Thursday, May 31, 2007

Three Movies and a Play

Shrek III: The 3rd edition of one of the popular icon of our times teaches the lesson, ‘don’t get bothered by what others think of you...just stay true to yourself’. Nicely fairy-taleish and executed in the same brilliance, of the preceding two editions, it’s an easy and funny watch. Though nothing can take away the charm of the first one, purely because it’s the first time you are introduced to the characters and 'Far Far Away'. One thing that has been consistent in all editions of this tale centering on the green monster is the brilliantly timed usage of music…whether its Jason Wade’s version of ‘You belong to me’ in Shrek or Led Zepp’s ‘Immigrant Song’ in the latest one.
Later, I realized that we were one of the first few ones to have watched the movie, as it hasn’t been released officially in the Bombay theaters. Apparently, we had caught the paid preview!

Vivement Dimanche or Finally Sunday (1983): This Black & White tribute to Alfred Hitchcock by Francois Tuffaut (of 400 Blows fame) is an out and out murder mystery with a very attractive looking Fanny Ardent playing the lead. It happened on a Sunday afternoon on Zee Studio, thanks to Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra & UTV combine effort. Truffaut was an expert on Hitchcock and great admirer of his work which explains the deliberate usage of Black & White.

King of Comedy (once again 1983): Along with Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, this movie forms an unofficial trilogy of films by Scorcese and De Niro portraying obsessive characters. It’s a great satire on the cult of celebrity with great performance and among Scorsese’s best. In fact, Scorsese claims that its De Niro’s finest performance under his direction.

Aapki Soniya, a play by Javed Siddiqui: This one is a sequel to the highly popular ‘Tumhari Amrita’ which had Farooque Sheikh & Shabana Azmi. While the impeccable Sheikh continues as the same character from ‘Tumhari…’, Soniya, the new character has been enacted in an unexpected good manner by Sonali Bendre. The format remains the same…which is that of letter-reading between the two characters.
If you appreciate and understand the beauty of Urdu, this one is a must. Mr Siddiqui writes very well with ample amount of Ghalib and Zaukh thrown in at the right moments. So, despite a starving stomach, I enjoyed the play. More so, because my friend’s father (who was also with us) used the interval to ‘pick my brains’ (as he said) trying to understand the nuances of the language. I was glad to be of some help. The play ended in a rather disappointing manner becoming unnecessary soppy like a typical Bollywood movie. But, without getting turned off by the last sentence, go ahead and form your own judgement by watching the play.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

May you stay Forever Young

Its Robert Allen Zimmerman's birthday today...he turns 66. My blog gets its name from one of his songs and my first post was on his latest album, 'Modern Times' which reached #1 in the US album charts (making him the oldest living person to top the charts). This one is for him to continue creating the magic that he has always done. May his hands always be busy!

This poem is from his 1974 album called 'Planet Waves' and its called 'Forever Young'. He wrote it for his children and it appears in two versions in the album (I like the slower one).

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.
May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

To celeberate the occasion, I shall have a nice evening with the man's music and some scotch...what will you do?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Which one am I ?

Rumi has come back in my life through the modern device called mobile phone. Some years ago, I took a trip to Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi’s world, which lasted a month or so. I ended up reading most of his works from the web and buying some of his books. ‘Some’ here reflects my financial status during those days when I was myself like a ‘poor dervish’ on a certain high (or at least, that’s what I would like to think about myself during those times).

Coming back to Good Ol’ Rumi and my new age mobile phone…my good friend works for a firm called ‘Webaroo’ which, apart from other things, is into providing a free service of sending smses to those who subscribe, on subjects like ‘Sufism’, ‘Riddles’, ‘News’, ‘Music Trivia’ etc. On my friend’s insistence, I subscribed to this free service a couple of weeks ago. And now, throughout the day I keep receiving some interesting stuff on my mobile, including Sufi quotes from Rumi.

Rumi was born in what is today’s Afghanistan in the year 1207 AD to a family of learned theologians. He was introduced into the mystical path by a wandering dervish, Shamsuddin of Tabriz. His love and his bereavement for the death of Shams found their expression in a surge of music, dance and lyric poems. In the writer’s opinion, their relationship had shades of homosexuality but this has no relevance in the current context.

The name Rumi stands for Love and ecstatic flight into the infinite. The object of love in his works as is true for all Sufi poetry, is God. Before I get into my personal views regarding the subject of God, allow me to present a few translations of his writings. They were all written in Persian and as translation takes away half the beauty of the work, imagine the original beauty of these.

"In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art."

"The garden of Love is green without limit
and yields many fruits other than sorrow and joy.
Love is beyond either condition:
without spring, without autumn, it is always fresh."
They were all written in Persian and as all translations take away half the beauty of the original work, one can imagine the original beauty of these words. The one which came on my mobile and made me write this post is this.
"I wonder from these
thousands of 'Me's'
which one am I?"

If you also want to subscribe to this free service, you can visit and you will get the details. As for me, I just got another sms!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A good city to fall in love

My love-hate affair with Bombay (am stuck with the old name) began 7 years ago, when I came here as a trainee in the advertising industry. Much has happened since then in my experiences with the city and I can dedicate a whole new blog to narrate them. In the meantime, I found this poem in the form of a forward from an old friend…it paints quiet a picture. Anybody who has experienced the city will appreciate it.

A good city to fall in love
Bombay is a good city to fall in love.
My lover lives eight trainstations and two full bus-stops away.
Ten rupees of distance between us.

Courage comes easy.
The citypocked with couples, suspended in amour.
Wet monsoon shivers, filling streetfood. Midday reads to share.

Obstacles, like the sour smell of suburban shit, humidity, thecrowded train.
All defeated by young love.
Bombay, yes, is a good city.

We spread handkerchiefs, sit on them.
One hand held, theother, busy eating something.
By the sea, you explain, we can sit forever.

But the beggars, and the sunset,respective waiting rooms,
dying rush hour, ease us off the sand.
This is the restrained, timed love of office-goers.

At Churchgate, I kept looking at your growingly tiny face.
My local pulling out. I am already fifty paisa away from you.
Yes,I love you.

A quick search on the google yielded the name of the poet...Neha Vishwanathan and she lives in London. You can find more of her works on her blog over here. Thanks, Neha for the nice poem!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Inside a Great Mind - Ideas and Opinions

My sister’s limited culinary skill is responsible for this post. The decision to give cookery books to my newly married sister as a birthday gift got me buying this beautiful collection of writings by one of the finest minds, our world has ever produced. Smart retail strategy (Point of Payment) also had a role to play…the bookshop had kept it at the payment counter, so while paying for the gift, my eyes spotted this collection and I quickly asked it to be added to my bill.
It’s a book called ‘Ideas and Opinions’ and the mind responsible for it is Albert Einstein. The red and black colored book (with a very hazy and bad photograph of the man) contains this great intellectual’s views on subjects as diverse as atomic war, religion, human rights and philosophy of life. Many words have been written on the man, so I shall stay away from it. Instead, I shall put forth some of the words from him (which in a way will reflect a lot on his personality)
Consider this one from an essay called, ‘The World As I See It’ published in 1931. Says a lot on the man’s humanity, curiosity and simplicity.

"To inquire after the meaning or object of one’s own existence or that of all creatures has always seemed to me absurd from an objective point of view. And yet everybody has certain ideals, which determine the direction of his endevours and his judgments. In this sense I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves – this ethical basis I call the ideal of pigsty. The ideals, which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endevours, life would have seemed to me empty. The trite objects of human efforts – possessions, outward success, luxury – have always seemed to me contemptible."

Amongst the three ideals mentioned, I was missing Knowledge as the fourth.

And take this small one called ‘On Wealth’ from the year 1934.

"I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in theis cause. The examples of great and pure individuals is the only thing that can lead us to noble thoughts and deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and irresistibly invites abuse.
Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus, or Gandhi armed with the money-bags of Carnegie?"

With many more thoughts like these, including a section completely dedicated to ‘Contributions to Science’ makes this one a must buy…if only to sometimes disagree with the great mind’s personal philosophies. Its published by Rupa & Co and priced at a sweet 295/-.

Last Weekend:
It was full of some enjoyable activities in the still-charming city of Pune. Let me illustrate them sequentially:
- A good evening of making music and movie-talk (found a good movie pal) along with good ol’ Chivas
- Authentic Maharashtrian Thali at an authentic Maharashtrian joint called ‘Atithi’ on the next day
- Afternoon swim in the pool with the aide of two friends…one holding my hands and the other holding my waist. Considering that I know nothing about swimming, it was quiet an achievement.
- Relaxing steam bath which cleared my permanently blocked sinusitis nose (if only for a while)
These were the planned activities. Next came the surprise ones:
- A fine chicken dish called C-14 along with a beautiful Bordeaux wine at an exotic Italian joint aptly called La Dolce Vita
- It ended with a lot of phone calls to one number and later, a midnight drive back to Mumbai with Rolling Stones playing inside the lovely Ford Fusion.

Lets see what the coming weekend has in store for me…something says that I shall be working.