G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

बापा देखिलासि आतां डोळे । निवावे तैसे निवाले ॥

Matt Ridley:

"Scientists are often accused these days of overlooking the awe and wonder of the world, so it's exciting when a philosopher puts that magic at the very heart of a scientific hypothesis."

(WSJ, March 26 2011)


"रूपं महत्ते बहुवक्त्रनेत्रं
: महाबाहो बहुबाहूरुपादम्
बहूदरं बहुदंष्ट्राकरालं
: दृष्ट्वा लोकाः प्रव्यथितास्तथाहम् ॥११- २३॥

नभःस्पृशं दीप्तमनेकवर्णं
: व्यात्ताननं दीप्तविशालनेत्रम्
दृष्ट्वा हि त्वां प्रव्यथितान्तरात्मा
: धृतिं विन्दामि शमं विष्णो ॥११- २४॥

दंष्ट्राकरालानि ते मुखानि
: दृष्ट्वैव कालानलसन्निभानि
दिशो जाने लभे शर्म
: प्रसीद देवेश जगन्निवास ॥११- २५॥"

(भगवद् गीता ११, एकादशोऽध्याय: विश्वरूपदर्शनयोग)


The New York Times reminded me that "This month marks the 100th anniversary of Ernest Rutherford's model of the atom."

I, like billion others, always drew an atom like this:

"...something like a cockeyed solar system. The sun — the nucleus — is at the center, and the planets — the electrons — orbit in several different planes..."

Things alas are not that simple.

"Now it looks something like a composite of quarks surrounded by clouds of uncertainty. More accurate. Much harder to draw."

Much harder even to imagine.

John Horgan recently wrote:

"...Physicists' fantasies about parallel and virtual realms are not just stale. Increasingly they strike me as escapist and irresponsible. Scientists shouldn't have to serve the public good any more than poets or musicians. I value truth for its own sake, even if the truth disturbs. But I do think that theories—if they are being passed off as science—should have at least a remote chance of being empirically corroborated. Otherwise, how do they differ from pseudoscientific ideas like intelligent design?...

...Physicists pining for new data are now pinning their hopes on the Large Hadron Collider, in Switzerland. If and when that hypersensitive contraption gets up to full speed, perhaps it will stumble into a discovery so bizarre that it entices theorists lost in simulated and parallel universes back to reality.
Until then, I tell my students, if you're looking for science books that pose profound metaphysical puzzles, don't bother with the physics best sellers. Instead, check out works by Oliver Sachs, V.S. Ramachandran, and other intrepid explorers of the brain. Science's most thrilling frontier is the one inside our skulls."

Ned Denny says in his review of Brian Greene's "The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos":

"...The mother of them all is what Greene calls the Ultimate Multiverse, which states that any world that can be mathematically modelled – or even imagined – must perforce exist. We are back to Arjuna, agog in front of a reality that encompasses "the visions from thy innumerable eyes, the words from thy innumerable mouths". It is a joyfully bewildering concept that flags up the impossibility of the endeavour; surely trying to define All That Exists is like trying to box the wind or weigh a dream. What seems certain, as Greene writes, is that "what we've thought to be the universe is only one component of a far grander, perhaps far stranger, and mostly hidden, reality." And what a delicious irony it is that science, that model of sober investigation, is inexorably returning us to vistas so peculiarly like the deranged imaginings of our "superstitious" past."

"Arjuna, agog in front of a reality" is from the chapter 11 of Bhagvad Gita 'The Vision of the Universal Form' (विश्वरूपदर्शनयोग)

Reading this from Gita is fine but reading it from Dnyaneshwari (ज्ञानेश्वरी) gave me real joy. I realised why Ned Denny called it "delicious" and was delighted to return to 'vistas so peculiarly like the deranged imaginings of our "superstitious" past'.

Dnyaneshwar (ज्ञानेश्वर) has expanded on Gita. I have chosen a line from it: बापा देखिलासि आतां डोळे । निवावे तैसे निवाले ॥ as a title of this post. (I longed to see your universal form and that longing of mine has been well fulfilled. My eyes are sated with joy by seeing your cosmic form. )<- This translation doesn't really capture the essence of those lines.

From Dnyaneshwari:

जी लोचनां भाग्य उदेलें । मना सुखाचें सुयाणें पाहलें । जे अगाध तुझें देखिलें । विश्वरूप इहीं ॥ ३३८ ॥ हें लोकत्रयव्यापक रूपडें । पाहतां देवांही वचक पडे । याचें सन्मुखपण जोडें । भलतयाकडुनी ॥ ३३९ ॥ ऐसें एकचि परी विचित्रें । आणि भयानकें वक्त्रें । बहुलोचन हे सशस्त्रें । अनंतभुजा ॥३४०॥ अनंत चारु बाहु चरण । बहूदर आणि नानावर्ण । कैसें प्रतिवदनीं मातलेपण । आवेशाचें ॥ ३४१॥ हो कां महाकल्पाचिया अंतीं । तवकलेनि यमें जेउततेउतीं । प्रळयाग्नीचीं उजितीं । आंबुखिलीं जैसीं ॥ ३४२ ॥ नातरी संहारत्रिपुरारीचीं यंत्रें । कीं प्रळयभैरवाचीं क्षेत्रें । नाना युगांतशक्तीचीं पात्रें । भूतखिचा वोढविलीं ॥ ३४३ ॥ तैसीं जियेतियेकडे । तुझीं वक्त्रें जीं प्रचंडें । न समाती दरीमाजीं सिंव्हाडे । तैसे दशन दिसती रागीट ॥ ३४४ ॥ जैसें काळरात्रीचेनि अंधारें । उल्हासत निघतीं संहारखेंचरें । तैसिया वदनीं प्रळयरुधिरें । काटलिया दाढा ॥ ३४५ ॥ हें असो काळें अवंतिलें रण । कां सर्व संहारें मातलें मरण । तैसें अतिभिंगुळवाणेंपण । वदनीं तुझिये ॥ ३४६ ॥ हे बापुडी लोकसृष्टी । मोटकीये विपाइली दिठी । आणि दुःखकालिंदीचिया तटीं । झाड होऊनि ठेली ॥ ३४७ ॥ तुज महामृत्यूचिया सागरीं । आतां हे त्रैलोक्य जीविताची तरी । शोकदुर्वातलहरी । आंदोळत असे ॥ ३४८ ॥ एथ कोपोनि जरी वैकुंठें । ऐसें हन म्हणिपैल अवचटें । जें तुज लोकांचें काई वाटे ? । तूं ध्यानसुख हें भोगीं ॥ ३४९ ॥ तरी जी लोकांचें कीर साधारण । वायां आड सूतसे वोडण । केवीं सहसा म्हणे प्राण । माझेचि कांपती ॥ ३५० ॥ ज्या मज संहाररुद्र वासिपे । ज्या मजभेणें मृत्यु लपे । तो मी एथें अहाळबाहळीं कांपें । ऐसें तुवां केलें ॥ ३५१ ॥ परि नवल बापा हे महामारी । इया नाम विश्वरूप जरी । हे भ्यासुरपणें हारी । भयासि आणी ॥ ३५२ ॥

ठेलीं महाकाळेंसि हटेंतटें । तैसी किती{ए}कें मुखें रागिटें । इहीं वाढोनियां धाकुटें । आकाश केलें ॥ ३५३ ॥ गगनाचेंनि वाडपणें नाकळे । त्रिभुवनींचियाही वारिया न वेंटाळे । ययाचेनि वाफा आगी जळे । कैसें धडाडीत असे ॥ ३५४ ॥ तेवींचि एकसारिखें एक नोहे । एथ वर्णावर्णाचा भेदु आहे । हो कां जें प्रळयीं सावावो लाहे । वन्ह्ं ययाचा ॥ ३५५ ॥ जयाचिये आंगींची दीप्ती येवढी । जे त्रैलोक्य कीजे राखोंडी । कीं तयाही तोंडें आणि तोंडीं । दांत दाढा ॥ ३५६ ॥ कैसा वारया धनुर्वात चढला । समुद्र कीं महापुरीं पडिला । विषाग्नि मारा प्रवर्तला । वडवानळासी ॥ ३५७ ॥ हळाहळ आगी पियालें । नवल मरण मारा प्रवर्तलें । तैसें संहारतेजा या जाहलें । वदन देखा ॥ ३५८ ॥ परी कोणें मानें विशाळ । जैसें तुटलिया अंतराळ । आकाशासि कव्हळ । पडोनि ठेलें ॥ ३५९ ॥ नातरी काखे सूनि वसुंधरी । जैं हिरण्याक्षु रिगाला विवरीं । तैं उघडले हाटकेश्वरीं । जेवीं पाताळकुहर ॥ ३६० ॥ तैसा वक्त्रांचा विकाशु । माजीं जिव्हांचा आगळाचि आवेशु । विश्व न पुरे म्हणौनि घांसु । न भरीचि कोंडें ॥ ३६१ ॥ आणि पाताळव्याळांचिया फूत्कारीं । गरळज्वाळा लागती अंबरीं । तैसी पसरलिये वदनदरी- । माजीं हे जिव्हा ॥ ३६२ ॥ काढूनि प्रळयविजूंचीं जुंबाडें । जैसें पन्नासिलें गगनाचे हुडे । तैसे आवाळुवांवरी आंकडे । धगधगीत दाढांचे ॥ ३६३ ॥ आणि ललाटपटाचिये खोळे । कैसें भयातें भेडविताती डोळे । हो कां जे महामृत्यूचे उमाळे । कडवसां राहिले ॥ ३६४ ॥ ऐसें वाऊनि भयाचें भोज । एथ काय निपजवूं पाहातोसि काज । तें नेणों परी मज । मरणभय आलें ॥ ३६५ ॥ देवा विश्वरूप पहावयाचे डोहळे । केले तिये पावलों प्रतिफळें । बापा देखिलासि आतां डोळे । निवावे तैसे निवाले ॥ ३६६ ॥ अहो देहो पार्थिव कीर जाये । ययाची काकुळती कवणा आहे । परि आतां चैतन्य माझें विपायें । वांचे कीं न वांचे ॥ ३६७ ॥ एऱ्हवीं भयास्तव आंग कांपे । नावेक आगळें तरी मन तापे । अथवा बुद्धिही वासिपे । अभिमानु विसरिजे ॥ ३६८ ॥ परी येतुलियाही वेगळा । जो केवळ आनंदैककळा । तया अंतरात्मयाही निश्चळा । शियारी आली ॥ ३६९ ॥ बाप साक्षात्काराचा वेधु । कैसा देशधडी केला बोधु । हा गुरुशिष्यसंबंधु । विपायें नांदे ॥ ३७० ॥ देवा तुझ्या ये दर्शनीं । जें वैकल्य उपजलें आहे अंतःकरणीं । तें सावरावयालागीं गंवसणी । धैर्याची करितसें ॥ ३७१ ॥ तंव माझेनि नामें धैर्य हारपलें । कीं तयाहीवरी विश्वरूपदर्शन जाहलें । हें असो परि मज भलें आतुडविलें । उपदेशा इया ॥ ३७२ ॥ जीव विसंवावयाचिया चाडा । सैंघ धांवाधांवी करितसे बापुडा । परि सोयही कवणेंकडां । न लभे एथ ॥ ३७३ ॥ ऐसें विश्वरूपाचिया महामारी । जीवित्व गेलें आहें चराचरीं । जी न बोलें तरि काय करीं । कैसेनि राहें ? ॥ ३७४ ॥

पैं अखंड डोळ्यांपुढें । फुटलें जैसें महाभयाचें भांडें । तैशीं तुझीं मुखें वितंडें । पसरलीं देखें ॥ ३७५ ॥ असो दांत दाढांची दाटी । न झांकवे मा दों दों वोठीं । सैंघ प्रळयशस्त्रांचिया दाट कांटी । लागलिया जैशा ॥ ३७६ ॥ जैसें तक्षका विष भरलें । हो कां जे काळरात्रीं भूत संचरलें । कीं आग्नेयास्त्र परजिलें । वज्राग्नि जैसें ॥ ३७७ ॥ तैशीं तुझीं वक्त्रें प्रचंडें । वरि आवेश हा बाहेरी वोसंडे । आले मरणरसाचे लोंढे । आम्हांवरी ॥ ३७८ ॥ संहारसमयींचा चंडानिळु । आणि महाकल्पांत प्रळयानळु । या दोहीं जैं होय मेळु । तैं काय एक न जळे ? ॥ ३७९ ॥ तैसीं संहारकें तुझीं मुखें । देखोनि धीरु कां आम्हां पारुखे ? । आतां भुललों मी दिशा न देखें । आपणपें नेणें ॥ ३८० ॥ मोटकें विश्वरूप डोळां देखिलें । आणि सुखाचें अवर्षण पडिलें । आतां जापाणीं जापाणीं आपुलें । अस्ताव्यस्त हें ॥ ३८१ ॥ ऐसें करिसी म्हणौनि जरी जाणें । तरी हे गोष्टी सांगावीं कां मी म्हणें । आतां एक वेळ वांचवी जी प्राणें । या स्वरूपप्रळयापासोनि ॥ ३८२ ॥ जरी तूं गोसावी आमुचा अनंता । तरी सुईं वोडण माझिया जीविता । सांटवीं पसारा हा मागुता । महामारीचा ॥ ३८३ ॥ आइकें सकळ देवांचिया परदेवते । तुवां चैतन्यें गा विश्व वसतें । तें विसरलासी हें उपरतें । संहारूं आदरिलें ॥ ३८४ ॥ म्हणौनि वेगीं प्रसन्न होईं देवराया । संहरीं संहरीं आपुली माया । काढीं मातें महाभया- । पासोनियां ॥ ३८५ ॥ हा ठायवरी पुढतपुढतीं । तूंतें म्हणिजे बहुवा काकुळती । ऐसा मी विश्वमूर्ती । भेडका जाहलों ॥ ३८६ ॥ जैं अमरावतीये आला धाडा । तैं म्यां एकलेनि केला उवेडा । जो मी काळाचियाही तोंडा । वासिपु न धरीं ॥ ३८७ ॥ परी तया आंतुल नव्हे हें देवा । एथ मृत्यूसही करूनि चढावा । तुवां आमुचाचि घोटू भरावा । या सकळ विश्वेंसीं ॥ ३८८ ॥ कैसा नव्हता प्रळयाचा वेळु । गोखा तूंचि मिनलासि काळु । बापुडा हा त्रिभुवनगोळु । अल्पायु जाहला ॥ ३८९ ॥ अहा भाग्या विपरीता । विघ्न उठिलें शांत करितां । कटाकटा विश्व गेलें आतां । तूं लागलासि ग्रासूं ॥ ३९० ॥ हें नव्हे मा रोकडें । सैंघ पसरूनियां तोंडें । कवळितासि चहूंकडे । सैन्यें इयें ॥ ३९१ ॥

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Can you concentrate on Poetry when Breasts of the hostess are Apocalyptic?

I remember sketchily incident narrated by poet the late Dom Moraes in an article (in Imprint magazine or Sunday Observer? Both now defunct).

He once went on a boat cruise with Richard Burton and his wife Elizabeth Taylor. The occasion was a poetry recitation session. Mr. Burton observed that, hopefully, unlike most present there, Mr. Moraes was more interested in poetry than looking at his wife's teats! (I couldn't access the exact quote of Mr. Moraes. My apologies if it differs a lot from my paraphrasing of it.)

Mr. Burton himself once described Ms. Taylor’s breasts as “apocalyptic.”

He would write to Elizabeth well into their marriage. “You don't realize of course E. B. how fantastically beautiful you have always been, and how strangely you have acquired an added and special and dangerous loveliness. Your breasts jutting out from that half-asleep languid lingering body, the remote eyes, the parted lips.”

Reading this, I am sure, it must have been hard to concentrate on poetry, even for Mr. Moraes.

But there was a lot more to Ms. Taylor than just breasts. I thought she was a very good actor.

For me, she becomes Maggie in Tennessee Williams's "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". Her voice disturbs me deeply at a fundamental level. Then, I stop looking at her breasts.

An iconic shot of Taylor splashing in the ocean, from the set of Suddenly Last Summer (1959). Vanity Fair used this image for the July 2010 cover.

© Sunset Boulevard/Corbis.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Kama Sutra: It's NOT for me but have Blairs read it?

William Leith's review of Oliver James's 'Affluenza: How to Be Successful and Stay Sane':

"...One of the scariest parts of the book is James's analysis of New Labour politicians. Have they been infected with the virus (of Affluenza)? Well, just think of Tony Blair and his property dealings, his flash holidays, his spray-on tan. Think of Peter Mandelson, who said: "We are seriously relaxed about people becoming very, very rich." Think of Prescott. Think of Cherie Blair...
"Just as Aids is stalking the globe, so is the Affluenza virus," says James. I think he's right..."


Wendy Doniger:

"The emphasis on the physical postures of yoga may have been bolstered by the sensational publication, in 1883, of Sir Richard Burton’s English translation of the Kamasutra, a text that became notorious for its “positions”. The tendency to confuse the teachings of yoga and the Kamasutra may have led to the overemphasis on the “positions” in both, since yoga was always associated with sex in India and came to be eroticized in England, and the general English and Indian ignorance of the cultural content of the Kamasutra was matched by their ignorance of the philosophical content of (classical) yoga. Both yoga and the Kamasutra served the schizophrenic Victorian combination of public condemnation of sex and private obsession with it..."


(The Times Literary Supplement, March 2 2011)


I have still not read Kama Sutra. I have seen it. I have read about it. I have seen its portrayal in breath taking carvings of Khajuraho.

It's supposed to descibe "64 types of sexual acts"...overemphasis on the “positions”...Phew...pant...!!!

Sam Jordison has written a review-
easily one of the funniest prose pieces I have read- of it for Guardian, Feb 14 2011
:

"...Don't think you escape either, girls:

"Sprinkle a mixture of powdered milkweed thorns, hogweed, monkey's shit and root of glory lily on a woman. She will not want sex with anyone else."

Meanwhile, beware of the man who's taken another nugget of advice from the book and approaches you with his penis covered in the powder of "a kite that has died of natural causes, mixed with honey and gooseberries". He intends to bewitch you!

All of the above is taken from the new Penguin edition of the book that's generally held up as the last word in ancient wisdom about sack-play: The Kama Sutra. It's further confirmation of my belief that the wisdom of the ancients is most generally to be ignored. After all, most of human endeavour in the past 2,000 years has been dedicated to escaping such stuff and similar wisdom about flatness of the earth, the importance of blood draining, the way fire is powered by lignin, and a man who trotted around Galilee claiming to be able to cast out demons..."

Bart Simpson once tells Homer Simpson: "Oh, dad. Nobody can rationalize like you." (Season 17, Episode 20, 'Regarding Margie')

I would say the same to Tony Blair. Therefore, I would also hire him as a salesman. He would best his sales target every quarter.

They say a good sales person is the right combination of empathy and ego-drive.

Reading what is quoted below, looks like Tony Blair has another prominent 'drive'.

On March 19 2011, The Asian Age:

"...Former British Premier Tony Blair’s wife Cherie has lifted the lid on her sex life, saying that her husband “still excites me in all possible ways”.

“We’ve been married 31 years and known each other 35 and even now he still excites me in all possible ways,” the Sun tabloid quoted the 56-year-old mother-of-four as saying in an interview with a magazine.

Cherie, a Queen’s Counsel, giggled when asked how the couple spend their time when the former Prime Minister returns from his trips as envoy to West Asia.

Tony, 57, once joked he could make love “at least five times a night” and the couple also claim to be members of the mile high club. Last year, Tony revealed in his memoirs how he “devoured Cherie’s love” the night before he became Labour leader in 1994.He wrote: “I was an animal following my instinct.”

Cherie had son Leo, who is now 10, when she was 45 and living in Downing Street.She later revealed the pair conceived the child on an official stay at Balmoral in Scotland as it’s embarrassing to bring contraceptive “equipment” for the castle, where servants unpack wash bags.

But Cherie admitted some things have changed over the years.

Recalling watching the fireworks after the 1981 Royal Wedding, she said her husband lifted her on to his shoulders adding, “He couldn’t do that now. He would probably collapse.”"


Does The Kama Sutra describe a 'position' where a woman climbs on to a man's shoulder?
Picture courtesy: The Asian Age, March 19 2011

By the way, I have never even thought of lifting my wife or fantasised lifting any other woman on my shoulders!

My body is too weak for it. But on the positive side, I feel, I don't suffer from 'Affluenza'.


"...So why are we, in James's words, so fucked up? It's because of what James calls Selfish Capitalism, or, more catchily, "Affluenza", a virus-like condition that spreads through affluent countries. In these countries, notably English-speaking ones, people define themselves by how much money they make. They are also ruled by superficial values - how attractive they look, how famous they are, how much they are able to show off. As the sociologist Erich Fromm would have put it, we have moved from a state of "being" to a state of "having". Now we are obsessed with what other people think of us, and we've lost touch with our own feelings..."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

India's Top 10 Foreigners. My list

Wendy Doniger:

"...And so from the very start India was a place made up of land and people from somewhere else..."

[Chapter 2, 'Time and Space in India' from her book 'The Hindus: An Alternative History', 2009]

(notice the word: 'land' in the quote above)

The Times of India reported on December 10 2009 that Dr. Dwarkanath Shantaram Kotnis (द्वारकानाथ शांताराम कोटणीस) is in the list of China's top ten foreigners who made exceptional contributions to the country in the past 100 years.

What an honour!

Very few native Marathi speaking persons have been feted on such a scale on the global stage.

What about top ten foreigners, not necessarily friends or well-wishers, who have visited India since Alexander the great and shaped India's destiny for the better or the worse?

Here a foreigner means someone who was not borne or raised in the subcontinent.

Here is an attempt:

Alexander the great 356–323 BCE

Mahmud of Ghazni 971-1030

Vasco da Gama 1460/1469–1524

Babur 1483-1531

Ahmad Shah Durrani/Abdali 1722–1773

Robert Clive 1725–1774

William Jones 1746-1794

Thomas Babington Macaulay 1800–1859

The Lord Curzon of Kedleston 1859–1925

Mother Teresa 1910–1997


Artist: Mischa Richter, The New Yorker, 9 October 1965

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

मी: "अंजु, किती गरम चहा ओतलायस ? जीभ भाजली ना..."

I, Aniruddha G. kulkarni, was heard shouting at my wife on Friday March 11 2011 afternoon watching BBC / CNN:

"Anju, how hot have you poured tea? Tongue is torched..."



(Open the picture in another browser window to get a clearer view of the news in the Marathi broadsheet* held by HIM.)

Artist: Vasant Sarwate (वसंत सरवटे), 1968

* the broadsheet he is reading has these news-items: "A quake in Iran kills 5,000 and injures thousands", "floods in Gujarat killing hundreds", "Boat capsizes" etc!

Aah! Tamil films

Business Standard on Saturday Oct 2 2010:

"Rajini fells all records with sci-fi entertainer Endhiran...The year’s biggest box-office event, Endhiran’s first day, first show, kept its date. On Friday, the big-budget, multi-lingual Rajinikanth starrer, with an ‘official’ budget of Rs 162 crore and ‘unofficial’ budget based on market rumour of Rs 250-300 crore, opened to packed houses, with tickets sold out days in advance...

# Biggest budget for any movie in Indian film industry
# To be shown on 2,250 screens worldwide, including in China
# First Tamil film album in iTunes World Album Top 10
# First Indian sci-fi movie with 1,500 graphical shots"

गोविंदराव टेंबे: "नवीन काहीतरी करावं हे धारिष्ट्यच आपल्या सिनेमावाल्या लोकांत नाही , त्यामुळे आणि त्यामुळेच त्यांची अशी दुर्दशा झाली आहे."

['सांस्कृतिक महाराष्ट्राचे शिल्पकार : गोविंदराव टेंबे', 2006 लेखक: डॉ. सौ. चारुशीला दिवेकर]

(Govindrao Tembe: "Thers is no courage among our cinema people to do something bold and because of that and that alone they are in terrible shape."

from "Sanskritik Maharashtrache Shilpkar : Govindrao Tembe", 2006 by Dr. Mrs. Charusheela Divekar)


'Enthiran The Robot' was shown on Sony TV on the evening of March 13 2011. I couldn't see it because I wanted to watch the live coverage of the last day of Yonex All England Badminton Championships.

Rajinikanth's (Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, शिवाजीराव गायकवाड) first language is Marathi and he still speaks the language with some relish and certainly much 'better'- for my ears at any rate- than many Marathi 'celebrities'.

Earlier I wrote a post on Marathi films on Dec 18 2007. Read it here Ugh! Marathi Films.

Since then I have seen parts of both 'Mee Shivaji raje Bhosale boltoy' (मी शिवाजी राजे भोसले बोलतोय) and Natrang (नटरंग).

I did not like the former at all and found the latter OK.

But frankly 'Natrang' is not close to many Marathi films of the past, especially a few of those starring Nilu Phule (नीळू फुले), Arun Sarnaik (अरुण सरनाईक), Ganpat Patil (गणपत पाटील), Ramesh Deo (रमेश देव), Jayshree Gadkar (जयश्री गडकर), Usha Chavan (उषा चव्हाण), Leela Gandhi(लीला गांधी)- (has a Marathi speaking woman ever danced better than her?)...

[The other day I watched 'Mumbaicha Jawai' (मुंबईचा जावई) . What a wonderful film with some brilliant acting by Sharad Talwalkar (शरद तळवलकर) and others!]

I have already quoted following earlier.

Suhas Palshikar: "...preferential treatment to locals is always an easy and attractive policy proposal. What is wrong with it? It is wrong simply because it creates an untenable category of “local”. In administrative parlance it becomes “domicile” – meaning resident for 15 years. This strategy practically abandons diversity. Apart from raising issues of definition of the local, such a policy encourages inbreeding and denies its beneficiaries he advantage of greater exposure and competition. It produces ghettoisation at schools, colleges and at workplaces – resulting in non-diverse social universes –hostels, localities and cities...."

More than anything else, I feel, this ghettoisation affects Marathi culture deeply.

Almost no Marathi cultural program shown on TV is complete without talking about "outsiders". For them, not just Hindi, but any other language or its native speaker is a fair game.

Even the devastating floods of 2009 in North Karnataka- where lacs of Marathi speakers live- were NOT covered in any depth by most Marathi media. (btw- They are covering March 2011 Japanese quakes in great depth!)

Like Vilas Sarang (विलास सारंग) says about Marathi literary world, this Marathi media world too is afflicted with "inbreeding".

As I have said earlier, Namdev is arguably the greatest bilingual Indian writer because apart from his enormous talent, his vision was worldly and heart large. (Where was he domiciled? Maharashtra or Punjab?)

If Marathi has to assert itself on India and the world stage, her 'lovers' need to do some serious re-thinking on how to get there.

Returning to Endhiran, look at the picture below.


Artist: Alan Dunn, The New Yorker, July 17 1937

"I dread the day when I'll have to tell him about sex."

Maybe. But what about telling him what happens after the sex?

In Enthiran, like '3 Idiots' in 2009, robot Chitti manages a complex child delivery successfully.


p.s. We as a nation are obsessed with producing babies!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

सांगे गोविंदराव टेंबेंची किर्ती

Will Durant:
“Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice"


As I mentioned earlier, 100 years ago today Sangeet Manapman (संगीत मानापमान) was staged for the first time.

Although its great subsequent succes was because of team effort, men-of-the-match were writer Krushnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar (कृष्णाजी प्रभाकर खाडिलकर), actors Bal Gandharva (बालगंधर्व) & Nanasaheb Joglekar (नानासाहेब जोगळेकर) and music composer Govindrao Tembe (गोविंदराव टेंबे).

I consider myself singularly lucky that on March 9 2011, I obtained a Marathi book on Govindrao Tembe's life: 'सांस्कृतिक महाराष्ट्राचे शिल्पकार : गोविंदराव टेंबे', 2006 लेखक: डॉ. सौ. चारुशीला दिवेकर ("Sanskritik Maharashtrache Shilpkar : Govindrao Tembe", 2006 by Dr. Mrs. Charusheela Divekar). The books comes with an audio CD. The book has detailed information on every song of Manapman.

I had been aware of its existence for a while now but then it was priced at Rs. 700. Now, it's available at Rs. 250/- from 'Granth Abhiman', Panaji (rajhaunsvitaran@dataone.in).

At that price it is a steal. When I ordered the book they sent it immediately wrapped in probably the best packing I have seen. The entire experience was a real pleasure.

I now have heard the CD and thumbed through the book, all 648 pages. I am in love with the book. I will keep reading it for many months to come.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sheila, The Eternal Woman, dating back 4000 years, 2000 years, 1 year

Filmstar Akshay Kumar said, in a lighter vein, on TV program 'Jhalak Dikhla Jaa', that Sheila of 'Tees Maar Khan' is Sindhi because she herself says: "My name is Sheila, Sheila Ki Jawani"...S K Jawani!

(Surname ending with 'ni'...by that logic I, too, am Sindhi...after meeting me after many years a hostel-mate felt that I looked like an Iranian...So Sindhi is closer home!)


(bronze 'dancing girl' from Mohenjo-daro in Sind, Pakistan c 2000 BC)

She is Sindhi alright! Let us call her Sheila.

This is how- in one of the most moving pieces of prose- historian John Keay describes her in his book 'India: A History', 2000:

Although probably not dancing, the `dancing girl' is unquestionably `a pleasing little thing'. Naked save for a chunky necklace and an assortment of bangles, this minuscule statuette is not of the usual Indian sex symbol, full of breast and wide of hip, but of a slender nymphet happily flaunting puberty with delightful insouciance. Her pose is studiously casual, one spindly arm bent with the hand resting on a déhanché hip, the other dangling so as to brush a slightly raised knee. Slim and attenuated, the legs are slightly parted, and one foot — both are now missing- must have been pointed. She could be absent-mindedly surveying her wardrobe, except that her head is thrown back as if challenging a suitor, and her hair is somehow dressed into a heavy plaited chignon of perilous but intentionally dramatic construction. Decidedly, she wants to be admired; and she might be gratified to know that, four thousand years later, she still is.

[I trust only the late D G Godse (द ग गोडसे) to write stuff comparable to this, or even better than this, on such a subject, in Marathi.]

Here is an example of "the usual Indian sex symbol, full of breast and wide of hip":



(MITHUNAS, CAVE 3, Kanheri, 2nd century A.D. )

Does Ms. Katrina Kaif, below, too belong to the category of "...not of the usual Indian sex symbol, full of breast and wide of hip, but of a slender nymphet"?



They say, like history, fashion is cyclical.

There are three pictures above: 4000 year, 2000 year and 1 year.

Ladies in the first and the third have a lot in common. But I wonder when Ms. Kaif will get her own John Keay.

6010 CE?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

वसंतराव आगाशे: "पिटातल्या प्रेक्षकांप्रमाणे शिट्या काय मारताय?"

Our teacher at Miraj High School (मिरज हाय स्कूल), Vasantrao Agashe (वसंतराव आगाशे) died at Pune on March 5 2011.

I am eternally grateful to Agashe-sir not for his teaching but for making "Vasant Vyakhyan Mala" (वसंत व्याख्यान माला), spring lecture series, happen every year at Miraj (मिरज). Agashe-sir worked tirelessly and selflessly for its success. He also motivated a number of young volunteers to work with him.

There was no ideological bias in the selection of speakers. Organisation of every evening used to be impeccable. I spent dozens of my evenings in the summers of 1970's there and later discussed the lecture passionately with my parents and willing friends.

Staunch Gandhian Narhar Kurundkar (नरहर कुरुंदकर), who often came calling, once told his majority Brahmin audience that he was now going to praise Mahatma Gandhi knowing fully well that a lot of his audience disliked, if not hated, Gandhi!

I also remember how Vitthalrao Gadgil (विठ्ठलराव गाडगीळ) regaled his audience with anecdotes from Indian and British parliaments.

Sadly, I never attended any of Setu Madhavrao Pagdi's (सेतु माधवराव पगडी) lectures there who too came for a number of years. I now realise the enormity of my loss.

But I did not like Agashe-sir's teaching. He taught us higher English in HSC first year. I did not like his speeches too. Particularly his flowery language. But he was very popular among certain types of students.

I remember those students- many studious girls among them- giving him a 'fishpond': "ज्ञानाच्या सागरातील राजहंस" ('Swan in the sea of knowledge') or something similar at our school social (aka gathering) in 1975. I was amused.

Once there was quite a bit of whistling at the back of our class. I was sitting there. He was not used to so much of commotion in his class. He reprimanded us with these words (he never beat a student):

"पिटातल्या प्रेक्षकांप्रमाणे शिट्या काय मारताय?"

("Why are you whistling like the spectators seated in the theatre pit?")

I liked the pun alright!

By the way, I never whistled at Vasant Vyakhyan Mala. There I behaved the way Agashe-sir wanted a student to behave in his class.

Thank you, Agashe-Sir. For many delightful spring evenings and the pun. And sorry for being a bit(?) of nuisance in the class.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Why some Cartoonists are More Equal

FT, March 1 2011:

"Rajat Gupta, who ran McKinsey for almost a decade, has been hit with civil insider trading charges for allegedly sharing secret information he learnt as a board member of Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble with Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam...

...The insider trading charges against Mr Gupta are a stunning setback for the one-time global managing director of McKinsey, the consulting firm. It also marks one of the highest profile insider trading charges brought against a bank director..."


According to Wikipedia Mr. Gupta holds a bachelor of technology degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT) and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

More than a year ago, Feb 19 2010, for the rationale I still don't understand, Tiger Woods's apology was aired live in India on many news channels.

Or maybe I do after reading this:

Frank Rich:"...We’ve rarely questioned our assumption that 9/11, “the day that changed everything,” was the decade’s defining event. But in retrospect it may not have been. A con like Tiger’s may be more typical of our time than a one-off domestic terrorist attack, however devastating..."

(My father often used to wonder, in 1970's, why Marathi newspapers followed lawn tennis by dedicating vast amounts of column centimetres to it.

Then there was no tv and hence most people probably knew tennis only through cinema.)

But the channels never aired Mr. Woods's apology to his clubs.

Now this is where a cartoonist comes in, a very good one like Mike Luckovich.


Artist: Mike Luckovich