Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year and Doordarshan

Idler – ‘Don’t you think we should do something different this New Year’s Eve, sweetie?’

Mrs. Idler – ‘Please....for God’s sake. Today is December 31 and I don’t want to hear anything weird or funny.’

Idler – ‘We have been attending similar New Year parties year after year. Resort, club, pub or hotel – they all seem the same to me. Aren’t you bored? I want something unique this year.’

Mrs. Idler –‘Drink and start clowning around. That will be unique.’

Idler – ‘I am serious.’

Mrs. Idler –‘What’s your problem?’

Idler – ‘We go to a party, have drinks, get lost in the crowd, return home and sleep. Every year it is the same. I find it monotonous. I am bored’

Mrs. Idler – ‘What do you suggest? I am warning you – nothing out of the world or silly.’

Idler – ‘I want to celebrate in some quiet and cosy place, away from the crowd.’

Mrs. Idler – ‘Where will you find such a place?’

Idler – ‘Many of my friends will celebrate in their home. They are fed up with resorts and clubs. I feel times are changing.’

Mrs. Idler – ‘You think we should miss New Year’s party?’

Idler – ‘We can celebrate at home. We can light a bonfire. The house will become cosy.’

Mrs. Idler – ‘Stay back, drink, eat and sleep. That’s your idea of unique celebration?’

Idler – ‘Well.....we can..... watch TV. Doordarshan; to be precise.’

Mrs Idler – ‘Doordarshan? I had warned you.........’

Idler – ‘We eagerly waited for the New Year programmes of Doordarshan in the eighties. I recently saw the promo of this year’s programme. It featured Usha Uthup, Amit Kumar and some other singers I could not identify....’

Mrs. Idler – ‘Will you stop being nostalgic?’

Idler – ‘I grew up with Doordarshan. Aren’t you nostalgic about it?’

Mrs. Idler – ‘I am not as old as you are. I did not grow up in the eighties.’

Idler – ‘Why don’t you ask your father if he too is nostalgic about Doordarshan?

Mrs Idler – ‘Stop grumbling.’

Idler – ‘I was surprised to know Doordarshan still shows special programmes on New Year’s Eve. I want to see what type of programmes they show these days.’

Mrs. Idler – ‘Why are you talking about Doordarshan?’

Idler – ‘No particular reason, I was.....’

Mrs. Idler – ‘So you want to stay back and watch Doordarshan?’

Idler – ‘The special programmes in those would be a complete package of music, song and dance. And yes, humour would be the highlight. Do you remember the poker-faced humorist Sharma and his chaar laina?

Mrs. Idler – ‘I have never heard about him.’

Idler – ‘Surendra Sharma appeared on Doordarshan in a New Year’s programme and became a national celebrity overnight. That was the might of Doordarshan in those days.’

Mrs. Idler – ‘So have you made up your mind?’

Idler – ‘And then Jaspal Bhatti started appearing on New Year’s programmes. Can anybody today match his satire?’

Mrs. Idler – ‘If you like humour so much why can’t you stand the comedy shows being shown now.’

Idler – ‘Not only humour. It was Doordarshan that introduced Osibisa to the people of India through the New Year’s programme in 1982. You were not even born then.’

Mrs. Idler – ‘Will you stop idling away your time?’

Idler – ‘Those days were easy. On December 31 night, we would settle in front of the TV by 10 o’ clock. We would cover ourselves with shawls and blankets. It would be very cold outside but our room would be warm’

Mrs. Idler –‘Anything else?’

Idler –‘Sometimes, our neighbours who did not have TV would also join us. Our house would become more cosy and lively. We would wish one another at midnight......’

Mrs. Idler – ‘Stop this nonsense. You can watch Doordarshan. I will attend the party.’

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Nostalgic with Ooh la la, ooh la la........

My father, if I happened to be around,would always switch channels whenever the song ‘Ooh la la, ooh la la’ came as promo for ‘The Dirty Picture.’ I am not sure whether he is a prude or did not want to watch the promo in my presence.

I started liking the song as I heard it repeatedly on television and radio. Initially I thought that the male singer was trying to imitate Bappi Lahiri. Later I realised Bappi Lahiri was the singer.

I have downloaded the song. Earlier I played it when my father was not at home. Now I play the song in high volume even when my father is around.

I recently read somewhere that people have a fascination for things which they see or hear while growing up. Very true. Perhaps this is the reason why I have started liking the song and play it even in my father’s presence.

Bappi Lahiri became the most sought-after music composer in themid-eighties – the decade in which I grew up.

Two actors reached the peak of their careers in the early eighties – Jeetendra with the success of Himmatwala and Mithun Chakraborty with Disco Dancer becoming a hit. Bappi Lahiri was the music composer of both movies.
As Jeetendra and Mithun Chakraborty became the top actors of Hindi cinema, Bappi Lahiri became the most sought-after music composer. The other prominent music composers like RD Burman and Laxmikant-Pyarelal had to take a back seat.
I remember the radio programme Chitralok of the mid-eighties. In promo after promo, Ameen Sayani in his typical voice would say ‘Bappee Lahiree kaa jhil..milaa... sangeet’ or ‘aur... is film ke sangeetkaar hain.... Bappee Lahiree.’

‘The Dirty Picture’ is set in the eighties. I am yet to see the movie. As far as the song ‘Ooh la la, ooh la la...’ is concerned, it has rightly captured the mood of the music of the eighties.
When you start liking the voice of the singer or the tune of a song; the lyrics or its meaning hardly matter; even if they are bawdy. For me, the song Ooh la la, ooh la la_ _ _ became a journey to my childhood.

On hearing Bappi Lahiri singing the first line of the second stanza of the song – ‘Gira ke apna pallu baar baar......’ and the violin in the background, I travelled back in time. I wish music composers Vishal-Shekhar had used real violins instead of the synthesiser.

Initially, I thought Bappi Lahiri has composed the tune. The song had the combined effect of the songs of Sharaabi, Disco Dancer and Dance Dance. Vishal-Shekhar have done a great job.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Evergreen 'The Guide' or the evergreen guide?

The year was 1987. I was in class eighth.

One afternoon I returned home from school and quickly changed my dress and had lunch. I took Rs 2.25 from my mother and along with a friend rushed to Majum, a cinema in the neighbourhood.

We intended to see the matinee show of a movie. We reached the cinema at 2 p.m. The show was to begin at 3 p.m.

There was a big crowd at the cinema. My friend and I joined the long queue in front of the ticket window.

‘The queue is long. The show will begin after an hour. We will get the tickets,’ I told my friend.

The person standing in front of me overheard my words, turned back and said, ‘The queue is for the tickets of the evening show; not for the matinee show.’

‘What? Tickets for the evening show?’ I cried in shock. ‘What about the tickets for the matinee show?’ I asked.

‘All sold,’ said the man.

My friend and I looked at each other. We did not have any option but to return home. We were students of class eighth; could not while away hours in a cinema; our parents were strict and strongly believed in corporal punishment. Dejected, we returned home.

We again tried on the following day but failed.

I was scared on the third day to seek permission from my mother. Somehow I gathered courage and pleaded with her to allow me to try for the last time. She relented.

I sprinted to the cinema in the afternoon and found the queue for tickets on the third day also long.

I joined the queue. I was exhausted by the time I reached the ticket window. I was squashed up in the queue, my hair had got dishevelled and dress crumpled. Still, I felt like a victor when I pushed my way through the crowd around the ticket window, holding high the tickets in my fist.

I finally watched the movie. The movie was Johnny Mera Naam.

Johnny Mera Naam ran for four weeks at Majum. All the shows ran full house. Many complained that they could not get the tickets and watch the movie.

Johnny Mera Naam was released in 1970. It ran full house shows even in 1987.

The world of Hindi movies saw many changes in the 17 years from 1970 to 1987.

The period saw the emergence of Rajesh Khanna as the superstar in the late sixties with the release of Aradhana.

By mid-seventies, Rajesh Khanna’s unchallenged stardom and popularity started falling with the rise of Amitabh Bachchan.

Amitabh Bachchan was the superstar of the early eighties as well. The decade also witnessed other stars reaching the peak of their career – Jeetendra with Himmatwala and Mithun Chakraborty with Pyar Jhukta Nahin, Disco Dancer and Dance Dance.

One thing remained intact in the 17 years - Dev Anand’s charm and charisma.

Today, no actor can imagine his or her movie will run full house shows 17 years after being released. No doubt, Dev Anand was known as an evergreen actor. But was Dev Anand evergreen or his movies?

Two years later, in 1989, another movie of Dev Anand, Sachche Ka Bol Bala was released. My brother, then 19, was eager to see the movie. Not for Dev Anand but for Jackie Shroff. He had become a great fan of Jackie Shroff.

My brother did not undergo the difficulties that I faced for getting the tickets for Johnny Mera Naam. He easily got the tickets for the ‘first day, first show’ of Sachche ka Bol Bala.

My brother was dejected when he returned home after watching the movie. ‘Jackie Shroff was hardly visible in the movie; the movie revolved around Dev Anand,’ he said. Dev Anand was also the director of Sachche Ka Bol Bala.

My brother was once a fan of Dev Anand. But he liked the young Dev Anand in his movies of the sixties and seventies and not the old Dev Anand in his movies of the eighties and nineties.

Being an idler, I have ample time to watch movies on television at home. I am waiting for the time when movie channels will repeatedly on television show Johnny Mera Naam, Jewel Thief and The Guide.