Monday, June 12, 2017

Thoughts … … …

Neither one who passes by the name of living nor one who has entered into the shadow of death is truly alive unless still sincerely loved by a fellow human being
-          Stefan Zweig

In the world of feeling, deep may call to deep, even from a vast distance
-          Anon

The best place to hide a needle is not in the haystack but among other bunch of needles
-          Sherlock Holmes – the movie ‘The Sign of 4’

A foolish man proclaimeth his qualifications
A wise man keepeth them secret within himself
A straw floateth on the surface of water
But a precious gem placed upon it sinketh
-          Anon

If you reach the top of a mountain, keep climbing
-          Old Zen proverb

Bestelle dein Haus,
Denn du wirst Sterben,
Und nicht lebendig bleiben

Set thy house in order,
For thou shalt die,
And not remain alive.

There is no document of culture that is not at the same time a document of barbarism
-          Literary critic Walter Benjamin

Tell me who your friend is, and I will tell you who you are!
-          Russian proverb

From ‘SRK and Global Bollywood’ - editors Rajinder Dudrah, Ele Mader, Bernhard Fuchs

In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland ….SRK fans are mostly local women from a wide range of professional, educational, and economic fields. Furthermore, SRK fans in these countries include many people with a migratory background from eastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, and South Asia …….In France and Belgium, a large number of SRK fans have a (north) African background……

…Trinidad and Tobago …… Since their introduction in the 1930s, Hindi films have enjoyed great popularity in the multicultural Caribbean island state and have become an integral part of its mediascapes….

Peruvian Bollywood fandom today has been mainly inspired by SRK…….First diplomatic relations between India and Peru were established in 1963, but in 2009 the Indian community in this country amounted merely to 150 families. Nevertheless, the history of Indian fil-viewing as well as the popularity of Indian songs and dances date back to the late 1970s. at this time, the circulation of Hindi cinema in Latin America and the Caribbean had been influenced by cultural exchange among partners of the Non-Aligned Movement …..

….K3G enjoyed groundbreaking success with Peruvian film audiences …….. The movie presents the very first experience of Indian cinema for many of the younger fans. To this day, it has remained their all-time favourite. DVD copies with Spanish subtitles of varied quality were rapidly distributed in the black market.

From ‘By Thumb, Hoof, and Wheel. Travels in the Global South’ by Prabhu Ghate

I expected Turkey to get less European as one went further east, but it didn’t, at least sartorially. Everyone seemed to wear dark suits – in fact the poorer you were, the more layers ……you had on. The peasants all wore caps, which they might have borrowed from their counterparts in England after Kemal Ataturk banned the fez. Turkey seemed European in other ways too. Extremes of poverty and wealth were less apparent. ………and yet there was something Asian about the simple hospitality and friendliness of the people. And ……..the food was familiar, and cheap ……..

…..Nairobi ….. The Sikhs were known as “Singa, Singa” by the Africans and were the most integrated of the Indian communities. A Sikh would work shoulder to shoulder with the Africans, driving his first truck himself with his African cleaner, and hiring a driver only when he acquired a second truck. It made for a very different relationship than with shopkeepers and creditors. ……..Among the Asians in East Africa, the Ismailis in particular had tried to identify with their newly independent governments…..

The Philippines is one of the most laid-back, friendly, and unbureaucratic countries in the world.  ……I come back not just for the mountains, beaches and islands (7000 of them) but for the people. The Philippines never seems to be able to catch up with its south-east Asian neighbours, Manila’s grime and antediluvian jeepneys and army of the underemployed persist, but so does the charm. ……My taxi driver ……wants to know whether I am here for “five-six”, the local term for moneylending, a profession that has been taken over by “Bumbais”. Bumbai is the local term for Indians, as the early Indian immigrants, mostly Sindhis, came from Bombay. …….It was a common sight not so many years ago to see Sikh moneylenders (the profession is now a near monopoly of the Sikhs) doing their rounds on motorcycles with bags of cash hanging from their shoulders, redistributing as loans what they had just collected. Many of them were recent arrivals, yet to master Tagalog, and often on dodgy visas, but they still managed to collect and disburse unsecured loans with absolutely no recourse if a borrower refused to pay. Clearly they were perceived to be providing a valuable service. The second generation moved on to bigger and better things, like Ramon Bagatsing (as in Bhagat Singh), the mayor of Manila when Marcos was president……
…….Americans ….took over from the Spanish……As the cliché has it, the Filipinos lived in a convent for 350 years before living in Hollywood for 50 years. Both sets of influences grafted onto traditional Malay culture along with a large Chinese minority, scattered tribal groups, and a Muslim population in the south, make for a fascinating mix. Even Sanskritic influences have left a mark. The national flower is Sampagita, as in Champak.
……….Filipino warmth and good cheer are all the more remarkable given the fact that Filipinos have much to be unhappy about…..
……The Filipinos never really saw a successful land reform of the kind implemented by the Americans in Japan after the war, and later in Korea and Taiwan ……Crony capitalism survived the war intact and was developed later as an art form by President Marcos…..rural distress increased steadily, with the population growing rapidly………Overseas employment provided one of the few safety valves. Millions of Filipinos started leaving the country to work as maids, nurses, entertainers, seamen, and construction workers. It is their remittances that fill the malls, although the BPO industry and tourism are also becoming important, and the economy is at last diversifying.
Thus, the daily hardships and adversity faced by millions of Filipinos in the provinces and urban slums are essentially man-made, despite the fact that nature on its part has been munificent, having granted the Philippines abundant rainfall, fertile soil, lush (albeit retreating) forest, and a coastal zone that would have been teeming with fish but for overfishing. On the other hand, it has to be said that few countries are as prone to natural disasters as the Philippines. Typhoons, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tidal waves, shipwrecks, droughts – you name it, they have it.

Frequent battles with nature explain the well-known resilience of the Filipino, and the national philosophy of “bahala na”, loosely translated as “this too shall pass”.

Filipino good humour, calm, and style were crucial in bringing an end to the Marcos dictatorship without a drop of blood being spilt in the famous People Power revolution of 1986.

…..the famed Filipino tolerance has its downside, such as permissiveness, corruption, and impunity, the brunt of which is borne by the poor. Characteristically though, it is the foreign observers who complain more about this, not Filipinos.

The Philippines is a country of great natural beauty …..With its 7000 islands, the Philippines has some of the most stunning seascapes in the world.

Today, Ethiopia lacks a coast, having lost it to Eritrea in 1991, after one of the most remarkable liberation struggles in modern times. These ups and downs are but the latest blips in the history of a country which produced Lucy, one of our common hominid ancestors, was well known to the Greeks (Ethipia means “land of the burnt faces”), was the second country after Armenia to embrace Christianity, and whose rulers are said to have descended from the union of Solomon and Sheba…….
My friends father was the educational adviser to the Emperor, and he used to recruit hundreds of teachers and professors from India. One meets people everywhere in Ethiopia who fondly remember their Indian teachers. Their successors are still there, carrying on the good work.  ……..the famous gelada baboons …eating grass (yes, they are the only primates that do)….

…Asmara [Eritrea] is still the most beautiful, cleanest, and safest capital in Africa (with hilly Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, a not so close second).

……..Hadramawt (“place of death”) ……..The Hadramis are known for their restlessness, and contribute a large part of the Yemeni diaspora, which extended to places like Java, by way of India, centuries ago.
Nothing distinguishes the convivial and easy-going nature of Yemenis from their dour northern neighbours, the Saudis, more than their passion for qat, on which many of them spend a quarter to a third of their income, not to mention the whole of every afternoon …….Qat is a leaf which has to be tucked away into the cheeks in wads the size of tennis balls, before it produces an indefinable feeling of contentment called “kaif”. It is not harmful, but clearly addictive.
……….a man across the room started telling jokes about Indians (which are quite common across the middle-east)….

…Argentina is unique in that it is perhaps the only country that has moved from being a developed country to a developing country.

The Chinese have far fewer hang-ups about human excreta than we do. Until recently farmers would build toilets near the entrance to their compounds, welcoming anyone passing by on the village lane to use them – farmhands had no choice, as a “captive” source of manure, they were expected to use their employer’s facilities.

Lhasa was not the most sanitary of places….

…..Yunnan in the Southwest, which sits north of Burma, Laos and Vietnam. If I could go to just one province in China, I would choose Yunnan, not only for its ethnic and cultural diversity, but also for its scenery, ranging from the jungles and rice terraces of the hot and humid South, to the high grasslands and snowcapped peaks of the frozen Northwest, an extension of the Tibetan plateau. Half of China’s fifty odd non-Han minorities live here, and have left behind several historic towns. Yunnan is home to the upper reaches of the Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy, and Yangzi rivers. Last but not the least, with direct flights from Kolkata, it is the easiest part of mainland China to get to from India….

Having destroyed much of their cultural heritage, the Chinese are now making a huge effort to save and showcase what is left. City walls are no longer being pulled down for the construction of ring roads, but are being rebuilt, complete with ramparts, watchtowers……..

……..Dunhuang ……the site of the Mogao caves, one of the greatest repositories of Buddhist art in the world.

One sees sweepers and cleaners everywhere in China, in buildings, on the streets, in the trains, and they are generally better equipped, better dressed and more successful than their Indian counterparts. One of the things the Chinese know about India is that it is plagued with garbage.

Chinese rail and road maps …Unlike India, however, the Chinese do have very good maps, and are not paranoic about people using them.

…train ride to Kashgar ….The Chinese are at their most relaxed on these marathon journeys……I noticed the carriage attendants unfailingly locked the toilets (mostly desi style, and marginally cleaner than ours) whenever the train slowed down, keeping the stations much cleaner. I wondered whether the biggest difference between our countries was that in China nearly everyone does their job.

Chinese bus stations are very modern, with electronic displays ……

China has less cultivable land than India.

From ‘Divine Madman. The Sublime life and songs of Drukpa Kunley’ Translated by Keith Dowman

…..stories about the Adept Drukpa Kunley …..are the favorites of the people of Tibet and the surrounding regions…….he belonged to the tradition of “Crazy Wisdom” …..was a “madman” … Enlightened “eccentric” ……Drukpa …..used poetry, song, dance, humor, drink, and not least sex to Teach his contemporaries the great Lesson of spiritual life…..was a relentless critic of …..the “usual man”…….railed against commonplace morality and conventionalism, and lashed out against the narrow-mindedness of the earthling who does little more than stake out and defend his own insular existence……. “Care-free renunciation, an excess of compassion, total lack of inhibition, skilful use of shock-therapy, tears and laughter, are the specific characteristics of the divine madman” …….. always “relaxing in the stream of events”….. “never working, letting reality hang loosely” …… the seventh stage of life, the soul is awake …….All obsession with experiences, objects, and others is transcended. There is constant re-cognition of all arising conditions of experience, but all the while there is natural abiding in the Ecstatic Love of God through radical intuition of the Condition of everything. ……..There is only Ecstasy, or Perfect God-Love…….the Enlightened being sees the non-binding nature of all arising conditions – and encounters them with a sense of irrepressibile humor……he neither shies away from anything nor becomes obsessed with any experience or idea. ……he can also abstain from them without repressing any latent desires or tendencies. ……In his God-intoxication ……he is prone to behave at odds with the all-too-sober world of social convention. In the eyes of the world, therefore, he is a radical, an anarchist or eccentric, a lunatic. His very existence calls into questions the established order……he has no need of any self-limitation. His entire life is a towering symbol, a constant demonstration, of the fact that the limitations of the “usual man” presumes are merely neurotic strategies to introduce a semblance of stability and orderliness into the incessant flux of events that constitutes phenomenal existence. …..By his anomalous and erratic behavior he spotlights the absurdity of all fixed, man-made rules and prescriptions. …….In India such a great being is known as an avadhuta. ….word is explained in the Kularnava-Tantra ……
A = the Immutable (akshara)
Va = the Excellent (varenya)
Dhu = shaken off (dhuta) the fetters of the world
Ta = “That Thou art” (tat tvam asi)

……Siddha-Siddhanta-Paddhati …..describes the Crazy Adept
He who is firmly stationed in the center of the world,
devoid of all [fearful] trembling…….
Who moves with his inner-being into the Unthinkable
into the remote region within …….
who delights in the world through Play ……
Who is sometimes an enjoyer, sometimes a renouncer,
sometimes a nudist or like a demon, sometimes a king,
and sometimes well-behaved – he is styled an avadhuta

…..a trickster who can turn himself into anything at all……..understandably, discipleship under such a God-Realized Adept is a hard school, but conceivably also the most direct way to Realization. For, the student will have to abandon all ideas of predictability and emotional security.
………Swami Samarth, also known as Akkalkot Maharaj…….would cause much upset by his eccentric behavior …….in every instance there is a deliberate infringement of egoic expectations, a bursting of customary forms of self-limitation.
……..there is a little known tradition of “divine madmen” even within Christianity ……the exemplary lives of Symeon of Emesa, Thomas of Coelesyria, Andreas of Constantinople, Lucas of Ephesus……”Fools for Christ’s sake”  …….St. Francis of Assisi …..referred to himself and his pupils as “jesters of the Lord” …..on one occasion he preached stark naked in church ………
Everyone is enchanted with un-Reality, enchanted with the conventional appearance of every moment, and therefore we cannot merely talk to people and break that spell. …..they are altogether associated with this moment in such a fashion that they are incapable of being Awake to their actual Condition….you must cut them in half with a big sword. You must blow their minds…….You must be wild to truly Enlighten people. …….Breaking that spell requires the Mad Work, ….of the Adept………the ”divine madman” …..He is lodged in – he is – the still eye of the hurricane……..

……….Drukpa …….His style, his humour, his earthiness, his compassion, his manner of relating to people, won him a place in the hearts of all the Himalayan peoples – the Sikkimese, the Assamese, the Ladakhis, the Nepalis, the Kunnupas, and the Lahaulis.

Drukpa Kunley’s attacks upon monasticism and organized religion are consistent with the spirit of India’s perennial Siddha tradition. ……..Outrage and laughter are the skilful means he employs to shock people out of their lethargic acceptance of the neurotic status quo of their minds ……

A word …..of the Tibetan people. Please do not delude yourselves that they are a bawdy bunch. Although they have few neurotic obsessions regarding sex, they have a strong sense of shame. Tibetan women will blush at the mention of sex and look askance at the ‘liberated’ western girl. Likewise monks are inordinately embarrassed by even the milder of Drukpa Kunley’s jokes….

From ‘The Magic of Bollywood. At Home and Abroad’ Edited by Anjali Gera Roy

“’The people of Afghanistan will kill for a Hindi film. They watch nothing but Hindi films……..’ director Kabir Khan, who shot his ‘Kabul Express’ there ……… Hindi films “are hugely popular in Bangladesh and locals can get their Bollywood fix on cable TV and through pirated copies which circulate widely” despite being officially banned since 1972 ….Speaking on behalf of the people of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi admitted, “We all love to watch Hindi movies – Bollywood is better suited to Myanmar’s sensitivities” …….Nepal’s Maoists share with its former royals an interest in Bollywood ……Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif performed at the coronation of the Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who is a big fan of Bollywood ……Sri Lankans are also huge fans of Hindi films according to Lankan actor Jacqueline Fernandez

In markets such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh where the state did attempt to protect its industry and citizens from Bollywood’s hegemonic or “corruptive” influence by banning its imports, citizens devised ingenious strategies to evade state regulation by smuggling them.

Bollywood continues to serve as the diasporas’ link with the homeland and has acquired the added burden of answering second- or third-generation South Asians’ need to connect with their roots…… Bollywood films are often used by parents of Indian origin to transmit cultural knowledge to younger members in Indian diasporas. But more recently, it is the younger generation that has taken a lead in using Bollywood for constructing diasporic identities and in introducing other ethnic groups to its magic.

….Indian films dominate the domestic Indian market. India is the exception to the American domination of the global film business…..In almost every country of the world, including historically film-producing countries such as the UK, France, Germany, and Italy, imported American films have a greater share of the market than do domestic films. India, however, is the largest producer of films in the world and domestic films retain 93-95 percent market share while Hollywood films only take 5-7 percent market share…..The only other country with this extent of domestic film dominance is the US.……In the UK, domestic films take 19 percent share, France 44.8 percent, Germany 25 percent and Italy 24.8 percent. In recent years, Japanese films have seen a revival and now take 53 percent of their national market unlike in previous years when their share was lower……..India’s share of global cinema revenue is only 1 percent and is lower than those Japan, the UK, and France while the US earns 60 percent of the world’s cinema revenue …..

… production in more than one language in any national market is quite rare and is observed in only a few film-producing countries such as Canada and Belgium. However, neither country supports film production in such a wide variety of languages as does India ……..the 1,041 Indian films made in 2005 were produced in 25 different languages… In Canada, films are produced in English, French, and aboriginal languages……. Belgium has two film industries – Flemish (Dutch) and French……..While Indonesia shows considerable linguistic diversity, films are produced in Indonesian, the national language….. “There are no regional film industries in Indonesia” ………

[India]…….. Within 8 years of the arrival of sound, film production had commenced in 11 languages…

The Hindi language film industry is the most prolific of the Indian film industries with average annual production amounting to well over one hundred films …..a total production of 9,937 films in the 75-year period from 1931 to 2005. It is followed by the Tamil (6,362) and Telugu (6,183) language film industries………. Malayalam (3,528), Kannada (2,798), Bengali (2,628) and Marathi (1,287) language industries

Although the main centers of production and distribution within British India were in Bombay ….the film industry also had a considerable presence in Lahore ……. In 1961…the Pakistani State banned Indian films. According to Shahzad Gul ……this ban had a disastrous effect on the Pakistani film industry…… Many producers would go to Kabul along with their directors and scriptwriters where they would view Indian films and later plagiarize them ….the establishment of Bangladesh ….cost the country a substantial part of its market …..meant losing 30 percent of the market in East Bengal where Urdu films made in Lahore were popular………during the dictatorship of General Zia …….There was a brain drain and many filmmakers, film stars, and dancers left the country……the number of film screens in Pakistan which number 120, while there are 9 cineplex screens……..India’s population is five times the size of Pakistan, but it has 12,900 cinemas ……and approximately 645 cineplex screens …….But is the pornographic nature of the bulk of Pakistani films the only reason keeping the audience away……. The increasing sexually suggestive nature of many Pakistani films as well as the high inflation rate appear to have made cinema-going a less than desirable activity for many Pakistanis.

Shuri Mariasi Gietti Tambunan
Indonesian film historians have granted that Indian and Chinese films served as an important model for Indonesian films in the 1950s……….With the downfall of Indonesian film industry in the 1970s and 1980s, Indian films were still shown extensively in movie theaters in big cities in Indonesia. But, as they were perceived to as low-class entertainment, they were only shown in second- and third-class theaters while A-grade theaters were reserved for Hollywood (or Western) films…. In 1991 and 1992 when a private television station broadcasted Ramayana and Mahabharata, Indian television series….these ….were very popular and reached a high rating between 48 and 60, confirming the long-standing popularity of Indian popular culture in Indonesia through television. ……..In the 1990s, ….close to 90 percent of the total population had at least one television set …….However, Bollywood films were still considered as low-class entertainment in the early years of their popularity on television. …….the defining moment of Bollywood’s recognition in Indonesia’s mediascapes is the successful run of the movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai ……….at the end of July 2001, which marked a revival of Indian films’ market among the Indonesian upper class. KKHH created a flurry in the consumption of Bollywood films …. [It] was a bigger box office success than the ‘Titanic’ when it was screened in Indonesia and when the same film was shown on T.V……ratings shot through the roof……. KKHH …..reached its success not only through A-grade theaters (and also the second/third-grade theaters) for the lower classes consumption) but also through its repeated television broadcasts and through pirated VCDs …Bollywood fever has also caused an increasing interest in Indian fashion …….the theme song for KKHH was covered by many Dangdut singers with numerous local …..adaptations. …….Ashraff, a Kerala-born singer, alongwith Iis Dahlia, a popular Dangdut diva, recorded a duet of the KKHH theme song (sung in Hindi) and it became one of the top hit Dangdut songs in the beginning of the new millennium ………instruments and rhythms of both styles are compatible. Hindi music therefore, sounds very familiar and pleasant to many Indonesians serving to intensify the Bollywood film viewing experience for them……
……in early 2000, Indonesian audiences were inundated not only with Dangdut songs inspired by KKHH but also with television products, mostly Indonesian soap operas known as sinetrons, which were basically copycat products of Bollywood films. ……… For many Indonesians, Bollywood’s traditional portraits of family life can easily be identified with their own conceptualization of family life. Bollywood films offer a more identifiable viewing experience  rather than, for example, Hollywood films which emphasize nuclear or single parent, or even dysfunctional, families. …Even if films are about modern families or rich families living in the urban areas, there is bound to be a balancing act in ensuring that the family returns to its traditional values……

Elena Igorevna Doroshenko
Only two factors impeded the Russian audiences’ acceptance of Indian films, namely stereotyping (“Indian films are all same, with the same subject and plot”) and replacing of the “unknown” by the “exotic”……..sloppy translations, poor dubbing, and “Westernization” of the cinematic texts has diluted their famed “exotic appeal” for the Russian audiences since the 1980s and led to their being stereotyped as “naive” …….Indian films …….(2000-2010) continue to be culturally “misread” despite the introduction of a 24-hour Indian film satellite channel and screening of an occasional film on mainstream television…….While Indian films came to the USSR in the 1950s, the three best-known being Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), and Mother India (1957)
…..the hypothesis that the Aryans and other migrating tribes of ancient India actually settled down in the present-day territory of Russia, which is used to justify the Russia’s perception of India as its “long-lost motherland” ……A large number of people in Russia would have memories of growing up with books like the Hitopadesha and with adaptations of The Ramayana and The Mahabharata …….it cannot be denied that the choice of Indian books and films imported by the USSR government was determined, to a great degree, by their shared political ideologies. This explains why Mother India, based on Pudovkin’s Mother (1926) was one of the first films to be imported in the former USSR and won the hearts of a number of Russian audiences. There is no doubt that Raj Kapoor’s films were chosen for exhibition in USSR and Russia for their socialist underpinnings, but their cultural impact far exceeded the political…..although the imported films were carefully translated and adapted, they were not edited or censored, which facilitated comprehension….Songs…..were also translated. But they were never recited over the voice of the performers despite the rest of the film being dubbed. ……this professionalism helped preserve the cultural value of the films and turned them into classics……films, especially foreign ones, were a rare phenomenon in the 1950s help to explain the tremendous popularity of Indian films in the USSR immediately following their import….. 64 million people in the USSR watched Awaara – a record, unbroken even by a recent film like Avatar.
1960s-1980s ……The film epitomizing this period of Indian cinema in the USSR was Seeta aur Geeta (1972) that invites instant recall in a certain generation instead of Awaara and Shree 420. ………the most important point for making the film so popular in the Soviet Union was probably the concept of Navarasa underpinning the film…..unfolds from the mood of suffering in the beginning to that of celebration in the end. When asked about the aspect of Indian cinema they liked most, Russian fans remarked that one was able to experience all kinds of emotions, happiness or sorrow, anger or affection, when one was watching Indian films.
1980s-1990s …..Disco Dancer (1982) came to represent Indian culture of the 1980s in the fomer USSR….the film definitely rings a bell in the majority of Russians because of its theme song, “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja” ………Raj Kapoor’s and Nargis’ acting – expressive, highly emotional, and sincere in every respect – was probably why their characters carried such a tremendous appeal for the audiences in the USSR. As the same principles constitute the core of Russian acting, their films were greatly appreciated. ……..this histrionic legacy was preserved and developed throughout the 1960s and the 1970s. But this high tradition of actors had begun to wane and deteriorate in the 1980s….The characters appeared to have become increasingly “cartoon-like” through their melodramatic display of emotions……
1990s-2010 ……marked by great political and social changes in Russia…….when Indian cinema lost most of its Russian fans ………Cinemas were closing down all over the country …….low-quality videos with shoddy dubbing and translation …..completely destroyed the impact of Indian films……the new Indian cinema and the Yash Raj-Yash/Karan Johar phenomenon passed Russia by……..early 2000s when the state-owned television Domashny (Home) revived the tradition of airing Indian films. The dubbing and the quality of translations …was …superior to that of the pirated videos but still not as professional as it was during the Soviet era………

Gwenda Vander Steene
…….Indian films are also a way for Hausa people of Northern Nigeria to distinguish themselves from the “West” –oriented south …..They allow an alterity to Hollywood domination …….Fuglesang argues that Bollywood offers Kenyan audiences a “reassuring familiarity” as the audience know what to expect in a Bollywood film
Senegal …….The first films came through Senegal via the Middle East, which appears to have had an important role in distributing and subtitling Indian films in Africa. According to Larkin, Arabic and Bollywood films were first imported in Nigeria by Lebanese cinema owners in the 1950s whose expectations of Arabic films becoming popular in African Islamic countries …..were overturned by Indian films that became more popular. In Senegal, too, Arabic and Indian films were imported simultaneously and the latter turned out to have a much bigger success than Arabic ones …were imported massively in the 1970s ……Until today, this first “generation” of Bollywood movies imported in Senegal remains particularly popular not only among the older generation but also among the youth …..:Larkin’s thesis about the popularity of Bollywood rising from the fact of its not being perceived as Western. ……..The first Indophile [people who love and are very attached to Indian films, music, and dance] radio program was broadcast by Radio Senegal in 1967 ………and was an immediate success …….many Indophile associations are organized around an anchorman, usually a well-known Indophile, who organizes soirées indous for their fan clubs ……..the aesthetic aspects, the “beautiful women,” the picturesque settings, the marvelous clothes and makeup are one of the primary reasons why Indophiles love Bollywood……several ……also mentioned the highly melodramatic plots while others cited song-and-dance sequences as the reason for their liking the films and attributed this to the importance attached to music and dance in Senegal…….Fuglesang…….explains….that Bollywood films, insofar as young Lamu women can connect the stories to their own lives or fantasize about their idols, become a place in which people can invest their fantasies …….As a tool for reshaping one’s own life. Bollywood is not merely “passive” entertainment but also has an empowering effect.
“as the women are all the time actively relating film events to their own lives, the films represent a tool for working and reshaping reality rather than a downright escape”…
In this way, the audience actively participates in creating and empowering their own lives and identities.
….gender dynamics…..most of the audience consists of women….Reasons given by Indophiles for this …..are that not only the themes of love, marriage, melodrama and so on have a larger appeal for women but also that the danse indou (Indian dance) is also considered more appropriate ….for women who are believed to be equipped with the skill…. for performing it. …. dance in Senegal, especially the Wolof sabar dance, is mainly done by women. Apart from that, one can notice an evolution toward a marginalization of male dancers in Indian classical dance. Dancing in India is seen more and more as women’s business, ….the same decline of male dancers is found in Egypt throughout the twentieth century ….
…..In Nigeria, …..women lived indoors, women were absent in the cinemas in the 1970s, but gained access to Indian films through the rise of home videos. According to Larkin, Indian films have since then become identified as “women’s films” because of their huge popularity among women……experience as male Indophiles, they conceded that it was sometimes hard in the beginning, as men watching Bollywood were often stigmatized for being gay……Most Indophiles tend to consider Indian and Senegalese culture as similar than different and attribute their love for Bollywood to its reminding them of their own culture, country or customs expressed. …..Several Indophiles point to similarities between Senegalese and Indian dress styles. The style labelled style indou (“Hindu dress style”) that can be described as a kind of fusion style using either Senegalese or imported Indian cloth is very popular among them ….. Indophiles maintain that the images of village life, horses and carts, women fetching water at the well or carrying fire wood on their heads “really make you think you are in Senegal” …….Many values such as hospitality, respect for elders and women, sanctity of marriage, piety and so on, highly regarded in Senegalese society, may also be found in Bollywood films according to some Indophiles. The importance of family networks and living in an extended family is also mentioned….. it is remarkable that many Indophiles are of Fulani origin and their love for Bollywood is explained by their belief that they could be related to Indians ….physical resemblance ….the idea of peul indou (“Hindu Fulani”) used by several (mostly Fulani) Indophiles to refer to the south Indian population …..According to Larkin, the argument that Hausa language and Hindi are similar is often used by people to stress the similarities between both cultures. The same holds true for Senegal. Wolof or Fulani is said to be “very similar” to Hindi ….caabi (key - Wolof) and chaabi (Hindi), asaman (heaven – Wolof and Hindi). Linguists reinforced my hunch that most of the words mentioned as similar are of Arabic origin. ….Larkin ….also stresses the preference for older films and the “West” being defined as the “other” whereas Indian culture is perceived as similar ……..the older generation of Indophiles …..says they love old Bollywood movies because of the values expressed in them such as the importance attached to family networks or a socially acceptable marriage. These values, according to them, remind them of their own past. …..The Indophile “community” encompasses about 30 associations in different cities all over Senegal, apart from all the individuals not belonging to any association.

Zakir Hossain Raju
…….in Bangladesh public sphere, one may feel that the sphere is flooded by things Bollywoodian. …..the fact that Bollywood films are banned from theatrical screening in Bangladesh for nearly five decades now, starting in 1965 …..more than 30 satellite television channels circulate Bollywood films, songs, and gossips round the clock in middle-class living rooms ….all over Bangladesh……In Internet forums, viewers discuss recent Bollywood films (and also Hindi TV soaps) on a regular basis and many a times vent their anger at the sloppy films produced by Bangladesh film industry…..Most authors and media critics in Bangladesh see Bollywood as a cultural predator ….from 2001 to 2011, this tussle between the nationalist middle class and Bollywood has become highly visible……some cultural nationalists and Islamists….find the invasion of Hindi language over Bengali as well as “Hinduization” expedited through Bollywoodization. ……After Bangladesh became an independent nation ….surprising everybody, the Pakistani ban against Indian films was kept in action….a 50-year-old viewer says, “the word cinema meant Hindi cinema mainly and then Hollywood. Yes, there was Pakistani cinema and of course, Bangladeshi ones, but those were few in number.” …… with the availability of consumer VCRs, a trend of consuming Bollywood films at the household level started in the early 1980s ……Small video-theatres started mushrooming in the cities and towns of Bangladesh…..Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun, Zeenat Aman and Hema Malini quickly became familiar names and popular icons among the middle and lower-middle class viewers…..In the 1980s-1990s Bangladesh cinema, plagiarism from Bollywood films became a popular tendency because of the motive of the exhibitors in earning a quick and high profit from the theaters. …….during the last 15 years or so……though Bollywood is still absent in cinema theaters, its circulation has reached almost the entire population in Bangladesh

Teresa Hubel
The tendency in Hindi cinema to depict the courtesan as having few choices is belied by the biographies of actual historical courtesans, many of whom had a substantial range of possibilities available to them. As David Courtney writes……..that were generally denied women of a more domestic nature. If they had professional aspirations, especially in the artistic fields, they had a virtual monopoly. If they desired to settle down marriage was always an option. From what we know of history, when this option was taken it was often with only the wealthiest and most well placed men. Remember their mastery of etiquette and the social graces made the tawaifs a “prize catch” for almost any man. If they desired an independent lifestyle, this too was an option …..denied to most women of that period. This is borne out by an examination of tax rolls that tend to show only tawaifs as female property owners and tax payers. The tawaifs were often poets and authors, in a period when the majority of women were illiterate. When everything was considered, the tawaifs had education, independence, money, power, and self-determination in a period when many women were little more than cattle.

Omme-Salma Rahemtullah
I do not speak Hindi. I am not from India, but am of Indian ancestry, born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, and migrated to Canada at a very young age. Yet I feel the need to connect with Bollywood.

Florian Clauss
……people of Turkish origin, who constitute the largest immigrant group in Germany, might have become acquainted with Indian cinema through their transmission on Turkish satellite channels…

From ‘On Stage with Lata’ by Mohan Deora and Rachana Shah

[interspersed with youtube videos]

My father, who was a very good astrologer, once read my horoscope. He told my mother, ‘Lata is a very good singer. You cannot imagine how famous she will become. She will sing but will not marry.’ His words did come true…..

I have sung at many concerts in India, especially in Kolkata…..the Bengali audience was fantastic. They listened so attentively.

There were some songs that people liked, and I didn’t, but I had to sing them, like ‘Bindiya chamkegi’. I never liked that song even when I had first recorded it. The songs the audience really loved were the haunting melodies like ‘Aayega aanewala’, ‘Kahin deep jale’, ‘Ajaa re pardesi’ and ‘Naina barse rhim jhim rhim jhim’. When it came to duets with Mukesh Bhaiya, people really enjoyed ‘Saawan ka mahina’. I think it amused them because in the song Mukesh Bhaiya has to teach me how to pronounce the word ‘sor’.

Kishore-da would talk a lot between songs. I remember during the Toronto show, he said, ‘Let us sing the duet that you don’t like, and I don’t like either. …..We’ll sing “Chai pe bulaaya hai”’….. I really did not like the song and had in fact told him that we should not sing it. But he often surprised me and did all sorts of crazy things.

…..1985 …..Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu had graciously agreed to come…..he appeared on stage and mesmerized the audience with his elegant way of speaking – he has such a gentle voice and such perfect Urdu.

People have asked me if I have ever suffered from stage fright. I do not believe I have, but I was fearful of making a mistake. So I would prepare myself mentally and give myself ample time……. I didn’t want to hear people say, “This went wrong, that went wrong”……It was not fear, rather the determination to get it right.
I was known for enunciating every word in a song. Everyone thought that the words I sang were always clear, and that I sang in tune. ….When singing on stage, what was essential for me was to be able to hear the harmonium clearly – because it gave me the right pitch. So the arranger / conductor Anil Mohile stood near me as he played the harmonium ……It was reassuring to me that Anil was close at hand.

The audiences at the concerts…..were made up of people from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who had settled in the USA and Canada for decades, and they came in thousands to the shows…..I honestly did not expect the kind of reaction we got. Nor could I have ever imagined the tremendous love that I would receive in the Caribbean and in the Fiji islands. …..

-          Mumbai, 4 April 2016, Lata Mangeshkar

In Mumbai, nearly everyone knows that Prabhu Kunj is home to the Mangeshkars. Lataji has a four-bedroom apartment on the first floor and the other flat on the same landing belongs to Asha Bhosle. The Mangeshkars have lived at Prabhu Kunj since the 1960s ……

Another thing that concerned Lataji was the concert venues. She wanted a list of the top auditoriums and to know what kind of sound systems they had, plus details of the stage itself……she was introducing a new level of professionalism….they helped us to think of the Lata Mangeshkar tour as special – the first of its kind in the US and Canada. …. Lata Mangeshkar was the first singer of Indian film music to perform in these illustrious spaces. She would sing on a stage on which the most famous world musicians had appeared.

….7 May [1975], Lataji asked her musicians to assemble the next day in her suite for a rehearsal….Never before had any Indian artist suggested rehearsing before a show.

Anyone who had worked with Lataji in the Indian film industry knew that she was always on time.

….on Friday, 9 May 1975, the hour of the first Lata-Mukesh concert of the tour had arrived. It was a sellout show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. …..the first musical note of ‘Allah tero naam, Ishwar tero naam’ was heard, a noisy round of applause followed. The orchestra conducted by Anil Mohile was made up of only five musicians but they were just brilliant. Arun Paudwal played the accordion; Ramakant Mhapsekar, the table; Ravi Kandivali, the mandolin; Rajendra Singh, the swarleen; and Suryanarayan Naidu, the table and dholak. …….the audience ….got completely carried away when Mukeshji sang ‘Mera joota hai Japani’, ‘Ansoo bhari hain ye jeevan ki raahen’, ‘Jaane kahaan gaye who din’ and the unforgettable ‘Dil jalta hai to jalne de.’ …….then came the Lata and Mukesh duets….. There was a hush when they sang ‘Aaja re ab mera dil pukara.’ ……The concert ended with two numbers: ‘Aaja re pardesi’ from Madhumati and Mahal’s immortal ‘Aayega aanewala.’ Lataji and Mukeshji had successfully kept the audience captive for three-and-a-half hours. What a way to start the tour!

The response to her shows was the same in every venue and in every city. At San Francisco’s Oakland Coliseum ‘Thandi hawaayen’, ‘Mohe bhool gaye sanwaria’, ‘Inhi logon ne’, ‘Barsaat mein’ and some new numbers received rapturous applause. In his unique style, Mukeshji brought the Raj Kapoor numbers alive, including ‘Awaara hoon’, ‘Mera joota hai Japani’ ‘Honton pe sachaaii rehti hai

At the tour finale, there were other cinema personalities who attended …..including …….the famous Pakistani singer and actress, Musarrat Nazir.

…….a recording studio in downtown Detroit….the sound engineer was busy mixing the pre-recorded tracks to create a final mix. Through the monitor I could hear the last line of the song in which the singer held onto a very high-pitched note.
‘Suddenly, the sound engineer, Bob Morris…..asked… ‘Can you tell me the name of the instrument that is being played on this tape right now?’’…… “The sound Bob was hearing…..was the voice of Lata…… Bob was flabbergasted when I told him it was a human voice. The mesmerized Bob continued: “I have been a sound engineer for twenty-five years and have recorded the music of many famous performers. But I must honestly confess that I have never – I repeat never – heard this quality of a human voice….””

Mukeshji used to enjoy a glass of scotch before dinner ….However, he did not drink alcohol in front of Lataji. He once told me that even Raj Kapoor would hesitate to drink in front of her.
That was the kind of respect she commanded.

In 1977…three concerts….Felt Forum (MSG) in New York, the second at the Valley Forge in Philadelphia and the third at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles….. the Shrine event was in fact a charity concert for the Hare Krishna Society……during the intermission, Lataji and her co-singers mingled with the audience with collection baskets……the proceeds from the show helped towards the building of a large centre called ISKCON in Juhu in Mumbai, which opened a year later, in 1978…..

….Lataji said that she and her family would prefer to stay at my house ……A typical day for Lataji would start with her puja and lighting of agarbattis….She would come out of her room and the sound of her payal would resonate wherever she went. Lataji’s breakfast was hot coffee, English muffins, orange marmalade and honey. Sometimes she had some cornflakes or muesli with cold milk. Lunch was simple: a bowl of broccoli, or chicken noodle soup and toast. Dinner was an Indian meal with daal, rice, roti, chicken curry and vegetables. To my surprise she loved papad and mangodi (mung dal pakoda). She has a sweet tooth and her list of likes were many – gaajar ka halwa, baadaam halwa, ras malai, gulaab jaamun, motichoor ka laddu, etc.

The show at the Ford Auditorium in Detroit …..She was in a quiet and solemn mood….. “….I do not usually sing the songs of other singers, but today, in memory of Mukesh Bhaiya, I shall sing a very moving song of his, ‘Jaane kahaan gaye wo din.’” ……I could sense her pain and loss. The audience were moved beyond words. Many were crying…… A highlight for the audience was the semi-classical ‘Saawan ke jhoolen padhe’. Midway through the performance, Lataji addressed the audience again, ‘I am sure you know that Nargisji is critically ill ……I would like you all to pray that she gets better very soon.’ She then sang the beautiful ‘Rasik balma’, a song that Nargisji had lip-synched in Chori Chori.

……she continues to show a deep respect for people and treats everyone equally. She does not make anyone feel inferior.

At the last concert of the tour, on 21 September, there was not a single empty seat in sight at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, a 14,000-seater…..matinee idol Amitabh Bachchan made a special guest appearance …..When Amitabh …..returned to India he undoubtedly talked to his people about organizing stage shows in America….who would have expected that Lataji’s simple request would start an entirely new dimension to Bollywood show business? And Amitji’s shows would draw thousands …..The Amitabh Bachchan shows were followed by shows featuring other top Indian stars, including Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan……

Lataji’s long-awaited concert… the Jean Pierre Complex, Port-of-Spain (the capital of Trinidad and Tobago), on Saturday, 27 September 1980….two back-to-back concerts…..sold out weeks in advance…..10,000 seater stadium…..people had come with their picnic baskets four hours ahead of time….. ‘For the people of Trinidad, Lataji is like a goddess. People literally worship her and arrived here hours ahead to make sure they don’t miss a single moment of her singing.’……people of Indian origin ………settled in the Caribbean for generations …..some no longer spoke Hindi, they nevertheless knew her songs…..When she sang ‘Main tulsi tere aangan ki’ and ‘Rahen naa rahen hum’, you could hardly hear her for the clapping…… stop was Georgetown in Guyana… of her arrival, 1 October 1980 was declared a public holiday……Airport……thousands and thousands of people lined both sides of the road……people of all races…….mayor of Georgetown presented her with the key to the city. In the background, a band was playing the melody, ‘Gumnaam hai koi’…..Lataji turned to me and said, ‘Did you hear the band? It seems that I will have to sing that too.’

[other live performances of Lata Mangeshkar]

Sunday, June 11, 2017

From ‘Lonely Planet's Best Ever Travel Tips’ by Lonely Planet

When do tickets go on sale for flights?
Usually, 11 months in advance. Reasons for this are arcane and historical – in the days of printed seat plans, airlines wanted to avoid booking people on to the right plane, on the right day, in the wrong year.

… time to book flights …..certain broad trends … time is five weeks before travel ….as a general rule carriers will have a January sale and a September sale…..Airlines are trying to fill seats for the next “shoulder season” ……seat sales target routes with sluggish sales……

Hotel rooms are released on to the market 18 months in advance. In general the earlier you book the better as this is when prices are lower. ……best deal on a hotel room …..the magic hour is 6pm, when many hotels will re-release rooms that haven’t been taken.

From ‘Emergency Sex (and other desperate measures). True Stories from a War Zone’ by Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, Andrew Thomson

Rithy squats with the cheeks of his ass pressing the backs of his heels, his arms stretched out over his knees for balance. Cambodians can remain like that for hours, watching the world go by. It looked comfortable until I tried it and my legs went numb.

Israelis are a mix of North African, Levantine and Eastern European, which inflames the politics but does amazing things for the women.

If Pol Pot had been the prime minister of New Zealand for three years, nearly two out of three of us would have died.

…….West African dance includes a graphic representation of the sex act, focusing on the rotating rear end of the lady. But its done with dignity and joy. Exciting, not profane. The women are beautiful and have bright eyes and smiles that light up the night. …

Everyone hates the Bulgarians. The UN pays countries cash to send soldiers on peacekeeping missions. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Bulgaria lost its subsidies and was broke. The Bulgarian government wanted money but didn’t want to send their best-trained troops. So, the story goes, they offered inmates in the prisons and psychiatric wards a deal: put on a uniform and go to Cambodia for six months, you’re free on return ……A battalion of criminal lunatics arrives in a lawless land. They get drunk….rape vulnerable Cambodian women, and crash their UN Land cruisers….

From ‘Shyam Benegal’ by Sangeeta Datta

[interspersed with youtube videos]

Ankur won three National Awards in 1974 and 45 prizes in total in India and abroad…….. It travelled to every major international festival, but it did not get any award. It was very popular at the Berlin festival and the audiences noticed Shabana. Her photograph was published on the front page of the main newspaper in Berlin. International actors including Ingrid Bergman came up to Shabana and told her that it was one of the finest performances they had seen.

Mandi is considered by many to be Benegal’s most masterful film, a brilliantly ironic examination of middle-class notions of respectability and values, and a sympathetic inquiry into brothel life.

The media had for some time been playing up the professional rivalry between Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil. ………At the time of shooting for Mandi, the tension between the two female leads was near palpable. Both had been recently cast in Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth as rivals ……….In an interview, he [Benegal] ….voiced his opinion that Smita had a wider range:
Smita could play anything. She could play glamorous roles and dance. These were things she was instinctively capable of. Shabana is essentially a dramatic actress – the best of her kind. Her concentration as an actress has been on that line. Those are the parts she looks for. She may have done the running around trees – I cant imagine her doing it. But she is so confident of her position. Who is there to challenge her as a dramatic actress? She transcends all competition in that area.

Naseeruddin Shah ……[Benegal says] Whatever he does he gives it his best. His commitment to acting is total. There is no other thing on his mind except to give the best possible performance. But he does not have the sense of humour that Om Puri has. Also Om has a great deal of compassion as a human being. Naseer was too focused on his own self. Om is a more affable human being.