Thursday, 26 March 2009

Realm of terror...

The recent rulers of the Swat valley unleashed yet another one of their visual recordings, disclosing their latest radio announcement. ‘India is next on the hit list’ said Maulana Fazalullah, leader of the Islamist militant who runs an infamous group under the ‘Shariat’ banner. The Talibs whose regime dates back to December 2008 have a steady control over the Swat operations in the valley, the supposedly ‘Switzerland of Pakistan’. The inhabitants of the admirable former princely state are now mere guinea pigs wriggling for a democratic life amidst continual attempts of the Pakistani Government to strike peaceful negotiations with the Talibs. The imposition of Islamic rule on the valley calls for a new set of implicated norms and stringent rules. People residing in the north- west region, especially women are already suffering from the undue restrictions imposed by the Sharia law. Thousands of girls have lost their right to educate themselves, let alone a better future for the desolated counterpart. This alone implies to forlorn right to liberty and fraternity. The Islamic law has constricted the economic progress to traditional Islamic activities on the other hand, precariously put a stop to DVD/VCD sales, usage of mobile phones, listening to music and public executions.
Many months of bloodshed and warfare have compelled one-third of the valley population to flee for their lives. Taliban and Al-Qaeda stand out to be clear winners in this lopsided battle where the Pakistani Government is making desperate measures to shun terrorism. If not for the formers abolishment, let us pray for all those innocent civilians suffering in the dark over the years.

Monday, 23 March 2009

The Grimm tales-king of fantasies!

With the Potter mania racing up the entertainment bulletins, fantasies have once again surfaced brilliantly raking oodles of fame and credit. The glamorous film world, as big as it gets has umpteen laurels attached to it thanks to the parallel universe of miracles studded with magnificent castles and majestic beasts. For this, we must offer a vote of thanks to the Grimm Brothers who created a whole new world of queer magical events, a base for the glorifying progress in every possible field of entertainment that would have been least possible without such marveling thoughts.

Ever thought of getting nostalgic with bedtime stories? How about walking through the miraculous woods where trees glide along your path, giant geese swoop down to drink water possessing magical powers to turn them back to four legged creatures of our creation, ancient rock designed to form enormous castles gravely embedded with creepy greens…? If that is what you grab for light reading, then brace yourself with many more Grimm’s tales of the fairyland, this time, stories that you have only heard of. Don’t be surprised if you are slightly gripped with curiosity and hunger to know more about the tale even after it ends, that is how Grimm brothers chose to curtain the climax. After having journeyed through the paradisaical territories of Royal Kings and gorgeous looking Queens, charming princes and distressed yet breathtakingly beautiful princesses, there is more to it before you can call it ‘stupidity’ and shut the book with that statement. The Grimm brothers depict the good taking over evil with god-like fairies battling with ugly looking witches. In the end, after a horrifying phase in the lives of good men, every living being is destined to live happily ever after…

If you are too tired to churn the wheels of your imagination, then the Brothers Grimm is an easy access to their stupendous ideas. The movie has a unique way of depicting miracles, clubbing tragedy and comedy with ‘Grimm’ plots. It is an interesting summation of almost all the fairy tales with every possible element of evil associated with it. The theme revolves around the Grimm brothers, fooling people with their tricks, little aware of the fact that they were only inviting social and political complications. The fictional fantasizing world of Jacob Grimm comes true and the siblings find themselves being carried past a jungle of haunting episodes, all the way to the sky scraping tower in which an arrogant princess sleeps her way through beauty and obsession of power. She uses fleeting strategies of the swallowing horse, the gingerbread man and the forest dwellers (i.e. birds and animals) to ransom a pretty looking girl in red, Gretha –a sister to Hansel; eleven such girls for a seasoning of their youth to nourish her parched physique with warm blood and glowing skin. The princess with her seductive instincts captivates men who come along her path to make them her slaves. Her pride that lied in the reflection of her own image (i.e. the mirror) is ruthlessly shattered to bring to an end her tyrannical motives. The movie of course ends on a happy note, the usual one of the Grimm’s with an ironical uncertainty: and they all lived happily ever after…maybe not!

I don’t mind people calling them children’s bedtime stories; they have deeper messages in between the lines. For example, the ravenous beasts serving the devilish enchantresses and witches depicts their evil mindedness and no matter how beautiful she is, her attire always reflects her wrongdoings, that every tale ends on a happy note is an assurance that it is good that prevails in the end etc. To me it is all of this that yet captivates my interests in fantasies. Now I would like you to tell me what interests you in fantasies and if it does, why and how…It’s high time I put my readers to work!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Just an emotional outburst...Part 1

Honestly if there is any room for global welfare, a tell-tale for fellow humans, it is just the way we have moulded it to be. We are so boisterously absorbed in our interpersonal dealings that nothing apart from an ideally normal life seems to have amused us. The holistic protests and outbursts, military bombardments and mass mortification are no big deal, just a part of life in this seemingly vast biological world. We seem to have busied ourselves into setting up fences around us, an illusive wired entourage shielding against such perilous events. Generation today believes in practicality and rational thinking, for it is equally important to live a commendable life. Look at the world around us, a mass victim of global recession, a scapegoat of constant man-made sabotage and a mere puppet dancing in the hands of fellow nations teaming up to make a peaceful planet Earth. The melody of harmonious and peaceful foundations that some of our ancient leaders have laid is undergoing a disdainful transformation. Soaring sea levels have inflation as one of the most loyal companions , which has only recently tumbled down in recent times. However, there has been a despairing slow down of global economic progress, that scarcely justifies hiking retail prices of goods and services.Why should vendors continue selling tomatoes for twenty bucks? Speaking of retail prices, why is it that dropping recession rates have little affected vegetable and oil prices?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009


On the busy streets of Malaga, a young Spaniard is found strutting round the fisherman’s corner to go about his business. He looks around and establishes himself next to a raised platform and begins with the strumming on his guitar. Very soon, he’s found to be encompassed with doubling tourists and localiites who stop by his side on the onset of a foot-tapping rhythm. The cheerful artist breaks into a traditional number and encourages people around him to join in with beats and claps. The crowd cheers on the appearance of an eccentric dancer dressed in blood red with frills coiled round her lower body. She wins many a heart by her intricate footwork and graceful movements. The young musician strums with great enthusiasm and adds flavours of other traditional styles to enhance the joyous ambiance. The dancer eloquently adapts to his changing styles and entertains the audience with her versatility. Her performance is effortless and adds to the celebratory moods of the evening.
The Espanol culture, widely known for its richness and savory, is all about bull-fights, the Tomatita festivities, wearisome paella preparations and jigging the flamenco way. On special occasions, people overtly participate in carnivals, play with red juicy tomatoes, shove mounds of vegetables, chicken and marisco’s (shellfish) on their platter and groove to the catchy rhythms of traditional Spanish music. The Flamenco is an art form originally belonging to the gypsies’ era in the 1500s that dominates Spanish lifestyle and culture. Undoubtedly a rich source of entertainment, it is packed with emotions, feelings and deeper social messages. It is sure to leave you intrigued with the complex sequencing of the guitar chords, a hint of drama and hysterics to the style of singing and the streaming delicacy in the actions of a dancer. Flamenco takes you through ruffling layers of thoughts and expressions with its impalpable spontaneity and variance.
Originally believed to be born in AndalucĂ­a, the indigenous song-dance form is a part of everyday life of the inhabitants. To them, flamenco is a spice of passion, ground with a hint of romance and pulped with stories of bravery and courage. The mountains and the rivers, the haunting past beneath the tropical paradise have each a story to tell which is materialized with women draped in colourful shawls and polka dots, castanets and a hand on the acoustic guitar. Apart from being known for its gypsy tradition, the culture of flamenco belongs to the Arabs, the Jews and also the Andalucians. The palo or the style of music is branched into melodic, rhythmic and harmonic structures, all of which are basic elements in every form of flamenco. The instrumentation in terms of tempo and pace has undergone revolutionary changes over the last few decades. Percussion instruments like the cajon (box-drum), bongo and the tinaja have added new elements to flamenco. Today, the acoustic guitar is accompanied by a series of foreign instruments to bring out new combinations in beat and melody.
The striking similarity in the flamenco and Indian music is hardly an element of surprise owing to its vast historical events; the records date back to the emigration of Indians to the west, the gypsy settlements from the European nations and the increasing Persian influence back home resulting in the inter-mingling of cultures amidst foreign invasion. The Persian culture carried a wealth of diverse musical inputs and scattered out bejeweled ornaments of regional melodies. Today, irrespective of the ‘Indalucian’ blend as a consequence of the past, maestros worldwide have adapted to fusion forms of music for the best possible results. Popular forms include flamenco bondage with South Indian music, flamenco feat Indian tabla and blends of Indian ragas with flamenco to name a few.
A more or less seductive invention of the Spanish, the authenticity of flamenco still remains to be an argumentative issue. Otherwise known as the tell-tale tragedies of the gypsies, the flamenco in its concocted form is far more popular than the original. Albeit infamous for its erotic essence, it is a benignant practice of rejoice, a reason for sentiments to captivate and inundate every Spanish mind.

Monday, 16 March 2009


Sufism is a mystical practice that guides a pathway to actualization of truth and single-minded focus towards the Supreme One. It cultures the inner mind and soul towards selflessness and adorns it with love, purity and Divinity. It is the heart of all religions that nourishes the inner self with utmost peace and spiritual well being. The ‘tariquat’ or the spiritual path carving the nuances of Sufism leaves an enthralling effect on the pilgrims of serenity. It has its roots in the Quran of the Islamic sect and refers to profoundness of truth and its importance.
It is hard to explain the existence of Sufism without the elements of music and the sand dunes that bear its origin. Sufi music has survived through the scorching suns of Africa and the mountains of Pakistan and Iran, sailing through the Atlantic waters to spread its influence in Egypt, Palestine, Uzbekistan and India to name a few. Its widespread popularity in the Middle-East and South-East Asian countries is inevitable owing to the philosophical roots and melodious compositions. The Islamic Sufis believe that the divine practice is a means to detach one’s soul from the physical self. This can be achieved by dissolving the physical realm into an ocean of spiritual oneness. The Sufi evokes to the soul’s consciousness and transcends to a state of trance, whirling and singing in ecstasy. The trance enables complete renunciation from worldly attachments and establishes a powerful connection of the soul with God, an achievement which is rare of its kind.
The very concept of Sufism lies in sounds that enhance spirituality and music that promotes sanctity. The Dhikr is considered to be the most integral component of the rituals of Sufi music. It involves meditation to concentrate all the divine energy to reverence. ‘Mawlid Annabawi’ confines to praising the prophets who serve people as messengers of God and his teachings. The rhythmic and instrumental practices of Dhikr depict variance as per the region of practice. The ‘Nay’, an instrument used in South-East Asian nations of Pakistan, Iran and Uzbekistan is a channel through the hollowness and purity of human mind to congregate the celestial powers of God. The reed flute, as the concept demands, is indeed hollow and resonating. Another instrument often used by Sufis, called the ‘Bendir’ or the frame drum in the West especially in Morocco is a symbol of repetition that materializes into a trance. It also represents pulsating rhythms of life at different stages or in philosophical terms, the cool calm layers of water bodies beneath the lashing surfaces of deep blue seas on the onset of torrential rains, tornados and rippling quakes. Later, more instruments like the santoor, sitar and tar, derived from Persian music added flavours to Sufi.
The dervishes (or practice of Sufi music) is said to have intangible healing powers. In Morocco, it is practiced for improving physical and mental health. The therapeutic purposes are served through the concept of ‘medicating the mind’ which is conveyed through various therapies. The Sufi brotherhoods implemented other uses of such mystical practices- protection from mental illnesses, scorpion stings and haunting spirits. They have diverse ways of depicting their musical practices with complex rhythmic and melodious modes. The contemporary widespread of Sufism is through its blend with other forms of music, which are more or less the most popular methods of promoting it. The ancient carriers of Sufism philosophy such as Rumi still prevail in derived modern forms.
The flourishing culture of Sufism is believed to be as a result of the explicit teachings of Prophet Muhammad and poetic messages designed by renowned philosophers such as Rumi and Al-Ghazali. Well-acclaimed for its diversity and uniqueness, the core message of Sufism remains the same: spreading love, peace, harmony and beauty through complete freedom of one’s soul from his body.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sounds of music

Music is a gifted fruit of life-a divine multitude of delicacy richness and mellow coupled with benign sweetness. It is a world of sounds, modulated to seep through the soul and evoke a fountain of emotions to dance in merriment. In other words, it is a uniform stream of thoughts that amplifies our emotions and reiterates in resonance. Music is a journey through varied perceptions, tended and caressed with melodious inputs. Indeed an experience to cherish, music speaks the language of love, beauty, enigma, passion, harmony and peace as opposed to fear, jealousy, anger and grief. It communicates through the clinging of vessels and cutlery, honking horns and racing vehicles, running taps and splashing puddles. It flows through pearly white rivers and glittering oceans lashing out to enormous boulders. It lies in the strength of a new born who cries on its entry into the living world. It thrives within the physical self, a reason for continuance of life through the beating of the heart and a channelized flow of air through the lungs. It is a call of the first showers of rain, sobs of grief, tears of happiness and a medium of expression. It ends the day with hushed prayers and lullabies to make way for a blissful nights’ sleep and wakes up at the crack of dawn with a new commencement, a fresh series of melodious compositions to look up to.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Direful Destination

A gloomy paradise is blessed with inundated showers of bliss. The soft chattering gets aggravated to thick sheets and lashes out in rage, only to sabotage the glorious and timely inventions of the revered one. Enormous boughs and rattling branches slowly descend and shatter the pride of widened barks with violent dancing and swaying. The day succumbs to a thick blanket that leaps to encompass the atmosphere with swallowing darkness. The night feasts with great exuberance on triggered fright and frail of many a beast thriving on the delights of daytime. It is a cursed boon of which a young teenager becomes an unfortunate part, tripping and trotting her way back to the local city bus on a highway.
The girl is lost for sure and pays no heed to her grizzled hair and heavily dampened jacket. Her eyes are absorbed in self-sympathy and eagerness to seek shelter, now that she is nowhere close to a network of fellow humans. She maps her journey with every possible way that could lead her to a small town or an octroi. After covering a considerable distance from a spot of nothingness, she is back to where she came from- dense greens and lifelike trees staring back at a pair of perturbed eyes.
Albeit grappled with fear, the girl manages to spot a cave to the left of an old trunk. The cave is huge and appears gravely ominous. The girl rushes to the cave and walks further into it. Her quest for light and warmth is seized by a tug on her leg, a thick rope entangled on a horizontally placed wooden slab. She bends down to get a visible picture of the entwined rope and the wood only to discover a broken iron latch at one end of the slab. She unties the rope and pulls open the door that makes way for a flight of stairs descending downwards into pitch darkness. The girl tumbles into the doorway, although intimidated by her sudden discovery. Her curiosity however, compels her to follow her instincts, at the same time, allowing them to engrave her destiny.
Timelessness descends the wandering teenager to a place where stairs cease to exist. With every reluctant advance, a torch-light comes to life from either sides of an aisle. The aisle directs towards numerous doors sandwiched between a pair of torch-lights. The girl walks with greater pace and rapidity, intrigued by the series of ongoing events. On realizing the perpetual horizons of the aisle, she chooses to enter into one of the doorways, hoping to spend the night and kill time discovering creepy and unusual things. The door opens to a huge brown shelf full of thick leather bound books, ancient oak furniture and a webbed ceiling. She seats herself upon a comforting couch and fixes her gaze upon a pile of books weighing down a mystic brown table to her left. She picks one of them, a fairly thick black book to entertain herself through the night. The book opens to the following words…
‘… She is accompanied by an entourage of young boys and girls of her own age, chattering into the day with juicy gossip. The city bus comes to a halt and the teenagers jump out of the vehicle for some fresh air. The gang gets carried away with jittery talk and gradually drifts away from the highway to a nearby forest. The youngsters race amongst themselves only to be terminated by flashes of lightening followed by patter of raindrops. Almost every teenager manages to track down the city bus with the exception of a young girl who is left behind. She is trapped by the vicinity and is confined to dense greenery surrounding her from all sides. She walks deep into the forest and enters a huge cave for shelter. Very soon, she discovers a secret passage underground and walks into the doorway. She strides down the aisle and is benevolently guided by the torch-lights through the door that preserves a storehouse of leather bound books. She sits down and begins to read the story of her journey from the city bus to the mystified aisle. This book depicts her destiny and the place where her life will come to an end. She is soon to be devoured by four ravenous cannibals, eyeing her for a lavish feast comprising of succulent flesh and bones…’
The girl gives out a violent smirk to resist the adrenalin captivating her insides. She diverts her gaze from her book, to stare into a pair of jet black eyes coupled with rigidly cracked lips. The ferocious being seems to have replicated into three of his kind to leave the girl faltered with immense terror. They crouch towards her, craving for a rush of warm blood behind the pinkish epidermis and a bite into the flesh of the victim. They stare into the caricatures of the nerves that make up her terribly aghast face. Their propinquity swipes her ability to scream for help. There is little time left for her as the cannibals with their huge claws are almost ready to make her written fate into reality…

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Dilli 6

The devouring darkness of the night is taken over by a speck of bright light, dominating the enormously squatted city of New Delhi. The light blankets, circumvents and bombards the already bustling streets of Chandni Chowk with delightful pomp and splendid celebratory ambience. On the gracious occasion of Ram Navmi, a stage is embellished with multicoloured props and numerous stage lights. Masked men are seen pondering over the huge dais with their torsos bejeweled with armaments, coloured clothing and bizarre strokes of paint. It is an auspicious event embraced with great generosity by all those who are a part of it. The soil of the venue suffers a great deal from the constant dancing of happy feet rushing to see the play. The sutradhar (narrator) is the first character to be witnessed by the peacefully seated audience. He amplifies the narration with a touch of cultural and social beliefs, leaving a deeper message of morality and righteousness behind. The channel of intense emotions leaves everyone intrigued of the sequential events to unfold. On the onset of an effectively melodramatic scene, Goddess Sita is stopped short of grieving over her fate by a promotional campaign of a political party. The representative of the party greets the audience and begins with a spluttering of strong Hindi diction. The end of days play is indicated with the successful publicity of the political party for the upcoming elections.
Delhi 6 is all of the above; a place of people who brace many more of their kind to live together harmoniously. Every hint of joy is momentously captured and preserved, only to be flushed by intimidation. As much as Mr Producer has promoted the typicality of chandni chowk, he has the root cause of cultural disparity put into action. The entry of kala Bandar shows the first sign of fear and triggered insecurity which alarmingly spreads through the common masses. The black figured criminal is only used as a means to surface ones possibly existing sense of fear. The supposedly haunting Kala Bandar controversy becomes the talk of the town, a reason to be alert and cautious and a fun filled gossip among the pickle and papad blenders (the female counterpart). The hero comes into picture amidst the controversy and unknowingly becomes a part of it. His sole purpose of coming ‘home’ is to fulfill his granny’s last wishes of ‘perishing on the Indian soil’. Chandni chowk fascinates the protagonist as much as any tourist would be on his first visit. Streets are jammed with posh four wheelers teaming with evergreen cycle-rickshaws, hawkers and vendors selling foodstuffs and pedestrians walking to and fro. There are showers of religious prayers adding a touch of integrity to the diversified nature of the place. Delhi 6 seems ever ready to welcome anybody who wishes to explore and experience.
Further, there is an episodic flow of daily events flavoured with melodious inputs. Rahman adapts to every situation and brings out the best of his technical abilities to blend with the colours of Delhi. He adds a touch of Sufism to portray the significance of Muslim dwellers and their religious passions. To add to his appreciative skills, he makes way for his musical scores to mingle with changing spheres of circumstances. Delhi 6 is a musical journey of romance, love, religious beliefs, traditional outputs and the sigma of the above four-Indianness. The heroine (Bitto) is shown to have a typical nature of a Local Delhi girl who is on the quest for a successful career. A very common phase which most of the female counterparts may have experienced is the scene where the girl is shown jumping out of her traditional to go western. Like every other innocent girl, she is fooled by a localiite who promises her an easy entry into the popular musical stage ‘Indian Idol’. She is bounded by traditional ties and family norms that permit little or no exposure to worldly issues. The protagonist shows her a ray of hope to fight all atrocities which is flopped in vanity by her own people. The conservative nature of Indian families is clearly evident in this phase.
There is not much of a romantic roller coaster highlighted, but the concept of romanticism is enveloped by religious boundaries and superstitious beliefs of the masses. There is no element of surprise when untouchability is shown to be a part of peoples daily practices. A woman belonging to that section of the society is deprived of following her own religion and is also detested with a strict degree of confinement. As opposed to peoples scornfulness, she chooses to stand by them to resolve an undying social conflict. Bitto's passion taken for a mountain of despicability is royally suppressed to preserve self- esteem and respectability in the society . In one of the scenes, her father is shown to bribe a family into ‘buying’ his daughter for a couple of silver ‘sikkas’ out of desperation. There is little sense of morality when situations are out of hands. Meanwhile, the Kala Bandar controversy continues to perturb many minds and evokes religious disputes amongst the inhabitants. The widely renowned Baba inculcates a feeling of disparity and secularity falls prey to caprice. There is a wide spread rumour of the pre-existence of a Hindu temple where a Mosque stands. Political rivals raise issues on religious insecurities and blame the opposition parties for it.The terror spreading through the deadly monkey man is precariously used as a weapon to contest elections. Hindus fight over Muslims for their right and Muslims are seen defending their culture. Climactically, there is an outbreak of a religious war which persists till the ‘Kala Bandar’ is finally witnessed. It is only after the Bandar is impulsively shot, that the masses realize the root cause of such pointless commotion. The movie ends with a social message which defines the true concept of the movie ‘Kala Bandar thrives in every heart that nourishes fear and suspicions; he is very much a part of our own existence…’
There may be strong reasons attached to the movies failure at the box office. To me, it is all that takes to make a sensible movie out of a meaningful concept.