Sunday, April 28, 2013

174 Monday Musings: Two movies

174 Monday Musings: Two movies

Most movies tell stories. Some become stories. The eighties were generally tacky, gaudy, loud, preposterous, formula flicks which, as some would argue represented the worst phase of Indian cinema. There were typical formulas, of brothers separating, village thakur as the villain  who would often kill the honest father, revenge, the avenging of the sister's honor, a few dances with a dozen costumes, and a hapless crying mother. One cringes when he sees any one of those horrible ones on the TV, even though i am told there is a fan club of that genre of movies, who get together to watch them for old time sake. Clearly, an imminently forgettable phase of Indian Hindi cinema. 

As the eighties was drawing to a close and around 1990, two movies got released and i would argue they represented a decisive shift in Hindi cinema. Qyamat se Qyamat tak, otherwise known as QSQT, a love story with brilliant songs under the absolutely fresh music director duo Jatin Lalit and directed by the young Mansoor Khan, brought back the genre of romance back after almost a decade. Most importantly, the movie spoke the language of the youth, its impatience with the restrictive structures of those times, pretty much coinciding with the build up to the 1991 economic reforms and the anti Mandal commission agiatation. Indian youth was wanting to be freed, and QSQT became a smashing hit riding on that wave. The death of the leading couple at the hands of fighting elders only galvanized the youth to fight against regressive world views. Good melody came back to prominence in an industry which was flooded with cheeky lyrics and extremely forgettable tunes for quite some time then. Interestingly, QSQT celebrates 25 years this year and I am told Amir Khan is planning to do a get together. I hope he also talks about how, in a limited sense, critical was the movie in the history of cinema and the social history of India. 

Ashiqui got released right at the beginning of the 90's, and represented the rush of melody back in Indian cinema. The leading pair, unknown small stars, under the hero's jacket adorned the covers of the T series magnetic tape cassettes. The music was a smashing hit because it was hummable, brought by the brand new Nadeem Shravan, sung by then unknown singers, under the tutelage of the slain music baron Gulashan Kumar - all of them to become household names within years. Ashiqui taught everyone that good music can sell and it can shoulder the entire movie if good enough. India opended its eyes post Mandal, post reforms with the songs of Ashiqui on its lips. Last week Ashiqui 2 was released as a tribute to its predecessor. Whatever be the merits of the movie, it is unlikely that it will capture the youth's imagination in this version as the first version did, owing purely to the circumstances then and the fact that it broke new ground. 

Most movies tell stories, some become stories, for what they end up being associated with. 


QSQT was the first movie i saw in a theatre. I was 15. Ashiqui was the first cassette i bought. I was 17. I guess that makes both of them personally significant. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

173 Monday Musings: The Signs

173 Monday Musings: The Signs
We look for signs all the time in life, for approval, validation and permission.
Different cultures treat various events, objects and occurrences as good omen or bad. For example in India sneezing or a black cat crossing your way when you are beginning something is considered as a bad sign, but finding a penny in western culture is associated with good luck.  Animals can be symbols of good luck in various cultures like, dolphins ancient Greece, pigs in Germanic cultures, tortoise in Feng Shui, and Red bats and tigers in Chinese cultures. Gifting certain things can be associated with good omens like gifting a laughing Buddha or a used horseshoe, or bamboo. On the other hand breaking a mirror, spilling salt, walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella inside, putting new shoes on the table or calling someone from behind as he is leaving home forebodes bad luck.
Beyond good and bad signs and omens, certain concurrent events are considered indicative. For example repeated sneezing means someone is remembering you, when a lizard makes a sound as you have said something indicates that it is true, crowing of crow means guests are on their way, itching on the right palm means you will receive money.
The ones described above are institutionalised superstition and signs, however we also have our personal signs that help us take decisions, get validated and offer hope. Let me share some that i have heard from friends and foes alike.
A friend wrote the name of the prospective groom on one chit with two blanks and picked one in front of the household deity to see if the divine was blessing the union. Another friend, who was quite attached to her father, discovered her feelings for a gentleman, on the precise day she was attending  her father’s death anniversary, treated it as her father blessing the relationship. Yet another friend, considers the company he works for the best for him, because it’s the name of his mother.
We are unsure and insecure deep inside. We find comfort in innocuous things, events and coincidences, which we consider as signs of divine providence. It assures us, and come to think of it, what is wrong with it.
Look around – there are signs for everything.