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Thursday, October 07, 2004

THE ROMANTICS

Flipping through the many channels on the telly ( and fervently hoping to avoid the award-winning “ Ek Rahen Vir” on the acclaimed Zoom, glories delineated earlier ), found a decent programme called “Singing Sensation “, on Zee or Sony. One episode featured Sukhvindara Singh and another Abhijeet—so although they were overtly playing to the galleries, the songs passed muster. To my horror one night, I found Anu Malik on the show—crooning his way though “ it’s raining “ ( something in me said “ it’s paining “ ) , “ India is the best “ ( which is probably true ) and the raag mian ki todi based interlude from Baazigar—mein mila tu milee etc.

They have these ubiquitous Talent Hunt contests these days and the judges seem to come from the Miss Grundy-meets-Aunt Matilda –stern, forbidding and deprecatory. I’ll stick to my leitmotif and wager that anyone—repeat anyone, can make it big in the industry he/she chooses to. Conversely, the ones endowed with the most talent may fail too—indubitably they do. I’ve never had the heart to watch the mandatory “ aap kuch kahenge” spiels dished out by the insufferable Shaan during the closing scenes of every Sa Re Ga Ma Paa contest, essentially because it breaks my heart to see someone try his guts out and not succeed.

Was jilted by the car on Tuesday, and took a taxi to the airport instead. After the perfunctory request to switch on FM had been apologetically declined , the cab driver offered to play some new Hindi film trash or Bhojpuri stuff, in the manner of an unctuous waiter playing up a dish over a more mundane and humble one. Knowing what he wanted really, I plumped for the latter.

The first song was an ode to the unseen cyclist ( er, lady cyclist ) –the mukhdas about the ardour of the singer, and the antaras about various comparisons that the writer sought to draw—with Nature. Interspersed healthily with English words ( mispronounced )

The second was a metaphorical one ( sung by someone who sounded eerily like Poornima ) on the qualities of the divine panwallah-like lover. Interesting that the region still speaks about such earthy vocations and objects . Clearly, the emphasis was on lyrics and free-wheeling ideation. The driver kept harking back to me ensuring that I had got the drift of the melodies, and that there were no gaps in translation ( of course, I did grasp the mot juste ). Could not really listen to the third as had reached my d by then.

Read through The Romantics in two sittings—one of the most impressive books that I’ve got my hands on in recent times. Not coincidentally, also one of the slowest I’ve ploughed through. Written in first person,not till two thirds of the book do we actually know the name of the protagonist-Samar. It’s the tale of a twenty-year old Brahmin student, based in Benares after a mundane University life in Allahabad, and his interactions with an English relic pining for her faraway companion, a beautiful French student living with an indigent and inadequate sitar player hoping to make good in Europe, a troubadour American and his pursuits in futility. The story is set in Benares, Pondicherry & Dharamshala, and I suspect that Mishra knew the implications of these settings well. Without spoiling it for future readers, the prose is melancholic, vivid, introspective and lingering, and I reckon the book’s foibles come a distant second to its merits. The only comment that I would permit myself is that the writing is markedly better than Amit Chaudhari/Geeta Mehta and a few others.

The channels meander on about the vast merits of the Bush Kerry Edwards Cheney imbroglios, each proclaiming a sagacity which one only wishes Americans had—strutting midgets full of braggadocio and bravura !!

Well, the reports have come out that there were only Weapons of Mass Disappearance in Iraq—but Saddam was planning to build ‘em if sanctions were lifted. Droll !

Am getting trained here in Gurgaon, and was informed by the instructor that Canada does not permit questions on gender, religion, age and the like to be ascertained during an application form. Kind of makes life very hard for the sturdy men in my profession.

India has capitulated, as always. When the going gets tough, we get going --back to the pavilion. Yeah, at the risk of alienating the last of my sports supporters.the Australia series did not have SKW & McGrath. Thus spake Zarathustra !



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