June 26, 2008

Forgotten notes of Calcutta

The Bangalore-Delhi-yuppylawyer-talkbigger would definitely scoff at these songs of adolescence. Yet they brought back bits of my Calcutta adolescence today. These were songs of Calcutta talking to modernity- tackily made to sound bluesy. Sumon Chattopadhyay arrived from nowhere, when I was in middle school, with songs of soppyheartbreaks, madman-on-the-road, melancholic monsoon evening Calcutta. He turned repetitive in the later albums, having given way to an outburst of late youth frustration over Adhunik soppyromantic music that the cultured Bengali middle class had tresured so far. The Bengali press wrote about this new-blood-music as Jeebonmukhi.

And a tacky Nachiketa gave musical vent to schoolgirl-puppylove. And hordes of other twenty-something rock bands followed.  Rampantly making up for lack of musical genius, with the arrogance of modernity-angst. Ripping liberaly off Bong folk and noted blues/soft rock numbers from the 60s/70s.

My favourite of this genre will always be Anjan Dutt, with his recurrent St.Paul's Darjeeling allusions, and a continuing exotification of the Anglo-Indians of Ripon Street (Mary Ann and Purono Guitar coming to mind offhand), and endearingly cliched celebrations of the decadent little stories of the city, slowly giving way to titillations of global capital. It was at this time that a long-forgotten 'alternative' group called Mohiner Ghoraguli started in the late 70s (I think) resurfaced in popular Bengali musical memory. Not as much  modernity angst. Much more music. 

I was digging up these scores of my adolescence from Youtube this afternoon. They are still entangled in rainy afternoon bus rides to a local swimming club, hushed telephonic attempts at romance, sights and sounds of a city that once used to talk to me.

Glossary:
Adhunik-modern
Jeebonmukhi- Life-facing (quite literally, can't think of a better translation)
 

June 12, 2008

Cine Bliss

The new releases:

SATC is the sum total of outlandish outfits, forty-something-marriage-angst, sushi, Louis Vitton, Mexican resorts, and a nubile (albeit slightly wrinkled) Sarah Jessica Parker desperately trying to get hitched. Not much sex there unfortunately. Maybe that's reflective of aging women's backtracking libidoes.

Aamir was an interesting Sunday morning watch. Raj Kumar Gupta's snaking camera takes one through the sights and sounds of Muslim Ghetto Bombay in an applaudably arty way. While a hottish Rajeev Khandelwal plays the apolitical, ghar-girasthiwala, moderate Good Muslim, that resents the extremist, progress-clogging lot.

Sarkar Raj is a treat in RGV's treatment. Subhash Nagre's dilapidated house, with a narrow stream of daylight casting shadows on guns of bodyguards. A man who cries like a baby on his son's shoulders, kills in dozens in vengeance. Junior Bachchan pulls off a cute intense look, but having to speak dialogue does him in. The Lady in the Business Suit looks glamorous in understated style. Does not have much to do other than look at Junior in fond admiration. The same finger and lip closeup shots and upsidedown angles. They were exciting in Sarkar, but the sequel works only as Memories of Sarkar.

After having spent kiloes of money at multiplexes over the weekend, I resorted to a friend's homegrown collection and chose Woody Allen for yesterday's latenight show. The screwed-up nerdy film-maker with principles gets screwed over left, right and centre. And the nerdy-hot woman ultimately falls for the suave, salt-n-pepper producer. And the philosopher who celebrated Life commits suicide. Men make happiness out of choices, some choose crime, some are mere miscreants. Crime and Misdemeanour, enjoyably cynical and depressing, left me with bedtime thoughts of how moral agency is assumed by the Man completely, on lit and film canvasses. Agreed these are men's worldviews and they are being honest. But how simply wives and daughters and mistresses are reduced to tethers in the spectrum of moral choices. Be it a moderate citizen, a godfather, a new-n-improved godfather, a cowardly angster or the regular successful adulterous man. For three worldviews on the canvas of film, there is one mapping a twenty-first century woman and that's the one gets pushed around by Louis Vitton.