Saturday, July 25, 2009

Koi Luck?

Tamaang: Tu peechhe nahin haT sakta, Major.

Major Jabbar: Dushman ka border ho ya diya hua zabaan, Hindustani sipaahi kabhi peechhe nahin haTta hain.
(Pause)
Koi shaque?

And after a very long time, I heard a ripple of applause spread across a multiplex hall. Was it because the Major's lines were unabashedly filmy? Or was it because the Major was played by a gentleman called Mithun Chakraborty?

I think its the latter. Koi shaque?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hero

Recently, I made a quiz on myself.
This is not as narcissistic as it just sounded because Facebook allows you to do these silly things very easily and on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I created a quiz - "How Well Do You Know Diptakirti Chaudhuri?" My wife got a creditable 90% but my sister was the only one who maxed it. She even left a comment at the end - "Phoolon ka taaron ka..."
The one question my wife got wrong was about a hero of mine, whom I have never talked about in the last six-odd years of my married life and that's why my wife never knew about him. On the other hand, the man was an obsession during most of my childhood and that's why my sister doesn't remember anybody else.

The real answer to the question - "Who is my favourite batsman?" - is not the belligerent Behala boy but an even more belligerent Antiguan - Sir Issac Vivian Alexander Richards.
And I write the 'Sir' reverentially, not alluding to his Antiguan knighthood but the joy he gave to me during at least a decade of watching him play cricket.

I don't remember the runs he scored (8000+) or his batting average (must be 50+) or the number of centuries (low 20s). Yet I remember my mixed emotions of horror and exhilaration as he pounded hapless Indian bowlers to mountains of runs. In those days, there was no chance of watching any country play cricket unless they played India.
The first time I remember seeing him bat was at the 1983 World Cup Final - when he scored some 30-odd in what seemed like no time. And after he got out (a dismissal I don't recall seeing), I felt a twinge of regret.
However, this regret went away totally when West Indies came for the 1984 tour of India, a stated 'revenge' tour.
And boy, how he scored!
The number of runs just paled into insignificance as he sauntered around the pitch, chewing gum, adjusting his county cap (never a helmet - mind you!), checking the field from the corner of his eye and smiling imperiously once in a while.

That 1984 series was the first full season of cricket I followed religiously and from then onwards, I was just floored by the man they called King.
As a 10-year old, I felt that if you had to bat, you had to do it like Viv. Hell, if you had to live, you had to do it like Viv.
Not the dour defence of Gavaskar, not the studied technique of Vengsarkar, not Gower, not Border, not Greenidge, not Lloyd, not even Kapil's flashes of flamboyanc. Nobody did it like Viv. Two World Cup Finals - he imprinted his style on. The third was cut short by Kapil's Catch of the Century. He scored 189 single-handedly in an ODI at a time when 220 was a reasonably safe score. He never wore a helmet in his fifteen-year long international career.
And when he was in Calcutta for a Test, he arrived at Saturday Club for the New Year's Eve party in a blazer and was denied entry. He was accompanied by Neena Gupta.
I could only worship him for all these.

Recently, I read somewhere that Shivnaraine Chanderpaul has approximately the same average and number of centuries from a similar number of Tests as Richards. With no offence to Chanderpaul, I was rather shattered by this piece of statistic. I mean, how can you even name him and Viv in the same paragraph?
How can you?
But then, I learnt that a young colleague was named Issac by his father in deference to Viv's first name and wondered that it is indeed a tribute to a man that a cricket-lover in a foreign country names his son after him.
Quite befitting.
After all, how many West Indians would have named their sons Sachin?

This is the thing about childhood heroes. You never grow out of them.
All through the IIFA awards, I was getting quite pissed off with the rather blatant promotion of the Bachchan family - and maybe even with Amitabh.
Then Boman Irani passed on the mike to him and he rattled out the way-too-often-heard lines from Kabhi Kabhie.
And I wanted him to go on. And on. And on...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Oddballs Bounce Back

After immensely satisfying (for myself!) Parts One and Two, here is the third - but probably not the final - part of Oddball musical compositions, in which I have been tempted to add a Bengali track as well.

Aao Twist Karein (Bhoot Bangla)
If I tell you the name of a film is Bhoot Bangla, won't you want to avoid it (thinking its a Ramsay Brothers film)? Would you be interested if I told you it stars Mehmood in a lead role? No? How about the fact that it is one of RD Burman's earliest compositions? Still no?
Okay then, listen to this song (especially the last one minute, which has some really cool moves). And jive!
My father tells me that when Manna Dey used to sing this song at Pujo pandals in 1960s Calcutta, teenagers used to get up on rickety folding chairs and dance. Whether it was the Twist, he isn't too sure of!

O meri maina (Pyaar Kiye Jaa)
While on Mehmood, you can hardly miss out on Pyaar Kiye Jaa, usually famous for a fantastic monologue in which he describes a horror film scene to entice Om Prakash into producing his film. But the film also had this lovely (?) number filmed on him and Mumtaz. They dance for the benefit of an unbelievably cherubic-looking Shashi Kapoor and Kishore Kumar (who probably had to be tied to the sofa to refrain from joining in) - in an apparently melodious number filled with words like ai ai o, gutar goo, mombatti et al.

Shing nei tobu naam tar shingho (Lukochuri)
In the previous posts, there were several comments pointing out C.A.T. Cat maney billi probably deserves an entry into the Oddballs list. It does - but somehow I don't find that song very anarchic enough. And I wondered why?
I mean, Kishore Kumar and Nutan screaming the alphabet primer to each other, asking meanings of three-letter words (not four-letter ones!) should be something I must be in love with. But it isn't. And it is because of this song.
It is a Bengali song but its charm is certainly not restricted to natives of the language. Though it is indeed a bit of a dampener if you are unable to figure out the meaning of the line which is being sung when KK points towards a picture of Madhubala on screen (E barir Khnedi chai bhuru knuchkey...)

Guncha (Main, Meri Patni aur Woh)
A very under-rated, under-exposed film about a not-so-handsome, not-at-all-tall man's (Rajpal Yadav) insecurities about his beautiful wife (Rituparna Sengupta) and handsome neighbour (Kay Kay Menon) had this wonderful ballad.
The film had Kay Kay Menon singing the song but I have chosen to upload the music video, which is wonderfully shot (and had better audio). A supposedly normal ghazal becomes a lovely oddball when sung sans music and by Mohit Chauhan.
The film had another wonderful - and probably better - song. But that doesn't qualify as an oddball.

Maro gaam katha parey (Manthan)
I still remember my sense of bewilderment when I saw the first titles of Manthan - "500,000 Farmers of Gujarat Present" - which was because the film was funded by small contributions (Rs 5 each) from the members of the Gujarat Milk Marketing Cooperative.
And as the very short titles go past, I was even more surprised by the folk song that played - and several times during the film. Preeti Sagar - of nursery rhyme fame - performed this tremendously energetic number and the orchestration sounded exactly as if it was being played under a tree in rural Gujarat.

Bade achhey lagtey hain (Balika Badhu)
Why is this an Oddball? Huh huh? Why? Because this was one of Amit Kumar's earliest songs? Or is it because of the cute "...aur?" which precedes every "... aur tum"? Could it be because of the wondrous bhatiyali interlude in between the song? Or is it generally because I like the song?
The answer is (D) All of the above, I guess.
To pacify all purists, I will throw in a piece of trivia - the voices of the adult Amal and his badhu were done by Amitabh Bachchan and Zeenat Aman respectively. Happy now?

Sigh... this Oddballs list is slowly degenerating into a sly favourites list from YouTube! But what to do?