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.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

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."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

50 years later: Vijay Anand's "Apni to har aah ik toofan hai"

Today is 7th death anniversary of Vijay Anand.

Alyssa Rosenberg:

In a world where we have more options in entertainment in general and the movies in particular, why do we continue to need Humphrey Bogart? Rick never figured out why Ilsa ended up in his bar in Casablanca. But why isn't really the important part: All that matters is that she's there.

(The Atlantic, Feb 1 2011)

My eternal regret, expressed on this blog from time to time- for instance here, has been the neglect of Hindi cinema as an art form by the giants of art criticism writing in Marathi.

The critics I often quote M V Dhond (म वा धोंड), D G Godse (द ग गोडसे), Vilas Sarang (विलास सारंग) have scarcely written a line on the subject. [Ashok Shahane (अशोक शहाणे) who also belongs to that league is an exception.]

I have already expressed my deep displeasure about G A Kulkarni's (जी. ए. कुलकर्णी) comments on Shailendra here.

P L Deshpande (पु ल देशपांडे ) wrote about Bal Gandharva (बालगंधर्व), doyens of Hindustani classical music such as Kumar Gandharva, Bhimsen Joshi, Mallikarjun Mansur, Vasantrao Deshpande (वसंतराव देशपांडे) among others. But probably not a line on Hindi films and their music!

What a loss. Of ours! And sadly theirs even more!

(This lacuna is similar to this blog's silence on the fascinating world of video games where my son spends considerable amount of time every week.)

btw- Author N S Phadke (ना सी फडके), whose opinion as an art critic mattered a lot once upon a time in Maharashtra, seemingly to even Bal Gandharva, has written perceptively and without any condescension about Hindi film music. And there is Bhau Padhye (भाऊ पाध्ये) for whom Hindi films were as integral to our lives as Tukaram (तुकाराम).

There are a few Marathi books- a couple of them like 'GeetYatri' (गीतयात्री) by Madhav Moholkar (माधव मोहोळकर) very good- on the appreciation of music in Hindi films.

These books dwell upon various aspects of the music such as classical ragas that are deployed by the composer, singers, use of different musical instruments, lyrics, personal lives of the people associated etc but seldom on visual qualities of a song.

I have already argued that the majority of Hindi film songs of the past are worth only listening.

But not all. Some of them need to be appreciated with all our faculties and then some.

Like his fellow artists Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Raj Khosla, and Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Vijay Anand was an absolute master of song picturisation in Hindi films.

For instance-

Aankho mein kyaa jee rupahalaa baadal (Nau Do Gyarah,1957),

Hothon mein aisi baat (Jewel Thief, 1967),

O mere raja (Johnny Mera Naam, 1970)

The best one for me is "Apni To Har Aah Ek Toofan Hai" for "Kala Bazar", 1960.
(Music- Sachin Dev Burman, Sung by Mohammad Rafi, Lyrics-Shailendra.)

There are four of them in the song- Dev Anand (DA), Waheeda Rehman (WR), WR's father (played by ?) and WR's mother (played by Mumtaz Begum).

I have travelled a lot by long distance trains in India.

When you embark on a long journey with a group of strangers, it is always mildly exciting. For a next day or two, you are likely to open many aspects of your life- sleeping habits, eating habits, personal hygiene...- to them.

You maybe even called upon to tolerate their intruding questions and honour requests such as exchange of berths.

Therefore, in this case, I am quite impressed that WR's mother doesn't mind occupying upper berth. She doesn't request this handsome young man to exchange his lower berth with hers. (Is it because in that case he would be at the same level as WR?)

In any case if you have many such questions about the song situation, go to the quote at the top of this post: All that matters is that Ilsa is in Rick's bar in Casablanca..

Look at the picture above. WR is looking at her father. He is looking at his wife. She is looking at him. DA is looking at WR. What great fun!

Has she ever looked more divine than this? No wonder Imran Khan considers her the most beautiful woman in the world.

And finally the words of great Shailendra.

They are simple. But their impact on me is no less that of a very good poem and we all know how hard it is to write one.

Poet asks: "ये भी मुशकिल है तो क्या आसान है?"

Answer- Reading it here:

अपनी तो हर आह इक तूफ़ान है
क्या करे वो जान कर अंजान है -
ऊपर वाल जान कर अंजान है

अपनी तो हर आह इक तूफ़ान है
ऊपर वाल जानकर अंजान है
अपनी तो हर आह इक तूफ़ान है

अब तो हँसके अपनी भी क़िस्मत को चमका दे
कानों में कुछ कह दे जो इस दिल को बहला दे
ये भी मुशकिल है तो क्या आसान है
ऊपर वाल जान कर अन्जान है ...

सर पे मेरे तू जो अपना हाथ ही रख दे
फिर तो भटके राही को मिल जायेंगे रस्ते
दिल की बस्ती बिन तेरे वीरान है
ऊपर वाल जानकर अन्जान है ...

दिल ही तो है इस ने शायद भूल भी की है
ज़िंदगी है भूल कर ही राह मिलती है
माफ़ कर बन्दा भी इक इन्सान है
ऊपर वाल जान कर अंजान है
अपनी तो हर आह इक तूफ़ान है