Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Fake Act

Usually, I intend to keep this space free of my professional life but this particular episode of a blatant fake-act needs to be documented here.

A few weeks ago I had gone for a summit called ‘A Strategic approach to retailing for brand profitability’, as one of our important clients in Sri Lanka is in the business of Retailing. It was held in one of the 5 star hotels of Colombo and there were two retail masters (as the e-mailer had indicated) from India, doing the talk. R Kannan, President of RAMMS India (a retail solutions company) and Gopi Krishnaswamy, CEO of Insight Instore Research (another company doing the same kind of stuff with offices in India & Singapore) were the retail masters.

Though Mr. Kannan’s session was good but had nothing really revealing on the subject. But it was Mr. Krishnaswamy, the CEO of the Insight Instore Research, who had some really revealing insights.

Through a series of examples from his company’s experiences on various clients across the world, he started making some brilliant points. Examples like once his company, Insight Instore Research, tracked a shopper with a cartful of items, who abandoned the idea of purchasing them because of the waiting time of half an hour at the payment counter’. The point being made is that shoppers hate waiting in the queue.

A bell rang in my mind. Paco Underhill’s ‘Why We Buy’??? But then, I thought, it sounds like a common occurrence at retail stores and Insight Instore research would have perhaps tracked it.

For those who are not aware of Paco Underhill and his extremely interesting book called, ‘Why We Buy – The Science of Shopping’, it’s a very interesting book on the subject indicated by the title of the book. Mr Underhill is the CEO of Envirosell, Inc., a company dedicated to retail research. His clients include Gap, Hallmark, the U.S. Postal Service, Wal-Mart and Starbucks. You can know more about the man and his work over here. Now, thanks to a project for this retail client of ours, I had finished reading this book a week before this retail summit.

But all the subsequent examples put across by Mr. Krishnaswamy kept ringing the same ‘Paco bell’ until it turned into a loud cacophony of many bells (like the prelude to the song ‘Time’ by Pink Floyd) with the final example. It’s the famous example of a lingerie area in a clothes store not doing well because they had kept benches for the bored and waiting husbands, right next to it. (The point here being, the layout of the store is very crucial.)

Once again from Paco Underhill’s study (and mentioned in his book) being passed off as something found out by Mr Krishnaswamy and his Insight Instore research. Minutes later, I was out of the hall where this was happening.

Why? The gentleman could have easily mentioned the correct source of the examples while making the same point. Nothing would have got lost. While now, his image and credibility is lost in my eyes and the eyes of all those who will read this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Favorite 10 - Books (Fiction)

This one wasn’t easy either. It began with 54, came down to 17, and finally, it got stuck at 11. Similarity of the subject in two titles made things easy for me. ‘Brave New World’ lost to ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ (my apologies to Mr. Huxley).

*The parameters remain the same as mentioned in the previous list. a) Its impact on me & b) Longevity
**The list is in no particular order and it.
*** It can change in 10 years time.

1. The Old Man and the Sea: Ernest Hemmingway, 1952
This eternal tale of human being’s undying spirit is short and hard-hitting. The plot is simple. An old fisherman wants to catch the largest marlin ever, one last time.

I have visited the old man Santiago’s life on three occasions and while writing this, I feel like making the fourth visit.

2. The Roads To Freedom Trilogy: Jean Paul Sartre, 1945 – 49
The plot revolves around Mathieu, a Socialist teacher of Philosophy and his set of friends. The time-span is between the Bohemian Paris of 30s to the end of World War II in Europe.

The first part of the trilogy, ‘The Age of Reason’ which talks about Sartre’s idea of freedom as the ultimate aim of human existence, remains a personal favorite. It’s one of those books which have affected me deeply and shaped my thinking in many ways.

3. The Outsider (The Stranger): Albert Camus, 1942
Yet another one from ‘Existentialism’ stable though Mr Camus himself always denied it. Yet another short and hard-hitting one.

And it begins with one of the best possible beginnings. A beginning that sums up the character and the book in just a few sentences, but still makes you want to read more. Consider this:

"Mother died today. Or, maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure. The telegram from the Home says: `Your mother passed away. Funeral tomorrow. Deep sympathy.' Which leaves the matter doubtful; it could have been yesterday."

This debut from Camus is worth many visits. He was just 29 when he wrote it.

4. Nineteen Eighty -Four: George Orwell, 1949
Set in the futuristic (1984) London, this classic dystopian novel depicts a totalitarian regime, which the central character, Winston Smith wants to rebel against. It gave the world many terms and concepts which are commonly used in English. Big Brother, Doublethink, Thoughtcrime and Newspeak have all come from here.

Closer to my profession, it inspired the famous 1984 commercial for Apple Macintosh.

5. Crime & Punishment: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1866
I picked up this one from a book-fair at the age of 14 because I had heard about it from the General Knowledge book. The title intrigued my teenage mind and the Russian book fair helped. It kept lying with me unread for years as I could never go beyond a couple of pages.

I got into it again at the age of 24 and this time the pages just kept flipping. It stunned my system with its depiction of mental anguish and moral dilemmas of the central character, Raskolnikov. He murders a hated and unscrupulous pawn-broker for money and also argues that by doing this, he is getting rid of an evil and useless person from this world.

I felt that Dosteyevsky analyzed human mind and heart like no other!

6. The Heart of the Matter: Graham Greene, 1948
This was the first Graham Greene book I read. It encouraged me to read other titles by him only to find out that this one is very different from his other works. Decoding differences between complex human emotions like pity, love, pity misunderstood as love, and pride, it’s a far cry from his usual political espionage novels.

The story revolves around a police officer, Scobie, his relationship with his wife and with a young widow. This Scobie has a feeling of pity for everyone and everything. In Greene’s own words, ' The character of Scobie was intended to show that pity can be the expression of an almost monstrous pride."

*I had a tough time selecting this over another Greene gem, ‘A Burnt Out Case’.

7. Tropic Of Capricorn: Henry Miller, 1938
It’s a raw, seamless, unbridled, flow of emotions and experiences. This semi-autobiographical sequel to the 1934, Tropic Of Cancer was banned in US until 1961. The absolutely no holds barred passages of sexual experiences were too obscene for those times.

However, there are some lovely general (read non-sexual) passages which turn the book into a masterpiece. For example, this memory from his childhood:

"What amazes me, when I look back on it, is how well we penetrated to the essential character of each and every one, young or old...The learning we received only tended to obscure our vision. From the day we went to school we learned nothing; on the contrary, we were made obtuse, we were wrapped in a fog of words and abstractions...What I am thinking of, with a certain amount of regret and longing, is that this thoroughly restricted life of early boyhood seems like a limitless universe and the life which followed upon it, the life of an adult, a constantly diminishing realm...The taste goes out of the bread as it goes out of life. Getting the bread becomes more important than the eating of it. Everything is calculated and everything has a price upon it."

Absolute free flow!

8. Mrs. Dalloway: Virginia Woolf, 1925
It’s about a single day but flows forward and back in time, in and out of character’s minds and the result is an extraordinary novel. At the core is an existentialist description of a bored and rich housewife’s attempt to throw a party, in a post World War I London. On the fringes are other subjects, one of which is the scariest description of mental illness and depression. Having experienced such a disorder at close quarters, I can completely identify with it.

Much later, Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours (also turned into a brilliant movie by the same name) paid a great tribute to the genius of Ms Woolf.

9. Of Mice and Men: John Steinbeck, 1937
Once again, this was my first exposure to the genius of John Steinbeck and I turned into an immediate fan, reading almost all the other works by him. Perhaps because it’s the first that I read by the author, or because it’s so simple, short and profound, it remains a great favorite.

It’s a tale of two roaming ranch boys and friends, one smart and one not so smart, during the Great Depression in California. The tragic tale narrated in the brilliant Steinbeck style makes it an all time great for me.

*I also enjoyed the Gary Sinise directed movie with the same name.

10. Disgrace: J M Coetzee, 1999
An ageing Professor is broken to pieces before he finds some redemption in his forced acceptance of the realities of life and death. Set in post apartheid South Africa, it has its share of political conflict and situation of the country in the backdrop. But, it’s basically about this guy who has fallen to disgrace, and in the process learns to be a human.

One of the best usages of the language, English I’ve come across. Not a word extra yet conveys a universe!

One spends a lifetime with a book and I relived ten of those while making this list. I hope you like going through it and perhaps share your list.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Favorite 10 - Music Albums

As the title suggests, this is the start of a new series called 'My Favorite 10' where in I shall be picking up 10 favorites from the various fields of art. The idea is to share my tastes with my readers and perhaps learn about their tastes. In this process, I may discover things that I have been missing so far.

Limiting it to a 10 isn’t easy by any standards, and this is where the task becomes challenging and exciting.

The first topic has to be about Music, more specifically Music Albums. And my parameters are quite simple:

a) The Effect it had on me: From shaping my musical tastes to the number of days the tape/CD was stuck inside my music system.
b) Longevity: Do I see myself enjoying them, 15 years from now?

*The list is in the chronological order of appearance in my life.
**This list might change in 10 years time.

1. Hum Dono – Jaidev, 1961
This one was a part of my growing up process in the form of a good old magnetic tape, played regularly by my music loving father on our mono National Panasonic cassette player. The classic duet, ‘Abhi Na Jaao Chod Kar’ (Don’t Leave Me Now) still remains an all time favorite and so does the best Bhajan (A Devotional Song) ever made in a Hindi movie, ‘Allah Tero Naam, Ishwar tero Naam’ (You are Allah & You are Jesus Too). This Jaidev masterpiece is an evergreen gem.

Give it to me anytime and it will spread a smile over my face.

2. Famous Waltzes - Johann Strauss, Jr., Composed between 1845 and 1899, Performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
This one too, was in the form of a magnetic tape in my house and would always make me happy whenever it was played by my father. Even in that Mono player, its rhythmic nature and multiple small little melodies in one composition would bowl me over. Compositions like ‘The Blue Danube’ and ‘Tales from the Vienna Woods’ have become legendary now, used (and abused) for many narrative purposes, from Movie Soundtracks to TV Commercials.

Today I have the same album in the form of a CD which often gives me a good company on the car journeys.

3. Raga Yaman Kalyan (Ae Ri Aaj Piya Bin) / Raga Darbari (Jhanak Jhanak) – Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Recorded in early 1980s
One takes you into an evening of pleasure; the other takes you into the depths of night. I am referring to the two Ragas mentioned above.

If I discount my father’s violin sessions, this was perhaps one of the first piece of Indian Classical music that fell into my young ears. Instantly, I became a fan of the man’s voice and singing. I still am.

4. The Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd, 1973
My first exposure to both psychedelic rock and Pink Floyd (no it wasn’t ‘The Wall’). Right from the beginning sounds of heartbeat, the album gripped me completely. I had never heard anything like that before. I still feel that nothing can begin in a grander fashion than this album With the sounds of the many alarm clocks going off at one time to the almost orgasmic singing of ‘The Great Gig In the Sky’, to the cash registers ringing, everything about was disruptive to my young ears. I must’ve been 14 or 15, then.

Later, when I got down to the lyrics, I was once again enraptured in the similar manner by this great work of art. Definitely worth many visits.
*Much later, I was lucky enough to watch the entire album being performed by Mr. Roger Waters himself.

5. The White Album – The Beatles, 1968
It covers all possible genres. It taps the potential of the three songwriters in the band to the highest extent. And one Disc wasn’t enough to fit in the amount of creativity they produced.

From the whispering ‘Julia’ to the screaming ‘Helter Skelter’ to the wailing ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, it has everything in it. The Beatles were breaking up but their music had reached newer heights at the foothills of Himalayas, where they were composed most of the tracks.

And, it can always make me that Himalayan high.

6. Blood On The Tracks – Bob Dylan, 1975
This came to me at a phase when I was going through a personal crisis of the ‘heart’ type. The most personal album of Dylan had my sentiments in it. It was as if, the man was singing my songs. It had me captivated for months
*This blog gets its name from one of the tracks in the album.

7. Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones, 1971
Well, this is a drug-laden album and I was into it then. It has country, it has blues, it has yearning, it has overdose and it has the essential Stones punch. The sad, drugged, stringy and extremely melodious ‘Moonlight Mile’ is the perfect way to end.

The fact that the Andy Warhol designed cover was one of the most controversial one just adds to the entire charm.

8. Rumors – Fleetwood Mac, 1977
This everlasting magic came to me through a windfall from someone who wanted to get rid of all his magnetic tapes as he had moved into the digital zone. (And, I’m glad he did so)

I had heard a few of the popular FM track before, but this album was a revelation, a sort of magic. The sophisticated compositions, the depth of the lyrics, the mix of the vocals, drums & the guitar, everything is perfect. Not a single track can be forwarded.

This essential 70s album will always work for me.

9. Astral Weeks – Van Morrison, 1968
I’ve been meaning to write about this one for a long time now, but I’ve always been successful. I am at loss of words when it comes to appreciating this surreal, seamless confluence of poetry, music and singing woven together. And Mr. Morrison was all of 23 when he created it! I will die peacefully if this is playing on my death-bed.

For a beautiful write-up on the album by Mr. Lester Bangs, the music journalist you can go

On a personal note, I found a precious friend while absorbing this album along with whiskey.

10. Kind of Blue – Miles Davis, 1959
Its slow, its gentle, its luxurious, it’s a lazy afternoon, it’s Kind of Blue. The finest Jazz album ever, by the genius who shaped the genre. And, the band helping him had stalwarts like Coltrane, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb and Cannonball Adderley. Out of this world!

One can just keep on listening to this one, day after day, year after year, life after life.

That sums up the first edition My Favorite 10. It’s rather long and I had a very tough time selecting them (leaving out one to include another). But I also enjoyed doing it and I hope you will enjoy reading it. And, do mention your favorite Albums.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Colors Of Joy

It rained last evening. Windy, angular rains. I watched, mesmerized.

Minutes later, a half hearted sun sneaked up, adding colors to the Colombo sky and our hearts.

ps: pics taken from Nokia E 63

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Tinkerer of Rock & Roll

Neil Young swears by it and so does Slash. Joe Perry of Aerosmith has 50 of them.

I’m referring to the Les Paul Gibson, the solid-body electric guitar which made the sound of rock and roll possible. Its creator Les William Polsfuss, also known as Les Paul died on 13th of August, 2009 at the age of 94.

He was also a musician, song-writer and an amateur sound engineer. Among Paul's other technological innovations were developments in multi-track recording, guitar effects and the mechanics of sound in general.

Here is how some of the legends from the world of music paid their tributes:

"Les Paul set a standard for musicianship and innovation that remains unsurpassed. He was the original guitar hero, and the kindest of souls. Last October I joined him onstage at The Iridium club in NYC, and he was still shredding. He was and still is an inspiration to us all." — Joe Satriani

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Les Paul. His influence on my life, as on the lives of countless others, will be felt throughout eternity. It was an honor to know him and to work with him. I extend my deepest condolences to his family and will mourn along with musicians throughout the world." — Jose Feliciano

"Les Paul was a shining example of how full one's life can be, he was so vibrant and full of positive energy. I'm honored and humbled to have known and played with him over the years, he was an exceptionally brilliant man." — Slash

"Without Les Paul, we would not have rock and roll as we know it. His inventions created the infrastructure for the music and his playing style will ripple through generations. He was truly an architect of rock and roll." — Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Paul was an inveterate tinkerer. In a 2005 interview, speaking on the subject of death, Paul, with his wry sense of humor said, ‘If where I’m going they have a harp, I’m going to amplify it.’

ps: Thats a 1959 Les paul Gibson. The first Les Paul Standard was introduced in 1959 and since then the model has remained unchanged.

pps: And this new look results from the desire of changing things, which keeps hitting me every now and then. And what better time to make this change than a birthday.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Unfriendly

A couple of months ago I got this mail (Type 1) in my inbox.

XYZ wants you to join Yaari!
Is XYZ your friend?
Yes, XYZ is my friend! No, XYZ isn't my friend.
Please respond or XYZ may think you said no :(
The Yaari Team
* For my non-hindi friends, 'yaari' means 'friendship'.

Unfamiliar to the ways of social networking sites and wanting to make the sad look turn into a smile (for I really thought it was a personalized message from XYZ), I ended up clicking (just one click) on Yes, XYZ is my friend! Little did I know that I had clicked on a 'public embarrassment' and a 'constant source of irritation'.

The result of the click was a window of which wanted me to enlist by giving my mail id etc. that’s where I committed the greatest folly of my life. I enlisted.

A day later, I started getting mails (Type 2) like this.

dear meraj
I am a friend but do not feel comfortable getting into multiple groups like yaari and hence have not responded.
warm regards

What the overfriendly people of 'The Yaari Team' had done was something extremely rude. Without my permission, it generated a Type 1 mail and sent to almost everyone on my Gmail mailing list. Now, a) I’m not the social networking types and b) Even if I was, I would not be sending such a lame and soppy message to everybody on my mailing list.

The Type 2 mail hasn’t stopped since then (some have also accepted my fake invitation in the meantime). It’s like a monster that has been created because I got myself into the unfriendly ways of

Internet, with all its amazing positives has its share of flaws which can be extremely disgusting. I would request all my readers to be cautious about such unfriendly sites. I am.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson (1958 - 2009)

The opening bars of Billie Jean always make me feel like I’m getting into a disco (though I’m not much of a dancer) with the promise of a great night lying ahead. Thriller was one of my first music albums.

One of the greatest pop icons of modern times, Michael Jackson, died today at the age of 50. Speaking strictly for myself, I was never a big fan of the fellow’s music except for the album, Thriller which is a classic, and a few songs here and there.

He lived a strange life, surrounded by controversies, diseases and the many makeovers.
But, he (along with Madonna and Wham) made English popular music a mass product for a generation of Indians. Before him, English music was limited to a few urban audiences. After his album ‘Bad’, every kid was doing the moonwalk with a poster of BAD hanging from the wall of his / her room.

Starting at the early age of 5, musically, he drew influences from Soul, Soft Rock, R&B, Pop and Jazz. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice and had 13 Grammys and 13 Number One Singles. These are some telling statistics, indicating his role and influence in music and popular culture.

He will be remembered by many.

ps: for a visual tribute to the deceased icon, you can go here

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dylan's Latest

It’s not a classic alright, but it’s worth several whiskey-soaked visits. Together Through Life, the 33rd studio album from Mr. Bob Dylan once again displays his poetic genius. Its beauty, depth and the range of emotions grows on each hearing.

Musically, it has the same flavour as the last few albums (Modern Times, Time Out Of Mind), that of urban American blues. And his voice, gruffer than ever, adding the right character to the lyrics. Put some great guitar fills by Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) and soulful accordion sighs of David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and the album surely has a very long ‘CD tray value’.

Poetically, the album is wry, caustic, sentimental, rich, wicked and very American . My favourites are, the sentimental ‘Life is Hard’, the conversational, ‘Forgetful Heart’, the violin laced (like the 'Desire' days), 'This Dream Of You' and the wickedly satirical final track, ‘It’s All Good’.

These last lines from ‘Forgetful Heart’ conveys the feeling of the ultimate defeat.

“All night long I lay awake and listen to the sound of pain
The door has closed through ever more
If indeed there ever was a door”

Or, feel the pain in the beautifully sung ‘Life Is Hard’.

“The sun is sinking low
I guess it's time to go
I feel a chilly breeze
In place of memories
My dreams are locked and barred
Admitting life is hard
Without you near me”

At 68, the man continues to be the greatest songwriter of our time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

18th May, 2009

On 18th May, 2009 the Sri Lankan Government declared its victory over the rebel Tamil Tigers after almost three decades of war. The streets of Colombo broke into celebrations, processions, flags, fire-crackers, drums. And, we were there witnessing probably the biggest day in Sri Lankan history. Many years from now, I shall be recounting this and saying, “I was there, experiencing the historical moment.”

Amidst celebrations, the cynics wait and watch on how the President and his Government find a political solution to the situation. But it was our house-maid, Karuna, who came out with real words of wisdom.

She said (in her broken English), “It is not nice to celebrate so much when so many people have died and been displaced in the road towards victory. People should also maintain five minutes of silence for all the lives lost in the process.”

I couldn’t help but agree.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Together Through Life

Yesterday, Pooja and I completed one year of marital togetherness and its been sweet, spicy and harmonious.

Interestingly, Mr Robert Allen Zimmerman, popularly known as Bob Dylan released his 33rd studio album called, 'Together Through Life' on 28th April, 2009. The album is already topping the charts.

A review of the album will follow soon.

Perhaps I should ask Pooja to review our 'One Year Of Togetherness'.

ps: thats us in the form of 'Happy Feet'

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy To Be Wrong

In one of my previous posts I mentioned (in a rather worried manner) about the dwindling interest from both audience and budding musicians in Western Classical music. I was wrong.

Two stories covered by BBC World News between yesterday and today made me realize this.

The first one was about how a publicly financed music education program in Venezuela which helps youngsters from extremely impoverished background, learn Classical music of Bach and Beethoven. The program is called El Sistema and it’s been running successfully for more than 30 years now. The program keeps these youngsters away from getting into wasteful and criminal activities like drugs and mugging and instills the ‘joy of music’ in their lives.

The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, a product of the program has been getting rave reviews across the world from the critics and all the top rated musicians. To know more about this wonderful effort you can read this
piece from BBC News.

Can we replicate the same model in India to give a boost to its own Classical music? In my mind, it can be a great way of discovering genuine talent hidden in the teaming pool of poverty in our country (40% of India lives Below Poverty Line, i.e. $1.25 a day). It may, along with the 'joy of music' give them a source of income.

The second story was about using a product of modern times to popularize Classical music. The result is the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.

The video-sharing website held a contest that allowed anyone, anywhere to upload a clip of themselves playing. A selection went to a popular vote. 90 winners from 30 different countries were flown in to play at Carnegie Hall, New York - one of the most prestigious venues in the world. The musicians came from as far away as Australia and South Korea.

The performance which happened yesterday was a great success with the Orchestra playing the works of Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Prokofiev and a new composition, appropriately called, ‘Internet Symphony No 1’. To know more about it you can read this
article from NYT.

Great way to make classical music reach a wider audience, especially the young people!

Now, I’m less worried...feel like listening to Debussy's 'Claire de lune'.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Yellow Evening

Outside, the yellow Colombo evening is slowly turning into night.

Inside, the Vilambit of Pt Bhimsen Joshi’s classic Yaman Kalyan rendition, 'Eri Aaj Piya Bin' is melodiously proceeding towards Drut.

My cup of that perfect Darjeeling Tea has one-fourth left in it.

In times such as this, one comes very close to attaining eternal bliss.

The Vilambit now, has beautifully melted into Drut and a slight smile has spread over my face. Let me enjoy this.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Unfinished Ones

During the long span of silence on this space, I’ve written many unfinished posts on the pages of my mind. Now, there is an arrear of posts stacked inside and I’ve got to clean them up before I start on a fresh one. So, here they are.
  • The slow beauty and grace of Naguib Mahfouz’s ‘The Cairo Trilogy’ which kept me enraptured for 3 months
  • The joy of discovering Orhan Pamuk’s brilliance through his political but humane novel, ‘Snow’
  • Several Sunday Jazz afternoons at Barefoot with Rohit, appreciating the music, trying to catch the stories floating around, while sipping on white
  • The splendor of Colombo’s English theater in the form of a great adaptation of Shakespeare called, ‘Hamlet at Elsie’s Bar’
  • The happiness of watching the inspiring tale of human spirit, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’
  • Alexi Murdoch’s lovely album called ‘Time Without Consequence’ which gave us the musical company on our way back from Mirissa
  • The conversations with Pooja’s grandfather on subjects like ‘Money, ‘Profession’, ‘Life after Retirement’ etc.

Now, it feels like I’m ready to move on.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Poet Gulzar

The poet Gulzar is a great creative mind. His genius, once again gets reflected in two songs for the movie Slumdog Millionaire, ‘Ringa Ringa Ringa’ and ‘Jai Ho’. The latter has picked up an Oscar nomination and is likely to get the award too. Some lines from ‘Jai Ho’ are enough to reflect his genius.

The song appears at the end of the movie and fades into the credits. Mr Boyle’s idea was to give a Bollywood style, song and dance finish. The song is about a lover asking his beautiful love interest to meet up in this beautiful night.

Aaja Aaja Jinde Shaamiyaane Ke Tale

Zariwaale Neele Aasmaan Ke Tale

Come beneath life’s canopy

Come beneath the embroidered blue sky

Make note of how he describes a starry night…Zariwaale Neele Aasmaan Ke Tale. One can start seeing a star studded night even if one is listening to the song at mid-day .

Or, notice the metaphor in this one...

Chakh Le, Chakh Le

Ye Raat Shahad Hai

Taste it, Taste it

This night is like honey

The man never ceases to make me happy. Ive tried to capture his genius in one of my earlier posts also. You can read it here.

ps: thats a nice sketch of a young Gulzar which i found on Google images. the artist's name wasnt mentioned.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rumpeteer Tilak

Two underdog stories are shaking the world right now. One real life and the other reel life. One is called Barrack Obama and the other, Slumdog Millionaire. I didn’t see the inauguration ceremony of Mr Obama but I have seen and heard Danny Boyle’s several Oscar nominated ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. It’s a visual and aural delight. Golden Globe has already given several nods to the movie, including the OST by A R Rahman and I’m sure Oscars will do the same.

Being a Rahman fan ever since his path-breaking creation Roja, I’m delighted. The soundtrack of ‘Slumdog…’ has been playing in my system for the last 3 weeks and I’ve been tripping on each track, one by one. My current favorite is the track called ‘Mausam & Escape’ with some brilliant Sitar work in it.

During the same time when Slumdog’s music was creating ripples at the Globes and across the globe, I managed to pay a charming tribute to Rahman’s genius in my own little way. I turned into a music director guiding a Sri Lankan trumpeter (locally pronounced ‘RUMPETEER’) to play the Rahman composed Airtel signature tune in the ‘Papre Band’ manner. This was for the radio jingle which was a part of the launch of Airtel in Sri Lanka. My agency just accomplished the task of the launch.

In Sri Lanka, Papre band consists of a drummer and a RUMPETEER. They are usually found at the Cricket matches cheering the local team and they are loud and irritating, mostly.

The RUMPETEER of this story is called Tilak and he is a part of the Police band of Colombo. I made him rehearse inside closed doors for 30 minutes and he was ready for the recording. It just took him two takes to deliver the perfect rendition. After which, he politely collected his 5 K SLR and faded into oblivion. This particular jingle went on to become very popular and many Sri Lankans came up to me to say that they enjoyed it.

The fact that Mr Rahman will never know about this little episode makes it all the more charming.