Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Flesh and Bone in Music

The idea for this post came to me from a colleagues music speakers. She began the morning by playing the big songs of 'Queen' and I said to myself, 'Wish I had seen the man and the band performinge live'.
Last one month has been good to the music lovers of Mumbai. We witnessed the classy 'One Tree Festival' by / with Johnnie Walker, followed by the grand 'Roger Waters' and the 'SOI' concerts last weekend (In fact, I heard myself answering 'How is life?' sort of question from a friend by saying 'Its happening in between musical weekends').
At the One Tree Festival, some kids hired by the organizers came to me with a form to know about the other musicians on my 'wish list' of live acts. The first and the only name that came to my mind in their (the kids) hurry to make me fill up the form was 'Van Morrison' (speaks about my move for the man and his music).
So,today's 'Queen' morning found myself making a 'wish list' of live acts and this is what it looks like. Some from the list is definitely going to go unfulfilled.

- Van Morrison (to hear Van the Man ....to be born again)
- Grateful Dead (Uncle John and his Band...alas!)
- Queen (they defined Grandness in every possible way...alas!)
- Bob Dylan (i hear that he is pretty bad in his live acts...but just to see the man in flesh and blood)
- James Brown (cant ever see him sing and move...alas!)
- Jimi Hendrix (biggest guitar acts ever...alas!...and even SRV ain't around)
- Bruce Springsteen (the original American dude)
- Dave Matthews Band (easily the most talented band around)
- U2 (cant miss them from this list...can i?)
- The Doors (for Mr Morrison's persona, antiques and my teenage days...alas!)

From the above list, I can only see a U2 and Springsteen happening in the near future....what do you guys think? And please share your list too.

Friday, February 23, 2007

When BLACK FRIDAY came to the theaters

Worth all the wait, worth all the hype and much more...thats how me and my friends found Anurag Kashyap's 'Black Friday'. The three of us, walked out of the theater at 1:10 am
(of a weekday) in the morning, stunned, shocked, happy, hypnotised and totally charged up to continue the movie in our conversations for the next one hour. For one of us, it was the second viewing.
Inspired by the likes of Gavras's Oscar winning 'Z' (1969) and Greengrass's 'Bloody Sunday' (2002), Anurag Kashyap, comes up with a chillingly stark and unbiased narrative of the '93 Bombay Blasts. The jinxed director must be very happy about his first theater release, which is based on a book by S Hussain Zaidi. Divided into different chapters, the flavour of a well-researched book prevails throughout the movie.
Excellent performances from everyone (even if he/she is there for a couple of small sequences), the reality like docu-drama structure and a brilliant score by Indian Ocean makes this one a major achievement by an Indian filmmaker. The movie must be heavily promoted in the outside world to showcase Mr Kashyap's talent.
Of lately, our nation is coming of age in allowing the freedom of speech in the movies. This was reflected earlier in 'Parzania' and now, this one. Good for us viewers, I'd say (am already planning my second viewing)
Other flicks in the last few days:
- Blowup (1966) by Michelangelo Antonioni: With the stylish 60's London, a brilliant plot magically and vaguely executed (the usual Anonioni touch), a great score by 'Herbie Hancock' and 'The Yardbirds' this one inspired many a movies like Palma's BlowOut, Coppola's 'The Conversations' and our very own first black comedy, Kundan Shah's 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron'.
- Elling (2001), a Norwegian movie by Petter Naess: A beautiful tale of two adult individuals who havent ever faced the world on their own, coming together to do so. This one got a nomination at the Oscars in the foreign movie category.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Changing water to wine

"The day is like water which turns into wine with the passage of time." (wrote this long ago to express my love for night)
thanks to a barter with a good man, i got hold of Brian Eno's beautifully poetic, melodic and bizarre (for those times...this was '75) album, 'Another Green World'. thereafter, ive been tripping on it off and on. you will be able to get a hint of its poetic beauty by the lyrics of the song i am putting up here. to experience the melody, bizarreness and Mr Eno's clipped Brit accent singing, go ahead and pick up the album.

Golden Hours
The passage of time is flicking dimly upon the screen;

I can't see the lines I used to think I could read between.
Perhaps my brains have turned to sand.

Oh me oh my, I think it's been an eternity.
You'd be surprised at my degree of uncertainty.
How can moments go so slow?
(impossible to describe the beauty of the guitar riff which follows)

Several times I've seen the evening slide away.
Watching the signs taking over from the fading day.
Perhaps my brains are old and scrambled ...

Several times I've seen the evening slide away.
Watching the signs taking over from the fading day.
Changing water into wine...

(sung simaltaneously with the above para)
Who could believe what a poor set of eyes can show you?
Who would believe what an innocent voice could do?
Never a silence, always a face at the door

Several times I've seen the evening slide away.
Watching the signs taking over from the fading day.
Putting grapes back on the vine...

(sung simultaneously with the above para)
Who would believe what a poor set of ears can tell you?
Who would believe what a weak pair of hands can do?
Never a silence, always a foot in the door.

going back to the opening line...with my new pursuits, i dont get to spend enough time with the wine...hope she misses me...i do.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The last of the Golden era (The pain)

i defied the promise made in the post on Goa by putting up something on goodness in advertising as the subsequent one. accept my apologies for the same and here goes my tribute to the legenday OP Nayyar.

my father is a great lover of hindi film music and growing up with him, i also turned into one. learning to differentiate between the styles of different composers and identifying them by merely listening to a song was a favorite childhood game (still is). two of the composers, namely Mr Salil Chowdhury and Mr O P Nayyar were always the easiest ones to crack because of their totally distinct styles. the highly experimental Mr Chowdhury expired a few years ago and the master of happy, romantic, youthful and the trademark cadence-filled melodies, Mr Nayyar expired a week ago.

Omkar Prasad Nayyar shot into the popularity charts with the success of Guru Dutt' s 'Aar Paar' (1954) and thereafter, kept giving music lovers some of the finest melodies, sung usually by Rafi or Asha/Geeta Dutt (but, never Lata). old age and degenerating quality of film music made him take a bow from the composing circuit, but he made one nice comeback in a movie called Nishchay (1992). his unique mix of rhythm and melody gave the songs an ability to continue in your head long after they have ended. thats how good old OPEE will be to me and tons of his fans.

my favorite OPEE melodies (in no particular order)
- Yehi Woh Jagah Hai (Asha Bhonsale, 'Yeh Raat Raat Phir na Aayegi')
- Deewana Hua Baadal (Asha and Rafi, 'Kashmir Ki Kali')
- Jaaiye Aap Kahaan Jaayenge (Asha, Mere Sanam)
- Pukarta Chala Hoon Main (Rafi, Mere Sanam)
- Phir Miloge Kabhi (Asha and Rafi, Yeh Raat Phir Na Aayegi)
- Chain Se Humko Kabhi (Asha, 'Chambal Ki Kasam')
- Aankhon hi Aankhon Mein (Geeta Dutt and Rafi, 'CID)
- Sun Sun Sun Zaalima (Geeta Dutt and Rafi, 'Aar Paar')
- Aapke Haseen Rukh pe Aaj Naya Noor Hai (Rafi, 'Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayengi)
- Huye Hain Tumpe Aashiq hum (Rafi, 'Ek Musaafir Ek Hasina')

keep him alive in your system.

You are beautiful - good advertising!

The art project You Are Beautiful aims to "make a difference in the world by catching us in the midst of daily life and creating moments of positive self realization."
Its idea is simple: post the phrase "You are beautiful" in random places where anyone can see them. This has inspired people throughout the world to create installations along roadways or plaster signs in windows.
"You are beautiful" stickers are another primary way to spread this message. Stickers can be ordered directly from the "YAB" site (send a self-addressed stamped envelope and check the site for postal rates) or can be printed on label sheets using the sticker PDF available for download from the site.
An excerpt from the site's essay explains why trends toward empowering people through grassroots methods continue to grow:
The reasons why street artists are doing what they are doing, in the way that they are doing, is not simply to question their surroundings; but to provide alternative perspectives, meanings, or values to those of consumerism.
Advertising elicits a response to buy, where this project elicits a response to do something. The attempt with You Are Beautiful is to create activism instead of consumerism.
You Are Beautiful uses the medium of advertising and commercialization to spread a positive message.
View some of their installations

Friday, February 02, 2007

Pleasure and the Pain

been wanting to write about a few things, but worldly affairs like work kept me away from this space. now, with a major project over and 3 musical evenings ahead of me, i am in that right frame of mind to write something about those few things....actually two. the pleasure filled time i had on an Arabian sea beach and the pain i felt because of the loss of someone very familiar. once again the common link here is music.

Pleasure (the waves are still lashing on my ear)
borrowing from Chris Rea of 'great voice', 'i know nothing about swimming, but they watched me go and then stay there'. 'the sea of Palolem, Goa is like a vast and salty swimming pool', a 'Palolem addict' friend of mine had once said about the place and thats what we experienced. amongst all my visits to beaches, i spent maximum amount of my time in the sea on this occasion. and thanks to my co-traveller, i ended up learning a few things about swimming. but thats not what i want to write about.

growing up on the legend of 'woodstock' and then later watching the movie, i've always regretted the fact that i wasnt there. this regret has been eased to an extent now. let me narrate how...

while taking one of those barefeet evening walks on the water-soaked beach, we heard a speaker led live and acoustic sound of the song 'lay down sally'. as we approached the sound we saw a live band at one of the beach restaurants and the evening plan was made. after a quick shower, and armed with a bottle of red wine, we parked ourselves (along with many others) in front of the band, on the sand. the stars had come out and some people from were beginning to show some movements in the direction of a bonfire. the musicmakers were 2 acoustic guitarists and vocalists and 1 female lead with a tambourine. they played beautiful music for the next 40 minutes and we kept getting high. at a distance some fireworks kept happening...friday night at a south Goan beach!

as if this wasnt enough, the band then decided to get down from their stage and joined us, the group listening to them. the bonfire was warm and shining by now and our wine bottle, half-empty. the group became intimate, the music sweeter, the musicians happier. spirits, smokes, music, sea, life! my ears noticed a new and tiny sound of mandolin and i looked in its direction to realize that a sombrero wearing mandolin player has joined us from somewhere. this was followed by the sound of a congo, then an african drum and the songs kept happening....'one of us', 'whats going on', 'nothing else matters', firworks and the sound of the waves lashing...(wordless)....became wineless. i went out looking for more and my partner went looking for some sleep. this bliss continued till the wee hours of the morning.

monday morning, and i was back to mechanical life of civilization to read the news of a death...that of a favorite musician. OP Nayyar expired at the age of 81. quiet symbolic, i thought.

more on OP and his music in my next post...right now, am ready to enjoy some blues and scotch. have a good weekend!

ps: will put up the pics when i upload them on the computer.
pps: apologies for writing another long one, mouse!