Nov 26, 2009

Bhagwan - Bholi Surat Dil Ke Khote

A sorry cover of The Illustrated Weekly on India in 1990 - the year of the weekly's demise after 112 years. The top left picture is that of Bhagwan.

Bhagwan, following on suggestion by Raj Kapoor made a film called Albela - staring himself and Geeta Bali. The film had music by C Ramachandra. The songs are still popular and the dance step used by Bhagwan was so popular that it became the default dance step of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

Bhagwan did try to duplicate the success of the movie with the same cast, but failed two times - the movies were called Jhamela and La'Bela.

He fell on really bad times. He had to sell his bungalow in Juhu and seven cars (one for each day of the week) and move to a chawl. Most of his associates left him in his time of need - except for C Ramchandra, Om Prakash, and Rajinder Krishan who used to pay him visit in his chawl apartment. Sadly, Bhagwan outlived them and died a sad man in 2002 at the age of 89.

Mario Miranda's Mumbai

Mario Miranda is a native of Goa, but he spent time working in Mumbai and capturing city's spirit. He depicted citizens of the city as bug-eyed cosmopolitan community suffering under lazy, ignorant, and self absorbed politicians. He packed people very closely with traffic, shops, and stray dogs. Policeman with protruding tummy and chicken legs, crying babies, pickpocket - the whole Mumbai on a page for you. Then there was a buxom secretary Miss Fonseca, office clerk Godbole (Marathi Manoos) who was bullied by his boss, and a film actress Rajni Nimbupani. They all shared the potholed roads - just like the Mumbai we know.

Mario does not have a formal training in art, but his natural talent saw him freelancing as a cartoonist and illustrator while he was an undergraduate in St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. He got his first break with The Illustrated Weekly of India when it printed few of his cartoons. Then came the rejection when The Times of India rejected his work the first time. However, the paper began to give him assignments a year later. In 1959, he went to Lisbon, and was awarded the Gulbentuan Scholarship. He worked in London for a couple of years, even washing dishes to tide over tough times. After that was a stint in the US, working with Charles Shultz, of ‘Peanuts'. Then it was back to India, sketching for The Times and its sister publications.

He received Padmabhushan in 2002.

More from Mario Miranda.... Still more Mario Miranda.

Nov 25, 2009

Bar Girls, Save Us

Here's an interesting take on the
ban on the Mumbai bar girls and the terrorism of 11/26. Some of Mumbai's citizens believe that bar girls would be better at protecting them than the politicians. Tongue n' cheek - of course.

Thought Provoking Ads regarding 11/26/08

Thoughtful Ads capturing the essence of Mumbai's response to the 11/26 attacks by 10 terrorists from Pakistan.

Miss International Air Hostess - 1964 - Reeta Roy

Those were the days when the flight attendants were called Air Hostesses. In 1964, Air India Air Hostess, Miss Reeta Roy of Mumbai competed with other 15 air hostesses at an event held in Brisbane, Australia. She was the winner.

11/26 Anniversary

A Mural across the Chabad House where six people were killed by the terrorists during the 11/26/2008 attacks on Mumbai.

Nov 13, 2009

Lata Mangeshkar's 80th birthday interview

How do you define the journey?
I feel God has sent me to earth to sing. I started singing when I was five, but I don’t think I’ve worked as hard as many other people.

Why do you say you that?
After 1947 when I started playback singing, the work never stopped. Before that it wasn’t easy. I used to travel by train from Grant Road to Malad and then save money by walking instead of taking a tonga to the recording studios. I thereby saved 50 paise to Re 1 which I used to buy vegetables for my family. I was the sole bread-earner after our father passed away.

That must have been really tough on an adolescent girl.
I missed out on my childhood. I had to work hard, but I was immediately given a place in playback. One of the earliest composers to support me was Master Ghulam Haider. When he was told that my voice wouldn’t suit the heroine in a Dilip Kumar saab starrer Shaheed, he gave me songs in Majboor. Then other composers like Anil Biswasji, Khemchand Prakashji and Naushad saab came forward to sign me. From 1947 onwards there was no looking back.

There has never been a rough patch in your 65-year-long career?
I’m blessed. Nowadays I’ve almost stopped singing film songs but I enjoy singing and I continue to do the work I’m comfortable with like the recent Hamuman Chalisa and my forthcoming project with my brother. When I look back I see nothing I’d like to change.

What about your infamous rift with Mohd Rafi?
I’ll tell you what happened. We had a Musicians’ Association in the 1960s . Mukesh bhaiyya, Talaj Mehmood saab had started a campaign for artistes to get royalty so that they would have a comfortable old age. Main to leti thi royalty but I also wanted other artistes to get it. Rafi saab was instigated into opposing my campaign. In a meeting among musicians he said, ‘We get money for what we sing from producers and that’s the end of what we get.’ When he was asked his opinion Rafi saab turned to Mukesh bhaiyya and said, ‘I guess this Maharani here will say whatever has to be said.’

He meant you?
Yes. I said, ‘Of course I am a Maharani. But why are you calling me that?’ He said in front of everyone at the meeting that he won’t sing with me. I turned around and said, ‘Yeh kasht aap kyon kar rahe hain? Main hi nahin gaaongi aapke saath.’ I stormed out of the meeting and called up every music director to inform them that I would thereafter not sing with Rafi saab. We didn’t sing together for almost three years.

What about the alleged differences between you and your sister Asha Bhosle?
We’re sisters. The fights were because of her husband who was against me.

Composers gave all the heroines’ songs to you and all the supporting actresses’ songs to Ashaji ...
Not always. What about so many films where only Asha sang all the songs? In fact OP Nayyarji worked only with her. Even some of Burman dada’s scores had only Asha’s vocals.

That’s because you and SD Burman had a fight.
I didn’t sing for him for 14 years. Someone had caused mischief. Burman dada said, “I won’t have Lata sing my songs.’ I said, ‘I won’t sing for you.’ Asha sang all the songs for Burman dada during that period, even for Waheeda Rehman who insisted on me singing for her. Then one day out of the blue, Burman dada phoned me and said he wanted me to sing Mora gora rang lai le and Jogi jab se aaya tu aaya mere dware in Bandini. It was his son RD who brought us together. I remember Burman dada specifically told me that Mora gora rang was written by a promising new poet, Gulzar.

Who was your favourite composer?
I liked singing for Salilda (Salil Chowdhury) because his compositions were very challenging. I also loved singing for Sajjad Husain saab, then definitely SD Burman dada and RD. But in my opinion the biggest achievement was by Shankar-Jaikishan. With Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat they changed the way we looked at playback singing.

At one time you were accused of indulging in a melodious monopoly?
Once I was even asked if I tampered with the equipment during other singers’ recordings. Bataiye main kyon aisa karun? I never bothered with what other singers were doing. When Runa Laila came to India for the first time, I went to her first recording and everybody said I was just indulging in dikhawa, that in fact I had gone to see how she sang. Runa Laila met me with lots of affection. Later she too was poisoned against me. Even some male singers accused me of trying to stop them from singing.

Which heroines did you enjoy singing for?
Nargis, Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Nutan. I’d modulate my voice according to their personality.

Among today’s actresses for whom do you enjoy singing for?
I like Rani Mukerji and Kajol but I miss the camaraderie that I shared with the earlier heroines. I miss that mahaul. I really miss Kishore Kumar, also Rafi saab, Mukesh bhaiyya, Shankar-Jaikishan and Madan bhaiyya who fought with me when I couldn’t be with him for raksha bandhan. That sense of apnapan is gone.

Any unfulfilled dreams?
I wish I had given more time to learning classical singing. Lekin jo hua woh bahut hi achcha hua. What I want is that future generations of Mangeshkars keep my father’s legacy alive. My niece Radha and nephew Baijanth are singing well. I wish they make a name for themselves.

Do you miss having your own children
Not at all. My siblings’ children are mine.

Lata would nominate Sachin for Vishwa Ratna

Q: Like yourself, there seems to be no limit to Tendulkar's genius too. The entire country is celebrating his 20th year in international cricket. How do you look at this monumental achievement?

LATA: My heartiest congratulations to him. I have seen Sachin right from the time he made his debut as a sixteen-year-old. Since then, he has gone on to climb dizzy heights, he's got married, raised a family, and somehow remained the same humble man throughout. It's really amazing to know he has been around for 20 years. I greet him and his family. May God bless him and may he go on for another 40 years!

Q:You have been an ardent admirer of the game, from Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin. What do you like about Tendulkar when he graces the crease?

LATA: Like Sunil Gavaskar, there's a comforting thought that Sachin will hold the fort, that Team India is safe. Though each stroke is a stroke of genius, I have a distinct liking for his straight drive. I also admire the way he looks up to the heavens every time he completes a half-century or century. It means he is thanking God for blessing him, and that's a great thing. Who can forget the 1999 World Cup, when he played on even though his father passed away midway through the tournament? Sachin took a break to attend the funeral and returned quickly to score a century, then looked up to the skies to seek his father's blessings. It was a very touching and emotional moment for every Indian. The poignancy of that moment has stayed in the minds of all who watched that knock. I am no exception.

Q: If you were asked to play favourites between Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin, who would you pick?

LATA: To be honest, it's difficult to pick one. They played in different eras and both brought laurels to the country. Sunil had his own distinct style while Sachin is in a class of his own. Both are legends in their own right. Having said that, I think Sunil retired a bit early. And what else can I say about Sachin? The fact that Don Bradman, the greatest batsman ever, was reminded of himself while watching Sachin bat is the best tribute he can ever get.

Q: Talk us through your first meeting with Tendulkar.

LATA: Although I don't remember the first time, I remember having met him once at Raj Thackeray's residence. That was on his birthday, on the 24th of April, which incidentally is also my father's death anniversary. I got a call from Raj requesting me to come over to meet Sachin. Since it was his birthday, I asked Raj what gift I could get for the young batsman. I remember we all sat outside, chatting. I presented Sachin with an idol of Sai Baba. As I did that, Sachin touched my feet and said, 'you are like my mother'. Usne mujhe maa ka darja diya. I was really moved.

Q: He is passionate about your singing, and that of Kishore Kumar's.

LATA: I know he likes to hear my songs and I feel humbled. He has also been to a couple of my concerts. But he never came up to me to say, 'I am here.' That's his greatness. In fact, I didn't notice him the first time he was there to watch me sing. The next time he came with his wife. I think it was in Mumbai or Pune. My brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar informed me that Sachin was in the audience. Then I noticed him and said 'namaste' from the stage.

What I really like about Sachin is that despite being a great player, he is so humble and down to earth. I know he has broken so many records, done the country proud and won so many awards. For doing all that and still conducting himself respectfully all along, I think, he deserves a Bharat Ratna. Why just a Bharat Ratna, I would like to honour Sachin with a 'Vishwa Ratna'!