Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Main to King Kong ho gaya

Tumse mila to chakkar chala to, ping pong ding dong ho gaya
Ladki pati to aisa laga jaise, main to king kong ho gaya

Exasperated at work, I found a song with lyrics to match my current mood. What are these guys thinking when they write this kind of crap?

Peter Jackson, are you listening? Perfect song to have King Kong serenade Naomi Watts!! I don't see this song making it to my 2005 list. Do you?

For those who want to hear the song for themselves, here are the details

Song : Shaadi Kar Ke Phas Gaya
Movie Name : Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Music Director : Sameer
Lyrics : Manohar Iyer

Friday, January 21, 2005

Awaiting life, or a life in waiting?

Kisi mausam ka jhaunka tha
Jo is deewar par latki hui tasveer tirchhi kar gaya hai
Gaye sawaan mein ye deewarein yoon seeli nahin thi
Na jaane is dafa kyun inmein seelan aa gayi hai
Darare pad gaye hai aur seelan is tarha baithti hai
Jaise khushk rukhsaaron pe geele aansu chalte hain

Ye baarish gungunaati thi isi chatt ki munderon par
Yeh ghar ki khidkiyon ke kaanch par ungli se likh jaati thi sandese
Dekhti rahti hai baithi hui ab, band roshandano ke peeche se

Dopaharen aisi lagti hai, bina mohron ke khaali khaane rakhe hain
Na koi khelne waala hai baazi aur na koi chaal chalta hai

Na din hota hai ab na raat hoti hai, sabhi kuch ruk gaya hai
Woh kya mausam ka jhauka tha, Jo is deewar par latki hui tasveer tirchhi kar gaya hai?

(seeli= moist,khushk=dry, rukhsar=cheek, munder=parapet , roshandan=lamp, mohra=pawn)
The brilliance of Gulzar at play from the movie Raincoat as he describes a life in waiting, halted at its footsteps, frozen in time, waiting for someone to urge time to move forward.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Ek Mocha aur de do thakur!

The storm in a coffee cup. Mornings don't start without it, evenings seem incomplete without one. 330 calories of it at times (that's what I read about the white chocolate mocha that Starbucks makes) will even fill my stomach for a couple of hours. My poison, my nectar.

Ok, that's overdramatic, but I do love my coffee. I was brought up with a family of coffee-holics. My Dad cut down to single digit cups of coffee a day after great effort, so I guess there was never going to be much restriction on me. I have gone from 2 cups to 5 cups and back to 2 cups a day. Oh, how I remember cup and saucer rather than fancy mugs, those 'cuttings' at the lorries, the plastic cups in which they served it in trains!!

Of course, before I left for the US, the 'cafe culture' was alien and you'd be treated to coffee or tea at people's places or spend three rupees at a stall. Spending 50 rupees in a place to chill out while sipping coffee laden with cream and having exotic tastes was beyond us at the time. I didn't know any South Indians too at the time, so filter coffee was a rare even t for me. Instant coffee was the way to go. Even today, I religiously go to the Indian store to get my favorite Nescafe'. Now that I am settled in the coffee capital of the world, the choice outside are varied. There's the usual Starbucks, Tully's, Seattle's best coffee etc. There is much more than the usual coffee too. There's mocha, latte and the like. Hmm, the many choices life gives us!

I used to joke at Texas A&M that 'Coffee and Rafi' are the best combination one can hope for during the evenings. Some things don't change. Even as I am typing this, I am listening to Jagjit croon 'Apne Haathon ki Lakeeron Mein' and sipping my third cup for the day. Anyway, kaafi ho gaya!

Its past 5 pm on Friday and I have almost cleared my plate to leave a mostly work-free weekend. Time to go fly some kites this Sankraant. Whom am I kidding? The FAA might actually have regulations for that too.

I have seen some people put up a section on the blog mentioning what they are reading and/or watching. I think it is a cool exercise and I shall post the info periodically. I haven't explored putting it in the sidebar yet, so am just appending it to the end of this post. In fact, if you ever have suggestions on movies/books etc. to offer, please feel free to do so.

Currently reading
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky
The Poet by Michael Connelly
How Would You Move Mount Fuji? : Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle -- How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers -- by William Poundstone

Watched recently
Kashmir Ki Kali
21 grams
The sum of all fears

Friday, January 07, 2005

Hindi Film Songs: Best of 2004

I listen to a lot of music. Period. I listen extensively to Hindi film music and also try to follow the non-filmi albums (anything other than remixed). Since the songs have been become readily available online for the past few years, I had gotten into the habit of giving each album a decent ear before dismissing it. I have become a little impatient in that sense nowadays, and have become selective. I like also end up listening to the songs I like over and over again. I love to memorize the lyrics of songs before going to see a movie in a theatre and then sing along at the top of my voice (you should hear me sing to know why that is such a passion for me). Of course, my biggest passion will always remain old Hindi film music, and my music collection and choices reflect that. If only I could remember other things in life as well as I can memorize lyrics!!

One thing that is missing from the exercise is making a ‘Best Of’ collection. I want to try it this one time. I generally find it very difficult to condense a list from such a wide selection. I don't think I can honestly do it for the old songs, but it should be possible with new songs at least. Of course, I take a lot of pride in unearthing hidden diamonds, songs that most people wouldn’t have heard off but which I like immensely. Here’s a list of my favorite Hindi film songs of 2004. I hope you get a chance to listen to the ones you haven’t already. Let me know if you feel there are some that you liked and aren’t on this list. If I like this exercise, I might do it on a regular basis. The songs aren’t listed in any particular order. Some of the movies will be releasing next year (Kisna, Shabd etc) but since their songs have released this year, I am including them.

Song : Tujh sang baandhi dor
Movie : Dev
Music Director : Aadesh Shrivastava
Singer : Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Saawan Kumar
Why is it on the list? : Sonu Nigam proved his versatility with this song

Song : Hum Tum
Movie : Hum Tum
Music Director : Jatin Lalit
Singer : Alka Yagnik, Babul Supriyo
Lyricist: Prasoon Joshi
Why is it on the list? : Because I am a sucker for lilting melodies, but Kumar Sanu should have sung it instead of Babul Supriyo

Song : Kitni Baatein
Movie : Lakshya
Music Director : Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Singer : Hariharan, Sadhana Sargam
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Because it was placed so badly in the movie, I felt bad for it

Song : Jhin Mini Jhini
Movie : Maqbool
Music Director : Vishal Bhardwaj
Singer : Anuradha Sriram, Rakesh Pandit, Sadhana Sargam, Ustad Sultan Khan
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : Risque, pure, naughty, innocent: the song covers it all

Song : Yeh Rishta
Movie : Meenaxi : A Tale of 3 Cities
Music Director : A.R. Rehman
Singer : Reena Bharadwaj
Lyricist: Rahat Indori
Why is it on the list? : A first time singer discovered by Rehman in London. Terrific rendition.

Song : Saaki
Movie : Musafir
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : Sukhwinder Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan
Lyricist: Dev Kohli
Why is it on the list? : The song rocks

Song : Khul Ke Muskurale
Movie : Phir Milenge
Music Director : Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Singer : Bombay Jayshree
Lyricist: Prasoon Joshi
Why is it on the list? : Prasoon Joshi is the most impressive lyricist this year. Bombay Jayshree is selective in rendering Hindi film songs. She selects well.

Song : Bolo To
Movie : Shabd
Music Director : Vishal-Shekhar
Singer : Shreya Ghosal, Sonu Nigam, Sanjay Dutt
Lyricist: Irshad Hamil
Why is it on the list? : Even Sanjay Dutt's rendition of a few shers doesn't spoil the beauty of this song. Picture Ash in the song, I remind myself :-)

Song : Yun Hi Chala Chala
Movie : Swades
Music Director : A.R.Rehman
Singer : Hariharan, Kailash Kher, Udit Narayan
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : One for the road

Song : Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera
Movie : Swades
Music Director : A.R.Rehman
Singer : A.R.Rehman
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Lyrics do the trick, but I think the instrumental version is brilliant

Song : Tere Liye
Movie : Veer-Zaara
Music Director : Madan Mohan
Singer : Lata Mangeshkar, Roop Kumar Rathod
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Need I say anything. Second posthumous filmfare after Panchamda got one. The other songs 'Do Pal Ruka', the Qawwali etc. are equally good. Best album this year.

Song : Main Yahaan Hoon
Movie : Veer-Zaara
Music Director : Madan Mohan
Singer : Udit Narayan
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Song made-to-order for SRK.

Song : Dhoom Dhoom
Movie : Dhoom
Music Director : Pritam
Singer : Tata Young
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : I don't imagine Sameer wrote the English lyrics, but its ok. The song is here because the way Tata (its a Thai singer, and yes, her name is inspired by THE Tata surname) say 'Dhoom' in her Anglicized Hindi. Sunidhi rocks in the Hindi version too.

Song : Tum Abhi
Movie : Dobara
Music Director : Anu Malik
Singer : Alka Yagnik
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Perhaps the least heard off movie on the list. Anu can still compose melodies, though this isn't among his best.

Song : Maine Jisko Chaha
Movie : Fida
Music Director : Anu Malik
Singer : Alisha Chinai, Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Sameer
Why is it on the list? : What's a year without a typical Anu Malik song?

Song : Chilman Uthegi Nahin
Movie : Kisna
Music Director : Ismail Darbar
Singer : Alka Yagnik, Ayesha I, Darbar, Hariharan, Ismail Darbar, Kailash Kher, Rakesh Pandit, Shailja S
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : Three important things here. Comeback of the qawwali this year. Ismail Darbar doing well outside Bhansali's realm. Ghai is back with a bang

Song : Tumse Milke Dil Ka Jo Haal
Movie : Main Hoon Na
Music Director : Anu Malik
Singer : Aftab Sabri, Hashim Sabri, Sonu Nigam
Lyricist: Javed Akhtar
Why is it on the list? : As the DJ interjects in this song to inform us: "Wicked"

Song : Kaho Na Kaho
Movie : Murder
Music Director : Anu Malik
Singer : Amir Jamal
Lyricist: Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : I don't know what he sings in Arabic, but it sounds great

Song : Bheegey Hont Tere
Movie : Murder
Music Director : Anu Malik
Singer : Kunal Ganjawala
Lyricist: Sayeed Quadri
Why is it on the list? : R&B feel and lyrics not suited for kids and their grandparents alike. Believe it or not, this is one of the biggest hits of the year.

Song : Piya Tora Kaisa Abhiman
Movie : Raincoat
Music Director : Debojyoti Mishra
Singer : Hariharan
Lyricist: Gulzar
Why is it on the list? : Superb rendition by Hariharan. The other version by Shubha Mudgal is equally good, and is interspersed with poetry by the great Gulzar.

Song : Fanaa
Movie : Yuva
Music Director : A.R.Rehman
Singer : A.R.Rahman , Sunitha Sarathy, Tanvi
Lyricist: Mehboob
Why is it on the list? : Sympathy vote for Rehman-Ratnam. I was debating between Fanaa and Anjaana Anjaani (wicked vocals by Sunitha) and ultimately played safe

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Angelic Swades, Demonic Waves and one exciting novel

I picked up 'Angels and Demons' by Dan Brown over the weekend and breezed through it. I have read 'Da Vinci Code' before and the structure of the novels is exactly identical. However, DVC is sharper in its execution and more to the point. I think the author's biggest problem is to achieve a fitting denouement after having built up the suspense till then. DVC was a letdown for me in that sense. I was expecting more bravura from the author. In that respect, at least this novel fares a little better. The best part however is that this is a genre of books which reeks of erudition and is completely new in its subject matter. The mystique and aura of the places mentioned in his novels makes me want to visit Europe. I am definitely going to read his other works, 'Deception Point' and 'Digital Fortress'. I read somewhere that he is writing a sequel to DVC as well.

I had to wait till I returned from my trip to see 'Swades'. Unusually long wait to see an SRK movie. I did put 'Angelic Swades' in the title of this blog, but that was only for effect. The points listed below list out my disagreement.
1. Music is good, but it has nothing new to offer. Has a definite Lagaan hangover. I could also trace repeats from Bombay and a couple of his other movies. As much as I like Rehman, he has got to innovate more to earn more respect from me. His 'Dil Se' was path-breaking and the second best album of the 90s after '1942: A Love Story'. But I haven't heard anything of that caliber since.
2. The tone of the movie was patronizing to say the least. I am not sure they want to hear that in India. For the movie to work in USA and UK, you need discerning audiences. To expect that would be a joke
3. SRK acting well worked against him. People like different avatars of SRK, not SRK in different avatars. That said, I don't think even avid SRK-loathers would thumb him down for this movie :-)
4. Gayatri Joshi had pretty good confidence, but needs to control that perennial frown on her face. Still, not a bad debut against King Khan
5. I am happy that Ashutosh Gowarikar tried his hand at a different kind of a movie. No one else had anything to prove in this movie except him. Lagaan was always going to be a tough act to match, and I think he redeemed himself only partially. Let's see where he goes from here. I don't watching this movie again, but I'd watch Lagaan anyday. Maybe patronizing is tolerable when it comes from an resident Indian :-)

Lastly, the tsunami tragedy has brought out the worst in nations and the best in people. America first pledged $15 million, which they raised to $350 million after severe media pressure. Such insensitivity from the world's richest nation is appalling. On the other hand, individuals have been pouring money generously for the cause. Around me, the NRI community has rallied well and a lot of money is being gathered for the purpose. I have had several people at work (Americans, Canadians et al) come up to me to see if any of my loved ones have been affected. We are even having a cricket tournament on the 22nd of Jan (a one day affair, 6 a side, 6 overs a side) to raise funds. I guess witnessing human suffering in a natural disaster does get bring out the sympathetic side in people. If only they did the same for all the millions who die in places like Africa every year. Do they need to wait for a tsunami or an earthquake to get our attention?