Before you read this, let’s set the mood! 🙂 Just go and listen to the first 10 seconds of this (embedded below also) song. And then the next 10. And then the entire song, the verses as well.  And the interludes, especially the one at 3.08 sec.

It does something to you, right? Not at one place, but at thousand different places. Not one thing, a thousand different things. All those things carefully placed side by side or on top of each other or front and behind, all resonating against one another, the instruments and the senses they evoke, all combined into one rich, wild forest of music.

The first time I heard it, I went whoa, this is crazy! So carefree, so unique, so much banjarapan, so much more than Mehbooba mehbooba. I loved it! It was in cable TV times, CVO, I think. Had little clue who this R.D.Burman chap was, but knew he was somewhat special because Dad spoke highly of him and sister’s eyes began to shine when his songs played. Slowly, mine began too.

 

Manzil khoyi, dil bhi khoya milke aapse

That’s the thing with his music, it’s not about his prolificacy it’s about the richness that stays with you long after the song is over. Yet, on repeat listening, seems as fresh. So it feels it’s always been around yet it gives some new joy next time. Yes, it’s true, I must admit, of Chura liya hain tumne too, a song so ghisaoed that even Asha can’t make me listen to it anymore. But then sometimes, R.D. does, even today. I give in helplessly when the glasses start clinking mischievously. Ting ti-ding, ting ti-ding. R. D. is a sly musician, you know. Oh, did I say musician? I meant magician.

Years went by in the safe familiarity of his presence, never really actively sought though. The news of his passing had hit a dull spot, he wasn’t a potent memory, wasn’t attached to his music in my heart and mind yet. And then 1942, A Love Story happened. It rekindled all that sheer amazement I had when I heard Kaho kaise for the first time. Just that now I knew who this Burman chap was and promptly proceeded to fall in love with him; after his death and also much after I had fallen in love with his music.

Kaho kaise rasta bhool pade

It wasn’t until Jhankar Beats happened in 2003 that I actually realized this man is a cult in himself. And that he is still alive. Fourteen years later, watching that very fine documentary, Pancham Unmixed, reaffirmed this fact.

Just like R.D., this film seems to have been around me for the longest time. I happened to first know of it in 2009. I couldn’t watch it then, and it has crossed my path many times since and finally, like lost opportunities that are actually hidden boons, it fell in my lap the other day.

I’ve always wanted to understand the man and his music better but I didn’t go to know the technicalities of his music or the history of his life. I already knew what those who were closest to him thought and felt about him. So much is spoken of him everywhere you keep coming across these things all the time even if you are not looking. They are important of course, but yesterday I just wanted to feel the joy of knowing R.D., better, again. I wanted to feel that joy of familiarity and the joy of rediscovering him, again and again, just like I do with his music. Also watching old, favorite, Hindi films and film songs in NFAI gives an especially delicious, romantic kick. I went in smiling and came out crying.

Bahut door hoke bahut paas ho tum

I am a sucker for documentaries loaded with great artists and experts, especially Hindi film legends. Where else do you get to listen to so many great minds at the same time? There is a certain precision in their articulation and incisiveness in their observations that lends another dimension to the subject. The film is a huge knowledge base for R.D. Burman historiography but that is not the main reason it is important. There is something that binds the experts, friends, colleagues, and fans in the film and it is above the man or his music. It is the nature of their love for him; reverence, admiration, adoration, protectiveness, affection and a strange kind of happy-sad nostalgia of still feeling a man long-gone around them. It fills the film to the brim and I think it is this effusive romance of R.D. that makes the film far more valuable and memorable. It is this that I wanted to soak in and soak in I did, fully. It is this that told me that the man is still alive, and will remain alive now.

Actually, not exactly this. I had an inkling in June. A random FB post led to one song and that to another and for three whole days, I listened to these three songs non-stop, only three songs on loop, amazed yet again at the genius of this man. It made me so happy to listen to them I thought I will keep listening till I get bored. But it didn’t happen and I didn’t want it to happen either. There was this mad joy surrounding me and I was content to exult in it, the only thing I wanted to know, as always, was if the man knew how much happiness his music was still capable of spreading. Teer kya patthar bhi nahi haath mein dikhlane ko, kis ada se maare hain aapne deewane ko…And it all happened around his birthday and that was so maddeningly filmy I loved it even more. It was like he was around, taking me through the intricate, delicate joys of his music.

Koi mera…tujhsa kaha…

Pancham is a shared joy but a personal love, a very intimate bond, an individual connect each fan has with him, very similar but never the same. It’s like you will share your love story only with him, only he will get it. And get it he does, and how. And if you go to him when you have none he will give you one to dream about. A little like Shahrukh.

Those three to five days, as I was soaring up and down, in and out, this way and that on the tunes of O Meri Jaan, sharing love stories with RD, I kept thinking about the man who could do this. I got to know him much better through the film than the image I had created in my mind, it wasn’t different but it had holes. I had safely obscured his low phase from my mind. I had conveniently forgotten he may not have been as happy and happy-go-lucky as I like to imagine him. All of us want to remember him that way and the documentary affirms it loud and clear. My favourite image is him in his white shirt, white shoes, red muffler, red cap and sauve shades, sharing smiles of ever-lasting happiness with Asha Bhonsle, with just a hint of naughtiness as Katra katra plays in the background. That’s how I want to imagine he spent his entire life and is somewhere, even now.

Ek din bik jaayega maati ke mol

The image of the fallen R.D. still remains with me. A lot of the interviewees agreed he was ‘naïve’, and in his own words his ‘mind wasn’t understood well enough by those around him’. It was surprising but by the end of the film I knew he wasn’t naïve as associates think, nor a mad genius as fans want to believe, he was the most self-aware artist we will see.

And it is this self-awareness, more than his phoenix-like rebirth or a pied piper image, R.D. must have wanted to be known for, I think. Because only when your art is this self-aware can it flow so free, so fluid, so rich, so mysterious. Because only when your art is self-aware will you take great pains to stay with your melody and nurture it and nourish it, as Gulzaarsaab reminisces he liked to do, in Gulzar Remembers Pancham. Only when your art is self-aware will you blow bottles and trumpets with the same flair and only then will it be infused with that undying spirit of life, wriggling to be set free, that underlines every song of his.

The film introduced me to this R.D., scientist as much as an artist, maverick as much as disciplined, hero as much as human. I think it is possible that this very self-awareness told him that maybe he was too ahead of his times, and someday he would be understood better through his music. I think he let go early because he knew his music will live.

Tumne mujhe dekha hoke meherbaan

Almost 3/4th of the film is an effusive celebration of both the man and his music, detailed, descriptive, articulate and incisive – both in the observations and the weave of the film, the text and context, thematic relationship everything; bringing alive his persona and the palpable love for him. But when it comes to this part no one wants to acknowledge it, not even the film, it looks like. Suddenly no one has words; all that effusive articulation has evaporated. It is like even the film doesn’t know what to do…it lingers shortly, respectfully, on the wordless and graceful emotional moments, and leaves it in silence. As though gently laying a flower on R.D.’s memories in the same way Shammi Kapoor did on the memories of his beloved wife Geeta Bali, in that beautiful debut of R.D.’s … ruk gayi yeh zameen, tham gaya aasman… There was silence and stillness in the hall too.

It’s been three months and I still haven’t gotten bored of those three songs, life takes over from time to time but so does R.D., sometimes insistently, and I am happy to let him do so. After all, aisa sama na hota, kuchh bhi yaha na hota, mere humrahi jo tum na hote.

 Thank you for the music Panchamda 🙂

Fatema Kagalwala

There was a lot of buzz this year about Coke Studio 10, much before even the first teaser came out, and till then that was my only grouse. I will save my angry rants about the season as a whole here, and leave you with our favourite picks from 28 songs that were aired this season in 7 episodes. Click on the playlist embedded below to play the songs as you read the post.

You can read our Coke Studio Season 8 round up here and  Season 9 roundup here.

Ranjish hi sahi – Ali Sethi should sing all the old classics that we have come to love and live with. Even though this rendition was hurried at some places for ghazal purists, the velvet-ness of Ali’s vocals rubbed on the listener and reminded us of well paced out ghazals where lyrics and not hashtags were celebrated. That Ali Sethi is probably the best contemporary singer from across the border these days isn’t ‘overdoing’ it. It’s just a fact. Jaffer Zaidi is probably the only musician who is keeping Coke Studio Pakistan’s legacy of good music with subtle presentation and production alive post-season 6.

Cha rahi kali ghata – A beautiful song composed by Sahir Ali Bagga that gave us a flavour of old times when a raga based song would be melodiously rattled by a contemporary tune in between and touch our hearts. Hina Nasrullah and Amanat Ali were top class, and the moment that took my  breath away was at 4:04 mins when Amanat got into the skin of ghazal gayaki…what a beautiful beautiful song! Thanks to good people in Youtube comment section, I have come across some real good work by Hina Nasrullah. Do google her.

Faasle – A simple heartbreaking duet that played within its zone and didn’t let too many instruments get in the way of expressing hurt. Kaavish and Quratulain Balouch gave us too many reasons to play this on repeat. Jaffer Zaidi has a voice that is a balm on the senses and when he wished well to his beloved with devastatingly helpless yet beautiful words (penned by him incidentally), it was a delight. Quratulain Balouch, who finally got  a lot of real estate this season to display her brilliance, was equally melancholic and melodious. Easily, the most underrated and under appreciated song of this season. Watch how they ended this song…jaa haha hu main…jaa rahi hu main...c’est magnifique!

Tinak din na – I am penning this post on 22 September and I still cannot understand what did Waqar ehsin  bring to the song. Ali Hamza got the solid anchor role whereas Ali Sethi glided the way only he can. Waqar was more a spanner in the works than anything else. Perhaps Ali Noor would have been a better choice. Watch Waqar lose the sense of tune at  4:11 in the song. Still, the sheer energy of Ali Hamza and Ali Sethi is enough to hear this song on repeat. I have never disliked them but there was absolutely no need for the backup vocals in the song as well. A good song that is good in spite of the back up vocals, pointless detours in the composition in between and Waqar.

Laal Meri pat A song that took me back to Rohail Hyatt days barely a second in the song. Akbar Ali (with his alaaps to die for) and the voice of God Arieb Azhar introduced the song. Quratulain Balouch’s voice provided the perfect rooting to the song. This is what old Coke Studio Pakistan fanatics would call psychedelic-meets-traditional, a brilliant brilliant song. I love the way Strings structured the song with terrific humnavas. Leaving the predictable, famous hook of the song and creating a new high point is a job that is too difficult and risky when you are tackling a generation defining song. They got it right, alright!

Naina moray –  Years ago, I came across this timeless composition for the first time in the voice of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali khan sahab. Akbar ali is the discovery of the season for me and unsurprisingly here as well he shapes the entire song around his powerful gayaki. Yes, there is a terrific Zaki with axe in the song as well. I am somehow getting a bit tired of excessive murki filled gayaki of Javed Bashir though. It kills the mood and creates unnecessary intensity in song that don’t need it. Still, a powerful song.

Ghoom taanaSalman ahmed along with kick-ass Irteassh and talented Momina re-created the magic of this song and it sounded pretty good. Unlike the horrible Sayonee this season, Salman got the singer selection right this time round and apart from the ‘rattle and creaking’ production sound that is signature Strings, the song stood tall and made a smashing statement of hope. We could do with hope in these times.

Katay na katay – Ali Hamza gave us this cracker of the song with loads of help from Aima Baig, Rachel Viccaji and Humera arshad. I loved the energy and the melody this fusion oozed. Let’s try and think one Indian song we heard in unplugged, Coke Studio@MTV, blah-blu studios etc that comes close to the experiment of  3 super talented girls bringing the house down like this? Lastly, the tarana by Ali Hamza towards the end…stunning!

Tera naam – There is a saying in Pakistan music circle that loosely goes like – ‘Whatever you think is possible in music, Sajjad ali has already sung it’. With this song, Sajjad quietly re-affirms that position. In Coke Studio itself, barring few songs which I haven’t mentioned here, we have seen Sajjad ali give us a magnificent rang lagaa soulful Tum naraaz hoa tongue in cheek kir kir kiran insanely enjoyable suth  gana and all that was remaining was a beautiful love song…and here it is! The tune, the presentation, the sound and those lovely humnavas, everything just perfect.

That’s it for season 10 of Coke Studio Pakistan. If you want to read episode by episode review, you can click the link on the contributor’s name below. Do share with us your favourites.

– Rohit

Siddharth Roy Kapur, Rohan Sippy, Ajay Bijli, Kaustubh Dhavse, Anurag Kashyap. Joined by MAMI Co-chairperson Kiran Rao, Festival Director Anupama Chopra and Creative Director Smriti Kiran

Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) has announced its lineup for this year’s edition of the fest. It’s a much awaited big cinema event for film lovers. The fest will run from 12 to 18th October and will screen 220 films from 49 countries in 51 languages. Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz will open the fest.

For segment wise details, do check out the embedded document

If you want to attend, click here, and do register. Don’t miss this one!

Devashish Makhija’s new film Ajji will have its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival’s (BIFF) ‘New Currents’ section. And with the fest line up unveiled, the makers have just released the first look of the film. Check out its poster and the trailer.

Here’s the official BIFF program note  on the film –

When society fails to provide justice for the rape of nine-year-old Manda, her ailing and arthritic grandmother Ajji tracks down the perpetrator, the son of a local politician, and plots a brutal revenge to serve as a deterrent to all men.

Cast

Sushma Deshpande, Sharvani Suryavanshi, Saadiya Siddique, Abhishek Banerjee, Vikas Kumar, Smita Tambe and Sudhir Pandey

The 104 min film has been written by Makhija and Mirat Trivedi. Interestingly, Saregama ventures back into filmmaking with their new brand – Yoodlee Films.

With Anurag Kashyap’s latest film, Mukkabaaz, having its premiere at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival, more details are out now.

Here’s fest director Cameron Bailey’s note on the film, which tells you more about the film

A lower-caste boxer struggles to make his mark on the boxing world, in the highly anticipated film from Anurag Kashyap.

Vital, insightful, and thoroughly cinematic, Anurag Kashyap’s The Brawler follows in the tradition of the great boxing films of the past. But the director of Gangs of Wasseypur gives his take on the sweet science a boldly Indian spin. The set-up offers the genre’s familiar underdog hero, but this film lands a satisfying punch against the injustices and hypocrisies that keep India’s sporting underdogs exactly where they are.

Shravan (Vineet Kumar Singh) is a lower-caste boxer with a tempered edge, struggling to leave his mark and making the case with his fists that he deserves a chance to compete. His career is threatened after he delivers a nasty right hook to the face of Bhagwan — his employer, the local kingpin, and the top boxing promoter in the region. Following this melee, Bhagwan does everything he can to stop Shravan from ascending up the ranks, including preventing him from pursuing the woman he has fallen in love with, Sunaina. Bhagwan will go to any length to punish and humiliate Shravan. But what he doesn’t count on is Shravan’s tough-mindedness. He’s been an underdog all his life and will stop at nothing to go all the way to the Indian National Boxing Championship.

Based on a true story, The Brawler is an enthralling, action-packed tale about corruption and crime in Indian sports. But at the heart of Kashyap’s narrative is a smart and complex love story anchored by Zoya Hussain’s Sunaina.

Cast + Credits
  • director – Anurag Kashyap

  • cast – Vineet Kumar Singh, Zoya Hussain, Ravi Kissan, Jimmy Shergill, Sadhana Singh

  • Cinematography – Rajeev Ravi Shanker Raman Jay Patel Jayesh Nair

  • Editing – Aarti Bajaj Ankit Bidyadhar

  • Executive Producers – Ajay Rai, Kanupriya

  • Producers – Aanand L. Rai Vikramaditya Motwane Madhu Mantena Anurag Kashyap

  • Production Companies – Colour Yellow Productions, Phantom Films

  • Production Designer – Shazia Iqbal

  • screenplay – Anurag Kashyap, Vineet Kumar Singh, Mukti Singh Srinet, K.D. Satyam, Ranjan Chandel, Prasoon Mishra

  • sound – Kunal Sharma

  • Original Score – Rachita Arora

  • music – Nucleya, Prashant Pillai

Rima Das’ Assamese film, Village Rockstars had its World Premiere at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival. Interestingly, Rima is also the writer, cinematographer, editor and producer on this one.

Village Rockstars is the only Indian film to be screened in the competition section, DISCOVERY, which features directors from across the world to watch out for. The movie is about a girl, Dhunu, who has grown up in deprivation. She learns to fend for herself in the hostile surroundings while nurturing her dream to own a guitar someday.

The film was selected among the Film Bazaar Recommends at NFDC Film Bazaar 2016. From Film Bazaar the film got picked up by Matthew Poon and was officially selected for the 2017 Marche du Film (Cannes) Work-In-Progress Lab at the 15th Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum and won the WIP Lab project.

Long SYNOPSIS

Dhunu, a 10 years old girl lives in a remote village in Assam, India amidst raging deprivation. She is a free spirit and her mother, a widower, who struggles daily to bring food to the table and raise her children. However, that does not prevent her from having unrealistic dreams like owning a guitar for her tiny band of village Rockstars boys. Dhunu is a girl who considers herself as capable as boys her age. She and the gangs of boys want to form a rock band. But later the boys slowly stop perusing their dream, whereas Dhunu continues dreaming to own a guitar. Her faith becomes strong when she reads about the law of attraction in a newspaper article. Her unconventional and nonconformist mother raises her with steadfast determination, giving her full freedom of expression and encouraging her to fulfill her dreams. After her father’s death, her mother taking all the responsibilities realizes that it is important that a girl should be qualified herself.

But beyond the poverty of her living, attacks nature’s fury as her village is flooded and worse than that: the societal restrictions that assail her from the day she reaches puberty. Can Dhunu achieve her simple dream or will she, like hundreds of millions of girls in her situation across the world, have to give up on it!

CREDITS

CAST

Bhanita Das, Basanti Das, Kulada Bhattyacharya, Boloram Das,Rinku Das,Bishnu Kalta,Bhaskar Das, Manabendra Das

CREW

DIRECTOR- Rima Das

DOP-  Rima Das

EDITOR-Rima Das

SCREENPLAY-Rima Das

SOUND-Amrit Pritam

PRODUCER-Rima Das

C0-PRODUCER-Jaya Das

PRODUCTION COMPANY-Flying River Films

INTERNATIONAL SALES-Asian Shadows

LANGUAGE-Assamese

DURATION- 87 MINS, INDIA, DRAMA, HD, COLOUR

What The Movies Taught Me – Part I

Posted: September 11, 2017 by moifightclub in cinema
Tags:
“Endure, Master Wayne.”

Let me begin with a bit of context. While movies remain a source of entertainment, for most of us, I find them to be a remarkably accessible medium to distribute and inspire through a more pop version of philosophy. I hope to begin a series and perhaps someday a publication on Medium dedicated to it. I hope to do a slightly more detailed take than the average BuzzFeed article without getting into the academic or theoretical bits of it.

(Let me know if you guys like the idea in the comments)

While The Dark Knight remains one of the best films of our time, I found within it, a human lesson that has served me quite well and I thought I’ll just point it out for the rest. One of the key scenes in the movie is when this particular sequence of dialogues take place:


“Bruce Wayne: People are dying, Alfred. What would you have me do?

Alfred: Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman. He can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.”


The Joker is busy executing people till the Batman gives himself up, public opinion has turned against him. The man that has protected them for years is given up in an instant by the police and the public at large. Rather than rant or be bitter about this quite obvious treachery and cowardice on the part of the general population of Gotham, Batman is all set to give himself just to save the innocent from being slaughtered.

He turns to Alfred for validation of his own decision, and, Alfred – the man tasked with raising the billionaire orphan, utters but a single word of advice,

ENDURE !

It’s a rather stoic line of thinking that Alfred presents, he is unmoved by the emotion of the public, indifferent to short term cost of people being sacrificed, he is only guided by the long term view of the Batman as an institution that can protect the people in the future. The odds of the potential good Batman can accomplish in the future weighed calmly against the short term term consequence of a few murders. The logic behind the move is unembellished by personal emotion or by any kind of motive of revenge on the betrayal of the public. I found that to be such a striking diversion from common human behaviour. I know that if any of us were Alfred in the moment we’d be going, “fuck the people, this is how they repay us for years of keeping the peace, they deserve this” and yet there is not a single selfish thought in either Batman or Alfred.

Which is another key point that is reflected by the Stoics, accepting the moment as it presents itself. The development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions; the philosophy holds that becoming a clear and unbiased thinker allows one to understand universal reason. I cannot imagine the amount of self control it would have taken in that moment for both Batman and Alfred to think as calmly as they do. I know most of you must at this point be going, “It’s a movie and that’s not how it happens in reality.” But if the characters hold us to a higher standard of behaviour and a better state of functioning, then why shouldn’t they be emulated?

Even in the subsequent moment when Batman rejects Alfred’s advice and gives himself up, observe the interrelationship between them, there is no attempt to negotiate, there is no attempt to convince. There is no Alfred going, “WTF Bruh! I was doling out advice, when you was still in diapers, listen to me, you idiot!” Nope, none of that. This is Batman deciding to give himself up, expressing his desire to do so, to the very father figure who raised him and loves him more than anyone else in the world! It broke me, that Alfred doesn’t plead, there are no tears, there is only absolute support. Again the principle of self control and overcoming destructive emotion is applied to their relationship, there is no fear, anger, or control sought. There is but a calm in the whole scene, the calm that brings to the moment a kind of gravitas that could not have been afforded by any measure of emoting.


I often play this scene in my head, especially of late, where in the past few months, there have been regular ups and downs. Many doors have been shut, with a fierce regularity. Often I find myself drowning in a maelstrom of my own making, where the tides of regret pull me to the bottom of the ocean. I know I do not suffer alone. But in those moments the Stoic way has been of immeasurable help to me. It has been an anchor that has always succeeded in pulling me back from these depths. That very anchor that I offer to you today, a single word, a single resounding word that needs to be repeated to the self again and again,

ENDURE !

Percy Bharucha

(The author has been previously published in eFiction and eFiction India, Eastlit, Reading Hour, Gratis, The Madras Mag, The Ascent, The Creative Cafe, Invisible Illness, The Writing Cooperative, Bigger Picture, Hundred Naked Words, Be Yourself, Fit Yourself Club, Hopes and Dreams for the Future, Written Tales, Poets Unlimited and The Haven. He writes regularly on Medium and runs a bi-weekly comic strip called The Adult Manual. He also tweets infrequently at  @Sab_Bakwaas_Hai)