Sunday, March 29, 2009

Normal programming will resume soon...

If Varun Gandhi had said that he would slaughter a chicken instead of Muslims, his mother would have put him behind bars herself, pronto! 

Interesting sense of priority we have in this country... 

Don't let such random thoughts bother you. Play The Hangal Game instead! 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Hangal Game

Hollywood star Kevin Bacon has claimed that he has worked with every major star in Hollywood. Now, some philanthropic souls have made a game out of it. They try to connect every Hollywood star with any other through commonly acted films. The idea is that if Bacon’s claim has to stand, he will be the link between everybody. Of course, the claim is a wild exaggeration though he has indeed acted with a very wide variety of co-stars.

Essentially, it is figuring out the Degree of Separation between film stars, where the link is not just any connection but the films they have acted together in.

Nilendu and I chatted about this game and tried adapting it to Bollywood.

As you can see, both of us are serious professionals working in IT and Marketing, always discussing best practices from around the globe and making them relevant to the Indian context!

We realized a few things when we were discussing the game.

Character actors like A K Hangal, Iftekhar, Anupam Kher, Kader Khan and the like are the Kevin Bacons in the Indian scene. Between them, they have been around for huge periods of time and have acted with the entire gamut of stars, starlets and enthu cutlets.

Game Tip: Durable character artistes have the potential to reduce the Degree of Separation big time.

In fact, we have named the Indian version The Hangal Game, after our favourite and India’s most durable character artiste – A K Hangal. One observation about the great man is that he still looks and acts exactly the same as he did in his first film!

We also realized that it is pretty much impossible to get a Hangal Score beyond 4, leave alone 6!

Let me show you.

Starting with a simple one: Dilip Kumar and Abhishek Bachchan.

Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan acted together in Shakti. Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan acted together in Sarkar (and many others). So, their degree of separation (Hangal Score) is 2, since you can connect them in 2 movies.

Next one: Neetu Singh and Preity Zinta.

Neetu Singh + Amitabh Bachchan = Yaarana. Amitabh + Abhishek Bachchan = Sarkar. Abhishek + Preity = Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Hangal Score = 3.

Question: Can we lower the Hangal score? For that, we need to find a guy who has acted with both Neetu Singh and Preity Zinta. Who is that guy? Who else but the Big B.

Yaarana. Amitabh + Preity = The Last Lear. So, Hangal Score can be brought down to 2.

Third one: Guru Dutt and Ranbir Kapoor.

Guru Dutt + Waheeda Rehman = Pyaasa. Waheeda + Amitabh = Trishul. Amitabh + Deepika Padukone = Om Shanti Om. I admit this is a little sly because AB only had a guest appearance in the film. Deepika + Ranbir = Bachna Ae Haseeno. Hangal Score = 4.

Can we reduce? Of course, we can!

Pyaasa. Waheeda + Sonam Kapoor = Delhi 6. Sonam + Ranbir = Saawariya. HS = 3!

The other ones that we discussed were as follows:

Navin Nischol and Dino Morea.

In a moment of inspired genius, Nilendu came up with – Navin Nischol + Anupam Kher = Khosla Ka Ghosla. Anupam Kher + Dino Morea = Dus Kahaniyan. Hangal Score = 2.

Game Tip: Multi-story – multi-starrer – films like Life In A Metro, Dus Kahaniyan, and Darna Manaa Hai go a long way in squeezing the Hangal Score.

Sachin and Tusshar Kapoor.

Again, we got it in 2. Sachin + Amitabh = Sholay. Amitabh + Tusshar Kapoor = Khakee.

The game play rules are simple.

Long Version (Solo Player): Player tries to think up star pairs with the highest Hangal Score. This version needs a gaming group to compare scores and exchange notes.

Short Version (Multi-player): Player A gives Player B a star pair. Player B names the linking films and gets a Hangal Score. If Player A gets a lower score (thanks to an obscure link up his sleeve), he gets a point. Else, Player B gets the point. A timing element can be introduced to entertain the T20 addicts.

What we love about this game is that not only does one need a decent knowledge of Bollywood, one needs to scan the memory fast enough to bring about the connections.

And the game can be made easy or difficult by including clauses like guest appearances allowed / not allowed, co-stars mean being in the same film / same scene and so on. We can even be very star struck and refuse to admit character artistes in the connections but then, what is Hindi cinema without Guddi Maruti, Laxmikant Berde and Satyen Kappu?

In fact, we were thinking of announcing a prize for getting a Hangal Score of 5 or 6. But then, a drinking session at Olypub with us followed by Chelo Kababs at Peter Cat does not really qualify as a prize!

Don’t let that dampen you, though!

Think of the oddest pair of stars… or stars who have never acted with Hangal!

Game Tip: Think of present day debutants (few number of films) and pair them with stars from as far back as you can!

Baithe baithe kya karenge? Karna hain kuch kaam –

Aao kheley Hangal Game, le kar Kappu ke naam!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Conversations with my son

My wife wants to give up our son for adoption. 
In the last 48 hours, he has beaten up Chitrangada Singh's son, poured water on his sleeping mother and called himself a Hegoram. Okay, Bongs - stop laughing at the last bit! 

Weekends are really stressful times. Some snatches of conversation... 

Me trying to brush his teeth, while he is trying wriggle out and climb the walls, using the bath toys as traction. Suddenly...
Him (handing me a bath toy): Fock! 
Me, frozen speechless.
Him (again, with more passion): Fock!
Me, desperately wondering where he learnt it from. We hardly use the F word. 
Him (impatiently): Fock! Fock!! 
Me (weakly): Ki?? 
He throws the toy and hands me another. 
Him (exasperated): Duck!
Me: Huh? 
He has thrown away his green frog toy and is now giving me a yellow duck. 

TV Time
Me on the laptop, digging out obscure songs from my playlists. Him, absorbed in Disney Playhouse. 
Him: Eta Mickey. Eta Mimi. Eta Donnel. Eta Didi. Eta Joopi (Goofy).
Me: Aar eita Pluto. 
Him (gives me a condescending look): Na. Ota doggie. (Explains for my benefit) Bhou bhou. 

One hour later, we are now on Cartoon Network. Favourite show starts. 
Him (explaining to dull Dad): Eta Tomjeri. 
Me: Okay. 
Show in full blast. Cat's tail gets caught in toaster, as son laughs uproariously. 
Him (excitedly): Jerry tuck (Jerry stuck). 
Me: Huh? 
Now, mouse puts cat's tail in waffle machine. 
Me: Aar eta ke? 
Him (again exasperated): Tom. (Subtitle: What kind of duffer are you?)
Several questions on names of cat and mouse establish that my son thinks the cat is Jerry and the mouse is Tom. 
I don't try to correct. The connection of the names to the stories is not too strong anyway! 

Magazine Time
Me flipping through Filmfare, as son sits on shoulder, hangs from head and peeps from under my arm. Warning: Don't try this at home. Even as he climbs on to these precarious positions (as well as on dining tables, he is always repeating "Joy, be carefoo, be carefoo..."). 
I try to make this an educational experience. Point out familar pictures and get him to identify in a rapid fire round of Eta Ki? (What's this?) and he responds admirably. 
Teddy bear. Butterfwy (he says 'w' instead of 'l'). Caar. Nanu. (means Bath = Wet heroine). 
Me (pointing to Bipasha Basu): Eta key? 
Him: Mamma. 
I am a little jealous at this blatant display of devotion. 
Me (hopefully pointing to John Abraham): Eta key? 
Him (after close scrutiny): Kaku. (referring to my cousin, who is into regular gymming).  


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The realisation of age first hits you when you sight your first grey hair.
It happened to me in February 2001. A colleague pointed it out and even helpfully plucked it out for me! I promptly taped the offending strand on to a piece of paper and mailed it to my parents. I had written - "This is not the first grey hair I am giving you..."

The second whammy happens when some one calls you 'Uncle' for the first time. 
This - for me - was in September 2002. I had just moved to Bangalore and into my first house. The neighbour introduced herself, offered to find a maid and even brought her cute son over. "Say hi to uncle..." 

And finally, you have three songs from your college days playing back to back on FM. 
On a show called Retro Cafe. 
That happened in March 2009. 

Since I have always liked some really oddball songs, I thought I will hunt for them on the 'net and compile them in one nostalgic post so that I don't have to drive home after 9 PM to listen to them. 

Neela aasmaan (Silsila)
The Amitabh version is one song which every one loves to hate. With Lata singing the other version, this has nothing going for it. Except that Amitabh's voice has a pathos, which is quite undescribable. Probably it had something to do with the fact that he knew that he would never act with Rekha again. 
If - however - you like the song, then you should hear this as well. 

Yeh lamhe, yeh pal (Lamhe)
Hariharan's beautiful voice was the perfect choice for this wonderfully mellow composition by India's two foremost classical musicians coming together as Shiv-Hari. Of course, I loved the film so much that I took notice of the clean-shaven Anil Kapoor and the high-pitched Sridevi. What a pity that songs just go into oblivion when films flop. 

Kya ghazab karte ho jee (Love Story)
Long before 2050 came a Love Story starring the producer's son. Bunty escapes from home and meets Pinky on the road. Through P2C2E*, they land up in a shady hotel and Bunty gets hooked up with a - well - hooker. An incredibly well-maintained Aruna Irani comes in and sings the standard issue seduction song - while Ms Pinky is also hiding in the same room and evading Mr Bunty and Ms Irani. Fuggedaboutit. Just listen to the song
* Process 2 Complicated 2 Explain

Suno suno Miss Chatterjee (Baharein Phir Aayegi)
I had never seen this song till just now but somehow I knew that it can only be Johnny Walker who could have pulled off this kind of lyrics. Probably because of this song
And what better place to sing an ode to Miss Chatterjee than in front of Victoria Memorial of the 1950's? 

Chandi ki chamcha (Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja)
I must be one of the three people in the world who have liked RKRCKR (the other two being Anil and Boney). Apart from a breathtaking aerial train robbery scene, the film had a brilliant song written by Javed Akhtar and composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal, starring Sridevi as a Chinese princess (Princess Chaime Chini of Chinchpokli) and Anil Kapoor as an African prince (Prince Batata of Matunga). Akhtar just excels himself in the word play during the song and the scene just before it. 
Rather odd that not too many liked it. Probably because nobody heard it in the first place! 

Guni jano, bhakto jano (Aansoo aur Muskaan)
Kishore Kumar - on screen - manages to bring a manic energy not seen in too many performances. What starts off as a slightly comic bhajan ends up being a totally hilarious spoof on the film stars of the day. In an absolutely crazy crescendo, Kishore goes full blast on his Bollywood colleagues and does 1-second imitations of the leading stars of the day. You see the last minute of the song (which has line that goes - Bum bum nache bhakta Kishoram) and realise that it needs a statutory warning - "This has been performed by an expert. Do not try at home."

Mere paas aao (Mr Natwarlal)
Amitabh Bachchan's first attempt at playback singing was a momentous enough event for my mother to buy an EP record of the film - though I do not recall hearing any other song (including the runaway hit, Pardesiya). Though, I remember the Hanuman Chalisa, the tiger imitation, the jungle sound effects as if I had heard it yesterday. Well, you could argue that I did hear it yesterday but you know what I mean!  
And when all else fails, there is always the final dialogue between AB and the kid... 
- Khuda ki kasam, mazaa aa gaya / Mujhe maar kar besaram khaa gaya! 
- Khaa gaya? Lekin aap to zinda hain? 
- Arre! Yeh jeena bhi koi jeena hain, Lalloo?  

Hum Bewafa / One Two Cha Cha Cha (Shalimar)
You know this (complete with its tribal mating call!) thanks to this. Did you know what you just heard is the SAD version? But of course! It had words like kitni akeli, tujhse bichhad, tere gham and all. 
But have you heard of the happy version? Only those who did not move away from Zee Cinema, waited for the titles to roll and saw Dharmendra (in a naval officer's uniform) and Zeenat Aman (in a wedding dress) exchanging garlands in a church would remember it. But now, it is available for all... Thank me for it! 
In the Shalimar post, I had talked about the Cha Cha Cha song as well. Aruna Irani - in red stillettos - teach Mr Naidu, lanky sailors and bashful Parsis (aankhen thoda upar) how to dance as Premnath plays high stakes poker in Ferguson's Dance Studio. 
Come to think of it, this is yet another film of which my mother bought a record for and I remember hearing the Cha Cha Cha song with her. Amazing, no? 

And of course, my absolute favourite oddball song is the anarchic version of the title song from Do Aur Do Panch - in which Shashi Kapoor sings while Amitabh tries to grapple with an unconscious Parveen Babi. And I was so thrilled to learn that it was performed by Rajesh Roshan and Mehmood. 

So, what oddball of yours is bouncing on YouTube tonight?  

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Baikuntha Mallick: Poetry in Obscurity

Non-Bengali readers should please excuse this nostalgic outpourings of a bunch of non-resident Bengalis about their favourite fictional thriller writer and his favourite poet! 
Normal programming will resume soon.  

Enthused by the tremendous response to my yesterday's post, I dug out my Feluda novels and quickly transliterated the Complete Recorded Works (or as much as I can remember!) of Baikuntha Mallick of Athenium Institution. 
His biggest fan, Lalmohan Ganguly, recites his works at every conceivable occasion and location and even argues any attempts to find faults with Mr Mallick's works. Given the wide range of situations he has poems for, Mr Mallick's prolificity cannot be debated though the same cannot be said for his poetic talent.  

Lalmohanbabu, despite his low-brow literary output, is not only a 'connoisseur' of poetry but the subject of poetry himself! 
Feluda himself has composed a couple of poems - one a riddle couplet and the other a limerick in Jatayu's honour. 
In Hatyapuri, he sums up Jatayu's works in a cavalier manner: 
Bujhey dekho Jatayu-r kalam-er jor
Ghurey gechhey rahasya kahini-r moR
ThoR baRi khaRa
Likhey taRa taRa
Eibarey likhechhen khaRa baRi thoR
But in Gnoshaipur Shorogorom, he creates a quick couplet which is a riddle about his dear friend's name. 
Raktabaran Mugdhokaran
Nadi-pashey, jaha bnidhiley maran
(For the amnesiac, Raktabaran = Lal. Mugdhokaran = Mohan. Nadi-pashey = Gaang. Bidhiley maran = Guli.)

Also, I vaguely recall (from Jokhon Chhoto Chhilam) that poet Ghulam Mustafa was a teacher of Bengali at Ballygunge Government School and Satyajit Ray remembers two lines from one of his poems. They go something like this... 
Anmoney eka eka path cholitey
Dekhilam chhoto meye, chhoto gali-tey
This sounds firmly in the Baikuntha Mallick territory to me! 

Anyway, let's delve into the works of this Unknown Great! 

Chronologically - I think - Baikuntha Mallick appears for the first time in Hatyapuri, where he is seen twice. 
Standing on the Puri beach, Lalmohanbabu recites the last two lines of a poem, for which he had won a prize in Elocution when he was in Class VII. 
Aseemer daak shuni kallol mormorey
Ek paye khaRa thaki eka eka baluchorey... 
As Feluda observes, the poet compares himself to a stork as it is inconceivable for any other species to remain standing on one leg in the wind!  

Subsequently, Lalmohanbabu lets himself loose in the precincts of the Mukteshwar temple of Bhubaneswar and loudly recites the following lines:
Koto shoto agyato Michaelangelo
Ekda ei Bharatbarshey chhelo
Nirabey ghoshichhey taha bhaskorjey bhashwar
When Topshe mildly pointed out that great poets don't usually vandalise common words (chhilo becoming chhelo) to rhyme with Angelo, Lalmohanbabu gets irritated and retorts, "Poet-er background na jeney verse criticise korar bad obhyesh-ta kothai peley, Tapesh?"
Apparently, Baikuntha Mallik is from Chinsurah, where they pronounce chhilo as chhelo

One of the longest poems - which mixes 'poetic' observation with advice - comes in Ebar Kando Kedarnathey. Baikuntha Mallick had obviously been to Kedarnath-Badrinath before the age of cars and wrote the following lines: 
Shohorer joto kled, joto kolahol
Feli pichhey shohosro yojan
Dekho choley koto bhaktajon
Himgiri beshtito ei tirthapathey 
Shudhu aaj noi, shei purakal hotey
Shathey choley Mandakini
Atal gambhirjo majhey khipro probahini
Tobey shuno ebey abhigyer bani
Deb-darshan hoy jeno bohu koshto mani
Girigatrey shirnopathey jatri aw-gonon
Pran jai jodi hoi padaskholon
Tao choley ashwarohi, choley dandi-bahi
Joshti-dhari briddho dekho taro klanti nahi
Achhey shudhu atal bishwash
Shob klanti hobey dur, purno hobey aash
Jatra antey birajen Kedareshwar
Shorbogun Shorboshaktidhar
Mahatirthey mahapunya hobey nishchoi
Uchcha kanthey bolo shobey - Kedarer Joi!

In Darjeeling Jomjomat, Lalmohanbabu sees Kanchanjungha for the first time and is suitably impressed to belt out yet another verse: 
Oyi Kanchanjanghey! 
Dekhechhi tomar roop Uttar Bangey 
Mugdho netrey dekhi mora tomarey prabhatey
Shnajhetey arek roop, bhul nei tatey
Tushar bhaskarjo tumi, moder gourab
Shobey miley tomarei kori mora stob! 
After reciting, he even points out a grammatical nuance: "Shombodhoney A-kar ta Ey-kar hoye jai - shetakey kemon kajey lagiyechhey kobi, dekhechho Tapesh? Etai great poet-er lokkhon."
This rule is absolutely correct but Topshe does not have a very high opinion of the poet and he grudgingly accepts the observation, claiming no knowledge of Sanskrit grammar.  

In Bhushorgo Bhayankar, the beauty of Kashmir and Srinagar are described thus:
Kori noto shir
Tomarey pronomi Kashmir
Kumarika-r opor prantey
Obosthan tobo Bharat-er Uttar shimantey
Rajdhani Srinagar
Jhelum-er joley dhowa apurbo shohor
Koto hrad, koto bagh, koto bagicha
Anya nagarer shathey tulona koritey jawa michha

To get an idea of the geographical spread of the poet's subjects, we can immediately move to Nayan Rahashya - where Chennai is rather badly slammed in a stereotype very common among Bengalis. 
Boroi hotash hoyechhi aaj
Tomarey heriye, Madraj! 
Bhasha hetha durbodhyo Tamil
Anya bhashar shathey nei kono mil
Idli aar dosa kheye triptibey rasana?
Ore baba, ey shohorey keu kabhu eshona! 

From the South of the Vindhyas, Baikuntha Mallick takes us much closer home - to the temple of that one Bengali poet, whose depth and width cannot be faulted too much. 
In Robertson-er Ruby, Feluda and gang reach Shantiniketan and Lalmohanbabu pulls out one more from his hat - on the banks of Kopai river. 
Jirno Kopai, shorpil gati
Mon boley dekhey manoram oti
Dui pashey dhaan
Prakriti-r daan
Duley othey shomikoroney
Boley debey kobi
Anka robey chhobi
Chirotorey mor money

Lest we dismiss this poet as a passion-less chronicler of travels - who offers caveats to travellers in rhyme - a poem about the Moon emerges in Jahangir-er Swarna Mudra. In the dead of the night, Lalmohanbabu recites: 
Aha, dekho chnader mahima
Kabhu ba shugol roupya-thali
Kabhu adha, kabhu shiki, kabhu ekfali
Jeno shodyo kata nokh porey achhey nobhey
Shetukuo nahi thakey, jobey
Ashey amabasya
Shei ratey tumi tai
As as aside, he also reveals that "Bujhtei parchho, ekjon lady-key address korey lekha..." to which Feluda wryly points out that he has managed to draw the attention of another lady with his performance. This lady is the client's octagenarian aunt! 

And to end, it would be interesting to take the poem which ends the above short story. It is about the great brains of the world and Lalmohanbabu obviously believes Feluda to be one of them. 
And to put his feelings into words, it is Baikuntha Mallick who comes to the rescue - with the poem called Genius
Aw-baak pratibha kichhu jonmechhey e bhobey - 
Eder mogojey ki je chhilo ta key kobey?
Da Vinci, Einstein, Khana, Lilabati
Shobarei smari ami, shobarey pranati! 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Badiya Pakshi: 8 Favourite Jatayu Scenes

Bowing to overwhelming popular demand (2 comments on the previous post!), a piece on the greatest thriller writer in Bengali is now mandated.

Creator of a detective with superhuman abilities (Prakhar Rudro), his works like Durdhorsho Dushman (Awesome Adversary), Saharai Shihoron (Sahara Shivers), Honduras-ey Hahakar (Honduras Horrors), Vancouver-er Vampire (needs no translation!) have not only topped bestseller lists in multiple editions, at least two of them have also been made into films.
The later one – Karakoramey Rokto Kar? (the alliteration getting lost in translation as Whose Blood in Karakoram) – had the author himself in a bit part. The title of the first one – Bombaiyer Bombetey (Buccaneer of Bombay) – was used by renowned film director, Satyajit Ray, for his own novel recounting the adventures of this author as he tagged along with Pradosh C Mitter and Tapesh Ranjan Mitter in Bollywood.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is Calcutta Chromosome’s honour and privilege to present Lalmohan Gangopadhyay a.k.a Jatayu.

Essentially, a good soul who is not very fluent in English and gets intimidated very easily – despite writing aggressive thrillers – Jatayu’s malapropisms are legendary. To report a tiger missing from a circus, he says “The circus which escaped from the Great Majestic Tiger…
When a Marathi police officer asks if he is indeed Mr Ganguly, he exclaims – “Hnayes!
And when a rude client enquires about his credentials, he self-effacingly mumbles, “Ami… maney… keu na!

Satyajit Ray wrote his Feluda novels like a screenplay, complete with notes for art direction and sometimes even for would-be actors!
In Joto Kando Kathmandu-tey, Lalmohanbabu enters the Casino for the first time looking rather dapper in his newly acquired corduroy trousers and green jerkin. After collecting his tokens, he starts down the stairs inspecting them closely. A Japanese lady is walking up, counting her winnings. A collision is avoided when Topshe tugs him away at the last minute. Lalmohanbabu looks up and apologises with a nervous giggle – “He-he-hexcuse-me-hi-hi-hi”. You have to stand up and applaud this element of detail.

In Gorosthaney Shabdhan, the trio attempts to enter a suspect’s house (to spy on his séance session). The watchman stops them. Feluda ad-libs, “Tomar maliker ek bondhur opor shondeho, bhai. Amra pulisher lok.” Points to Lalmohan-babu and says, “Ini daroga.Lalmohanbabu payer buro anguley dnariye height-takey tuk korey 2 inchi bariye nilen!

Lalmohanbabu’s bete noire is obviously the dreaded Maganlal Meghraj. The first time (Joi Baba Felunath), Jatayu was a knife-thrower’s target. The second time (Joto Kando Kathmandu-tey), Jatayu was given a dose of LSD.
They met for a lesser known third time – again in Benaras – during the Golapi Mukto Rahasya. In a hilariously described scene, Maganlal gets Lalmohanbabu to sing a song! For a full five minutes, Jatayu sings ‘Aloker ei jharnadharai’ while Maganlal reclines on his bolsters and keeps rhythm on his cash box.

His love for knowledge and trivia is well-known but of course, he is not beyond a few aptly placed errors, even when he is saving the day. In Dr Munshi-r Diary, the missing link is a manuscript (the titular diary, by the eponymous Doctor!), which is supposed to be published by Penguin. Feluda manages to identify the killers but the diary had been destroyed by then. “Spotlight!”, screams Jatayu. He had photocopied the manuscript since he could not finish it in one day and even spells out the life-saving invention – “X.E.R.O.X.” and exhorts the dead man’s secretary to hand it over to the publisher. “Nin, typing shuru korey din. Shesh holei shoja North Pole.” Nice. Except that Penguins are not there in the North Pole, only South!

Lalmohanbabu’s moment of glory comes during Bombaiyer Bombetey, when he reaches Bollywood as the story-writer for a (eventually) Chuni Pancholi production – Jet Bahadur! Ray’s poor regard for the masala filmmaker comes through repeatedly in the motif of Codopyrine (a strong headache reliever) and Jatayu reveals a rather aggressive side of his personality when he reviews the earlier film of director Pulak Ghoshal, who is making Jet Bahadur.
The name of the film is Tirandaaz. And in the interval, Jatayu sighs – “Gadpar-er chheley, tui eto din ei korey chul pakali? Proti bochhor pujor shomoi parai ekta korey theatre korto… Joddur money porchhey B Com fail… tar kachh thekey aar ki asha kora jai, bolo?” And finally, decides to keep a brave face – “Keu jiggesh korley boley debo first class! Poketey korkorey takagulo na thakley shottii bhengey portam, Topesh!

Lalmohanbabu has a penchant for dedicating his books to famous people connected – however tenuously – to the plot!
His Meru Mahatanka was dedicated to the ‘Memory of Robert Scott’, Gorilla-r Gogrash to the ‘Memory of David Livingstone and Anabik Danob (maximum gnaja, according to Feluda!) to the ‘Memory of Albert Einstein’. He goofed up big time when he dedicated his Himalay-ey Hritkompo to the ‘Memory of Sherpa Shiromoni Tenzing Norgay’.
Feluda was livid. “Apni jolo-jyanto loktakey merey fellen?” Lalmohanbabu mumbled, “Onekdin kagojey naam taam dekhini. Ora to shob shomoi paharey taharey chorchhen. Bhablam, hoito paa-taa horkey giye…

The absolute best Jatayu scene – in my humble opinion – is not from any of the books but from the film, Shonar Kella. It is the introduction scene of Jatayu and with the entry of Santosh Dutta, the character was redefined forever. From then on, Ray even changed the illustrations in his novels to make the paper character resemble the celluloid one.
Lalmohan-babu enters Feluda’s compartment in Kanpur Junction, waves off his coolie in an imperious manner, introduces himself in classical Bong-Hindi and attaches himself to the problem-solving duo. No amount of description can bring alive this landmark scene but I have to try.
He reveals himself as a hugely prolific writer: “Up to date 27 kahani likkhi (sic) hain…
And popular too: “All published. Bahut janapriya…
Tries to place Feluda from memory: “Apni ki shnataru? English Channel?
Gets put in his place by Feluda: “Dhakuria Lake!
Asks Feluda’s physical dimensions: “Apnar chhati koto, moshai?
Then quotes popular literature: “26? Apni ki shuor?
Brags about his novel: “6-ta edition!
But is told: “Saat-ey shudhrey deben…
And you know the best part about this list? Everybody can have his/her own set of eight!

UPDATED TO ADD: Completely forgot to put in one more favourite - from Joi Baba Felunath (the film). Apart from a brilliant sequence with Gunomoy Bagchi (a bodybuilder!), there is a cute exchange in which the hotel manager speaks about a new holy man, who has arrived in Benares. "Machhli baba. Shobaikey uni ekta montroputo sholko den...". Jatayu is stumped. "Sholko?" Feluda butts in. "Apnar Gyanpith foshkey gelo..."

Friday, March 06, 2009

Langda Taggee: A Lame Post, Long Overdue

This is the most difficult tag I have ever done. 25 things to 'help me know better'? Questions like who would be interested in knowing 25 things about me crop up. Because logically, people who are interested in me know these things already. The ones who aren’t don’t want to know either! Anyways, here goes...

I started this blog in January 2005 because Udayan told me to. I did not know what to do with it and sporadically posted some of my old stuff till May 2006. After that, I started travelling extensively (again) and averaged about 10 posts a month till March 2008. The pace has slowed since then.

I was born a reasonably chubby baby of 8 pounds but after the first six months of being pampered beyond belief as the first grandson of the family, I was an unbelievably fat thing going into my annaprasan (rice-eating ceremony). In fact, some people wondered aloud how my petite mother managed to carry me around!

My first school was Montessori Shishu Niketan. I was such a terror that my mother dreaded going to pick me up every afternoon. I once bit a classmate (whose name, as inscribed on his water-bottle, was D. Bagchi) so bad that the poor fellow almost passed out. If somebody knows him, please pass my apologies.

I went to St Lawrence High School in Calcutta. My happiest memories of my school days are of walking home via Ritchie Road and Rashbehari Avenue with a gang of friends. Our standard stop was at Priya Cinema, where we always critically analysed the film on show and worked on the plans to watch it.

I almost got admitted into the English course at Jadavpur University for my BA – thanks to a really crappy first week of classes. I am very proud of the fact that I did quite well in the admission test. If I had indeed joined, I would have ended up writing newspapers instead of selling them!

Thanks to Bollywood and Calcutta, I have fantastic vocabulary and pathetic grammar in Hindi. But I have no recollection of this when I am speaking in the language, which I do quite often – scandalously enough – to eminent Hindi journalists during the course of my work. I can actually visualise their insides cringing at my onslaught!

I did my graduation (Mechanical Engineering) so perfunctorily that I remember NOTHING from the course. In fact, I tried my best to forget the branch as well but I haven’t succeeded in doing that. But in hindsight, I am glad that I enrolled there because otherwise, I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends.

My memories of Engineering college consist of bunking classes and postponing tests. Without revealing the downright illegal methods, let’s just say our class did everything from switching off mains to scaling walls in order to achieve these. Nilendu and I raided a professor’s locker once but I need legal counsel before I recount that incident!

Very strangely, I never adopted the two passions of our college days – smoking Charminar and playing bridge. A non-smoking Bengali was a bit of an oxymoron in those pre-Ramadoss times but I never let that come between me and my smoking buddies, inhaling enough smoke during four years of college to last me four lifetimes.

During my MBA, I took 11 Marketing courses (out of the list of 12). Apart from the fact that I enjoyed the subject, there was the terror of flunking any non-Marketing course that I take. Our institute had a rule of expelling any student with four D grades. So, I took only 3 non-Marketing electives!

In a fit of boredom during the leave after my MBA, I took the institute yearbook and memorised the addresses of my entire class (130 of us!) and some of the juniors’. For about a year after that, I felt very happy by reciting the address whenever I met a batchmate. Yes, I was insane!

I have never ever done anything consciously to control weight (Actually I have... my wife and I went on morning walks for about 3 months in 2007), I feel very guilty when people compliment me on ‘losing weight’. Likewise, when I get favourable results in sugar or cholesterol tests, I am again a little guilty!

I never read Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. I hated the little bit of Enid Blyton that I read. I started reading Jeffrey Archer and Sidney Sheldon really early. I found original Shakespeare unreadable (so I resorted to the Lambs). I hated (didn’t understand?) the style of most English classics but just loved the stories.

I am paranoid about the condition of my books. I just hate it if someone borrows a book from me and breaks the spine or dogears it. In my bookshelf, the books are always arranged in decreasing order of height (from left to right). I love the symmetry of a slowly decreasing line of books.

I have watched three films in a theatre back to back... TWICE! But in total contrast to the choice of films usually associated with such binging, the films I watched were all classics. In successive years of the Calcutta Film Festival, I watched Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar followed by Ankur, Nishant and Bhumika.

I have drafted letters intended for Satyajit Ray several times but never gathered the courage to send them. This has turned out to be a massive regret since Ray was a diligent respondent and replied to all his fan mail unfailingly. In one of the planned letters, I even proposed a location for him (Bhutan).

I am a big fan of Ramgopal Verma. Despite the fact that he has made many more bad films than good ones, I get hooked on to scenes, characters and points of view in each of his films. As a holder of interest, he is far better than – say – his perennial bête noire, Karan Johar.

I vividly remember television serials from the mid 1980s. Buniyaad, Khandaan, Yeh Jo Hain Zindagi, Ados Pados, Karamchand, Barrister Vinod, Rajni, Wah Janab (Shekhar Suman’s debut), Show Theme, Mirza Ghalib, Malgudi Days... I can still recite dialogues, sing the title music and describe scenes in intricate detail. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore!

Mutton Biriyani is my favourite food. I am a big fan of fish but I realise that my non-taste senses cease to function only in the presence of well-cooked mixture of rice and meat. Connoisseurs – especially smartass Bongs – claim that no food compares with fish but that’s probably because they have never been to Shiraz.

I am still addicted to Sudoku. It started in 2004. My first Sudoku was in The Hindu, taking me about 30 minutes of head-scratching for the puzzle of 1-star difficulty. Now, I have the game loaded on my phone. I practice the 5-star difficulty ones whenever I get stuck in the infamous Dhaula Kuan traffic!

Whenever I am struck by a great idea/quote/word, I keep trying to use in everyday conversation – however silly that may sound. I did that quite well in college but not so well now that I have a job to keep! Therefore, Paranoid Android was used quite often but Slumdog is restricted to this blog only!

I love making lists. Eight Best Lalmohanbabu scenes. All-time Great Indian Test XI. Indian ODI XI. Twelve Best Short Stories – in English, Bengali. Seven Most non-deserving Filmfare Award winners – for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Film. Ten Favourite Quotations. Ten Best Scenes – from Bollywood, from Hollywood. Ten funniest jokes. 25 Things Nobody Knows About You!

I get illogically obsessed about quirky things, for some time. When I was in Chennai around the time Anniyan released, I got totally obsessed with Vikram – even watched un-subtitled Sethu on Sun TV! For several months now, I am obsessed about 55-word stories. For example, all the paragraphs in this post are 55 words each.

I get very embarrassed to tag people and therefore, don’t do it after any of my tags – including this one. This is the old fogey in me, who is always unsure whether a person I only know electronically would take offence if I ask her to list 25 things about herself! Phew, gasp, pant, pant...