Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bal Gandharv, Natrang and questions

These days, people seem to take extreme views about any movie they see. Hate or Like. Hardly we (maybe just I) get to hear any opinion that lies in the middle, or tending towards either side. Is it because movies are made such or is it because people are just being opinionated or rather lazy? Anyway, that is not the point of this post.

This piece of comment was shared with me regarding the Marathi movie Bal Gandharva“I heard they have shown the negative side of Bal Gandharva in the second half of the movie.”

Another comment I heard was, “Subodh Bhave (the actor who brilliantly portrays Bal Gandharva) is known to play negative roles, can people accept him otherwise?”

The negative side that is faintly alluded to in the first comment (and is entirely debatable) is the character keeping relationships outside marriage. I would not like to touch upon the second comment.

Are we as a collective audience, mature enough to see these movies as an Art / Creation rather than just a biopic or movie? What do you say?

This is not a review of Bal Gandharva, it’s been done quite a bit by a lot of people. The Internet will lead you to laurels and brick-bats about this movie.

I loved the movie. The actor got well moulded into the great giant character and carried it off with a finesse that can be squeezed in about 3 hours. I especially liked the way the story was presented. It was carried out from the Point of View of the characters surrounding the Protagonist. This POV direction was the best part of the movie. It was like a dedication to the central character, by the people around him. The sets are good. The art direction and costumes are good. There is light humour that can be well appreciated. The pace is good enough for a ~ 3-hour movie yet slow enough to keep you interested. I even liked the small role played by Prachiti Mhatre as Gohar Jaan. Her expressions in one of the songs was really amazing. (This review says otherwise.) Overall, it is a good movie that interests you the about the art Natya Sangeet, talks a little bit about the history of this art form and some of the Giants who gave up their lives towards the art form. For a lot of people who have lost connection with their roots because of whatever reasons, this movie does inform of a lot of the forgotten history.

The movie reminded me of another awesome Marathi movie Natrang (directed by Ravi Jadhav, who directed Bal Gandharv too. An article here), a story of a man who dedicated his life and a lot of other things to another art form Lavani. Somehow while watching Bal Gandharv, I started thinking about this one scene from Natrang where the actor, fully clothed in a King’s costume, is standing in the rain and crying. Clearly, one of the most poignant scenes from the movie. Natrang is a lovely Marathi movie of late, about an artist and the art within him and around him.

I am sure a lot of people found Natrang offensive too. Especially the lot that negatively judges a movie based on one or two scenes arguing about moralities.

Moralities! When will we learn to accept that the world is not just black and white? The world will be more peaceful if we accept the greyness and some other things that are inherent and cannot be changed.

It is ok to form opinions, but it’s a good idea to be open to other ideas as well.


A family comes out of the theater after watching Bal Gandharv. The parents are all happy to have succeeded in pulling their reluctant kids along to see a movie about the history of music and a certain art form called Natya Sangeet. Parents keep telling the kids about how great Bal Gandharv was, how great his dedication was and all.

What if the Parents go ahead and enroll the kids for the summer cricket camps just because a lot of people in the society have done the same? What if they scold their kid who loves to read comic books because they are not actual books? What if they just don’t want their kid to grow up and go against their family just like Bal Gandharv just because it was always the Art first?

Some questions are better left unanswered. The questions themselves are scary.


I have left many open ends in this post. I hope to tackle them slowly and steadily.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Music from Tralfamadore

It begins like this:

Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

It ends like this:
(Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut)

Thus begins the journey to the Slaughterhouse-Five and thus it ends. Not mine, Billy Pilgrims. Though I would have loved the see Dresden as described by the indifferent Billy when he enters the town as a POW. Now, I can very well do a search for pictures on the Web and find them. But the moment is gone, or as the Tralfamadorians say, because this moment simply is.

Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment.

Is it an anti-war book? Maybe I need to read the book again.
Is it supposed to be humour disguised in pain or pain disguised in humour? Maybe I need to read the book again.
Is Billy a hero, an anti-hero or just a survivor? Maybe I need to read the book again.
Does Billy travel in time or Time travels nonetheless what Billy does? Maybe I need to read the book again.
Is Tralfamadore really three hundred million miles away from earth? Or does it exists right here on earth? This I will have to find out myself. Maybe Kilgore Trout can help.

Really I need to read the book again. To find out the meaning within the meaning and the meaning without the meaning. To figure out Billy P. To figure out Montana Wildhack. To fathom the simpleton Kilgore Trout and to eventually read one of his books - Venus on the Half-Shell.

RIP Edgar Derby. A teapot is never harmless. So it goes.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I See You

This small story is written by Paulo Coelho. Found it in my mailbox. It's beautiful.

Let's suppose that two people go into a forest to put out a small fire. Afterward, when they emerge and go over to a stream, the face of one is all smeared with black, while the other man's face is completely clean.

My question is this: Which of the two will wash his face?

"That's a silly question. The one with the dirty face, of course."

"No, the one with the dirty face will look at the other man and assume that he looks like him. And, vice versa, the man with the clean face will see his colleague covered in grime and say to himself: I must be dirty too. I'd better have a wash."

Saturday, May 7, 2011


This whole anti-war theme is going on my mind, fueled by Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. So a Google search led to another and I chanced upon a song.

Sam Stone by John Prine. Soulful. Left me speechless.

YouTube link

While listening, think what 'Sam Stone' depicts, think what the phrase 'Little pitchers have big ears' means. Words have an immense power. Voice is an intense way to express. Hats off John Prine.


Sam Stone came home,
To his wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas.
And the time that he served,
Had shattered all his nerves,
And left a little shrapnel in his knee.
But the morphine eased the pain,
And the grass grew round his brain,
And gave him all the confidence he lacked,
With a Purple Heart and a monkey on his back.

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes,
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose.
Little pitchers have big ears,
Don't stop to count the years,
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.

Sam Stone's welcome home
Didn't last too long.
He went to work when he'd spent his last dime
And Sammy took to stealing
When he got that empty feeling
For a hundred dollar habit without overtime.
And the gold rolled through his veins
Like a thousand railroad trains,
And eased his mind in the hours that he chose,
While the kids ran around wearin' other peoples' clothes...

Repeat Chorus:

Sam Stone was alone
When he popped his last balloon
Climbing walls while sitting in a chair
Well, he played his last request
While the room smelled just like death
With an overdose hovering in the air
But life had lost its fun
And there was nothing to be done
But trade his house that he bought on the G. I. Bill
For a flag draped casket on a local heroes' hill.

(source: http://www.jpshrine.org/lyrics/songs/jpsamstone.html)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Music never gets old

The other day M and I were talking about the great era of 1965-75 and the music that was brought in the world during that time. We spoke about bands like Steppenwolf, The Who, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and mentioned others like Neil Young, Beatles, Doors… Oh well I can go on and on!

Point is that during the discussion, there was a realization that even after 40+ years these are the bands we go to get submerged in music. Everyone follows the usual track of pop to rock to metal. Some stay with a specific genre. Some travel back and forth. But most of us, go back to that era we call the Rock and Roll era or the Classic rock era. The time when bands explored different genre of music, added mystic and substance to music and tried to understand and write about humans, human emotions, human atrocities and well drugs that helped to colour these pictures even further.

The irony is, there is surely a big generation gap between that era and today. Look at our parents. We always complain about the generation gap and difference in the thought process.

With music, well, you know. We all know. It is imbibed in us and we still are looking to explore more. Go back in time.

Music is the true religion.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lane of Memories :: Follow you into the Dark

The happenings of the day still pounded Mandrake's brain with all the residual noise and chaos. It was a busy day and he made sure he kept days busy, just to ensure that he does not get lost in the past.

“But why should I be afraid of the past? That’s where I belong.”

Mandrake smiled in irony as he poured himself a stiff one. He really needed one today and even the glass could have realized his craving with that touch. Even the dark night that surrounded him could sense his longing.

Days like these, when Mandrake kept himself very busy, are the days that conspired against him and took him back to Mehnaz.

He gulped half of his second glass of whiskey and eased himself on the sofa. His flight was ready to take him to scenes of the past, to his villa that oversaw his beautiful memories. He was fighting with time and it was all messed up. Yesterday, yesterday’s yesterday and today.

His time portal was opening up to take him along. He gulped down his sixth glass and submitted himself to the clearing noise and space. The clearing then gave away to a moment, from the thousand others.

“I am sorry to call you so late baby, but just wanted to tell you that I am glad you came back for me.”

“I had to, Rake sweety.”

“You know Naz, I won’t love anyone as I love you. It just wouldn’t be possible.”

“Rake, don’t say won’t. I won’t say won’t. Won’t has a tendency of proving us wrong.”

Silence. Mandrake was just overwhelmed by his feelings for Mehnaz.

“But Naz baby, I am really glad you came,” was all that Mandrake could mutter.

“Rake, don’t say that again. That just makes it so formal. Didn’t you say once, Own me a little baby.”

Mandrake just smiled to himself. Wondering why he isn’t whispering in her ear and not the phone.

“Ok I won’t, don’t want to drag you too much in my quicksand.”

“Rake baby, I love you Ok, I always will. I'm always there beside you and I'll come running whenever you need me like today. But please don’t push me away.”

“No Naz, I just can’t push you away. You are my lifeline.”

“And I won’t let you push me away baby, I never will.”

Then Mehnaz starts softly singing on the phone,

…Love of mine some day you will die,
But I'll be close behind,
I'll follow you into the dark…

Mandrake slips into the darkness. His present locked in the past where he truly lives.


Earlier - Lane of Memories :: The conclusion
The song is - I'll follow you into the dark by Death Cab for Cutie