Archive for October, 2015

Tamasha

Matargashti is a song that is filled with fantastic sounds, although it sounds over the top a lot of times (especially when Mohit tries hard to reduce A R Rahman’s burden of polishing the song – in high notes), but the simple notes are Mr. Chauhan’s forte in the studio, and he rules it. Somehow I felt there was too much happening in the song and nothing new hit me.

Mika is always hungry, and he chews on words making it impossible for most of us to understand what he is trying to sing. Heer to badi sad hai is no exception. Rahman has composed this with a lot of love, and it shows. Irshad Kamil can be quite cheeky and in this song, it works like magic! Not saying Mika didn’t suit the song, but this song would have been so so good had Sonu Nigam, Nakash or Javed Ali would have loaned their voice.

Alka Yagnik sounds unlike herself when Tum saath ho begins, and you can’t help but think it is a slow tempo ‘Maahi ve’ beat that is embellishing the song, which is easily the best penned song of the album. Making Arijit sing in two different pitches (or tracks or whatever it is called) and keeping both in the song is a shot of genius because it doesn’t allow the Arijit fatigue to creep up. Good to have Alka Yagnik back. Sadhna Sargam in DLKH and Alka here, this is a good year for us 90s kids!

Wat wat wat wat – Shashwat Singh (not ‘Sashwat’ as iTunes would have us believe) kicks it, and my God, does he do a great job doing it! A somewhat street treatment to a Bhojpuri song filled with moans and exotic ‘la la’ at strategic places, this song is easily the ear-worm of the album, and don’t bother liking it because once you hear it, you will not be able to ‘un-play’ it in your head. I am sure it was a situational demand to do so but Arijit drags the song down and is no match for Shashwat. There is a vengeance mix of the song which is groovy and electric and has no Arijit Singh. Even ARR knew it would be great to let Shashwat have a go at it, alone. It is like ‘Wanna mash up’ in Bhojpuri and I LOVED Wanna mash up! Not to forget the excellent lyrics of the song – udat chidiya ke haldi ragad ke lagawat…WTF! Superb imagination!

Chali kahaniappears to be a stage song but it cannot hide under this fact for being awfully low on melody and cacophonous at places. We have enough examples of great stage songs and that is why this song is quite a put off especially coming from ARR. Sukhwinder shines but Haripriya and Haricharan have been given the worst lines (and tune) of the album so they made peace with it. The song  wanted to be an ‘Aao na’, skirtedsheher’ and ‘ishq bina’ but failed miserably at achieving anything even in between, and what is with that ‘Subhash-Ghai’s-sque-attempt-at-deafening-in-your-face-grand sound’ ? No, No, No!

Safarnama – Lucky Ali has always been a king of flat tunes which do not challenge the singer to go high. Nothing wrong with that. People have their niches. In this song, he tries again to step out of his comfort zone and am sure it needed a lot of ‘studio work’ to make it ‘better’. The song has a nice vibe to it mostly when he is humming or when that beautiful music arrangement is taking its toll without him singing. In other parts, the song is a torture.

Parade De La Bastille – is a magnificent piece which has shades of matargashti but with no vocal parts in it to spoil the song for you. The metal flute and other exotic instruments along with strings and accordion sit comfortably and request your senses to rest yourself in their lap, and perhaps sleep. I absolutely loved the way the tune ends. Hi A.R. Rahman!

Tu Koi aur haistarts with the all too familiar ARR style of luring your senses to give up everything and pay attention to what the Mozart from madras is whispering in your ears. Sadly, the song loses itself quite quickly in the murky overalls of a bad tune and ordinary words. This is the longest song of the album, and what can be worse than the fact that you literally wait for the song to end.

I am quite sure everyone will find their reason to like the album because they have to, just like some of them argue and tell me how great the music of ‘lekar hum deewana dil’ was. To me, the album comes across as being too self aware having great sense of occasion but terribly low on melody. There is too much indulgence, sometimes, in between, and at times, towards the end of songs. In a bid to keep the sound theatrical, I guess, the background music got merged into songs…which weighs you down and doesn’t let you soak into the music.

The album, from ARR standards is underwhelming and I think this thing toh  utter sad hai.

Rohwit

It’s one of the most awaited films of the year. And in an interesting promotional strategy, the makers of ‘Titli’ have roped in Anurag Kashyap to introduce the cast and crew of the film. The first video has Kashyap and Dibakar taking about the state of our films, their careers, and producing films. In the second video, Kanu joins them. And then the cast and crew talk about making the film in different videos. Do watch.

 

NFDC Film Bazaar 2015 has announces the final selected projects for its main segment – the Co-production Market which will be held between 20 – 24 November in Goa.

– This year, 19 projects have been selected to participate in the Market, including one invited project from IFP (Independent  Filmmaker Project).

– The Market has gained added leverage in 2015 with the introduction of Open Pitch where selected filmmakers will be pitching their projects to a curated audience of national and international producers, financiers and sales agents.

The selected projects for 2015 are:

  •  Bombay Rose (Hindi)

Directed by Gitanjali Rao (her short animation film Printed Rainbow won three prizes for the best short film in Cannes Critic’s Week 2006 and was short-listed for the Oscars in 2008) and produced by Clara Mahieu, Les Films D’ici

  • Pirates (Hindi)

Directed by Raj Rishi More (An associate and assistant director on films like  The Lunchbox) Pirates, his first feature, was part of Sundance ScreenWriters’ Lab, India 2015 and produced by Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra’s Poetic License Motion Pictures. It is his maiden production.

  • Newton (Hindi)

Directed by Amit V Masurkar (of Sulemani Keeda fame) and produced by Manish Mundhra, Drishyam Films

  • Manto (Urdu/Hindi)

Directed by Nandita Das and produced by Chhoti Production Company

  • Agra (Hindi)

Directed by Kanu Behl (writer director of Titli)  and produced by UFO Films

  • A Goat’s Life (Malayalam, Hindi, Arabic)

Directed by  Fahad Mustafa (of Katiyabaaz fame) and produced by Globalistan Films

  • Unread Pages (Assamese, English)

Directed and produced by Jahnu Barua, a twelve time National Award winner filmmaker as well as a Padma Bhushan recipient.

  • Aasai Mugam (Tamil)

Direced by Arun Karthick and produced by  Prabhu Ramasamy, Dream Warrior Pictures

  • Bhavarth (Konkani, Portuguese)

Directed by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar and produced by Entertainment network of Goa (ENG)

  • Children of the Sun (Sinhala)

Directed and produced by Prasanna Vithanage, a Sri Lankan filmmaker whose film,Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka With (You Without You) is the first Sri Lankan film to have commercially released in India.

  • Dhaar (Hindi, English)

Directed and produced by Salil Jason Fernandez

  • Meeting the Sumdees (English, Urdu)

Directed by Michael McNamara and produced by Markham Street Films

  • Memories and My Mother (Bengali)

Directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta (his debut film Labour of Love premiered at the Venice Film Festival 2014 where it won the FEDEORA award for Best Debut Film) and produced by Vikram Mohinta, Jonaki Bhattacharya – For Films

  • Nigudha Manushyaru (Kannada)

Directed by M S Prakash Babu (His directorial debut, Attihannu mattu Kanaja (Fig Fruit and The Wasps) is co-produced by NFDC) and produced by Bayalu Chitra Productions

  • Sandhya (Marathi, Hindi)

Directed by Mukti Krishnan and produced by 7Seas Films, Ravi Kambhoj

  • The Poacher (Hindi, Bengali, English)

Directed by Suman Ghosh (his first feature film Footsteps won two National Awards)and produced by Colin Burrows, Beautiful Bay Entertainment

  • The Sweet Requeim (Tibetan)

Directed by Ritu Sarin (her debut feature Dreaming Lhasa  premiered at Toronto International Film Festival) and produced by White Crane Films

  • Unromantic Woman (English, Hindi)

Directed by Joan Carr-Wiggin, a former economist who specializes in woman-centric films and produced by David Gordian, Paragraph Pictures Inc.

– A few notable films that were represented at the Co-Production Market over the years are Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court, Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus, Aushim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely, Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni’s Deool and Highway and Mostofa Farooki’s Television.

About Film Bazaar

– Film Bazaar in its 9th edition is exclusively created to encourage collaboration between the international and South Asian film fraternities. The market aims at facilitating the sales of world cinema in the region. The 2014 market saw an attendance of 1042 delegates from 38 countries with country delegations from Canada, South Korea and Poland.

– Film Bazaar will be held from 20-24 November 2015 at Goa Marriott Resort in Goa (India).

– FilmBazaar Co-Production Market Team can be reached at – coproduction@filmbazaarindia. com

I started stopping everyone I know (and didn’t know) to make them listen to Coke Studio Pakistan about six years ago. One of the many things that stands out is the excellent house-band that the studio has.

This post is just a small thank you from someone who admires Coke Studio Pakistan’s magicians. I hardly see ‘filmwalas or musicians’ discuss about Coke Studio Pakistan but that can never negate the fact that Coke Studio Pakistan is undoubtedly the biggest music brand to come out of the subcontinent in as far as I can remember. Melody, continuously. So let us  quickly say thank you to those who stood out this season.

Tanveer Tafu:tanveer-tafu

  • Be it his jaw dropping guitar in Sakal bann.
  • Be it his mandolin play in Rung Jindri (Where he affords himself a sway and rockstar swag as a bonus!)
  • Be it his Banjio in Umran lagiyaan (Yes it is called Banjio! I didn’t know it)
  • Be it his mandolin play that elevates Khari neem higher than the empire state building
  • Be it his Turkish Saaz play in Ajj din vehre which is brief yet quite soothing.
  • Be it Khalis Makhan in which his Rhubab was jumping and making moves like a kid negotiating stairs playfully
  • Be it Tajdar-e-haram in which the Rhubab lent depth to the song that pauses everything else in your mind.
  • Be it the nostalgia inducing Rhuaab in Hare hare baans.

No Matter what Tafu sahab holds, it starts playing and playing rather well!

 

Sajid AliSajid-Ali

  • He touched a chord with his splendid participation in Phool banro, which to my mind remains the song of the season in the 7th Season of Coke Studio.
  • be it in Khalis Makhan where the flute was accompanying Bakshi brothers all throughout and taking us back to those childhood days when life was a bit more than ‘likes’, ‘selfies’, ‘lol’. XboX etc.
  • Or take his example in the fabulous Umraan laggyan. Towards the end, song reaches crescendo thanks to the lovely flute that makes you visualize a lover (who was waiting forever on her toes) running towards the door where her lover is approaching. Someone said flute is next to voice, I think they can use examples like this song to further their point.
  • Or be it the fabulous ‘Ve Baneya‘ in which not only the flute furthers the song and stays largely in the background otherwise and sings along Mulazim especially when he goes ‘Haye Jaau Kahan
  • Or be it the heartbreaking and beautiful ‘Ajj din vehre‘ in which Sajid along with the brilliant Arsalan give the song the right feel.
  • I could go on and on about his participation in the Khari neem because of which the song sounds breezier, or I could remind us of rockstar, in which the flute added to the swag of the song, and you can almost picture a narcissistic  rockstar making a slow entry to the scene. But i won’t.

 

Arsalan Ali Arsalan-Ali

The magician on Harmonium! It was his groove that started the season and he pretty much rocked throughout. Be it Aankharli Pharookai, Tajdar-e-haram, or the ‘lahori’ touch he adds when the harmonium plays along with Ali Zafar in rockstar, and lest we forget, its quiet accompaniment throughout but especially during ‘Umraan lagiyaan paban pa’ in the fabulous Umran lagiyan. It is safe to conclude that with Arsalan’s Harmonium, the sound of the studio gets an earthy touch.

Coke-Studio-Season-4-House-Band-Jaffer-Zaidi-6Jaffer Ali Zaidi

Do we remember the subtle beginning of Rang jindri where the calm keyboards set up the stage for something as simple as ektaaaara to give you goosebumps with a simple riff? Sheer beauty! Even towards the end, the lasting notes on keyboard welcome the descending fading notes of Chimtaaa which make it surreal. Jaffer is always there, like Oxygen. It doesn’t matter if we notice him or not, but his keyboard play is always necessary. Listen to sohini dharti again and catch the keyboard play again, you will know what I mean.

19Aahad Nayani

I remember getting all angry with his excessive antics in Season 7. Of course we weren’t used to seeing excessive display of any emotion by drummers in the Studio (Give me Gumby any day!). That aside, Aahad really acted like a metronome to almost all the songs where he was present. His perfect outing in Sakal bann, Khari neem, rockstar just added so much to these songs, not to mention that delightful acknowledgement and pointer towards Nabeel at the end of ‘Bewajah

Babar Ali KhannaBabar-Ali-Khanna-Laili-Jaan-1

  • Though subtle, Babar was superb in rung jindri especially where his dholak brings in antras.
  • To me, Babar was top of his game in Fizza Javed’s parts of ‘Ve baneya‘. There is just so much emotion in both the Antaras of hers, and dholak’s variation just amplifies that emotion. Rare for a dholak to have so much airtime and boy did it work!
  • Of course we can never forget the way Babar’s tabla in sakal bann (especially during ‘bhaant bhaant ke phool mangaye) and Piya dekhan ko. Both these songs can make wonderful Indian dance songs with a lot of ‘bhaav‘, largely thanks to Babar.
  • And the way babar added a desi touch in rockstar and umran lagiyaan when the tempo of the song changes, speaks volumes of his talent and the faith producers have in him.

 

Omran-ShafiqueOmran Shafique

Smiling as usual and swaying to music (with a pout or two) was brilliant but I missed seeing an out and out Sunn ve balori like song where he soared like no other and stole the show from a very very able Meesha Shafi, or for that matter the powerful rendition in the ever so strong Jawad Ahmad’s Mitti da pahalwan.

Kamran ‘Mannu’ Zafar

My first favorite musician from CokeStudio Pakistan. His brilliance is that you will hardly see any emotion but the bass line that every song enjoys in the studio, is his doing. You will love the way he started ‘rockstar’, you might even like the depth he lends when Jaffer ali zaidi says ‘nyun‘ for the first time in Nyun la leya ve. This blogpost would run out of space If I try to enumerate his contribution over the years. Thank you, Kamran

kamran

Strings section

Javed Iqbal sahab, Islamuddin meer Sahab, Saeed Ahmed Sahab and Mansoor Ahmed Sahab were there, quietly running the riot of colors on all of us as we sat, bewildered and smitten at the same time.

String section

  • How can we ever forget the transformation of an old classic which was largely due to the extremely hot and sensual strings section? Yes, I am referring to the superb ‘Khari neem‘. Mai Bhagi sang the song first  and I am sure wherever she is, she would have smiled and probably given a bit of shoulder dance on this version and the string section is to be applauded for a large part of that.
  • Don’t forget the superb flow of the string section in Rung jindri. Strings are quite prominent anyway but watch out especially in the second line of mukhda, and second part of antra, the way strings flow, they are nothing short of melodious miracle hidden in a song and it hits you when you least expect.
  • Not to forget the radical change in the string pattern in the first stanza of Rabba ho which to me is the highlight of the song.
  • Not only from this season, but Javed Iqbal sahab has mesmerized everyone in countless songs…be it Husn-e-haqiqi where the violin was continuously giving Arieb Azhar good company, or Senraa bayaria where your violin pierced the soul at 4:08 minutes, or for that matter, the powerful beginning you gave in Neray aah and Na raindee hai. I could go on and on, Sir, but I would summarize it with a big Thank you!

Back up vocals

Be it the hamnawas in Tajdar-e-haram or the magnificent boys aiding the house backups in Rang jindri, I cannot write enough praises for the backups in the season. They were subtle and stuck to the brief, which, to an outsider like me, looks like was, “it’s the music and not heroics stupid!” A special mention of the house-band’s back ups excellent strategy of enforcing ‘saa’ ‘tarse’ part of ‘Piya dekhan ko’. Ustad Hamid clearly didn’t have a clear pronunciation of ‘tarse,’ and that could have made the sound a bit dated. Very smart! It starts from 1:33 min on wards in the song, do hear it to know what I mean. Of course, it was just phenomenal to see them getting a significant part in Rockstar in which they complimented Ali all throughout, adding the required charm and craziness of ‘fans’

Other partners in crime

The strength of Coke Studio Pakistan is their brilliant house-band without a doubt. They have all been splendid all throughout and may be because it is fresh in the memory, but I absolutely relished the way Imran Akhoond, Haider Ali and Kamran played around in the mid section of ‘Armaan’ song.

Sikandar Mufti

Coke-Studio-Season-4-House-Band-Sikandar-Mufti-4

Last but certainly not the least. There is always at least one guy in a group who is a friend of everyone and is always seen smiling. Sikandar Mufti reminds me of that guy. One more thing – Sikandar rules the percussion! Apart from his incomparable talent, it is hard to not smile every time the camera pans on to him. It looks like he is the happiest when an experiment goes well in the studio. You can see him gesticulating (remember the start of Zu sta pa sha?)  and not being loud at that…all this with a smile! Thank you, Sikandar. And not just for this season, for all the seasons of which you have been a fabulous part of!

Every single one of you have given us all a benchmark to measure the various aspects of Coke Studio Pakistan. There is a some movement on this side of the border as well, and you guys are the textbook reference for those who want to know how it’s done.

So, here’s a toast to everyone for making the experience breathtaking, heartbreaking, melodious, sensual, insightful, reflective, and all good things that come to our mind when we play ‘my-favorite-wala-song-from-Coke-Studio-Pakistan’

Love from India.

Rohwit

You can find more about all artists here

The much awaited line-up of this year’s Mumbai Film Festival is out. Have a look.

The festival has added few new sections like Half Ticket, After Dark and Experimental Cinema.

We will put out a recco post soon.

 

 

aligarh-03

It’s that time of the year again when we do our annual religious pilgrimage. That’s Mumbai Film Festival, one of our favourite city event and the biggest film festival in the country. Since a film festival is always about the films, let’s get that sorted first. So this is what we know so far about this year’s edition.

FILMS

First, our exclusive dope.

Our sources have confirmed that Mumbai Film Festival will screen Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth and Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot.

Sorrentino’s last film The Great Beauty was a big hit at the festival in 2012. Youth premiered at Cannes this year. This one is a big catch.

Gurvinder Singh is probably one of the finest filmmakers we have that the country doesn’t know about. So its great that we will get to see his new film here. His latest film Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Dimension) premiered at Cannes this year. Click here to know more about the film.

Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh will open the festival. The film just had its premiere at the Busan Film Festival and will be at London Film Festival. This is great news. A city fest needs to open it with a film from the city/country especially when we are produce the maximum number of films in the world. So congrats to everyone for pulling this one.

Here’s the official synopsis of the film –

Set in a small town in Uttar Pradesh from which the film takes its name, ‘Aligarh’ is the story of a professor (Manoj Bajpayee) fired for his sexuality and a young journalist (Rajkummar Rao) who tells his story to the world. Based on true events, the film follows Dr. S R Siras, a professor at the Aligarh Muslim University who, when discovered to be homosexual, was fired from his position.  The film depicts the unlikely friendship between Dr. Siras and a reporter investigating his first big story, a relationship that will change them both forever.

Q’s Ludo will be in the newly introduced “After Dark” section

– The restored Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy will also be showing at the festival. Woah! Click here to watch the trailer of its restoration.

Jacques Audiard’s Dheepan will be coming to the fest. It bagged the top award Palme d’Or at Cannes this year. And our very own Kartik Krishnan is also in it.

– Andrew Haigh’s critically acclaimed film 45 Years

Raam Reddy’s Thithi which bagged two top awards at Locarno Film Festival this year. More details about the film is here.

Jafar Panahi’s Taxi which picked up the Golden Bear and FIPRESCI Award at the Berlin Film Festival will be screened in World Cinema section.

Pani Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses will be in “Special Screening”

WHAT  ELSE

– Ava Duvernay of ‘Selma’ fame will head the International Jury at the fest.

– A R Rahman has composed the signature tune of the fest. Yay!

– Guardian’s well known film critic Peter Bradshaw will mentor the young reviewers in “Young Critics Lab”

– Fest has announced a new award category – the Book Award for Excellence in Writing on Cinema. This is for film writing and publishing in South Asia, written by authors from the sub-continent and published by an Indian publishing house. The Award covers works of fiction, graphic novel, creative non-fiction, reportage, analysis and screenplay, written in English or translated into English. The Award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakhs.

So what are you waiting for? Click here and register for the fest.

See you at the movies.

 

11825734_10153088511417532_6964413715555073649_n

Coke Studio Pakistan remains Coke Studio Pakistan even when it isn’t quite Coke Studio Pakistan. This was evident in the last season when the studio got it wrong more times than it got it right, but still gave us some good melodies to weather the storm of life for few months. Strings were retained for Season 8, and right from the first promo that presented the artists line up, it appeared that the new producers have got it right. We have reviewed all episodes and you can find those reviews here. In this post I am listing down my 10 absolutely favorite songs from this season. Are these the only songs I liked? No, but in the interest of keeping the post shorter than a Sooraj Barjatya film, have cut down the numbers. You can click on the title of the song to watch the videos. In order of preference, here it goes.

10. Chiriyan da Chamba – Not so much for any breathtaking musical arrangement, the song makes it to the list for the simple reason of Anwar Maqsood’s recitation. It’s been a while since we heard a recitation in the studio. Suraiya Khanum kept the singing more or less simple.

9. Kinaray – Mekaal Hasan band made a heroic entry to the studio with Sayon but it is Kinaray that gets our vote for being the better of the two. The tonal structure was more or less similar to Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty’s rendition of the same qalaam which you can listen to here. Apart from Sharmishta’s beautiful singing, the back up trio was top class in the song, but then they have been like that throughout the season this time round.

8. Khari neem – Take an iconic classic like in this case, this iconic song by Mai Bhagi and put some flamenco influence coupled with killer violins and spot on singing, you have what is Coke Studio’s style of paying tribute with their unique signature on it. The flute by Sajid Ali just adds to the tempo of the song and sprays an image of a playful banter between two lovers. What a beauty!

7. Bewajah – After winning the Sur Khsetra, there couldn’t have been a better stage for Nabeel Shaukat ali to showcase his talent, and boy, did he grab that opportunity or what! The beauty of this song is that it reminds you a classic ghazal style treatment of antras but doesn’t bore you with a constant mellow mood. The pop treatment and that velvet voice of Nabeel package the entire song into what could be one of the most romantic songs of this year.

6. Ve Baneya – Fizza Javed and Mulazim Hussain is quite a unique combination to be featured in the same song. While both Fizza and Mulazim have excellent range, in this song it is Fizza who took the song to a completely different level by singing a banna-banni song(?). Mulazim was quietly paying tribute to Reshma by giving his version of this song. It’s been quite a while that the song is in public domain but it is difficult for me to control tears at every antra that Fizza sings. Be it those long alaaps or the way dholak (by Baber Ali khanna) changes the pace in the second line of the same. Truly beautiful stuff!

5. Hare hare baans – Having grown up listening to a lot of Pakistani songs, Shazia Manzoor was not an unfamiliar name. What took the anticipation level to unmanageable proportions was when we were shown that the Rizwan-Muazzam group would be teaming up with her. As a result, we got an awadhi song that again touches a genre which is always out there, but somehow the producers of today are busy ignoring it. Any music movement is judged with the variations of genre it touches. Coke Studio Pakistan wipes the floor with the ‘others-music-movements’ for this simple reason and they keep things melodious as well, just like this song. What a pleasure to hear Rizwan-Muazzam complimenting the ‘pitch and note perfect’ Shazia in their own powerful style, yet not compromising the feel of the song. How many songs like this can come to your mind in the recent times? There is a tuneful pain in the word babul that you have to hear to experience. (Not to forget the song touching the familiar raga pattern as piya tose naina lage rey between 5:25 to 5:31 mins)

4. Umran lagiyan – was a mix of Umran lagiyaan by Asad Amanat ali and the Chan chan chankan by Allah Ditta Lonaywala. The original songs have a momentous mounting already. It took the uber talented, clean voiced Ali Sethi to retain the emotion of the song as he crooned Umraan lagiyaan. Even if someone is made up of steel, they are likely to develop goosebumps thanks to the melodious yet intense beginning of the song by Ali Sethi. What’s more, Ali is gentle, suave and desi in equal measure throughout the song. It is songs like these that define the entire season of a program and this song did exactly that. Nabeel was good in his rendition of Chan chan chankan but the song belongs to Ali Sethi…Watch (Yes watch!) the way he brings the song back at 4:11 mins onwards and you will know what I mean.

3. Tajdar-e-Haram – It has become some sort of a fashion to dislike Atif Aslam. While I have always liked him, there are times when he goes overboard. In this song, however, he hits the bulls eye with the same ease with which you just blinked your eyes reading this sentence. Holding a cult classic like one holds a new born baby and delivering a soul stirring song that connects you to the powers that be is what Coke Studio does most often than not, and it works. The tune would have been a hoot for the houseband to keep up for the duration of the song and for that we cannot write enough good things. High point – Aao madine chalein..

2. Rockstar – Like Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar also got three songs in the season, and what’s more surprising is both the artists delivered their best in just one of those three songs. Rockstar is a song that either you will like or absolutely abhor. It came very close for me to label it as the song of the season. Lyrics full of pun (including a jibe at being allowed four marriages!), that desi detour in between, the mention of Kim Kardashian, the excellent back up vocals, that mild lullaby like whisper in between, Omran on Guitar, and so MUCH more! The song has too much going for it and I doubt if Ali can ever better this effort. I hope he proves me wrong tomorrow itself! Ho Socho Ghalib ne pehna ho designer se leke coat neela! WTF! Mind blown!

1. Sakal bann – If music programs cannot give the generation of today a reason to look up our traditional compositions which have stood the test of time, it is all quite pointless. Thankfully, Coke Studio has always excelled in this area. Rizwan-Muazzam group have given us a song that would have made Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan saab proud, and has surely put a smile on Rohail Hyatt’s face. The sheer power of the composition is so infectious, you would start head-banging. Tanveer Tafu, who can play burnt wood in his sleep apparently, took the song to a level that would remain unmatched throughout this season. Songs like these are the reward for lesser mortals to keep going with their messed up lives. The entire song is worth every second in gold but the way the song ends, it gives me goosebumps to even type about it here.

 Aaj Jaane ki ZidThere are always people around who would be horrible singers but in their head, they would think they are Tansens. Nothing wrong with that. The trouble is when they start putting their ‘talent’ out to public at large. That’s a punishment. Every tom, dick, harry and sally has put her/his ‘tribute’ to this evergreen Nazm out in public domain and they are all quite pointless and some are downright embarrassing. Farida Khanum graced Coke Studio in an emotional 3:10 mins recreation of this ghazal. They have made a fascinating video of the song which you must not miss, Farida Khanum’s presence is undoubtedly the biggest thing to have happened to Coke Studio Pakistan and it left us all in tears.

I want to write about 9 more songs, the houseband, and a lot more but the post is already way too long. To sum up, about 19 songs out of 29 songs were top class, and some of them outdid the best work of artists so far across albums/genres. A thoroughly enjoyable Season comes to an end and should there be a season 9, the expectations would be sky high…Strings take a bow!

And what do we do in India? We make music vidoes of songs which aren’t even 1% near the melody that oozes out of the lights on the sets of Coke Studio Pakistan, let alone compare them with actual songs.

And remember, all this is distributed free, legally.

–  Rohwit

UPDATE – Thanks to Ankit, he has made a playlist of all the songs.

It’s known as the Noida Double Murder Case. And it’s easily one of the most talked about murder case in recent history. More so, because it happened in a middle class locality in Noida, a city adjoining to India’s capital.

Shazia Iqbal saw the film Talvar, which is based on the same case, and writes about the big picture that concerns all of us as a society, and as part of the system. And why a filmmaker’s bias is completely fine.

Guilty2

23rd May 2008.

‘Its starting now. Quick, come here’, my mother loudly screamed as soon as the press conference was about to start.

The Delhi police was making the big announcement of the perpetrators in the Noida double murder case in which the 14 year old Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj, the house help were brutally murdered a week ago. I almost didn’t hear my mother because of the noises ringing in my ears since two days. That morning when I left home for a meeting, the police van and the media outside the building opposite to mine seemed like the crime scene outside the Talwar society.

A day ago, Maria Susairaj, an aspiring actress had confessed to Malad Police that her fiancé, Emile Jerome had killed Neeraj Grover, a TV executive in a fit of rage when Jerome found Grover in Maria’s bed. Susairaj stayed in the building opposite to my house. On the night of May 7th, and the morning after, I had a party in my house and I was awake the whole night. After Susairaj’s confession and the gory details of cutting the body into 200 pieces and dressing up the crime scene, that story played in my head enough number of times to make me believe that I was there in that house that night and it all happened in front of me, and that I was a dumb mute spectator.

Neeraj Grover was close to the industry I worked in and we had common friends. His face haunted me, I hadn’t slept for a minute for over 48 hours. With all the drama that was happening outside the building, I didn’t want to step out. The media called the Neeraj Grover murder case as the face of changing India, the young India where relationships are fragile, infidelity is part of commitment and casual sex is no more a ‘man’ thing.

A week before this, the Noida double murder case made headlines as the murder involved a young teenage girl from an affluent family and an older servant who worked in the house. This did not happen 200 meters away from my house but the media made sure that it was very much part of my life. Everyone was talking about the murder and that press conference seemed like the episode from a popular TV soap in which the whole country freaked out when the main protagonist dies. Aarushi’s murder was presented like a high TRP whodunit thriller. Everyone wanted to know who killed her.

I went to the living room where my parents and sister were waiting for the press conference to start on the TV. IGP Gurdarshan Singh began the conference by calling Aarushi as Shruti.

‘How will he solve the murder, if he doesn’t even know the name of the kid’ my mother mused. And once wasn’t enough – Singh kept calling Aarushi as Shruti throughout the conference.

But that wasn’t the only eyebrow raising behaviour from him and his department. They claimed Rajesh Talwar killed his daughter in order to save his ‘honour’, gave details of Talwar’s extra marital affair, their involvement in wife swapping and the deplorable character assassination of a child who was murdered.

“Rubbish”, my father responded shocked, “They can’t find the killer and are making up these implausible stories. He is her father!” He couldn’t believe what was happening. Fathers don’t kill their children because of their affairs, he said. He was afraid this revelation could make every girl distrust her father. A silent tear rolled as I went back to my room.

None of what the IGP said made any sense. Last night when I watched Meghna Gulzar’s movie Talvar based on the case, I was glad it resonated with what I thought during that press conference. I just wanted to know the parents didn’t kill her. I wanted to know this young new ruthless India of frivolous relationships that people keep bringing up with every sensational murder case, is a farce. But, apparently, that India is very much prevalent and so is the antiquated patriarchal India where a police officer blames the Internet for ruining the cultural fabric of the country and 14 year olds having a boyfriend and ‘Sleep’-overs.

Lawyers ML Sharma and AP Singh became the face of this primitive regressive patriarchal India after the Brit docu India’s Daughter was released by BBC. It featured a man who believes he would gladly burn his daughter if she has premarital sex – how would he react to a society where girls tell their fathers about their boyfriends? People who believe that honor killing is right, they also assume that the society also harbors such beliefs. And the effort that the government took in banning India’s Daughter is not as half as much as the combined effort of the local police, the assigned CBI team and the courts took to convict the Talwars.

So what happens when such men raised with such regressive values try to understand a culture belonging to the modern upper class allegedly corrupted by the internet? Talvar.

What more can you say about a murder case where every minute detail has been public for 7 years now. Talvar, written by Vishal Bhardwaj and directed by Meghna Gulzar presents us those details and engages us, without any melodrama or manipulation, mildly tilting in the favour of Talwars. Of course some might use the latter point to brand the film as being biased. I’d like them to know that a film is a writer/ filmmaker’s point of view/opinion on what disturbs them long enough to get up and say something. And that’s why Talvar happened. And I am glad it did.

What can this movie talk about about that you haven’t already read in the papers, news, from the police, CBI officers, from your parents, next-door uncles? ‘Human reaction’, for one. In the last 20 minutes of the film, in a round table sequence that is a master class in writing, the CBI officer who acquitted the Talwars says no two humans can have a pre-conceived reaction to an incident, specially a ghastly cold blooded murder of their only child. The side that files the charge sheet against the parents questions their unemotional façade post the murder and during the trial. Nupur Talwar appeared on a TV show and didn’t cry while talking about her daughter’s death. What kind of a mother is she? In a society with history of rudaalis, where being loud is part of our culture, melodrama is not just for the TV sets but an inherent way to express our emotions specially when it comes to matter of death, how can a mother not cry? Everyone questioned. Every logical person went against the Talwars with this one question.

‘She looks numb. Seeing your kid’s dead body can do that’, said my mother. It takes empathy and humanity to realize that. No other human can reason or understand inner doings of another’s mind. So how can human reaction be even discussed as a generic emotional response?

Watching a dark and disturbing story can be difficult but watching a dark and disturbing story based on real people’s lives can be very painful, especially with the way most of us are attached to Aarushi’s case. Bhardwaj, however, with his straight-faced dry wit makes it easier for you to watch Talvar.

That way Talvar is more than a movie. It is an important film, about the sword of justice that claimed not two but four lives. One of the slain was a child accused of being involved with a man thrice her age. The men who publicly assassinated her character are the ones who are responsible for the law and judiciary in this country. This movie needs to be seen. For Aarushi. To open our eyes and discover a system that failed a child. And as the movie says, it’s up to you to decide what the truth is.

Shazia Iqbal

(To read previous posts by the same author, click here)

Guilty9

(Disclaimer – One of our editors is closely associated with ‘Talvar’)