Friday, March 4, 2011

Immersed in the words and feelings of my Father for most of the day


Bhopal , MP      Mar  3,  2011  Thu  9 : 59 PM
Immersed in the words and feelings of my Father for most of the day … and then suddenly to switch gears to talk about Indian Cinema is like leap frogging backwards ! Father’s literary genius will live for thousands of years, my very mediocre contribution to the arts of cinema will be forgotten within years ! The two cannot be bridged. Or if they can, shall most certainly cause a most dramatic vacuum - one that shall perhaps never be seen, but shall exist.
Cannes Film Festival’s brief to Shekhar Kapoor is to bring an Indian film to the festival, and when he regretted that it was not possible to do that by him, Cannes not finding any Indian film ‘worthy’ of its presence at the international arena, asked if he would do a documentary on the song and dance routine in our films in such a manner that after it was over, would provoke the audiences at the festival, to get up and dance in the aisles !!
I am surprised to say the least at this request. Western cinema and its propagators, its critics and its opinion makers have always been most cynical and ruthlessly critical about the content of Indian Cinema. Particularly its over fantasized, escapist fare. Why would they now want to give it ‘a pride of place’ in an environment that is considered the epitome of all that world cinema professes to be, in its most decorated excellence !
I asked this as a question in return to the many that the two celebrated directors conducting this interview -Shekhar Kapoor and Rakeysh Mehra - asked of me and I could not get an adequate answer. The interviewer is always going to be in an exalted position than the interviewee. They ask, and we need to reply. Which is why media is always in an exalted position. They have the ‘liberty and authority’ to ask and we jolly well need to respond or face dire circumstances. Anyway, I drift away from the issue. To me the reason for Cannes wanting something Indian is not necessarily a sudden acknowledgement of our creativity. I believe it is governed by many factors, all not essentially equated to the art of film making. I mention here an oft repeated phrase and theory - economic strength ! The opening up of the economy in India, the potential of its strength as a result of it, the boundless limits to which this would enhance consumerism, the fact and manner in which India managed itself and its economy in the dark periods of it that went by throughout the world recently and still does, the projected assessment of India becoming the largest economy of the world by the year 2050, all has in a sense, brought great notice to India. Suddenly then, everything Indian is now attractive. Our food, our tradition, culture, the music, our politics and yes our films !! And .. what the West appreciates the most - a country with the largest practicing democracy in the world today ! With so many benefits surrounding its present status, whats the big deal with a ’song and dance routine’ in films. Nothing ! Its a welcome creative expression, better to accept it than be critical of it. Is what I would like to believe how the west addresses us. And why they feel the reason or need to entertain an aspect of it in a festival that is patronized by the largest and most important elements of international cinema !
So the next question is whether we would ever change this format to suit ‘world standards’. And my answer is a definitive no. We designed this as an integral part of our cinema. How or why it came about is another topic for discussion. But it is there to remain so and I shall not be happy to ever want to change the USP of any commodity. As a retort to that, I would ask Hollywood if they would change their routine to resemble ours. Why, you had great results when it was fleetingly brought on by Laz Burmann in ‘Moulin Rouge’, even using our sound track for it in ‘choli ke peeche’ and ‘Slumdog’ could not resist its very modest yet award winning presence in the film as well.
No sir ! Despite all the negativity that came our way, we pursued without giving in. Yes we are handicapped by resources, by language and suitable ‘realistic’ and ‘aesthetic’ content in comparison to the West, but our reason for our cinema being the way it is is far far different from the West. Box office is perhaps the only common denominator, but picture this. In a country as vast and as diverse as India, where language and cultures change every 100 miles, where the average earning of the poor in the country is a pittance, where other sources of entertainment are limited, keeping aside the recent boom and advent of TV in the country, it is a wonder that it is our cinema that brings us all together under one roof  - an achievement that is rapidly evaporating in a complex world before us every day. I will not ask the religion of the person that stands in a queue ahead of me at a cinema hall, about to release an Aamir, Shah Rukh, or Salman film. I shall be least interested in knowing whether the person seated beside me is  Hindu or Muslim or a Sikh or a Christian. I shall be unconcerned about his caste and creed or the color of his or her skin. But I do know that we shall, when the film starts, laugh at the same jokes, cry at the same emotion, sing the same songs. Where in the world, do we find today examples that exemplify this. They are few and far. Cinema today in the country is the greatest integrator. It brings people together, in a world where every effort is being made to keep them disintegrated. I am proud of this and proud that I represent in a very small way this wondrous magic. I would not want any change. Many attempts have been made in the past and some today as well, to bring change, to revolutionize concepts within us that keep us alienated from Western appreciation and concept. But they have all failed. And they shall continue to fail till the masses do not ask for them to be altered. Yes we cater to the masses. We are guided by public opinion. Is that such a grave wrong. Look around us even as I write, and see how public opinion has the strength to bring about change. Why then would I or anyone connected with our vocation want to disturb that.
We conversed on the aspect of fan following and why it was diametrically different to the West and why divinity played such an important part in the belief of the Indian fan as opposed to the one from Hollywood. The building of temples and the relevance of reverence in the psyche of the Indian polity remained almost incomplete in argument. We have not been able to explain that. The closest we could get was the reenactment of our great mythology through our great epics , the Mahabharat and the Ramayan and derivatives of them. Of many stars from the South in Tamil and Telugu and Kannada and Malayalam cinema actually enacting the mythic Gods and Goddesses and perhaps that image remaining as a lasting impression of particular star. NTR from Andhra Pradesh comes to mind immediately and how this figure was indeed instrumental to a large degree in his political avatar later when he fought an election and remained in power for several terms in office. In Tamilnadu too, there is a great awakening to the celebrity in film. MGR, played the common man, the worker, the labourer in most of his films which then successfully got converted to his political stature and leadership in the years after. Jayalalita and the present Karunanidhi have all had connections and still do deeply with the art of creativity and cinema. The leader of the State or country is nothing short of being godly to the common man. He looks upon them as a benefactor of his destiny, one that shall bring change in his circumstance and existence. So he worships. Its a question of belief. We believe that when we pray in our respective temples and mosques and churches, that we shall be redeemed, fulfilled, heard, delivered. The front bencher, and he or she is the one most responsible for box office success, believes that his hero on 70 mm canvas shall deliver. The quality of Indian Cinema has been, that it delivers poetic justice in 3 hrs. You and me shall not get it in a lifetime, perhaps several lifetimes. Its deliverance then in the eyes of the viewer can be nothing short of being godly. The star being nothing short of divinity, even though we are far away from it in reality. But reality is not what is expressed on film. Forget the story that unfolds in front of us. Where are the close ups and edits and flashbacks and background musical scores in our daily lives ! No where ! Its the fantasy of cinema and it is this fantasy that manifests itself into belief. And reverence follows then, unabated without blemish !
O ! dear !! I have extended my stay here today .. something that I should not impose ! And so must I end ..
With love and the hugest appreciation to those that make us who we are, or who you profess we are - my extended family !!
abhindi
Amitabh Bachchan

The day lingers on and on and on And when it comes to the time


Bhopal , MP  Mar  2,   2011    Wed  10 : 30 PM
The day lingers on and on and on …
And when it comes to the time when the brilliance of the sun fades, giving way to the gentleness of the moon, then do the instincts of our connection bloom in great anticipation. And till the time the location and the date and time are registered for posterity at the upper enclaves of this page, there is not the slightest semblance of what the words that hopefully adorn the page now, shall be or consist of what. I continue to write and punch words in with the hope that in time i shall suddenly through some act of providence be able to gather up expression to be contained in here and now. But till then its just words and ramblings - a word that received a grave reaction from many in their responses.
Tomorrow will be the 3rd of March and there is a delegation of makers coming over to speak and react and churn ideas and content for a documentary on Indian Cinema, which they profess the Cannes Film Festival wishes to exhibit in this years celebration of International cinema. The makers as of now consist of Mr Rakyesh Mehra of Delhi 6, and Rang De Basanti fame and Mr Shekhar Kapur of Bandit Queen and Elizabeth fame, among several other associations these gentlemen have in their contributions to this marvel of the 20th Century, moving pictures !
And I often wonder why is it that they consider my offices to be of any value, as far as expressing knowledge of Indian Cinema is concerned ? It is a disposition that I have often felt and expressed with great forthrightness, in many forums both private and public. That just because one is fortunate enough to be decorated with the tag of a celebrity, through whatever mean of business - an elegant model, a composite artist, a musician, painter or writer - does not necessarily give him or her the license to express views and opinions on how the world runs, for public consumption. Suddenly a film star or champion cricketer shall be asked under threat almost, an opinion on the latest budget, presented in the august Houses of Parliament, and its repercussions on the fate of the country !! Now, with all due respects to some of the more decorated individuals in various vocations, I have serious doubts whether they shall have an opinion to give to the Finance Minister of a country on its budget requirements and the complicated process of its evaluation, put together with great judicious concern for over a billion people ! Yes they would I imagine be able to look at it in a personal capacity. See how it would directly affect them and their profession, but to give it an entire financial viewpoint, I have my doubts. At least let me not speak of the others, I would find myself in no capacity whatsoever to make any comment - financial, political or whatever !
Just because we profess to have some knowledge of cinema, does not mean that we are gifted with possessing knowledge of every other aspect of the world and its functioning ! That is absurd. And what is even worse than that, is the fact, that opinions when given, are then subjected to great amount of ridicule and criticism. Arre ! When we have confessed that we are incapable of making any comment, that the field is not within our circumference, and that despite that we have been virtually bullied into it, why then be so damning to our remark. It wasn’t meant to be there in the first place. But … the public loves to witness a ‘horse been flogged’ ! It gives them a sense of feeling that all that is wrong with the world and with their particular circumstance, is because of that particular ‘horse’. He or she is responsible for all the discomfort that mankind is going through, the reason for all their troubles. Purely because … said individual, celebrity, call it what you may, is perhaps not being affected by the financial changes or recommendations that the system is installing.
Which is why in a society of greater have nots, the haves shall always be ridden with accusation. Its the way of the world. Best to recognize it and quietly go your way. Try to fight or justify it and you are asking for trouble. Extravagance is not an appreciated metaphor in most circumstances. Great detailing and compassionate adjectives shall dominate any description of wealth, because it is a limited commodity. Its never so and so’s house. Its always so and so’s billion dollar house. Its never, his residence. Its always, his palatial residence. And so on …
There is that funny little story, all make belief of course, on the Marwari, a business community, and by far one of the richest, on how he conducts his wealth and disposition.
A Marwari running a very prosperous business in Kolkata in billions, was living in a dilapidated little one room hole, with no modern facilities or benefits. Not even an air conditioner to rid him of the oppressive heat of summer. When asked why he did not at least put in a small cooling device, he responded - ‘I don’t need it. Every night when I go to bed, I put all the bank notes in the hundreds that I have earned for the day, on my chest and go to sleep - it has the most cooling effect ever !!’
Moral of the story … if you have it, don’t flaunt it !
Love to you my dears … sleep well !
abhindi
Amitabh Bachchan
ps : was I apprehensive of what I shall be able to talk about in today’s blog ? Hmm .. its suddenly gone down to 930 words. Not bad eh … for a bit of uncertainty !!

I cannot believe this somebody from the Twitter family actually found my lost post


Bhopal, MP   Mar  1/2,  2011      Tue/Wed  12 : 21 AM

I cannot believe this … somebody from the Twitter family actually found my lost post and here it is .. thank you Gupta …
  1. Goodness ! What a day ! Millions of reactions on the topic of discussion and millions of such interesting inputs coming in from sources one would never have imagined. Its been an education for me, to have come to know so many facts hitherto unknown. Thank you all the EF and sincere apologies if I had to leave many of you out in response. It was just getting impossible to address each one, much as though I would have liked to. One look into the mirror and seeing my deteriorating redness of eye and that was it.
  2. But we must pursue this discussion further some day. It is interesting, informative and intelligent. Paves the way for history to be recollected, paves the way for detail of so many aspects related to it and finally brings us to a path where we are compelled to assess, where did it and why, it all began.
  3. Its been a quiet day otherwise. In the middle of time exhausting schedules, to get space creates problems too. Luckily I have you and this house of ours to sit and talk to. To share and express within ourselves. Else it does create a vacuum as to what one must attend to.
  4. When in doubt, I go back to my Father’s works and spend time in consuming the vast bank of wisdom through his writings. They are therapeutic. They open doors never opened before, draw attention to issues that could have escaped attention, bring life and nature close enough for you to breathe and smell their existence, allow introspection and finally, to find a gentle space inside, where they rest in the comfort of your being.
  5. It is strange how such incidents find a place within us. The greatness of good writing is the ability for the reader to identify himself or herself with the written word. To find a meaning that identifies them with the issue or the bent of the author. This may not always be true, but generally if troubled, the human tries immediately, to be in the company of those that suffer similar, or put himself in a circumstance where there is comfort in the thought, that he or she is not alone, burdened as it were with their individual encumbrances. You align yourself to such situations and people, because you feel that your embarrassment is not singular, that there are others in it too. This may not be a solution to the issue, solutions will be got personally without assistance, it is a complexity that for some strange reason lightens your condition in seeing others in the same boat. The problem remains and perhaps without any solution in sight, but the mere proximity with one that bears similar traits becomes in an unusual manner, comforting.
  6. You may have had an association as strong and complete as you could ever perceive with another, but the moment that association breaks, you first of course, sit disillusioned by the moment, but soon begin to seek the company of one that has either been in similar circumstance or will give your condition a sympathetic understanding. The assistance that you get shall never be able to replace the circumstance or condition. But you deem it a great release to be with them. Their advice or the pearls of wisdom that they threaten you with, may make sense for the moment, but somewhere deep within you, you have your own solution in place and know that that is what you would wish to do, finally.
  7. Its tough being tough in such situations. Depleted as you are by the enormity of the ‘event’, it takes much to even consider washing all of it away and moving on unaffected. They remain, these moments. And we become accomplished actors, portraying exceptional exterior behavior, when in fact the interiors are burning up !
  8. Makes sense ? Or are these just the ramblings of an aged somebody, desperate to find patronage to matters that are beyond his realm ? I guess the next lot of respondents shall fill me up with that !
  9. I need to retire. I need to feel secure on my recital for the 4th. I need to select and rehearse what needs to be read and presented. Bhopal is a knowledge center, a lover of literature and culture and aesthetics of the written word. Teachers and students shall comprise a majority of the audience. Some literati too ! I must make commendable representation of my surname, of the great legacy that I have been gifted with. To honor and respect what he created for posterity and for life !
  10. Good night !!
  11. Oh ! and as I end today, I have chance to glance at the papers of the morning ! And guess what the headlines are screaming ? Bhopal to be called BHOJPAL and the big lake, BHOJ TAAL … a representation to the Center has been sent seeking the execution of this request from Madha Pradesh government !

    Amitabh Bachchan

My goodness gracious ! Got my site back ! Thank you Lord


Bhopal , MP     Mar 1 , 2011      Tue  11 : 47 PM
Ohhh ! My goodness gracious ! Got my site back ! Thank you Lord ! Thank you Bigadda …
Pressed a button which said upgrade your page medium that you write on and by error it got pressed after I had written my blog for the day… AND … the entire site disappeared .. gone .. not available at all !!
Desperate I called the server and spoke to the technical team of bigadda and they have restored the site ! I would never have forgiven myself if it had gone for good. Now so many suggestions pouring in on how to behave with this technology. I shall follow all. I shall follow even those that are not asking me to follow. Just do not deprive me of this medium, please. Its like my entire life in there !!
Fine, so now I breathe easy ! And need to recollect what I wrote earlier. Ahhh ! never mind. I cannot remember now. I mean I can. But its not the same. The thrill of getting back my EF isbeyond explanation. Its like loosing everything. Never panicked so desperately ever before.
I had written earlier on my surprise and extreme joy in going through all the responses of the day and how a simple discussion or call it a debate could garner so many reactions. Overwhelming ! It has been a most rewarding day, one that educated me, informed me, corrected me, suggested to me. there were so many aspects that I was unaware of. And what a delight to be now in the know of it. I must continue this debate later on someday. It is indeed most interesting.
My apologies also to most of the EF that got left behind, without the yellow lines. I did make an attempt to answer all, but it was getting impossible to do so. One look in the mirror and the deteriorating red eyes and I had to make a stop.
I think what I initiated today on the fresh blog was the matter of relationships. Their status, their departure when associations break and how we seek the company of those we feel are in similar condition when distressed about it. It was pretty exhaustive, but now that it is gone, I feel not too keen to bring it up again at this juncture. When it needs reference again I shall revisit. For the moment let me just remain content with the fact that the entire site was not lost and is safe and been restored.
I need to rest now. Do excuse my early departure and some rather inane writing. I need to prepare for the 4th recital of my Father’s works. I need to rehearse. I need to get it correct. I need to do it so I can represent my legacy ably. A legacy that has been gifted to me by my Father and by his surname that I carry.
Good night dearest ones .. I almost lost all of you tonight … what a scare ..
Love and more ..
Amitabh Bachchan

Satte Pe Satta: Part 2


Satte Pe Satta: Part 2
If you have to name one Hindi remake that ranks even better than it's original Hollywood version, I am sure "Satte Pe Satta" would be a strong contender. Remake of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", Satte Pe Satta was a funny charming tale of seven brothers who run a farm together. Who can forget some of the most comic moments on screen. I, in particular, remember that one scene, where Amitabh is drunk and starts blabbing about how drinking is bad for the liver and how once at a wedding he was forced to drink 4 bottles of alcohol... then he kisses Amjad Khan! LOL. So, I was pleasantly surprised when this news broke to me that Raj N Sippy is remaking his own classic movie.
And I just can't stop thinking over who could fit into the roles played so brilliantly by Amitabh, Hema Malini, Amjad Khan and the rest comprising of Shakti Kapoor, Sachin, Paintal, Sudhir, Kanwaljeet and Ranjeeta. I guess it would be very difficult to match the chemistry and charisma of these stars.
Besides, I can't even imagine anyone coming close to R D Burman's superlative compositions like "Pyar humein kis mod pe", "Dilbar mere", "Zindagi mil ke bitayenge", "Mausam mastana", "Jhuka ke sar ko" and the title song "Duggi pe duggi ho ya satte pe satta". Raj N Sippy has a tough job at hand but it would be, nonetheless, very interesting to see how he fares in his second innings. For starters, he has approached Sanjay Dutt to step into Big B's shoes, which is a good decision. If any actor fits well in the dual role of Ravi and Babu, it's our own Munnabhai.

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