Is the world’s largest creative industry really that creative?

All those who know me well know about my penchant for writing on films, and music. And this blog is about both. As I was undergoing my daily ritual of working out and listening to a music channel, I noticed something peculiar. 4 songs played back to back, and they were Dil Kya Kare and Saara Zamaana from Kaabil, Laila O Laila from Raees, and Humma from Ok Jaanu. For those who still couldn’t connect the dots, all 4 are remixes of hugely popular songs, and are considered cult by people regardless of the era they were born in.

Dil Kya Kare, a love ballad that remains the top favourite of all romantics is from the movie Julie (1975) and is composed by Rajesh Roshan. Saara Zamaana belongs to the same composer, and is from Big B starrer Shahenshah released in 1988. Laila O Laila comes from one of my most favourite composer duos Kalyanji-Anandji and is from the movie Qurbani (1980), whereas Humma is much more recent among all the others, and belongs to the time I grew up in. It was a part of the critically acclaimed Bombay (1995).

All the 4 songs mentioned have their unique charm, and lend themselves to different moods. Laila O Laila is one of the earliest, and greatest item numbers Bollywood has ever seen. The work done on percussions by arranger Babla Ji is phenomenal, and really ground breaking. It paved the way for many more such numbers, all set in the typical 80s pub. Dil Kya Kare, managed to capture the heart beat of  all those caught in fervent love, or  those fantasizing about loving someone. Saara Zamaana is much more upbeat, and was instrumental in making everyone Bachchan ka Deewana once again, at a time when he was considered past his top game (how wrong critics turned out to be; he’s only gotten more fantastic with age!). Last but not the least, Humma Humma comes from an album which made Rahman an instant hit even with the Bollywood film industry, over and above the South Indian film industry he was more famous in at that point of time.

The point of this blog is to raise a few important questions. Why are we resorting to remixes of cult classics to such a large extent? Why has Bollywood, considered the largest creative industry in India, lost its ability to creative something new and original. And this particular discussion is just limited to songs, else I would also be dissing Sanjay Gupta – the man who can never make anything original. He has been slapped a notice by Netflix for apparently plagiarising their original series Daredevil and remaking it as Kaabil. Just to add, two of the four songs mentioned are also from his film Kaabil.

Getting back to the questions, I’d like to highlight some facts, in light of which these questions seem to be more pertinent. Bollywood is one of the largest film industries in the world, and the total value of the industry stands at $1.3bn. We produce over 1600 films of all sizes and languages every year, and see at least 2.7 billion footfalls inside theaters during the same time. Everyone is paid well, right from an actor’s assistant to the film director. When you’ve top music directors being associated with every film, and they are being paid top bucks, why can’t they come up with something original?

I simply fail to understand how current producers are even promoting the use of remixed songs for their films. Aren’t they hungry to create something that will possibly be used by future filmmakers, just the way they are being tempted to use old classics as remixes? I reckon they aren’t thinking about songs this way, else they would have paid enough attention on the film’s music to ensure that it turns out to be another DDLJ, or maybe a Rangeela.

I’ve had a chance to be a part of the industry in my small way – having attended some music sittings of Uttam Singh Ji (composer of India’s third largest ever selling album Dil To Pagal Hai), and Anandji Bhai of the great Kalyanji-Anandji fame. These traditionalists still take the old route, and even if they aren’t commercially present anymore, they prefer working hard on an original. I have also had a chance to interact with the newbies in the industry, who are making it big. They apparently want the ‘best’ and the most creative minds working for them. What for? For just spotting good remixes I believe.

Keeping in touch without a smartphone – Can you?

The nostalgic 90s – undoubtedly the best phase of our lives. Lots of exciting things were happening back then. While we were playing all those outdoor games our parents did, we also had a computer. While we socialized with people face to face, we also started getting the convenience of a telephone.

We remember all these things, but doubt if we remember HOW we managed to keep in touch with our friends despite not having any technology that would keep us connected every single minute, like the Whatsapps and the FB messengers.  Today, instant messaging is indispensable. We keep messaging our friends until they’ve reached the scene of party, or our significant others till they’ve safely reached home. Do you remember how did we do without these things way back in the 90s?

We did manage it pretty well, and in fact, better than today. In spite of technology connecting us every second today, we keep lying regarding our whereabouts, and at times conveniently switch off the data connection if we want to ditch a plan. Earlier, we just made one phone call to a friend and set a meeting place and time. And more often than not, we would find the friend at the given location at the given time!

A few months ago, I had the chance to live life in the good old fashioned manner. Well not exactly, but almost! One of my very close friends lost her phone, and the absence of any other device at that point of time, coupled with a strict parent who’s averse to letting my friend meet a ‘close friend’ of the ‘opposite sex’ (ME) made it all the more difficult. But when the bond is strong, you do find a way!

We managed to meet often, at least 2-3 times a week, in spite of the technological handicap. And this experience is exactly what compelled me to write this piece. It was an experience that took me back to the simple times, when relations weren’t hampered by technology. When socializing actually meant meeting face to face, and not over a social networking platform.

The friend would use a relative’s phone, and drop me a simple SMS informing me about the time and place of meeting. I was not allowed to reply to the texts because what if anyone else opened it! Aah, the fears our generation has today. Moving on, it was sheer trust and belief that we both would land up at that place at the given time that enabled all those meetings. It has been almost 4 months since that day, and until last week, when my friend finally got a phone, the situation was the same!

In fact, in this era of only instant messaging, even receiving an email made me feel like how a cave man would have reacted to well cooked food for the first time – delirious with joy! Often, conversations that couldn’t be exchanged through any other means would be exchanged over email, which she could access over the PC only when there wasn’t anyone around! If you are wondering if any letters were exchanged, Yes, they were.

Once, we had a terrible fight, and we didn’t talk for a couple of days. We even met in our music class, for our respective rehearsals. Even though eyes met, the brain made us act like strangers.When I was leaving the class for the day, I noticed her car parked nearby. I quickly removed a piece of paper, wrote a letter, and stuck it on her windshield, adjusting it between her car vipers. I waited at a little distance to see if she would notice and read the letter. She did, and her eyes started finding me. I emerged out of nowhere from my hiding. The smile on her face turned the dull night into a brightly lit morning.

These few months made me realize the simplistic joys of life. Social media can never replicate the personal touch that real socializing has. If you can, try doing away with your phone for a few days, and enjoy life unadulterated!

 

 

 

 

Behind our stereotypes – Bollywood

Chopra Saab – the shrewd Punjabi businessman, Mr. Oberoi – the multi millionaire, Mr. Batliwala – the Parsi lawyer, Patil – the Maharashtrian hawaldar…
The list can go on as long as I pressurise my mind to think of all the Bollywood films I’ve seen in my life. And having grown up in a family that was once associated with the industry, I’ve had a rather filmy upbringing. Yes, we talk in dialogues and often wonder how our conversations would flow if not for movies.

Getting back to the point of this blog – Bollywood has largely been responsible for the way we perceive a majority of communities in India. Don’t believe me? Then let’s go on a trip down the memory lane!

1. Punjabis/Sikhs – Punjabis are multifaceted. They assume different kinds of roles, right from people at the highest rung to the ones at the lowest rung.
If they are rich, they’ll either be the Chopras, the Malhotras, or the Oberois. All of them will be multimillionaires, but with a difference. The first two surnames will usually be thug-businessmen who’ve done their business partners wrong in pursuit of building an empire (cough* Madan Chopra, Baazigar *cough) whereas the last ones will be classy, and posh!

The Sikhs will be in the movie only to induce some comic relief. The roles assumed in such circumstances are that of a dhaba owner or a truck driver.

Also, in case there are riots or fights, one can safely leave their family members with a Sikh friend!

2. Parsis – The Parsis HAVE to be old, with vintage vehicles. They’re usually shown at home at all times, which gets me to question how did they accumulate those 1926 Bentleys, or the 1969 Maseratis? They’ll live in huge Parsi colony homes with ceilings that are at least 25-30 feet high. If at all they are any younger, they’ll either be a fraud lawyer or a comical doctor. But the surname remains Batliwala.

3. Muslims – Bollywood has been pretty racist when it comes to this religion. They’re always shown on the wrong side of the law. The main Don, his right hand, his left socks, his underwear, and anything associated will be a Muslim. They are true to their word and once they give ‘zuban’ , they will not back out! Also, their appearance is incomplete without surma in their eyes and a taveez in their arms!
The only time they’re not shown as criminals is when the plot demands an inter-religious romance (Veer-Zaara, Mausam etc), or when there’s a scene which requires a qawalli at a Dargah. The latter is becoming cliched.

Muslim women have been traditionally depicted as the mujrewali dancers or courtesans in the King’s darbar!

Getting back to the criminal class, they are most likely people like Jibran and his younger brother Ifran from Mohra. You get the picture, right?
No? Okay – here’s one!
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4. Maharashtrians – The only role a Maharashtrian male has ever played and will probably ever play is that of a hawaldar or at max, a sub inspector. Names like Sub Inspector Kulkarni and Hawaldar Patil or Sahu are commonplace in movies involving the police force.

If they’re women, the first picture that comes to my mind is that of a maid or a sabzi wali bai haggling for more wages/money. I can’t pin point any particular movie where I’ve seen this scene but I’m certain I’ve seen it countless times for that’s the only way I can recall Marathi women!

5. Christians – They’ll incessantly use the word ‘men’, will be based in Goa, and will drink cheap alcohol.
If the character is a female, it HAS TO BE that of an old lady with psychotic tendencies! If they’re male, they can assume any of these pre defined roles –

1. The first one is that of a Father in a Church who is as spotless in character as is his stark white attire. He cares deeply for his subjects, and time and again tells them to confess.

2. The second role that a Christian will get is that of a gang member! Christians have been the only ones apart from Muslims to consistently feature as the side kicks of villains. They’re usually assumed to be more sophisticated than the Muslims gangsters (only because they’re shown talking in English), and will have names ranging from Robert, Marco, Johnny. They get to pick surnames from D’Costa, D’Souza, and Briganza.
It is usually Robert D’Souza, and Johnny Briganza. Marco is usually surname-less.

You get the picture again, right?

No? Well, there you go again!

yusuf-khan site_197_hindi_424187

If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned the most famous Bollywood Christian name ever,’Anthony Gonzalves’, it is because it was a one off featuring the legendary Bachchan!

6. Marwaris/Gujjus – I’m clubbing them under one category because their roles are often the same! If it’s a Gujarati girl, she will be in the film to induce cheap ‘sms jokes’ comic relief. She will pronounce snacks as ‘snakes’, hall as ‘hole’ and try to get the audience laughing. But in vain.

Marwaris will be the shrewd money lenders who often exploit the lead actor’s family when they’re in dire need. Usually, the hero’s dad will be on the death bed or their house would’ve been destroyed in the fire. The Marwari money lender will be central to the movie because the plot of such a movie will only revolve around the actor growing up to take revenge from the Lala!

 

A conversation with you in my dreams…

I still talk to you at nights,
I talk to you in my dreams,
I wish they were as lovely as before,
But now there are just nightmares and screams;

You come time and again,
And just talk about going away,
But I want to hear something else now,
Because that’s something I’ve already heard you say;

I’ve heard you say those words that pierced like a dagger,
I try to console myself, but I fail miserably and weep,
Because when I try to escape the grievous world at night,
You don’t even allow me a peaceful sleep;

I promise I’m all broken and shattered,
There’s nothing more you can break even if you try,
But you still come and haunt my mind at nights,
You still compel me to bitterly cry;

I was ever giving, I gave you all I had,
I don’t know where I faltered along the way,
My days are spent slowly dying,
In my nightmares you’ve made an eternal stay;

Confessions of a Broken Heart

I swear I heard the heavens play a symphony when you said “I do”,
You understood me when my words had failed to say how much I loved you,
All my vows, devotion, and wishes in life had come true,
Maybe you did once and don’t anymore, but I still love you;

We had seen a life together, with my head held in your arms,
I thought a world of you, saw a magical galaxy in your sweet charms,
But my head banged on the floor and all the dreams were broken,
Because deep down inside, you had many disturbing thoughts unspoken;

You spoke them one day and broke our countless infinities spent together,
But let me assure you one thing, my heart will be yours forever,
The very heart that once swelled with your name,
Will feel for no one else ever;

You ran over it, trampled it, and left it to fend for itself,
But you forgot you live inside, why’d you do this to yourself?
Why’d you do this to yourself, and why’d you do this to me?
What about the perfect future, what about the future We?

Forget the future for once, think about the momentous past,
Think about the wild love, the memories of which will last,
Maybe you’ll try turning a new leaf, with the dawn of the new beam,
But how will you escape them, when they’ll haunt you in your dream?

People will tell me tales of broken hearts,
They’ll tell me that not everyone lasts,
They’ll preach philosophy and tell me to move on,
But how will I, when only to love you I was born?

I’m not good at anything. I shall, therefore, RANT

Over the past few years, especially since the time social media avenues like the Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have replaced the Roti-Kapda-Makaan as our basic needs, I’ve noticed several new classes of people emerging.

There are some who are usually the lesser ones in their classroom or workplace, but can be often found posting profound philosophies on their wall in order to appear bright;

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There are others who will regularly post depressing updates or half-completed sentences in a bid to attract attention from people;

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There are yet some more who will try to use words that are rather incomprehensible by 98.78% people on their friend list. Even they know this for a fact, but will purposely act in this manner so as to look uber-cool and well read (If well read means looking up the thesaurus for finding complex synonyms of every word).

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But the ones I’d like to talk about today are The Critics! Yes, ‘The Critics’! They are above us all. They (feel that they) are present on the planet due to a divine intervention, and that their sole purpose in life is to correct everyone. They are the ones seen using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, in order to desperately gain popularity, by trying to critic everything that comes their way. Their Facebook walls, Tumblr blogs, and YouTube channels usually serve as an outlet for their angst against anything that they might have encountered throughout the day, right from ’80s Manmohan Desai movies to a dog’s poop lying on the pavement. And they mostly target HINDI films (Because English is SUPARKOOL and Hindi is shizzz), Hindi songs, Indian models and actresses, and Chetan Bhagat. 

One of their defining characteristics is that they use terminologies that they’ve invented. because they feel that it is probably more expressive, and humorous. Truth is that it is neither, and is generally forgotten the moment one clicks on the ‘X’ button on the top right side of the internet browser (unless you’re the ‘I’ve got money and I’m an Apple user’. Then it will be on your top left side of the internet browser).

If you’re wondering that I’m doing something similar by criticizing them, then you’re probably right in your own way. But the fact remains that I’m just trying to highlight a new breed of pseudo-townies but quintessentially Vasai residents (though I’ve nothing either against Vasai, or Pedder Road) people who’ve emerged recently and are trying their level best to make a name for themselves by criticizing people who are doing things that they could never. 

Even though I’d hate to name anyone, I’m compelled to. Here are a few links that actively critic EVERYTHING INDIAN, right from movies… to songs… to actresses… and the favorite of these kind of critics – Chetan Bhagat.

1. www.thevigilidiot.com – Makes fun of every Hindi release. Surprisingly, even 3 Idiots. I mean, you can make fun of a movie like Zilla Ghaziabad, but then if you’re making fun of 3 Idiots on the same pedestal, then it is pretty bad. Shows your sense of cinema.

2. Fireyourstylist.wordpress.com – Mocks actresses, models, and sometimes even films.

3. https://twitter.com/SatanBhagat – A random guy on Twitter who criticizes Chetan Bhagat every now and then.

While these are only a handful of blogs that I’ve mentioned, you will find hordes of such people on your Facebook friend list. Their notes, wall posts, and the links that they share will usually critic something or the other. I mean, don’t they simply get tired pointing out flaws?

Come on, give it a break! Stop criticizing, and actually go out there and try something! If you are so concerned about Rahman not coming up with songs as good as Roja, then pick up an instrument and compose something. We understand the displeasure that comes when a favorite doesn’t live upto your expectations, but a fan expressing displeasure is not equal to someone taking every chance to actively criticize and mock someone’s work or attempt at something.

I hope at least a few of you read this and understand what I’m trying to say!

Shukriya, Dravid aur Tendulkar!

In a country where cricket is a unanimous religion, Dravid-Ganguly-Tendulkar are the Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh. This cricket-holy-trinity needs no introduction, and I wouldn’t even embark upon the stupid task of introducing those who have become the visiting cards of the world’s second most populous nation.

This post just a small way of paying a tribute to particularly two of the greatest legends to have ever graced the game of cricket – Rahul Dravid, and Sachin Tendulkar. In a career spanning a total of 41 years (17 years – Dravid, & 24 years – Tendulkar), they have an unbelievable figure of 91,000+ runs between them. Of the 91,000, Dravid has contributed a landmark 41k, whereas Tendulkar has been the only one to have reached the unbelievable milestone of 50k! There’s been absolutely no cricketing feat that both these legends haven’t achieved – including having being ranked amongst the top 3 batsmen consistently during their playing careers, to becoming the batsmen having scored the highest number of runs in the game!

Dravid, and Tendulkar, in fact, are the only two Indian cricketers who’ve crossed 10,000 runs in both ODI as well as Tests! And Wisden, a leading name in the field of sports, had ranked Tendulkar and Dravid as the 2nd, and 3rd greatest batsmen in test cricket, only behind Sir Donald Bradman.

All this going around is not aggression; if you want to see aggression on cricket field, look into Rahul Dravid’s eyes

– Australian batting great Matthew Hayden

I’ll be going to bed having nightmares of Sachin just running down the wicket and belting me back over the head for six. He was unstoppable. I don’t think anyone, apart from Don Bradman, is in the same class as Sachin Tendulkar. He is just an amazing player.

– Shane Warne, one of the world’s greatest spinners.

And now that I’m probably done talking about the records, I’ll delve into something that carries the essence of these two greats.

If you’ve grown up in India during the 90s, then there will be a certain emotional connect with both these players. The sense of reminiscence and nostalgia that these names evoke is unparalleled. In fact, if any of your colony/school friends has ever given your introduction as ‘Yeh hamare colony ka Tendulkar/Dravid hai’ to their friends, you must have experienced a moment of greatest honor and in fact, repeated those very words in front of your parents to show that you hold your own in the colony and that spending hours of cricket whilst not studying hasn’t been futile after all! And ‘Apne aap ko Tendulkar/Dravid/Ganguly samjhta hai kya?’ was a pretty common expression when someone did try to attempt an out of the box shot but failing miserably at it and/or getting out in the process! These two legends have made our childhoods absolutely memorable! Apart from perhaps Dada (Ganguly), these were the only two idols that we’ve drawn inspiration from when it came to batting.

There have been memorable knocks by other international batsmen like the Pontings, the Haydens, the Laras, the Afridis, the Miandads, and the Jayasuriyas,  but these two are in a league of their own. During the 90s, we played gully cricket every single day and tried to imitate the shots that these legends had played probably just the previous evening. A large part of our day during the school was spent fantasizing about shaking hands with these legends. And yes, I use the word ‘legends’ because right since the outset, everyone always knew that these two cricketers had something special about them. Everyone was sure that they would be termed as ‘legends’ once they retire from the field of cricket. But they’ve risen above that, and it’s not uncommon to hear the word ‘God’ being used to refer to them often.

I’m sure that if you are a fan of this sport, you’d have remembered the record knocks of these greats better than the answers to your history test due on any particular day, and that you’ve discussed about their strike rates and total runs scored much more than you’ve ever discussed a mathematics sum with your friends.

The ‘Britannia Khao World Cup Jao’ was perhaps such a huge hit only because millions of Indians, who had probably never seen what a cricket ground looks like, harbored the dream of going to a cricket stadium only to watch these iconic players hold the bat and send bowls towards the boundary successively!

Of all the memorable knocks played by these legends, I’ll never forget Dravid’s composed 180 along with Laxman’s 281 at Eden Gardens, 2001. They did the impossible by getting India out of a follow on to hand an amazing 171 run defeat to Australia! Tendulkar’s memorable knocks are aplenty, with the best ones being against Pakistan! His century in Sharjah, though something that I didn’t see live and caught recently, will never be forgotten.

If you go and ask your parents about the greatest players to have ever played, they will probably name the Gavaskars and the Shastris. But years down the line, when a new generation of kids will be saluting Kohli and Unmukt Chand retiring from cricket, we will proudly tell them that there haven’t been anyone as great as Tendulkar, and Dravid.  While the former turned a game into a religion, the latter is the reason why cricket is known as the Gentleman’s Game.

As both of them played their last game in the Champions League T20 finals between Mumbai Indians, and Rajasthan Royals, I couldn’t help but reflect on every moment of joy both of them have given to cricket aficionados across the world. It’s strange how remembering a plethora of happy memories often makes a person cry!

I humbly bow down and pay my tribute to both these legends, who’ve brought the greatest of respect to this sport and given the future generation some impossible records to be broken! I thank them again for a wonderful cricket filled childhood that we’ve had.

Sachin and Dravid