Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Euphoria: My Favourite Songs

Euphoria is one of my favorite bands. They say they created the genre of Hindrock. I don't know what that means, but their songs are enjoyable and the videos (lot of them directed by Pradeep Sarkar) are exceptional. So here is a list of my favourite Euphoria Songs in no particular order:

1. Dhoom Pichuk:
The one that started it all. I guess this saved Archies Music (I think they eventually folded up) from bankruptcy. The video was awesome, Shubha Mudgal's vocals in the end took the song to another level, so did the setting, Benaras (I decided I will go there after seeing this video and it is still pending). Here is the video:




3. Kaise Bhoolegi Mera Naam
This song is average but video is awesome! It tells a story in 3 minutes and does a good job at that. Boy Pradeep Sarkar has some talent (why on earth did he make the idiotic Laaga Chunari Mein Daaga? ). So this video shows Vidhya Balan's marriage which is messed up and in typical Bollywood style, Palash Sen jumps in and saves the day!. I particularly like the cut at 3:23 mark. Nice job! Here is the video:




2. Hum (Rok Sako To Rok Lo)
This is one of the relative unknowns. I remember this song was used in one of the Maruti Adverts. I love the song due to minimal (or no?) usage of electronic instruments. It features "Miss India" Mehnaz. So here is the video:




4. Sha Na:
Features Neha Dhupia in her pre-Bollywood stardom days. The song is pretty nice! Most impressive is the chorus which means nothing but I find myself repeating days on a trot.




5. Phir Dhoom:
Another Pradeep Sarkar Gem, this video was the first one of the second album. And boy it was number 1 for a long time! I remember this Veejay on Channel V cribbing that artists need to make better albums just to unseat Euphoria!




6.Mantra:
This was India's first single album. Just one song, 2 versions for Rs. 20. The concept failed miserably, but the song was solid. In the starting of the video, there is this producer type person who is depressed that the video doesn't have girls and the band doesn't want to go to a foreign localtion for shooting! The song is great but the Guitar Solo at 3:10 takes it to the next level (and brings it in this list:) ). The best part about the video is that the common man stars in this, not the band. Awesome.




7. Tum:
This video features Michelle (the same female in the Dhoom Pichuk video). This time though, the song is much better than the ultra depressing video. Don't have much to write except I prefer happy endings




8. Maaeri:
Masterpiece, the video and the song. Have nothing else to say.




9. Bhoola Sab
Highly Underrated, but I like it due to good guitars, the whistle and a totally unconventional video.



Monday, October 04, 2010

Commonwealth Games




And they have started! The opening ceremony was awesome! And with it came a powerful statement about us. We
mess up yes, we have idiotic politicians, the Aussies play mind games all the time, but when it comes to getting stuff done and ensuring we put up a good show, you cannot beat India. The hoopla all the news channels were making about the bad condition of the Athletes' Village was just another way to garner TRPs. Yes we messed up, but hey thats how we roll!

No I don't endorse corruption and I am pretty sure, Suresh Kalmadi can join the Forbes List of Richest Indians this year, but people are speaking up, and this is a big change! We might not be ready to host the Olympics as yet, but hey who wants to? Since 1996 all of them have been loss making!

I don't understand why we want our games, our infrastructure, our security as per "international standards"? What is it about "international" that so charming? Aren't these games about Indian Pride? We do things our way, we have chaotic traffic, we have lots and lots (and lots (and lots)) of people so we can't expect that we will be like other countries. But we can be best we can be! And yes CWG opening ceremony was exactly that!

Here is to hoping that we can have a decent haul of medals this time and another rocking closing ceremony!

PS: Is there someplace where I can see the entire ceremony? I want to hear The President's speech!

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Indipop revolution of the 90s

In the Big Bang Theory, one of Sheldon's dreams is to invent a time machine. Well it has already been invented. YouTube.

YouTube takes you back to the glorious days when 21 inch CRT television was the greatest thing and you had 25 different channels! Also there were no pesky DTH services, there was the cable-wallah dude who used to mis-report his numbers so that he could keep monthly charges low for consumers. God bless him!

You can see all the old ads, tv serials, songs, opening titles for all your favorite series as kids (Rant: There was a Pepsi Advertisement, Freedom to be Azaadi Dil Ki which I can't find anywhere! Please help!)

So basically randomly visiting different eras on YouTube I realized that one species of entertainers has disappeared from the scene, the Indian Popstars. The 90s were the golden days of Indipop. We had slew of "stars" from Baba Sehgal or Alisha Chinoy or Suchitra Krishnamoorthy or Raageshwari or Saagarika or Anaida or Mehnaaz or Altaaf Raja (god this is a long list!)

What differentiated these guys was that they didn't usually go for Playback singing and published their own albums. More so because they had their unique voices which weren't suitable for actresses (Alka Yagnik anyone?).

The videos that were made in those years were pretty slick and match up to the international videos of that time. I guess in those years, Pop was a niche product and hence these guys were not catering to the auto rickshaws but the cassette players in the cars and hence they were a class product.

What happened to these guys? Well here is my Hypothesis. Sonu Nigam happened. This dude who started with Gulshan Kumar belting out average (not bad though) imitations of Mohammed Rafi (in my opinion the greatest singer ever!) was rising in Bollywood. At the same time he had a hit TV show going on. In middle of all this, he came up with his blockbuster album Deewana. I think that's when pop started dying a slow death, though there were sporadic groups like Bombay Vikings or Euphoria (no they are not rock!) which came through. But the great days of Indipop were over.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Chak De India

You know a movie is awesome when you are seeing a spoof and you want to see the original. I was seeing the MTV spoof “Cheque de India” and realized that well, the original is pretty awesome.

When you see a movie for the second or third time, you start seeing small things. CDI (sounds cooler and a bit like CID), follows the grand tradition of Yash Raj Films of having Shah Rukh Khan, has pretty women, has then dressed in Chiffon Saris (the pre final party) and has shoot on foreign location (d-uh Australia). But then it misses the lead heroine or shooting in Switzerland or a romantic song. Also the characterization of the Indian cricket player is damn shallow.

Then again, this movie is all about Shah Rukh Khan, he hams to the max (albeit very effectively), sheds more tears than the females, has the most fiery lines (the talk before the finals is pretty inspiring!) and basically remote controls his way to World Cup victory.

The plot is pretty straight forward about the redemption of a fallen hockey star (SRK) who appears after 7 years in the hockey wilderness. He has missed the crucial penalty against Pakistan in the finals and is branded as a traitor (and more so due to his religion). In real life had Chetan Sharma been a Muslim and had been hit for six of last ball. I am pretty sure he would have been late Chetan Sharma (with all due respect, not that I expect he or anyone he knows will read my obscure article)

So Mr. Khan (in real and reel life) decides to coach a group of 16 girls who are still not a team and decides that they will win the world cup (THAT was the big hint what is going to happen in the end, in sports movies, usually the team audience sees practice wins right?). Well after some initial issues, he (with some assistance from roadside Romeos) manages to make a team which plays and goes to Australia.

And they are beaten 7-0 by the Aussies in their first match. Remember we are Indians and we can do miracles at the last moment. So the team slogs their collective asses, and barely scrapes a win with Britain. Then a montage and we are at the quarter finals. Here we are bullied by the Argentineans who don’t know how sharp we are. We learn their tricks in first half and destroy them (and I am pretty sure in Hockey there is reservation for blind people in referee category, they ignore obvious fouls from both teams!)

In semis we meet Koreans who work with man to man marking. In the greatest of coaching traditions, the coach discusses this with the goalie (yes she is the captain but what can she do? Oh yeah she says that also!). Well the coach (who incidentally was the most successful center forward in the country) doesn’t know how to tackle that (wow!) so he needs the senior player (who has rebelled against him and is permanently sitting out) to tackle the damn Korean team. And she does that! She scores with a defender and we reach the finals!

70 minutes and one tie break later, India are the world champions!! Awesome!

Well yeah but what I do remember is that suddenly the coach is being portrayed as the best thing that happened to hockey since Dhyaanchand. This hypocrisy is so true. My grandfather always said that only the rising sun is worshipped.

The film works on many levels, amazing acting by all actors (except maybe that dude who played the cricket star), especially the supporting hockey staff. Also the camera work was awesome, you felt like you were in the match. I guess NOT having stars worked in the favor of the director.

A crucial test for any sports movie is that the audience should feel the thrill in the penultimate moment of victory, even on repetitive viewings. Well it did pass the test for me (only one after Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, in which I still get scared Aamir Khan might lose the race).

In the end of the movie I was shouting “Chak De!” all over again.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Roadrunner

One of my favorite cartoons is the Road Runner Show. It features Wile E Coyote who wants to capture this (in my opinion irritating) bird Roadrunner. So Mr. Coyote launches all these elaborate schemes to capture Roadrunner and has a spectacular failure rate of 100%.

Coyote buys these nifty gadgets from Acme Industries. If it was for real, the owner would be the richest man on this earth and Acme would be the largest corporation on the planet. Sadly, that is not the case. Well, the only issue with the products is that they end up failing spectacularly at the critical moment. Anyhow, this is one show where I wanted the Roadrunner to be caught and be eaten. It was an irritating creature, and somehow never was able to get my sympathy (like Jerry the mouse in Tom & Jerry).

Looking back (am I that old? Seriously?) I realize Coyote represents all of us. We think we can plan for everything life throws at us, and catch the Roadrunner. But somehow, Roadrunner (life) finds a way to mess up these plans or at the critical juncture something (Acme Industries’ products) gets messed up and we are left hanging in the canyon with only one option, to fall down with a helpless shrug.

To summarize, careful planning is no match for dumb luck.

I just hope Coyote catches that damn road runner and roasts it slowly and eats it!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Titan Watches

Q. What is common to the following famous people: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherji, Mozart, Sheetal Mallar, Aishwarya Rai, Tara Sharma, John Abraham and Minisha Lamba, Maria Gorreti, Praveen Dabas, Rahul Bose and Saira Mohan?

A. They all have been featured in Titan Watches advertisements.

Ever since I can remember watching TV, I remember the Titan Jingle. Today browsing through YouTube videos, discovered that there is a Titan Industries Channel ) which has advertisements going way into the past.


Seeing old advertisements to a new one is like seeing evolution, from the long 2 min advertisements in the eighties to the 30 sec advertisements we see now (which is a testament to either decreasing viewer attention span or increasing rates of airtime). In case of Titan, right from their first advertisement (Introducing Titan Quartz) to the latest ones, barring a few exceptions, all commercials have been less than or equal to a minute. Which I think is awesome.

I also realized the growing power of star value. Sure there is an Aishwarya Rai advert, but when she wasn’t THE Aishwarya Rai. In fact she has been shown as a wife in that advertisement; I guess she started playing a wife on screen recently only. Nowadays, you have Aamir Khan, Rahul Bose, Rani Mukherji, Saira Mohan and John Abraham endorsing various Titan Brands.

Titan has had the same music for the incredibly long time, few people will know that it is Mozart’s 25th symphony. This consistency in branding I think is something Titan should be proud of.

Here are few of my Favorite Titan Adverts through the years:

So many things spoken with music and no words

And again.

I remember this ad when I was a kid, since it had only one word, Papa. Superb!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pixar: 100% Genuine Animation!




Just saw Pixar's latest movie, Up (you haven't seen it? You should! rather you MUST). Coming back to my point, i sort of realised that time and again Pixar gives us a masterpiece which has critics drooling and box office register ringing. How does it manage it? After every hit, expectations go up a bar and every single time Pixar meets them! Just have a few thoughts on how it manages (its speculation, i might be wrong)

1. Talent: Pixar has the best talent. PERIOD. Be it John Lasseter(the pioneer is computer animation), Brad Bird or the voice actors (Tom Hanks, Woody Allen, or the people who have the sound effects)

2. Faith of the Leaders: Steve Jobs (Here i am taking a small leap and ignoring that George Lucas sold Pixar) didn't fire people even when Pixar was a loss making company which made computers (yes not animation!) and spent from his personal fortune (agreed he had loads of money, but he did spend it!) to keep it afloat. There was this quarter when these chaps didn't manage so reach double digit growth but he kept them alive.

3. Adapting to Changes: Once they realised people liked animation (some award they won for Luxo Junior) they moved in fast and planned a full length computer animated movie (Toy Story)

4. Partnering the best: And to make their first movie who they went to? Some sidey finanacer? No they went to big daddy of animation, Disney. And they did make history.

5. Self Belief: So you managed to convince Disney who has all the money so this means he can push you around? No way! You have the Brains (yups that does give tonnes of belief). Money can be replaced not brain power! So these chaps (actually Mr Jobs again) negotiates a deal with Disney which had Pixar logo being of the same size and having same visibilty as disney so the film going people remember a Pixar-Disney film not a Disney film. And this self belief also ensured that they could kick out Michal Eisner (the deal was one of the reason).

Now the thing is how can we map these things in our own life and own work? Open for discussion!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

E.T. - The Extra Terristrial




I was seeing ET-The Extra Terrestrial (approximately 109th time) and was again struck by the visuals. Usually people tend to do great things once, Steven Spielberg has the knack of doing them again and again, be it ET or Schindler's List or the underrated Amistaad.
Coming back to ET, the robot itself which depicted ET was a masterpiece. The eyes were so expressive you tend to forget it is a machine not a real person(that's the aim of cinema isn't it?). The scene when E.T. says "phone home" is pure magic!
Then the actors. The kids were awesome. Maniratnam in India and Spielberg can extract wonderful performance from kids. For Maniratnam's finesse see Anjali or even the acting of the kid Manisha in Dil Se... or the twins in Bombay.



Getting back to ET, it has been said that this is something similar to the story of Jesus Christ. I didn't realise it initially, but after reading I got it (it happens! I am no Superman!). This chap coming from other world, touching lives of so many people, selects his St Peter (Eliot) and his apostles (the kids on bikes) who fly by magic (holy spirit). Then there is a reference to resurrection also, when ET dies and then appears to his apostles in a almost magical way (glowing heart and liquid nitrogen spewing out from the Van's behind). Wow!
I have been trying to write this small piece for 2-3 weeks and always end up watching the movie when I sit to write and going again :)
One more thing, even though the movie was a superhit and a masterpiece, the game which came with the movie is considered one of the worst ever! And it is supposedly considered to cause the North American Video Game Crash in 1983. So everything was not magical about E.T. :)


Update: The logo for Steven Spielberg's studio, Amblin entertainment is taken from ET only. Look below:




Sunday, June 07, 2009

IPL Advertisment

IPL Advertising in India is awesome. However, global advertising is not behind. Here is an example:

video

Wonder why didn't he learn Hindi Abuses if learnt to eat the hot curry :) Maybe Bhajan might teach him that.....