Porcupyn's Blog

September 30, 2012

Thoughts on a concert

Filed under: Cinema,Music — Porcupyn @ 8:31 pm
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Though I have been in the USA for over two decades, this was the first filmi entertainer’s concert that I attended. Here are some quick thoughts before I come back and update with and a full review and sneak previews:

– why have a concert scheduled for 6 pm the next day if the concert ends only at about midnight on Friday? I understand that she is performing only for the three weekend days after a full rest during the week, but still, isn’t it a bit too much to expect her to be fresh at 6 pm after she has performed until midnight the previous night at a city that is a time zone away, then flown over for the concert?

– why don’t desis come on time (even though there was a very good excuse this time)? East or West, why don’t desi concerts start on time? Maybe the first is the result of the second. But really, if the timing is inconvenient, the organizers need to work on it; but I doubt if that is really the case. We desis have a birthright of arriving late for anything and everything … and expecting to be there before the program starts … and being vindicated!

– when folks don’t come on time, why do they try to get to their seats during a song? Why do folks leave in the middle of a song to get water, food and/or snacks? Seriously, as you will see in the videos I have shared below, folks are either coming in to their seats or leaving their seats to go get a snack. Folks, if you are that hungry, why did you come to the concert? Why not save that time and energy to watch a recording of a concert? You could even take potty breaks, drinks breaks and food breaks, and guess what? You wouldn’t even miss a thing as long as you pressed the pause button.

– why do folks get snacks but forget to clear their area when they leave? I saw apple juice tetrapacks, leftover food trays, program schedules etc strewn in the concert hall. I assume folks think that the add-on price they pay for food in the arena covers busing of their sitting area too (wait, maybe in this specific case, they actually do! Our reputation in such matters is probably sky high).

– if you want to bring a three-year old to a concert, feel free to do so, but at least keep him or her in control when the artiste is singing. Now, unlike many folks, I am one of those who has absolutely no issue with kids making noise, crying, throwing a fit/tantrum, etc., when they are in a confined space such as a train or a plane. The purpose of public transportation is for you to get to your destination. So too all the other passengers including (yes) the kids. On the other hand, the purpose of a concert is for the audience to listen to the artiste(s) and enjoy it; the entertainment gets spoiled when you have a toddler trying to scratch your hand, clap while a song is going on, and generally being rude – and the parents have no inkling of what is going on, or do not care to admit it.

– I got a palpable ‘growing old’ feeling and a realization that maybe I should have attended concerts earlier when my favourite songs would have been in the majority, though I might not have like the “classicalization” of the song which was one of the reasons I had for not attending any filmi concerts earlier. It is too bad that for whatever reason – copyright, it comes across as insulting the original artiste, it comes across as trying to show up the original artiste, … – folks don’t sing songs that were originally sung by someone else. Whatever the reason, as the old artistes become one with the ages, the new ones will not sing those old songs (or at least, the established ones won’t). So, there is a small window of opportunity where you (or I) can catch those songs sung melodiously live – on TV in shows such as Indian Idol or Star Voice of India or some such, or when a Sonu Nigam comes along and sings such songs in live shows around the world (note: I said Sonu Nigam, not Sonuuuu Nigaaam, an incarnation I don’t much care for – and I missed the opportunity of watching the former, though he might not even have come to town in that avatar).

I have always maintained that (to me at least) it is much more fun attending a live Indian classical music concert than a filmi concert. The reason is that the quintessance of classical music is the ability of the artiste to improvise (even though my understanding of it all is limited). On the other hand, the purpose of attending a filmi concert is to listen to the song delivered live by the artiste, and when the artiste tries to improvise, it comes across as a showing off (again, this is my point of view – I am sure there are many who disagree). Not that I had a chance to ever attend a live performance by the greats of yesteryear, but I have listened to LP recordings of their concerts, and have been generally unimpressed. So, I kind of agreed with what a friend said “it is good that these artistes have a music director in the movies to kind of rein them in” 🙂

– last but not the least, a note to myself: when I carry a digital camera around, I ought to make sure that I have a few spare batteries! I thought I had checked the batteries the night before, but not taking spares is a mistake I have done a few times before as well … and I need to snap out of the habit.
The concert started out very slowly with folks still trickling in nearly 45 minutes after the show start time. The stage was taken by a girl who had won some online contest to sing during the concert. I had never before heard the song she sang (or at least don’t remember having heard it), so will withhold any comments!

Next up, the compere came on stage. I had not heard of him either, but apparently – as we all learned later in the show – he won SaReGaMaPa USA sometime in the recent past. He introduced the second singer on the stage for the day, Prithvi Gandharva. The first couple of songs that Prithvi sang were also ho hum numbers with not much audience participation. But then he gave an awesome high energy rendition of ‘damadam mast kalandar’ that snapped the audience to life. Here is a snippet:

Shreya Ghoshal was, of course, just Shreya Ghoshal. Unfortunately for me, I had only heard a handful of songs that she sang, maybe about 30-40% of all. But here are snippets of the ones I knew (and had battery life left to record). For obvious reasons, I did not record any song in its entirety!

तेरी मेरी मेरी तेरी प्रेम कहानी है मुश्किल …

जादू है नशा है मदहोशियाँ …

तुझमें रब दिखता है यारा मैं क्या करूँ …

Somewhere after the above song, I realized that I had not brought a spare set of batteries for my camera, and I was bereft of the ability to zoom. To be honest, I thought that I would not be able to take any more videos when the camera shut down just as I was about to record Katya’s favourite ‘teri or teri or’ 😦

डोला रे डोला रे …

I was impressed by the fact that she did not appear to be using any cue cards to sing the songs. That was pretty impressive. I hope she was not lip syncing and even if she did, I was unable to detect it.

At the intermission, when Shreya Ghoshal and her troupe took a break, we were treated to Jeffrey Iqbal’s singing of पर्दा है पर्दा from Amar Akbar Anthony. He did a pretty good job with it, and also shared a couple of wisecracks about his childhood as a (not) ABCD!

पर्दा है पर्दा पर्दे के पीछे …

ज़ुबि ज़ुबि ज़ुबि ज़ुबि …

Here is one song that Bollywood has recycled from Bollywood … and it was previously copied from Tollywood or Mollywood or Kollywood or some such. Though both Shreya and Prithvi did a good job, I could not but help compare the song with the (Hindi) original in Mawaali sung by Asha and Kishore. And even though back then in the mid 1980s, with the Jumping Jack* Jeetendra and Baby Face Sridevi (OK, it looks like it was Jayaprada, not Sridevi) acting out raunchy lyrics, I had not liked this song, I have to confess that Asha/Kishore version was/is much better.

छूना ना छूना ना …

चिकनी चमेली …

लग जा गले के फिर ये …

* – even to someone like me who is a level 0 dance critic, it is pretty obvious that Jeetendra cannot dance. His dance moves are akin to moves that school children probably did in PT (Physical Education) back in the 1980s!

September 25, 2012

Truth – stranger than fiction?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Porcupyn @ 10:25 pm

On most flights, I try to divide my time between looking out the window, watching a movie or two, or reading something. A few years back, I used to read this series Seat 22B in Continental’s in-flight magazine Hemisphere. Please note that my memory is slightly hazy, so the magazine’s name might be different, or it might be the same name, except that it is found in a different carrier.

Be that as it may, I am pretty sure that the series was titled “Seat 22B” (more or less). The idea being that the author(s) would write pieces related to travel – each story would revolve around the journey of the passenger seated in seat 22B.

Anyway, in the piece I am referring to*, the passenger in the seat is a young man, returning from a backpacking tour in Europe, when he finds himself next to an elderly companion. They get to talking and the young man recounts his latest escapades in Ireland to the older person thus:


While travelling through the Irish countryside, he got caught in the rain. Thoroughly soaked and without a place to stay for the night, he found himself half delirious as he stumbled into this inn. The inn had a whole lot of Irish folks drinking and merrymaking, but he met this girl who was the barmaid. They got talking and within a few minutes were oblivious of the rest of the crowd. They talked about their childhood, their life growing up; she shared stories of how tough life was in the Irish countryside.

As time wore on, he had eyes for no one in the tavern but her. However, because of his current condition, he found himself slipping in and out of consciousness and the girl realized that he had contracted a fever. As they talked, the girl brought him brandy and wine and revived him. That night, having nowhere else to go and not being in any shape to go anywhere, he decided to stick it out in the inn. Like a typical Hindi movie of yore (say Bobby), the story does not go into any more details.

It turns out that the girl was the innkeeper’s daughter. Over the next couple of days, she nursed him back to health over the next couple of days, and when he was well enough, he took leave of her to resume his (return) journey.


All this information the young man tells his travelling companion, then also adds that he was probably in love with the girl but as she has made it clear that she was not too keen on leaving her admittedly tough life in Ireland, the relationship was not likely to proceed further. The young man was now torn by the fact that he had to come back to college to pursue his dream career; going to Ireland and living a tough life was not for him.

He then talks about how he had been excelling throughout his life, done this done that etc. and then shares with the older gentleman a piece of paper where he has jotted down his bucket list (this story was my first encounter with that term), and shows how many of them he managed to check off his list on his most recent tour.

The older man now gets to talking about how he has also accomplished quite a few things in life. It turns out that most of whatever the young man has done, the older man has done that and more. So, all in all, they have developed a mutual respect for their respective endeavors as they part to go their own ways, once they land in the USA.

A few days later, the young man receives an envelope addressed to him in a scraggly handwriting, but he recognized the names as one of the top businessman in the country. Inside the envelope was a tattered piece of paper that appeared to be a list of sorts, written in the same handwriting. Glancing at the list, he immediately realized that it was a bucket list as well. All of the items in the list appeared to have been checked off. However, upon closer examination, he noticed that one item was not checked off yet:

marry for love

Next to it, in what appeared to be a recent inscription, were the words – Will you help me complete my bucket list?


I am sure you all are wondering what suddenly jogged this story hidden in my memory? Well, here it is – the sequel, as it were, to the above story that I read a few years back! And here is a response from an anti romantic at heart! 😉


* – please note that this is my best recollection of the story (needless to say, I did not write the original). Though I’m pretty sure I have got the plot right for the most part, I am also sure that I have skimped on the details, and also might have mixed up some portions of it. It sure would be nice if the original story and author could be located so I could share a link to it for my readers here 🙂

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