Saturday, August 17, 2013

There was a need to search my Father’s works today

Jalsa, Mumbai             Aug  16/17,  2013                 Fri/Sat  1: 35 AM

There was a need to search my Father’s works today, to be able to reignite curiosity in his and the concrete philosophy of his theosophical interest. For long it became his obsession, and perhaps rightly so to penetrate deep into the reason and reactions of theosophy, of why there was an attraction to it. Not just between the readers, but from those that he encountered during the time of his life. Was it this curiosity that made him respect and research WB Yeats, that great Irish poet, who himself had been not just a great admirer of this literary belief, and I say this with utmost concern, for there could be many that have never considered theosophy to be of any literary interest, but, one that incorporated its themes and learnings in his own written works - potent enough to have coerced my Father to write a thesis on his occultism, and gain what could be termed as the first Indian that attained a doctorate in English Literature from the University of Cambridge.

At that age and stage for Yeats to have interest in and learning from the influences of both the West and the East, particularly from the Indian scriptures, the Upanishads and the influence he must have had from the great minds of the initiators of this trend from the likes of Mohini Chatterji, Rabindranath Tagore and Purohit Swami, from these parts of the universe, along with those from his regions of the West .. from the Cabbala, Sweden-borg, Boehme and Blavatsky … is truly quite remarkable !
And then to have incorporated them in his poetry and written works is what his eminence is all about. It is no wonder then for me to accept the impression that aptly described my Father’s attempt to interpret it as ’ an infection of nobility’, some tincture of high breeding, a literary tact, a sureness of judgement … virtues and many other that gave relevance to the book called ..
"WB Yeats and Occultism by Harivansh Rai Bachchan"
There is much that needs attention, and much that needs to be understood in a realm which we have seldom penetrated. But verily there shall be occasion when we do …
'Knowledge must elevate itself from the realm of truth above illusion. It is not easy to stare into the eyes of truth and keep calm.'
Good night dear Ef … I think this post may well have driven many into deep slumber ..
Amitabh Bachchan

This day the 15th of August our Independence day

Jalsa, Mumbai            Aug  15/16,  2013                Thu/Fri  2 : 03 AM
 The devastation caused by the unprecedented flooding due to a cloud burst at Uttarakhand, the northern region of the state of Uttar Pradesh, the rush and speed of the water in the rivers at that high point, at Kedarnath one of the most devout destinations among the Hindus, a temple where millions travel through mountainous terrain to worship, was a disaster that caused hundreds to perish. Many have still not been dug out of the debris that the flooding left behind. Houses temples built along the sacred river have submerged into the river in its fury. Near and  dear have been lost. Those that recovered and were saved due to the valiant and brave efforts of the Army jawans, have not been able to unite with their loved ones. The loss and the degree of the horror still haunts us all.
As a fraternity, we decided to hold a Telethon for 7 hours non stop to collect funds in whatever manner to bring succour and some semblance of relief to those that lost all. Tonight we all went on the television to do our bit for the victims of this disaster. Many of us performed live in front of a large audience and many spoke and helped in garnering funds so that some material benefit can be brought to those that have and still suffer.
And that is what we all did … many artists performed, many lent their voice and presence, many spoke to the countrymen to make generous contributions … and to give immense credit to the people of our country they came forward in plenty. I think by the time I came on, they had already collected close to 10 cr rupees … all of this shall go in helping those that have no homes, clothes, lost relatives and exist today in dire circumstances …
Shankar Ehsan and Loy the music trio had composed a song for the moment, with the lyrics of Prasoon Joshi, a poet and writer of eminence, his most recent work being his screenplay and lyrics for the film ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, and I had recited it to their rhythm, which was shot and played for the audiences. Along with that I had brought along a few of my clothes - a Harley Davidson jacket, and a few silk shirts to be auctioned, and the funds be given to this most noble charity. I do hope it fetches a  substantial amount, so that a sizeable amount can be given to the Uttarakhand enterprise ..

The setting at the newly constructed NSCI Stadium, where ShahRukh and myself speak for the cause and my poetry plays on the screen to the music of the SEL music ..
Mika … that singer with the unusual voice and one that has been churning out great hits in the recent films, performed as well and came back stage for a victory sign ..
Raveena Tandon .. that little girl who came up to my knees not so long ago, when her Father Ravi Tandon was directing me in ‘Majboor’ was a part of the telethon … lovely to meet her after working with her in BHTB ..
Shahrukh and me being led to a frenzied press meet after the show, sharing a laugh at a common joke ..
with Shahrukh on stage urging countrymen to donate generously ..
….. and making a point or two about help, environment, the importance of freedom, on this day the 15th of August our Independence day .. all in all a most satisfying evening .. one, most essential and worthy ..
Thank you India, for your gesture … let us wipe the tears of those that shed them in distress and pain of loss …
Amitabh Bachchan

The year that India got its Independence from the British

Jalsa, Mumbai      g 14/15,  2013          Wed/Thu  2 : 08 AM

It is day 1947 , and what a coincidence .. it is the year that India got its Independence from the British .. Aug 15, 1947

Nitish S Murthy … a very happy birthday on a most auspicious day - 15 th August … love peace togetherness always …
There is something about your own flag. There is always something about your own identity - your name your country your place of birth your parents - your flag ! Once you hold it beholds an entire nation and its nationality. Who ever did think of the flag. The flag to signify who we were, in battle, in life in everyday living.That flowing square or triangular piece of cloth, bearing the connotations of what the identity represented, became the symbol of all that one could represent, in ownership, in connection, in pride and in honour.

Sticking the flag of our nation meant conquest, not just of another region, but conquest overt the beliefs and principles of the nation it represented. Raising it to a mast gave it its dignity. When it flows above our land or any land, it gives us a possessiveness unseen and unheard of. When it is draped around you it lends itself to a certain grace never seen before - the ultimate. In victory it gives us the power of our winning. It adorns all that we admire and give the highest form to.

Seen at various forums, it creates an emotional bond. It cheers for you, grieves for you too. Its pride of place is always higher than any other. This piece of cloth attains so much more than just its presence created and made from material !

Long may the 'tiranga' live and long may its relevance in our lives remain ever !

Jai Hind … and Happy Independence Day .

The Front Row’: Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan on The Front Row With Anupama Chopra
On this week’s “The Front Row,” film critic Anupama Chopra is in conversation with Bollywood veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan. He talks about icon status, aging gracefully and why he’s always in search of the perfect shot.

Edited Excerpts:

Anupama Chopra: Your character in “Satyagraha” has been described as a new age Gandhi but Prakash Jha [the film’s director] has consistently denied that he was inspired by Anna Hazare.  So tell us about him – who is this man, what are his motivations?

Amitabh Bachchan: He is a retired principal of a school. He is moralistic and very conscious about society, social events, what’s happening in the country and he really wants to impart whatever he has learnt and gathered through his years to the people he is teaching. He comes across a young man who is filled with modern concepts of this generation, of greed and of business.  Money is their main intent in life.  Various circumstances take place in the course of the film and the story and he discovers that there are many things that are wanting in the system and which the young are unable to achieve or get any response for. Along with his son and the hero of the film, Ajay Devgn, they get together to form some kind of a system to revolt against the system. Obviously, the preachings of the revolt are peaceful. It’s really a story about a father who has lost his son and a son who is in search of his father.

Anupama: Prakash Jha was describing how you work.  He said you would show up at 8.45 for a 9 am shift. And after doing the shot you would say, lagta hai aap khush nahi hue mere shot se [It looks like you are not happy with my work?] He says he would keep asking you, itni bhookh kyun hai? So what was your reply, why are you so hungry?

Mr. Bachchan: It’s important for me to know whether the shot that I have given is correct or not. Sometimes you go back to your hotel and say, “Gosh! I don’t know whether this was right,” and so there were many times when I would ring Prakash Jha up and tell him, “I don’t know if we did this correctly and can we possibly do this again?” And he has been very accommodating. I think these are very normal procedures that go on in an actor’s mind. We are never totally satisfied. It’s not to take away from the expertise of the directors that they work with, but even after that coaching there is a certain element, which all actors feel within themselves, whether they have actually performed well or not. I think a very discerning actor would want to search within and find out whether this was actually right or not. And if there is an alternative, I don’t know about the others but I would certainly like to hear it and perhaps be given another opportunity to perform it.

Anupama: I had posed this question to Aishwarya [Mr. Bachchan’s actress daughter-in-law] also – the Bachchans are such an iconic family so when you as individuals are signing roles, does the last name become a hurdle? Do you consider your stature, your reputation, how people view you? Or do you respond instinctively and if you like the role, you’ll do it no matter how transgressive is?

Mr. Bachchan: I think the concept that you have of ‘iconic’ is in the mind of the people outside. It doesn’t impress me and doesn’t ever have space in my work. I don’t think about that. But yes, I want to do something which is challenging and good.  When you are playing the typical leading man of Hindi escapist commercial cinema, you are perhaps confined doing certain things and nothing more. But I think as you age, you are no longer bearing the responsibility that normally comes on the shoulders of a leading man and therefore you are free to do many more experimentations.  That’s a wonderful phase. Sometimes when we have digressed and gone beyond what the audience might think, they have given their opinion and not gone to see the film or criticized you so heavily, that you begin to think, “Maybe I shouldn’t be doing that.” But I still feel that as an actor, if I am challenged by something irrespective of the demands of the audiences, I would like to go ahead and do it.

Anupama: The sociologist Shiv Visvanathan wrote a lovely line about you. He said,” Stars like Rajkumar, Dharmendra became wax dolls while only Amitabh discovered the secret of perpetual youth by learning to age.” Was there a conscious decision on your part to make peace with aging and becoming something other than the traditional Hindi film hero?

Mr. Bachchan: I think this is a very important decision that most actors have to make. There is somebody younger, somebody better than you who is going to be taking your place and this is life. The sooner you realize it and the sooner you accept that fact, the better for you. There are many that don’t and when they don’t they either just partly slip away and retire and say, ‘We don’t want to get into that phase,’ and that’s perfectly acceptable. But there are some that want to continue. I felt that I needed to continue and I am okay with that. There is always going to be somebody who is better than you and more popular than you as time goes by. If you are a true professional, you will accept that. I was very quick to understand that when I walk out with Shahrukh [Khan] or Salman [Khan,] the crowd will look at them and not at me. As opposed to 20-30 years back when the reverse would happen. When the camera goes on, whether I am performing a role to my satisfaction, to the satisfaction of the director or not, that is all that I am bothered with.

Anupama: As we embark on the  67th year of Independence, what gives you the greatest hope for India as a country?

Mr. Bachchan: I think the youth. We are the largest youth population in the entire world. Youth have always guided the progress and the future of any nation. Look what’s happening in our own film industry and the youngsters that are coming up. There is massive talent, not just in the performing arts of acting but in direction, production. Look at the women that are now working on film sets. Where did you hear of this earlier? Never. So, don’t you think that this is an indication of a progressive nation? I think we need to be proud about that.

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