Monthly Archives: July 2005

The Paploo Stud-Wannabe

Julie Julie Julie, tu ladki nahin maamooli

All those who cringed at the image that song brought into their heads, please accept my heartfelt sympathies. And all those who are blissfully unaware, and thus have the smiles on their faces intact, consider yourself blessed. This is a song from Aaja Meri Jaan (1993) starring the inimitable Cushion Kumar. Imagine a pincushion, for starters. Or better yet, a whoopee cushion. I considered starting this post singing O Kreeeshnaaa yewww aaa da greataste mewzeeshan aaaf theees worrulldd from Meera Ka Mohan (1992) but no amount of mistyping can do justice to Kumar Sanu’s fine accent. Damn, I should be audioblogging.

So why am I hell bent on ruining your happiness with songs like this? You see, I had a most disturbing realization thanks to my last post. Apparently more people have watched Geeta Mera Naam (2000) than Johny Mera Naam (1970). At least the levels of excitement in the audience, about the respective genres seem to suggest that. Three paragraphs I dedicated to Jewel Thief (1967) and mentioned Avinash Wadhawan in passing. And yet. Tsk tsk. The commentspace of the previous post stands a firm testimonial to the fact that it is people like us who are responsible for that fine specimen of manhood — the PSW — the Paploo Stud-Wannabe.

We may cringe at the mention of their names, vehemently deny knowledge of their existence, but mention Bahaar Aane Tak (1990) and we turn into a classroom of seven-year-olds, jumping up and down, excitedly recollecting Rupa Ganguly’s parandha. Why? What makes us remember these PSWs with their cuts on eyebrows, funny sideburns, 80mph hairstyles and their moments of fame? Why do we recollect Prithvi crooning dil jigar nazar kya hai, main to tere liye jaan bhi de doon to a bunch of shrieking girls on screen, when someone mentions Dil Ka Kya Kasoor (1992), although a sum total of 5.5 people went to the theatre to see this movie? (0.5 = fell asleep half-way) Why do we remember people that we’d ordinarily be glad to forget about? Why do we get nostalgic about a lot of things that we weren’t so tickled about the first time around?

The answer lies in the memories. A final evening spent with high-school friends before you all moved to separate towns. A movie you watched with someone special. A heroine that reminds you of that gal in college you had a crush on. A hot summer evening spent sipping Rasna and watching Chitrahaar with mom and dad, while the cooler with the khus perfume ran in the background. The time Jagjeevan Ram died and a week’s mourning was declared resulting in all shops being closed, and you watching the same movie twice daily, on six consecutive days. The oily samosas of Sangam movie hall. The magical escalators at Abhinav theatre. It’s the personal associations, the feeling of nostalgia .. that lets us view the Rajan Sippys and Sahil Chaddhas of the world with a soft-focus lens.

But whatever our excuses, we have all done it. For the sake of old crushes and new loves, for the sake of friends and special moments, or simply for the lack of choice, we’ve been there. Gone to the theatre, paid good money for tickets, and watched with rapt attention while shape-shifting snakes morphed into humans in tight salwar kameezes and transparent kurtas and sang songs in the voices of Anuradha Paudwal and Mohammed Aziz. The all-problem-causing rain song, no less. Innocent heroine singing. Villian sees the heroine, lusts after her, pulls a Shakti Kapoor on her and kills her, compelling her to come back in another janam to reunite with her hero. Hero in the meantime, turns back into reptile-of-choice to wreak havoc on mankind. The only way to stop his rampage is for the lovers to unite. And unite they do. But alas, it is too late. Three hours, seven Gulshan Kumar T-Series songs, forty seven violins in the background and one hundred eighty-four extras in colorful dupattas later, you have walked out of the theatre with a death wish. Unless of course the audience is me. Who eagerly scanned the local newspaper pages looking for the sequel to Laal Dupatta Malmal Ka (1988).

Jewel Thief

(Potential plot spoilers ahead)

I am becoming quite the Zee TV watcher these days. Perhaps it is the lack of anything else to see, the fact that I am a closet masochist, or simply that I miss good old desh and watching Zee makes me feel warm and fuzzy and oh-so-desi. Yeah, all that mush. The other night however, Zee couldn’t find their regular print of Love In Goa (1983), starring Anuradha Patel and Master Mayur. Yes, the same pimply-faced adolescent who often played Amitabh junior, most famously in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978). So they mended their ways, atoned for their sins, and blessed us with — Jewel Thief (1967).

Now before we proceed to babble, a word of caution. As some of you know, the movie has some awesome plot twists. So if you haven’t yet watched it and intend to, you may want to stop reading after this paragraph. How can someone have NOT watched Jewel Thief, you say? Here’s why. You see .. people make movies like Sholay (1975) and Golmaal (1979). You, me and Patel uncle have all heard of them and, very likely, seen them. But people also make movies like Sindoor Aur Bandook (1989) and Meera Ka Mohan (1992). After all, the Hemant Birjes and Avinash Wadhawans of the world also need to justify their existence. The producers of these movies also have kids who need food, clothes and pocket money for Diamond comics. <cue song — Chunnu padhta Daaymond kaamix, Munni padhti Daaymond kaamix, mazedaar ye Daaymond kaaamix, Daaymond kaaamix!> So, for the sake of those Diamond Kaamix distributors and their kids, these movies should also be seen. So one might, since time is a precious commodity, overlook a Jewel Thief or two for the sake of a Bomb Blast (1993) and one should be forgiven for it. Thankoo.

The movie begins in style — A mannequin adorned with jewellery. An unknown man passes by. As he moves away, the mannequin’s neck is bare. Music builds up to a crescendo with an evil laugh permeating the background! And there onwards begins a thrilling ride. Who is the jewel thief? Is it Vinay (Dev), the commissioner’s son and a jewellery store employee? Or his look-alike Amar? As Vinay tries to find Amar and prove his innocence he finds himself falling in love with Shalini (Vyjayantimala), who says she is Amar’s fiancee. As he searches for his clone, the boss’s daughter Anjali (Tanuja), takes a liking for him, while Shalini’s brother (Ashok Kumar) doubts his every move, leaving one wondering if Vinay is taking everyone, including the audience, for a ride. The climax, set in Gangtok, culminates in the jewel thief’s grandest heist of all — the king’s jewels. The stage is set for a thrilling finish, with an elaborate song and dance number in ‘honton pe aisi baat‘.

Jewel Thief remains one of my all-time favorites from Bollywood, a masala potpourri of sorts. Crime caper plus film-noir plus musical from a master storyteller — Vijay Anand. A man, who along with Guru Dutt (Baazi (1951), Jaal (1952)) and Raj Khosla (CID (1956), Bambai Ka Babu (1960)) gave Dev some of his most memorable and atypical roles. The man’s output was varied yet consistent — be it his directorial debut, the road film Nau Do Gyarah (1957), a romantic Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), a philosophical Guide (1965), a slick thrilling Teesri Manzil (1966), or a masala mix like Johny Mera Naam (1970) — each movie is a complete entertainer, with excellent music to boot.

Which comes to another of his traits — song picturizations. Think aaj phir jeene ke tamanna hai and you’ll see Waheeda and Dev amidst bales of hay in the back of a truck. Sing pal bhar ke liye koi humein pyaar kar le and you’ll think of Dev romancing Hema through an unending series of windows. Think vaada to nibhaaya, O mere raaja and you’ll remember Dev and Hema pretending to romance as they dupe the cops. Listen to dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar and you’ll flashback to Dev and Nutan inside of the Qutub Minar. Or hum maine kasam li and you’ll think of Dev and Mumtaz sharing a bicycle. Each song memorable, but the scene on the screen just as unforgettable. That’s Vijay Anand for you!

So here I am sitting with my packet of Marie biscuits, watching Jewel Thief. Two of mankind’s great creations. *chomp chomp* The doll-like Tanuja is singing raat akeli hai to Dev Anand in Asha Bhosle’s heavenly voice. And suddenly, I have this major hankering for some nice adrak chai. So we have to pause for a short commercial break. When we return, we shall dissect the scene on the screen. And since no amount of talk about Jewel Thief is complete without gushing effusively about its soundtrack, we’ll do some of that as well.

Did I mention that I love to talk about movies?

ps .. Peoples, pliss to be patient. Part two of this post is coming soon to a blog near you. Songs and their picturizations will be discussed. And Tanuja. And her seduction routine. And The Return of Jewel Thief. And anything else your little heart desireth.

Photoblog : Red, White & Boom!

Red White & Blue
Red, White & Blue
4th of July fireworks
Boston, Massachusetts
Boom!
Boom!
4th of July fireworks (over the Charles river and downtown)
Boston, Massachusetts

Methinks I have stirred enough hornets nests in the last few posts. Yes, I did ponder on the eternal ‘to bee or not to bee‘ question for a while before doing my keeda. So this time, I thought I’d stay mum. But they say a picture can be worth a thousand words, so I’m probably digging myself into a deeper hole here.

On that note, here’s a math-puzzle I was asking my sister the other day — If a picture is worth a thousand words, and Helen of Troy had a face that launched a thousand ships, what would the ship to word ratio be in a photo of Helen? Very straightforward answer. But strangely enough, my sweet sister threatened me with bodily harm instead. Wonder why?

Anyhoo, I’ve wanted to try my hand at fireworks photos for the longest time. And while these didn’t exactly turn out like I expected them to, I’m still fairly pleased. Has that whole happy joyous celebration feel to it, I think. A fleeting burst of energy and exuberance, captured forever!

Hope you all like this special double edition!

A sorry state of affairs

Okay I promise. This is the last time I will mention Shilpa Shetty and blogging in the same post. Three posts in a row is a bit too much even for me. But as Mark Twain says — Better a broken promise than none at all.

So I wrote a post about giving and forming impressions in the blog world, based on Sharanya’s interesting analysis. Yes we are back to interesting. Of course, the wise-ass in me cannot resist looking for humor in every situation, so I turned it into this elaborate whoop-de-doo about different responses and the potential impressions they give.

In hindsight (no it doesn’t mean I was checking out someone’s ass), I realize this may have given Sharanya the impression that I am offended ‘cos she has apologized. Now apologies are something I take very seriously, so I feel the need to clarify some things from my end. I have already done so in a comment response, but for the sake of all those readers who avoid my commentspace like I avoid Sumeet Saigal movies, here is a repost of what I said, with some minor edits —

This is what I was hoping would not happen. Please don’t apologize. You see, I am easily guilted, so if you apologize, then I’ll feel guilty for writing this post and then I’ll apologize and then it gets messy with a whole load of sorries about something nobody should be sorry about.

As I said before — I was not offended in the least. Firstly, you didn’t say anything offensive. You said nice things about me, regardless of whether I agree with you or not. Secondly you said them on your blog, which is your space so you shouldn’t apologize for it. Thirdly, being judgemental is something we all do, so if we started apologizing for that, we’d all be one very sorry bunch. Fourthly, I don’t think you were being judgemental, you were simply stating an impression. Lastly, if my ‘meant to be tongue-in-cheek‘ post in any way offended you in turn, I apologize. I wasn’t trying to mock you or make fun of you. Your post made me think about the ease of forming impressions in the blog world, and so I wrote. The Shilpa Shetty part, of course, was what I call a ‘necessary evil‘.

You know, I was thinking. That courtroom scene I talked about in my earlier post in which I was the hapless heroine? On second thoughts, I think I’d be better off cast as the defense lawyer. Wot say?

Eeny meeny miney moe

When people ask me why I don’t comment on their blogs more frequently, I usually claim to be terribly busy. What would the world of excuses be without the phrases work pressures and deadlines, na? But the truth of the matter is, I am one very jobless person. So when I’m not harassing someone or thinking of a new PJ, I check out the blogs of the nice people who have left recent comments on my blog. And thus I stumbled upon a blog about Women Bloggers by Sharanya. She writes about three female bloggers (eM, Primalsoup and moi) and does a personality analysis of us based on our blogs, giving full credit to her wet jeans for this brilliant dissection. Seriously, you should head over to her blog and read about it yourself. Here’s a relevant excerpt —

If the Blog personality of Walk in the Clouds is a reflection of who she is, then I would guess that Megha is a very politically correct person, is a bit of an enigma, is friendly with all but has only very few friends, has a sense of righteousness, is a Hindi film junkie (okay that is not personality cue, but little bit of cheating is allowed!), is I think a Guy’s girl (the kind of girl whom men can see as a platonic friend, in case you are wondering; and who probably makes women insecure) she is a loyal friend, will be a good confidante, is very independent, and is much calm.

Hee hee! Calm, she says. If only she knew. Of course, I am most flattered to be featured along with two blogs that I like to read. Total road-roller ran over me types flattered. But on a more serious note, I am happy that she enjoyed what I wrote and wasted time analyzing it so whatever I say in reaction to it are just some random observations. Please to not mind, Sharanya.

So I find myself facing a bit of a conundrum here. <cue song — kya karen kya na karen ye kaisi mushkil hai> The way I see it, I have the following options —

  1. I could commend her on her keen sense of perception and stellar analytical skills and laud her on how she hit the nail on the head about me. Of course that would mean I am agreeing with her on her analysis, thereby admitting I am all those things she says I am, thus lessening the very enigma she paints me to be. In addition, I also look vain and narcissistic. Yes of course, I *am* vain, but I shouldn’t use her analysis to make that obvious. I have my blog for that already.
  2. I could show generous gobs of modesty and coyly giggle, wave my hand articulately in mid-air and go ‘Me? *blush* Awww, no no .. you are too kind ..‘ and resort to other such humbug. This of course is most apparently pretentious and fake and thus will conflict with the sense of righteousness that she has so sweetly attributed to me. Plus I am an extra, and extras don’t giggle. Divas do that.
  3. I could take on a tone of indignation, demanding if she knows me in real life. I could ask her to show me links that indicate each of the personality traits she has credited me with and prove the accuracy of her analysis. Or I could flat out deny everything she says. Rant about how people are quick to stereotype you. But all this would give the impression of being unfriendly, which goes against her analysis.
  4. I could give her a righteous speech about how dangerous presumptions are. I could even throw in a ‘I have all my life been a prisoner of people’s presumptions .. I long to be free‘. It’ll sound rather fancy poetic types and make a good impression on her perhaps. Maybe the next time she writes my personality analysis she’ll add ‘articulate‘ and ‘free-spirited artist‘ to her list.
  5. I could graciously say thank you for reading through my archives. I could sum up her analysis of me as ‘fascinating‘. I find that word works better ‘cos people lately have wisened up to the fact that the word ‘interesting‘ translates to ‘I have nothing better to say‘. I could express a detached curiosity as to how she came to the conclusions she did, but not pursue the question too much. I could cleverly avoid agreeing or disagreeing with her, thus keeping the enigma intact. I could smile a Mona Lisa type smile and remain unaffected, deepening the mystery some more.

So I started to think — We easily form impressions of people based on just a few points of data we have about them. We do it all the time. I am just as guilty of it, so no higher moral ground here. But it is just as easy to give an impression as it is to form one. Especially so in the blog world. In each of the five examples, my reaction can lead to a different image of me. And by simply spending a few minutes tailoring the response I write, I can change the image that I form in people’s minds. At least my blog image. A reiteration of the truth in the Einstein quote at the top of this blog — a persistent illusion can indeed become a reality sometimes.

This also follows closely on the heels of what I was saying in my earlier post about blogging for an audience versus just blogging. A lot of what we write is reactive, consciously or subconsciously. Reminds me of the Mark Twain quote I read today — Sane and intelligent human beings are like all other human beings, and carefully, cautiously and diligently conceal their private real opinions from the world and give out fictitious ones in their stead for general consumption. Not to be left too far behind Twain in seeming wise, I leave with the following visual for you to ruminate over —

Worn down by the travails of life, the Hindi film heroine stands in the courtroom. She listens to the prosecutor telling the courtroom about the person she is. Cringing at the image he is painting of her .. it sounds alien. This is not her .. not the person she used to be. She listens and listens .. and when she can listen no more, she cries out — Nahiin, judge saahab, nahiin! Main aise pehle se nahiin thhi! Waqt aur haalaton ki zanzeeron ne mujhe aisa banne par majboor kiya! (Loose translation — No, judge dude, no. I was not like this before. The chains of time and circumstances have tied my hands and I alas, am no Houdini.) That heroine, cast in a role-of-a-lifetime, is of course, Shilpa Shetty. I know what you’re thinking, but nopes. Even Hindi film courtrooms have a dress code.