Of Planet M, Boyzone and the days we used to pay to posess music

No matter what they tell you… A hot air balloon and god looking boys singing to me…

That’s what I remember of this song. I was a geek who couldn’t get words right in a song back then. Whenever the song played on the radio, I’d pay close attention to their voices which were as smooth as their clean shaven faces… How I longed to own the cassette and just as I finished saving up the paisa, BCCL launched their music store, Planet M. My dad decided that it would be a great Sunday activity to trudge all the way to VT and spend the afternoon surfing. The afternoon turned into late evening as we browsed through CDs, cassettes and what not. CDs used to cost about Rs.600/- back then and the good daughter that I was, I picked all the CDs of the albums I wanted and asked someone to help me locate the cassettes. They cost Rs.125/- which was also a huge amount for the teenager I was, but hey!

My dad saw what I was doing and put his hand on my shoulder. ‘CDs are far better and they are the future, forget the cassettes, get the CDs,’ he told me. He picked up rock and roll, R&B, Rock, Soul and I stuck to Hindi films, boy bands and a load of stuff that a teenager’s music dreams were made of. I glanced at his pile, and I wondered why I didn’t have my dad’s taste in music. I was afraid he’d be ashamed of my bubble-gum taste in music. Even if he was, he never let me feel that way.

At the cash counter, we realized that we had picked up CDs worth nearly 16 grand. No point in being greedy and with a heavy heart we downsized our shopping baskets. Eventually we coughed up nearly 9 grand on CDs and though it was a number that looked better than 16K, it was an exorbitant sum.
“Why can’t simple things like music be free Dad?” I asked, afraid that with my Rs.200/- allowance, I’d never be able to make such a big purchase again.
He shrugged. About six to seven months later, I discovered Napster…

‘Dad, come come let me show you this,’ I gushed about Napster and how music was now going to be free.
‘You’re lucky,’ is all he said. He continued to listen to his CDs and admire his LPs but on his 51st birthday, me and the sister gifted him an iPod. The fat, 40GB one, And all his CDs were sent into a cupboard…

I guess I’ll never be able to thank him enough for being so generous to me. I guess I will never know the kind of effort he’d gone through back in the day to lay his hands on an album he wanted to listen to. I guess I will never understand how he had to deal with parents who didn’t appreciate loud ‘Kiristav’ (Christians in Marathi) music blaring from their very ‘Marathi’ household. But I know this, I will always be grateful to him for making me and the sister who we are today. We will always be thankful to him for giving to us, his musical ear.

I don’t know what spurred this post on… I was looking for something and landed on a pile of Rolling Stone magazines from the 80s that Vivek Kaka gifted me, and then I found dad’s LPs and then I found the CDs we bought at Planet M. It’s always good to give your memories a chance to flow out on paper, isn’t it?

No matter what they tell you… A hot air balloon and god looking boys singing to me… That’s what I remember of this song. I was a geek who couldn’t get words right in a song back then. Whenever the song played on the radio, I’d pay close attention to their voices which were as smooth as their clean shaven faces… How I longed to own the cassette and just as I finished saving up the paisa, BCCL launched their music store, Planet M. My dad decided that it would be a great Sunday activity to trudge all the way to VT and spend the afternoon surfing. The afternoon turned into late evening as we browsed through CDs, cassettes and what not. CDs used to cost about Rs.600/- back then and the good daughter that I was, I picked all the CDs of the albums I wanted and asked someone to help me locate the cassettes. They cost Rs.125/- which was also a huge amount for the teenager I was, but hey!
My dad saw what I was doing and put his hand on my shoulder. ‘CDs are far better and they are the future, forget the cassettes, get the CDs,’ he told me. He picked up rock and roll, R&B, Rock, Soul and I stuck to Hindi films, boy bands and a load of stuff that a teenager’s music dreams were made of. I glanced at his pile, and I wondered why I didn’t have my dad’s taste in music. I was afraid he’d be ashamed of my bubble-gum taste in music. Even if he was, he never let me feel that way.
At the cash counter, we realized that we had picked up CDs worth nearly 16 grand. No point in being greedy and with a heavy heart we downsized our shopping baskets. Eventually we coughed up nearly 9 grand on CDs and though it was a number that looked better than 16K, it was an exorbitant sum.
“Why can’t simple things like music be free Dad?” I asked, afraid that with my Rs.200/- allowance, I’d never be able to make such a big purchase again.
He shrugged. About six to seven months later, I discovered Napster…
‘Dad, come come let me show you this,’ I gushed about Napster and how music was now going to be free.
‘You’re lucky,’ is all he said. He continued to listen to his CDs and admire his LPs but on his 51st birthday, me and the sister gifted him an iPod. The fat, 40GB one, And all his CDs were sent into a cupboard…
I guess I’ll never be able to thank him enough for being so generous to me. I guess I will never know the kind of effort he’d gone through back in the day to lay his hands on an album he wanted to listen to. I guess I will never understand how he had to deal with parents who didn’t appreciate loud ‘Kiristav’ (Christians in Marathi) music blaring from their very ‘Marathi’ household. But I know this, I will always be grateful to him for making me and the sister who we are today. We will always be thankful to him for giving to us, his musical ear.
I don’t know what spurred this post on… I was looking for something and landed on a pile of Rolling Stone magazines from the 80s that Vivek Kaka gifted me, and then I found dad’s LPs and then I found the CDs we bought at Planet M. It’s always good to give your memories a chance to flow out on paper, isn’t it?

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RIP MJ

When you wake up, you happen to check facebook for birthdays and you read RIP Michael Jackson in your timeline, you know it’s a sad sad sad day. I went numb. How can he die? He used to live in Neverland, for crying out loud. No no no! But then the news channels confirmed it and I couldn’t help but shed a few tears. Michael Jackson was my hero not for a year or two, not a teenage obsession. He was ‘the’ dude, I’ve always thought. Laser Discs (they never caught on) had just arrived and dad bought a player and got the Dangerous LD for us to watch. His music videos, tours, were all covered in that video and that’s how my love affair with the man’s music began.

Our generation might have seen many pop icons, influences, but what MJ did to our generation is significant. His whacky videos, his gyrating moves, his expressiveness. Those things made us… Everybody wanted to dance like him everybody wanted to have his style, his panache. He was the ‘shit’, as they say.

His music ranged from pop to rock to soul. And it really did rock the late 80s and 90s. When he sang the Free Willy theme, he actually formed a bond with the whale, Keiko. He poured his soul into his music. He spoke about dangerous girls, racial discrimination, burning up the dance floors but he also told us to make the world a better place. He made us believe in making an effort to make sure the world was a happier place for the coming generations. But that said, his personal life was a complete mess. He married the King of RocknRoll’s daughter. He fathered illegitimate children. And the worse was when he was tried for pedophilia, in which he was found not guilty. And let’s leave that at that! Enigma, mystery and controversy, he lived a life full of it and yet he once famously said, “I’m just like anyone. I cut, bleed and get easily embarrassed”

MJ… He sure made the world a better place for you and for me and the entire human race with his music… There’s a place in my heart and I know that you are still rocking it in there. Because you will be alive in the millions hearts that learned to beat to your rhythm. Whatever the controversies, one cannot deny the fact that he leaves behind a legacy- his music.

R I P King Of Pop. You are not like anyone and there will be none like you.

Drowned In Gulaal!

The timing of Gulaal’s release is just fantastic. Right after Holi and just before elections. Gulaal tells the story of a nobody, Dileep Singh. This nobody is a colourless, passionless character who is a student who looks like a professor. He’s straightforward and never challenges things that happen to him. He takes to the shadows of Rananjay Singh, a hot blood youth who doesn’t fear challenges- a ‘true’ Rajput. As Rananjay steps in to contest for the post of GS, the college turns into a battle field. In the fight for the post, two candidates put everything at stake. It is this fight for power that starts adding colour to our straightforward protagonist.

Gulaal’s story is multi layered and it unfolds itself. But the beauty is in the characters. Every character is complex and alive and it is through them that the story unfolds. The characters create the story and vice-versa, a give and take one rarely sees in Indian cinema. Kashyap’s Gulaal uses characters as a form of telling the story but his characters are also metaphors and symbols. Be it the John Lennon that hangs in Prithvibana’s neck or the dancer/beautician’s obsession with herself, or the Kiran who silently plucks the strings on her guitar as her brother decides the course of her life. Kashyap uses music, lyrics and musical metaphors brilliantly. Of course the neon signs and the psychedelic paintings at Dileep’s residence remind us of Dev D.

When Mr. Kashyap says this is his angriest film till date, you believe it. He uses every possible metaphor to bring out the anger, frustration and disappointment that he feels against the establishment or the system in which people become an establishment. The rendition of ‘Yeh Duniya Agar’ from Pyasa just takes this entire symphony to a climax, where you soak in the anger and you watch it helpless swallow and digest all that comes in its way. It takes me back to the original song, where Guru Dutt dies in a stampede at a function held in his honour and nobody recognises him. And here, we have Dileep, who wonders if he recognises himself as he walks down a street, wounded. It’s a similar ethos, but brilliantly executed in the context of Gulaal.

It depressed me to see an empty theatre on day 4 of this fabulous film. It didn’t deserve an empty theatre, I clapped after the film, for films like these need to be made. Films that use reality to tell a fictional story that is ever so cleverly crafted needs to be seen and appreciated. Overheard after the movie: Dude, Bhojpuri films are not as bad as they’re made out to be. This one was serious and all that! Right! I’m glad the theatre wasn’t as empty as this woman’s brain.

Cheers, Mr. Kashyap!

Dostana- Different and fun, but not quite awesome!

Dostana has all the makings of a masala hindi movie, but I was pleasantly surprised that it’s a completely new Bollywood experience! Hot guys, hot girls, beautiful locales, an OTT Punjabi Mom, gorgeous designer clothes (minimal but beautiful!), dhinchak music and I can go on and on.

The plot is nothing new. Two guys falling for the same girl has been done to death but this time it’s different! There are two men vying for an apartment and are ready to go to any length to get it. Kunal and Sam fake a romantic gay love story to move into a plush Miami apartment. The hitch? They share it with a super sexy Neha, who works in a fashion magazine, but has the ever so slight makings of an Indian girl (She doesn’t share an apartment with guys because of valid reasons and also respects her deceased parents’ sentiments). A few songs, a few twisted comic situations and major emotional turmoil later, the boys fall in love, not with each other silly, with Neha.
Kahani mein naya twist is the silent, intense and confident Abhi, who transforms from mean, hard to impress boss to a sweet, simple guy who adores Neha. Which of the guys’ heart is about to be shattered? Will Neha forgive Kunal and Sam for the web of lies they’ve spun?

The plot is obvious, but the way it’s presented is fully entertaining. Abhishek is absolutely brilliant as the male nurse Sam and John is just concentrating on looking hot and succeeds (Oh! How hot he looks!). Priyanka’s performance is awesome but with John & Abhishek’s chemistry, she is sidelined
(maybe it’s just that John’s yellow trunks made a far better impact on my oh-so-feminine mind than Piggy Chops’ golden bikini)

Why must you watch Dostana:
– John’s butt
-John’s abs
-Abhishek’s effortless portrayal of a loving, gay boyfriend.
-Delicious beaches of Miami!
-Music that’s sure to set your foot tapping and the videos will almost inspire you to get up and dance
-Just for fun guys!

Questions I’d like to ask Tarun Mansukhani:
-Ummm… I don’t see how they end up bonding! Coffee, shopping sprees and stuff are regulars! Why weren’t a scene or two dedicated to show their inter-dependence beyond sharing the house? The song (Jaane Kyun) would have been awesome after establishing their friendship
-How do the dudes manage falling for Neha? What is it about her that makes them go crazy? We know Neha is ambitious, we know she’s sweet n caring but what beyond that? I want to know what are the little things she likes, dislikes etc.
-What’s with the hamming and corny giri? KKHH dance in the rain scene replayed! Really?!?!
-is Neha really daft? Doesn’t she get the vibe? Whether Gay or not, when guys are whisking you off to a surprise romantic setting and doing super special things, you kinda figure or at least question the motives!
-Where’s the magic gone from movies? I wanted to feel the magic I still feel watching KKHH or a DDLJ!

Dostana lacks a plot, has a lot of loopholes and doesn’t exactly make you feel like hugging your best friend pronto! (Remember how you felt after Dil Chahta Hai??)
But wait, it’s not an absolute waste of money or time. It’s worth a try. Keep your brains aside, take a chill and enjoy the first (almost) movie that openly talks about homosexuality even though it’s all humored. At least its not poking fun at a gay side character by dressing them up as half woman half man, right? This is a huge step for Indian cinema, I truly believe.

Kudos: John and Abhishek! You need to be very secure about your sexuality to pull off a Kunal and Sam! And you guys look so good together! Bipasha and Ash will get jealous with the sizzling chemistry!

I am inspired: To go and dance to Desi Girl! And yeah go on a strict diet and exercise regime… everyone in the film looks hot! Except Kirron Kher and Sushmita Mukherjee, of course…

Mamma Mia I’m Impressed

During the summer that me and my sister spent holidaying in UK, we waited and waited for a cheaper ticket to show up for the musical, Mamma Mia. We ended up not seeing the show and when I saw the movie today I realized what a fool I was to try and save a few pennies (well pounds actually).
The movie version of the musical is absolutely over the top, full of drama and still has the hangover of a typical musical (the yelling shrieking and flailing of hands all the time!)

All said and done, for an ABBA fan, its an absolute treat. With the picturesque Greece and good looking people, the song n dance story takes you into a different world. However, if you’re not into ABBA, it’s just another chick flick with a whole lot of singing, dancing and more. The karaoke lyrics for all the songs were fabulous and I was singing along shamelessly! There is a magic about ABBA’s music!
The Bollywood fan in me couldn’t help but curse Sawan Kumar Tak for distastefully copying the story and making Mother with horrifying Rekha and all!
Meryl Streep’s rendition of The Winner Takes it all was fabulous. She is natural, composed and emotes brilliantly. Donna couldn’t be Donna without Streep’s exceptional performance (much like Miranda Preece of Devil Wears Prada)
Pierce Brosnan’s attempts at singing are cute but the dude can’t sing to save his life. Oh but he looks gorgeous!
I couldn’t help but think again and agin how they executed the story on a stage. I could almost imagine colourful lights, grandiose sets and a brilliant cast and I was aching to see the musical more than the film. What I really liked about the movie was the grandeur that it retained.  It goes over the top at times, but Mamma Mia, how can they resist it.

Thank you for the music!

Random thoughts

So, I was super busy thorugh the last 3 weeks. I did blog about stuff but completely forgot to record stuff that happened through August. I have been trying to recap the month of August but the amount of times I ctrl-A’d and deleted is not funny.

It’s like the moment has passed.

So chuck the wrap up. I’m very kicked about this weekend. As usual I have more plans than I can handle. I want catch up on my movie backlog. I want to watch WALL-E, Mamma Mia, A Wednesday, Tahaan and more (yes I can see you snigger). I want to have three grand meals (what! A girl gets to become 24 only once!). I also want to exercise a bit (all that I eat must be burned out). The there’s sleep to catch and blogs to be written, books to be read, music to be loaded on the new iPhone (yaay!) There are friends to meet, sister to pamper and cat to be played with. Phew. Just putting the list down is tiring enough.

How am I going to pull it off? God knows. Just makes me wonder, why can’t we have 48 hour days?

Another question on the back of my mind (and its not inspired by Jaane tu) When do you know its love? I don’t know what love feels like or how it feels to love someone enough to change everything about your life. But I know I want to love and be loved like that.

I never thought about it this way till recently a gori friend of mine asked me, “So you like change everything? Your name, your address, your country even just to be with someone your parents found you?”

I sensed the disdain for how orthodox Hindu culture is in her chat lines. But I will ignore that. I lay down in my bed, wanting badly to get some sleep before the alarm buzzes at 6.30 am. And I started thinking, just because I didn’t fall in love with any of the boys around me, doesn’t mean that I won’t fall for a guy that my parents have found through their network. Maybe that’s just another way of meeting the Mr.Right who might sweep me off my feet.

But then was I ready to be Missus Something. More importantly, was I ready to stop being Shakti Salgaokar, the girl I have always been. Was I ready to give up living in the space that’s always been mine (3 and a half floors, laxmi sadan, the bed in the corner)? Was I ready to do any of these things at all? And I sprung up gasping for breath… Full on filmy style!

The truth is, the more I think about it, the more cynical I get. If I’d met someone and fallen in love, I’d be asking some other questions. I’d probably still not be ready for any of the above things, but you do things because you like the person you’re doing it for. So yeah, I guess I’d try and figure things out. Why should some random westerner disrupt my sleep!

So for now, I am focusing on handling the activities of the weekend and on turning 24… What are you doing?

July July

July was fabulous. I was on my toes with work and yet I ended up watching a lot of films, reading some books and enjoying quality time with family and friends. So here is a quick recap:

Films: It was raining good cinema for me this month. I got my BigFLIX membership in place, so have caught up on my backlog of films to watch. So yes, there was a lot of cinema. I enjoyed watching Jaane Tu… in the theatre with Sneha, Jugal and Nanya. It was funny, how I ended up watching Girl Interrupted and The Dark Knight back to back. I saw a lot, I repeat a lot of films last month. Girl Interrupted inspired me to write this: https://compulsivewriter.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/sanity-in-insanity/

Music: Mainly tripped on Hindi music this month. I had criticised Kahin toh from Jaane tu because it was ripped off from an English song. But the lyrics are just so beautiful. ‘Jaane na kahan who duniya hai/Jaane na who hai bhi ya nahin/ Jahan meri Zindagi mujhse/ Itni Khafa nahin’

Of course, Simon&Garfunkel are still ruling the iPod!

Ambition: I want to buy a new phone. But I can’t decide which one

Dreams: Weird stuff. Pannu and me planning to leave for a long holiday, then there was one where I was ill and didn’t want to tell people… Just a lot of weird shit

Moments: Quite a few that made me smile. There are people around me who have such immense faith in my writing! Thanks Avya kaka, Mohit, Nani, Sneha and Jugal!

Regrettable: Watching City of Dreams. As Omu called it- City of Nightmares

Boohoo factor: Pannu left for Jaipur and I won’t be seeing her for 2 months! Boohoo!

Food: Yet again I have been well nourished! Ate everything and the last two weeks, I have gone for meat like never before. I enjoyed a nice meal at Da Vinci with Omu dada… Mom’s birthday dinners were good stuff. The rooftop restaurant at Orchid is so lovely. On a rainy day, the cool breeze, the pitter patter of rain and the well lit runway just make the place magical. The food is just about okay, and the service, just about alright!

We also went to Gaylords for a meal and the conversation that night was fodder for thought. It gave birth to a post. https://compulsivewriter.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/homage/

People: I met up with Avya kaka for a great lunch. One of the best evenings I had was a Sunday, where I met Om after a long time. We sat and talked and talked, as usual. After that I met Sneha and Jugal, we drove to MIG in his new car! We had great food, great conversation and then another fancy drive. We ate ice-cream, walked near Carter Road… Friends make life worth living.

Missing: Shefali and our late night dinners and ‘discussions’ at 59 east slope! Lathia and Satam, they just haven’t met me in a long time. Urvashi Rao, for the walks at SP, random movies and intense discussions about fate, people and life… Basically, I have been missing friends.

Dreading: How hectic work’s going to get soon

Enjoying: A thousand splendid suns

Wondering: How can things like height, complexion, income and location help someone find the love of their lives!

Figuring out: What do I exactly want?