Kundan Shah and the puzzle

I couldn’t believe it was him. The title read Hum To Mohabbat Karega (2000), the director’s name Kundan Shah – the only way I could console myself was it must have been someone else by the same name. That was the influence of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994) on me. To be honest, I carry the same influence even today… so many years and movies older, so many layers of skin I may have had to shed. The magic still lingers. SRK always reminds Sunil to me. A cheerful un-hero, an everyday guy made of fun, family and lies, grows up in an instant of sudden spate of hormones. I had never seen a mediocre hero before, I don’t think I’ve seen afterwards too.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) was our cult classic while both I and the film were in our twenties. It was the only specimen we had with us to appreciate humor minus slapstick. It still remains a forerunner in the rarely populated world of dark satirical Hindi cinema… well, 35Y after the release. It’s tough to pick, but I can’t let go off the Mahabharata scene, and the “Thoda khao, thoda feko”, or the ‘gutter’ speech… and many more flock to me right now. That’s a mark of a classic anyway. I remember watching interviews on its making where the actors disclosed how difficult it was to shoot with the meager funds and how they fondly recalled giving the characters names scrambling their real names. What a dream team of cast and crew to bless a film… the cream of NSD/FTTI!

Kundan Shah passed away a few days back. My doubts on how and of course why he made HTMK faded soon after I left the theater. I didn’t find this question bothering me until I read an answer given by the wisest on this subject, the legend named Naseeruddin Shah.

Kundan was one of the very few honest guys in that pretentious lot of the 1970s and 80s alternative filmmakers. He spent himself completely with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro which is why he didn’t do anything close to it again. He will be missed.

He seemed to have plans of making a sequel to it. That’d have been useful to a few including me. He denied me the right to gather a thorough answer to my query.

It was a wonderful phase where we were all learning together.The last time I met Kundan was at a screening of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro at Nehru Centre a few years ago. He was working on putting a sequel together. I don’t know what happened, because I remember he mentioned to me that he wanted to change the script around. After him, the sequel will only remain a thought, I guess.” — Neena Gupta


AIB: Another sun rises in the west

It’s a long way from the regained political independence of 1947 to the imported cultural independence of AIB today. Indian comedy has taken a lot of pain and sweat to reach here. [Not repeating my words] What do this AIB and the whole gamut of current generation of stand-up comedians stand for? They are different from all their previous avatars… even from the more recent TV genre watered by the likes of Kapil Sharmas, Raju Srivastavas.Read More »

Jagga Jasoos

My friend said “It’s Tintin”, after he caught a trailer of Jagga Jasoos in which RK was seen dancing in school uniforms. I didn’t get his fantasy then. I watched the film. He was spot on. In fact it’s a ‘Tintin meets Indiana Jones’. It gets a whopping ‘go for it’ recommendation from my side despite being overindulging in parts – specially towards the end when it steps beyond the 62nd page.Read More »

Rock songs – my top picks

Let’s get straight to the point. These are my picks in the category of ‘Songs you must not die before listening to’. I’m keeping the scope of the selection limited to a language called English, a sketchy genre called rock songs this time around. (Do I need to say that the biggest limitation is my own limited exposure? It’s also a language I barely speak). I’ll try to cover as many singers/bands as I can so that the list doesn’t look predictably clustered around a chosen one or two. That’d also mean I’ll sacrifice many outstanding songs for the sake of uniformity across the table. Maybe I can group the songs around the names behind them. Ordering is a dated concept, I don’t care much. Those in RED are must before dying.

1.  AC/DC – It’s the most definitive and straight way to Rock n Roll, hard but not heavy, simple but not easy.

Shook me all night long / Highway to hell / Back in black / Thunderstruck

2. Bruce Springsteen – The Boss takes you to different flavors of honesty; hard, soft, folk or glam. He never had a writer’s block. He is one LIVE-time experience.

Brilliant disguise / Born in the USA / My hometown / The river / Tunnel of love / Human touch / Thunder road / …

3. REM – A cryptic journey that makes you wonder about your own consciousness. They weave through frequencies to create a department of sound engineering, I wouldn’t know what ‘alternative’ meant without them.

The great beyond / Man on the moon / Losing my religion / Orange crush

4. Nirvana – Minimalistic, grunge, angst.

In bloom / Smells like teen spirit / Been a son / Come as you are / You know you’re right

5. Pearl Jam – This is a band… maybe the band!

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town / Jeremy / Black / Even flow / Last kiss / Better man / Nothingman /  Given to fly / I am mine / Rearviewmirror / …

6. Alice in Chains – Singing lessons from a drug addict to anyone who wants to sing grunge or any other form of rock.

I stay away / Would? / Rooster / Rain when I die

7. Stone Temple Pilots – Grunge.

Interstate love song

8. Dire Straits – Mark Knopfler played, sang and headed this band.

Heavy fuel / Money for nothing / On every street / Walk of life / Brothers in arms / Romeo and Juliet / Tunnel of love

9. Motorhead – Devil-may-care Lenny is the quintessential rockstar. He stuck to his roots, of singing with head held high and spewing venom at death.

Ace of spades / Killed by death / Damage case

10. Soundgarden – Greatest singer according to many list with Matt Cameron on the drums – dark and heavy hardness of early grunge.

Jesus Christ pose / Black hole sun / Fell on black days / Outshined / Spoonman / Loud love

A lot more were expected, I know I’m not quite there. Assume I had a strict word limit in a minimalistic world. I’ve consciously kept the elitists of the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, The Who, Rolling Stones, Deep Purple out – I don’t listen to them (actually I don’t feel doing so) often and they are already parts of major playlists.

Raees, none the richer

Rahul Dholakia, the famous director of Parzania (2005), is not a hit maker, while SRK and the producers (his better half has a stake) of Raees are best known for their command over commerce. On paper, it’s an interesting combination of a semi-real plot and backdrop setting with the glitz of SRK, his larger than life character and its bearded look. In terms of Box Office collections, the film has had a decent run, crossed 100 Cr seamlessly.  Nawazuddin is brilliant in his role of a police officer. SRK does well as an actor. That’s about the plus points in Raees. The real or deglam sides of the movie doesn’t blend with the commercial aspects and the end result is a dull, insipid film. It’s a listless experience for me with no takeaway. I’m used to see much worse movies, but this is a sleepy hollow. It’s enough to say it’s watchable once to hardcore SRK fans. Aamir’s Dangal and Salman’s Sultan are far superior and far bigger success stories.