Mukti

Dadagiri redux

Posted in action, adventure, Bollywood, books, classics, desi fiction, Drama, movies, thriller, TV by jrahman on May 21, 2018

When Shashi Kapoor passed away late last year, my facebook was abuzz (or should I say alight?) with clips of mere paas maa hai.  I wanted to post my favourite Kapoor as my childhood favourite hero.  I was sad to find no clip of Kissa Kathmandu ki — Satyajit Ray’s small screen adaptation of his Feluda caper in Nepal.  Granted it wasn’t Ray’s finest, but all sorts of weird and improbable stuff can be found online, why not this, I wondered.

My mind then wandered to why Ray cast Kapoor and not Amitabh Bachchan, the only tall man in India, for the role of the towering Bengali detective?  Perhaps it was because Bachchan was by then too busy with politics.  But that leads one to wonder why Ray hadn’t made a Hindi Feluda earlier?

For that matter, why did Ray not make more Hindi movies?  It’s not like he was oblivious to Bollywood trends.  He even set one of the Feluda adventures in mid-1970s Bombay, when Bachchan was smashing box office records and the bones of villains.  In the novel, Lalmohan Ganguly is advised by Feluda about the masala that would make a blockbuster:

…. instead of one double role have a pair of double roles.  The first hero is paired against the first villain, and the hero number two and the villain number two make the second pair.  That this second pair exists isn’t revealed at the beginning…..

… need smuggling — gold, iamond, cannabis, opium, whatever; need five musical sequence, one of which should be religious; need two dance numbers; two or three chase sequences are needed, and it would be great if in at least one of which an expensive car is driven off a cliff; need a scene of inferno; need heroines against the heroes and vamps against the villains; need a police officer with integrity; need flashback of the heroes’ backstories; …. need quick changes of scenes…. ; at least couple of times the story need to be on the hills or the seaside…..

…. at the end — and this is a must — need happy ending.  But the ending would work best if it can be preceded by several tearjerkers.

Of course, this is tongue-in-cheek.  Ray wasn’t into making blockbusters.  And he explained in a number of places that he was most comfortable in his mother tongue.  But Ray was so in tune with the zeitgeist that even Enter the Dragon is channeled in that story, and I can’t help but wish he would have made the movie that would have been rishte mein toh baap to Sholay, Don, Qurbani, Tridev or Mohra.

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Dadagiri

Posted in adventure, books, movies, thriller, Uncategorized by jrahman on December 20, 2017

When Shashi Kapoor passed away a few days ago, my facebook was abuzz (or should I say alight?) with clips of mere paas maa hai.  I wanted to post my favourite Kapoor as my childhood favourite hero.  I was sad to find no clip of Kissa Kathmandu ki — Satyajit Ray’s small screen adaptation of his Feluda caper in Nepal.  Granted it wasn’t Ray’s finest, but all sorts of weird and improbable stuff can be found online, why not this, I wondered.  My mind then wandered to why Ray cast Kapoor and not Amitabh Bachchan, the only tall man in India, for the role of the towering Bengali detective?  Perhaps because Bachchan was by then too busy with politics.  But that leads one to wonder why Ray hadn’t made a Hindi Feluda earlier?  For that matter, why did Ray not make more Hindi movies?

The latest on-screen adaptation puts Ray’s sleuth in the modern day — check out the trailer:

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On Nayak

Posted in Drama, movies by jrahman on March 17, 2016

There is cricket in the subcontinent, and while it’s good see Bangladesh being competitive, nationalism often leaves me cold.  There is, however, one part of life where I am, if not nationalist, quite parochial — the stronger sex.  There is something about Bengali girls.  As with many things, Satyajit Ray captures it brilliantly:

A Bengali girl once asked me why Uttam Kumar is so mean to Sharmila Tagore.  I was surprised she hadn’t watched Nayak.  I shouldn’t have been, as this is one of Ray’s lesser known gems.  That’s a shame, because arguably it’s one of his best work.

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The seeker of the truth

Posted in action, Drama, movies, thriller by jrahman on March 13, 2016

Raj, the Desi guy in the sitcom Big Bang Theory, compliments his friend’s deductions in an episode as ….a regular Byomkesh Bakshi.  Another friend quips — What’s that?  An Indian Sherlock Holmes?, drawing Raj’s retort — Perhaps Holmes is an English Byomkesh Bakshi!

Of course, Holmes predates Bakshi by decades.  And I have no idea how widely known Bakshi is outside of erstwhile Bengal.  Or even among the Bengalis for that matter — growing up, I was certainly more familiar with Satyajit Ray’s Feluda than Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s satyanweshi (the seeker of the truth).

Perhaps this has changed with the recent films coming out of Kolkata and Bollywood?

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Escape to Calcutta

Posted in movies, thriller by jrahman on October 26, 2013

For some reason, my parents didn’t listen to Manna Dey much when I was young.  But what bhadralok Bengali — from either side of the Radcliffe Line — of the last half century cannot relate to Coffee House?

That adda and those golden afternoons have long been gone, and I don’t want to dwell on it because melancholy is no good for me.  Instead, let me escape to Calcutta.

Yes, Calcutta, of the black and white era, the great metropolis, the city comparable to New York and London, Sydney and Shanghai — not the provincial Kolkata, that city I have no affection for, in reality or fantasy.

Calcutta, that’s where this is set.

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Mountains of the Moon

Posted in books, Chander pahar, classics, fantasy by jrahman on October 13, 2011

                                            

It is the early 20th century, well before the Great War engulfed Europe.  Our protagonist, an athletic young man of about 20, has just returned to his village from Calcutta after finishing high school.  His family expects him to become a clerk in the jute factory nearby, but he dreams of a less mundane life.  He gets his wish when an acquaintance arranges a job for him in the East African railway.  Thus begins a great adventure that involves man-eating lions, black mamba, volcanic eruption, Kalahari, cannibals, a mysterious apelike creature that doesn’t fear fire and a diamond mine deep in the heart of Africa. 

I am talking about Chander Pahar (Mountains of the Moon).  Unless you are Bengali, chances are that you’ve never heard of it.  It is an adventure novel written by Bibhuti Bhushan Bondopadhyaya, a Bengali writer of the first half of the 20th century whose better known creation is Pather Panchali (The Song of the Road). That book is better known because it is the subject of the Satyajit Ray classic Apu trilogy.

Well, anyone who has read Chander Pahar would agree that this book deserves its own Ray. It deserves to be made into a great action adventure movie.  A Desi in the early 20th century facing an adventure like this, it has never been done — that kind of thing has so far been the white man’s monopoly.  We just need a talented director and an astute producer, and we’ll have the first Bollywood action adventure epic.

And for anyone who hasn’t read this, over the fold is the first chapter translated.

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A brief (alternate) history of India — finer things in life

Posted in fantasy by jrahman on February 21, 2011

Since last August, this series has explored an alternate universe where MK Gandhi’s swaraj movement devolved into chaos and violence in the 1920s, MA Jinnah negotiated freedom with the British and became the first president of the Commonwealth of India, and Jawaharlal Nehru became the country’s fourth president, promising a Noble Mansion of India where all her children could dwell in his first inauguration speech in 1949.

The focus of the series thus far has been on politics and economics.  With the subcontinent gripped by the World Cup fever, I thought this episode should cover some finer topics.

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