Posts Tagged ‘Gulzar’

I heard about the tale of Saheba and Mirza for the first time, in my favorite song from Jab Tak Hai Haan – Heer. Guess who wrote that. Now, If the first name they splash on the screen is Gulzar’s, you know the makers are serious about their sh*t. The music of Mirzya is out and while I try hard to keep myself equanimous, pardon me if my feelings jump out of the keyboard and infect you with some enthusiasm and drunken stupor. Read on!

Mirzya

The album contains 15 songs and some are in the form of less than a minute of powerful recitations – composed and voiced by Daler Mehndi. What is clearly a storytelling technique, in these tracks, not only you understand the character, you get a feel of particular situations as well. Take the Yeh wadiyan for example,  the track is screaming ‘flashback flashback!’ But even then you would want to play it again. We get these lines in the title song as well.  In Mirza se darre and Mera mirza sher, the way Daler Mehndi soars, you will have goosebumps, the fearlessness of youth in two lines. What attitude! In Lahoo luhaan – Daler slightly errs in the beginning but paints the gory detail about a bloody fight that went on till the fighter started losing his ‘havaas’.  Even if Punjabi is not your language, fear not – it will make you soar nevertheless because Mehndi does NOT falter in Puchh na pende or Phaa paye nain fact, in the latter, hear how resigned is Daler when he says – Tu phir na jammi, Mirjiya. You feel the pain, you lose hope along with the singer. He has already won. Now, on to the songs of the album..

  • Mirzya – Sain Zahoor does what Sain Zahoor does. He sweeps you off your feet and S.E.L. bombard you with perhaps the most vibrant track of the album. There is a goosebumps gooseFOREST inducing Akhtar Chanal Zahiri as well and if this wasn’t enough, we get the ever so dependable Nooran Sisters and Daler mehndi jazzing things up and all this under 4 minutes. I kid you not, I couldn’t go beyond this track for a while. A bombastic start to the album!
  • Teen Gawaah Hain – Notwithstanding the earthy beginning of the song where we hear Sain Zahoor calling out, the tune of this love ballad reminded me of ‘mere mann ye bata de tu’ from KANK. Having said that, it’s what young love sounds like. A playful guitar stealing a glance while the constant pace eases your mind, making everything dreamy and slow. In antra, hear how Siddhartha leaves the last word of the first line, making you feel his passion. Listen to his ‘khol’ in the line ‘aasman khol ke dekhne do’ and you will know what I mean. A pretty pretty song! (I kept thinking the back up vocalists will break into ‘love will find a way’)
  • Chakora – God only knows why I wanted to talk to my dealer the moment this song started. It is comforting to see Bollywood waking up to Akhtar Chanal Zahiri, and not only that, using him well! Add some trippy beats to his recital or perhaps overlap him while someone is singing and you would probably want to make love to a joint near you. Mame Khan and Suchismita Das lend the ‘bollywood folk’ feel to the tune in their own cute style. Stunning song!
  • Aave re hichki – The opening 37 odd seconds of Esraj (or sarangi), is a class act by S.E.L., not to say that the song isn’t good otherwise. The song has fuses a bit of dervish-like sound on a simple free flowing tune. A minor grouse – You don’t go ‘hitchhh’ when you get ‘hichki’, you go ‘hikkk’. Clearly, Gulzar sahab wasn’t present in the recording.
  • Hota hai – I am sure it is just me but a ‘tun tuna’ start from Nooran Sisters put me off…and then I heard Sain Zahoor and Akhtar Chanal Zahiri (ACZ) together and it all made sense. The fantastic beat pattern of the song that stops to accommodate Sarangi and meets ACZ’s solid voice is to be heard to be believed. In addition to these powerhouses, I absolutely loved Shankar Mahadevan’s voice towards the end. For the uninitiated, please do check out Sain Zahoor and Akhtar Chanal Zahiri independently as well. They have brought studios down across the border. The brute force in the song makes you want to break the law, do the impossible and be weirdly proud of it all. A fantastic song by all means and well, I changed my mind. The ‘tun tuna’ is not all that bad afteral…..TRAAA!
  • Ek nadi thee – Thank God someone gave K. Mohan a tune that is not very ‘K Mohan’ if you know what I mean. All his songs have been sounding similar to me lately. This one is a glorious exception. Intimate claps and a bonfire like improv singing (of course with sexy strings) has made this quite a different song from the usual ‘unplugged and reprise’ like songs we come across.
  • Doli re doli – Who in their right mind would do a babul song with a slow jazz like treatment? S.E.L. did it here and boy, does it sound delicious. It has me conflicted whether I am supposed to be sad or happy, and I love the song for that. Clearly an example of what S.E.L. can achieve if the makers are willing to let them be.
  • Kaaga – It is a fine feeling when you see the artists you have been rooting for since long, go ‘mainstream’. I shrieked like a teenager when I heard Sain Zahoor and Akhtar Chanal Zahiri and here in kaaga, we hear the flawless Kaushiki Chakraborty with breathtaking strings and brass! The sound towards the end of the track can be so easily mistaken for a ‘superhero climax theme’. That said, I wish there is a longer version of this song hiding somewhere because it would be soul satisfying, just like this one is.
  • Mirziya theme – I might not reach out to the theme to play it again and again but I blame songs of the album for that. You are too consumed by the time you reach this track. It fills the album well, is no ‘Udaan theme’ by any measure, but is still good. Sarangi and flute. Enough said.

Most of the film music albums this year have been remarkably impervious to the flow of creativity and freshness. If this album makes you want to stop everyone, and make them listen to this, don’t worry, You are not acting strange. Mirzya’s music is *the* real thing and not an oddity in template infested bollywood that requires quotes around it as if it was a strange thing. I don’t know how the film would be, I don’t care how the film would be. I am just celebrating what would easily be the film music album of the year. This is what fundamentally good things sound like. Hear Hear!!

I wish there was an option to buy an album twice on iTunes!

Rohwit

(PS – To give credit where it’s due, I absolutely love T-series for including the artist credits in the jukebox link. You can access it here)

The first look of Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar is out. Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Atul Kumar, and Gajraj Rao, the film has been written by Vishal Bhardwaj who has also given the music. It has Gulzar’s lyrics and has been shot by Pankaj Kumar.

Do check out the trailer.

The film is based on Aarushi Talwar murder case and looks at it from the point of investigation.

Talvar will have its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Irrfan

The Toronto International Film Festival has just announced its line-up for 2015. And here’s the good news – two Indian films, Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar and Leena Yadav’s Parched have been selected for World Premiere in ‘Special Presentations’ section.

Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sensharma, Neeraj Kabi, Atul Kumar, Gajraj Rao, Sohum Shah and Tabu in a special appearance, the film is a gritty investigative drama about the Noida double murder case. With Gulzar’s lyrics, Vishal Bhardwaj’s music & screenplay, and cinematography by Pankaj Kumar (Haider, Ship Of Theseus), the thriller is a fictional dramatization of true life events revolving around Aarushi Talwar murder case investigation.

Leena Yadav’s Parched has Tannishtha Chatterjee in the lead role. The official page has one line description – In a rural Indian village, four ordinary women begin to throw off the traditions that hold them in servitude, in this inspirational drama.

(Disclosure – One of our editors is closely associated with Talvar)

So what do you do when you get to know that there’s a screening of Libaas? Well, only a Gulzar fan can tell you the right answer. So over to Mohit Kataria who tells us what exactly he did.

libaas_1988

Before you start:

Please don’t read this post as a film review post, it’s all about my personal experience with the movie Libaas and the way I got to watch it. I’ve never written any movie review before and I don’t think I even qualify for writing one (if there is any qualification criteria). You might also find it really biased as I’m a fan of Gulzar Saab and always wear a particular pair of admiration glasses while reading/watching/listening to any of his works.

Prologue

What do you do when you get any once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? You grab it with both the hands, right? That’s what I also did.

It all started with a Facebook post from a very dear friend and an ardent fan of Gulzar saab, Pavan Jha, that I came to know about Libaas getting screened in IFFI – 2014 in Goa on 22nd Of November. Then after a number of confusions, calculations and discussions later, I decided to go ahead and started making my travel plans. Then, I came to know about something called a delegate registration (I have already warned you about my credentials ), which was already into its “register-with-late-fee-phase”. Somehow got registered with some made up bio-data to prove that I was worthy enough to be a delegate there. I got an email mentioning that the confirmation will be done after some careful review of my bio-data. I waited impatiently for the whole day which was the last day for the registration, and by the end of the day, I got a confirmation mail asking me to pay to be a delegate. I followed the instructions and completed the formalities. Then it was time to book the tickets for travel. After doing some calculations, considering family, work, economics and time dynamics, I booked the flight from Bangalore, scheduled to reach Goa at 2 PM on the day of screening (22-Nov-14) (Libaas was scheduled for screening at 5:30 PM) and also booked first available flight from Goa the very next day (23-Nov-14). Needless to say, my only purpose of going through all this exercise was to witness something I really was waiting for ever since I started following and loving Gulzar Saab and his work – to get a chance to watch Libaas. And I never thought I would get an opportunity of a lifetime in this manner, to watch it with Gulzar Saab himself.

Experience

Before cutting through all the details of getting the passes (where Ashok Bindalji and IFFI organizers helped a lot), reaching the theater following Gulzar Saab, and finally settling down to watch Libaas, I would like to mention here that there were lots of people who wanted to get in and watch Libaas and the auditorium had a limited capacity of accommodating 280 people only. So one senior IFFI organizer (I won’t name him to get him into any trouble), took a call after consulting with Gulzar Saab and Vishal Bhardwaj, to allow people to sit in the gallery, on the floor, to stand on the gates, behind the last row and any other place wherever possible without making others uncomfortable. It got reminded me of the pre-multiplex era when it was a norm for any big movie. Isn’t it delightful to treat and watch the movie in the same manner we used to watch movies when it was actually made (in 1988)?

The stage was set by welcoming Gulzar Saab by the IFFI authorities, and then Vishal Bhardwaj presented the movie Libaas as the inauguration movie of retrospective: Gulzar. Vishal said that it’s an honor for him to present this movie, and spoke about how Gulzar Saab started his career as a poet and brought his poetry from paper to screen. Each of his movies are poetries on screen. He also briefly mentioned about the efforts at various levels that have gone in trying to get the movie released, including his personal efforts of 20 years which has gone in vain. Then he mentioned what it means to him personally, and for his whole family to be part of this historic event.

Gulzar Saab was visibly holding back his emotions, and he started on a lighter note saying, saying, “दोस्तो, मैं भी उतना ही curious हूँ फ़िल्म के लिए, जितने कि आप हैं. आप ने भी नहीं देखी फ़िल्म, मैंने भी नहीं देखी”, which rightly summed up the significance of the film. He was happy that the family and friends have come from all over to see this screening. You can listen to the whole discussion here. And then the magic started on screen. We were in for a very delightful treat for next couple of hours.

As you might know, the movie was completely based on Gulzar Saab’s own story Chaabiyaan which has also published later with the title Seema. There was wit, brilliance, intelligence and emotions written all over the movie. Each frame was flowing into the other one like the way water flows – at times like a river, sometimes like a silent lake and often like waterfall. It was a sheer pleasure to experience Gulzar Saab’s poetry for the next 137 minutes. The movie has four main characters – Sudhir Bhardwaj (a passionate theater director, played by Naseeruddin Shah), T.K. (a flamboyant businessman, played by Raj Babbar), Seema (an amazing actress who is also a not-so-happy wife, played by Shabana Azmi) and the theater which is the sutradhar which keeps tying all the running threads of the movie. It also has a handful of supporting cast who made their presence felt without shadowing the main leads. Not even a single character was out of place or not required. The story primarily deals with husband-wife relationship and a extra-marital affair, all in the backdrop of theater. While watching it, I could feel it was much ahead of its time (it was scheduled to be released in 1988), as was confirmed by Gulzar Saab in a post screening Q&A session that such things were happening at that time but were never shown in cinema. He dared to reflect what was part of society then.

Opening scene of the movie is in a theater, where Jamal Saheb (played by Utpal Dutt) is entering the theater while taking a look at the play being staged.

Utpal Dutt in Libaas

Utpal Dutt in Libaas

In the canteen, he is greeted by youngsters who are theater artists/aficionados and the scene establishes that Jamal Saheb is a great artist from the times gone by. He is not relevant anymore and is in a poor state. He has been replaced, so to say, by Sudhir, who is dominating the contemporary theater scene. In next few scenes, we come to know that for Sudhir, the first priority of his life is theater – the way he forces Seema to gargle every day in the morning, no matter what, and the way he keeps on talking about and enacting various scenes from his plays. One scene which nails it down clearly is when Seema asks Sudhir if she could get a hair-cut as she feels she would look prettier in short hair.  To which he replies, if she gets the hair cut, what would happen to all the characters she is playing in theater, and starts quoting each of the characters from different plays. All the members of his theater group love and fear him in equal measure due to his strictness while doing the rehearsals. A couple of times when Seema forgets her lines during the rehearsals, he yells at her, and at home, he tells her,

“खाना बनाना भूल जाओगी तो बर्दाश्त कर लूँगा, dialogues भूल जाओगी तो कभी बर्दाश्त नहीं करूँगा.”

Phir Kisi Shaakh Ne Phenki Chaanv - Libaas

Phir Kisi Shaakh Ne Phenki Chaanv – Libaas

Seema is already strained, and wants a break from the monotony of Sudhir being so hard on her as he always thinking about one thing – theater. That’s when T.K. enters the scene and their home. He is informal and is such a close friend of Sudhir that even Seema feelss surprised as she had never seen Sudhir being so comfortable with anyone, including her. TK’s flamboyant style of talking and cheerful behavior attracts Seema, and he gets attracted to her beauty. They all meet a couple of times and then while one relationship starts forming, other one starts breaking. On one side, Sudhir is always busy with his play rehearsals and on the other hand, T.K., a well versed businessman is always ready to meet her and pay attention to her.

Her loneliness and boredom from theater adds fire to the fuel, and before even they realize, the relationship becomes complicated. The high-point of the movie is a scene which has brilliance of Gulzar Saab written all over it. It was Gulzar Saab’s craftsmanship that he handled such a burdened situation in such a subtle manner. The treatment of the characters, the dialogues of this one scene leaves us completely mesmerized and catches us unguarded. The scene is when Sudhir decides to confront T.K. and Seema about their relationship. Seema and T.K. enter the house after spending some good time together, and they find Sudhir at home. T.K. tries to cover up his embarrassment by telling Sudhir that he was asking about him from Seema as Sudhir was very busy, they were not able to meet.

T.K. – और किस ड्रामे में busy हो आजकल?

Sudhir – “अ..अ..म.. आजकल… अ… एक personal से नाटक में ज्यादा busy हूँ.”

“ह.. ह.. मतलब..?”

“नाटक तो दूसरे लोगों का है, मैं खा-म-खां बीच में फंस गया”

“अम.. कुछ समझा नहीं यार, वो कैसे?”

T.K., though embarrassed, is still trying to appear innocent even though he is guilty of cheating Sudhir.

“क्या है के हमारे यहाँ… हमारे यहाँ, वो हैं ना… मि. मुखर्जी”

He looks at Seema and starts building the story.

“मुखर्जी? कौन?”

Seema asks, to which Sudhir replies –

“तुम मिली हो उन से, शायद याद नहीं है… मि. मुखर्जी में याद रखने जैसा कुछ है या नहीं मालूम नहीं… लेकिन अपनी पत्नी की वजह से वो.. अक्सर याद रह जाते हैं लोगों को…. बड़ी talented… और talented से ज्यादा ख़ूबसूरत पत्नी है उन की. अब ज़ाहिर है कि लोग उन की तरफ़ तवज्जो देते हैं, attract होते हैं. और ये कम्बख़्त चीज़ ऎसी है कि आदमी हो या औरत, पाँव तले की ज़मीन खींच लेती है. आदमी सोचता है, इश्क ही में ज़िंदगी है, बाकी सब तो फ़न, आर्ट, talent, सब सजावट की चीज़ें हैं. बहरहाल, मि. मुखर्जी का problem है, उन की पत्नी… वो किसी के इश्क में पड़ गई हैं या कोई है जो उन के इश्क में पड़ गया है….”

Seema asks, “तो problem क्या है?”

To which Sudhir replies, point blank, still keeping it indirect,

“तुम्हें नज़र नहीं आता?”

“नहीं मतलब… समझ में आता है लेकिन दोनों अगर एक दूसरे को चाहते हैं तो…”

“नहीं, नहीं, नहीं, नहीं… तुम उस लड़की के problem को देख रही हो, मैं मि. मुखर्जी के problem की बात कर रहा हूँ”

“उनका क्या problem है?”

“क्यूँ? याने… उन का कुछ है ही नहीं?…

उन का problem ये है कि उन्हें मालूम हो गया है… और जान लेने के बाद शौहर यानि मि. मुखर्जी क्या करे उस पत्नी का? चुप रहे? देखता रहे? होने दे जो हो रहा है? मुश्किल तो ये है कि कोई भी शौहर जान लेने के बाद ये निगल नहीं सकता”

Now T.K. intervenes,

“आख़िर मुखर्जी चाहता क्या है?” “चाहता क्या है, वो छोड़ो, क्या करना चाहिए उसे?”

“अम..ज़ाहिर है अगर उन की पत्नी, उन के साथ नहीं रहना चाहती तो उन्हें कोई हक़ नहीं है कि वो उस के साथ ज़बरदस्ती करें. After all.. वो अपना अच्छा-बुरा समझ सकती है, ऎसी कोई बात नहीं है…”

“हाँ, समझना तो चाहिए, सिर्फ़ ये कि जिस से वो प्यार करती है, क्या सचमुच प्यार करती है? यूँ ही उन्स में तो नहीं पड़ गई? ख़ा-म-ख़ां का infatuation तो नहीं है, जिसे वो प्यार समझ बैठी है?”

“आख़िर शादी-शुदा औरत है, क्या इतना नहीं समझती? इतनी mature नहीं होगी के…”

And that’s when Gulzar Saab’s intelligence of handling the complicated situations comes in full form.

Sudhir interrupts Seema at this point and says it straight,

“इतनी mature हो तुम? इतना समझती हो कि जिस राह पे जा रही हो, जिस के साथ जा रही हो वो झूठ-मूठ का कोई ड्रामा तो नहीं कर रहा है?”

At this time T.K. tries to escape saying this is personal matter between husband and wife and he is an outsider.

Then, as a matter of fact, Sudhir tells him,

“बैठ जाओ T.K., तुम भी कोई बच्चे नहीं हो… बैठ जाओ… देखो T.K., इन रिश्तों में कानूनी, ग़ैर कानूनी कुछ नहीं होता. कानूनन कोई पत्नी नहीं बनती, कानूनन कोई शौहर नहीं होता.Law has nothing to do with it. हम ज़बरदस्ती इन रिश्तों पर कानूनी मोहरें लगाते रहते हैं. आज तक, कोई किसी आते को नहीं रोक सका और ना किसी जाते को थाम सका है. और मैं ये कैंसर ले कर नहीं घूम सकता…. तुम ने ठीक कहा, अगर सीमा मेरे साथ नहीं रहना चाहती तो मुझे कोई ज़बरदस्ती नहीं करनी चाहिए, मैं नहीं करूँगा, लेकिन मैं इसे रास्ते पर नहीं छोड़ सकता. मैं तुम्हारा फ़ैसला जानना चाह्ता हूँ, तुम दोनों का फ़ैसला जानना चाहता हूँ… अगर तुम दोनों flirt नहीं कर रहे हो, एक-दूसरे को धोखा नहीं दे रहे हो, सचमुच एक दूसरे को चाहते हो, तो हाथ पकड़ो और निकल जाओ इस घर से.”

Seeli Hawa Chhoo Gayi - Libaas

Seeli Hawa Chhoo Gayi – Libaas

Even after Sudhir and Seema get separated and she remarries T.K., there is still an element of care and affection for each other.

T.K. and Seema are living happily, yet Seema is not able to forget her past so easily.

In one scene, where one evening she is sitting sad all alone on a yatch, T.K. comes and asks,

 “क्या हुआ… सुधीर का ख़्याल आ गया?”

“हूं..”

“इसीलिए तो तुम्हें शादी के बाद यहाँ ले आया. जानता था, अगर वहाँ रहोगी तो अतीत याद आएगा. अतीत बुरा हो तो सीमा, आदमी गर्द की तरह झाड़ दे, ख़त्म कर दे, लेकिन सुधीर जैसा… मुझ पर अंधविश्वास था उसे. जो कुछ हुआ, मुझे उस का अफ़सोस नहीं, बिल्कुल नहीं, बस यही है कि अगर तुम किसी दोस्त के यहाँ ना होती ना…तो अच्छा होता, क्यूँकि तुम जहाँ भी होती, मैं यही करता, I love you. मैं तुम से प्यार करता. I love you Seema, I love you.”

[Edit Note : While Mohit has written the climax in his post, we are not going to reveal what happens in the end, as we expect more screenings of the film soon and expect you to watch it someday, somewhere. We leave you here with Ravi Shastri Quote : All Three Results Possible ]

And the end credits roll over with the song

“तुम से मिली जो ज़िंदगी, हम ने अभी बोई नहीं,

तेरे सिवा कोई ना था, तेरे सिवा कोई नहीं…”

…Leaving everyone in the theater completely spell bound.

Gulzar Saab got a standing ovation which refused to die down for the next few minutes.

Epilogue

It had Gulzar written all over it. Gulzar the writer, Gulzar the dialogue-writer, Gulzar the lyricist and Gulzar the director. It was like various Gulzar competing with each other and attaining the pinnacle of expressions. The music of R.D. Burman was also a highlight of the movie as the melodies are so soulful, the film would have been definitely incomplete without such lovely songs.

From story perspective, it is really difficult to say what was wrong or who was wrong or whether anyone was wrong at all? This is the power of a sensibly told story on screen. We all know that Gulzar Saab has great sense of expression when it comes to relationships. He is the one who has given the words to all the emotions we have gone through at various points in our different relationships. He is no different here as well. Gulzar Saab has also given various references of past work of theater artists who have explored the complexities of husband-wife relations – Leo Tostoy’s Anna Karenina, Vijay Tendulkar’s Khamosh adaalat jari hai, Mohan Rakesh’s Aadhe-adhure. The film, even though made some 26 years back, is still relevant and I believe due to the nature of human relationships, will be relevant even after 26 years.

There are so many situations in the movie which could have been exploited with melodramatic scenes but he kept them subtle, and trusted the intelligence of audience he was catering to. Like after re-marriage, one day when T.K. is gargling in the morning, all of a sudden she gets reminded of Sudhir, who was always after her for gargling. She gets in that groove for a moment that she actually calls out her old maid’s name “दुर्गा…” and then she realizes her mistake. And when she calls up their family doctor (played by A.K. Hangal) asking him to visit their home for T.K.’s cough and cold, she forgets to mention to the doctor about his new life and husband. The doctor habitually visits their old home and because Sudhir is also suffering from the cough at the same time, he doesn’t find it surprising that Seema called him up. Subtle ways to show that the bridges are not yet burnt completely. The central idea of the story keeps coming back again and again in multiple ways.

During the post-screening Q&A we came to know that the climax which was shown in the film was not his choice but the producers insisted upon him to change the climax.

He wanted to leave it a bit open ended, which he couldn’t do in this movie, hence he made Ijaazat, another masterpiece on husband-wife relationship which he ended the way he wanted it to be.

Nobody dared to ask the question, “अगर लिबास release हो जाती फिर भी क्या वो इजाज़त बनाते?”  and I doubt if anyone who has watched Ijaazat would even dare to think it being non-existent from the filmology of Gulzar Saab. Nothing to compare but to give a flavor to the people who could not watch the screening of Libaas, in my opinion, it was at par (if not more) with Ijaazat in terms of exploration of relationships, writing, dialogues, songs, direction and music.

To sum it up, I would just say, no matter how many years the movie has spent in the laundry or dry-clean, this Libaas is still as crisp, clean and white as new.

 – Mohit Kataria

 

(Mohit Kataria is an IT engineer by profession, writer & poet by passion, a Gulzar fan by heart. He is based in Bangalore and can be reached at [kataria dot mohit at gmail dot com] or [@hitm0 on twitter)

(Pics & Videos by Ashok Bindal [ajbindal at gmail dot com], a close associate of Gulzar saab, based in Mumbai)

Retrospective Inauguration Video via Ministry of I&B YouTube Channel]

haider-movie-wallpaper-26

There is a distinct smell of honesty in things which are fundamentally correct. You have got to love anything when it is done with utmost sincerity and no sluggishness. This is why we wait for Vishal Bharadwaj’s films and music. His latest offering is out, and we strongly recommend you get a taste of it. Here’s why:

So Jao – The eerie calm of a dark night perpetuated by heavy bass notes and a near mourning dead voiced ensemble consisting of Bashir Lone, Bashir Bhawani, Muzamil Bhawani, Mayukh Sarkar, Aalaap Majgavkar and others take upon themselves to scare the life out of us in this calm yet intense song. The singers might all be mourning but they are in perfect sync and you will find yourself reaching for the repeat button without a doubt. The sound of shovels attacking mother earth is impactful, to say the least. Top class!

Jhelum – Yet another dark song where the music arrangement is spread out. The magical electric guitar surprises you as it creates an atmosphere of contemplation. Vishal, helped greatly by the words from Gulzar, paints a picture of grief, the kind that will suck you and might make you sad, very sad. I might be thinking too much but then I feel the words ‘jhelum hua kharaa’ came out right from Gulzar’s heart as he reflected on the massacres he witnessed, during partition. That perpetual sinking feeling owes a lot to the wonderful Simaab Sen who has produced this song in the album. Vishal Bharadwaj doesn’t sing much in films. We wonder why.

Gulon mein rang – The thing with good poetry is that it can never be badly performed (unless of course, KRK decides to rap it). To make it even better, words have been modified and what’s better than to see Gulzar and Faiz in one song! We honestly didn’t expect much from Arijit Singh, (who is breathing these days with microphone attached to his throat) because we knew, the sound would be indistinguishable from most of his songs off late. I won’t say we were shocked and surprised with his rendition here. It is strictly average but the music arrangement takes it a notch higher, especially the hopeful note on which the song ends. Talking of this iconic kalaam, even Mohit Chauhan did it nicely here.

Ek aur bismil – With an adorable arabian touch and sufi setting, this version paints a fantastic belly dance setting in the mind. The clarinet in the song is exact and lends much richness to the song. Unlike the ‘bismil’ song (to which this song owes its title and tune) which has a podium/stage setting, this feels more intimate, street like and humble.

Do Jahaan – Call me an incurable romantic, but I cannot wait for Suresh Wadkar singing a ‘suresh wadkar वाला’ song. No, I don’t mean ‘totey udd gaye’ (ek thee dayan) sort of song. I mean ‘tere liye’ (7 khoon maaf) sorts. A lazy setting that somehow has become Vishal Bharadwaj’s forte along with Suresh Wadkar’s depth is something to look forward to. This song is exactly like that. An added bonus is to hear Shraddha kapoor’s voice which doesn’t sound processed and adds a ‘real’ feel to the song.

Aaj ke naam – After her fantastic ‘har ghadi’ in D-Day, Rekha Bharadwaj gives us a ‘by the tabla’ ghazal that has ‘tragedy’ written all over it. This is also a work of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Vishal Bharadwaj quietly sneaks in gentle keyboard notes to give a contemporary feel to the overall setting. Since the ghazal talks of so much sadness (With the excellent use of ‘new’ words for hindi film songs like – ब्याहता), extreme caution is advised because it will leave you sad, very sad.

Khul Kabhi – Good things were said about this song by Vishal Bharadwaj himself in a recent interview on Radio Mirchi, Bombay. Perhaps what Vishal Bharadwaj didn’t estimate was the flood of Arijit Singh’s songs with whom we are playing ‘catch up’ on daily basis. This song is good and we couldn’t help feel that this should have been sung by Vishal Bharadwaj himself. No doubt that would have been the thought at the time of composing it. It is a ‘FVBV’ song all the way (For Vishal, By Vishal). Arijit is efficient and average at best, what is lacking is the exclusive, infectious feel that this tune and crazy romantic song deserved.

Bismil – The ‘stage’ song! With Sukhwinder, there is always a danger that perhaps he will sound too ‘sukhwinder’ and hijack the song. It doesn’t matter in this case because there is an army of excellent back up vocalists, and a ‘beyond awesome’ rabaab at work along with him. The song paints a dark picture of deceit with an upbeat tune. The lyrics give away everything there is to correlate with Shahid Kapoor’s anger in the film. These days when music composers take pride in saying ‘ये गाना डांस फ्लोर पे महिना भर बजेगा’ , here is a song which might become a hot favorite of people who are into stage dramas. The overall feel reminded me of ‘Sheher’ of gulaal which can also be re-created on stage with impact, if only some people are up to it. A thunderous song that gives you a feel of large auditorium. Kudos!

Aao Na – I feel Vishal Dadlani somehow saves his ‘year’s best’ when he teams up with Vishal Bharadwaj. While I still maintain that ‘Dhan te nan’ is his best, this song stands right next to it. The passion, drums and singing, all are just top notch. Did I miss anything? Oh yes, that bloody mother of a tune on guitar. I cannot write enough good things about this song. Double thumbs up!

Vishal Bharadwaj and Gulzar have given us a brilliant album that has right shades of dark, much like the background and context of the film. In a year that has been marred with too much trash and vomit inducing tracks, Haider is what leaves a lasting sweetness on our taste buds.

As Vishal says, क्या बात है!

– by @rohwit

A new Vishal Bhardwaj film is always cause for celebration. Even his weakest films have so much to savour, and in an industry so plagued by intellectual and creative bankruptcy, Bhardwaj is the rare filmmaker who could perhaps truly claim auteur status- he produces, directs, writes, composes- and does all of it with a style so distinctive and quixotic- there’s no mistaking his stamp. We’ve got to admit, we’re fanboys, and unashamedly so.

The much awaited trailer for Mr Bhardwaj’s new film ‘Haider’ has arrived along with a trio of posters. Haider is based on Hamlet and is the final film of his Shakespearean Trilogy (preceded by Maqbool and Omkara) and stars Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor and Kay Kay Menon among others (including Irrfan Khan in a special appearance).

Notably, Haider has been co-written with Kashmiri author and journalist Basharat Peer and also marks the filmmaker’s first collaboration with cinematographer Pankaj Kumar, who is best known for shooting Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus. Click here to read an interesting article about Peer’s collaboration with Bhardwaj.

Take a look at the trailer and posters and let us know what you think:

 

 

One of the best things about your favoutite film is that you are never tired of reading about them. And if it’s a landmark film, then with every passing year as its cult grows bigger, stories surrounding those films became urban legends. Satya is one such film. And though we have heard so many stories about its making, one is always interested to read more. So as its editor Apurva Asrani  started writing about its making on his blog, we thought it would be nice to share the post here too. Over to him.

Satya

My name is Apurva Asrani. I am a film editor. My job profile includes receiving shooting rushes and putting together a cohesive film. I attempt to choose the most honest moments in the material to string together a tableau of scenes. I try to work at proper punctuation. i.e moving around silences, action, music and dialogue to flow rhythmically. I try to clean up the rough edges in performances, sometimes cheating moments to bring on the desired effect. ‘There is no one above the film’ is a motto that I have tried to follow in a career spanning 17 years, 13 films, 5 tele-films & 3 theater productions, often confronting ego’s that were infinitely bigger than the film.

When factors bigger than the film were in control, i.e stars, marketing gimmicks and/or producers with no real love for cinema, the films found no audience. Some were appreciated in part, but not in whole. But several times, the power of the story was above all involved, and the crew worked selflessly, leveled under the radiance of good intention. For me, Satya , Snip!, Chhal, Jalpari-The Desert Mermaid & the yet to release Shahid are all examples of good teamwork.

I spent my 20’s thrilled like a kid in a celluloid store. I have had intimate creative relationships with incredible film personalities like Ramgopal Varma, Hansal Mehta, Anupam Kher, Basu Bhattacharya Bhupen Hazarika & Nagesh Kukunoor. My joy knew no bounds when I spent days with legends like Mehmood & Shammi Kapoor while putting together a show for TV. I have even worked with some incredible people who I could never relate to, like Vashu Bhagnani. This blog is my attempt at documenting memories from some of those relationships.

Ramgopal Varma & Satya

In 1997, when I was a teenage promo producer, a mad-man named Ramu asked me to edit a film called Satya. Mani Rathnam’s Iruvar was about to release and I had heard that it had been cut digitally, i.e on Avid. I had already befriended the digital editing system through my TV & promo work and found that I had an ally in Ramu in going digital. Ramu was high from the failure of Daud and the man mesmerized me. Instead of getting crushed by rejection of his biggest budget film to date he was reveling in its failure. He knew that he was garnering a cult following, and was being admired for making the offbeat comedy the way he wanted to. He carried the creative air of a man who had produced & directed the biggest musical hit of those days, Rangeela, and soon his revelry was to became rebellion against the popular grain.

Ramu, me & Avid Media Composer spent one year in a 6 by 8 foot cabin while editing Satya. I met a man who gambled with life and had a mischievous disposition while doing it. ‘Ramu’ truly wanted to tell Satya’s story. He was living vicariously through the character. The South Indian producer penetrating the Bombay market was a striking parallel with Telegu cinema’s Chakravarti penetrating Manoj Bajpai & Saurabh Shukla’s underworld in the film. In the film, Chakravarti ordered the sudden killing of ‘Bollywood star’ commissioner Paresh Rawal, and Ramu had made his point. The fact that the film found cult status only cemented the man’s journey thus far.

 Ram-Gopal-Varma

The Team

Ramu had put together an incredible team for Satya. There was the unlikely writing duo of Saurabh Shukla & Anurag Kashyap, both chipping into the film with more than just their writing roles. There was the American director of photography Gerard Hooper, who closely collaborated with his Indian counterpart Mazhar Kamran to bring us grit like never before. There was the Industry veteran Krishna who has over a 100 film titles to this credit, but only one as Art Director–for Satya. There was Vishal Bharadwaj, at the start of his juiciest creative phase.

I remember riding with Ramu in his red Maruti Esteem and we were listening to the songs of the Chandrachur Singh starrer, Betaabi. The film was a wash-out but Vishal’s powerful music fueled this car to the Versova sea side office, where Ramu was putting together a team for his underworld film. ‘You like this, Apurva?’ Ramu had asked me, a gawky 19 year old, still numb from the opportunity that had been presented to him. Having been a fan of Vishal since Maachis, I vehemently supported his decision to go with him. I was beginning to feel the onset of a magical phase in my life.

Anurag Kashyap was the irreverent mischievous kid on the set, often getting into sulks with Ramu about Saurabh’s involvement. I remember this huge stand-off about whose name should appear on top, when I had cut the first promo of Satya. Ramu used good humor and leveraged the awe each team member had for him, to manage the ‘children’ on set. I was younger than Anurag, but I was the more serious kind. Diligently trying to prove myself on-set and in the editing room. I knew nothing about film editing, but I would trip-out on the wild material in the darkened room, sometimes not going home for hours and days on end. I seemed to enjoy telling stories & after writing, I found only editing to be an uncorrupted creative space. Besides, the rushes for Satya were honest and ‘ballsy’, unlike the cinema of the day. You couldn’t help but become consumed by the material.

Editing Satya

‘Stay out of the room’, I’d shout, sending my assistant Pradnya to stand as a barricade to the studio door, so that Ramu’s curious eyes couldn’t see what I was cutting. I had a desire to shock and I knew early on that directors must wait till the cut is complete, before they can see it. The Ramu of 1997 was a humble man. Like a child, he would plead to watch it, try and peer through a small window in the door, but he would wait outside till he was allowed in. Most often, the results would please him to no end, and there would a deluge of film personalities who would be invited to see the brewing magic.

Two meetings that I will never forget are with Gulzar, also the lyricist of the film & with Shekhar Kapoor, high on the success of Bandit Queen. When Gulzar walked in, a nervous Ramu forgot to introduce me to him (Ramu always introduced me to his guests), I was also very nervous to turn around and look at the legendary kurta-pyjama clad auteur. Then I distinctly remember there was a soft touch on my shoulder, I turned to see Gulzar who smiled at me and said hello. I was floored. Shekhar Kapoor was all chatty and excited. He couldn’t stop raving about his editor Jill Bilcock who had just cut his film Elizabeth and I was already feeling jealous.

Ramu allowed me break up, re-align, mold and reshape the film the way I wanted to. I believe that’s how he dealt with the writers, actors and camera crew as well. Allowing everyone he trusted to interpret his vision. I never really understood then, how rare it was to find great teamwork. I think Ramu also soon forgot.

Satya was never intended to open the way it did. The opening scene was written with Satya’s character’s arrival in Mumbai. I remember thinking that the opening was flat. What was needed was a fiery and sinister set-up, the correct atmosphere for the silent Satya’s arrival. I wrote an opening voice over about the city of Mumbai and cut it to a montage of city shots. I got actor Aditya Srivastav to correct my Hindi and dub a VO on the avid. I used climatic shots of the long-haired gangster Sabir Masani shooting angrily at a newspaper right at the start of the film, and inter-cut shots from Vidya’s (Urmila Matondkar) fathers funeral pyre (from later in the film).

The sequence got its desired reaction. Ramu jumped up from his seat and clapped in awe. I knew in that moment, that there was no other industry I’d rather work in.

(To Be Continued)

( You can follow Apurva Asrani on Twitter here and his blog is here)