Monday, July 31, 2006

Othello, With A Twist

First, I would like to sound an alarm. The movie is full of profanities, and innuendoes. So take care.

The movie it self is nothing path breaking. Just ok. The brilliance of music doesn't get repeated in the movie. Brilliance of Maqbool doesn't get repeated either.

Personally, I don't see the necessity of foul language at all. If one wanted to be realistic, then we all know profanities used in the movie is way elementary as compared what actually used. So why not make profanity more lavish to be actually realistic.

Also, it would have been much better if Vishal had shot more on real locations. Citing logistic difficulty doesn't hold much water when Bunty and Bubbly, Seher, Mai Meri Patni Aur Woh, Haasil, Umrao Jaan (recent) can be shot there.

As far as scripting is concerned, I think weakness of Othello, the play, passed on to Omkara, the movie. The dimensions that Macbeth provided, and the brilliant finer adaptations that resulted in Maqbool were missing.

The much hyped politico-mafia equation was truly half baked. Its never so simple. There is always a love-hate relationship which keeps changing with opportunities and time. Look at Seher or Haasil, and you will understand what I mean. But Bhaiji-Omkara equation looked like a Saat-Janam-Bandhan!

Also there were some ridiculous situation like coronation of Bahu Bali, train sequence etc. This was all crap when one is so big advocate of realism.

Here, I must add that I have nothing against the characters in the movie. They looked real and carefully developed, except Billo Chaman Bahar. Era of Nautankis is well and truly over in rural Uttar Pradesh. There may be perhaps one or two orchestra, here and there, but definitely, none would sing a Kajri or Thumri today. Filmy numbers, perhaps, yes.

One good thing was that Omkara wasn't a complete ass like Othello. At least, he did have a mind of his own.

To talk about the performance, Konkona is truly exceptional. The dialect, the performance, everything was perfect. Ajay Devgan is good. He had the poise of a leader, and carried on till end. Saif did a fine job, but never looked menacing or wicked. Vivek Oberoi was the boy next door even in this movie. Who else...? Oh yes, Kareena. She was OK too.

Those who have traveled long distance would remember that even if the trains are late at our starting station, they usually catch up during the night and we reach our destinations on time. But they never skip any station to do the same. Every stop is honoured.

In the multiplex I was watching this movie, our particular show got delayed by half an hour. To catch up with the time, they messed up all the songs. Title song was shown only till Mukhda. For Lakkad not even complete Mukhda was shown. Namak was started mid way. They completely ruined the whole mood!

I don't have any suggestions to make. Those who want to watch the movie may go ahead and see. Those who haven't made up their mind may skip. I would prefer a Maqbool any day.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

The Cat Is Out Of Bag

It's now confirmed that the title song of Omkara is based on the ballad Aallhaa. I have heard this from horse's mouth yesterday. Gulzar himself told this to Aaj Tak yesterday. This further confirms that Gulzar is a well read maestro.

Meanwhile, the music of Omkara keeps growing on. On second thought, I think music is not just good, its great. Especially if you consider we are in the torrent times of Himesh Reshamiyya.

Sukhwinder Singh, the highest paid, and the most choosy singer of our times, intoxicates with the title song. He has a distinct quality in his voice which rises above the music of the song he sings.

Rekha Bharadwaj adds her Namak to Namak Isaq Kaa. Sheer magic. She has an earthen voice. Notice the way she pronounces 'Bheetar Bheetar'. Never heard these words pronounced better in a song. May be her Lucknow roots have helped her there. Then those Harmoniums and Dholaks accentuate the rawness of the song.

Here I must also mention that Bipasha, to my surprise, has given good expressions, supported by good choreography.

All other songs Jaag Ja, Naina Sun Lenge, Beedi Jalailey, O Saathi Re are unique. Having said that, this album is not for masses. It is a collector's item which must be cherished. I am sure these songs will not die a quick death. They will be with us long after because album does have repeat value.

Hope Vishal repeats this stellar performance in the movie as well. Characterization appears to be good. These actors must pull off for their and our sake.

Ajay Devgan is a brooding Omkara nee Othello. If he picks up the dialect well, I am sure he would be able to portray the character of love lorned, jealous, suspicious, and finally repentant Omkara well. Vishal has made Irfan Khan portray these fast changing emotions before in Maqbool.

Iago, who incarnates in Saif Ali Khan, wasn't devilish. He was the devil himself. He was ambitious, scheming and wicked. Remember in Othello how he tells Roderigo that "I follow him(Othello) to serve my turn(revenge) upon him."

And how he decides to use Desdemona(Kareena) as a pawn
"So I will turn her virtue into pitch,
And out of her own goodness make the net
That shall enmesh them all

Saif limps in the movie so he is called Langda Tyagi. A surname further signifies that the movie is based in western Uttar Pradesh, which is where this surname is abunduntatly found.

Michael Cassio(Viveik Oberoi) didn't have much to do in the play apart from being another pawn in Iago's hands, and an absolute loyal lieutenant of Othello, so I suspect Viveik wouldn't have much to do in the film either.

He is Kesu Firangi because he goes to college and speak a little bit of English. If Vishal restrains him, he will look earnest.

Surprisingly nobody speaks of Konkona Sen Sharma nee Emilia, who plays the wife of Iago. Though she was another inadvertent player in Iago's sinister designs, she had a very key role in the play. She was also the eventual spoiler of the whole conspiracy.

She is the only accomplished actress in the movie, though self admittedly, she had the most difficulty picking up the accent. But the way she pulled off in Mr.and Mrs.Iyyer, hope she does it hear too. The way Vishal has given her the look - cotton Sari, bridled, oiled hair, big Bindi, Kajal, and a thick Sindoor - she looks a perfect village girl.

I am pleasantly surprised that publicity is going on full throttle this time. Beginning with Rediff, Star News has now been showing daily capsules on the movie. Aaj Tak, and NDTV have also joined the band wagon. I sincerely hope, apart from the critical acclaim, producers of Vishal make money too.

Now my request to readers would be if you have made the sin of watching the likes of K3G, Kaal, Fanaa, please do a Pryashchit by watching Omkara. If you find it bad, Paap Ke Ghade Mein Ek Boond Aur Sahi.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I think we should tell Mushy baby that if Dawood Ibrahim is not in Pakistan, then the Tajmahal (which he visited a few years ago) is not in India.



Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Gaanv Ki Chithhi

Gaanv Ki Chithhi, a set of Dohey by Rameshwar Kamboj 'Himashu'

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Monday, July 24, 2006


Now that some of the snippets containing a bit of dialogues are being shown - the dialect looks like that of Chambal(MP)-Gwalior(MP)-Etawah(UP) region which is the part of Bundel Khand.

Though the rural stretch of that region was and even probably is under the influence of some gangster activity, but such a dialect would be a bit harsh on audience ears. In fact, even I, being used to Khadi Boli, and Awadhi dialect find it difficult to comprehend some times.

This may dent the commercial viability of this project.

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Friday, July 21, 2006


I really believe that Gulzar is the last of the titans remaining in the gradually dying art of film lyrics. Latest example is his genius in Omkara.

The lyrics in the title song of Omkara has a local significance related to the history of the region - Uttar Pradesh - where the movie has been based. The particular line - Dham Dham Dhadak Dhadaiyya Re, Sabse Badey Ladaiyya Re...

This line is taken from a ballad - Allha - which is very popular in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, but its singers are spread beyond the region too. Allha and Udal were two extremely brave, Khshatriya warriors brothers in the service of Raja Piramal of Mahoba(a district near Jhansi). They were contemporary of king Prithviraj Chauhan.

They fought against Prithviraj Chauhan to save Mahoba from latter's aggression and even defeated him once, but in yet another battle younger brother Udal loses his life, while Allha who was said to be immortal retires to the forests, after killing Prithviraj's son.

This very long ballad narrates the story of their valour. Its singing style is very dynamic and full of the flavour of war(Veer Ras), and singers are always men. These narrators have a great voice, & lungs and they create such a fervour that could bring goose flesh.

Bappi Lahiri lifted the tune of this ballad for a song in the movie Dalal - Mar Mar Gaye Phokat Mein, Arey Koi To Humko Diyo Batayi...if you remember the song.

Omkara is also the story of warriors, though of the gangster category. Gulzar maps the situation very well. Had this been written by Javed Akhtar, Prasoon Joshi or Maya Govind who are localites, then still I could have digested this.

But how on the earth did Gulzar heard of this ballad! I am sure not many of my state friends would have heard of this. I happen to know just because I have the major village connections, and happen to be of the same caste of these gentlemen.

Not only this song, but every other song in the movie has a local essence which I think would go well along with the movie. Of course, the director cum script writer cum music director Vishal Bharadwaj, another localite, would have helped a great deal.

Like the song Namak is a Thumri which his wife Rekha Bharadwaj sang with great variations. Thumri, along with Kathak, is the gift which Nawabs gave to the music. It was a very popular style of singing by the courtesans of the previous era.

Gulzar has done this before in Bunty aur Bubbly. Every Kanpuriya will connect with this particular phrase of the title song - Aisa Saga Nahin, Jisko Thaga Nahin....

This is a very popular catch phrase of the famous Mithai shop in Kanpur - Thaggu Halwai at Parade Chauraha. Even that shop has been shown in the movie.

Sincerely, Gulzar is a class apart.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Is It Money Or Stupidity ?

This is not to belittle the tragedy which struck Mumbai, but frankly this a-minute-silence stuff made me more sad than consoling.

Same day, there were blasts in Srinagar as well, where also people died. Some tourists also died due to grenade attacks earlier. Worst than that, 200 people were killed by Naxalites in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh two-three days back.

Didn't they deserve a candle or a minute of silence? If only this( silence thing) had happened in Mumbai, it would still had made some sense. But whole sarkari and media machinery all over India stood to pray only for Mumbai blast victims? Just because Mumbai brings money and others don't!

A Meher Bhargava or Jessica Lal will evoke emotion, while others who are living a dog's life and are even forced to die like a dog have no voice!

This is why there is a growing alienation in the remote corners of the country and which is in turn giving rise to Naxal and terrorist activity.

And anyway, this silence, candles, and now getting repetitive and nauseating Mumbai-spirit stuff is not going to deter these terrorists. Instead, they will laugh at us. An immediate concrete action was needed, and it didn't happen.

Instead we are having these ridiculous ceremonial stuff. Days are not far when people will walk nude(like in west) to protest animal fur. We are reaching to that point.



Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Magnificent Sky Line

You might as well mistake it for Cairo - the City Of Thousand Minarets. Domes do make a picture of Constatinople, which it is, but only of East.

Clock Tower, Jama Masjid, and Kudiya Ghat in one frame reflect the mixed culture of Lucknow where the sound of evening Azaaan seamlessly mingles with Gomti Aarti. This is Shaam-E-Awadh.



Friday, July 14, 2006


Vandana by Sohanlal Dwivedi

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Soft Nation

We are not only soft, we are corrupt over and above that. And there is corruption of mind as well.

We have politicos who won't waste a minute to figure out how to solve out political problems. They are quite abreast with changing political equations. They know when to forge an alliance, and when to forsake. The thing they know best is how to mint public money.

But when it comes to think about how to battle this terrorism problem, they would come a cropper. Yes, they would come out with a hollow, familiar, hand written speech - and that too by someone else - and render it in a most robotic manner, like what our nominal Prime Minister did yesterday.

They are good at post mortems. Almost. It was a work of Lashkar, and SIMI. It can be Al Qaida too. It looks like RDX, but it could also be Gelatin sticks. No it was RDX indeed. It was remote controlled. No it was a timer device.

They will announce compensation. To add insult to the injury, they will visit injured, and families of dead. They will preach social harmony. They will beat their chests out with a resolve to tackle terrorism.

But in the end, they would do nothing. Where are pre-mortems? Where are lessons learned? I can not think of any significant terrorist incident after 9/11 in USA. Neither can I think of anything in Bali, Spain and London after their first ones.

But every quarter or so we see an incident happening in India, and every two year in Mumbai!

We have to tackle the root problem, and increase the vigilance of public transports at least. Bangladesh is as much a threat, as Pakistan. They must be dealt severely.

We are paying the price of Indira Gandhi's folly in 1971 -freedom of Bangladesh. Now instead of one enemy, we have two. We should fix this nuisance, and very fast.

If Israel was to be a soft nation, it would have been finished. Killers need to be paid back with same coin. We must not take any militant as a prisoner. Just kill him/her. Any militant, and his/her aides who ever they are must be finished, otherwise, either they would be freed after an hostage drama(Kandhar), or they would be freed by court on the lack of evidence(Parliament attack).

Our hostage policy should be of no-negotiations, which is there in theory, but not in practical. Every attempt of rescuing should be made, like Russia did a few years ago. Not only one would save many victims, and kill militants, we will also save national pride. This will also demotivate militants from doing this again.

We have an example closer home - Punjab. Had KPS Gill been soft, Punjab wouldn't have been one of the richest and most prosperous state.



Friday, July 07, 2006

Farming Needs A Paradigm Change

Farmers in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra have been committing suicide due to over grown debts, and hunger. This was a case with Andhra farmers too till the recent past.

Malnutrition too, is rampant in the northern and eastern part of the same and adjoining region.

Our Prime Minister have come and gone. A 'package' was announced. Two more of them parted with their life soon after.

Mind you, this is a rich state. The government at the center and the state is same. But still they can't think of a way to prevent these suicides.

I will think it for them. I have a bit of farming land available with me, therefore I do have bit of insight.

Agriculture accounts for 20 per cent of India's Gross Domestic Product GDP) and 58 per cent of Indian population depends on agriculture therefore,
farming needs a change, and a revolutionary one at that.

One problem with these farmers is cotton. Cotton is a Cash Crop i.e. it is primarily grown for money. Its not a Food Crop, which can be used for our consumption.

Cash Crops are generally high risk, high reward. Farmers take loan for seeds, irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides, and wait for the profits to pay them back and make money. But its not that simple.

Cotton is a difficult crop to grow. It will only grow in warm, humid climates or in warm climates with adequate irrigation.

The demand for fertilizers and pesticides are enormously high as compared to other crops. To aid mechanical harvesting, highly dangerous chemical defoliants are used, some of which are known to cause birth defects.

For e.g., the Union Carbide plant at Bhopal, site of the world's worst industrial disaster, was producing carbamate pesticides largely for use on cotton.

Due to extra fertilizer, irrigation, and pesticides requirement, success rate for this crop is low. But to repay the debt, and due to impending crop failure fear, farmers grow this crop in large amounts. As a result, we have a bumper crop.

Unfortunately, prices for major cash crops are set in commodity markets with global scope, with some local variation based on freight costs and local supply and demand balance.

A consequence of this is that a nation, region, or individual producer relying on such a crop may suffer low prices should a bumper crop elsewhere lead to excess supply on the markets.

This means not only the loss for the farmer, but also the inability to pay back the debts.

Along with this large amounts of precious water and fertile land is used to grow cotton as a cash crop to repay debts, whilst there are shortages of agricultural land and water for food crops to feed the people who live there.

My suggestion would be to strike a balance between Cash and Food crops. One has never heard of a farmer suicide or malnutrition in so called poor state like Uttar Pradesh.

This is because, though farmer there do rely on cash crops like sugar cane, Mangoes, but a large share of their fertile land is also used for vegetable and other food crops like potatoes, grains etc.

Food crops are consumption oriented. Demand and supply also decide the price here, but a farmer's family would not die of hunger or malnutriton if his price is not achieved. The family can feed on it, but certainly one can't eat Cotton, Jute or Coffee!

So government must ensure that a balanced farming between Cash and Food is the need of the hour. And anyway, increasing reliance on cash crops tends to have adverse, long term environmental consequences.

Terms poor and poverty are used frequently with the farmers. We need to change that. The purpose is to increase the productivity and nutritional quality of the plants.

Productivity can be increased by making the plants resistant to fungus, bacteria and virus while the nutritional quality can be improved by making the plant resistant to adverse condition like drought and salinity.

Genetically Modified (GM) foods are an answer. GM potato developed have four to six times increase in tuber yield, 35 per cent to 45 per cent increase in protein and an increases in amino acid.

Then we should also move towards non traditional farming like growing aromatic and medicinal plants. These plants can grow in any type of land, they don't require much water, and since they give a quaint aroma, animals and insects stay away from them.

Needless to add, due to huge demand in market especially drug market, they are big money spinners. They can change the life style of Indian farmers. Medicinal plants like Ashwagandha, Sarpagandha, Kalmegha, Mint are very profitable.

Jatropa based diesel is the next big thing in India. Ethanol blending in petrol, which is eco-friendly too, is here to stay, and has a big global market. If you do not believe me - ask Brazil.

If you can't go that far - go and visit Central Institute Of Medicinal And Aromatic Plants, Lucknow. They have been changing life of the farmers.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

One Big Slum

Kabir said....
Ati Ka Bhala Na Bolna, Ati Ki Bhali Na Choop
Ati Ka Bhala Na Barasna, Ati Ki Bhali Na Dhoop

How well Mumbiites and Delhites will relate to the second line! Till only two years back, one would talk of Mumbai rains with a romantic tinge. These days it brings fear of God.

They say once private builders move into a city, the 'slummisation' of the city begins. Today this city is one big slum - of concrete. The builder-politico nexus has virtually killed the city.

Generally, in any city, the walled city is the haphahazard one, and the new areas are better planned and livable. In Mumbai it's the reverse. That means that there has been no planned new construction.

One has to look at a Hyderabad or a Delhi to learn what planned construction is all about.

Pune too is going Mumbai's way, or should I say already gone. On every hillock, and every pit, you can see apartments coming up without any proper roads. Whatever roads were there are either very narrow, or they have been washed away in the just-begun monsoons.

There is no entity called Pune Development Authority, while most other cities do have. They might have never developed a single apartment over here. Builders do it all. But they don't make roads. Corporation guys don't seem to do that either.

I pity those people who pay obscene sum to the builders, after taking ridiculous amount of loan, for the nth floor flat, in a building which lies in the remotest pit of the city with no roads, no corporation water, and no shops around.

One day, that pit will also get filled with rain water. Like it did last year.

This is what I call a slum, even though its not by the strict definition. Bad town planning has killed this paradise.

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Monday, July 03, 2006


I had first read Koyal by Gayaprasad Shukla 'Sanehi' when I was a kid. It is that inspiring even now.

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