30 Apr 2013

Introducing - The Beatles

Pardon the cliché, but why, would those unaware ask - so much song and dance about a certain music band called The Beatles? If you are a music lover, you would certainly understand why we remember The Beatles with much gratitude and pleasure.

For starters, The Beatles were a British band who ‘came together’ in 1960. The world came to know that they have finally broken apart on April 10, 1970. The Beatles comprised, in no particular order of:

Ringo Starr: The drummer joined the band in August 1962, replacing Pete Best (Who is now fondly called 'the fifth Beatle' for his brief association with the band). Many cynics would say that a band’s drummer could be anyone, and that Starr got lucky with his association with the fab four. But as an avid listener, I would cast aside such pessimism and say it was Starr’s laidback, jovial, non-serious personality that gave the band a comic touch. Also check Starr’s vocals on ‘Yellow submarine’, ‘Don’t pass me by’, ‘With a little help from my friends’ and ‘Octopus’s garden’ out.

George Harrison: He was often called the ‘quiet beatle’ and as the band disintegrated, Harrison felt overshadowed by the Lennon–McCartney songwriting team. Harrison was the one band member who was most attracted to Indian sounds and his association with sitar maestro Ravi Shankar continued until his death in 2001. Though the most number of songs in any Beatles album were always by Lennon–McCartney, Harrison made his mark with ‘While my guitar gently weeps’, the summer ode - ‘Here comes the sun’ and the breezy, evocative ‘Something’. His Indian influence also led to the use of sitar in ‘Norwegian Wood’, and of the table and sarangi in ‘Within you, without you’.

Paul McCartney: A fountain of talent and spontaneity, McCartney had great chemistry with John Lennon that led to formation of the formidable Lennon–McCartney songwriting team. Both Lennon and McCartney lost their mothers while they were still adolescents and this common sorrow further strengthened their bond. While you are at it, you can listen to – ‘Yesterday’, ‘When I'm Sixty-Four’, the rousing, epic 'A Day in the Life', the trance induced 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and the songwriting gem 'Eleanor Rigby'. Though McCartney at 70 stands tall with a successful post-Beatles career - those ten years (1960-1970) as a Beatles front man were something else.

John Lennon: Lennon was shot down in 1980 by a crazy fan, cutting short a career of rare musical achievement. Lennon first came to me with ‘Imagine’, the best thing he did post-Beatles. His role as a protest singer and an image of been the most individualistic and enigmatic of the Beatles’ has ensured pop immortality. Lennon’s songs stand out for their insight and reflective mood, a contrast to McCartney’s extroverted, spontaneous tone. In many ways, Lennon’s untimely death has given sheen to all the songs that he ever made, and among fans there is the regret of ‘what might have been’.

20 Apr 2013

Movie Review: Ek Thi Daayan: One arresting hour, rest ho-hum..

The best horror films have always dwelled on our fear of the unknown and on building up a believable, vague legend within which the spooky parts prey on our fear and imagination.

Bobo (Emraan Hashmi, good act) is a famous magician who hides a grave secret from his childhood concerning the death of his father (Pavan Malhotra, a steal) and sister within him. His girlfriend Tamara (Huma Qureshi, decent) is worried of Bobo's state, even as the couple plan to adopt a boy. Bobo is caught between belief and illusion, much like his magic tricks and employs the help of the family psychiatrist (Rajatava Dutta, apt addition) who hypnotizes Bobo to retell his childhood trauma that features the mysterious, teasingly named Diana (Konkona Sen Sharma, bewitching).    

The childhood connect gives us a fresh, ominous first half. As soon as adulthood resurfaces, and the same devastating events of the first hour reoccur with the appearance of Lisa Dutt (Kalki Koechlin, understated charm), the effect mitigates to redundancy.

All the yarn of myth spun early is used as props to spring surprises in the climax, an attempt that falls flat because of its convenience in arriving at an end. None of the 'jack in the boxes' are accounted for or hinted at, reducing the film's intended punch to a tickle. 

Yet in totality, Ek Thi Daayan is a good attempt in the horror genre without escapist gore or cheap thrills. It has good to splendid performances, consistent direction, characterization, and special effects that provide the story much needed conviction. A word in for the child artists who play the young Bobo (Visheh Tiwari) and his sister. Worth a watch.

The now legendary Vishal Bharadwaj / Gulzar combine does a couple of hummable numbers - Yaaram and the playful Totte Ud Gaye. The choreographed sequences in the latter is individually watchable as a music video, but doesn't go with the film genre.