Naughty Nothings

All it takes to make a music video nowadays is a bunch of hedonistic pretty things who are a bit off the wall. Hose them down with fire-engine water hoses and add mudslings and whiplashing. Hindi pop music videos are not just off the kilter, they are off everything-sense, sanity, saris and skirts.

Throwing the lid off suppressed libidos, these videos follow the stale act of the innocent girl waiting to get her paws dirty. DJ Anuj's Kabhi Aar Kabhi Paar video makes use of Lolitaesque girls gone wild. DJ Aqeel's retro psychedelic video Keh Doon Tumhe shows a dancer making out in the back alley of a club. Definitely stuff to make the late Kishore Kumar cringe. The Vinay Sapru and Radhika Rao directed Kaanta Laga left parents piqued with its peeping thong and girls dipping into porn magazines but it did not stop the sale of thongs stitched into jeans at Mumbai's Fashion Street.

The Chadti Jawani video with three bum pinching fairies just added to the spineless substance plaguing the videos. In a gross rendition of Meri Beri Ke Ber, Sanober Kabir rides a horse saddle while the camera zooms in on her hideous red pout. The bitch slapping continues between two girls in another remix of the same song.

"The only way to make your version different is to have a sexy video," says Champak Jain of Venus Tapes and Records. He cast a vague Polish blonde Patrycja Liniwicz in the role of the nasty bimbette who snatches an Indian dancer's boyfriend only to lose him in the end. "We wanted to make a video with enough exposure without annoying the Censor Board," says Jain. Whatever. One look and you know the Censor Board was taking a nap while approving it. Bappi Lahiri's disco remix Gori Hai Kalaiyaan hints at lesbianism on the side.

And let's not even get started on the toy boys. Even as the nostalgia of youth culture is completely spurious, bored directors use these testosterone-fuelled videos to sell sex-or something like it. Sleaze sells. What the video directors have forgotten is that sense might sell better.

— By Supriya Dravid


Earthy Flavour

GURGAON Wherever those Shere Punjab dhabas went, they left an appetite for earthy ambience and spicy khaana. Pind Baluchi, the new restaurant at Gurgaon's Grand Vatika complex serves that experience in huge helpings. The interiors with mirror mosaics, electrically controlled screens that change from day to night to village scenes and waiters dressed in red lungis and kurtas create a rustic setting. The food is sumptuous. Especially murgh tandoor, mushroom kurkure and vegetable boti kebab. Just the kind of tadka eating out needs once in a while.

— By Shefalee Vasudev


Gujarat Shining

MUMBAI Gujarati theatre is in a jubilant mood. Sanjay Goradia Production's Ame Lai Gaya, Tame Rahi Gaya, a comedy directed by Vipul Mehta, recently completed 300 shows in 17 months.

With an average of 12 shows every week and around 10 plays on the floor, the Gujarati theatre community is on a roll. The latest is Vikalp's Tran Gujarati, a play with three acts by Uttam Gada, Mihir Bhuta and Naushil Mehta who have written and directed their pieces. Says executive producer Manhar Gadhia, "It was an attempt to keep the spirit of Gujarati theatre alive."

Non-commercial ventures are few but on the commercial scene comedy rules. Besides actor Apara Mehta of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi other mainstream actors active on the stage are Sarita Joshi, Ketki Dave, Paresh Rawal, Sharman Joshi and Deven Bhojani. "The script is the star in Gujarati plays," says Goradia. No wonder the entire galaxy is shining.

— By Kimi Dangor


Perfect Timing

Director: Kunal Kohli
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukherjee, Rishi Kapoor, Kirron Kher

Even though he has sparkled in some recent roles, Saif Ali Khan has looked as if he is making the best of a bad job. He has ably played foil to Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Urmila Matondkar. With Hum Tum, he can consider himself a full-time leading man. One with Swiss watch-perfect timing.

In director Kunal Kohli's Nora Ephronesque screenplay, he plays the eternally adolescent man while Rani Mukherjee is excellent as a woman who knows her own mind-even though it doesn't reflect in her clothes, which range from ill-fitting corsets to asymmetrical skirts and boots that look as if they are left over from Chalte Chalte. The witty exchanges don't ring false, the emotional pitch in the melodramatic parts is just right and the cameos are succulent.

Now if only the lead pair hadn't so clearly burst into a giggling fit immediately after pretending to get down and dirty on the beach. If actors are uncomfortable doing love scenes, then perhaps they should find a career in Iranian movies.

— By Kaveree Bamzai


Recreating the Poetry of Life

DOM MORAES 1938-2004

There is this abiding memory of Dom Moraes at the Oberoi bar in Mumbai, his spectacles perched on the edge of his nose, cigarette trailing smoke, whisky in hand, railing against politics, society, the media, the weather, women's fashion, Indian eating habits and almost everything else. He was the quintessential non-conformist, an author in constant search of answers to questions no one dared ask, a poet hidden inside a social activist, a man incomplete without female company. His stormy marriage to the iconic filmstar Leela Naidu ended in divorce. And drink.

The CV is impressive but never enough to flesh out this enigmatic man. Born in Bombay in 1938. Brought up in privilege but always in the shadow of legendary editor, author and father Frank Moraes. The genes spoke volumes. Dom began to write poetry at the age of 12. By 15 W.H. Auden had read and liked his poems. Stephen Spender published them as did Karl Shapiro in Chicago. At 19, he published his first book of poems, A Beginning, which won the Hawthornden Prize for the best work of the imagination in 1958. Moraes remains the first non-Englishman to win the prize, and the youngest. In 1960 his second book of verse, Poems, became the Autumn Choice of the Poetry Book Society. In 1965 he published his third, John Nobody, also to critical acclaim. He was, truly, India's poet laureate.

Dom has edited magazines in London, Hong Kong and New York, been a correspondent in various wars and a UN official. He visited every country in the world except Antarctica, which, he famously declared, was not a country. He wrote 23 books, including a biography of Indira Gandhi, apart from scripting documentaries from England, Cuba and Israel for the BBC and ITV. In his last book, The Long Strider, published in 2003, co-author and companion Sarayu Srivatsa wrote about Dom being diagnosed with cancer. He dismissed it as a temporary stumble in his all-consuming search for the perfect world, the perfect word, the liberation of poetry, and, above all, the meaning of life. He has found it all now.

— By Dilip Bobb.

— By Shefalee Vasudev


Old Favourite

The Golden Years; Universal;
CDs: Rs 495

"Kishore Kumar was a sampoorna kalakar (complete artist)," said Lata Mangeshkar. So it is fitting that the introduction to this notable collection is by Mangeshkar and Harish Bhimani.

The Golden Years has 42 songs on three CDs. But there is a certain lopsidedness in the selection. Twenty-one songs are by R.D. Burman, seven by Kalyanji-Anandji and six by Rajesh Roshan. Other music directors like Bappi Lahiri, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and S.D. Burman find only token mention. Salil Chowdhury finds none. Even songs composed by Kumar himself are nowhere in this collection. Nevertheless there are some great numbers showcasing his versatility. Even though an entire industry thrives by imitating Kumar, music companies still recompile and release Kumar's songs. That says it all.

— By S. Sahaya Ranjit


EXHIBITION Chapter One is a show that aims to position photography as serious art along with painting. The show will feature works by well-known photographers Rafique Sayed and Shibhu Arakkal juxtaposed with paintings by Azis T.M.

From June 6 to 20 at Galerie Sara Arakkal in Bangalore and then from August 4 to 14 at Gallery Beyond in Mumbai.