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, December 24, 2014

पिपांत बनले 'जागते रहो'...How a Humble Barrel Helped Make The Greatest Hindi Movie


Amit Maitra's and Sombhu Maitra's 'Jagte Raho' (जागते रहो) 1956,  for me, is the greatest Hindi movie ever made. I can watch it every day and never get tired of it.

I have written about it a couple of times earlier. I feel every frame from the feature is golden. Music by Salil Chowdhury is not just one of the best in the history of Hindi films but sets up the film beautifully. Every performance by a human  in the movie is either good (for instance Iftikhar, Pradeep Kumar...), very good (Raj Kapoor, Nargis...) or great (Motilal). But one of the best performances is by an abandoned empty barrel.

Interplay between Motilal, Raj Kapoor and the humble barrel matches the comedic excellence of the likes of the Marx brothers,  Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.

One of the best scenes in the film is the fight among neighbors to claim the ownership of the humble barrel.


 courtesy: Shemaroo and copy right owner of the feature

I feel that barrel stands for many things - drunkenness of Motilal, spiritual emptiness and greed of  India's middle class, the terror of living (not getting even a drink of water) जगायची पण सक्ती आहे ,  facelessness of vast majority of India's poor and downtrodden, black humor that is integral to every life....


Some of these thoughts came to my mind as I read Andrew McKie'sreview of Henry H. Work's book 'Wood, Whiskey and Wine: A History of Barrels', Spectator UK, December 6 2014.

"...The barrel, of course, was in many respects the precursor of this development, and Henry Work sets out to demonstrate the technological, cultural and economic importance of barrels from their development, probably before 500 BC, to their ubiquity for storage and transport from the Middle Ages until the early 20th century..."


Bacchus. Statue of the god, whole-length seated on a wine barrel, wearing grapes in his hair and holding a stylized thyrsos, his left hand resting on his hip; unsigned; first state before planet-sign added on socle; after Jacques Jonghelinck. 1586 Engraving

© The Trustees of the British Museum 

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