Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rahman And I ...

The first of the "And I ..." series features one of my all time favourite musicians, some one who deserves all the awards and adulation for his sincerity, passion and humility and not just for being the absolute musical genius he is - AR Rahman. Well I was a kid when this guy broke into the music scene in 1992 with Roja and his music, which was quite unlike the traditional bollywood type, was something that had tremendous influence on me during my growing days. He tried everything in his music - carnatic music, classical western, classical hindi, fusion, trance, techno and what not. Somebody needs to understand and love music to cross the language and musical style barriers and be able to produce gems that you can never forget even if it requires using glass of water in Taal or a continuum fingerboard in Delhi 6. Seems like the legend breathes music. Well if I go speaking about Rahman, I will run out of words pretty soon. So it's better to chalk out my favourite Rahman albums. Mind you, my brother and I have all of Rahman's audio cassettes till Taal inclusive of movies like Chor Chor and Tu Hi Mera Dil which were actually dubbings of his Tamil movies. Well after Taal, the MP3 boom hit us and well cassettes became extinct. Anyways the following listings are his hindi movie albums that I have heard (which means all of it till Raavan and doesn't include his non-hindi compositions or Vande Mataram or Connections etc) and these are in chronological order.

1. Roja ,1992

Why it's on this list?
Because this introduced us to a young prodigy or maybe since some like TIME may actually call it his best. And you can forgive them because the album has some of his best compositions. Minmini's Dil Hai Chota Sa is angelic while SPB and Chitra combined to produce Yeh Haseen Wadiyan which gets a perfect 10 in my book for composition, vocals and picturisation. There were two great versions of Roja Jaaneman sung by SPB and Hariharan although I liked the former better. And that's not all, Rahman managed to squeeze in a patriotic song in the form of Bharat Humko (I sang this one in school during independence day celebrations :) ) and a dance number Rukmani featuring Pop sensations of that time Baba Sehgal and Shweta Shetty.

What it can do without?
Nothing. No messing with this one although I would have preferred someone else singing Rukmani yet it still rocks thanks to the music and chorus though.

My Pick
Dil Hai Chota Sa (somebody might be smiling at this choice) and Yeh Haseen Wadiyan (a perfect ode to Kashmir that once was)

2. Rangeela, 1995

Why it's on this list?
Because RGV decided the movie would be perfect for Rahman's hindi debut and boy, did he deliver !!! Rahman is credited for Asha Bhonsle's comeback and when a legend and a legend to be combine, the result is something as magical as Rangeela Re. And if I am not wrong, this was the first time we heard a boy named Aditya Narayan. Rahman combined with Udit Narayan, the boy's father, for two songs - the playful Yaaron Sunlo Zaraa and the soulful Kya Karen. The album also featured a love ballad Pyaar Yeh  featuring Suresh Wadekar and Kavitha Krishnamurty, a stylish fast paced number Mangta Hai Kya introducing as to the voice of Rahman along with Shweta Shetty, a highly sensous number Hai Rama sung masterfully by Hariharan and Swarnalatha and a foot tapping dance piece Spirit of Rangeela. But who would have thought that a song sung by the 62 year old Ashaji picturised on a minimally clad Urmila (three times younger than her) running on a beach towards a lustful Jackie Shroff would become the toast of the town? Tanha Tanha  can easily feature in a bests list for Rahman as well as Asha Bhonsle.

What it can do without?
No fiddling with this classic.

My Pick
Tanha Tanha (Brilliant) , Hai Rama (Swarnalatha' voice gives the song the required sexiness) and Kya Karen (Udit Narayan and Aamir Khan make this song unbelievable)

3. Sapnay, 1996

Why it's on this list?
Actually the original movie Minsara Kanavu (Tamil) is much more famous for being the only non Hindi movie starring Kajol. Minsara Kanavu earned Rahman a national award for best music as well as fetching SPB and Chitra best singer awards. Since I have only heard the hindi version's music, I can't compare with the original but there is no denying this is indeed one of Rahman's bests. Awara Bhanwre  launched the career of Hema Sardesai and still remains her best song ever. The album also features two rookies during that time who later went on to become stalwarts of the music industry - Shankar Mahadevan teams up with Srinivas and Chitra to set the dance floor for Prabhu Deva in Ooh La La while KK gets to croon the really mischevious Strawberry Ankhen along with Kavita Paudwal. Its routine job for Rahman's favourite SPB who gets to sing Door Na Ja Mujhse which has a nice feel to it. Rahman shows his versatality with the divine hymn sort of Roshan Hui Raat in the mesmerising voice of Anuradha Sriram. But the pick of the lot is the romantic duet Chanda Re sung by Hariharan and Sadhana Sargam which has been picturised beautifully by ace cinematographer and director Rajiv Menon.

What it can do without?
Prabhu Deva's introductory song Teri Meri Baat sung by Abhijeet definitely sounds below the high standards set by the album.

My Pick
Awara Bhanwre (for the music) and Chanda Re (one of my all time favourite romantic songs)

4. Dil Se, 1998

Why it's on this list?
Two words - Chaiya Chaiya. If you remember, this song had become an anthem of sort and will remain SRK's best choreographed song. The song made Sukhwinder Singh an overnight sensation and started his successful collaboration with Rahman. Then we have Lata Mangeshkar singing for the bubbly Preity Zinta in Jiya Jale with MG Sreekumar giving the background vocals in what makes for a sensational hear. Sonu Nigam and Kavita Krishnamurty give voice to some awe inspiring lyrics from Gulzar in Satrangi Re. Rahman takes on the mic to perform the title song, a song that he is still asked to perform as the first song in his concerts. Mesmerising stuff. As if it was not enough, there is Udit Narayan to take you out of this world with E Ajnabee.

What it can do without?
The punjabi version Thaiya Thaiya just didn't appeal to me.

My Pick
Chaiya Chaiya (One word - awesome), E Ajnabee (Udit rocks)

5. Taal, 1999

Why it's on this list?
Because I consider it a masterpiece. Probably the best of his best, this one was an ambitious Subhash Ghai project who is said to have translated Anand Bakshi's lyrics to Rahman so that he could understand the essence of it. Ishq Bina was a soothing rendition with a really catchy tune pumped up by the voices of Sonu Nigam, Anuradha Sriram, Sujatha and Rahman himself singing the chorus lines. Udit Narayan, Sukhwinder and Alka Yagnik team up for the magnificent Taal Se Taal  which also had a pulsating western version. One of most soulful songs of Rahman comes up in this album in the form Nahin Samne by Hariharan and Sukhwinder Singh (although it sounds a lot like Jagjit Singh). Its one of those songs you get addicted to after repeated hearings. Asha Bhonsle comes up with a chartbuster in the form of Kahin Aag Lage and Sukhwinder pairs with Alka Yagnik for the intoxicating Ramta Jogi - Aishwarya Rai heating up the screen in both the numbers. Some more variety is added through the Sukhwinder Singh and Alka Yagnik's folkish Kariye Na based on the Raga Kaliyan. There is also a Kavita Krishnamurty's version of Ishq Bina which involves some high voltage orchestra. However the uniqueness of the album lies in the experimentation done by Rahman especially with the two instrumentals - Raga Dance and Beats of Passion , the latter done with long time associate percussionist Sivamani.

What it can do without?
The only song in the album I haven't had more than two hearings - Ni Main Samajh Gayi.

My Pick
All songs highly recommended.

6. Lagaan, 2001

Why it's on this list?
Because whatever fruits were reaped by Slumdog Millionaire should have happened to this album (there were others before but this one did make it to the Oscars). Rahman had never done such a huge scale period film and the expectations were humongous. So Rahman put his best foot forward and gave a score which ranks 44th in the Amazon's all time greatest world music listings. The music was of the highest quality be it a rain song Ghanan Ghanan in the voices of Sukhwinder, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Shankar Mahadevan, Shaan etc or classical based Radha Kaise sung delightfully by Udit Narayan and Asha Bhonsle. Udit Narayan has two other gem of songs - Mitwa where he combines with Sukhwinder, Srinivas and Alka Yagnik and O Re Chori with Alka Yagnik and Vasundhara Das crooning the english lines. Lata Mangeshkar is the high point of the prayer song O Palanhare ably supported by Udit Narayan and Sadhna Sargam. As usual Rahman keeps the most energetic song for himself and along with Srinivas renders inspiring Chale Chalo. The album also features two instruments - one a waltz piece and the other a theme music Once Upon a Time that along with the theme pieces of Bombay and Swades are his best instrumental compositions.

What it can do without?

My Pick
All songs highly recommended.

7. Saathiya, 2002

Why it's on this list?
Because of sheer romance in the music. The album has three heart warming romantic tracks that revel in the brilliance of Rahman and the singers. The best of the three is the title track sung by an enigmatic Sonu Nigam, easily one Sonu's best songs ever. This song still enjoys quite a popularity today as a ringtone. Aye Udi Udi showcases a playful Adnan Sami whose style is the high point of the song. Sadhana Sargam's beautiful voice suits the sweet Chupke Se which gets an instant kick when Murtaza and Qadir Khan humm the chorus part. Rahman then blends classical music with his stylish approach to give Chalka Re with Richa Sharma, Mahalaxmi Iyer and co. sounding really good. Rahman then goes on to give a thumri based number Naina Milaike. Sadhana Sargam and Madhusree do a good job with the song that sounds pretty unlike Rahman but still good. Mera Yaar Milade sung by Rahman himself is one of the songs he can sleep walk through, something we have listened often previously. The surprise pack is Humdum Suniyo Re where the gang of Kunal Ganjawala, KK, Shaan turn a prose kind of desi lyrics into a rap style funky song with some nice techno manipulations by Rahman. Don't know who tried to surprise whom , Gulzar with his lyrics or Rahman with the score but no doubt the result is mindblowing. The song also has a relatively slow version Mangalyam with Srinivas joining the gang.

What it can do without?
Asha Bhonsle and Karthik do a decent job with Chori Pe Chori but the song somehow doesn't sound like Rahman and gets a kind of thumbs down from me.

My Pick
Saathiya (Sonu Nigam at his best), O Humdum (Mindblowing)

8. Rang De Basanti, 2006

Why it's on this list?
Because the music is youthful, inspiring and complements this cult classic of a movie to such a level that you can't separate the movie from the music. No doubt Rahman had previously enthralled the audience with youthful tracks such as Duniya Dilwalon Ki, Boys etc but RDB is the jewel in the crown. The album starts off with Harshdeep Kaur singing the punjabi prayer Ik Onkar which is just a divine start to the album. The title track is a pulsating bhangra number sung by a rocking Daler Mehendi and Chitra. The song is proof enough that music knows no boundaries and regionalities aren't a limitation for a musician. Khalbali sung by Rahman and Mohammed Aslam is fast paced number with sufi feel with some outstanding music arrangements. This is one such albums where Rahman needs to share the credit for brilliance with Prasoon Joshi whose manna like words ooz inspiration. Listen to Rubaroo for instance where Naresh Iyer and Rahman mix playfulness and meaningfulness with amazing style. Coming to the song that became an anthem of sort Paathsala has two versions with Naresh Iyer and Mohammed Aslam crooning some weirdly effective lyrics and then teaming up with Blaaze for rap version. The album also marks the foray of Silk Route singer Mohit Chauhan (he came into prominence with this song and then went to be a Rahman and Pritam regular) whose amazing voice does justice to the well written Khoon Chala. The album features two out-of-the-world slow tracks. Madhushree and Naresh Iyer shine with the romantic Tu Bin Bataye while Lata di shows age cannot erode her voice with Luka Chupi as Rahman suddenly appears to provide the perfect foil to her. All in all sheer magic.

What it can do without?
I can't think of anything :)

My Pick
Queue the songs in a playlist in repeat all mode, enable shuffling, close your eyes and get lost into the world of RDB.

9. Jodha Akbar, 2008

Why it's on this list?
Because a grand movie about one of the most liked Mughal emperor needed a score that probably only Rahman could provide. The grandiose Azeem-O-Shaan performed by Mohd. Aslam and Bonnie Chakraborty sets the tone with awe inspiring performance. The percussion used in the song is too good. Jashn-E-Bahara and In Lamhon Ke have two things in common - some nice lyrics by Javed Akhtar and brilliant vocals with Rahman's protege Javed Ali singing the former and regulars Sonu Nigam and Madhusree doing the honours in the latter. Bela Shinde does a great job with the partly devotional track Man Mohana. But the highlight of the album, is Khwaja Mere Khwaja , a sufi track with words by Kashif and sung brilliantly by Rahman himself. May be its the vocals or the music arrangement but there is something divine about this song. Rahman also packs in two briliant instrumental versions of Khwaja Mere Khwaja and Jashn-E-Bahara as freebies for the audience.

What it can do without?

My Pick
Azeem-O-Shaan (Great music arrangement), Jashn-E-Bahara (great lyrics and vocals), Khwaja Mere Khwaja (divine)

10. Delhi 6, 2009

Why it's on this list?
Because many claim it to be Rahman's best and I think an album cannot have any more variety than this. Well it has two devotional numbers - the marvellous sufi piece Arziyan by Javed Ali and Kailash Kher and the aarti Tumre Bhavan Mein with Rekha Bharadwaj and co., a core classical Bhor Bhaye where Shreya Ghosal more than stands up against the likes of the legend Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, along with the usual romantic and fast paced tracks. Masakali  may be weird name even for a pigeon but it sure does magic as Mohit Chauhan shows his class. Rahman teams up with Benny Dayal and Tanvi Shah to give the nice sounding romantic number Rehna Tu but is surprisingly overshadowed by his protege Ash King and Chinmayee in the dreamy track Dil Gira Dafatan. Music is an essential part of the tracks with the former seeing a debut by continum fingerboard by Rahman while the latter has a portion which is reminiscent of Yeh Haseen Wadiyan from Roja. Hey Kaala Bandar has some really intriguing lines sung by Karthik, Naresh Iyer, Srinivas and Co. The album also provides Delhi with its very own anthem, a catchy title track sung brilliantly by Blaaze, Benny Dayal and Tanvi Shah and comprising of some incomprehensible French lines in between which only add to the spectacle. As is the case in all of Rahman's album, the maestro keeps surprising you with atleast one track and here he takes a folk song from central India Genda Phool and adds some nice techno beats to it and abracadabra, I never thought you can do hip hop dance on a rural folk track. Though Rekha Bharadwaj and co. do a great job in the song, its is Rahman's handling of the song that takes the cake.

What it can do without?
Well didn't I say its one of Rahman's best. So no changes.

My Pick
Too many brilliant songs in this, unfair to pick favourite(s).

Well this is my favourite selection. And picking the top 10 was really tough as some great albums like, Swadesh, Bombay, Jaane Tu..., Zubeida missed the cut. Also since I considered the entire album, popular songs like Mustafa Mustafa, Muqabla, Shakalaka Baby etc lost out. Would love to read your comments on this piece.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I am Back...Maybe!!!

Its been a while since I last wrote something on this blog. More than a year maybe. There were other tasks to attend to or may be I couldn't find anything to write or probably I was simply lazy. Now that I am back, I guess this blog will see some new posts. Right now I am too much fed up with philosophical talks, so don't expect any such preachings to feature here for the time being. May be I will start with my "And I..." series of reviews and favourite listings to fill up the space till I get bored of it. I will probably start with the first of the series about Rahman. Let's see how I fare?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Chapter One - A Bad Dream

I was still standing near the railway tracks. The train had long since passed me though ,in the distant horizon, I could still see the smoke fly out of its chimney and the sound of its horn still reverberated in my ears. There was nothing I could do now. I had tried to prevent the dog from moving on to the tracks. It didn't pay heed to me and why should it? I wasn't its master. And then the dog's leg somehow got stuck in the rails. I had seen this from a distance and rushed to its rescue. Try as I may, the leg seemed to have glued to the surface. The dog looked at me giving out wailing pleas for help as if thinking a bigger creature like me could get him out of the torture. No doubt I was a bigger and smart creature than him, but I was equally helpless here. If only someone could explain him that evolution and might have ,sometimes, nothing to do with helplessness. And then to make things worse, a train came into the picture. As it happens normally, in times of trouble, the clock ticks faster. The train sped towards the dog. I stepped away from the tracks while dog kept wailing looking alternately at me and the monster coming its way. Within minutes, the train moved past me, dismembering the poor little creature. I couldn't muster enough courage to look at the tracks. I had tried my best but failed.Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you tried but whether you succeeded or failed.

Remorseful, I was still standing near the railway tracks.
The train had long since passed me though , in a distance, I could still see the smoke fly out of its chimney and the sound of its horn still reverberated in my ears.There was nothing I could do now. I thought this feeling would slowly sink down after all I had just witnessed a death. And a death is a death be it a dog. I didn't understand why I was so upset. It was just an accident. And I had no role in it. The dog was supposedly at the wrong place at the wrong time and probably, destined to die a horrible death. Yes, it was indeed horrible death, seeing death coming your way and being helpless. I don't know why, but the mere mention of the word "helpless" stung like a poison arrow in my heart. Was I helpless? I could have done at least something to rescue it else what is the use of having a high IQ or such great strength. And why was I accusing myself all of a sudden? I did try and I am no superhero that I would succeed all the time. It wasn't I who got the dog on the track and moreover it wasn't my dog. I was in this absurd perplexed state of mind - partly guilt ridden , partly escapist.

Some more time passed. I was still standing near the railway tracks. The train had long since passed me and I could no more see the smoke nor remember the sound of its horn. But ,yes , I couldn't forget the wailing dog's last sight. I wanted to move away but somehow now my legs seemed to have got numb. After some effort I managed to whisk myself away from the dreaded site. I kept walking ,
along the railway tracks, towards the nearby station but felt like being followed by someone. I turned back to find no one. Again I started walking faster. This time I could hear faint footsteps following me. I dared not look back. As I reached the signal post, I could now see the station. I desperately wanted to reach the station since there would be people around and I would at least be saved from my lonely thoughts. But before I could take another step, I again heard that wailing cry I so dreaded. I couldn't prevent myself from looking back only to find the poor dog staring at me. I was so lost in my thoughts that I forgot I was still standing on the tracks. Suddenly the signal changed and the tracks got rearranged making way for a train to enter the station. And in the process, my leg got stuck in them. I panicked and tried to scream but couldn't as I saw the dog vanish in front of me. I couldn't figure out what had just happened. How did the dead dog appear and suddenly disappear? Or could it be that the dog's accident was just a sign of things going to happen to me? I didn't have time to think over this as a steel monster sped in my direction. I tried to close my eyes but my eyelids refused to obey me. I just waited there for the moment to get over. The train came nearer and nearer and there was a bang after which there was darkness everywhere.

My eyes were still open but it was dark outside. I wondered whether I was in heaven or hell? Unfortunately I figured out that I deserved neither of them, so I was back in my world. I was lying on my bed and in spite of the winter, was sweating profusely as one does after having a nightmare. It had all been a bad dream. And now I was all awake, pondering over whatever remnants of the dream. I couldn't understand the meaning or the purpose of the dream. Such things aren't new to me as most of my dreams are incomprehensible. I have a lot of dreams - good ones and bad ones. My life is built on them and I live either of them. Welcome to my world as I wait for one dream to end and another to start.

Statutory Warning

For some time now, this blog will reflect upon an imaginary story whose contents will be published every day. This story is an effort by the author to make use of his past time and is not based on any real person or events though certain coincidences can be overlooked.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

On a Day Like Today

On a day like Today,
Everything's gonna be fine.
On a day like Today,
I am gonna shine.
On a day like Today,
The worlds gonna be mine.
In search of that day,
My Today is dying.

Torn by unresolved conflicts,
Stranded by never ending pursuits,
Confused by hidden identities,
Perturbed by future's obscurities,
Disheartened by life's verdicts,
Betrayed by uncanny adversities,
Abandoned by the last strains of reputabilities,
Everyday I overcome urges to call it quits.

Love says I don't deserve her,
Success says its too much I am asking for,
Friendship says nobody befriends a loner,
Dreams say they foresee absolute horror,
Future says it all ends here,
The world says I am a selfish monster,
Life says in this battle I am already a loser,
I say this is not me I see in the mirror.

Whats happening around doesn't matter to me,
As I move towards another reality,
Of unthinkable calm tranquility,
And a state of undefinable ecstasy,
Where existence follows another geometry,
And life moves like a pure mystery,
A world where I am my greatest enemy,
Bringing with it a future which only I can see,

On a day like Today,
Everything's gonna be fine.
On a day like Today,
I am gonna shine.
On a day like Today,
The worlds gonna be mine.
I believe I will reach there someday,
Till then I am not gonna stop trying.

P.S.: This post is a tribute to one of my all time classics - Bryan Adam's song of the same name. Though this isn't one of my great pieces, written in a state of I don't know what, after lot of thinking I have put it on the blog for everyone to see. The style used is , unlike my style of writing poems/songs, reminiscent of the hip hop and rap culture, something I have ventured into for the first time and personally have failed big time.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dance With Me

Pushing my grievances into the shadow of ignorance,
Filling my heart with unperturbed romance,
With nostalgic memories exuding their sweet fragrance,
To the tunes of uncorrupted happiness I dance.

Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as the movement of the body in a rhythmic way, usually to music and within a given space, for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy, or simply taking delight in the movement itself. It is the very thing that piloted celebrities such as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Michael Jackson or our home-grown brunch of actors such as Prabhu Deva, Govinda and Hrithik Roshan to the very pinnacle of stardom. It is said to be an inherent form of celebration and expression of joy. Be it Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Ballet or any other form, Dance till date remains one of the talents that is present in all human beings in the crudest form possible and that can be further refined. There is a difference between dance and the art of dance. Dance is a powerful impulse, but the art of dance is that impulse channeled by skillful performers into something that becomes intensely expressive and that may delight the onlooker. So shaking a leg or two at the disco is dance where as being able to carve a story out of gyrations is the art of dance. Well all the people who know me would unanimously agree that I am not the right person to get in touch with if you are interested in dancing even though I can differentiate the Waltz from the Tango. Then what is this piece of undecipherable inventory doing in my blog? I first thought about writing on this topic when I came across a community in Orkut (the web based version of yesteryear's pen pal movement) titled "Dance As if no one is watching". But then I finally wrote this piece because of two reasons. The first one I am not going to say here whereas the second one is that I was deeply influenced by a ballet that I was watching on the Travel and Living channel, which was depicting a sweet legend about a young couple who died protecting their love for each other and the honour of their families.

Dance is one of the most unadulterated form of displaying happiness and exuberance. It is one such act where you loosen your grip over your body and move farther away from the ominous reality chasing you and let an aura of rhythmic chaos take over you. Soulful dancing introduces one to a world of calmness and symmetry that we all dream about but rarely venture into. I love to see people dance. May be thats because I make a terrible dancer or may be because I am just too shy to dance in front of others (though the latter one is now fading away). But I just love to watch others dance. They do it with such a sense of gracefulness and satisfaction that fills my heart. Each step seems to be so meticulously placed. And their smiling faces speak volume of how much they enjoy their dance whether they are dancing well or not. In fact, at the end of the day, what matters is the pleasure derived. Dance is an extremely powerful tool of expression. I have seen good dancers emote through dance. Speaking tonnes through a rhythmic synchronization between the hands, legs, facial expressions, stance and gait and the body as a whole isn't just an art but a skill that can be learnt by many but mastered by few. This is what makes the casual dance different from the practised art form. Dance for the common mass is a way of enjoyment while for the elite its an art of expression. Both of them are equally appealing and heart rendering.

My years of research through abstract philosophy and "People-Watching" (if Bird-Watching can be a passtime, why can't this be?) have lead me to believe that an individual's attitude toward dancing can be an indicative of his nature. Its obviously not the dancing skills but the presence on the dance floor that falls under the perspective of this analysis. A simple glance at the face of the dancer can tell you about his nature from the level of satisfaction he is deriving from his dance. Basically there are two types of people - the ones who dance and the ones who just dance. The ONES WHO DANCE are those who dance freely without any resentments or reservations. They dance as if the world is their dance floor and they are the only ones dancing. They dance without any inhibitions and as a result exude an aura of satisfaction. I have often found these sort of people to be pretty expressive, easy going, broadminded and open hearted. The ONES WHO JUST DANCE are those who dance because they have to. These sort of people are always caught dancing in public glare when what they actually want to move out of the dance floor and just spectate. Such people are normally shy, introverted, self restrictive and less outgoing. Its not that these people cant dance their hearts out but somehow fail to do so in front of an audience. In solitude, these people easily migrate into the first category. However this is not a foolproof way of indentification because there are people who can mask their emotions and expressions and it becomes difficult to conclude what they actually are. But the truth is that dance, easily, is a form of living life. In fact an old Persian proverb correctly highlights that "He who danceth not, knoweth not the ways of life".

So now you know what is the perfect recipe for a 5 minute bliss. Get your friends with you or if you are too shy just lock yourself up in your room. Get the music on, close your eyes and follow your heart. Feel the music flow through your nerves, enter into a state of perfect trance and let your body do the rest of the talking. Dance as if no ones watching you or if you prefer it, dance as if the whole world's dancing with you. So friends, SHOULD WE DANCE???

P.S. : This post has been named after the 1998 movie with the same name starring Vanessa Williams and Chayanne. This post is one of the "long in the making" kinds taking me about a month to complete. Well blogs are normally meant for short and quick posts but somehow I cant manage with FASTFOOD it seems :) Anyways this post is my tribute to the never say die free-spirit of us humans which makes us achieve small doses of happiness every now and them although we always yearn for perfect bliss chasing it throughout our lives.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Blame It On the Men in Blue

I slept at 4 yesterday. That's 4 AM in the morning. No it wasn't because I had an off day at job the next day. Neither had it anything to do with me being in pursuit of some inconceivable idea on my dear lappy nor had it anything to do with me watching one of those flicks where you can't go to bed until the climax has been revealed. It had to do with something that I love a lot. Not only me, my brother, my roomies, most of my friends and in fact the whole of my country swear by their devotion to it. Its something that flows in the blood of almost all my countrymen ( I don't know about the women but they too are addicted to this). This virus that has plagued me and me comrades is a simple yet time stretching game of CRICKET (pronounced kri-ket).

Its said that whenever a child is born in the country he either learns how to wield the willow or how to hurl the round projectile (Read: BALL) in meandering paths even before learning how to carry his weight on his legs. Cricket is not just a game or a pastime out here but more of a religion and the players no less than the residing deities. Having yielded matchwinners for decades and been crowned world champions once, there is no denying that this craze is rooted on valid judgement and not mere hype. But there is always a thin line between adoration and worship. When you adore someone, you consider him human and fallible and his failures appear as mere stepping stones towards success. But when you worship someone, he becomes comparable to GOD and is certainly infallible. He can never lose and certainly never err. His mistakes, however feeble they may be, dethrone him not only from the Godly status he commands but also the human position he would have otherwise occupied. They now become sinners who should be driven away from the comforts of the middle earth into the fiery oblivions of the underworld. Every individual in my country considers him to be a better player/captain/coach/selector then the actual people who are entrusted with the job. One defeat and the whole country rises in a unison to criticise the eleven and find flaws in all aspects be it batting, bowling, fielding, toss, pitch, weather, team selection and other such blah blahs. With the very next victory, the country roars behind them and hails these fallen heroes as "Dharti Ke Laal" and the media as well as marketing brands pitch behind those whom they had shunned yesterday. Crushed between all these turmoil are the poor cricketers who now are confused as to what they are doing currently and what they are expected to do. Add to this, they have to endorse brands, make public appearances to glorify themselves, get into scandals so that people don't forget them and make as much money on the way. The only thing they forget about is that they have a role to play and a game to immortalise which they are only reminded of during those talked about defeats.

Yesterday we lost again. But this defeat meant that I had no more reason to watch the remaining one month of world cup which had just started a couple of weeks back. We were subdued by two nations belonging to the sub-continent whose combined size, population, GDP, cricketing history gets dwarfed in front of ours. Yet we lost. We had more superstars, more statistical advantage, more odds in our favour, yet we lost. Yesterday was probably the last time I saw my idol (see I told you we idolise our cricketers :) ) playing in a world cup. I have turned dumb ears towards all the ongoing disaster analysis programmes because these have been included only to channelise the TRPs that have been hit by this failure. I needed to do something about this. So I decided to do something. I started blamestorming. From now on anything bad that happens in my life will be blamed on the defeat of my cricket team. So I slept late. Blame it on the men in blue. I woke up late and disgruntled. Blame it on the men in blue. I missed my breakfast. Blame it on the men in blue. My brother woke up with a slight fever. Blame it on the men in blue. My lappy was crawling the web while what it normally does is jogging. Blame it on the men in blue. I didn't like the lunch I had. Blame it on the men in blue. I couldn't watch the TV because it had all the rubbish things going on. Blame it on the men in blue. I just remembered that I had bunked a bit of my office work the previous week. Blame it on the men in blue. And as I am about to finish this piece of worthless script, I am thinking as to why I wasted my time writing about this? Blame it on the men in blue. As an upcoming actor exclaims in a recent to-be-released flick " Woh Kehte hain naa, Jo hota hai Achchey ke liye hota hai" (meaning: Whatever happens, does for a good reason), I say " Galat Kehte hain" (meaning: Wrong). In the meantime, lets keep blaming everything on the men in blue.

P.S.: This post was actually written on the 24th of March, day after India lost to Sri Lanka and hence were ousted from the cricket world cup '07. The post gets its name from the 1984 romantic comedy Blame it On Rio starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dreamcatcher - Blast from the Past

This is a poet's rendition to the enigmatic thoughts of a never-say-die philosopher.

Dreams give me wings to fly,
Opportunities so that I can try,
Tears so that I can cry,
Make me do things from which I would normally shy.

They come to me even when I am not asleep,
And have around me an enigmatic grip,
No matter whenever in my life do come obstacles steep,
My dreams help me cross them with a giant leap.

Lurking somewhere in my dreams is a face,
which now and then surfaces with unmatched grace,
So it can all my sorrows embrace,
And before I realise it leaves without a trace.

This world looks so different in my dream,
No chaos, no issue so grim,
Only happiness filled upto the brim,
And good will flowing down the stream.

My dreams give me a reason to live,
The strength so that amidst living corpses I survive,
In realising them I believe,
And making a difference in this world before I leave.

When my dreams turn into reality,
forgotten will be all the emotional hostility,
that were once inflicted by the world's ignominity,
Of my vision and capability.

I am a dreamcatcher,
clinging to my dreams which are so volatile by nature,
Hence every moment of these I got to treasure,
Since they possess a value no metrics can ever measure.

Away from all the worldly strives,
In my dreams I have lived many a lives,
And therein, still, all my passion thrives,
where live my lonely vibes.

P.S. : This post has been named after Lawrence Kasdan's sci-fi movie based on a novel of the same name by Stephen King, starring Morgan Freeman, Tom Sizemore, Thomas Jane and Jason Lee. Dreamcatcher is a Native American object based on a willow hoop, on which is woven a loose net or web and is then decorated with personal and sacred items such as feathers and beads. As legend has it, "Good dreams pass through the center hole to the sleeping person. The bad dreams are trapped in the web, where they perish in the light of dawn." (courtesy: Wikipedia). For those who came in late, this piece of poetry is actually an expansion of the quadruplet, I had injected in the beginning of an article of the same name , long back...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Requiem for a Dream

"Is life just one never ending 12-12 job ?"

Pardon me for being away from updating this page for a long time. In fact the major reason for my absence was that I am now a salaried person trading my time and skills in lieu of seeing a five digit figure flash on my bank account on the first of every month. When I had started penning down my thoughts on this page, I had been a hot blooded energetic and enthusiastic individual living his dream day by day. And here I am today sitting in this corporate jungle inside an AC room in front of my DELL LCD screen amidst a crowd of software zombies whose lives are ruled by the smell of some green notes, a professional status that makes them counted in the society and an urge to make some practical usage of their national identity and foreign offerings (read: passports and H1B visas) to venture into a land, more than 10 hours behind us. Much of that energy and enthusiasm is missing now, as I surge ahead to synchronise myself with this new found way of life. Yet I am still moving on in the pursuit of my dreams. Meanwhile, my self realisations keep flooding me with questions that are beyond the reasoning of my intellect.

Remember the time we were growing up as kids... Our dreams and needs were pretty childish and a blend of both materialism and innocence. As kids, a chocolate bar, a simple toygun or toycar or even an ice cream was a million dollar bribe for us. We always sought temporary bliss and permanent happiness was an obsolete ideology for us. As times changed and we grew older, we lost our innocence but our materialism and the lust for temporary bliss refused to wither away. If I am not wrong, during our college days when our spirits were high and morale boosted up, we all wanted to grow up faster to get closer to attaining the dreams that had resided in us for long. As we grew older, our attention got diverted towards meeting our daily requirements, earning money, raising a family, paying heed to family responsibilities and as a whole just surviving life and our dreams got slowly and slowly erroded from our memories. And finally as we were rendered immobile by the shroud of senescence, those dreams returned to torment us for betraying them and pushed us into a quicksand of ruefulness. No matter however happy we are, unaccomplished dreams are unforgiving and hurt us the most, decimating our hard-earned happiness.

Coming back to the topic of concern, we belong to that faction of society which believes greatly in legacy and ancestry. There is nothing wrong in it and I am in fact proud of it because it keeps us motivated to perform better and reminds us of our responsibilities towards the society. But sometimes we take it a bit further. The society frames us in such a manner that it becomes mandatory for us to follow the populist norms. Our society is built around such a framework that allows an individual to either tread the path of his antecedents or the way of the common social being. A farmer's descendent is expected to plough his land, a businessman's descendent is expected to carry on with his business, the son of a priest is expected to become a priest while the child of an entertainer/busker is forced to become one like him. I have witnessed umpteen such instances in print, media, gossips and person. Take the case of a teleplay, that I had seen when I was pretty small but could never forget, about a guy who wanted to be a painter but for his father's adamant persuasions ends up as a money minded doctor doing things he had always hated. When he becomes a father himself and his son tops the medical exams but opts out to become a painter, he decides not to let his son bury his dreams like he did and gives him the much needed freedom of choice. In fact if we start looking for instances, be it in movies like Ardhasatya or real life cases from our neighbourhood, there has been a constant trend of others' ideologies prevailing over an individual's. Now check this out... There has always been a surge for availing populist jobs in the country. In the pre 80s, it was lectureshp while in the period starting from the 80s till the mid 90s government jobs became the cynosure of all eyes. And then came the software boom and everyone wanted to relate to it. The prize catch of our times has been a management degree that would make a prince out of any elligible fortunate post graduate. Quite logically, family pressure, peer pressure and social pressure make you fall prey to these glossy obligations because of the fat paychecks associated. Then you start asking everyone what is more important the huge flashy paychecks or living your dream everyday ? No body answers, may be because no body wants to confront reality. I have seen hugely talented people with their hearts in arts, sports, science and other such wide and diverse but uncommon genres, ending up as a normal engineer with a software firm or a doctor with a reputed nursing home or a government official just because they were also good at it and not because they were interested in it. Why is it that some things like quizzing, singing, acting, sports, writing, gaming etc. are appreciated as hobbies but that is the limit upto which they are tolerated? Why is it that people can pay to watch movies, sports games, plays and dance programmes, read books but not let their kids be actors, players, dancers, singers or writers? Why is "out of the box thinking" not appreciated? When will people abandon materialism for satisfaction? All this inspite of the fact that the persons who have made a mark in this world and have brought about radical changes have all been different from the common lot and had followed their dreams.

Times are changing though with more parents allowing their children unearth their vast repository of talents and invest in what we better know as extra-curricular activities. This is not because of letting their children follow their dreams but more because of the big bucks associated with these. Well if things continue the same way, dreams will get lost somewhere in old hindi movie song lyrics and english poetry and life will get more and more mechanical. I have my dreams and am too young to say whether I can achieve them or not. What I can wish for is that the zeal that I have now never ceases and I don't bow down to the pressure of my society, abandoning the very purpose of my existence - my dreams. Because when you lose the purpose of survival, life becomes just another never ending 12-12 job.

P.S. : The title for this article has been taken from a 1978 novel by Hubert Selby, Jr. adapted into a 2000 film of the same name, directed by Darren Aronofsky, and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Tale of Meetings and Partings

"Destiny decides when we meet and situations decide when we part but it is we who decide whether we meet again."

I have been caged in this human form for the past 21 years and what I have really understood is that the very basic thing that separates us from machines and other non living entities is our unique ability to feel and perceive things or what can rather be termed as emotions. As I write this piece, I get reverberating visions of my past or specifically the last quartet that I spent at a place far away from my family and yet amidst another one. These years have taught me lessons so invaluable that I seem to have not only graduated from my college but also from life's classrooms. I still remember when it all started... A tall and lanky guy with big dreams in his eyes and even bigger frustrations in his heart, standing and predicting where the road ahead might lead him. Someone who had lived his entire life under the protective cover of his family, being suddenly exposed to a world where he was on his own. Sounds very much like a teen movie but there I stood in my real life, no strings attached, stepping into my new home - my hostel. Although at the beginning it sounded pretty scary, as time progressed my emotions got the better of me. Not only I had to ward off the ghosts of my past inching me towards a pessimal existence, but also get acquainted with an alien environment and creatures who seemed like me but lived in a world different from mine. Initially it seemed unlikely that the two worlds would ever meet. But the foundation of our liaison was built by time itself. With passage of time, I found myself recovering from those shocks of the past and nurturing good ties with some survivors of those rubbles. And it wasn't long before I figured out that the world outside and its creatures weren't much different from me. They too had their own stories and own regrets. They too were trying to come to terms with life as was I. The occasion necessitated for a camaraderie of sorts and what evolved was a everlasting bondage. I made friends with many and for the first time tried to see life from a direction I had never seen before. That era of friendship helped me endure pain and surge ahead in the eternal race for survival. I started understanding myself better and looking at the beautiful things in life. I figured out the essence of love, the joys of being together, the intricacies of relationships, the grandeur of responsibilities, the satisfaction of helping others, the sanctity in comforting others, the elegance of setting an example for others, the pride in assuming what I was and the beauty of life itself. Its been years since I had last cried but when ever a friend hid his face in my shoulders and sobbed irrepressibly, I felt the pain he was through. I have laughed heartily throughout my life but it can in no way be compared to the laugh I have shared with my friends. Those moments clearly defined the value we had for each other. We stood through those pedestals of time like a band of brothers enjoying together, fighting together, dining together and more importantly surviving the mean world together.

And in a spark the celebration was over. The four years had ended. Our foster home required us no more. We were now supposed to be knocking the doors of the real bad world. We were required to separate from each other and move onto a new frontier in life. We were now on our own relishing control over whatever seemed to be ours. No doubt there lay a hint of satisfaction in all our hearts. We were now the masters of our own life edging towards earning the very first nibbles of our own salary and living the life we had all dreamt of. These were the sole remunerations we were getting at the onset of this farewell. Time might erode those lovely moments we shared but our bondage is here to stay for ever. Those jokes, those pranks, those grudges, those debts, those unspoken words will forever remain imprinted in our memories. May be a couple of years down the lane, we all might be striving harder to make a name for ourselves and in the process might be pitted against one another forgetting those days of thunder we shared. Who knows someday we might even become the reason for the downfall of our own friends with greed, jealousy and contempt playing spoilsport. But even then we will keep telling our future generations of how we met people and what great things have our associations with those people borne. We meet so many people in our life and every time we part we feel sorry about the occasion and then just forget about them. It baffles me why this parting has left so many uncorrupted memories. May be this wasn't just another case of meeting and parting.

As my oculuses are getting flooded in this torrential surge of emotions, I think I have conveyed enough through my words. It was destiny which decided where to send me four years back and it was my graduating out that decided I part from my companions. It is now up to me to decide whether I can meet those wonderful comrades of mine again, for the world is too small and there are too many people in it. So who knows when I might bump into one of those distinguishable gentlemen/ladies. Till then where ever I am, I would forever raise a toast to all you wonderful creatures and all those treasured moments, we shared, for making me what I am worth today.

P.S. : Adhering to my style, the title for this post has been inspired from a Oscar nominated short film Tales of Meeting and Parting.