Friday, October 31, 2008

Bandhu Rangila Re - Inimitable!

A character sketch of SD Burman. (This was written in 2006 for the souvenier released to commemorate his birth centenary )

Reconstructing a personality behind a name is always a challenging task. More so if the person concerned left the world thirty one years back. Those early decades when SD Burman was most active as a musician, have only scattered footprints remaining today. No one recorded interviews those days. If they did then they are lost in the dungeons of AIR.  That is the hurdle we face when we try to discover Dada Burman, the person. A few magazine interviews, an odd radio program, scattered writings and his songs are the channels through which Sachinda speaks to us from his youth. 

What are we left with then? A small number of photographs, first hand accounts from Manna Dey, Meena Kapoor, Gulzar and Manohari Singh that we took especially for this feature. And then there is the richest road map - Ameen Sayani's rich library of recorded interviews. It is with these motley pointers that we will embark on our journey to meet the man behind such mesmerizing music. 

Let us first sift through the pictures. What do we see? A tall, stately figure dressed in an immaculate white dhoti and kurta with shining gold buttons. An unsmiling face looking into the camera. 

Cut to another image. A balding plate, an old wrinkled face with a kindly visage looking heavenwards. An indulgent patriarch? A Buddhist lama? [he was often mistaken for one we discover

And then another image. A suave young man in a smart buttoned up waistcoat worn over his starched dhoti kurta.. The young prince of Tripura.  A handsome royal but with an unsmiling countenance even back then! 

The basic impression one draws from this sketchy montage is of a serious person. Burman Dada comes across as a traditional, straight jacketed and austere person regal in stature. We always see him dressed in a simple dhoti kurta even in the most dazzling functions. 

We cut off from the pictures and fish out the CD of Aradhana. The 1969 anthem 'Roop Tera Mastana' blares out. Sultry, urgent and heart thumping, this song was a rage in it's times. Could the same Buddhist lama-like person have created this compulsively sensuous song? The dichotomy is striking. 

Aradhana comes out... in goes Funtoosh, a 1956 delight from the house of Navektan. Dev Anand, in a rare farcical outing, is reveling singing Dene wala jab bhi deta poora chhappar phaad ke deta. Sahir is whacky and Kishore gets a free run. 

Funtoosh comes sliding out and vintage Bangla songs get the stage. A faint crackle, some hissing and the sound of catchy tabla beats dimmed by the passage of some 70 years set the stage. And then a powerful voice wafts out almost breaking through the wear and tear of time. 'Oi Dushtu Papiha Bole Piya Piya'... Teasing. Mischievous. Who is the singer? Reach out for the CD cover. Singer: Kumar Sachin Dev Burman. Same as SD Burman? 

Contrasting images emerge from this exercise. The dhoti kurta clad patriarch does not tie into the naughty sensuality of  'Raat Akeli Hai'. The arrogant prince does not flow into the simplicity of 'Sun Mere Bandhu Re'. The real Sachin Dev Burman continues to remain an enigma. 
We turn to accounts of people who knew him for direction. Anecdotes start flowing in... A multi-hued, vibrant picture starts emerging from behind the white dhoti kurta-canvas. 

Work first...... 
“Burmanda was a nurturing boss" recalls arranger Manohari Singh. "He would give his team the freedom to nurture their individual styles. His humility was such that he would take a suggestion from even a junior musician if it was good”. Demanding when it came to quality and generous when it came to praise, Dada would often reward his musicians with (what he considered) a princely amount of ten rupees! His ultimate token of appreciation, however was one that he would reserve only for select favourites like Lata, and that was his special Kolkatta paan. A paan offering was the ultimate compliment anyone could get from Sachin Dev Burman.

Shakti Samanta recalls " In the early days Burmanda and I would travel together by train and tanga. He would often use his paan to trade in a ride on the tanga." Dada used his paans as one would use gold asharfis... sometimes to barter and sometimes to reward. 

Dada was quaintly thrifty in his ways. His habits are recalled with much amusement today. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, then a flutist in his orchestra, laughs about the incident when he got Burman Dada annoyed by polishing off a bowlful of rasgullas. This he did just as Dada closed his eyes to think of a tune!  So miffed was Dada that the next day he commented to Lata "See Lota today his (Chaurasias) flute is so sweet, you know why because he ate so many sweets at my place!" 

If Dada was possessive of his rasgullas, his paans were his lifeline. Meena Kapoor, recalled that Dada had once cancelled his recording with her because he forgot his paan dabba in the train. "He was too upset to record", she smiled. Sachinda had admitted to his paan love in an interview once "A good paan goes a long way in building the mood for composing", he opined.  So famous was he for his paan obsession that he inspired poet Shailendra to pen the famous 'Paan Khaye Saiyan Hamaro'!. 

Dada finally paid a tribute to the paan in through a medium he best loved... a bhatiyali song. Penned by his wife Meera, the song 'Ghaate lagaiya dinga paan khaiya jao" was sung with great zest by Dada. The frugality in Sachinda's  ways however did not touch his music. To his music he gave all he had. In fact when it came to a question of his music or football Dada could transform into the most hospitable host. This was discovered by Kishore Kumar one fine afternoon. Over to Kishore 


There was a time when I was very busy with my acting and was not available to music directors. Much to Burmanda's frustration this included him as well. One day Dada called me up and complained 

"Kishore you don't love me any more". 

'What are you saying Burmanda, that's not true" I protested. 

 "OK if you really love me will you come to my place today afternoon? "

"Don't worry I shan't pester you for a rehearsal". 

 "Then why are you calling me?", I inquired suspiciously. 

"Nothing, I just want you to have lunch with me". 

"Lunch?", I was very surprised. [refer to incident with Hari Prasad Chaurasia]. 

In the afternoon when I reached his home I was greeted with a lavish spread. There were the choicest of dishes on the menu and I was pampered silly by Burmanda. After the very scrumptious lunch I said to him, "Dada, what a wonderful lunch. Now I must take leave and proceed home for a siesta". 

But at the very moment Burman Dada caught me in a vice like grip and shouted out to his servant, "Aye, Quickly lock the door from outside" and then he turned to me with a mischievous glint in his eye and said "Now Kishore how are you going to run away? You have no choice but to sit for a rehearsal. What did you think I treated you to lunch for nothing?" !!! 


"Dada's sense of humour was impeccable. He would make us laugh and laugh" revealed Manna Dey when we interviewed him for this commemorative.  Despite his legendary status and royal background, SD Burman was a simple person. He never cared about materialistic things like status etc... He stayed in a modest hotel for very long. He used to say to me 'Come eat with me then we shall go to the studio together'. We would then sit on the bench of the hotel and eat. People would wonder over his behaviour, after all he was a respected and successful music director. But he never bothered.  He was above it all." 
His favourite lyrcist, Shailendra's son Shaili Shailendra recalled another incident about Dada. "There was a time when my father and Salilda (Chowdhury) realised that something needed to be done about the veteran artists who had come into bad times. After toying around with idea for a bit they took it to Sachinda for his opinion and blessings. Dada listened to their plan of setting up a charity and encouraged the noble intentions". "Dada", said Shailendra,  "Since you approve of our plan so much, we would like to make the auspicious beginnings with your blessings. How much will you contribute to the cause?". Sachinda thought for a long time, scratched his chin and then said, "Shailendra, mukhda to bahut achcha tha lekin antare mein aake thodi si gadbad ho gayi..... "

Sachin Dev Burman  could infuse music into almost anything. Legend says he once proposed to give music to accompany a hockey match! 

The talk of hockey brings focus to Dada's other great passion... sports. He was an avid sportsman in his youth. A state tennis champion, he did very well in cricket as well. "At the YMCA in Calcutta, the British players would avoid me initially because I was an Indian", Burmanda wrote recalling his early days, " but then I befriended the marker there and practiced consistently and improved my game so much that soon they all wanted to play with me". Burmanda  carried the same zest for sports to his autumn years as well. He used to root (predictably) for East Bengal and would follow all their matches zealously. The routine was set. Before there was a match, he would invite the team for dinner [a great gesture given his tight-fistedness] and give them tips on the game. 

God forbid if East Bengal lost a match, everything - recording, rehearsal etc. would be cancelled.  "If during a match Mohun Bagan hit a goal against East Bengal then Sachinda would get very upset. I was a Mohun Bagan supporter. So often after a goal, he would order me to get out of his house", laughs Manna Dey.

 Burmanda was also an avid fishing buff, another habit he carried over from his Tripura days. He would often go to Powai lake for fishing with Mukul Bose and Guru Dutt. A regular morning walker, he would be out in the streets early in the morning. It was in these times that most of his tunes would strike him. "Burman Saab was a nature lover; he would always want to incorporate sounds of nature in his songs" said Manohari Singh. The romance of the seasons would never leave him untouched. Kishore Kumar fondly recalled moments when Burmandada would turn up on a beautiful overcast day, hijack him out of a recording and spirit him off to open fields in the outskirts. 

"Dada remained an impulsive child at heart right till his last moment" recalled his favourite 'Lota' (nightingale Lata Mangeshkar). "His music was his toy".  Gulzar Saab reaffirms the observation when we met him in Bombay for this commemorative. "He was a child at heart. Choti choti baton pe rooth jaate the , Majrooh (Sultanpuri) Saab would often say Burman Dada is a big spoilt child!". But he was also very humble. Despite being such an acclaimed composer he would always be anxious that his precious tune would be rejected!  A strong critic of his own work, Burmanda is reported to have called up a reviewer and admonished him for giving a favourable review to one of his own soundtracks that he did not hold in high-esteem. "You praised my work, which according to me is poor. You should have not done that.  It is not good for a critic", he explained.  Such great humility is a thing of the past now.  

"Dada used to make a grand picture", continues Gulzar.  "I vividly remember he would emerge from his evening bath dressed in crisp white. He would then sit on the harmonium, pour himself a small drink, tie a gajra around his wrist and start composing. His one drink would last him all evening." 

Asha Bhosle adds another stroke to this vibrant portrait in an Ameen  Sayani interview.  "He would often ask me to tie the gajra around his wrist. "You are my child aren't you", he would say affectionately. "Dada", I would ask him. "How do you manage to create such youthful, vibrant tunes at such an advanced age?" He would just laugh it off and say "That's a secret". Dada aap bahut rangeen hain I would admonish and he would laugh heartily like a child." 

Dada aap bahut rangeen hain...

Asha's off-hand remark encapsulates SD Burman's personality succinctly. Hermitlike yet passionate, childlike yet introspective, humorous yet temperamental, eccentric yet rooted, stubborn yet humble. Dada's persona had shades and hues that rarely come together in a single person. He truly was as unique  and inimitable as his music. 

Dada would often say to Manna "Music mera bhai bhi hai, beta bhi aur bandhu bhi" Dada Burman dedicated his lifetime to music and nothing probably describes him better than the folk song that first beckoned him into this magical world 

Bandhu Rongila Re..! 

See Also

The Burmans - A Tribute

Today is the 33rd Death Anniversary of Sachin Dev Burman. The month of October also marked the first death anniversary of his wife Meera Dev Burman an accomplished artist herself who assisted Dada for many memorable films.

On this occasion I pay my respects to the maestro whose music continues to give me moments of immeasurable pleasure.

As a mark of tribute to the Burmans I have uploaded some rare Bengali songs on youTube. These songs are from Dada's late 40s output with Hindustan Records and include two duets between SD Burman and Meera. I am also posting a character sketch of Dada that was written for the occasion of his birth centenary in 2006.

Read the character sketch here - Bandhu Rangila Re - Inimitable!

Click on the link to view the song (note they are all non-film bangla songs)

1. Ke Chhilo Ghum Bhangaye - Singers :Meera and SD Burman, Composer : SD Burman

2. Banshi Tomar Haath Dilam -Singers : Meera and SD Burman, Composer : SD Burman

3. Jhan Jhan Jhan Jhan Manjira Singer : SD Burman Composer : (based off a famous bandish in raag nat behag)

4. Tui Ke Shyamer Banshi Re - Singer : SD Burman Composer and Lyrics : Jaismuddin(bangla folk poet)

5. Shyam Roop Dhariya - Singer : SD Burman (Bangla Folk)


See Also

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Right or Left?

One side-effect of the economic downturn is that the blokes left hanging(on a single thread if I may add!) on Wall Street like yours truly have a lot of time to while away. Projects have been scrapped and funding withdrawn and the few people that are being tolerated, because some critical element is linked to them, are usually just waiting around(and hoping) for some disaster to happen so that they can be jerked out of their boredom into doing something constructive.

So what do you do in your spare time apart from reading depressing news on Yahoo finance and discussing US elections ?

Yes and No!

Yes - Faltu surfing on the net is the activity of choice.
and No - That does not include MSDN and other technical sites(alas! I could never be the model IT person)

So then what do we surf? Apart from exchanging health articles, (the resident obsession of my workmates), and reading up abstract concepts on this world(my past-time exclusively), we take a whole lot of quizzes. You know the types that explain all screw-ups in your life by giving it a fancy medical term? Or the really insightful ones like - What you were in your previous life (guess who I was - Pablo Picasso!)? What is your personality type? What colour are you? etc. etc.

Facebook has a bulk of the quizzes and the rest are at They are quite amazing and a good timepass.

I took an interesting test yesterday that determines which side of the brain is dominant in your personality. The left is the analytical and logical side of your brain and the right is the creative, abstract and emotional side. The left is more detail oriented and the right looks at the larger picture. In most people one side dominates. But there are a small percentage that work with both sides. It seems that I belong to that rare tribe of people with balanced brains. This means that the left side and the right side of my brain are equally dominant.

To pause for a minute, isn't it fascinating? The brain is analyzing the brain!
Anyway, that explains a lot of things. It explains the dichotomy between an unsatiable desire to seek the larger picture, to expand the canvas and put things, people and events into their true context and a constrasting fetish of seeking and analysing minutes details. I am a lefty(with the hand and not politically- duh!) yet I use the right hand for a large number of my tasks. I write and eat with the left and play badminton/tennis and harmonium with the right. It also explains why I am always on the 'other' side in any kind of grouping . For emotional people I am too analytical and practical and for analytical people I am too emotional!

What really strikes home though in the last part of the analysis. Here is what it reads

"The down side to being balanced-brained is that you may sometimes feel paralyzed by indecision when the two hemispheres of your brain are competing to solve a problem in their own unique ways."

Aha.. now it all makes sense. The fence-sitters of the world are redeemed. I can now happily blame all my indecision on the balanced brain. So all you folks, if you spend 20 minutes deciding which toothpaste to buy and 20 hours deciding what you want to do on the week-end and 20 years deciding what to do with your life, do not despair... it is just a very balanced brain that sits in your skull!
I have setup a poll. I would be curious to know if the visitors on my blog are left brained, right brained or (off)balanced like me!

Here is my brain analysis


That means you are able to draw on the strengths of both the right and left hemispheres of your brain, depending upon a given situation.

When you need to explain a complicated process to someone, or plan a detailed vacation, the left hemisphere of your brain, which is responsible for your ability to solve problems logically, might kick in. But if you were critiquing an art opening or coming up with an original way to file papers, the right side of your brain, which is responsible for noticing subtle details in things, might take over.

While many people have clearly dominant left- or right-brained tendencies, you are able to draw on skills from both hemispheres of your brain. This rare combination makes you a very creative and flexible thinker.

The down side to being balanced-brained is that you may sometimes feel paralyzed by indecision when the two hemispheres of your brain are competing to solve a problem in their own unique ways.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Guru Dutt: Genius? (Introduction) - 1

At the outset let me lay out my disclaimers bold and clear. I am not a journalist, I am not a film critic and I am not a student of cinema. And however much I would have loved to, I never took a course on film appreciation either. Hence my opinions are all the unfettered rambling of an average film-goer and are based purely on instinct and observation.

The month of October marks the death anniversary of Guru Dutt. It was on 10th of October 1964 that the sensitive actor-director abandoned life in a late night over-dose of sleeping pills. Guru Dutt Shivshankar Padukone or Guru Dutt as he is better known has been widely acknowledged as a path-breaking genius who gave Indian Cinema some of its genre defining classics.

The Burden of Genius
Genius.. it is a mantle that sits heavy on the shoulder it chooses to adorn. Not only for the restlessness and turmoil that is inherent to its constitution but also for the back-bending load of myths and legends that the world tends to heap on it. Guru Dutt's shoulder has been exceptionally burdened, with the legends of his genius and with the myths of his checkered life.

His was a life that chillingly imitated art, its own art….

I have often wondered how much of the world's evaluation of artists like Guru Dutt is colored by the tragic nature of their life stories. Would KL Saigal have been as big a legend as he is if he had lived till his voice starting faltering, a la Lata Mangeshkar? Or conversely imagine if Lata had not lived beyond the 1970s (may God bless her with a long life!), I daresay her legend would have surpassed even that of Miyan Tansen. On second thoughts, maybe not… The legend of Tansen after all is fuelled by imagination and in today's age live recordings ensure that imagination does not have as free a run. Yet, it is suffice to say the myth of Lata Mangeshkar would have been far greater than Lata Mangeshkar herself.

In similar vein, Guru Dutt's myth has been largely fuelled by his life story. It is difficult for even the most objective reviewer to sit through 'Jaane woh kaise log the' and not associate it with his checkered love life, or to watch a broken director slump into eternal sleep in Kagaz Ke Phool and not think his suicide a couple of years later. The critical opinion on Guru Dutt has witnessed a maniacal swing over the decades. From the times when his films were written off as pieces of self-indulgent celluloid trash to the times today when even his lesser films are heaped with superlatives, the pendulum has only seen the extremes. In such circumstances the truth and hyperbole often mesh into one single gooey mix making it difficult to navigate the true strengths and weakness of an artist.

Even though world regularly doles it out like easy alms, the truth is that genius needs to be acknowledged with care. Talent and genius are as similar as innovation and invention. Not every great talent is a genius. It is a good practice to sometimes stand back and question genius, sacrilegious as it many seem. It is almost always an eye-opening exercise. Thus here is that attempt to look at Guru Dutt the artist, without letting the legend of Guru Dutt color the mission.

Guru Dutt contributed to Indian cinema in the capacities of an actor, director, producer, choreographer and writer. While his entry into the film world was as a choreographer in the film 'Lakhrani', his output as an actor/director/producer is his real claim to fame. Film historians largely remember Dutt for spear-heading the noir movement in Indian cinema, for pioneering works in the field of cinematography, for his sensitive performances and mostly for the lyrical treatment of all the subjects that he chose to explore.

Let us examine each of these roles in some detail

As an actor, Guru Dutt acted in about 16 films, most of them for directors other than himself. His acting career was a product of frustration. Tired of trying to get Dev Anand, (his lead actor of his earlier films) to abandon his mannerisms and skeptical of pushing him too hard and ruining their friendship, Dutt decided to don the greasepaint himself. It is a record that for all his films, he had another actor in mind before he took on the role himself. Being an actor by compulsion, he never really excelled in the craft. His performances can be rated as adequate at best. He did well with the brooding roles that immortalized him however it can be argued that films like 'Baaz.' 'Aar Paar' and 'Mrs and Mrs 55' would have benefited with a more suitable actor(read extrovert) playing the lead role. One has to admit that acting was not where Guru Dutt's genius lay. We need to turn to his role as a director to justify the accolades heaped upon him.

As a director, Guru Dutt is largely identified with his semi-autobiographical brooding classics 'Pyaasa' and 'Kagaz ke Phool' and over the years they have come to be the brand ambassadors of his cinema. However any half-serious student of cinema also knows that this characterization is not completely accurate. Dutt's repertoire boasts of a decent variety of genres. There is the swashbuckling high sea drama (Baaz), the dark love story(Jaal), the social satire (Mr and Mrs 55) and most prolifically the desi noir (Baazi, Jaal, Aar Paar).

Noir was introduced to India in the early 50s. Even though this genre evolved in the Hollywood of the 1940s, it was not before post-independence that Indians found a social context for its adaptation. Sangram (1950) was one of the first few films that ventured into the territory. However it was Guru Dutt's 1951 debut -Baazi that is best remembered for blowing the bugle of noir in India.. The birth pangs of a newly independent nation saw a large scale migration to cities and young-men placed out of their social context and protection often took to crime in desperation. These films introduced a sympathetic outlook towards this underdog which was a marked digression from upright and moralistic stance of pre-independence India.

It was legendary actor Balraj Sahni who co-scripted Baazi along with Guru Dutt. The film admirably entwined the song-dance format into a genre that is genetically dark and brooding. It can be argued that the elements of noir stayed with Guru Dutt long after he moved onto other subjects, particularly in the lighting of his shots. However, despite the memorable output and pioneering adaptation, Dutt's contribution to the noir movement was essentially in the successful 'parathasizing' of the pancake, a skill that Indian cinema has mastered to a perfect art over the years. It is also a credit he shares with other directors like Raj Khosla and Vijay Anand.

To be continued in part 2

Originally published at the Passion for Cinema blog at this link

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Leheren Apni Humjoli Hain

youTubing this fine saturday morning I bumped into an old favourite. It is a song from the 1952 film 'Jaal'. Having a compulsive weakness for fisherman songs there was no way this song would have escaped my radar (let me confess, in moments of intense introspection I have often wondered if I sat selling wares in a fish market in my previous life).

But it is not only the fragrance of the fish that draws me to the song, my usual landmarks are all there too - SD Burman, Dev Anand, Guru Dutt, Geeta Dutt, Geeta Bali and Sahir Ludhianvi.

The thing that always strikes me in the song is the spunk of the two Geetas. I have always believed that the actress and the singer were kindred souls. Geeta Bali lights up the screen and Geeta Dutt the aural space. There is SD Burman with his characteristic upbeat tune in one of the rare fisherman songs without the Bhatiyali touch. There is Dev Anand his usual charming self(though strangely singing in a female voice.. go figure) and there is Guru Dutt behind the camera and for a fleeting moment in front of the camera as well (spot him!).

My heroes in a song keep changing with every hearing. Today as I watched the song play out I was struck by a stab of reverence for Sahir Ludhianvi, the lyricist of the song. What Sahir has written here in this song is not mere filmy poetry. It is pure literature. To sample

janam janam se apne sar pe toofano ke saaye
lehren apni humjoli hain aur badal humsaaye
jal aur jaal hai jeevan apna kya sardi kya garmi
apni himmat kabhi na toote rut aaye rut jaaye.

'jal aur jaal hai jeevan apna'. What beautiful use of alliteration and how beautifully and succinctly he has captured the ethos of the hard working fisherman community that is the showcase of this film.

So without further analysis-paralysis and verbal diarrhoea here is song. Click on the link below to view it.

And here are the complete lyrics

aangan mein baithi hai machheran teri aas lagaaye
armaanon aur aashaaon ke laakhon deep jalaaye
bholaa bachpan rastaa dekhe mamtaa khair manaaye
zor lagaake khench machhere dheel na aane paaye

janam janam se apne sar par toofaanon ke saaye
lehren apni humjoli hain aur baadal humsaayejal aur jaal hai jeevan apnaa kyaa sardi kyaa garmiapni himmat kabhi na toote rut aaye rut jaaye.

kyaa jaane kab saagar umadhe kab barkhaa aa jaaye

bhook(h) saron par mandlaaye moonh khole par phailaaye
aaj milaa so apni poonji kal ki haath paraaye
tani hui baahon se keh do loch na aane paaye

P.S I put this post for a spell check on the Gmail spell checker and I got a strange message ' Spell check is not supported for Somali, the English words will be checked. Iam quite intrigued, does Hindi have many words with Somali in common?!

Note : The lyrics have been put out to the RMIM Jury, I will update the page once this song is on Giitayaan.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama Wants Osama - Not Good

I just finished watching the presidential debate.  Here is a scribble with  some initial impressions...

Even though I have been rooting for Barack Obama since the day Hillary was out of the race, I must say John McCain made more sense today than he ever has. Esp. when it came to foreign policy issues.

Indians, by and large have been quite pleased with Obama in the recent past. Infact they have been jumping up and down clapping their hands in glee. After all Obama has been after Pakistan's case with a vengeance and we Indians love it when Pakistan gets a rap from the world community. The same is story on the other side of the border. India and Pakistan at the end of the day are nothing but squabbling siblings who continually get taken for a ride because they cannot resolve their own issues.

However Obama's opinion that the United States should use force if needed to get Bin Laden out of Pakistan made my hair stand on the end. First is personal. I have dear friends in Pakistan and wouldn't want war to come to their country. At a political level this is scary because it displays the same egg-headed thinking that the US has the moral right to invade the sovereignty of any country to serve their agenda without as much as bye-your-leave. This also tells us that the US has no friends. They could shower you with funds one day and invade you the other. This is the attitude that led to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. And that is the case that is being built against Iran and now Pakistan.

What we need to see clearly is that if the US under Obama gets into Pakistan the likelihood of the country degenerating into anarchy is almost certain. In such a scenario it is not only Pakistan, but India that is doomed as well. A stable and democratic Pakistan is vital not only for the good of the people of Pakistan but for India as well. What these leaders fail to see is that activities and statements like those that Obama made today, fuel fundamental forces and work against the well-being of the entire sub-continent. And say if they bomb Pakistan and don't find Obama there and decide he has migrated south to Kashmir. Will they bomb India next? The trail of destruction left behind to avenge 9-11 has long been in the zone of diminishing returns.

Obama's earlier statements of China being a threat to US, further fuels the doubt about the safety of interests of the sub-continent under his government. It can be argued that the sub-continental interests clash more than they agree. While there is a grain of truth in it, the bigger truth is that a powerful Asia is to our collective benefit. The Clintons understood our part of the world far better than either of the present candidates does. It would have helped to have Hillary on the VP ticket if not on the presidential one (think of it, if nothing else a debate between Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton would have been a blast. Joe Biden took away half the fun by being a gentleman.)

In that respect, John McCain despite his condescending 'carry a big stick and speak in a low voice' came across as far more accommodating in matters of foreign affairs esp. vis-a-vis the sub-continent. Even though we all know that he is merely presenting the American definition of the carrot-and-stick policy.

At the end of the day, we do understand that a lot of it is posturing weeks before the election. However, I don't see much change in foreign policy whichever administration takes power. Iraq or Iran, Afganistan or Pakistan..Natha Singh/Prem Singh - All in the same thing!

With his pockets empty and his kitchen fires cold, Uncle Sam has only blustering bravado left to sell. It is apparent he not ready to give up his big bully tag just of now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Burmanda - Video Tribute

A very Happy Birthday to our dearest Burmanda. The grand old man of Hindi film music is hundred and two years young today. The legendary music directory was born on 1st October 1906. The month of October marks SD Burman's birth anniversary as well as death anniversary. I shall make some uploads down the month to mark the occasion.

I am starting off with uploading a small video on his life and music. I have been working on this video off and on and this is an edited first chapter. The video was created using Adobe Premiere 6.5. The piece is based off a slideshow created on the occasion of SD Burman's centenary show in 2006 in Delhi. It traces Burmanda's journey from the remote backwaters of Tripura to his final moments of glory in Bombay. The video is still rough at the edges and I would welcome some technical advice on how to smoothen it out.
I would look forward to your feedback.

Here are the links