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Archive for the ‘Shantanu Moitra’ Category

I’ve survived my first semester of med school. Hallelujah.

After a torturous last month, we finally were handed a wimpy two week break, but at that point I would have literally taken anything. One week has already rushed by: how depressing. In this next week I need to get back on the horse or the fall will be really painful and dangerous!

Before coming to terms with that reality, however, I took an evening with the parents to go catch 3 Idiots in the theatre. My hopes were high, but still pretty realistic. I came out of the theatre wanting to run back in for a second show.

My dad said it best…after a long, long time we watched a movie that was thoroughly engaging, hilarious (but clean), touching and kept you guessing. Not to mention visually beautiful, with terrific dialogues (and delivery) and music that really fit it. My dad, mind you, has not LOVED a movie since probably the Hrishikesh Mukherjee period. Its difficult to make him laugh, but he was literally laughing the entire first half. Which, for me, is another reason to love this movie 🙂

3 Idiots is filmy, very filmy. At the same time, its philosophy is real, and everything in the movie clearly works hard to touch you in the audience, and affect you with its simple lessons even while you’re sitting there guffawing along the jokes. That takes me back to the movies I used to love as a child, movies like Golmaal. You have the good, well-meaning boy who has to resort to hilarious tricks to fight the system which is bent on an old-fashioned, robotic method, complete with a mean despot with a mustache. He gets found out, but he succeeds in changing the environment and somehow warming that despot’s cold heart. In essence, the story isn’t that new, but its been dressed up for the times, and it draws on the lives of youth going through the education factories today. The result is something refreshing, and wonderful, and heart warming. Hirani and Abhijit Joshi (screenplay) work wonders in transforming the predictable into something unexpected. Sometimes its the witty dialogue, sometimes the presentation (eg: Raju Rastogi’s family), sometimes its the way the greatly talented actors work with what they’ve been given, sometimes its the way things unfold. Not a single moment passed by when I wasn’t wholly engaged and engrossed by the movie.

I’m glad that the movie is only VERY VERY loosely based on Bhagat’s book, and the creative licenses taken by the makers do good for it. There’s no mistaking that the story overall is fantastical. But at the same time, the world its set in is all too familiar for any kid who has spent any time in the Indian education system (or, perhaps in any system of brutal competition…say, med school?). Every kid from 2 to 110 in the theatres can relate to the world these idiots are in, and if you were educated in India the nostalgia might be enough to make you the loudest one in the hall. You empathize with the idiots from the start, and the actors do a tremendous job in making you a part of their struggle and their story. From the moment Farhan Qureshi walks through the doors of the intimidating university, you’re there, and that kind of involvement does wonders for the experience of watching this movie.

3 Idiots is a platform to talk about the problems of earning a robotic education in a brutally competitive environment, a stage to loudly declare and illustrate that a system based on mindless, rote memorization which suppresses creativity, individuality, self-learning and motivation is toxic. We’ve heard those statements before…its an echo from every rebel movie you ever saw, and the idiots are another set of new-age rebels. But in Hirani and Joshi’s talented hands, you don’t get endless monologues and didactic speeches, and with Aamir Khan and Boman Irani you don’t get painfully over-dramatic and endlessly long standoffs. You get simple, condensed, straight bits of philosophy which make their impact and stay with you long after the movie has ended. You get appropriate drama that stays light. The movie isn’t afraid to discuss the pressure on the average youth today, or the student suicides that result from the exhausting environment, yet it doesn’t give you a self-righteous lecture about it. Hirani maintains this quality from his Munnabhai movies, and for me at least, that is one of the most endearing aspects of a Hirani film. Its still a Bollywood movie, its still filmi, but it makes a statement, yet it doesn’t tire you in the process.

I have loved Shantanu Moitra from the time I got hooked on Shubha Mudgal’s Ab Ke Sawan, but I have to admit I wasn’t too crazy about the music till I saw it in the movie. It fits perfectly, and I now own the OST (its available on ITunes, fyi). Swanand Kirkire is one of my favorite lyricists who is heard from too little, and he does a fab job, keeping it light where it needs to be and deep where it needs to be. Its a sensible, suitable soundtrack, and it fits the setting completely. When its mixed with the fantastic photography…whoa, what an effect! Behti Hawa Sa Tha is a great example…the hills of Shimla look simply astounding! And my desire to travel to Ladakh intensified about a zillion times, making me more envious of this prolific traveler (he’d probably judge better if the shots were true to life, but they looked amazing to me). Shaan is at a personal best in this same song, and I thought he was a great choice for this song, and so was Suraj Jagan for Give me some Sunshine. Sonu Nigam is good, but he didn’t really blow me away as he can, except maybe in Jaane Nahin (which probably has more to do with the sequence itself).

Aamir Khan is changing Indian cinema with every film he does, and he’s doing that while looking freakishly young. I couldn’t fathom how he’d play half his age, but he does it, and I bought it. Dude has to be on something. I’m hugely biased towards R. Madhavan, so I can only say good things for him. Sharman Joshi I always knew was talented, but I think this is the first time I sat up and noticed him carefully. All three had amazing chemistry as friends, and they embraced their characters with such enthusiasm that you felt like embracing them all. You can’t leave the theatre without a tinge of envy that you weren’t in their gang. I endured Kareena and she didn’t disturb the flow (for which I’m thankful), but girlfriend looked older than Aamir. Omi, who played Chatur, I’ve seen for the first time, and he had the power to steal the scene in many scenes. My mom loved him! I’m impressed by the accent he maintained throughout. Boman Irani is no doubt an artist, and I think this role will be my favorite for him. His lisp and the way he carried himself was just too good. And the kid who played Millimetre was hilarious and a skinny bag of endearing spunk!

Despite all my praise, the movie is definitely not without its faults. It could have been shorter and could have been tightened, it could have easily been a little less filmi, and it could have done without some sequences completely. And I’m sure plenty more…but on the whole, it leaves you happy and satisfied, and right now I’m really choosing to look over the faults!

I write long reviews, and they become longer when I haven’t written in ages. Watching this movie was uplifting, and I came out feeling happier than I have in a long time, and aching to get back to writing. I’m easily affected by art, and this film affected me in the best way possible, and it came at just the right time. It was nice to be reminded that at the end of the day, not all of us are made for the rat race, and running the fastest won’t bring you peace. Success isn’t defined by your rank in the race but your willingness to follow your heart and work hard for your dreams. Free thinking isn’t a crime, and to think for yourself is courageous and necessary. There will always be someone taunting you and always someone trying to push you down, but they can only have that power if you give it to them. And at the end of the day, love and friendship will be the best measures of your wealth. As long as you have those two, aal izz and will be well.

All cliches? Perhaps. All things I (and perhaps we all) need to be reminded of? Definitely.

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Happy New Year y’all!

happy 2009

Wow…another year takes its bow and leaves. Good riddance, I say. Though on a personal level this year has been a mixture of both good and bad, it definitely hasn’t been a good one for the world in general. I’m looking forward to a new year that will hopefully bring it with it brighter days, more clarity, more strength, greater hope…that will just be better than the year that has gone. Wishing you all joy, peace, and health in the new year!

I’ve just seen my parents off at the airport and it has sunk in that the holidays are truly over…always a difficult pill to swallow. This is my favorite season (the most wonderful time of they year!). I hate to see it go. I have a lot to look forward to this year, but currently my body and my mind are loathe to show much activity and movement. We just wants to lies arounds and do nada. Ennui sets in. I’m in danger of simply becoming a zombie, so I thought that some writing would kind of push my body and brain into circulating some thought and action. Or, yunno, I’m just procrastinating more.

Anyway, I present to you my list of favorites in music and some other miscellaneous categories :)) These opinions are just passing thoughts and just personal opinions, and probably valid to change hour by hour. If you’re a regular reader, you probably know my love of adjectives is never ending, so please to keep in mind the use of hyperbole, kthx.

🙂

Best Bollywood Soundtrack: I think that in comparison to 2007, 2008 showed more innovation and experimentation, but still came short of impressive work. There weren’t that many albums that stood out to me this year, and I barely added any to my library. But even if I didn’t exactly love them, I will say that there was definitely a greater variety in the music out there…more directors, more singers, more styles being played around with. That’s a big step up, and it makes me look forward to the future of Bollywood music.

That said, for me the best album of the year was Yuvvraaj. Apart from my obvious bias towards Rahman as a long term loyal fan, I pick Yuvvraaj because it was so amazingly refreshing for me. And it was a very experimental album for him, this third one this year. I haven’t seen the movie and will never see it (eww to what I’ve heard about it), but that isn’t necessary with Rahman, and especially with Yuvvraaj. From Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, to Ada, to Yuvvraaj, Rahman has taken impressive steps to revolutionize his music and change the flavor each time, and do it with the same magnificence. His music is alive, pulsating with life and rhythm and personality and character. And so, yes, it takes time to get used to each new album, but once you do, you absorb it completely and just revel in it (or atleast, I do). Tu Meri Dost was simply lovely…with its high peaks and its low softness, its fantasy-like quality…Mastam Mastam had a quality of freedom, of rebellion, of carnivals and of tolis set out to celebrate…Shano Shano was downright club music with twists and turns that baffled initially but drew you in soon enough…Zindagi was rich in emotion and ached with pain and angst. New voices appeared throughout, and familiar voices showed new talents and capability. Each time I listen to the album, I discover new nuances, new feelings, new emotions, and understand new aspects of the lyrics that actually makes it an experience each time. That’s a golden album for me.

Best Non-Bollywood Album: If you’ve been to this blog even two times you can guess it. Avengi Ja Nahin was miles ahead of anything else this year, anywhere. In fact, I feel it could be miles ahead of its time and its generation. I don’t know how much it was appreciated in India, but Rabbi is an undisputed genius. I’m literally left breathless by how amazing this album is, and how I discover new things in it each time. Read in depth reviews here and here.

(And don’t take just my word for it…see Deepak Iyer’s list for the year gone by here for further corroboration)

Best Filmi Song (Lyrically and Melodically): This was a tie for me between Khwaja Mere Khwaja and Ek Lau. Amit Trivedi’s lyrics for Ek Lau are undoubtedly amazing: they are simple, beautiful, touching. In a few lines, he says so much of such great importance. He conveys the dilemma of the human being, the pain and angst of our world as it stands today, and the confusion of the normal human caught up in all this conflict. Shilpa Rao’s voice is delicate, soft, trembling with emotion, and adds as much to the song as the lyrics and the music do. It is a masterpiece.

Khwaja Mere Khwaja is complex, not easy to grasp, but from start to end it is seeped in devotion, faith, in deep emotion and religious love that is quite powerful to listen to. The Sufi touch envelops you and the lyrics, once understood, mesmerize you. The call touches you, the desire of the devotee to reach his Khwaja is touching, and it involves you, it raises you. If you close your eyes, you may find yourself at Ajmer Sharif… (but please, with none of the terrible actors in the scene from the movie: I almost walked out in frustration at those expressionless zombies).

Best Non-Filmi Song (Lyrically and Melodically): Without hesitation: Ballo, from Rabbi’s Avengi Ja Nahin. Possibly the best song written and composed in recent times. The best song all year in any category. It has made my list of life time favorites, and I think it is a rare gem, as is Rabbi. I possibly don’t need to say more than I’ve already said here.

Most Melodious Song with Disappointing Lyrics: This is a unique category, but I find some gems every year where the music is just outstanding but the lyrics fall far behind. It is my belief that a great song is made up by just the right combination of lyrics and melody and the right voices (I don’t mean lyrics must always be super meaningful or symbolic, but they should hold substance of some sort, even if its mushy substance). But, I must admit, a large part of my library is made up of songs that sound oh-so-good but mean so little if actually thought about. Of course, the trick is not to think about them. 😉 In this category, the prize goes to Hawa Sun Hawa, in Rahman’s Ada (lyrics and translation here). I can’t bother myself to look up who wrote them, but homeboy sure lives on cliches and over used mushy lines. Seriously, hasn’t the woh kaun hai bit been done to death? Raaz, yaad, uske bina, aaja re aaja…aiyiya, seriously, how can a song be so cliched and overly lovey? Haven’t we moved past that by this point? Not to mention the many lines where the song simply goes to into random words to fill in space (aaja re aaja re aare…!!), and I don’t know if Rahman isn’t a little bit involved there. Lyrically, the songs he’s been choosing haven’t all been very good in recent times, which is slightly disappointing to me (Shantanu Moitra, for instance, always seems to give music to songs with substance, such as the recent Sajjanpur and the older Ab Ke Sawan). Also, don’t tell me you can’t have a love song without 100% cliches…Ek Meetha Marz De is a fine example. I love romance as much as the next woman, but, seriously, lets have less of this and more of that. But the music of the song…aah…SPELLBINDING. That’s how I still manage to listen to it.

My Favorite Male Playback Singer in 2008: Mohit Chauhan. I used to love Silk Route when I was a child, and when he came back as a playback singer, I was delighted. It means I get to hear his voice more. Tum Se Hi in 2007 from Jab We Met was arguably a pop gem (if only I didn’t harbor deep suspicions about where Pritam got that tune from, I would love it even more)…so was Guncha a few years ago, and this year he sang Kahin Na Laage (from Kismat Konnection…another Pritam…aiyah), and then the beautiful Moitra song, Ek Meetha Marz, which sealed it for me. Sure, I’d love to see him add some more variety to his portfolio in the year to come, but I can’t deny that I love those songs mostly because he sings them so well. Sonu Nigam in Hawa Sun Hawa almost took this spot, but then I had had too much of the drawing out of words…

My Favorite Female Playback Singer in 2008: Shreya Ghosal. I’m generally someone who doesn’t really love super sweet voices (honestly, they grate on my nerves at times), but Ghosal is different. From her debut a few years ago, girlfriend has grown and grown and just become better and better. On one of the music competition shows for children, Pritam or some other idiot told one of the little girls she sang better than Ghosal had for a particular song…I think I gaped for about a minute and then said something unladylike, before switching channels. Ghosal is one of the most promising singers of my generation, not just because her voice is so lovely and melodious, but because she makes an effort to expand her styles and pick up varied songs, and because it really seems like she works hard. She packs feeling and emotion into her work, and that is what a great singer maketh. From the most recent Kaise Mujhe from Ghajini, to her bit in Tu Meri Dost Hain, to her small but memorable part in Khabar Nahin…this has been a Ghosal year, and she deserves to be lauded for her work.

Singers I’d like to Hear More From: Vishal Dadlani makes great music with Shekhar, and they both sure do sing well. So please to sing more! Dostana was a fun, light album, but definitely exposed how much potential Vishal has as a singer. Benny Dayal is a new discovery…by Rahman…and I don’t know who this dude is but I would definitely like to hear him more. His voice on Yuvvraaj is full of promise: please don’t disappear! We don’t get to hear Shilpa Rao enough, and the same goes for Srinivas.

**That ends the Hindi music side. I can’t comment much on movies, actors, actresses etc because honestly nothing really caught my eye this year. I will say that Bollywood is finally growing up and I’m very proud of it for doing so. Provocative, mature, sensible and slick cinema is now being produced, which is excellent. I didn’t catch enough of this yet to really name any ones that stood out, but I do have great hope now for the film industry.

And now onto the other half of my music library…my favorite Korean pieces this year. My handicap here is that I don’t always understand all the lyrics (a lot of other times, I’m not that bad in getting the gist, or I look em up :)). But that just means the music has to prove itself more. There was some great music this year, but definitely not at par with the year before in my opinion. Going through my library I realized I really haven’t added much to it since 2007, at least not to the same level. Hoping 2009 will bring more great music from an industry, especially from the Indie and Rock scene…

Best Drama Soundtrack: If there weren’t that many great dramas this year, there also weren’t that many great OSTs. Unlike past years, from which I have quite a few favorites added to my collection, 2008 was seriously lacking. Who Are You wins simply because I enjoyed it so much while the drama was going on, and that had to do a lot with the placement of the songs/instrumentals and the way they fit into the story. Thinking deeper, I think Gourmet has greater quality, and more substance, and some very impressive pieces (especially Gyung Hab, with its Arabic twists…wow, what an instrumental).

Best Album: Alex’s My Vintage Romance. Yep, even I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I do like Clazziquai and have always loved Alex’s voice, but I didn’t have humongous expectations when I started listening to it. But many of the tracks have become favorites and his voice just has this quality…it can really fit into the mood of the song, it can smile, it can express pain, it can be flirty, it can be romantic, it can be calm and sober. He really plays with many different styles in this album, and does quite well. Highlights are Lets Clasp Our Hands Together (깍지껴요 ft Gaeko) and Love (사랑하오), and Daisy.

Favorite Song: Umbrella, by Epik High, and ft. Younha. I’ll tell you a secret. This year, I had to loosen up on my Epik High fanaticism. My respect and admiration for them is still as great as ever, but neither of their two albums really did much for me this year, except for bright spots here and there. I’m not sure why. All of their other work has spoken to me, so I’m not sure what happened here. Maybe I should go back and re-listen and re-absorb. However, Umbrella was still impressive…dark, gloomy, full of angst and lyrics that made you ache…in other words, completely Epik High.

Song I Didn’t Expect to Like: But did. Mirotic. Definitely not a DBSK fan, and probably never will be, but this song was very…mirotic. Also, their dancing in the MV and on their on-stage performances is excellent and always supremely polished (with many “how the…what the…huh?” complex steps), and that makes the song even more attractive. But, seriously, are these boys actually real or programmed, too good looking robots? (Shuts up and won’t tag for fear of fan wrath ;))

Disappointed in…: Clazziquai’s most recent album, Metrotronix. I mean, it is just too much techno and electro for me. And it just doesn’t have…the it quality that their other work has had. Of course, I have the one song featuring Yi Sung Yol. That’s a given, ain’t it?

Year End Bang: My Aunt Mary’s Circle. I haven’t given it too many listens yet but what I have heard, I’ve loved. And how good to have them back on the scene. Thomas Cook’s voice never gets old, I tell ya.

My Wish for 2009: 이승열 (Yi Sung Yol), won’t you please release another album? We’ve been waiting patiently! Hearing you twice a year on OSTs or featured on other singer’s albums is simply not enough. I’ve worn out volume 1 and volume 2, and a new volume would be the perfect present this year. Nothing in the world quite like his voice…

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Its midnight and time for me to turn into a pumpkin! Or maybe just time to eat a guava. Don’t ask me why. Go grab your own midnight snack.

Happy 2009!

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Ek Meetha Marz De Ke, from Welcome to Sajjanpur. Sung by Mohit Chauhan and Madhushree. Music by Shantanu Moitra.

The HK Magazine gave me a horoscope that I thought was pretty funny and cheerful, and made me feel good:

For many people, 10:30am is the single best time of day to come up with fresh insights and new ideas. But that won’t exactly be true for you in the coming week. I mean, 10:30 will be a time when you’re likely to be really smart, but then so will 11:30, 1:05, 2:37, 3:46, and 4:20. For that matter, 6:35 may also bring a gush of high intelligence, as well as 7:27, 8:19 and the last ten minutes before bedtime. What I’m trying to tell you, Virgo, is that you’re in a phase when being brilliant should come pretty naturally.

Me likes. Maybe a sign that I may not embarrass myself completely for Nanowrimo? (not sure about that, though ;)). I also like it because I’m only completely awake past 11am usually, so it makes sense 😉

Thanks to Shivya for the music recommendation…Welcome to Sajjanpur is great! One of the reasons is Shantanu Moitra, the music director, who is one of my favorites, but someone whose work always sneaks up quietly. I always hear about it too late (except Parineeta). He’s so underrated. My favorite tracks are the one above and Bheeni Bheeni with the lovely Shreya Ghosal and KK. I still have a crush on KK’s voice. I also realized that Sajjanpur sounds really interesting, must watch it! Shyam Benegal, after all, and the storyline sounds sweet and simple and funny, like the movies of yesteryear I love (Golmaal…Khatti Meethi…*sighs*). Anyway, it sounds like a good, meaningful watch.

Yesterday I gave in to an urge to watch a Bollywood movie after ages and gave Dostana a try. I cannot tell a lie: it did have me in splits, and overall it was good timepass. It was less offensive than I thought it would be, i.e., it didn’t have my irritated/annoyed self glaring at the screen (for the most part) at ignorant gay jokes. I don’t agree with the way they did it, but I think talking about homosexuality is atleast a start. Even the fact that the community is beginning to accept it in humor is a start, and we’ve also moved past the stereotype overly-effeminate playing of a ‘gay’ role. That’s growth of some sort, right? Basically, for a subject like this, any talk is good, at least to bring the subject out of the big closets where its hidden. Like, Coffee Prince for instance. I adore CP for many reasons, but I remember thinking at the time that it was a good way to push a conservative society into broadening their minds without even realizing it. Anyway, Dostana was quite funny because of Abhishek Bachan and Kiron Kher. John Abraham just looked good and pretended to be doing more than just being there. Priyanka Chopra is quite pretty, so she didn’t have to try as hard. Kiron Kher’s few scenes stole the show. Love her. Abhishek pulled off his role quite well, and he can be quite natural. I thought the ending was the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen (well, I shoudn’t say that with Bollywood ;)), seriously, it pretty much ruined everything else, but I still had a good laugh for a Friday night.

On the subject, I’m way too excited about Ghajini. Have only heard one track yet (Guzarish) but the combination of Rahman and Aamir Khan has to equal magic!!

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