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Showing posts from June, 2010

Gandhi in Noakhali, 1947

It is believed that while India was having its little “Tryst with Destiny”, Gandhi was at a place called Noakhali in East Bengal(that had already become East Pakistan and what is now Bangladesh). *

Noakhali at the time (and in 1946) witnessed some of the most macabre killings with Hindus and Muslims butchering each other (wiki entry actually reads Genocide). Gandhi, going against all advice and odds, went to the center of this mindless violence and was pacifying the rioting crowd on the first eve of Indian Independence. People at first abused him but slowly the tide turned. There were no reports of rioting in Noakhali while he was there. Mountbatten went on to call it a miracle.

I recently came across some rare photographs of Gandhi's Noakhali experiment in an old Film Magazine. Captions full of 'Bhakti Bhav' make an interesting read in themselves.

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* Patrick French in Liberty or Death – India's Journey to Independence.

A God for Bladder Control

I recently went through Wendy Doniger's The Hindus: An Alternative History. It's supposed to be an interesting book, among the sea of old Hindu stories, you will find old names like Sudhir Kakar, Ashis Nandy and Dean Koontz. Yeah, even Dean Koontz. But that somehow wasn't intersting enough for me. Instead, one of the most interesting 'Hindu' story that I came aross in recent times was narrated to me by a Marwari friend of mine. This friend of mine traces his family origins to a village called Behel in Rajasthan. In this village they have a god known simply as Malasi. It's the god of bladder control. Mothers pray to it to for their bed wetting kids and old men pray to it for a quick fix of their enlarged prostate. This rare god is represented, appropriately enough, by any simple stone.

Of Bobby Sandals, Sangam Chappals and 'Love in Tokyo' hair bands

Had a rather strange conversation with my mother. She knows what I have been up to, so I guess she wanted to help.

She told me about Bobby Sandal. A high and thick heeled sandal that became a rage after the release of that Raj Kapoor film.

She told me about Sangam Chappal that got its strange name because it's two straps came in two different colors and met  between the first and second toe.

And finally she told me about 'Love in Tokyo' hair band - a thin black hair rubber with two big pearly beads at the end that would peek out of the hair bun. These got their name from the 1966 film 'Love in Tokyo' starring Asha Parekh and Joy Mukherjee.*
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*Arundhati Roy mentioned 'Love in Tokyo' hair rubber band in her 1997 book 'The God of Small Things'.
Image: Screen cap from an unremarkable 1973 film called Gaddar. Image modified for efffect using GIMP.

Docu: Homi Bhabha: Scientist in action

"It is true India neither invented nor produced the motor car, the refrigerator,  the airplace, nor did it manufacture these in the overwhelming quantities of the other industrilized countries, but for hundreds of years when the Indian peasants did not have to work, he sat in the shade of a tree and thought...[White Noise/Censored?]... He thought the philosophy of truth in life and he thought as an artist in action. "

A rather interesting documentary (check out the style, especially the music in the opening scene at 2:20) on the father of India's nuclear weapons program Homi Bhabha produced probably in the late 70s by government's film division.


video link

Part2

Part3
(A reader, Shubhankar sent in the youtube links. Thanks!)

Trashing trashy Bollywood movies about Kashmir.

[Updated this old rant of mine (don't even recall what triggered it) with the posters of a little known called 'Kashmir Hamara Hai' from FilmIndia Magazine dated October 1951. (Thanks to Hindi filmbuff Memsaab Greta !)]

Movies like Roja and Yahaan mean nothing to Kashmiris. One can say that the target audience of these movies is different. Roja must have made sense to this targeted audience and Yahaan (shot beautifully!) must have made a bit more sense. But, to me they don’t make sense. Let us look at some selected usual suspects.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra, for all his love of Kashmir and for all his childhood spent in Kashmir (he was born in Kashmir) and as a step towards the ‘right’ direction (remember it was released in the year 2000), made MISSION KASHMIR. One fails to understand how could he make a movie like that and still feel good about himself. He could feel good because that is how the things work in India; we only make filmy blinded righteous Nationalist movies. Our mo…