrying with him on his way to Japan. Netaji struggled throughout the day and finally passed away at 10.30 p.m. on Aug, 18, 1945 and was cremated by the Japanese at Taiwan itself."

from Hindustan Times, August 17, 1997. One of the rare instances in which P. N. Oak (March 2, 1917 - December 4, 2007) refuted and not propagated a 'crackpot' theory. In this particular case the theory was: 'Netaji is alive. He became a Sadhu, a hermit.'

Oak created this vivid scene based on an account apparently offered to him by Colonel Habibur Rehman who was with Bose when he di…

Sandhya, 'Umad ghumad kar' in Do Aankhen Barah Haath

nanhee nanhee boondaniyo ki khanan khanan'khan khang'ree
bajatee aayee, bajatee aayee dekho bhayee barkha dulhaniya barkha dulhaniya
chhuk chhuk chhuk chhuk chaiyya, aaja daru toray gal bhainya
aaj daru toray gal bhainya, chhuk chaiyya
mai toh nachu tere sang sang sainya, ho sainya, ho sainya
savan ka sandesa lekar niklee apnay ghar se
jo koyee iskay pyar ko tarsay vahee navelee barse
kare kare kare kare badarva kee jhanan jhanan jhan jhanjharee
bajatee aayee hai dekho bhayee barkha dulhaniya barkha dulhaniya- rain song 'Umad ghumad kar' from Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957).

And then there is saiyan jhoothon ka bada sartaj nikla.

Her bow runs on single string of a sarangi. My lover turned out to be the king of liars. She  sings. A little toy drum follows her. Tied to her trailing pallu. All her movements are playful exaggerations - nakhra. Thugs, louts watch. She is a toy seller.

When I was a kid, I actually had that toy fiddle and the drum.

Dilli Baoli, 1870. Jumping Wells at Delhi. Still.

Jumping Wells at Delhi, Frontispiece of 'Letters from India and Kashmir' by J. Duguid, 1870. The illustration is by Mr. H.R. Robertson, and engraved by Mr. W.J. Palmer, principally from the writer's Sketches. At the Kutub, and near Delhi, there are wells of various sizes, but on an average twenty yards square, surrounded by brick walls sixty feet high, of which forty are above the surface of the water. For a backsheesh men and boys - old men down to young boys - collected on the parapet, leap one after another into the air and descend in all kinds of positions. A moment, however, before they touch the water they quickly bring their feet together and their arms over their heads, pointed upwards, so that they enter the water in a reversed attitude to that of a header. The sensation caused by the sight of these men, with their arms and legs outspread and their features distorted by wild grimaces as they leap from the walls, surpasses any produced by Blondin or Leotard, and c…