I am Back...

... but is that a good idea?

This is the longest I have been off the blog since I started posting 'regularly' in May 2006. So, some snippets to ensure that June 2011 does not become the first non-post month.

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To let you on to a secret (which partially explains the hiatus), I have finished writing what I hope will be my second book. It does not have a publisher yet. But I had to write it because too many people - most of them on this blog - were insisting on it. Currently, it is being sampled selectively to non-Bollywoodies for them to critique. And fingers are being crossed.

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Right now, I am tripping on the Hawa Hawaii song from Shaitaan. It is a crazy remix of a favourite song of mine from one of my all-time favourite movies.
Which reminds me of some crazy reprisals of classic songs. (And yes, I can see many of you crying at my calling Hawa Hawaii a classic song but see the original and decide for yourself! It started with Mombasa, Honolulu and what not.)
For example, a relatively obscure film called Road, Movie (by Dev Benegal) had a zany version of Sar jo tera chakraye. As if the original was not crazy enough.

Which also reminds me of some cool reprises of classic songs in new movies. They are not really remixes but appear rather unexpectedly and do anything from bringing a smile to blowing your mind.

In Rock On!, a rock musician's wife was asked to sing a song at a party (apparently organised by Channel V) and she - with a dazzling smile and a charming innocence - decided to sing the most anti-rock song in the world. As a long-haired, sullen, rock-guitarist affectionately strummed along.

One of the earliest songs I remember in this style is from Dil Hain Ke Maanta Nahin, when Aamir Khan and Pooja Bhatt heard a classic song in a car workshop and decided to make a song-and-dance about it. Literally, because they made a film out of the song's title a few years on.

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Recently, one of my favourite blogs - Ganga Mail - came up with this post, which compared Satyajit Ray and Hrishikesh Mukherjee / Basu Chatterjee. Another favourite blogger of mine - Abhishek - felt the post was 'blasphemy' (though he's a big fan of Ganga Mail).
So, I thought of writing my thoughts on the subject. (See, Bengalis take on disagreements so agreeably. Any of our surnames had been Thackeray instead of Ghosh, Mukherjee or Chaudhuri - there would have been Blood on the Blogspot by now!)

Satyajit Ray made many films that I did not connect with - initially.
When I first saw Aparajito (which was hailed as a classic by critics but did not do well commercially) - truth be told - I was a little disappointed since I felt the film to be a little slow. What was the point, I thought?
Many years later, I saw the film again - quite strangely, in Hotel Chanakya of Patna - on DD Bangla. I was travelling 32 days a month then and my mother was complaining that she had forgotten what I look like. I was ignoring her (like sons usually do) and wondering when she would give me a break. And that's when I saw Aparajito. Earlier, I had felt that Apu was treating his mother very casually. Now, the 'brutality' almost unnerved me.
I think that's one point where I changed as a person. It made me a better son. I still don't do enough. But at least, I look at her when I am speaking to her.

When I first saw Apur Sansar, the only thing that struck was Apu's abandoning of his novel in a moment of extreme grief. I thought it was a masterstroke that explained the depth of his feelings for his wife beautifully.
One night, about three years back, I bumped on to the last scene of the film once again, on YouTube. And it hit me like it had not done before. I saw a father and son abandoning their 'relationship' and become friends.
And as the father Apu swept his son on to his shoulder in one spontaneous moment, I felt a little more responsible to that naughty little boy perched on the edge of bed, looking to jump on to the TV cabinet.

Over the years, my favourite Satyajit Ray film has changed. From the euphoria of Gupi Gayin Bagha Bayin to the pessimism of Seemabaddha, his films have been a mirror of what I am at a particular stage of life. And he has never offered any answers, only questions. And having to think about those questions is a lesson in life.
What would I do if faced with a decision that could kill somebody but would save my job? Would I pimp somebody I know for a lot of money? What would I do if an unknown - but evidently respectable - man landed up claiming to be a long-lost uncle?
Most importantly, what would I choose if the King of Ghosts offered me three boons?

On the other hand, Hrishikesh Mukherjee is all about simple things.
He gave me simple directions to follow ("Zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin"). He gave me lovely songs to hum ("Raat kali ek khwab mein aayee"). He made me laugh ("You are not a police officer. You are a foolish officer."). He gave me a lump in my throat (“Maut, tu ek kavita hain…”).
And his best films were all at that edge of reality that I always want to be at.
Guddi was mad about movies like me. And she got to meet the star of her dreams. Ramprasad Sharma wanted to bunk office for a hockey match. And he invented a twin for that. Prof Parimal Tripathi wanted to play a prank on his brother-in-law. So he became a driver.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee has made me a happier person. Satyajit Ray has made me a better person.

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Tomorrow, I will face a dilemma like no other.
River of Smoke is launching in Delhi, with a reading by Amitav Ghosh. Bbuddah Hoga Tera Baap is releasing too, at a screen near me.
Which one should I go for?


Khalil Sawant said…
There is also "Ye Mera Deewaanaapan Hai" from Bimal Roy's "Yahudi" retro-fitted into "Namesake".
Meghbalika said…
And how about this post making me a happier person.

Kaevan said…
Welcome back. I missed all this :)
Welcome back. And make sure the next gap isn't this big.
March Hare said…
And just like a true blue Satyajit Ray film, you've not given us a decisive answer to the question. :P
Banno said…
I liked your comparison of Satyajit Ray and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Somehow, I had never thought of both their films in this way. Now I wonder how I didn't realize it before.
bricks said…
Awesomeness is back.
I thank you and ovishake for introducing me to the world of bong awesomeness. You guys acquainted me with the works of Satyajit Ray. (I am reading Feluda Vol 2 at the moment.)
In a time when everyone around me was drooling over Delhi Belly, you gave me the courage to stay true to my fandom for Big B and unashamedly point out that I belong to the generation of 'Papa kehte hai badaa naam karega' and not to the newer one of 'Papa mujhse bola, tu galti hai meri'. Gosh! I am so looking fwd to catching up the show of 'Bbuddah hoga tera baap'.
How can I not welcome you back?!