September 24, 2011

Events Listing

January 3, 2014

13 Best Hindi Songs of 2013

They say that this is a new era in the Hindi Film Industry. They say India is the next big thing on the World Cinema platform. Its true that  we have the Dibakars and the Anurags of the world; But ruling the roost are the Rohit Shettys, Prabhudevas and the Sajids of the world who have repackaged the atrocious films of the early 90s in super a Slo-Mo and Supa- Flying Comico-Action packed disasters.

Same applies to the Hindi music scene, wherein we have taken a step forward and three steps backwards at the least. Crass is the new class. Let’s not get into the details of those three steps backwards (or in any direction or the lack of it) where we have the worst of music, lyrics, singers, cinematography and so forth.

I couldn’t manage to collate even two dozen good songs this year and thankfully we are not heading into the year 2025 now. It makes my choice simpler as here I get to share 13 (Thanks to Coke Studio) of my favorite songs from 2013.

13.  Alvida (D-Day)

Lyrics: Niranjan Iyenger  Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy  Singers: Nikhil D’Souza, Sukhwinder Singh, Shruti Hassan and Loy Mendonsa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3or1BWSI9iU

An varied mix of singers along with some good lyrics makes this song quite interesting. Sukhwinder Singh still has that knack of taking a song from a level to the next level with absolute ease. Shruti Hasan seems to have better vocal skills than the acting skills.

12.  Khushamadeed (Go Goa Gone)

Lyrics: Priya Panchal  Music: Sachin-Jigar  Singer: Shreya Ghoshal

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA5nEkXHGcA

Sachin-Jigar are probably best known for their Song ‘Saibo’ and to be fair to them they have given some decent music over a short period (not taking into account their long struggle). This song doesn’t fit into the narrative of the film at all but is tailor-made for Shreya who does absolute justice to it.

11. Benaam Khwaayishein (Coke Studio)

Lyrics: Pinky Poonawala Music: Papon  Singer: Anweshaa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbyA8DiAGx8

Unlike last year Clinton Cerejo and Amit Trivedi, have been disappointing in this year’s Coke studio.  But the find of this year’s Coke studio has been Angaraag ‘Papon’ Mahanta for his compositions and the find of Papon has been Anweshaa. Papon’s love for ghazals is well known and it is really heartening to see him compose such beautiful ghazal. We need more of these.

10.  Kaun Mera (Special 26)

Lyrics: Irshad Kamil  Music: M.M.Kreem  Singer: Papon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW9kO3-JOgY

M.M. Kreem has been one of the most under rated musicians of our times. Whenever he has been given an opportunity, he has done a fantastic job. Even though there are a few versions of this song penned by the talented Irshad Kamil, I just love Papon’s version (you may call this a personal bias).

9. Man Manam (Coke Studio)

Lyrics: Hazrat Shah Niyaz Barelvi  Music: The Sufi Gospel Project  Singer: Sonam Kalra

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbTJa5TATmg

Coke Studio (Ind or Pak) + Sufi Music + Lovely voice= Give it to me any time of the day. Superbly sung by Sonam, this isn’t a song; this is an introspective drive.

8. Meethi Boliyan (Kai Po Che)

Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire  Music: Amit Trivedi  Singers: Mili Nair, Amit Trivedi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTkuErFgRS8

Of all the songs in the film, I particularly like this one. This may fall in the same genre as ‘Khushamadeed’ listed above, but the real difference here is Amit Trivedi- the musician and Amit Trivedi- the Singer.  A song about friendship, freedom and life. And for all moments.

 7.  Zinda (Lootera)

Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharaya  Music: Amit Trivedi   Singer: Amit Trivedi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgHLvt0rxmM

Amit Trivedi yet again. The best part about him is the fact that he gets under the skin of the films that he is composing for and he understands the gist and the feel of the movie. As a result he delivers something par excellence (even though some may call him repetitive).  Amitabh Bhattacharaya can surprise you with some great lyrics specially when he works with Trivedi.

6 . Sati (Coke Studio)

Lyrics: Traditional Music: Salim-Suleiman Singers:  Salim Merchant, Vijay Prakash ft. Taufique Qureshi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-uFWNiWuGQ

A very intense song with a theme on the ‘Sati’ practice in not so ancient India, and the Sati practices which we still see today. This has a superb use of percussions thanks to Taufique Qureshi. I have never rated Salim-Suleiman in the league of extraordinary composers, but this composition highlights what they are capable of doing.

5.  Zariya (Coke Studio)

Lyrics: Traditional Jordanian lyrics, Prasoon Joshi Music: A.R. Rahman Singers: Ani Choying Drolma, Farah Siraj  Backing Vocals: Abhilasha Chellum, Deblina Bose, Kanika Joshi, Prajakta Shukre, Sasha Tirupati , Varsha Tripathy, Aditi Paul, Suchi, Rayhanah, Issrath Quadhri

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlaZSx6tqRo

There are a few moments that money can buy, but for that goose-bump moment there is A.R. Rahman. If we say that Rahman has lost his touch and charm, think again.. the problem may lie with us because what Indo-Western music can be, only this man can present to us. Go find a nun from Nepal or a folk singer from Jordan and bring them together to give us a spiritual nirvana through music and then let’s talk about Rahman’s shortcomings, if any. Equally brilliant in this composition is that chorus of 10 ladies, who in every respect are individually a complete singer.

4.  Shikayatein (Lootera)

Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharaya Music: Amit Trivedi Singers: K.Mohan, Amitabh Bhattacharaya

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN5dP3BZALQ

Ah! Mohan Kanan. He is always there and yet you never know or see much of him. This is his brilliance.  Trivedi’s knack of getting some interesting musical notes in between a song makes the heart sink, something only Rahman has done time and again (remember ‘hey eye e ee heya’ from Dil hai chota sa, Roja). This is a really melodious number with Trivedi’s dark/grunge undertones.

3.  Maaru Bihaag (Balcony TV)

Lyrics: Traditional  Music: Hari & Sukhmani  Singers: Hari & Sukhmani

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4jteZ397kQ

I don’t have any knowledge of raagas and bandishei, but over the course of time I have realized that a fusion/jugalbandi between Indian classical and modern music is that kind of  music which transports me to that high state where we all want to be in. Sukhmani has a wonderful voice quality backed  with sense of classical training and its really good to see Hari and Sukhmani to take a step out of their comfort zone (i.e. folk music) marvelously.

2. Paagal (Coke Studio)

Lyrics: Winit Tikoo  Music: Winit Tikoo Band  Singer: Winit Tikoo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Izn_0_zWAhM

A song of longingness. A song for the rains. A song about craziness. The is a song about all this. Guitars, Tablas and Sarangi… and if you fail to get transported to that rain laden feeling around you that captures all your senses, you better start living.  The last three and a half minutes of the song are just as blissful as it can get.

1. Khumaar (Coke Studio)

Lyrics: Vaibhav Modi  Music: Papon  Singer: Papon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KT2D-L283k

Papon, Paponn…Paponnnnn… I don’t think that even Papon realizes how big a singer he is. And when you see someone of his caliber composing such passion-filled compositions, you realize there is more to life. He instills such faith in you. A song about the morning after a passionate love making, a song about longing, a song about love.. Vaibhav Modi did indeed make a super wise decision by not letting Papon compose and sing this song with anyone else but him. This is for Papon. I must have heard it over 200 times since its release in mid-September. Khumaar- My song of the year.

-RKay

August 29, 2013

Zameer Ke Bandi/Prisoners of Conscience (1978)

Anand Patwardhan’s 1978 documentary on the brutalities committed by the regime before and during the emergency and the  social/class struggle that existed almost 4 decades ago rings true even today.

With elections of 2014 round the corner, the usual drumming up of achievements real and imaginary have begun, amidst the din of new promises being made and old being renewed, there is a strange demand for a more authoritative ruler, some are brazen enough to suggest that what India needs is a dictator. All this, while there is an increase in the authoritarian behaviour of the government and police state like situation in certain parts of the country.

Zameer Ke Bandi can help gives us a glimpse of how or what that could be like. The reforms and revolution that the interviewees had hoped and professed would be put in place after the end of the emergency have either been diluted in implementation or have been completely swept under the table.

While it is true, that the limited options before us are in no way ideal, we must try and make the best possible choice. Dear reader please choose wisely.

August 28, 2013

Baraka (1992)

It is only fair that such a beautiful non-verbal film receives a visual tribute. Having said that the film’s sound track deserves equal mention,  ambient sounds combined with a moody a musical score make for a meditative trip.

Everything that I’ve felt and thought about Baraka has been articulated far better in this  review by Roger Ebert.

July 27, 2013

Ship of Theseus

Sisyphus keeps on trudging forward, up. Never rests. No breaks. The goal is hollow but the task must be done. We must imagine Sisyphus to be happy, wrote Camus. I say, we must imagine Sisyphus to be curious. The next defines the now, a choice chooses that next, and this choice makes Sisyphus free, independent and un-machine. The choice, perhaps, makes him happy.

The blindness becomes a creative volcano. Sight overwhelms. Construction and destruction are violent decisions, daily chores. The choice of letting the camera be, inside a bag, safe, unimportant. The panorama that the eyes imagine is beautiful, real and intoxicating. But so is the crossroad under a trafficked flyover.

A city wakes up. We refocus every day; to work, to pray, to fight a legal battle, to live a life. Then we reject this redundant glamour. A vast landscape of barren land with machinic interruptions welcomes us. There are pigeonholes of solitude and socialization. You go so blind doing your task, that curiosity vanishes, again. Existence-less. Pre-existence. The body merges with the environment as light falls through, almost. And then we are born again.

Computer. Numbers. Hospital bed. Bed pan. Art. Friends. Husbands. Kidneys. The impossibility of everyday life. There is nothing harder than living, though existence is a given. You try and achieve a feat so noble, so novel, it hurts. Such optimism comes to nought. This, my dear friend, is as good as it gets.

I wonder if the gods will descend one fine day and reveal their blessed selves. In the riot that will follow, they will make their voices heard. They will shout with the might of centuries’ worth of unused power. And they will ask, how do you live? And for once, in a gesture of good faith, we all will look them in the eye and breathe a conscious breath, and say, we live like cave men, ever curious.

 ***

In a way, Ship of Theseus is like the final chapter of The Clockwork Orange. So optimistic, so utterly magnificent in thought, ‘feel good’ (as a blog post put it about SOT). And this goes for the film both within and without. This, that, the other, the othered that and the this that that could have been; everyone, everything has seen pain. The bad has become the norm. The complexities of life are omnipresent, in politics, arts, science and relations. This post-modern world demands its own movement. As Anand Gandhi tweeted a while back, changing the cultural environment beckons. Let us all participate. Cynics should sleep, at least for this one.

July 16, 2013

Leo Cohen says…

“I am locked in a very expensive suit
old elegant and enduring
Only my hair has been able to get free
but someone has been leaving
their dandruff in it
Now I will tell you
all there is to know about optimism
Each day in hub cap mirror
in soup reflection
in other people’s spectacles
I check my hair
for an army of alpinists
for Indian rope trick masters
for tangled aviators
for dove and albatross
for insect suicides
for abominable snowmen
I check my hair
for aerialists of every kind
Dedicated as an automatic elevator
I comb my hair for possibilities
I stick my neck out
I lean illegally from locomotive windows
and only for the barber
do I wear a hat”
― Leonard CohenFlowers for Hitler

July 7, 2013

Lootera: Thoughts for those who have seen the film

Lootera-First-look

Is film ki khasiyat ye hai ki iski kahani baaki sab cheezon par haavi hai. sab actors apne apne kirdaar nibhaate hain aur chale jaate hain magar kahani ke upar koi nahi hai. aur aisa isliye mumkin hua kyunki is film mein zyaddti nahin hai. minimal hai. controlled, restrained and hence gripping.

Is film ki har baat, har scene, har sub-plot us aakhri patte ki taraf le jaate hain. aur wo patta sirf ek emotional climax nahin hai, wo ek way of life hai, in sab characters ka aur shayad is film ke director ka bhi. Ek cheez par itna bharosa, itni lagan ke uske na hone se ultimate tragedy, maut. Koi bhi film kisi text se adapt ki jaaye to isi tarah ki jaaye. Us original ke jazbe ko ek nayi kahani mein ghol kar jab piyein to nasha aur bhi badh jaata hai. ek film (aur wo bhi commercial film) ke saath aisa karne mein risk to hai magar Vikram Motwane se agar poochein toh the risk must be worth it.

***

Background score aur camera ke beech ka dance bahut kuch kehta hai. chahe interval se pehle ka revelation ho ya phir ek viraan kasbe ki galiyon mein bhagdar.

The birth of love through an infliction is commonplace for cinema and storytelling, and the same has been beautifully framed in Lootera.

The less-assured camera in the second half gives the unreasonable faith believability.

 

***

Ye jo shabd hain na, minimal, understated, simple; in shabdon ke saath ek bahut badi problem hai. ye gunjaaish nahin chhodte. Agar zara bhi zyada kiya to pakde jaaoge. Baazi ka gaana hi kaafi tha, itni baatein kyun? “Dalhousie, 1954” supertitle kyun, “cigarette smoking…” to kam se kam kone mein dhundhla sa hota hai. jis bachpane aur ummeed se bulb jal-bujh raha tha usi tarah se wo patta hawa mein jhool raha tha. Uske baad ka closure kyun?

Khair, ye sawaal personal hain. Mere hain. Aur jaisa kisi bade aamdi ne kaha tha, ek film ka sachha criticism ek aur film hai, to shayad ye sab excesses meri us critical film mein nahin honge.

 

June 30, 2013

Size does matter

I came across this fascinating video on how aspect ratio has evolved over the years and has shaped our movie watching experience.

Have you ever wondered if your movie going experience would be any different had you watched it in a different theater?  The answer seems intuitive right…of course it would be, sound systems, projection systems, screen dimension et all play a role in creating the experience.

With the onset of multiplexes and standardization this may not be as evident as it were in the past.

Do head over to FilmmakerIQ.com and check out some of their other videos, they also have some very well structured courses on various aspects of film making.

Vimeo too has some amazing tutorials and informative videos on cinema.

 

April 14, 2013

Evolution of film titles

In continuation to our discussion on evolution of films

March 25, 2013

It’s celluloid… it’s digital…no, it’s cinema.

It probably requires a more experienced and learned mind to explore something so technical in an art form. But this technicality results in a gratification for the viewer, making him the most apt administrator of subjectivity.

The argument is fairly simple; digital vs. celluloid.

Like all things new, digital has its fair share of detractors because of the fact that the quality of image on film is far more superior, and with a certain artistic character, than it is on a microchip. To a director and a cinematographer, this means a great deal because they are the ones whose vision gets imprinted on both these media. One look at the recently coloured Mughal-e-Azam vis-à-vis the original is ample proof of the limitations of digital image manipulation. But when as a viewer you look at the histrionics of The Matrix with its slow motion gun fights, helicopter chases and lavish multiple roles, it becomes evident that digital must lead to the exploration of a new tangent in the history of cinema. Cost, distribution, safety and archival value are some of the aspects within whose framework this debate may be taken forward. But as implied earlier, this exercise is fairly academic. [Side By Side, a recent documentary on this very issue tried to go deeper into this argument. Watch it if you need to go into the depth of digital and celluloid filmmaking. Watch it anyway, it is a nice film.]

Mine is a generation of digital film buffs. Not so much because we have seen only digitally made films but more so because we have seen most films digitally. Cinephiles pay enormous sums of money and invest entire lifestyles to watch all kinds of films on the big screen. But most of these screenings are digital in nature. No matter how the film was shot, its exhibition on most screens is digital. And to top that, the pirate bay (and others) has helped feed the starved cine buffs with a constant supply of classics from around the globe. And we of course watch them on our small computer screens, or in some cases project them digitally onto a relatively bigger screen. The point is that we hardly know how an Eisenstein or Lang looks when projected naturally on a big screen. The relation between the audio and the video must be different to that witnessed by many on our computers. Even if one takes the ‘beautiful’ Hollywood as an example, Leave Her To Heaven must surely feel different when seen through celluloid. What is this difference? How does it affect a viewer-screen relationship? I do not know, but would want to experience dearly. I will go to see a Bergman or a Dreyer on the big screen in spite of what the projection is, but it would be so much more appealing if it was through actual celluloid. Having said this, it would be really unfair to ask all exhibitors of good classics (like PVR in India) to strictly conform to standards of projections. Beggars can’t be choosers, but every once in a while we ought to be pampered.

Good cinema is not prisoner to trivialities like microchips, cameras and projectors. If Chris Nolan swears by celluloid even when shooting The Dark Night Rises; good for him. But then if Leo Carax shoots Holy Motors on digital, he really shouldn’t get too grumpy about it either. Good cinema is good cinema.

Facts About Projection from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

March 21, 2013

Sonapani Film Festival, March 2013

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[This post is in Hindi, Urdu and English | Ye post Hindi, Urdu aur English mein hai]

Sonapani jaakar ek ajeeb si khushi ka ehsaas hota hai. ye soorat-e-haal imagine karein:

Pahadon mein sarsari si thand hai aur hawa thodi khushq hai. Ek cement se bana raasta dhalta dikhta hai, jaise invite kar raha ho ki aao, mujhpar chalo. Kuch hi door chalkar ek pagdandi kat-ti hai. Pedon ki chhaon se saja hua gaon ka yeh raasta kitna chup hai. Nazar seedha un barfile pahaadon par padti hai. Himalaya. Bahut door hain wo pahaad par jo dikh gaye, to maano chhoo hi liya. Gaon ke gharon ki chhaton par achaar dhoop sek rahe hain, baraamde mein ek kutta oongh raha hai aur ek-aadh bacchhe sheher se aate log dekhkar thoda lajawaab se hain. Itni chahal kadmee ke baad gala sookh raha hai, saans phool uthi hai. Ek aakhri dhalaan ke baad kuch hi metre door chand cottages dikhaye dete hain. Ye hi Himalayan Village Sonapani hai. Yahan filmein dekhai jaati hain.

Ek film buff ke liye film festival ki isse acchi setting ho hi nahi sakti.

***

Ghar par, main roz ek film dekhne ki koshish karta hun. Kayi din ek se zyada bhi dekh leta hun. Magar sab akele hi. Agar koi wahiyaad film dekhi to koi baat nahi, magar acchhi film dekhne ki khushi jab tak zaahir na ki jaaye, experience adhoora rehta hai. Koi bade festival (jaise Osian) mein bhaag daud itni hoti hai ki filmein bhool jaati hain. Ek visual fatigue sa aa jaata hai. Beshak wahan acchi film ke upar charcha hoti hai magar kuch fast forward mein.

Sonapani mein aaraam se filmein dikhayi jaati hain.

Gurpal (is festival ke curator) ka mijaaz aaraam talab hai. aur baat cheet karna unhein pasand hai. To isliye bina hadbadahat ke filmein chalti hain aur free-wheeling talk with the filmmakers hota hai. Aur host Ashish aur Deepa is baat ka khayaal rakhte hain ki sabka pet bhara rahe. Naashta, lunch, dinner to jayaz hai, magar wo sham ki chaaye, 7 baje ka soup aur raat hote hote garam appetizers, film appreciation ko ek naya ayaam dete hain.

3 din ke is festival mein 3 filmmaker hissa lete hain. Unki filmein lined-up rehti hain. Is baar FTII ke pass outs Surabhi Sharma, Amit Dutta aur Susant Misra aaye the. Kuch technical problems ke kaaran is baar kuch kam filmein dekh paaye magar jitni bhi dekhin, mazaa aa gaya. Surabhi ki filmon mein unke subject ke prati empathy thi, chahe wo planned city of Chandigarh ho ya Bambai ke bidesi. Susant ki filmein ek kahani ki gehraayi se zindagi nikaalne ki koshish kar rahi thin. Unke kirdaar ji rahe the aur dekhte hi dekhte film khatam ho jaati thi. Amit ka cinema ke liye pyaar aur pagalpan unki filmon mein saaf dikhta hai. Shabd aur image ka relation itne layers paida karta hai ki ek cinephile ke liye unki filmein khazaane ki tarah hain. Teenon hi filmmakers mein ek common influence obvious tha. Mani Kaul school of thought se paida huye time-space relation aur narrative simplicity ko hum har film mein khoj sakte hain.

***

Nainsukh! Waah.

Aisi bahut si filmein hain jinko dekhkar main roya hun, hasa hun ya mujhe mazaa aaya hai. Bahut kam aisi filmein hain jinko dekh kar dil khush hua hai. Nainsukh is doosri category mein aati hai. Kaise ek art form doosre art form se converse kar raha hai, aur aisa karne mein donon hi forms ko explore kiya jaa raha hai. Waah. Mujhe fine arts kabhi samajh nahi aaye (maine samajhne ki zyada koshish bhi nahi ki). Lekin jab cinema ke through miniature paintings ki baat uthi to un chhoti chhoti ‘descriptions’ ka matlab saaf huya. Ek painting ka drama recreate huaa celluloid par! Camera ka frame ek painting ki tarah rakhha gaya. Seedha. Static. Ek hi perspective ke saath. Aur usi moving image mein tension build ki gayi, chahe wo sher ke shikaar ka scene ho ya phir mehal ke andar mehfil ka. Agar camera kisi jagah perspective badal deta, painting ke doosri taraf se dekhta, to shayad main screening ke dauraan naachne lagta. Amit ne kaha ki aisa karna excessive ho jaata (camera ka movement, mera naachna nahin), aur kahin na kahin ye Nainsukh ki ‘language’ mein fit nahi hota. Haan, shayad. Magar main ab bhi maanta hun ki ek pal ke liye hi sahi, agar camera us language ko break karta to wohi language aur bhi zyaada ubhar kar viewers ko dikhti.

Ummeed hai ki ye film jald hi dvd par aayegi. Ek baar mein dil nahin bhara.

***

Sonapani baar baar aane par majboor karta hai. Khaaskar ek maverick filmmaker aur cinephile ko, jiske liye yahan seekhne laayak ek crore battees lakh cheezein hain. Pichhle saal isi festival mein Amlan Datta se mulakaat huyi thi. Tab pata laga ki zindagi ki koi disha nahi hoti. Wo film banane Malana gaye tha aur wahin ke ho gaye, ab shayad filmein bhi nahin banayege. Is baar digital aur celluloid ke beech ho rahi tug-of-war par baat hui. Digital mein technology haavi hoti hai aur celluloid mein dimaag (ya dil?). Digital filmmakers ko apne dimaag ki kasrat karni zaroori hai nahin to youtube ke video banane kaabil hi reh jaayenge. Aur aisi bahut si baatein hain jinmein se kuch andar jazb ho gayin hain aur kuch nashe mein kahin kho gayin hain. Khair…

Ab agle festival ka intezaar hai. Nayi filmein. Naye – puraane log. Nayi baatein. Puraani yaadein.

 

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