Sunday, 28 September 2014


If it is EHFS, it had to be from RK films, Raj Kapoor who won the undisputed title of the greatest showman of India. My choice of film today is his 1955 release Shree ४२०. (Sirf ४२० nahi saab, Shri charso bees, as he says in one of the scenes).

A very simple story of Good versus Bad, a simple story of love between a young man arriving in Mumbai with ambitions to own Bombay who falls prey to the temptations and how a young school teacher Vidya becomes his ultimate saviour. As expected the Good winning over Bad in the end and Raj and Vidya living happily ever after. END.

I understand that EHFS is more about music and songs so i can not go on and on about Raj Kapoors directing prowess but I still can not avoid saying something about Raj Kapoor as a Producer, Director and Actor.

There was not much to be left to imagination in his films. The message was straight and simple ... SMILE HE SAYS, WHATEVER YOU WERE GOING THROUGH. He himself was a great fan of Sir Charles Chaplin and picked up quite a few tricks from Sir Charles especially lifting his hat, shrug of the shoulders etc.

Raj Kapoor was a film-maker and his ambition seemed to be to reach the hearts of ordinary people. He directed just about a dozen films but still won the undisputed title of the greatest showman of his time. He did not sit alongside the greats like Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy or P Gurudutt in terms of depth to portray reality or in handling of issue based subjects. But still he was the supreme entertainer. His films made big money and had memorable songs with magnificent themes that glorified common man.

Today, after all these years, I may not crave for his films and even have forgotten the details but if his movies (black and white) come on TV, I still enjoy transporting myself to those mesmerising nostalgic years

The movie did not win any top Filmfare awards of 1956 either for direction, music or for singers. It however won the awards for Best Cinematographer: Radhu Karmakar, Best Editing: G.G. Mayekar and also a Certificate of Merit for the Second Best Feature Film in Hindi. Which was the first that year ?

For his Production house R K Films, Raj Kapoor set up a team which remained with him through out and the team consisted of cinematographer Radhu Karmarkar, Story writers K A Abbas and V P Sathe, the nationalist and socialist lyric writer Shailendra, the romantic Hasrat Jaipuri, the composer duo Shankar-Jaikishan and the playback singer Mukesh who also became Raj Kapoor's alter ego. Of course Lata Mangeshkar became a permanent part of his musical genius and also Manna Dey on many occasions.

With this long introduction, I start with the video clips and songs . . .

I was and even now never tired of watching the beggar on बंबई street in Shree 420 asking Raj who has just entered the Bombay city not to bother him because ... यह धंदेका टाइम है भाई धंदेका (yeh dhandeka time hai bhai dhandeka) and soon there after ... the same beggar philosophising  .... यह बंबई है भाई बंबई। ........ मगर जब खुद गिरते है तो हँसना भूल जाते हैं ! And later the pawn broker saying to himself that “Bambaiko koi nahi khareed sakta leking Bambai subko khareed leti hai”

Have a look at this video of about 8 minutes just to settle well in to this EHFS ...

Raj Kapoor believed much in symbolism. And symbolism in this movie starts right at the start of the first song of the movie ... Mera Joota Hai Japani at a road sign which shows Bombay - 420 miles. Silly but symbolic but I know by personal experience that it went very well with the simplicity and sensibility of the time it was made : September 06, 1955. It is just a little older than me and that too is symbolic J
I am not too favourite of this song so I am putting just a special 1 minute clip of the video which was digitally converted to colour.

I start with the first song "Ramayya Vastavayya" which was a hugely popular song in the movie. The Telugu words meant "Ramayya, wont you come" ? The situation in the movie is .... Raju is lost to the slum dwellers who gave shelter to him in his first days in Bombay and the slum dwellers are wanting him to come back to rescue them from 420s in the society !

The song remains an iconic one in the History of Hindi Filmy Music but my specific liking for the song was for that moment midway in the song, where the mood of the slum dwellers carries itself to Vidya who is pining for Raju and see how it is carried to her via the typical symbols of Bombay then and even now ... Wheel barrow, then a Victoria and finally a milkman on his bicycle. I like to listen to these couplets that Lata sings for Nargis any number of times ... This is about 11 minutes video and I like it that way as it creates the atmosphere for the audience. My favourite part of the song :

 Yaad aatee rahee, dil dukhaatee rahee
 Apane man ko manaanaa, naa aayaa hume
 Too naa aaye to kyaa, bhool jaaye to kyaa
 Pyaar kar ke bhoolaayaa naa aayaa hume
 Wahee se door se hee, too bhee ye kah de kabhee
 Maine dil tuz ko diyaa...

I put the Shailendra song ‘Dilka haal sune dilwala ...’ sung by Manna Dey ahead of Rammaiya Vastavayya. The whole song is so meaningful and at places showing some socialistic shades of Raj Kapoor which made him so popular in Russia as well as in China,

Gham se abhi azaad nahi main
Khush magar aabaad nahi main -2
Manzil mere paas khadi hai,
Paau mein lekin bedi padi hai
Taanga deta hai daulat waala,
Dil ka haal sune dil waala
Dil ka hal sune dil wala

The next number ' Oh jaanewale mudke jara dekhake jana' by Hasrat Jaipuri,  in my opinion is the top song for me from this film as well as in general. The director has effectively portrayed a tormented Vidya rigid in her moral stance not wanting to walk along her lover's dishonest path. A uncompromising Vidya is looking at Raj go away from her and another Vidya, a softer one extracting from her figure imploring the moral Vidya to help him. Do you remember a very similar situation in Bobby ? A very short song as if Raj Kapoor could not bear the rigidity in her eyes fixed on his shoulders for more than 2 minutes ...

Tumhe qasam hai meri
Dila ko yun naa tadapaao
Ye iltijaa hai ke
Muda muda ke dekhate jaao

Mud mud ke na dekh by Shailendra perfectly fits under "masala" category. RK at heart, a 100% Showman that he was enjoyed playing to the gallery ensuring ample proportions of all human moods in his movies.

Raj in this song is shown as visibly torn between Maya, the Illusion and Vidya, the  lady. Nadira was at her height of glory in 1955 and one can not miss the vivacity,  her utterly seductive serpent like power that she displays in the movie and in this dance.

The following words about Nadira the temptress are reproduced straight from a review available on the internet..... "The classic figure of the enchantress is once more portrayed, but in an extremely vivid light. If we didn’t know that Raj is falling into a huge trap, we would be enjoying their show as a high-flying display of pleasure and dream-like romance, and we would sigh with contentedness! But the tiger’s soft fur hides the fiercest claws that Nature has crafted: Maya is Raj’s doom, his Mr Hyde side. "

No wonder Raj can’t “look back” at Vidya when there is too much in front of him.

I put the next Shailendra song sung by Manna Dey ahead of Rammaiya Vastavayya. The whole song is so meaningful and at places showing some socialistic shades of Raj Kapoor which made him so popular in Russia as well as in China,

Gham se abhi azaad nahi main
Khush magar aabaad nahi main -2
Manzil mere paas khadi hai,
Paau mein lekin bedi padi hai
Taanga deta hai daulat waala,
Dil ka haal sune dil waala
Dil ka hal sune dil wala

I spoke of symbolism in Raj Kapoor's movies and for that I take you to immediate dialogues after the song "Ichak dana bichak dana ...". Please judge for yourselves.
First I just put a video clip I prepared from the movie ...

This Hasrat Jaipuri song is pure joy to me. Do not miss the marvel of femininity that Nargis is in this song. Her expressions are a rapture to watch. Please wait for that moment when she is teaching and how her face changes from sweet to severe as she notices Raj trying the same guessing game as the children.

During my college days ... Oh, that scene in the rain between Raj and Nargis singing Pyar hua ikraar hua !

The song is sung when Raj has left his iron burning a hole in a customer’s jacket but the some soft moments in this song burnt holes in our young hearts. The song is pucturised on a set with artificial rains but that didn't matter.  Today, this song is no more a rage and many other songs with have over taken its position but if I were to bring back the 40 years old memories then this is the song and couple of others from Chori Chori (not RK movie of course)  .... Oh ! Don't ask me. Just watch ....

It seems, in this song the reel life spilled over real life. The screen came alive when the two appeared together. Raj Kapoor's imaginative picturisation thrilled us.

Lastly.... As it often happens some beauties are just left out in the film. And here is one such that never made it to the screen officially ...... Shyam Gayi Raat ayee ke balam aja ...

Lastly about the music... I failed to find words so have picked up what I read in his biographical book Raj Kapoor, The Great Showman..... ".... Despite his permanent team comprising SHankar Jaikishan, lyricists Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri and singer Mukesh, it was Raj Kapoor himself who pervades all over. He had a great ear for music, an innate sense of rhythm and could play most instrument by ear. His favourite Ragas were Bhairavi, Shivranjani, Pahari, Malkauns and Darbari.

And as Latadidi, whose birthday falls today once said .... " ....... the RK film music in the ultimate analysis Raj Kapoor's own creation..... " and with no disrespect to Shankar Jaikishan or others who comprised RK music in later years.

I know, I can not do full justice to presentations due to limitations in my own knowledge base but I hope, you will take it kindly and make me richer with your constructive comments and criticism of my presentation. Thank you... One and all.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Kopeshwar - An Architectural Gem

India has number of gems hidden in it small towns all over. When I looked on internet for places to visit around Kolhapur, Kopeshwar temple in Khidrapur was one place that caught my attention. There is good amount of information about it especially about its unique Swargamandap, presence of both Vishnu and Shiva in one temple, conspicuous absence of Nandi and its Hemadpanti architecture.

My first impression of the temple was its compactness compared to many other temples and temple ruins. This temple, though heavily desecrated, still retains its exquisiteness. More than the damage carried out in the history, what really hurt my eyes was the unprofessional restoration attempts by  our own present day experts using cheap building material. Some pictures clicked during my visit about an year ago :

A very nondescript looking entrance to the temple

The temple from its rear side

A visitor appreciating the stonework, unfortunately heavily damaged.

This temple is very conspicuous with its Swargamandap standing on 48 pillars and Rangasheela. The Swargamandap opens to sky through an opening of about 4 meter diameter. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Three Tajmahals of Agra ...

My first memorable visit to Agra was with family in June 2012. There is more to Agra than just Tajmahal in fact 3 Tajmahals as the locals refer to them. More about the other 2 Tajmahals later in this Blog.

We had booked into a budget hotel just about 100M from Taj which had claimed on his website that their terrace and even some of the rooms offered a good view of Taj  The owner was right on both the counts and Taj was in fact just about 10 minutes walk.

Moghuls ruled India between 1526 and 1707 was the most and It lasted another 150 years after Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 (until almost the Indian revolution of 1857) but it did not have the same grandeur as before.

I did not find much variance in what I had read in the school history books and what the guide informed us about Taj that it took 22 years and 22000 labour force to build it. One of the internet site had even revealed that the project cost was approximately US $68000 !

On seeing these large monuments, I keep wondering about the weights involved and how the heavy load handling was managed during those days before the advent of cranes or similar equipment. Even after watching several documentaries on how pyramid like huge constructions were managed by the then experts, none if my questions are answered.

What I understood about the 2nd Tajmahal ..... Shahjahan, soon after the 'white marble' Tajmahal, had planned another one, but a black one - an exact replica of the marble one just opposite the original across river Yamuna as his own burial place. Shahjahan, it seems had even plans to connect the two Taj Mahals, white and the black with a beautifully decorated bridge. Unfortunately he couldn't complete his plans due to the war of succession with his son Aurangzeb.

We did visit the site of the Black Tajmahal where only some foundations are visible today and amongst these we even found a Redwattled Lapwing fiercely protecting her 3 eggs.

Let us come now to the third Taj of Agra known formally as Itmad-ud-Daula's Tomb but more popular as Mini or Baby Taj locally. Baby Taj was commissioned by Nur Jahan the wife of Jahangir for her father Mirza Ghiyas Beg who had been given the title of Itimad-ud-Daulah (pillar of the state). He was also the grandfather of Mumtāz Mahāl the wife of the emperor Shah Jahan.

The tomb, built between 1622 and 1628 represents a transition between the first phase of monumental Mughal architecture - primarily built from red sandstone with marble decorations, as in Humayun's Tomb in Delhi and Akbar's tomb in Sikandra - to its second phase, based on white marble and inlays most elegantly realized in the Taj Mahal.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Frogner Park in Oslo, Norway

Frogner Park is a public park located in Oslo, Norway and historically a part of Frogner Manor. The Park contains sculpture installation created by Gustav Vigeland between the 1920s and 1943. It is the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist.

Most of the statues depict people engaging in various typically human pursuits, such as running, wrestling, dancing, hugging, holding hands and so on.

However, occasionally one comes across statues that are more abstract, including one statue, which shows an adult male, fighting off a horde of babies.

But major attractions of the park is the Angry Boy and the Monolith in the west end of the Park.

The Monolith which is at the highest point of Frogner Park is another popular attraction. Construction of the massive monument began in 1924 when Gustav Vigeland himself modeled it out of clay in his studio in Frogner. The design process took him ten months. The model was then cast in plaster. A block of granite weighing several hundred tons was erected in the late 1920s and Vigeland’s plaster design was set up next to it to give reference to its sculptors. Transferring of the figures began in 1929 and took 3 stone carvers 14 years to accomplish. The Monolith was opened on the Christmas of 1944. The Monolith towers 14.12 meters (46.32 ft) high and is composed of 121 human figures.

The Monolith is meant to represent man’s desire to become closer with the spiritual and divine. It portrays a feeling of togetherness as the human figures embrace one another as they are carried toward salvation.

The Park also has several gates which are forged out of wrought iron.

And a few other sculptures :

Source : Wikipedia and other literature.