Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

On Baburao Patel Syndrome

Cross-posted from my Kashmir Blog.
From  Baburao Patel's Q/A section in FilmIndia, August 1947 issue. ( via a collection shared with me by Memsaab Greta)

Lot of thinking going on there (what's that thing about J.P ji ) but I am amazed by question posed by O.N. Thassu of Srinagar, whose progenies probably now live in Bombay and would probably readily buy the answer from Baburao Patel of Bombay (we know who else bought that answer only a year later endorsing it in a Court trail about a murder). Baburao Patel was known not only for his biting wit  but 'let's bite some, any heads' attitude towards what he considered blackheads on Bhart Mata's beautiful face. He voiced opinions what would probably now be considered concerns of pragmatic-Hindu-middle-class. And he often did it in a very pragmatic Indian way, this particular (and many around that that) issue was in fact full of eulogies in praise of Gandhi. A pragmatic: He had Muslim friends, a fairly large readership (at least in the beginning) consisting of Muslims, naturally he was an expert at defining difference between 'good nationalist Muslim' and 'bad Muslim', he was a good Hindu, naturally he knew a thing or two about similarity between 'good nationalist Hindu' and 'good Hindu', he liked-dis-liked Nehru, liked-dis-liked Gandhi, liked, thought highly of Sardar Patel, liked Bose (as he believed 'dead don't disappoint'). One could say that naturally qualifies him for the modern 'thinking Hindu' type of our mundane times. But to his credit he was also open to criticism, and would often allow this criticism on his own platform. That certainly is not a modern trait. Still, it does not surprise that he was one of the first journalists to join politics and get elected to Lok Sabha on a ticket from Bhartiya Jan Sangh, the old avatar of 'Bhartiya Janata Party' - the platform, in its best form, advertised as a place for sensible Hindus with a burning love for the burning country.
Knowing Kashmiri attitude towards written word, and knowing the writings of Baburao, it should not surprise anyone that in early 50s, maybe to the much annoyance of Thassu Saheb, FilmIndia was banned in Kashmir. And it should not equally surprise anyone that the he actually thought of Kashmirs as lazy buggers, back-stabbers and that India would be lot better without Kashmir, and that his 'Indian Muslim Brother' would have (pose?) no problem. Now where have we heard that pragmatic solution and views before in recent times.

Time is quite a thing.

From being the pioneer of film journalism, by 1970s Baburao Patel, his FilmIndia run-over by Filmfare, was running a publication called 'Mother India' (a copy of which I have managed to get my hands on) and in it selling slogans like 'Hindus of the world arise', 'Stop it mod-women'  and in between these slogans he was selling all kind of ayurvedic churans for every known human disease.

All said and done, I would not have been surprised if on any other day, in any other situation, to any other question, Baburao Patel would have simply told Thassu Saheb of Srinagar, 'My friend, it is well-known advise, never take the advise of a man who at the end of the day is selling you a magic Churan of his own make.'


Treble'd walls of Gurgaon

[Now with updates on three months spent watching walls getting painted, and in some cases re-painted]

A normal wall Graffiti in Gurgaon advertising land reclamation drive of humans against giant termites. 

But recently these advertisement walls have a new neighbor. Right next to that 'deemak ad' can now be found this
 'Graffiti is art not Vandalism - Treble'
From last one month these forms are sprouting (late at night) on walls of houses in Phase-III Gurgaon.
Each one is drawn at walls next to empty plots, house construction sites, places that would be hidden at night but in clear sight in daylight and easily visible from busy road. The unknown hand has picked quite a few good locations. 

(Yes, he is working on his skills)
Found the wall updated with a fresh graffiti.

Update: 6/4/11.
Some silly copy-cat (or not, check update) action spreads to DLF Phase I.
Update: 13/4/11.

 White Washed

Near Sikandarpur
Pillar of Guru Dronacharya Station
A normal Pillar. At the same station.

Updates from wall in Phase-I. Missed catching the painter in action by a whisker. My office colleagues claim to have seen a skinny of kid of 15 or 16 painting this wall in broad daylight. They, like most dwellers of Gurgaon, thought it was just someone getting his wall 'beautified'. The thought that someone would spent his time painting walls of someone else never occurred to them.

(As I write this, I am told that walls are getting painted all over Gurgaon)
Update (May 5, 2011)
Near office complex at Guru Dronacharya Station.

Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow

I first came across him in the 'god cabinet' of a dear old grand aunt of mine. I must have been seven, we were in Kashmir. I was transfixed by that exuberant crop of hair. I became a regular at her prayer sessions. She remains a devotee. I remain in awe of moss hair.

For rationalist thoughts on the 80s phenomena of funky godmen watch Amitabh Bachchan in Prakash Mehra's Jaadugar (1989).

She was Sad. She was Happy.

Sad. Meena Kumari in Miss Mary (1957) (via: this excellent Youtube channel of Tommy Dan )

Happy. Publicity still ripped (polished) from an auction site.
I now know that the story of Meena Kumari as told by Vinod Mehta was sourced by various articles that came out in various magazines after her death. It was perhaps too easy.

Lalita Pawar

An old woman falls off a moving bus, the crowd goes 'Budhi gir gaya! Budhi gir gaya!'

Lalita Pawar in 'Lord of the Jungle' or Himmat-e-Marda (1935)
Started as a child actor in Raja Harishchandra (1928). Started going character roles at the age of 25.

Zubeida, the first talkie actress of India

Star of Alam Ara (1931), the first Indian talkie. Her mother Fatma Begum is believed to be the first women director of India with a film called 'Bulbul-e- Paristan' (1926)


Noor Mohammad was inspired by Charles Spencer. Emulating him for the Indian film screen, he renamed himself Charlie. In 1930s Charlie became the first comedy star of Bombay and became an inspiration for Badruddin Jamaluddin Qazi to become Johnny Walker.

Mere Mehboob Muslim Palette

'Ganga Jammuna'
The attitude of the now independent producers towards the new craze for colors is best reflected in an incident related by Sudhendu Roy. H.S. Rawail was very keen for Roy to design Mere Mehboob[1963] but was not sure how he would handle color. "Do you know how to design for a color film?" he asked Roy. "Of course," replied Roy,"I have just done the art direction of Ganga Jammuna [1961]". H.S. Rawail was not at all impressed. "This is no color film," he said."It looks like a black and white film. where are the colors?" Out of a perverse desire to score a point, Roy proceeded to design Rawail's film using a palette only of pastel shades. Since then all "Muslim social" have had to follow the same palette.
~ Shama Zaidi in an article 'Design in Indian Cinema'

New colors (2004) of Mughal-e-Azam
Muslim palette from Mere Mehboob

Devika Rani

Signed 1981. From an old Magazine.

Update: Jan 21. 2014

Apparently, the image has now travelled quite a bit, artist Chitra Ganesh made an art work out of it.

Shyama, Kum Kum, 2011

On 27th February I was going to catch Oscars but ended up getting hooked to Doordarshan which was showing an incredible documentary on Guru Dutt. The image of a young Guru Dutt doing snake dance was good enough reason, but then the makers of this documentary managed to talk to two of his earliest heroines.

Shyama in Aar Paar (1954)
Kum Kum
Kum Kum in Aar Paar (1954)

Awesomest Sari Ads, 1976

brocades of baluchar, a village in murshidabad, west bengal are known as 'amru'  and are woven only with coloured silk threads without any use of 'jari'. this fabric is mainly used for saris known as 'baluchari', which are noted for their elaborate dramatic pallavs depicting human and animal forms and distinctive elaborate mango motifs locally known as 'kunja'.

(notice jarring reflection of the woman in the background! )
this technique of tying and dyeing yarn to weave simple as well as elaborate motifs is very adept hand technique of precision and perfection producing fabrics of unparalleled beauty. it represents one of the traditional indian textiles and is known as 'patola' in gujarat, 'bandh' in orissa 'pagdu bandhu', 'buddavasi' and 'chitki' in andhra pradesh.


Kick-Ass Kid Villain from Nepal

10 year old Aju Lama in Carreng Gang and Carreng Gang 2 (2009) from Nepal.

Mr. Silky 
What I could make of Carreng Gang 2 is this: there a gang of bad guys lead by Mister Silky-Hair who manages to sweet-talk the most bad ass but good-of-heart Kung-fu fighter named Dorje to join his clan by just calling him a brother. Dorje happen to be a 10 year old kid who likes to chop loki using flying optical discs, walks on fire, does triple somersault in air, makes cute faces which isn't his most awesome power - his most awesome power is that he can disappear anytime into thin air. Director of this masterpiece takes all his time (much to viewers delight ) to show all the skills of Dorje. Once in the Gang he does what a good villain is supposed to do - dance with an item girl, kill off bunch of guys, have a showdown with the hero who happens to be in love with the real villain's sister and whose parents are too honest not to be killed by the Gang, have his eyes plucked out by the hero (but not before totally slam dunking the hero). The usual affair. But this kid, being a super-super-villain, just when he is about to be crushed by the hero at the of the showdown , just disappears.

Incredibly enough the action sequence that I found most impressive in this film does not feature Aju Lama. Instead it is a fight between a police officer and one of the gang member. The action takes place high up in the branches on a Peepal tree. With the kind of budget that this film must have been made, that sequence, with its smooth  execution, is really something.

Carreng Gang seems to be some kind of a series from Nepal  cause I again came across Aju Lama in another film whose CD cover gave its name as Carreng Gang and whose opening sequence gives the impression that it is a TV series, maybe the series that inspired the film. There no information on the internet. Any case, in this film  Aju Lama again returns as the kick-ass villain but only nastier. In this one, he is not sweet-talked into working for the Gang instead he runs his own  gang and tries to finish-off all the other gangs in town by pitting the against each other. And in this one there are no optical CDs but he uses playing cards to chop-off the heads of his enemies.

In the end, when all the other Gang member gang up on him, and when even grenades fail to kill him, they all basically get hold of the kid by his limbs, choke him to death, bury him deep into the ground, dust-off their hands and walk away from the grave, towards the camera, in slow motion and to some thunderous music. The End.


Computer Art Catalogue, 1972, India

"In contrast with classical machines, which convert energy, the computer processes information. It is a means towards the conception of structural order and at the same time offers itself as an aid to producing aesthetic order. This which evolves from this is known today under the title 'Computer Art'." ~ 'Computer Art' by Herbert W. Franke
Kennedy by Herbert W. Franke

Found this in a catalogue of an art exhibition titled ‘Computer Art’ held at NGMA, New Delhi in 1972 from March 27 to April 21. This is believed to be the first digital art exhibition ever held in India.  The event was a collaboration between Max Mueller Bhavan and IBM India. It was one among the first of such similar events held around the world in between 1967 and 1974.

The catalogue offers three essays: 'Computer Art: Possibilities and Limitations' by Dr. Laxmi P. Sihare (then director of the National Gallery of Modern Art) , 'Computer Art' by Herbert W. Franke and 'the Computer in the service of Art' by S.L. Kapoor (then a system engineer at IBM-India). Lots of information. Information like:
"The first melody composed by a computer dates back to 1956. It is entitled 'Push-Button-Bertha' and was programmed by M.Klein and D.Bolitho on a Dalatron iin the USA. Better known is the 'Illiac Suite' by L.A. Hiller and L.Isaacson, first performed in 1956 at the University of Illinois. The first exhibition of computer drawing took place in 1953 in the Sandford museum, Cherokee,Iowa. It was concerned with the 'Electronic Abstractions' by B.F. Laposky, which he had designed with the help of an analogue-calculating system and had presented on the screen of a cathode-ray-oscillograph. It was only in 1965 that computer drawing from large digital computers was shown in public. "
Information (peppered with sales pitch) like: "In 1971 Indian railways using 14 computers affected a saving of Rs.16 crore through inventory control in a single year."
The catalogue at compArt database was generously shared with me by Hemant from his research work. Thanks!

A low-res view of the catalogue:
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