Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Pune #3 - History lurks around every cornerr

The State of Maharashtra, in size is about 85% of the territory of Germany and 9.85% of India’s territory.

One of Maharashtra’s most beloved sons was Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a king who lived around 1630-1680 and established a Maratha (Hindu) empire from scratch wresting control of large swathes of territory from the Mughals (Muslim).

His son, Chatrapati Sambhaji who was equally valorous met a gory end at the hands of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. His remains are interred at Tulapur, some kilometers away from Pune.

The history of the glorious Maratha empire remains a fascinating subject for study.

Down below a few snaps from a visit to the samadhi of Chatrapati Sambhaji at Tulapur, near Pune

Kavi Kalash, his companion and court-poet was tortured and killed along with Sambhaji. Kavi Kalash's remains too lie interred here.

And Puneites have this thing about signboards and signs. They come up with the most innovative wording (quite often rude too). The below one reads: What beautiful surroundings! How Clean! When we hear these statements, how happy we will feel that we havent thrown rubbish over here.

The samadhi is at the triveni sangam, where the rivers Bhima, Bhama and Indrayani meet. A sugarcane juice vendor below

At the ghats to the sangam

A mandir (temple) next to the river

'A clean and beautiful place, and an eternally disease-free life' is what the signboard reads

A typical stone structure seens in Maharashtrian temples. On special occasions, lamps are lit on the protrudings of this structure

And on the way back home from Tulapur, just the kind of name to instill confidence

Kasturba Gandhi - the wife of Mahatma Gandhi. She died in Pune and her samadhi structure is down this road

My Pune #2 - Glimpses from an Everyday Life

How many countries in the world can boast of ISO certified astrologers'

Somewhat tellingly, that advertisement was right next to the signboard below

Hazrat Pathan ShahBaba Dargah Sharif - a Muslim tomb for a fakir/pir/saint

with a donation from a Hindu for the water facility at the Dargah. And this Dargah existed right next to St.Gregorios English School. Truly multiple universes exist at the same time in India

And in the snap below: Ultimate Fitness Health Club (top), Hotel New Mohar Lodge (below) and a disinterested cow (to the right)

Axiomatic - adj. Of, relating to, or resembling an axiom; self-evident
Axiom - n. A self-evident or universally recognized truth; a maxim:
Whats that got to do with power control, I wonder!!!

And below, it reads Janaki Medicals, Urgent Photo

No wonder we have a surplus of gurus in India. Even our road signs department has a few homilies. It reads below: A waste of time, a waste of life

World! Beware!! We speak excellent English

Hotel Bageecha (Garden), it reads. Irony!!!

Pakeezah Bakery and Cycle Mart below the Butterfly English medium school

Hotel Anoushka - Garden Restaurant. Pure Veg and Pure Non-Veg. Punjabi, Chinese and Indian dishes available

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Pune #1 - The British War Cemetery at Khadki (Kirkee)

The British ruled India with an iron fist. They came as merchants and then stayed also as rulers in order to exercise control over the land they sucked dry for profits.

The British War Cemetery at Khadki in Pune is a little-known spot even for most Puneites. Spending an afternoon over there proved to be most enlightening for me.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has sponsored its maintenance and it is indeed beautifully maintained and is a credit to the Commission's efficacy. I was very much touched by the thoughtfulness of the whole enterprise. Its a credit to the British society and beaurocracy.


And a few kilometres down the road, a different kind of commemoration of life

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Movie Review: Pati, Patni Aur Woh (The Husband, Wife and the Other) (Hindi Film) (1978)

PPAW is a disturbing film. Calling what many would acknowledge as one of the good comedies in Hindi cinema as ‘disturbing’ would be daring. But in these more enlightened times, one can expect a more liberal response to what I say.

The story is of a happily married couple where the husband strays into an affair. And of a wife who accepts him in the end, primarily because of their kid.

And the film has so much going for it. Vidya Sinha and Sanjeev Kumar as the happily married couple are brilliant, nay excellent. The chemistry between them is a joy to behold. This follows the chemistry between VS and Amol Palekar in the earlier movie that I reviewed (Rajnigandha). I believe I am getting besotted with Madame Vidya Sinha. When the guy has a beautiful marriage, a great kid he throws it all off for an affair with the office secretary for what we are led to believe is an excess of male testosterone or the natural behavior of the male of the species

I myself am no great admirer of the marital institution nor have rigid views on adultery in marriage. But PPAW made me sick in the gut. Primarily because it treats the subject of deceit and trickery so lightly. And because its so (male) chauvinistic in its approach. The trivialization of deceit, trickery left a very bitter taste. Watching the movie was almost like watching somebody getting raped. And on a side note it reminded me of some of the current Indian media and its behaviour. Go figure it out.

SK once again reminded me of why he is regarded as one of Hindi cinema’s great actors. And VS (somehow she had retreated in the recesses of my memory) was a very pleasant find. When she says to her betraying husband: “Ranjeet mere shareer mein ab bhi tumhari mahek baki hai lekin tumhare shareer mein meri mehak baki nahi hai”, you really empathize with her.

And more on her at:

The song ‘Thande Thande Paani se nahaana chahiye’ is well picturized and is still very popular

But moving on to some lighter things

this electrical fixture brought back old memories

have made a mental note to watch more of SK and VS

Parveen Babi as the guest appearance at the end is a breath of fresh air though she is at the receiving end of a chauvinistic proposition


Directed by B.R. Chopra

Sanjeev Kumar
Vidya Sinha

Original Music by Ravindra Jain
Anand Bakshi .... lyricist
Playback: Asha B, Mahendra Kapoor, Kishore Kumar, Sushma Shreshta

Movie Review: Biwi-o-Biwi (The Wife) (Hindi film) (1981)

The fun film is how they introduce the film in the titles. they could have alternatively called it mindless fluff or utter tripe. And there are a few crass double-meaning dialogues thrown in.

They have managed to waste even the best of talent: Abrar Alvi, Nida Fazli, RD Burman, Lata Mangeshkar, Sanjeev Kumar…..

The story: the attempts of a guy to get married and the travails the story travels through.

Sanjeev Kumar’s brilliant though. Its as if Sachin Tendulkar has been given a plastic bat to bat with. But he bats throughout the innings

Poonam Dhillon (of Bigg Boss fame) is the beauty

And Randhir Kapoor and Rajendranth provide the comic relief

These guys loved it though: ‘fantastic movie’, ‘One of the best Bollywood slapstick comedies’, ‘rip-roaring comedy’ are the terms used. I wonder if I should get admitted to an institution

Every aspect of film-making in this film sucks.

RK Films

Sanjeev Kumar
Randhir Kapoor
Poonam Dhillon
Yogita Bali
Simi Garewal
Rajinder Nath
Dina Phatak
Shashi Kala
Prema Narayan
Sp.App: Deven Verma
and friendly appearances by a few love (sic) ones

Story: Prabhakar Tamhane
Screenplay: Ravinder Peepat
Playback: Lata, Kishore, Asha, Rafi

Dialogue: Abrar Alvi
Dances: Suresh Bhatt and Vijay Oscar
DoP: Taru Datt
Lyrics: Vithalbhai Patel and Nida Fazli
Music: RD Burman
Produced by Raj Kapoor
Directed by Rahul Rawail

Movie Review: Rajanigandha (Night-Fragrant) (Hindi Film) (1974)

Rajani-gandha means Night-Fragrant. And no, its not a semi-porn Hindi film as its title sounds. Rajnigandha is a flower (Polianthes tuberosa to be precise).

And what a delight this flower-film turned out to be. I wonder how the hell the producer summoned the courage to finance this simple tale.

And what a charming tale. A simple tale simply told. Vidya Sinha, a beautiful, shy (though not excessively so), confident (though not excessively so) girl is in a committed relationship with Amol Palekar, a minor employee in an organization. AP can behave like the typical male at times, more engrossed in his problems (of a prospective promotion at the office) than hers. But inspite of her irritations with him, he is committed to her, is sincere and a promising future together awaits.

And into this routine comes an interview call for VS, from a faraway city, Mumbai / Bombay (or Bambai as its known to the Hindi-speaking world). She travels to this city to stay with a friend and bumps across an estranged lover. Old sparks ignite, more in her mind than anywhere else. And mentally she strays even after her return to Delhi, her base location. Until reality dawns…….

That’s it, this is the premise on which 2-3 hours of film reel are spent. But it sure was worth every penny………

The film revolves around Vidya Sinha, her moods, the daily events in her lives, the games her mind plays, her vacillations, her discomfiture, her dreams, her emotions, small and big. And she excels. With such a simple story, had the female lead not had a fluid face and excellent emoting, the film would have fallen flat on its face.

AP and others are really incidental to the story.

And who can resist such charm

The songs are just two, of which Rajani Gandha Phool Tumhare is the one remembered to this day

Watch it, it is film making in its simplicity and in its essence.

Starring: Vidya Sinha, Amol Palekar, Dinesh Thakur
Based on Manoo Bhandari’s ‘Yeh Sach Hai’
Lyrics: Yogesh
Playback: Lata, Mukesh
Editing: G.G.Mayekar
Cinematography: K.K.Mahajan
Music: Salil Chowdhary
Produced by Suresh Jindal
Screenplay, Dialogue and Directed by Basu Chatterjee