December 28, 2015

Musical Discoveries 2015

F.i.g.h.t C.l.u.b

The Non-Bollywood music post. Here we look at regional languages, foreign languages, desi music movements and much more. Anything that we came across this year (doesn’t have to be released this year) and wasn’t bollywood music-y. Our previous posts like this can be found here for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. In no particular order, here goes 2015 list!

  1. The year started with a bang with Bickram ghosh and Sonu nigam’s ‘The music room’. The album might not have been everyone’s cup of tea because it presented us with the familiar voice treated in an experimental manner. The music arrangement and presentation was splendid to say the least. In the days when people are making songs for getting Bollywood validation or ‘clicks’, an effort like this actually goes a long way in keeping our faith floating. Do hear Saiyyan bina and walida to know what I…

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April 16, 2015

Vignettes from Shoton (Tibetan Opera Festival) 2015 @ TIPA


September 3, 2014

The History of Sound at the Movies

May 29, 2014

Review: Waters Close Over Us

Hartosh Singh Bal’s ‘parikrama’ of the Narmada spanning many years, manifests itself in this fantastic piece of work as  part travelogue, part anthro-socio-cultural documentation, part retelling of the  modern history of central India.

This broad canvas is littered with carefully placed strokes that mimic the tapestry of India and that only a keen eye could have observed in the first place. Much like his criss-crossing journey, the book leaps across eras as we deal with mythology, identity, social structure, tribal art forms and their fight for relevance. Where there is talk of Narmada, the dam and ‘development’ can’t be too far behind.

Bal manages to effortlessly create lucid imagery in the reader’s mind , someone who has never seen a gond settlement, wouldn’t have too much trouble imagining it and the paintings that adorn them.

Click here for some excerpts from the book.

We hope you’ll pick it up and do let us know if you enjoyed reading the book as much as we did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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


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.


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