Thursday, December 27, 2007

Say It With Numbers: #2-2007

India: Retail

o At $280 billion, India’s retail sector is 10% of GDP and employs 8% of total workforce (42 million people). Estimated growth: 9.5% annually

o There are 12 million unorganized retailers (neighbourhood stores). 80% are family-owned and run

o Organised, big retail accounts for 4-5% of the total pie. Big retail is just 1% of the food and grocery market. Its estimated to grow to $100 billion (16% of total)


India

o The 15,000 Maoist insurgents in India are active and wield influence in 170 of the 602 districts in 16 of the 33 states

o 30% of the cars sold in 1993 had ACs and were non-white in color.80% of the cars sold now have ACs and are non-white in color.

o 150 km/hour is the speed of the fastest train in India

o 25,000 lives (including that of an Indian Prime Minister) were lost in the Sikh militancy in India during the 1980s. By 1993, terrorism was vanquished in Punjab

o Air passengers in India: 10 million annually till 2002. 71 million in 2007

o 94% of 6,00,000 villages in India do not have a single branch of any bank.

o 10,00,00,000 (10 crore) telephone connections were installed in India in 2005, of which 5,23,00,000 (5.23 crore) were of mobile users.70,00,000 (70 lakhs) subscribers are added every month in India as compared to China which adds 45,00,000 (45 lakhs) every month

o The telecom subscriber base in India was
§ 80,000 in 1948 (just after independence)
§ 5 million in 1991
§ 15 million in 1997
§ 220 million today

o In the last national general elections, 5,398 candidates from 220 political parties contested 543 parliamentary constituencies, 380 million people representing about 56% of the 675 million registered voters exercised their preferences using 1.25 million electronic voting machines in 7,00,000 polling booths across the country, the highest in Ladakh at an altitude of 5,180 metres, 30 kilometres from the nearest road

o Religious violence has claimed 4,000 lives in 20 years in India

o 75 ACE: King Gopala, the first Buddhist ruler of Bengal came to power through an election

o India has over 400 languages, 29 have more than a million native speakers, 60 have more than 1,00,000 (1 lakh) speakers

Monday, December 24, 2007

P.G.Wodehouse - 2

(Continued)

From ‘Carry On Jeeves’

It was one of those still evenings you get in the summer, when you can hear a snail clear its throat a mile away (p.18)

I’m all for rational enjoyment and so forth, but I think a chappie makes himself conspicuous when he throws soft boiled eggs at the electric fan. And decent mirth and all that sort of thing are all right, but I do bar dancing on tables and having to dash all over the place dodging waiters, managers and chuckers-out, just when you want to sit still and digest (p.60)

Mrs. Pringle’s aspect was that of one who had had bad news round about the year 1900 and never really got over it (p.165)

“No doubt you will remember my mother?” said Professor Pringle mournfully indicating exhibit A.

“Oh. Ah!” I said, achieving a bit of a beam.

“And my aunt,” sighed the professor as if things were getting worse and worse.

“Well, well, well!” I said, shooting another beam in the direction of Exhibit B (p.166)

“I remember Oliver,” said Exhibit A. She heaved a sigh. “He was such a pretty child. What a pity! What a pity!”

Tactful, of course and calculated to put the guest completely at his ease (p. 166)

From ‘Very Good! Jeeves’

I was back at the flat so quick that I nearly met myself coming out (p.106)

From ‘Piccadilly Jim’

‘In his normal state he would not strike a lamb. I’ve known him to do it’

‘Do what?’

‘Not strike lambs’ (p.165)

A plot is only as strong as it weakest link (p.203)

From ‘The Girl in Blue’

Except for the Gadarene swine, famous through the ages for their prowess at the short sprint, no group is quicker off the mark than a jury at long last released from bondage (p.14)

He looked, as always as if he had been carved from some durable form of wood by someone who was taking a correspondence course in sculpture and had just reached his third lesson (p.71)

From ‘Spring Fever’

“Women are like that”

“No, they aren’t. Unless they are, of course,” he added, for he was a man who could look at things from every angle.

From ‘Author! Author!’

I met a woman the other day and she said, “I don’t like your books. Why don’t you write about real things?”

“Such as?” I asked

“Well, my life, for instance.”

“Tell me all about your life,” I said.

And she mused for a while and came up with the hot news that when in Singapore during the war she had gone around with a tin helmet on her head. I tried to explain to her that this would be terrific for-say-the first 20,000 words, but that after that one would be stuck. And all she did was say “Well, I still think you ought to write about real things.” (p.184)

From ‘Joy in the Morning’

The first sight of Boko reveals to the beholder an object with a face like that of an intellectual parrot. Furthermore, as in the case with so many of the younger literati, he dresses like a tramp cyclist, affecting turtleneck sweaters and grey flannel bags with a patch on the knee and conveying a sort of general suggestion of having been left out in the rain overnight in an ash can (p.46-47)

From ‘Aunts aren’t Gentlemen’

“I’ve got spots on my chest.”

“Spots? That’s bad. How many?”

I said I had not actually tken a census but there were quite a few (p.18)

Aunt Agatha……..is strongly suspected of turning into a werewolf at the time of the full moon. Aunt Dahlia is as good a sort as ever said “Tally Ho” to a fox, which she frequently did in her younger days….If she ever turned into a werewolf, it would be one of those jolly breezy werewolves whom it is a pleasure to know (p.20)

From ‘The Old Reliable’

Her voice was a very powerful contralto….she was apt to use it as if she were chatting with a slightly deaf acquaintance in China (p.16)

He looks much more like a lobster than most lobsters do (p.61)

From ‘Company for Henry’

“What made you propose to her?”

“He always does, he tells me,”…..”when he cant think of anything to say. It keeps the conversation going.” (p.140)

From ‘Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit’

Aunt Agatha, the one who kills rats with her teeth and devours her young (p.1)

….his tendency, when moved, to make a sound like a buffalo pulling its foot out of a swamp (p.17)

From ‘Summer Moonshine’

‘And I’m pretty sure the name was Busby. Unless,’ said Tubby, who liked to leave a margin for error, ‘it was something else. (p.11)

…..enormously rich inspite of the inroads made on his income by the platoon of ex-wives to whom he was paying alimony. For, like so many substantial citizens of his native country, he had married young and kept on marrying, springing from blonde to blonde like the chamois of the Alps leaping from crag to crag (p.20)

……But why, did you want 500 pounds?

‘Who doesn’t?’ said Sir Buckstone, rather reasonably. (p.22)

‘Well then, be at the second milestone on the Walsingford road at 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be waiting there. And when you come, make a noise like a linnet’

……….He took counsel of Pollen………

‘Say Pollen, do you know anything about birds?’….linnets……what sort of noise they make?’……………

Yes sir. The rough song of a linnet is “Tolic-gow-gow, tolic-joey fair, tolic-hickey-gee, tolic-equay-quake, tuc-tuc-whizzie, tuc-ruc-joey, equay-quake-a-weet, tuc-tuc-wheet”

“It is?”

Tubby stood for a moment in thought.

‘Oh, hell!,’ he said. ‘I’ll whistle’ (p.145-146)

From ‘French Leave’

…..Ouch!” said Henry changing the subject and explained that a bee had stung him.

This seemed to Jo a frivolous side issue (p.10)

“I’ve never been more delighted in my life,” said Mrs.Pegler. She kissed Freddie, who had been afraid of this but told himself with the splendid Carpenter fortitude that at such a time one has to take the rough with the smooth (p.136)

From ‘Something Fishy’

George, sixth Viscount Uffenham, was a man built on generous lines. It was as though nature had originally intended to make two viscounts, but had decided halfway through to use all the material at one go and get the thing over with (p.21)

A momentary urge to bang her uncle on the head with the coffee pot came and passed. It is at such moments that breeding tells (p.67)

……….that lifelong habit of his of proposing marriage to girls whenever the conversation seemed to be flagging a bit and a feller felt he had to say something (p.71)

It had sometimes happened to Bill, when indulging in his hobby of amateur boxing to place the point of his jaw in a spot where his opponent was simultaneously placing his fist and the result had always been a curious illusion that the top of his head had parted abruptly from its moorings (p.113)

………How soon can one get married?

“Like a flash, I believe, if yet get a special license.”

“I’ll get two, to be on the safe side”

“I would. Cant go wrong, if yer have a spare” (p.147)

From ‘Something Fresh’

………beggars approached the task of trying to persuade perfect strangers to bear the burden of their maintenance with that optimistic vim which makes all the difference. It was one of those happy mornings (p.9)

…….There was one small window, covered with grime. It was one of those windows which you see only in laywers offices. Possibly, some reckless Mainprice or hairbrained Boole had opened it, in a fit of mad excitement induced by the news of the Battle of Waterloo, in 1815 and had been instantly expelled from the firm. Since then no one had dared to tamper with it (p.68)

………the sixth and final shot hit a life-size picture of his lordship’s maternal grandmother in the face and improved it out of all knowledge (p.149)

From ‘Money in the Bank’

………….she found its occupant seated at the table, playing chess with himself. From the contented expression on his face, he appeared to be winning (p.27)

……….and I find that I could put the whole of dashed human race into a pit half a mile wide by half a mile deep.

…….’No don’t,’ said Anne. ‘Think how squashy it would be for the ones at the bottom.’

‘True,’ admitted Lord Uffenham, after consideration. ‘Yerss. Yerss. I see what you mean. Still, its an interesting thought’ (p.44)

……….It was the look which had caused her to be known in native bearer and half caste trader circles as ‘Mgobo-Mgumbi’, which may be loosely translated as She on Whom It is Unsafe to Try Any Oompus-Boompus. (p.63)

……’I love you,’ said Jeff.

‘That’s the way to talk,’ said Anne

‘I shall never love anyone but you.’

‘Better and better.’

‘Did you know that ants run faster in warm weather?’

‘No, really? Faster than what?’

‘Faster than other ants in cold weather.’

‘You wouldn’t fool me?’

‘Certainly not. I had it from your uncle in person. It appears that they spring like billy-o in the dog days. I know you would be glad to hear that. And I was nearly forgetting to mention it, I love you ’ (p.237)

From ‘A Damsel in Distress’

……..Thrips thrive on the underside of rose leaves, sucking their juice and causing them to turn yellow; and Lord Marshmoreton’s views on these things were so rigid that he would have poured whale-oil solution on his grandmother if he had found her on the underside of one of his rose leaves sucking its juice (p.9)

From ‘Galahad At Blandings’

Quite a good party, avant garde playwrights and other local fauna dotted around, busy with their bohemian revels (p.5)

The policeman was a long, stringy policeman who flowed out of his uniform at odd spots. His face was gnarled, his wrists knobbly and of a geranium hue and he had those three or four extra inches of neck which disqualify a man for high honours in a beauty competition (p.9)

Nature had not given Veronica Wedge more than about as much brain as would fit comfortably into an aspirin bottle, feeling no doubt that it was better not to overdo the thing (p.23)

………looked like a cook – in her softer moods a cook well satisfied with her latest soufflé; when stirred to anger a cook about to give notice; but always a cook of strong character (p.23)

He did not look the sort of young man from whom one would have expected stories about kittens called Pinky-Poo or indeed about kittens whose godparents had been less fanciful in their choice of names, for his appearance was distinctly on the rugged side. (p.27)

‘He writes from the Athenaeum Club.’

‘That morgue?’ said Gally, who did not think highly of the Athenaeum. There was not a bishop or a Cabinet Minister there who he would have taken to the old Pelican and introduced to Plug Basham and Buffy Struggles. He might be wronging the institution, but he doubted if it contained on its membership list a single sportsman capable of throwing soft boiled eggs at an electric fan or smashing the piano on a Saturday night (p.85)

Of the broad general principle of hitting the police force in the eye he had always thoroughly approved. You could not, in his opinion, do it too much and too often (p.87)

A gurgling sound like the wind going out of the childrens toy known as the dying duck showed how deeply he had been moved (p.130)

They’re soul mates. She has about as much brain as a retarded billiards ball, and he approximately the same (p.156)

…….but you often find these fellows with tough exteriors, strangely sensitive. It was the same with Plug Basham that time Puffy Benger and I put the pig in his bedroom.’

‘Why did you do that, if you don’t mind me asking?’

‘To cheer the poor chap up. For several days he had been brooding on something, I forget what, and Puffy and I talked it over and decided that something must be done to take him out of himself. He needs fresh interests, I said to Tuffy. So we coated a pig liberally with phosphorous and left it at his bedside at about two in the morning. We then beat the gong. The results were excellent. It roused him from his despondency in a flash and gave him all the fresh interests he could do with. But the point I’m making is that it was years after that before he could see a pig without a shudder’ (p.167)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Movie Review: Do Ankhen Barah Haath (Two Eyes and Twelve Hands) (1957)

This little gem of a movie comes from the house of Prabhat and V.Shantaram. Both made ‘different’ movies for those times. Theirs were movies with a social face, a social conscience. . I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a classic but it is one of the memorable Hindi movies of all times. And it won an award (Silver Berlin Bear) at the Berlin film festival.

“Almost twenty years ago, in a small state of India, an idealist started on a great experiment. His task was as difficult as of converting a beast into a human being. People called him a lunatic: But he, undaunted, stuck to his faith. With his very life in one hand and the flag of his ideal in the other, he marched ahead. The story of this motion picture is based on his real experiences.” Thus is proclaimed at the beginning of the movie.

It’s a simple story of a jailor who reforms an impressive ragtag bunch of murderers and criminals through an experimental open jail i.e. a house (not a prison) somewhere in a barren area. And how together they overcome the demons of temptation (the temptation to stray from the path).

The reasonably good standard of acting in this movie is particularly more impressive if you take into account the era in which this picture was made. Its remarkable humaneness and elavating thoughts make it in a sense quite a ‘modern’ movie. The way humour is used to take the story forward, the attention paid to characterization appeals.

The kind of performances the director has extracted from his cast is delightful. Watch the bewildered reactions of the kid of one of the murderers when he cries out ‘Where do I go?’ after his father tries to send them away from the house (for unknowingly causing a schism in the unity of the house).

Yes, one can complain (justifiably) that it does tend to be somewhat patronizing throughout. Another jarring note being the part played by Sandhya with her highly stylized overacting. What V.Shantaram saw in her to cast her again and again renders my mystified. But then as they say ‘Love is blind’ as Sandhya was V.Shantaram’s 3rd wife.

You might find fault with the Hindi diction and dialogue delivery of the main actors too but then that is probably not their mother tongue. Plus the tendency of the films of that era to tend towards melodrama; including the jailers tendency to sit like Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’; that wont sit comfortably with you.

Also, the movie does end rather too tamely and too melodramatically for my taste. Won’t reveal much on that.

But just in case you think I am complaining too much, the positives of the film far outweigh the negatives. The broad vistas of the desolate landscape will leave your heart aching at the end.

Unlike Sandhya (who seems to take it pretty lightly on hindsight next morning, the fact that the criminals trying to molest her the previous day) you will take this film more seriously.

Songs:

  1. Aei Malik Tere Bande Hum


2. The brilliantly picturised ‘Takataka Dhoom Dhoom’.

Unfortunately I cant find any online video on this

<5-jan-10> and some kind soul has now uploaded it. Enjoy


3. Umad Ghumad Kar Aai Re Ghata : another delightful song not on youtube

Songs 1. and 3. have beeen known and appreciated by many Hindi film lovers over the decades

Raj Kamal Kalamandir presents

Credits

Story/Dialogues: G.D.Madgulkar

Songs: Bharat Vyas

Playback: Lata Mangeskhar, Manna Dey

Music Direction: Vasant Desai

Photography: G. Balkrishna

Direction: V. Shantaram

Starring :

V.Shantaram

Sandhya

Babu Rao Pendharkar

Movie Review: Junoon (Obsession) (1978)

I watched Madhuri’s ‘Aaja Nach Le’ and was down with a bout of ennui and a strong nausea of Hindi masala films. I just couldn’t watch another commercial movie immediately. And so I turned to ‘art films’. A term probably peculiar to the Hindi film industry. All Hindi films are divided into ‘Commercial films’ and ‘Art Films’. The former are money-making business propositions, the typical song-and-dance masala films that one visualises when one thinks ‘Bollywood’. But the latter are films made for niche audiences, for film festivals, films also made out of passion and for the love of ‘realistic’ cinema. And if they are lucky, they also make some profit out of it

Shyam Benegal made ‘art films’. Many of his movies: Ankur, Nishant, Manthan, Bhumika, Junoon, Kalyug, Mandi, Trikal are classics of Indian cinema. Not of course talked-of in the same breath as say Satyajit Ray’s movies; nevertheless he was the poor man’s Satyajit Ray, so-to-say. It was his immense good fortune that he was blessed to be around with a crop of excellent artistes in the peak of their prowess: Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, Om Puri, Amol Palekar, Kulbhushan Kharbanda being some of them. Probably never before and never after have we been blessed by such intense actors in Hindi cinema. Benegal extracted some of the best performances of these artistes in his films. No wonder people like Naseer rue the films of today.

This film is set in the backdrop of the year 1857: a very crucial year in modern Indian history. The British ‘East India Company’ had been ruling most of modern-day India for almost 100 years by 1857. By this year, their early love and respect for India / Indians, their soft attitude had been hardnened to a colonial, master-slave, racist way. Compounded by insensitivity to local cultures, increased Christian missionary activity and unfair deposing of local kings, the stage was set for an eruption. The immediate excuse being the forced usage of pig/cow fat grease in rifles of the Indian soldiers under the British: the pig being abhorrent to the Muslims and the cow being holy to the Hindus. The initial revolt by the Indian soldiers soon spread to the entire North India leading to: a mutiny (as per British historians) and the first war of independence (as per Indian historians).

Junoon: (Obsession)

This film is centered away from the main battles, in a small town in the north Indian plains. The prophetic pronouncements (Haq! Truth!) of a whirling Sufi dervish form the backdrop to the opening. He foresees a bloody future for the firanghis (foreigners).

The revolution comes to the peaceful dusty village, in church on a Sunday morning when the sepoys burst-in and murder the English soldiers. (Tom Alter, the Anglo-Indian actor, mercifully is one of them. His studious and labored acting in those initial 2 minutes thankfully comes to an end). Ruth Labadoor (played by Nafisa Ali) is the sensual nubile daughter of this English soldier who escapes the mob and runs home to her mother & grandmother. After an initial period of hiding from the free-booting mobs, aided by a loyal Indian aide (?): Kulbhushan Kharbanda, the ladies however fall into the hands of Javed (Shashi Kapoor) who even prior to the outbreak of violence harbored a lusty obsession for Ruth. And that’s the pivot of the story: his Junoon (Obsession).

Javed however, is already married to the character played by Shabana Azmi. Shabana is unable to bear any child to sustain Javed’s dynasty and doesn’t take too kindly to Javed’s two-fold intention of marrying Ruth and possibly having a child by her. Jennifer Kendal (Shashi Kapoor’s real-life wife) who plays the role of Mariam, Ruth’s mother tries to buy time to Javed’s offer of marriage by raising the condition: Ruth will be available for marriage only if the city of Delhi falls to the rebels.

Add Naseeruddin (Sarfraz) to this cauldron of characters. He is the rebel leader and brother (?) of Shabana. An intense character full of passion to freeing his ‘country’ and who for the life of him, cant understand Javed’s ‘junoon’ for Ruth (and preference for raising pigeons) and his resultant disinterest in the war for independence.

As Shyam Benegal’s stories (rather his handling of them) go, he pays a lot of attention to the building of characters and their interplay. The story itself may be very commonplace but the way it is told, doesn’t aim to be that.

And so we come to the end-play where Delhi falls to the British and Mariam heaves a sigh of relief. The small town is now in an uproar and its inhabitants fleeing helter-skelter. While Javed is out on a sortie against the British, his family is fleeing their ancestral home in his absence to safer lands. The Angrez (English) meanwhile await the arrival of the British in the town church.

In a rather intensely emotional moment, Javed catches-up with the caravan of his fleeing family, only to ask his eager and relieved wife “Where are the firangis?” And the penny drops.

We are left with one last scene where Javed bids goodbye to Ruth but not before she betrays her softness of emotions to him. Shortly afterwords, their story its just another leaf in the wake of a storm.

Nafisa Ali as Ruth brings just the right amount of sensuality (of a budding youth) in her scenes. Her casting is apt. Nafisa brings just the right amount of vulnerability to the role. Although her propensity to go into hysterics is liable to drive you to one.

Whether its Shashi as a frenzied, obsessed Pathan, or Naseeruddin as the intense Sarfraz or Shabana as the guilt-wracken, pitiable wife of Javed who is not about to give-up without a fight, this film throws up some memorable characters to remember long after. Pearl Padamsee in a cameo of 2 minutes distinguishes herself.

The pacing of the movie and its tight link with the continuity ensures that there is hardly any slackness in the movie.

It’s the cinematography (its Govind Nihalani at the camera. GN went on to direct his own movies) that grabbed my attention throughout the movie. It is compact, very communicative and does very well to hide the imperfections of a low budget, modern ruins and less manpower in the battle scenes. The authentic location shoots are scenic.

Great literature, movies have one defining characteristic: they force characters to face situations which their abhor, philosophies which they dislike, people who are their antithesis and force an individual to churn his thoughts and put himself in the others shoes. This movie goes some way down that path.

Miscellany

  • The open action in the village church could have been handled much better.
  • The pact of Mariam with Javed to grant her daughter to him in a conjugal bond depending on whether Delhi falls to the English was much more than a calculated risk. It just doesn’t seem convincing.
  • Naseer’s way of venting out rage on the pigeons in the modern age would have brought out PETA and Maneka Gandhi out on the streets in protest.
  • The act of a Nafisa in hiding feeding a beggar lady openly was rather thick given the circumstances they were in. This moment is an aberration in the movie
  • The second aberration being that Ruth remained unwed ever after. This seems to be a peculiar Indian obsession I think. Remember Lagaan, too? Exactly the same.

And finally, one must mention Amir Khusrau’s song/ghazal ‘Aaj Rang Hai Ri Ma’ which graces the opening credits. Amir Khusrau of course, merits a separate blog-entry on his own and so we will have to wait another day for that.

Aaj Rang Hai Ri Ma


Credits:

Adapted from a novel ‘The Flight of Pigeons’ by Ruskin Bond

Starring

Shashi Kapoor as Javed

Shabana Azmi

Jennifer Kendal as Mariam

Naseeruddin Shah as Sarfraz

Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Jalal Agha

Pearl Padamsee

Benjamin Gilani

Tom Alter - seems rather studious in his approach to acting. Somewhat distracting

Nafisa Ali as Ruth Labadoor

Ismat Chugtai

Sushma Seth

Dipti Naval

Special Appearance

Geoffrey Kendal

Kunal Kapoor

Karan Kapoor

Sanjna Kapoor

Singers

Rafi, Asha, Varsha Bhonsle (surprise, this!!)

Lyrics:

Jigar Moradabadi

Amir Khusrau

Sant Kabir

Dialogue: Pandit Satyadev Dubey

Add’l Dialogue: Ismat Chugtai

Music: Vanraj Bhatia

Photography : Govind Nihalani

Produced : Shashi Kapoor

Screenplay and Direction : Shyam Benegal

Resources:

Say it with Numbers: #1-2007

Software

  • A study by research firm Gartner stated that six India's IT service providers- TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, Satyam, and HCL Technologies, accounted for 1.9 per cent of the total US$ 672 billion IT services market in 2006, compared to 0.5 per cent of the US $554 billion IT services market in 2001
  • The average annual growth rate of the SWITCH companies was 42.4 per cent in 2006, compared with a 4.3 per cent growth of the market leaders during the same period
  • Giving example Gartner said despite IBM's US$ 48 billion total IT service revenue, its dollar growth year over year was less than US $1 billion. TCS, on the other hand, increased its revenues by over US $1.2 billion in 2006, and achieved this increase from a revenue base 1/18th of IBM's size.
  • IT and ITES sectors will employ about 8 million people by the end of the year, compared to around 7 million in organized manufacturing.
  • 50% of IT projects implemented by corporations are failures or delayed. And there is often no empirical evidence to prove the benefits that companies implementing these projects receive from technology

Bollywood

  • 20% of all movies made in India are in Hindi
  • 40% of total movies made in India are in Tamil and Telugu
  • 25% of Hollywood revenue is from box office and 40% from home video sales. The figures for Bollywood are 84% and 8% respectively
  • 1.4 billion movie tickets sold in US in 2006. 3.7 billion sold in India in the same period
  • Multiplexes form 10% of total screens in India but earn 37% of revenue
  • There are 480 multiplexes in India currently

Miscellaneous

  • A typical low-cost airport with no frills can be built for Rs 40-50 crore (in Indian Tier II and Tier III cities)
  • Indian exports in Oct-07 were around Rs 52.5K crore
  • FM Radio industry in India

- 37 new players in 91 cities and 120 stations on air each with an investment from 5 crore to 20 crore

- Only Radio Mirchi is making profits: Net profit of 10 crore in 2nd qtr of 2007 against accumulated losses of Rs 102 crore

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Theory of the Long Tail

The Theory of the Long Tail – Chris Anderson (How endless choice is creating unlimited demand)

Our culture and economy are increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of hits (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and moving toward a huge number of niches in the tail. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.

  1. In virtually all markets, there are far more niche goods than hits. That ratio is growing exponentially larger as the tools of production become cheaper and more ubiquitous.
  2. The costs of reaching those niches is now falling dramatically. Thanks to a combination of forces including digital distribution, powerful search technologies and a critical mass of broadband penetration, online markets are resetting the economics of retail. Thus, in many markets, it is now possible to offer a massively expanded variety of products.
  3. ……….Consumers must be given ways to find niches that suit their particular needs and interests. A range of tools and techniques – from recommendations to rankings – are effective at doing this. These “filters” can drive demand down the Tail.
  4. Once there’s massively expanded variety and the filters to sort through it, the demand curve flattens. There are still hits and niches, but the hits are relatively less popular and the niches relatively more so
  5. All those niches add up. Although none sell in huge numbers, there are so many niche products that collectively they can comprise a market rivaling the hits.
  6. Once all this is in place, the natural shape of demand is revealed, undistorted by distribution bottlenecks, scarcity of information, and limited choice of shelf space. Whats more, that shape is far less hit-driven than we have been led to believe. Instead, it is as diverse as the population itself.

The first force is democratizing the tools of production………..Millions of people now have the capacity to make a short film or album, or publish their thoughts to the world ………..Give enough people the capacity to create, and inevitably gems will emerge.…………….. available universe of content is now growing faster then ever. This is what extends the tail to the right

The second force is cutting the costs of consumption by democratizing distribution……….it was the Internet that made everyone the distributor………the difference between fractions of pennies to deliver content online and the dollars it takes to do it with trucks, warehouses and shelves……..Internet has dramatically lowered the costs of reaching consumers.

The Internet simply makes it cheaper to reach more people, effectively increasing the liquidity of the market in the Tail. That, in turn, translates to more consumption, effectively raising the sales line and increasing the area under the curve.

The third force is connecting supply and demand, introducing consumers to these new and newly available goods and driving demand down the Tail……Google’s wisdom of crowds search….iTunes recommendations…….blogs…customer reviews

P.G.Wodehouse - 1

To P.G.W who had a 'way with words'

From ‘Meet Mr. Mulliner


……..and his evenings in doing crossword puzzles. By the time, he was thirty he knew more about Eli, the prophet Ra, the Sun God and the bird Emu than anybody else in the country except Susan Blake, the vicar’s daughter who had also taken up the solving of crossword puzzles and was the first girl in Worcestershire to find out the meaning of ‘stearine’ and ‘crepuscular’……. (p.10)


Susan was just as constant a caller at George’s cosy little cottage, being frequently stumped as girls will be, by words of eight letters signifying ‘largely used in the manufacture of poppet valves. (p.11)


He was a kindly man with moth eaten whiskers and an eye like a meditative codfish (p.11)


………..he sounds like a soda-water siphon trying to recite Gunga Din (p.12)


George had never before traveled under the seat of a railway carriage and though he belonged to the younger generation, which is supposed to be avid of new experiences, he had no desire to do so now (p.17)


Little as he knew of women, he was aware that as a sex they are apt to be startled by the sight of men crawling out from under the seats of compartments (p.17-18)


Her eyes were now about the size of regulation standard golf-balls and her breathing suggested the last stages of asthma (p.19)


It is a curious thing that inspite of the railway company’s sporting willingness to let their patrons have a tug at the extremely moderate price of five pounds a go, very few people have ever either pulled a cord or seen it pulled. There is thus, a widespread ignorance as to what precisely happens on such occasions (p.20-21)


‘Sir Jasper Finch-Ferrowmere?’ said Wilfred.

‘ffinch ffarrowmere,’ corrected the visitor, his sensitive ear detecting the capital letters (p. 29)


Externally, ffinch Hall was one of those gloomy, somber country houses which seem to exist only for the purpose of having horrid crimes committed in them (p.32).


It was the sort of house where ravens croak in the front garden just before the death of the heir and shrieks ring out from behind barred windows in the night (p.32)


The brain which had electrified the world of science by discovering that if you mixed a stiffish Oxygen and Potassium and added a splash of trinitrotoluol and a spot of old brandy you got something that could be sold in America as champagne at $150, the case had to confess itself baffled (p.33)


……and the general demeanour of a saintly but timid cod-fish (p.41)


Go back to your kitchen, woman; select another; and remember this time that you are a cook, not an incinerating machine. Between an egg that is fried and an egg that is cremated there is a wide and substantial difference (p.46)


Beastly laugh he’d got. Like glue pouring out of a jug (p.66)


Statistics show that the two classes of the community which least often marry are milkmen and fashionable photographers – milkmen because they see women too easily in the morning and fashionable photographers because their days are spent in an atmosphere of feminine loveliness so monotonous that they become surfeited and morose (p.130)


‘I tipped my cabman at Waterloo 3 ½ crowns. I was aflame with love’
‘I can hardly believe it’
‘Nor could I, when I found out. I thought it was 3 pence….’ (p.145)


…………making a noise like a bassoon into its interior (p.170)


From ‘Uneasy Money’

……..made a noise when he drank soup like water running out of a bathtub (p.13)


‘You said you met him in London a month or two afterwords and he hadn’t forgotten you’

‘Well, yes that’s true. He was walking up the Haymarket and I was walking down. I caught his eye and he nodded and passed on. I don’t see how I could construe that as an invitation to go and sit on his lap and help myself out of his pockets’ (p.14)


Miss Daisy Leonard was still demure, but as she had just slipped a piece of ice down the back of Nutty’s neck one may assume that she was feeling at her ease and had overcome any diffidence or shyness which might have interfered with her complete enjoyment of the festivities. (p.50)


Was it, he asked himself, altogether her fault that she was so massive and spoke as if she were addressing an open-air meeting in a strong gale? (p.50-51)


Hanging over the top of the gate like a wet sock (p.91)


From ‘Bachelors Anonymous’

The two were friends of long standing. Mr.Trout had handled all of Mr.Llewellyn’s five divorces, including his latest from Grayce, widow of Orlando Mulligan, the Western star and this formed a bond. There is nothing like a good divorce for breaking down the barriers between lawyer and client. It gives them something to talk about.

He was a man, who except when marrying, thought things over. (p.5)


……seedier part of Chelsea and inhabited by some of the most dubious characters in London. A few may have hearts of gold, but the best that can be said for most of them is that they are not at the moment actually wanted by the police, though it is always a matter of speculation as to when the police may not feel a yearning for their society (p.45)


………….merely standing there, making a noise like the death rattle of an expiring soda siphon (p.107)


From ‘Blandings Castle and Elsewhere’

The partiality of drowning men for straws is proverbial; but as a class, they are broad-minded and well clutch at punt-poles with equal readiness (p.118)


“On rising,” he told Wilmot, “take the juice of an orange. For luncheon, the juice of an orange. And for dinner the juice….” He paused for a moment before springing the big surprise – “of an orange. For the rest, I am not an advocate of nourishment between meals, but I am inclined to think that , should you become faint during the day – or possibly the night – there will be no harm in your taking….well, yes, I really see no reason why you should not take the juice of - let us say – an orange” (p.166)


Why is there unrest in India? Because its inhabitants eat only an occasional handful of rice. The day when Mahatma Gandhi sits down to a good juicy steak and follows it up with roly poly pudding and a spot of Stilton you will see the end of all this nonsense of Civil Disobedience. (p.169-170)


And here this lion has got him down and is starting to chew the face off him. He gazes into its hideous eyes and he hears its fearful snarls and he knows the end is near. And where I think you’re wrong, Levitsky is in saying that that’s the spot for our big cabaret sequence. What I say is what we need here is for the US marines to arrive (p.171)


From ‘The Clicking of Cuthbert and Other Stories’

In the second chapter, I allude to Stout Cortes staring at the Pacific. I received an anonymous letter containing the words “You big stiff, it wasn’t Cortes, it was Balboa.” This I believe is historically accurate. On the other hand, if Cortes was good enough for Keats, he is good enough for me. Besides, even if it was Balboa, the Pacific was open for being stared at about that time and I see no reason why Cortes should not have had a look at it as well. (p.10)


Mortimer finished his dinner in a trance, which is the best way to do it at some hotels (p.66)


…..said Mr.Devine, ‘I have been greatly influenced by Sovietski’

“Sovietski no good!” (it was Vladimir Brusiloff)

He paused for a moment, set the machinery working again and delivered five more at the pithead

‘I spit me of Sovietski!’

Until this moment Raymond Parsloe Devine’s stock had stood at something considerably over par in Wood Hills intellectual circles, but now there was a rapid slump. Hitherto he had been greatly admired for being influenced by Sovietski, but it appeared now that this was not the good thing to be. It was evidently a rotten thing to be. And Cuthbert Banks, doing his popular imitation of a sardine in a corner, felt for the first time that life held something of sunshine.

Raymond Parsloe Devine was plainly shaken but he made an adroit attempt to recover his lost prestige.

‘When I say I have been influenced by Sovietski, I mean, of course, that I was once under his spell. I now belong wholeheartedly to the school of Nastikoff

There was a reaction. People nodded at one another sympathetically. After all, we cannot expect old heads on young shoulders and a lapse at the outset of one’s career should not be held against one who has eventually seen the light.

‘Nastikoff no good,’ said Vladimir Brusiloff coldly. ‘Nastikoff worse than Sovietski. I spit me of Nastikoff!’

This time there was no doubt about it. The bottom had dropped out of the market and Raymond Parsloe Devine Preferred were down in the cellar with no takers. It was clear to the entire assembled company that they had been all wrong about Raymond Parsloe Devine. They had taken him at his own valuation and had been cheated into admiring him as a man who amounted to something and all the while he had belonged to the school of Nastikoff. You can never tell (p.20-21)


From ‘Summer Lightning’

Most of the photographs in the weekly paper were of peeresses trying to look like chorus girls and chorus girls trying to look like peeresses (p.14)


‘Hugo?’ ‘Millicent?’ ‘Is that you?’ ‘Yes. Is that you?’ ‘Yes.’ Anything in the nature of misunderstanding was cleared away. It was both of them (p.223)


From ‘Right Ho! Jeeves’

Nobody could love a freak like Gussie except a similar freak like the Basset……….Just the fellow to tell you what to do till the doctor came, if you had a sick newt on your hands (p.155-156)


From ‘Nothing Serious’

“Miss Flack?” “Hello?”

“Sorry to disturb you at this hour, but will you marry me?”

“Certainly. Who is that?”

“Smallwood Bessemer”

“I don’t get the second name.”

“Bessemer. B for banana. E for erysipelas”

“Oh; Mr.Bessemer? Yes delighted. Good Night Mr.Bessemer.”

“Good Night; Miss Flack.” (p.168-169)


From ‘The Inimitable Jeeves’

……..when Aunt is calling to Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps (p.157)


From ‘Ice in the Bedroom’

I was the one who was feeling faint when the waiter brought the bad news. I thought for a moment he must have added in the date (p.88)


From ‘The Mating Season’

My Aunt Agatha, the one who chews broken bottles and kills rats with her teeth (p.5)


‘Tell me, Bertie, have you ever stolen a cub from a tigress?’

I said no, for one reason and another I never had……..(p.121)


King’s Deverill was one of those villages where picturesque cottages breed like rabiits (p.175)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Movie Review: Agneepath (The Path of Fire): 1990

Alok Nath, a supra-idealistic and soppy teacher (in a bread-and-butter role) in the village behaves stupidly (as good men at the start of Hindi movies are bound to do) and ends up getting murdered (in this case, lynched by a mob). The visual of his young kid (who grows up to be Amitabh Bachchan) dragging his father’s corpse on a two-wheeler cart is very apt for this movie. That’s what AB does in so many of his movies including this one, drags the corpses of the script, dialogues, songs, situations all by himself. This film being no exception. That’s the tragedy of a world-class actor who has to make-do with 90% of his films being sheer garbage otherwise.

The story of this movie is of little consequence. This is a hark back to the days of the cruel zamindars coupled with the modern smuggler in what is probably an effort to revive Big B’ sagging career with all the formulas of yore. So you have the son who upon facing an immense tragedy in his life, turns his back on morality to achieve ‘success’ at all costs, the steadfast mother who is the moral lighthouse, the hurt inflicted by society writ large on all the scenes played by AB, tragedies of the epic proportions that Greek gods/humans go through, and the other characters trying to look busy throughout the film.

This movie actually comes highly rated and recommended by the Big B’s son himself, by Abhishek Bachchan. It was a big hit as I recollect but not without its share of controversies. The main one being, that AB had experimented with a change in voice in this movie, not very much appreciated by his fans initially. It is nevertheless a landmark film for AB and that’s enough to put it on your watch-list.

With over-the-top inane songs like ‘I am Krishnan Iyer M.A.’, Kader Khan’s dialogues that tend to veer towards melodrama (just like his acting), about the only thing that saves ‘Agneepath’ from being ‘Agony-path’ is Big B himself. He looms large and conquers.

Some other positives being the inspired casting of the ‘Malgudi Days’ kid as young AB, the ample charm of Mithun Chakraborty (the poor man’s Amitabh) as AB’s right-hand man, the authentic location shoot for the Ganpati song: Morya Re Bappa Morya Re etc.

Credits
Story/Screenplay: Santosh K. Saroj
Dialogue: Kader Khan
Editors: Waman Bhonsle, Gurudutt Shirali
Cinematography: Pravin Bhatt
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal
Producer: Yash Johar (Karan Johar’s pop)
Directed: Mukul S.Anand

Starring:
Amitabh Bachchan and Madhavi
Mithun Chakraborty and Neelam
Danny Denzongpa
Alok Nath
Rohini Hattangadi
Tinnu Anand
Vikram Gokhale
Archana Puran Singh
Master Manjunath

Playback: S.P.Balasubramaniam, Runa Laila, Mohd.Aziz, Alka Yagnik, Sudesh Bhosale, Kavita Krishnamurthy


Morya Re (Part 1)



Morya Re (Part 2)

Movie Review: Mausam (1975)

Sanjeev Kumar, a medical student happens to be in the picturesque hill town of Darjeeling. Over a sprained ankle, he gets acquainted with the local herbal doctor and his daughter, Sharmila Tagore. The 2 though of diverse backgrounds (he an English-speaking student from the city, she a damsel from the village comfortable only in the local tongue) fall in love and having made promises to each other wave goodbye to each other as SK departs to the city to finish his studies. For reasons best revealed when you watch the film, they never meet again and the love never consummates. Cut, to some 25 years later when the aged and yet unmarried SK arrives from Calcutta in search of his love.

A few reels of investigation later and he comes to be acquainted with his lady love’s daughter (also Sharmila Tagore) who is now plying the oldest profession in the world in Calcutta. How SK reconciles with his past and with the daughter is what the movie is about.

A sensitively written script is what one has come to expect from Gulzar everytime; with attention to details, characters. The overall quality is perhaps slightly hampered by low budgets but more than made up by the script, songs, music and strong actors. The adequate and sweeping photography does not try for anything fancy but amply brings out the beauty of the hills of Darjeeling. Each shot is framed with a poet’s sensitivity.

The film rides-through on the persona of Sanjeev Kumar, one of the finest actors in Hindi cinema. His very presence brings a depth to the shot. When it comes to Sharmila Tagore (real-life mother of Saif Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan) though, I can see that she is a fine actor in her own right but her voice and dialogue delivery takes some time getting used-to.

Gulzar’s movies are human documents and humane stories down to the bone and marrow. That’s what makes Gulzar so rare and attractive in the modern world. He deals with relationships and human frailty through gentle humour.

The casting in this film down to the smallest characters is apt, something which is so often missing in bigger budget films. Although ‘Mausam’ does tend to use its cinematic license for melodrama a bit more than desired one tends to watch the film with tenderness nevertheless, forgiving the maker for such minor transgressions.

Watch out for the opening credits accompanied by the soulful ‘Dil Dhoondta Hai’, the expansive and poetic cinematography. That helps set the context very well. The songs help carry the story forward and are not unwelcome interruptions. ‘Dil Dhoondta Hai’ appears twice in the movie with different tunes. Both the versions would appear in any aficionados’ list of Top 500 Hindi film songs. ‘Chhadi re chhadi kaisi gale main padi’ is a light hearted song, very hummable. Asha comes into her own with a teasing ‘Mere Ishq Mein’. And finally Lata’s rendition of ‘Ruke Ruke se kadam’ seals the high quality of music and songs in this film.

Watch the movie and at the end you would have subconsciously imbibed some of its gentleness in yourselves.

Credits

Lyrics, dialogue, written and directed: Gulzar

Starring

Sharmila Tagore

Sanjeev Kumar

Dina Pathak

Screenplay: Gulzar, Bhushan Banmali

Story: Kamleshwar

Producer: P.Mallikharjunarao

Cinematography; K.Vaikunth

Editing; Waman Bhonsle, Gurudutt

Background Music: Salil Chowdhury

Music: Madan Mohan

Playback: Lata Mangeskhar, Mohd.Rafi, Asha Bhonsle, Bhupender

Movie Songs: Mausam



Chhari Re Chhari






Mere Ishq Mein




Rukey Rukey Se Kadam

'Awara Hoon' forever

The 'Awara' Phenomenon

One fascinating article I read recently talks about the Hindi film Awara as probably the only film seen by the largest ever percentage of humanity, except in North America and West Europe. The article is reproduced below and the youtube song ‘Awara Hoon’ that became phenomenally popular in so many countries and tied their emotional bonds to India forever, is also embedded

Awaara' most 'successful' film of all times

The 1951 Raj Kapoor starrer "Awaara" has been seen and enjoyed by so many across the globe that it may well be the "most successful film in the history of cinema at large", according to a leading professor of film studies.

Dina Iordanova, professor at the University of St Andrews, and other experts cite several texts and anecdotal evidence to state in a special issue of the journal "South Asian Popular Cinema" that "Awaara" may be a candidate for the title of the "most popular film of all times".

The journal's latest issue is devoted to mapping the career of Indian films in various national contexts outside South Asia. The issue includes several papers exploring the popularity of Indian films in places such as Greece, Bulgaria, Africa and Turkey. The papers cast fresh light on the popularity of Indian films beyond the better-known overseas markets such as the US and Britain.

The special issue is titled "Indian Cinema Abroad: Historiography of Transnational Cinematic Exchanges" and is co-edited by Iordanova and Dimitris Eleftheriotis of Glasgow University. Iordanova and others write extensively on "Awaara" in the issue.

Recalling her Bulgarian origins and childhood, Iordanova told IANS: "I knew Indian films long before I had met any living Indian. We knew next to nothing of India and the Indians; we did not know much of the personality of Raj Kapoor either.

"However, the fascination with a film like 'Awaara' (Brodyaga in Bulgarian) was everlasting; everybody knew the actor's ever-singing dancing persona. Nothing could match up to the experience of watching 'Awaara'; this film was more fascinating than any other I can remember.

"Even though repeat viewing is not typical for the cinema going practices of Bulgarians, many admit that they have seen 'Awaara' numerous times. Why such fascination? The copy that we were watching was fairly old; the film was overlong and markedly over-the-top. Yet it was so absorbing.

"It was a film that, in an unabashed manner, revealed a whole different world where preposterous melodrama came across as completely legitimate (and thus mesmerizing), where improbable misapprehensions triggered infinite suffering and obstinate injustices, where people were not ashamed to be overemotional and were solemnly preoccupied with enchanting adoration.

"It was the candid praise of love and affection in the Indian movies that was truly enchanting for us... 'Awaara' remains a truly enduring global hit, yet one that is understudied and under-researched."

Iordanova and Eleftheriotis wrote in the journal: "Indian cinema was internationally popular for a significant period, starting in the 1930s and peaking around the 1960s. There were massive exports of Indian films and massive international interest in it.

"However, as these exports and acclaim did not target (nor took place in) the West (until recently the only place where such processes are properly studied), we really have no record of the intensity of these cinematic exchanges other than sporadic references and anecdotal evidence."

Iordanova wrote that it was difficult to think of any other film from the 1950s that was seen in so many countries and was as widely acclaimed as "Awaara". Most film history books, she added, analysed other films and mentioned "Awaara" only in passing, "yet I cannot think of any other film from that period that would have enjoyed such popular success transnationally".

Iordanova said: "At this oldest university in Scotland (University of St Andrews), we are making sure Indian cinema is properly represented in our teaching and we regularly screen classical and new Indian films for our students."

A British academic journal devoting a special issue on Indian cinema is the latest in the growing coverage of Indian films in the popular and academic press. British newspapers regularly publish reviews of new Indian films and report the number of Indian movies that figure in the top ten films in terms of box office collections.

This week The Times reported that Indian films had started "to make more money at the box office in Britain than home-grown productions". It said that during 2006, 69 Indians films were released in Britain and several were filmed on locations across Britain.

The newspaper reported: "In the five weeks since its UK release, 'Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna' has grossed more than 2 million pounds - the same as Vera Drake, the British film showered with Bafta awards and Oscar nominations, since it appeared 14 months ago. The three largest multiplex chains - Odeon, Vue Cinemas and Cineworld - routinely screen Hindi films that appear in the UK's top 15 film lists."

The Times quoted Lucy Jones of Nielsen EDI, which measures box office performance in 14 countries, as saying: "It's a recent development. Bollywood is not just a specialist cinema any more."

Resources

http://www.rediff.com/entertai/2000/may/31abr.htm

http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/CultureAndMedia/?id=1.0.1487417428

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1123/p18s02-hfes.html

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE3DB123CF930A35755C0A96E948260

http://armenianow.com/?action=viewArticle&AID=1283&CID=1450&IID=1061

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/NEWS/World/Rest_of_World/Orhan_Pamuk_A_young_Turk/articleshow/msid-2172105,curpg-2.cms

http://www.freshnews.in/immortal-awara-leads-bollywoods-global-appeal-6825

http://www.bollywhat.com/blog/index.php?blog=9&title=awaara_hum_russians_and_bollywood&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

http://www.rediff.com/entertai/2002/apr/05dinesh.htm

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043306/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043306/usercomments

http://www.ebeijing.gov.cn/News/ACulture/t173422.htm

http://www.indiatime.com/2007/04/10/meeting-raj-kapoor-at-the-barbershop/

http://indembassy.uz/english/recentevents/rajkapoor

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2001/20010906/world.htm#4

http://www.dawn.com/weekly/dmag/archive/051204/dmag14.htm

http://www.hindu.com/2005/12/06/stories/2005120606661200.htm

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=afb17736-a56a-43bd-a695-c47507368366&MatchID1=4600&TeamID1=6&TeamID2=7&MatchType1=2&SeriesID1=1156&PrimaryID=4600&Headline=Oh!+Jerusalem

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C11%5C07%5Cstory_7-11-2006_pg3_2

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Bollywood_check_out_China/articleshow/1637262.cms

http://www.outlookindia.com/diary.asp?fodname=19990802

http://randomvichar.blogspot.com/2007/11/people-i-meet-iowan.html

Monday, November 26, 2007

Movie Song: Bluffmaster: Govinda aala re..

Possibly the best Govinda song of all. Starring the irrepressible Shammi Kapoor (yes, from the famous Kapoor family).

Shammi Kapoor's madcap spontaneity was admired by many and he made the word 'Yahoo' popular (in the movie Junglee) long before any websearch or webmailing system by that name was in existence.



Movie Songs: Khuddaar

The song 'Mach Gaya Shor' followed by 'Angrezi Mein Kehte Hai Ke'

Movie Review: Khud-daar (1982)

This is another Big B movie quite a bit more tolerable than ‘Nastik’, the movie I reviewed in my previous blog. The meaning of Khud-daar, mmmm, is something close to ‘principled’ or ‘one with self-respect’.

The story

2 step-brothers run away from home escaping a cruel step-mom (well, actually it’s the wife of a much elder step brother who is caring for them). They land in the big bad city, are taken care-of by a kind Muslim, one brother becomes a taxi driver to support the other brothers education. The educated one loses his khuddari on the way and succumbs to the lure of money, goes into smuggling and is, well, mildly embarrassed by his ‘simpleton’ and poor brother. After many challenges to khuddari and a courtroom drama, all ends well. Amitabh Bachchan plays the taxi driver brother, Vinod Mehra his educated brother. Parveen Babi and Bindiya Goswami play their respective love interests

And so

A patchily bearded Sanjeev Kumar stars in the first few shots as the elder brother to the 2 kids who run away to the city. His easy amiability and composed acting is a pleasure to watch. SK disappears soon enough (presumably for a repair job on his beard) and sure enough appears in the 2nd half as the clean-shaven suave lawyer, amongst the cities prestigious denizens. The three-piece suited SK is the one we all know and admire from movies like Deewar, Aandhi etc. Tanuja (Kajol’s real-life mom) gets to play SK’s wicked wife!!

As with many other movies of that era, this one too deals with changing societal values, clashing cultures, reconciliations, matured wisdom and especially problems of that era (smuggling, the ill effects of wealth on society, the challenge of uniting the ‘diverse’ India through commonalities etc.)

In their own way, Hindi films do try to break the societal stereotypes. Hindi films (unlike Hollywood films) carry on their shoulders the bigger burden of trying to educate and reform a society, making them comfortable with modern values and at the same time pointing out the dangers of an overly westernized life. Given the Indian art tradition too, you have stories with a lot of metaphors or seemingly fantastic situations. But all this is acceptable in our genre of films since we do not overly lay stress on realistic cinema. Metaphorical cinema is our forte. And our great epics (part of our artistic tradition) basically educate people on values and ethics. That same tradition is carried forward by Hindi cinema

So you have here a SanjeevK who takes care of his step-brothers with so much love, a Muslim saviour who adopts the orphaned kids, the Hindu hero adopted by a Muslim old man and who marries a Christian girl thus giving not-so-subtle messages about the underlying unity of India with its diverse set of characters comprising various different religions. True to Hindi cinema’s tradition of having larger-then-life characters, you have kids spouting lines such as ‘I will willing to lift burdens but not willing to be a burden on others’ etc.etc.

Big B stars as a taxi driver aided by his ‘Herbie’, a taxi with a mind of her own (a Question here: why is a taxi a she and not a he?). He especially excels in the comic scenes. By the time of this movie, Big B’s tentativeness from the days of ‘Zanzeer’ seems to have disappeared. Watch the theatre scene with AB watching his younger brother on stage. How one yearns for that sense of comic timing and dialogue delivery from the Bachchan of today. He is clearly enjoying himself and confident of his abilities in this movie. That X factor which was not so evident in Zanzeer, is now clearly evident and in bucket loads too. And you have AB referring to his taxi as his mother. Only in Indian cinema!!!!!! Imagine a Brad Pitt or a Tom Cruise doing that.

Songs

  • Unche Niche raaste aur manzil teri door: a feel good song especially at the start of a Hindi film is always a prelude to some disaster: preferably incorporating a murder or two; better still, leaving someone orphaned.
  • The ‘Govinda’ festival song: ‘Mach gaya shor sari nagari mein’ must surely rank among the top 10 ‘govinda’ songs of the hindi film industry. Watch the accompanying dancers to Big B. They might not be technically perfect, but they are dancers from the streets, not the potently bland modern day sterilized Shiamak Davar clones (city slickers) that we see on screen. These are very obviously people who have risen from the streets and they bring a certain joie-de-vivre that’s a pleasure to watch. Look at Parveen Babi, a Muslim who plays a Christian in the movie and is dancing to a Hindu god (Krishna) in this movie. That’s India for u. Layers upon layers. PB looks particularly striking in a red sari.
  • Angrezi mein kehte hai ke I love you: a song that was on many lips during that period
  • A very inane song ‘Disco 82’ containing such immortal lyrics as ‘Main ek disco, tu ek disco, duniya hai ek disco’ (I am a disco, You are a disco, the whole world is a disco) sung by no less a personality then Lata Mangeshkar. Having her sing this song is like handing Sachin Tendulkar a plastic bat to play with.

And finally

That’s the best part about Bollywood vis-à-vis Hollywood: heroes who aren’t ashamed to cry, sing and dance, act silly, romp around trees and in gardens, wear silly costumes and act with all sincerity.

This inclusivity of Hindi cineama: the liberal sprinkling of English, the coexistence of multiple family generations in frame-after-frame, the kindly minority characters: the loving Muslim chacha, the benevolent Christian priest, the jocular Parsi. Relegating their role as just a token presence would be a mistake though not entirely untrue.

On a side-note, Parveen Babi is very charming throughout the movie. Hers is a fascinating life (just like a movie). She came from a family with royal connections, came into films, was unlucky in love and ended her life as a lonely schizophrenic (at one time she accused Big B of trying to kill her!!!) with family members contesting over her will.

Btw, don’t look for technical excellence in this film. You probably wouldn’t find it.

Credits

Starring

Sanjeev Kumar & Tanuja

Amitabh Bachchan & Parveen Babi

Vinod Mehra & Bindiya Goswami

Prem Chopra

Mehmood

Ramesh Deo

Kalpana Iyer

A.K.Hangal in a bread and butter role: watch the film and you will know what I mean. AKH by now can sleepwalk through this kind of role. Sholay and Lagaan are just a few examples of this.


Story/Screenplay/Dialogues: Kader Khan

Playback: Lata and Kishor

Thrills: Veeru Devgan (father of Ajay Devgan)

Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Music: Rajesh Roshan (uncle of Hrithik Roshan, brother of Hrithik’s father, Rakesh Roshan)

Producer: F.K.Rattonsey and Anwar Ali

Director: Ravi Tandon (father of Raveena Tandon)