Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weekend audio

This weekend is for easy listening. This weekend is for nostalgia. I'm listening to perhaps the best duet of Kishore-Asha ever to have come out of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal factory. Film : Bandish (1980). So forceful and full-bodied. A simple, no-frills tune. Pedestrian lyrics. Not Bakshi Sahab's best. Just Kishoreda giving it his all in D-sharp. When he goes in full bloom, inane lines like " bahano ko chhodo, bahana bana do" sounds like Pulitzer winning stuff.

Words, words,words

I've recently taken issue with certain words that have come to represent the uber-chic of today. Given that I'm quite the philistine when it comes to high fashion, and the swinging high life in general, my point of view must not be taken seriously.

1. Ombre' Source

n. A French term meaning "shaded." Usually a multicolored stripe, with colors graduating from light to dark. The color effect is woven into the fabric. Generally produced by arranging different tones in the warp.

That doesn't even begin to convey the madness associated with it. How many times have we seen a halfway decent design idea stifled by overkill and a little French? Besides, what's so original about that light to dark theme in the first place, I ask? In Kolkata, in the early eighties, everybody and there uncles were wearing "loadshedding shirts", so ingeniously named after the ethos of the times ( loadshedding meaning powercuts) in which the light used to slowly go out top downwards. Exactly like the ombre' of today. I had one such beauty in red, though I don't have pics to show, alas!

And while we dwell on this, I have something else to ask. Does the repetitive ombre' also qualify? I mean I've had this shirt for some time, which I sparingly wear because I suspect it's too flashy, has it now fallen into the HOT category?

I really need to know. That shirt cost an obscene amount by my standards. I would love to save it from mothballs.

2. Bling


Def: Preity's necklace is bling. I have it on good authority.

Now here's a potent word. Can be used as one-off or in repetition (bling-bling), as a noun, or a verb (maybe adjective even, though I haven't come across that usage.) While this is otherwise a good strong word, what intrigues me is why something which makes an ejaculating sound should be used to describe gaudy jewelery. Nah, I'll discount that joke about mother explaining to kid how she gets her jewelry. Really, who needed another slang for funky tinsel when worthier candidates like himbo and farticle are begging for induction?


I love the word "bicurious". I also love Shah Rukh Khan. Yes, I know that'll take some explaining, so please read on. I think SRK is a master of repartees. A coupla years ago, when someone asked him "Are you metrosexual?" he replied, "No, I'm just sexual." A coupla months ago some intrepid scribe hinted " Are you bisexual?" he retorted " No, I'm Trisexual. I keep trying." (Laugh tracks)


But I'm still curious. I'm bicurious. No, not in THAT way, the horror! (I'm completely, what's the word now? 'heterorigid '; and I want to stay that way, thanks very much) I'm just curious to know if certain people are bi. Like, say, SRK and Karan. Like, say SRK and that Ramphal dude now. Just curious, y'know.

There, I've said it. I'll now prepare for the worst. Possibly libel action, maybe death threats. I'm afraid. Very afraid.

4. Trapeze


A beautiful word that evokes visions of scantily clad beauties flying high in the air. Curse on those fashionistas of today who have brought it to denote tent-like billowing cuts suited particularly for mid-heavy women and expecting mothers. Need I say more? O irony, how cruel can thou get?

I had a few more of them on my mind but seem to have lost steam. Contributions from my two-and-a-half readers will be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Streetcar Named Desire

All of this last week, in Kolkata, we revisited with bitterness that feeling of constantly walking in water. A mere 300 kilometers away, our sleepy Industrial township has summers when, if you happen to go out in the sun in late morning or mid-afternoon, in all probability you'll catch the loo (not what you think/ plis check out the link) and peacefully drop down and die. On the other hand, if you can mostly stay in the shade and have something cool to drink you'll be fine. Not so in Kolkata. There, thirty seconds outside air-conditioning can get you so wet the sweat will get into your eyes. BTW, I saw the same thing happening to Dhoni in Chennai the other evening. (T20 can be a cruel game, Charlie Brown.)

One evening, while coming back from hospital after visiting a post-surgery uncle, we met this creature.

We had to walk a few hundred yards home, and it was starting to pitter patter. So we hailed, and he did oblige. We sat, he pedaled. His rickshaw was a pleasure vehicle. The seats were low-slung, wider, softer and the hood, when raised, would allow you to sit straight even if you weren't a dwarf. As opposed to your house and garden variety rickshaws in a Kolkata neighborhood. Man was the ride way comphier than any other pedicab! And that peekaboo window at the back, so romantic! Before you raise your hands and holler, yes, the photo was taken the morning after. Be coming back to that.

We reached home and had to alight. Could've gone on for miles y'know. Radio Mirchi was playing Tashan Se on the rickshaw's sound system. We asked him how much. Just being polite. We Knew the fare. He said, "Ja Ichhchhey Diye Din" (Whatever you dim right) "Aar to ei sapta-ta achhi. Next week theke ar amake paben na." (You won't find me here next week on)
"Why? Is anything the matter?"
No. Apparently the Bangla Cinema-r lok-ra had come and talked him into working in a film, so he'd be busy with shooting and all.
The missus, cruel woman, still asked, was it your special pedicab, or yourself, that got them so interested? The man replied mischievously, both, Boudi, both. Thus ended an enjoyable evening of rickshaw-riding. I remember inquiring after the Director and Producer of his debut feature. Only he wasn't into those unimportant details. And how did the Bangla Cinema-r lok find him? Oh, they must have read his interviews in Bartaman and watched him on Tara Bangla.
We nodded in awe, and silently entered home. Us ordinary mortals, with the distinct feeling of having peeked into celebrity zone.

But the slow fluorescence kept itself flickering in my head. By next morn I had seen light. This man had to be put on yonder blog. I went to the rickshaw stand he plied from. He was out, So I had to leave a message and a number. Within minutes, a missed call. I called back, asked him to wait, and went fortified with my camera. I hope this video does justice to the cosiness of the rickshaw, resplendent with all sorts of blinking lights, and belting out chartbusters one after another.

One final nugget. While parting, I offered the fellow a twenty. Compensation for time spent, lost fare and all. I might have taken, like, fifteen minutes of his time. Surprisingly, while he was indifferent about fare earlier on, this time he practically snatched away another fifty with a smile and all the charm of a smooth operator. I was awestruck once again. This man clearly had star quality. He already knew the market economics of interviews and photo shoots. He also knew where real money was for the making. Maybe all these media people have got him wizened up.

Shooting starts on 29th. Wish Ashok-da all the very best.