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."

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Guide@50: Serpent Girls of Vijay Anand and Fritz Lang

Vijay Anand's 'Guide' was released in India on December 6 1965. So today, December 7 2014, is the start of its golden anniversary year.

The movies has appeared on this blog a couple of times earlier. I still remember its large colourful posters displayed  in front of the town hall, Miraj where it ran at Deval talkies some time in 1966. Aged 6, I wanted to watch the movie! My father flatly and quite rightly refused the permission. I would watch the film a decade or so later.

I consider the movie very significant because, I feel,  it marked the end of Hindi cinema's golden age that had started with Mehboob Khan's 'Andaz', 1949.

By the end of 1965. the best work of Hindi cinema's greats such as Mehboob Khan, Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Balraj Sahni, Motilal, Nargis, Madhubala, Geeta Bali, Nutan, Meena Kumari, Shankar-Jaikishan, Naushad, Roshan, Madan Mohan, C Ramchandra, S D Burman etc. was largely behind them.

Those who like 'Guide' are often impressed with Waheeda Rehman's snake-dance, ahead of her even other wonderful dance numbers. I always feel that dance is a manifestation of suppressed sexual desires of Rosie played ably by Ms. Rehman. 

Google Doodle on October 10 2014 

courtesy: Google Inc.

R K Narayan's 'The Guide', 1958 on which the film is supposedly based, describes Rosie's snake-dance, on stage, in these words:


“…Two hours passed. She was doing her fifth item—a snake dance, unusually enough. I liked to watch it. This item always interested me. As the musicians tuned their instruments and played the famous snake song, Nalini came gliding onto the stage. She fanned out her fingers slowly, and the yellow spotlight, playing on her white upturned palms, gave them the appearance of a cobra hood; she wore a diadem for this act, and it sparkled. Lights changed, she gradually sank to the floor, the music became slower and slower, the refrain urged the snake to dance—the snake that resided on the locks of Shiva himself, on the wrist of his spouse, Parvathi, and in the ever-radiant home of the gods in Kailas. This was a song that elevated the serpent and brought out its mystic quality; the rhythm was hypnotic. It was her masterpiece. Every inch of her body from toe to head rippled and vibrated to the rhythm of this song which lifted the cobra out of its class of an underground reptile into a creature of grace and divinity and an ornament of the gods.
The dance took forty-five minutes in all; the audience watched in rapt silence. I was captivated by it. . . . She rarely chose to do it indeed. She always said that a special mood was needed, and always joked that so much wriggling twisted her up too much and she could not stand upright again for days. I sat gazing as if I were seeing it for the first time. There came to my mind my mother’s remark on the first day, “A serpent girl! Be careful.”…”


'Serpent girl' Waheeda Rehman

courtesy: Shemaroo and current copyright holder to the feature film 'Guide'

Apart from Mr. Narayan's vivid description,  was there any on-screen inspiration for Mr. Vijay Anand?

Probably yes.

I read a few books this year.

The best of them is 'A Strange Kind of Paradise: India Through Foreign Eyes', 2014 by Sam Miller. Mr. Miller is easily one of the interesting persons who ever visited India. He belongs with the likes of Hiuen Tsang, Ibn Battuta...

The book gave me so much and will continue to give. Every page of the book is a treasure trove.

One of the most interesting things I learned there was great Fritz Lang's 'India films': 'The Tiger of Eschnapur', 1959 and 'The Indian Tomb', 1959.



'Serpent girl' Debra Paget performing snake dance in Fritz Lang's 'The Indian Tomb', 1959

courtesy: current copyright owner to the feature 

Fritz Lang was a greater director than Vijay Anand but when it comes to the battle of serpent girls, the clear winner is Mr. Anand's fully clothed Ms. Rehman!

No comments: