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."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

J. B. Handelsman's Ben-Hur err Ben-Him!

Today June 20 2017 is 10th death anniversary of John Bernard "J.B." Handelsman (1922-2007)

There have been (ok) Ben-Hur, 1959 and (lousy) Ben-Hur 2016 but I like Handelsman's Ben-Hur err Ben-Him most!

(Read every word from the frame below to have a blast.)

courtesy: J. B. Handelsman and Punch

Friday, June 16, 2017

An Evening in Paris@50

'An Evening in Paris' turns 50 this year. I could not find the date it was released in 1967.

I have written about it on this blog on December 5 2007: "An Evening in Paris (1967) is one of my favourite movies.

First time, we (my brother, my cousin, I)  watched its matinee show (3 PM) at Kolhapur (Venus cinema?) by standing in an overwhelming queue like the one below to buy a ticket.

 Artist: Anonymos, Vangmay Shobha, Diwali 1970 (वाङ्मय शोभा, दिवाळी १९७०)

I thoroughly enjoyed it. What did I like?

Shammi Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor…music of Shankar - Jaikishan, Rajendranath and bikini clad Sharmila Tagore.

In Hindi films, rarely a woman has looked as sensuous as her, without a touch of vulgarity..."

  The late Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore in the late Shakti Samanta's 'An Evening in Paris'

courtesy:  the current copyright holders of the feature

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

...तरिहि नव्या स्त्रीची मेली ॥ हौस कशि असे हो...Welding David Teniers the Younger & G B Deval Together

आज, जून १४ २०१७, गोविंद बल्लाळ देवल यांची १०१वी पुण्यतिथी आहे
पद्य ( राग --- पिलृ : त्रिताल ):

काय पुरुष चळले बाई ताळ मुळीं उरला नाहीं धर्म---नीति ---शास्त्रें पायी तुडविती कसे हो ॥धृ०॥

साठ अधिक वर्षें भरलीं नातवास पोरें झालीं तरिहि नव्या स्त्रीची मेली हौस कशि असे हो ॥१॥ घोडथेरडयांना ऐशा देति बाप पोरी कैशा कांहिं दुजी त्यांच्या नाशा युक्ति कां नसे हो ॥२॥

 शास्त्रकुशल मोठे मोठे धर्म---गुरुहि गेले कोठें ? काय कर्म असलें खोटें त्यांस नव दिसे हो

.....and with apologies to the late Mr. Teniers

‘An Old Peasant Caresses a Kitchen Maid in a Stable', c 1650

 The Artist:  David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690)

Mr. Jonathan Jones of The Guardian writes about the picture:

"Gross! An elderly man pays creepy attentions to a young woman in this glimpse of rural life more than 350 years ago. Teniers used to be the most famous by far of all painters of “genre scenes”, as paintings of the everyday were called. Now he is forgotten compared with Vermeer, whose tender realism moves us more. Teniers reflects a contemptuously hierarchical age when the lower orders were to be laughed at, but his paintings do show what peasant villages looked like before the industrial revolution."

Friday, June 09, 2017

बाबूराव अर्नाळकर@111...Manto, Georges Simenon, Pulp Mags, Noir Films and Baburao Arnalkar

Today June 9 2017 is 111th birth anniversary of  Baburao Arnalkar (बाबूराव अर्नाळकर) 1906-1996

Ezra Pund:
"Make it new."

Graham Moore, The New York Times, January 2017:
"...Not even Conan Doyle could have imagined just how long his creation would outlive him. Since Conan Doyle’s own death, Holmes has been depicted in dozens of feature films, television series, stage plays, comics, radio dramas and video games. The pastiche novels — that is, Holmes stories not composed by his creator — are even more numerous. Holmes is arguably the most famous fictional character of the past two centuries, rivaled only by Dracula and James Bond, with perhaps, as the decades wear on, Batman and Harry Potter nipping at their heels..."  

Georges Simenon, ‘The Train’, 1961:

“...I have always been a prudish man, even in my thoughts.

I wasn’t discontented with my way of life. I had chosen it. I had patiently realized an ideal which, until the previous day—I repeat this in all sincerity—had satisfied me completely.

Now I was there, in the dark, with the song of the train, red and green lights passing by, telegraph wires, other bodies stretched out in the straw, and close beside me, within reach of my hand, what the Abbé Dubois called the carnal act was taking place.

Against my own body, a woman’s body pressed itself, tense, vibrant, and a hand moved to pull up the black dress, to push the panties down to the feet which kicked them off with an odd jerking movement.

We still hadn’t kissed each other. It was Anna who drew me toward her, on top of her, both of us as silent as snakes.

Julie’s breathing grew quicker and louder just as Anna was helping me to enter her, and I suddenly found myself there.

I didn’t cry out. But I came close to doing so. I came close to talking incoherently, saying thank you, telling of my happiness, or else complaining, for that happiness hurt me. Hurt me with the attempt to reach the unattainable.

I should have liked to express all at once my affection for this woman whom I hadn’t known the day before, but who was a human being, who in my eyes was becoming the human being...”
विलास सारंग, 'शेक्सपियरचं भाषांतर', 'लिह्त्या लेखकाचं वाचन', २०११:
 "... O God! a beast that wants...याचं भाषांतर श्री. नाईक करतात : अरे देवा, 
'अरे देवा' हे शब्द वाचून मला लहानपणी अर्नाळकरांनी शब्दशः भाषांतरित केलेल्या डिटेक्टिव्ह कादंबऱ्यांची आठवण झाली! नायकाने 'अरे देवा!' अस म्हटल्यावर आम्ही हसायचो!..."

ब. ल. वष्ट, वाङ्मय शोभा, सप्टेंबर १९५०:

In January 2017, I read two articles.

First one was a book review by Graham Moore of “ARTHUR AND SHERLOCK : Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes” by  Michael Sims and the second was an article in Marathi newspaper Loksatta (लोकसत्ता) by Mahesh Elkunchwar (महेश एलकुंचवार) on Marathi crime fiction writer:  Mr. Arnalkar.

Mr. Elkunchwar laments the near death of the genre 'crime fiction' in Marathi and the likely reasons thereof.
"...आता तर या लेखनप्रकाराचा मागमूसही दिसत नाही. वाचायचे ते उद्बोधनासाठी, माहितीसाठी, सामाजिक जाणिवा तेवत ठेवण्यासाठी, . सर्व उद्दिष्टे डोळ्यांसमोर ठेवून वाचन करणाऱ्या मराठी वाचकाला रंजनासाठी रहस्यकथा वाचणे हे अभिरुची सोडल्याचे लक्षण वाटत होते का?..."

"(वाटत होते.) पण हाच वाचक तद्दन रंजनप्रधान नाटके पाहतो, ‘विविध भारतीवरची प्राणहीन मराठी गाणी ऐकतो, कोळीनृत्य लावणी ही त्याची सांस्कृतिक घटनांची व्याख्या असते. त्याने रहस्यकथेकडे पाठ फिरवण्याचा अर्थ मला कळत नाही..."
I first read Sherlock Holmes, in Marathi, in early 1970's. Most of them I had borrowed it from a small book lending library. During the same period, out of curiosity, I also read Arnalkar's novels. Although I did finish reading a few of Arnalkar's novels, I never fell in love with them unlike the books- most in Marathi- of  Doyle, Erle Stanley Gardner, James Hadley Chase, Alistair MacLean, Narayan Dharap (नारायण धारप), Gurunath Naik (गुरुनाथ नाईक), Shrikant Sinkar (श्रीकांत सिनकर), Indrajal Comics featuring Phantom, Mandrake and Flash Gordon

Therefore, I was surprised to read Mr. Elkunchwar's following claim in the aforementioned article. 
"...मुले मराठी वाचत नसतील, त्यांना वाचनाची गोडी नसेल; तर सर्व आई-बापांनी त्यांना अर्नाळकरांच्या पुस्तकांची चटक अवश्य लावावी. पाहा, किती चांगला परिणाम होतो ते...."

As the late Mr. Sarang opines above, I often felt as an adolescent that Mr. Arnalkar was translating from English word for word.  My son, 23, once an avid reader of books, was/is unlikely to even touch his books. Moreover the kids these days get to read Sherlock of Doyle as well as Sherlock that has been made new. On top of that we have to reckon with the decline of conventional books (अक्षर वाङ्मय) in the pecking order. For an urban middle-class young person today, video games, mobile telephony and TV serials come much higher. Elkunchwar himself admits: "...आज पुन्हा अर्नाळकर मी वाचतो तेव्हा कंटाळा येतो;..."

Sure,  as Elkunchwar describes, Arnalkar's novels probably had some good qualities such as the simplicity and the smooth flow of the language, seamless creation of new words, naming of the characters, description of Mumbai but his books never had any quality like. for instance, that of, say, Georges Simenon.

John Gray writes about Simenon:
"...Some of the best examples of what is commonly described as crime fiction – the novels of Patricia Highsmith, for instance – are studies in character which show why the protagonists act as they do by probing their states of mind. In Simenon, human beings are the sum of their impulses and behaviours; there is no enduring self behind the façade of habit. No one authors their own life; the belief that they are responsible for their actions is an illusion...
...André Gide was not exaggerating when he described Simenon as one of the greatest 20th-century writers of fiction. (Other admirers include T S Eliot, Henry Miller, William Faulkner and John Banville.) By the time he died in 1989, he was one of the most widely published writers in history, with world sales of over 500 million books and many film adaptations to his credit..."

Arnalkar did not seem to even try what Bhau Padhye (भाऊ पाध्ये) later achieved in his Mumbai based novels: Capturing alienation, desperation, all conquering commerce, impossibility of finding an affordable dwelling, ubiquitous Hindi cinema...something Saadat Hasan Manto (1921-1955) had also achieved in a few of his Mumbai based stories.

We also have to take into consideration the imported inspiration that was available to Mr. Arnalkar: Noir films and glorious tradition of pulp magazines. (I have always felt that the golden age of Hindi cinema 1949-1965 freely borrowed from noir films and Jazz music.)

“...Dashiell Hammett  found a home for a lot of his fiction in Black Mask, one of America’s great bygone pulp magazines. Raymond Chandler, Carroll John Daly, and other masters of detective fiction all placed their work in Black Mask, which first published Hammett in 1922, and which serialized The Maltese Falcon in 1929... in 1930, when Black Mask had a circulation of 130,000...”

Joseph Cotten and Jean Peters in Andew L. Stone's  'A Blueprint for Murder', 1953 

courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Even crime fiction written in Marathi is of the same average (to mediocre) quality as most of the fictional writing done in it in 20th century. Mr. Arnalkar, who was a better writer than most of the contemporary Marathi novelists,  entertained millions of Marathi readers and we all should be grateful to him for that. 

Monday, June 05, 2017

कु. अनिला आणि कै इंदिरा गांधी...इतिहासाचा शेवटी होतो व्हिडिओ गेम!...History of 1971

Tom Chatfield, ‘Fun Inc.: Why Gaming Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century, 2010: “...In 2009, the National Gamers Survey reported that 83% of the U.S. population played video games, including 72% of men and women over 50. Whatever your opinion on video games, they will soon be universal. Within another generation they have their place in every home and pocket, as inevitable as a computer or mobile phone. This is neither a dreadful nor a marvelous fact: it is an aspect of the world we must learn to live with and understand as best we can.

We need to take this word “gamers” and throw it away, together with all those other generalizations that open up no debate and that mask the future under vague hopes and wild fears. We need to talk seriously, now, about how to get the best out of games, where the worst really lies, and what the games we play can tell us about ourselves and our future. The news may not all be good. But we cannot afford to ignore it.”

Ian Bogost, ‘How to Talk about Videogames’,2015: “...But then, we also have to admit that games are something more than just nondescript vessels that deliver varying dosages of video pleasure. They include characters and personas with whom we can identify and empathize, like we might do with a novel or a film. They are composed of forms and designs derived from whole cloth, producing visual, tactile, and locomotive appeal like fashion or painting or furniture. They insert themselves into our lives, weaving within and between our daily practices, both structuring and disrupting them. They induce feelings and emotions in us, just as art or music or fiction might do. But then, games also extend well beyond the usual payloads of those other media, into frustration, anguish, physical exhaustion, and addictive desperation. ..”

Rupert Christiansen: "...We live in a culture that swamps us in fictions – what didn’t happen, only what someone thinks might have happened – that blur and corrupt our perception of the truth. Plays such as Oppenheimer turn the terrible and irreconcilable into the stuff of entertainment, dosed with the drug of ‘fantasy-consolation.” We should be clear that the Alan Turing of The Imitation Game never existed, and that nobody understands DNA or the Big Bang by dint of a playwright’s magic wand.

Clio, the Muse of History, insists on hard facts, accurate details, and the mess and ambivalence of reality. We should respect her more..."

'घाशीराम कोतवाल'  ही कशी एक श्रेष्ठ दर्जाची करमणूक आहे (पण इतिहास नव्हे) या बद्दल नोव्हेंबर २६ २०१६ला लिहले.

अलिकडेच बांगलादेशच्या पंतप्रधान श्रीमती शेख हसीना भारतभेटीला येऊन गेल्या. पुन्हा एकदा १९७१च्या युद्धाच्या आठवणी निघाल्या. अगदी भारताच्या पंतप्रधानांनी सुद्धा त्या काढल्या. माझ्याही मनात तो सगळा काळ अगदी जिवंत आहे.

 'Heroes of 1971: Retaliation' हा  व्हिडिओ गेम बांगलादेश मध्ये अलीकडे तुफान गाजतो आहे.

'1843magazine' त्या गेम बद्दल म्हणत: "...It is set during the war of independence, which saw East Pakistan break away from Pakistan to become Bangladesh, and is a sequel to “Heroes of 1971”, which was released two years ago on the anniversary of Pakistan’s surrender. The objective of both games is to liberate East Pakistan and, in the process, kill as many Pakistani soldiers as possible. Interestingly, the games appear to have received some, if not all, of their funding from the government of Bangladesh: the credits state that they were sponsored by the ICT Division, a government ministry, and the Bangladesh Computer Council, a state-run body..."

ह्या गेम मध्ये आता आकर्षक दिसणाऱ्या कु. अनिला यांचा प्रवेश झाला आहे. त्या पाकिस्तानी कैदेतून सुटून आल्या आहेत.

कुठल्याही इतर इतिहासाप्रमाणे बांगलादेशचा स्वातंत्र्यसंग्राम हा अतिशय गुंतागुंतीचा विषय आहे. कै इंदिरा गांधीनी आपल्या भाषणात भारतीय संसदेला डिसेंबर १२ १९७१रोजी सांगितल होत : “We hail the brave young men and boys of the Mukti Bahini for their valour and dedication.”

आता त्यांना कु. अनिला माहित असत्या तर त्यांनी निश्चित 'brave young men and women' असा उल्लेख केला असता. पण एवढ्या खोलात कोणाला जायचय !

Benjamin Barber: "The preference for the simple over the complex is evident in domains dominated by simpler tastes - fast food and moronic movies, revved-up spectator sports and dumbed-down video games, for example, all of which are linked in a nexus of consumer merchandizing that the infantilist ethos nurtures and promotes.”

 courtesy: the copyright holders of the image