Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I was there…

My mother makes special effort to brighten up my Sunday mornings, it may be by making something of my liking for breakfast or promising to make something exotic for lunch that I would not eat on weekdays fearing bowel problems or just a simple thing as skimming through the newspapers to find something that would interest me before I wake up, and most probably every time I disappoint her by saying that I have already read this on the Net or on the writer’s blog.

But last Sunday was different; we were in Thiruvananthapuram at my brother’s place. She came in the room where I was sleeping with a paper in hand and my six-year-old nephew in tow; “Want to see your Tatu (a form of Kaku, which he learnt when he was a toddler) jump in the bed?” she asked him; taking out paper she wanted to show me.

In my mind I started wondering what it may be; thinking about any interesting book or a movie that I’d have mentioned to her during the previous week, nothing. I concluded it must be the review of Salaam-e-Ishq.

The image of Rajiv Menon looking out from the steam engine used in Guru stared at me as she put the paper in front of my face. I smiled and turned. “Look at his face”, Ma told Jai, my nephew. My excitement was also fuelled by the fact that I had spent a few hours with the interviewee a couple of years back during the AbilityFest 2005

I struggled to see who the interviewer was. Ah! It was Baradwaj Rangan. I was a bit disappointed to see a short lead (unlike his usual longish introductions describing the preparation, apprehensions and sometimes even the goof-ups) and the direct Q & A format. But I read it intently waiting for Rajiv to mention Fiddler on the Roof as one of his future project.

I had heard a conversation between Rajiv Menon and Jaya Bachchan during the lunch at the Park Hotel after jury meet of AbilityFest, discussing this project where names such as Javed Akthar and Rahman popped up. Rajiv Menon saying something like “we’ve to convince Javed Saab that the script is not against any community, if he backs out, Rahman won’t stay and it will not be worth making this film without both of them”. So, when he said in the interview “Now I’ve written a script based on Fiddler on the Roof, with Amitabh Bachchan in mind. I hope I get to do this once the formalities are worked out”. I could see what those formalities were.

It gives me cold sweat and Goosebumps to think back that the man sitting opposite me and who had persistently offered to help me with my lunch was the same person who had directed Kajol in Minsara Kanavu/Sapnay and had shot my all time favourite Manisha Koirala in Bombay.

Sidelight: Imagine Big B singing Agar Main Amir Aadmi Hota To in his legendary baritone as Chaim Topol sings If I were a Rich Man in the original as shown in the video below:

Here is a detailed analysis of Fiddler on the Roof by Jai Arjun Singh

Some of the recent classic interviews by Baradwaj Rangan

Gautham Menon

Aparna Sen/Govind Nihalani

TM Krishna/Aruna Sairam

Finally, thanks to my internet friends Dilip Muralidaran & Bishwanath Ghosh for teaching me how to upload a video on the blog in the dead of the night.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Black Friday

I had sourced Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts by S Hussain Zaidi, the crime reporter of Midday from Mumbai when Abu Salem’s extradition from Portugal was hot news and media was busy drawing up his biography. I thought this book would give me insight into this man, but my brother-in-law who had read the book before me, as he had bought it for me said that there is hardly any mention of Salem, this book is about how Tiger Memon orchestrated the blasts. So, it went into my “will read someday” stock.

I was also aware that Anurag Kashyap had made a film based on it. So, the book never left my consciousness. When the convictions in the Blast Cases began and news of film’s imminent release started floating, the urgency to read it returned. Ma had to dust up my stock to find this book.

I did not know what to expect, I just started reading and to my surprise this was one of fastest read I had (though it took nearly fifteen days, so you know how quick I read :p). Black Friday is engrossing to say the least; it starts with prologue that describes what happened to common people at various locations in the city where blast happened on March 12, 1993. Then it moves on to build up the events and preparations that happened before the blasts. The blasts take place followed by investigation, nabbing of few of the culprits and the beginning of the trail. Culminating with an epilogue that shows the suffering and the loss of common folks from diverse social strata who were on the roads on that day.

Personally for me the blast of 1993 were distant (those were the pre-news-channels days). But the 7/11 local train blasts gave me the taste of terror. Having at least dozen people I know travelling by those trains at that time of the day made me really panicky. Frantic calls and SMSing started enquiring about the well-being of relatives, friends and acquaintances, which continued for a few days. It made me wonder about the foot soldiers who may have placed the explosives on the trains for a few thousand rupees; what they may be feeling if they were watching the devastation they had caused on TV, or if one of their relatives or friends happened to be the victim of these blasts.

Black Friday brought the same upsetting questions to my mind.

P.S. The film is expected to be in the theatres on February 9th.

P.P.S. Here is an early review of the film.