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A health seeker often gets to revisit some of the long forgotten science lessons learnt in the early years of his life.

Einstein’s theory of relativity

It gets understood more easily when a minute spent on a treadmill sounds likeScientist Albert_Einstein fifteen minutes snoozing on the bed. Thirty minutes spent on a dentist’s reclining chair feels like thirteen hours spent in the company of one’s mother in law.

The mystery of the formula linking energy and mass also unfolds. Wisdom eventually dawns that E (Energy and Enthusiasm) to achieve a heightened state of well-being is equal to the product of ‘m’ (mental peace and positivity) and ‘c’ squared, where ‘c’ stands for conviction or faith in the treatment opted for.

Much like the speed of light, each kind of treatment has a unique upper limit to heal, beyond which one moves into the realm of prayers, divine intervention and spirituality. This is a universe which is surely not governed by the conventional laws of science as we understand them today.

First Law of Motion

Newton is found to be dead right when he postulates that a stationary object moves only when an external force is applied to it. When a couch potato is toldScientist IsaacNewton-1689 by the good doctor to exercise regularly, much will power needs to be summoned. Social challenges like the sudden appearance of a maid servant or the newspaper boy to collect his dues need to be handled. Startled glares from a younger person living across the street have to be summarily ignored. Presence of relatives and friends has to be managed. Ridicule hurled at one from any quarter needs to be summarily rejected, so the object, in this case the health seeker’s physical body, can get moving.

Non-linear regression analysis

Harsh slings and arrows of life make the patient understand that bodily afflictions are not necessarily explained by a linear formulation in mathematics. When it comes to good health, the link between cause and effect is never straightforward. Variables like mental attitude, reserves of will power, social mores, genetics, biological factors, environmental constraints, spiritual propensity and perhaps even factors beyond our present frontiers of knowledge need to be considered.

A person who is a chain smoker survives much longer than a non-smoking one who gets diagnosed for cancer much earlier in his life. Someone who is a happy-go-lucky person lives life to the hilt even with several arterial blocks whereas someone who takes a dim view of life in general needs to undergo repeated surgical interventions.

Laws of Thermodynamics

The patient may find that even Laws of Thermodynamics apply to the realm of life style afflictions.

Zero-th Law

If two persons are in the equilibrium of a stable relationship with a life styleJosiah_Willard_Gibbs Thermodynamics disease and lead their lives as per the Principle of Peaceful Coexistence with the said disease, it follows that they could develop a good relationship with each other as well.

First Law

The Law of Conservation of Energy applies. There is a limit to which a patient may exercise to remain fit. Other activities may have to be given the short shrift so a regular exercise regimen may not suffer.

Second Law

Over time, Entropy or disorder is bound to increase in an entity comprising a body, a mind and a soul relationship. The only way out is to keep cleansing one’s system of negative thoughts at regular intervals. By means of meditation, the patient can keep creating inner space for positive thoughts to come in and hold sway.

Some crystal gazing

Add to all this the growing uncertainty of disruptive technologies and the cause-effect equation of well-being becomes even more complex.

If one were to attempt some crystal gazing in the field of medicine, the results could cheer up a lay patient. A pill to dissolve and cure cataract could revolutionize eye care. Early detection of a would-be patient’s disposition to develop diabetes could lead to preventive lifestyle changes which could save millions from getting into the clutches of this dreaded affliction. 3-D printing of living tissue can be used to make body parts.

The implications are mind-boggling. But the fact remains that advances in medical science would merely touch the sheath and not the core of an individual patient – the soul.

Faith and the sincerity of prayer

More than a century back, Quantum physicists confirmed what our sages had held long back – that our thoughts determine the reality we experience.  Ifa1 1 (11) the mind is taken to be a canvas on which our thoughts get projected, our body could then perhaps be taken as a holographic projection of our consciousness. So, if we have a genuine intention to heal, have an abiding faith, entertain positive thoughts, and if our prayer is sincere enough, a state of better health would follow.

The challenge for a patient, therefore, is to elevate his consciousness to a level where he gets an insight to heal himself. In her book Molecules of Emotion, Candace Pert had indeed predicted that the time is not far off when a patient with a headache will simply sit in a quiet corner to meditate to elevate his consciousness to get total relief from headache instead of popping some inane pain-killer pills.

A state of bliss with no date of expiry

Undoubtedly, a patient faces a multi-faceted challenge. Besides the art of managing the affliction itself, he has to learn the science behind his disease. He needs to confront the forces of commerce which drive healthcare today. Newer discoveries in medicine do give him hope for a healthier future, if not for him but at least for some of his fellow beings.c1 (25)

Nature provides each patient with a physical body which comes with an inbuilt feature of planned obsolescence. But the indomitable spirit and the innate tendency of the soul to be blissful does not come with any date of expiry. Besides medication, exercise and proper food, his source of relief is his conscious effort to nurture the connection with his own inner self. Having faith in the medical system he decides to follow surely helps. So does a sunnier outlook and his endeavours to serve those less fortunate than himself.

After a long spell of a harsh summer, the monsoon ushers in a season of joy and relief. The aroma of the scorched earth touched by the first torrent of rains is intoxicating. Birds and beasts are equally delighted. The whole nature changes its texture.

This is indeed the season where Bollywood outdoes itself. Farmers rejoice. Those who are lonely go about dancing in the rain, hoping that a beloved would be discovered soon enough. Lissome heroines prance about in their fully drenched attires, performing dance steps which could put an Olympic gymnast to shame. When it gets pitch dark, lightning helps young ladies to locate their lovers.

Courtship reaches a higher level of intensity. Hormones run amok. Sounds of thunder make the heroine cling closer to the hero. Those who have lost their beloveds to the harsh workings of Fate fondly recollect their lady-love in this season. Perched on their mighty swings, groups of young ones indulge in much playfulness.

Kalidasa holds monsoon to be the king of all seasons and draws a parallel between sweaty elephants and dark water-laden clouds. The copious rains these bring are even compared to the elixir of life on the lips of offspring: mother’s milk. Peacocks dance in gay abandon. Rainbows get linked to the waistline ornaments of young ladies. Rivers in spate get compared with damsels who flirt with their lovers with gay abandon. In doing so, both are reckless about their own kith and kin. The season unites a separated couple. It also brings about separation between lovers.

Consider some of the couplets from Canto Two of Ritusamhara and few Bollywood songs which come to one’s mind.

“Oh, dear, now the kingly monsoon radiantly shining like a king is arriving with a convoy of rainy clouds as its ruttish elephants; lighting flashes as its pennants and buntings; percussive thunder-claps as its drum beats… welcome it for it is the delight of voluptuous people… [2-1]

Do Bigha Zameen (1953, Bimal Roy)

Chhalia (1960, Manmohan Desai)

Dil To Pagal Hai (1997, Yash Chopra)

“Oh, dear, sheeny are the faces of the deer with their swiftly zipping eyes, which are akin to black-lotuses and to your eyes as well, and they the deer and you, zip your eyes more and more, when there is a thunder or a rumble, then you run into my embrace, as they run to overcrowd the white sand-beds amidst lushly thickets of forests, and this gorgeous beauty of forests and the graceful beauty of yours, all this is promptly rendering the heart highly ecstatic… [2-9]

Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958, Satyen Bose)

1942: A Love Story (1994, Vidhu Vinod Chopra)

Koi Mil Gaya (2003, Rakesh Roshan)

Hum Tum (2004, Kunal Kohli) 2004

“Though the cloud-cover rendered the nights as pitch-dark, and though thundering is thunderous, and though the pathways on ground are indiscernible for it is pitch-black, even in such nights the lover-seeking women are making haste on those paths, that are indiscernibly shown by the flashes of torch-lights, called the flashes of lightning, for they are impassioned to meet their lovers, to all intents and purposes… [2-10]

Kala Bazar (1960, Vijay Anand)

Barsaat Ki Raat (1960, P L Santoshi)

Mera Naam Joker (1972, Raj Kapoor)

“Well decorated are the water-bearing blackish clouds with the wiry flashes of lightning and with rainbows, and they are flashily dangling down with the weight of water, likewise the jewelly ear-hangings and waist-strings of the womenfolk are dangling down that flashily, thus even those vivacious women are instantly stealing the hearts of sojourners, for these exotic women are reminiscent of the lady loves of those sojourners… [2-19]

Parakh (1960, Bimal Roy)

Jeevan Mrityu (1970, Satyen Bose)

Guru (2007, Mani Ratnam)

“These days the women are not applying sandal-paste that is mixed with yellow camphor etc., for it will be too coolant, and hence their limbs are quietly bedaubed with the powder of aloe vera and sandal-paste as bodily scents, and with flowers bedecked as ear-hangings at hairslides, their plaited hairdo is rendered fragrant with these flowers and shampoos, such as they are, they are in the service of their in-laws in their chambers, but on hearing the rumbles of clouds, they are hastening themselves to their own bedchambers, where their men are in long wait, though the nightfall has not fallen that deep…[2-21]

Barsaat (1949, Raj Kapoor)

Milan (1967, Adurthi Subba Rao)

Fanaa (2006, Kunal Kohli)

“In this rainy season when congeries of clouds have showered enough, plethoric is the flowery blossom, hence the womenfolk embed their hairdos with the tassels of Maalati flowers together with Vakula flowers, and with other new blossomy flowers, and the tassels of new buds of Kadamba flowers are pinned and pensile like their ear-hangings, and this has all the hallmarks of lovers, that decorate the hairdos of their lady loves, themselves with their own hands… [2-24]

Chandni (1989, Yash Chopra)

Lamhe (1991, Yash Chopra)

Rudaali (1993, Kalpana Lajmi)

Bollywood uses rains to depict not only the hopes and aspirations of spinsters and the blossoming of romantic affairs of ardent lovers. Once in a while, it also uses the rainy season to capture the moods of separation and melancholy. Some of the compositions and their settings in a movie are quite innovative, and are based on pure classical music, like this one:

Saaz (1997, Sai Paranjpye) 

In Ritusamhara, Kalidasa captures different shades of the rainy season so very eloquently. Luckily for us, he lived and worked in a tropical country and thus included this season in his classic work.

Our dream merchants also do a fine job, armed as they happen to be with a medium which is visual and has a greater potential for engrossing the senses. However, Bollywood songs often lack the emotional depth and societal context which the poet captures in some detail.

[Notes:

  1. Translations of ‘Ritusamhara’ courtesy Mr. Desiraju Hanumanta Rao:

http://www.sanskritdocuments.org/sites/giirvaani/giirvaani/rs/rs_2.htm

  1. Movie buffs might be surprised at not finding the iconic song from Shri 420 ‘Pyaar hua iqrar hua…’ here. Since it has already been covered in the opening post, one did not wish to repeat it here as well.]

(Related Posts: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood-summer)

 

 

When Kalidasa speaks of Summer in Ritusamhara, he not only talks of the hot and dusty earth but also of the comfort of fountains and lily ponds, the moonlit nights spent either on cold slabs of marble or on terraces, the expectations of a good monsoon soon to follow and the affairs of the heart. He touches upon the manner in which lovers prepare for courtship in this harsh season. The use of fragrant flowers and sandal paste gets mentioned. The mention of soft sounds of the anklets worn by lissome damsels fires up our imagination.

How does Bollywood depict summer?  If the hero happens to be an agriculturist, and the script has a situation pertaining to drought, starvation or death, despondency prevails. Prayers get offered to the Rain God. Farmers even repose their faith in a saint-like man who, they believe, has miraculous powers to bring copious rains.

Romance is invariably in the air. Lovers continue to express their sentiments for the party of the other part. Young ladies pine for the company of their beloved, either alone or in the company of a close friend and confidante. Nights, moonlit or otherwise, offer a unique opportunity for a couple to enjoy few moments of privacy. The intoxicating fragrance of flowers cannot be smelt, though the joyful faces of the hero and heroine say it all.

Let us consider translation of some of the couplets of ‘Ritusamhara’ and some Bollywood songs which give us an inkling of the various ways in which our dream merchants depict the summer season.

“Oh, beloved, somewhere the moon is shoving the blackish columns of night aside, somewhere else the palace-chambers are highly exciting with water showering, sprinkling and splashing machines, and elsewhere the matrices of gems like moon-stones, coolant pearls etc are there, and even the pure sandalwood is liquefied with other coolant scents for smearing on bodies… thus, this season is getting an adoration from all the people…” [1-2]

Chori Chori (1956, Anant Thakur)

Dilli Ka Thug (1958, S D Narang)

Silsila (1981, Yash Chopra)

Razia Sultan (1983, Kamal Amrohi)

“Throughout the night the moon beheld the lineaments of damsels comfortably sleeping on white terraced rooftops and he is ecstasised, for he is unpossessed of any such flawless face; for his own face is dented with rabbit or deer; he is becoming pale-faced with the dwindling of night and surely he must be going into hiding as he has no face to face the flawless sun.”[1-9]

Asli-Naqli (1962, Hrishikesh Mukherjee)

Pakeezah (1972, Kamal Amrohi)

Lamhe (1991, Yash Chopra)

“The intolerable westerly wind of the summer is upheaving the clouds of dust; set by the blazing sun even the earth is ablaze; for the itinerants whose hearts are already put to blaze by the blaze called the detachment from their lady loves, now it has become impossible even to look at the blazing earth, to tread further…” [1-10]

Lekin (1991, Gulzar)

 Saathiya (2002, Shaad Ali)

“Certain women with their eagerness to meet their lovers are decorating necklaces on biceps, girdle chains at arms, eye mascara on forehead, and the vermilion mark of forehead – tilaka – on cheeks, and red lipstick as eye mascara etc in ecstatic confusion, which is inciting love in the hearts of itinerants.” [1-12]

Saudagar (1973, Sudhendu Roy)

Utsav (1984, Girish Karnad)

“Extremely withered as though by wildfire and utterly shriveled are the tender stalks of crops; as if windswept by harsh winds they are uprooted and completely wilted and reduced to straw; all over scorched are they in an overall manner as the water is vanished; if seen from highlands till the end of forest, this summer is foisting upon the onlookers a kind of disconcert, as the straw in the wind about the monsoon is unnoticeable.” [1-22]

Guide (1965, Vijay Anand)

Lagaan (2001, Ashutosh Gowariker)

“Oh, dear melodious singer, what if the summer is scorching… fragrant lotuses are overlaid on coolant waters, agreeably refreshing is the fragrance of Trumpet flowers, comfortable is the fresh water in bathing pools, pleasurable are those moonbeams, and with these pearly pendants and these jasmine garlands, let our simmering summer nights enjoyably slip by, while we abide on the tops of buildings right under the moonscape, savouring potations and amidst music and song…” [1-28]

Jaal (1952, Guru Dutt)

Leader (1964, Ram Mukherjee)

Kalidasa also speaks of forest fires and its devastating effect on the flora and fauna. He talks of lions, elephants and buffaloes who roam around with their parched throats. The searing heat makes them forget the natural animosity towards each other. Snakes find a shade beneath the plumage of peacocks, who are otherwise their sworn enemies. Even animals, when they face a mighty challenge of nature, they tend to forget a basic instinct – that of attacking their prey and devouring them.  Social dangers pale in significance when a natural calamity strikes.

“When wildfire scorched their bodies, elephants, buffalos and lions are coming together as friends discarding their dichotomic thinking of mutual hostilities; blighted thus by the fire, they are quickly exiting their habitual confines to enter the areas of rivers that have broad sandbanks…” [1-27]

Bollywood does not appear to have paid much attention to this aspect of Kalidasa’s work.

Admittedly, literature and movies are different genres in the realm of art and entertainment. The endeavour in this series of posts is not to compare Kalidasa’s inimitable works to Bollywood songs. It is merely to connect the dots, as it were, and check if some songs generate the kind of emotions the poet so very poignantly captures in his classical work.

[Note:

Translations of ‘Ritusamhara’ courtesy Mr. Desiraju Hanumanta Rao (http://www.sanskritdocuments.org/sites/giirvaani/giirvaani/rs/rs_1.htm)]

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/the-six-seasons-of-kalidasa-in-bollywood)

 

KalidasaKalidasa, said to be born in the 4th century AD, is widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language.  Had he been alive today, he would have been a very busy man, possibly assisted by a huge team of research assistants, dishing out scripts, dialogues and lyrics for a vast majority of our dream merchants in Bollywood.

His emphasis on capturing the innate beauty of nature might not have enthused many of our present day producers and directors. However, his evocative portrayal of female beauty and the passionate depiction of the affairs of the heart would have surely had the Bollywood movie makers in enthrall.

In his ‘Ritusamhara’ (Medley of Seasons), Kalidasa describes six seasons in his inimitable style: Summer (Greeshma), Monsoon (Varsha), Autumn (Sharad/Patjhad), Pre-winter (Hemant), Winter (Shishir) and Spring (Vasanta). Each one is dealt with evocative descriptions of the elements of nature. The seasons form a backdrop for the affairs of the heart and the sensuous pleasures of the skin.

The four seasons of Bollywood

Bollywood movies also capitalize on the affairs of the heart. But these use primarily four seasons as a backdrop: Summer, Monsoon, Winter and Spring. Autumn and Pre-winter do not get covered so very explicitly, though the landscape and the situation in the story can often give the viewer a clue about the same.

The following songs readily attest to the concept of four seasons expounded by Bollywood.

Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955, Director: V. Shantaram)

Aap Ki Kasam (1974, Director: J. Om Prakash)

Some Bollywood songs and the lens of Kalidasa

Even though Bollywood explicitly speaks of four seasons, it is tempting to use the lens of Kalidasa to view Bollywood songs.

Bollywood lovers court each other with gay abundance in all the seasons. Seasons often act as a complimentary backdrop to the mood of the hero and the heroine.

Moonlit nights of Summer facilitate singing of melodious songs in gardens with swaying palm trees.

Love Marriage (1959, Subodh Mukherjee)

Monsoon invariably induces a bolder expression of love. Hormones get all charged up.

Shri 420 (1955, Raj Kapoor)

Autumn is the season when lovers pine for each other.

Arzoo (1965, Ramanand Sagar)

Pre-winter is the season of renewed hope for the lovers.

Silsila (1981, Yash Chopra)

Winter ushers in a season of warm embraces and closer encounters of the amorous kind.

Aap Ki Kasam (1974, J. Om Prakash)

Spring is decidedly the season when thoughts of the young ones turn to romance.

Aandhi (1975, Gulzar)

For each of the seasons, a wide variety of songs can be mentioned. In the following posts, we shall review the six seasons of Kalidasa in some detail and try to see if Bollywood has willy-nilly celebrated these in the same spirit as that of the great Sanskrit poet.

Kalidasa’s challenges in the 21st century

Kalidasa, had he been around in our materialistic times, would have surely been laughing all the way to the bank, thanks to the insatiable appetite of Bollywood producers and directors for bolder and raunchier item numbers year after year. Commercial success being the motto, the demand for situations which justify an erotic twist to their scripts would have kept him and his team overworked at all times.

Nevertheless, one doubts if he would have been a happy man. Feminists of all hues would have hounded him no end, perhaps charging him with objectification of women’s anatomies. The delicately nurtured might have taken offence at the graphic details of their intimate affairs. Even those belonging to the tribe of the so-called sterner sex would have registered strong protests, demanding equal rights for their muscular and brawny anatomies also to be covered in the future editions of ‘Ritusamhara’.

Kalidasa might have taken a jaundiced view of the cinematic liberties taken with his scripts. He would have surely protested at being asked to pen inane soulless songs to suit whacky situations – that too with his lyrics expected to fit into a melody which would have already been composed and decided upon.

He would have lamented the lack of reference to nature, flora and fauna in Bollywood’s present day offerings. He would have fervently wished for yet another V. Shantaram to have burst upon the scene, with a delectable offering like this one from the movie Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti of 1967 vintage.

 

Here is a delectable post which celebrates women empowerment in Bollywood in a unique way!

(Related post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/women-through-the-bollywood-lens-part-1)

Bollywood & Beyond

Perhaps the young audience assume that all the changes in cinema are entirely new. They can be forgiven for their assumption because they perhaps had the examples of the movies from the 80s and 90s Bollywood. Although there are remarkable changes in Bollywood, it is  as yet full of stereotypical gentle, submissive women, who are epitomes of Shrinking Violets and Pristine Porcelains. Portrayal  of women in the early years of cinema, however should be considered a yardstick for excellent characterisation. It is not surprising because these were penned and thoroughly fleshed out by many great writers of the time as opposed to the “formula” of the 80s and 90s.

But everything that is thought to be groundbreaking in current movies has been done. Take for instance, women in action movies, just like Priyanka and Deepika, actress Nadia and later Zeenat Aman and Rekha, were known for quite a few action movie roles. So many other actresses also performed…

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raja_harishchandra_1913On the 3rd of May, 1913, the first ever Bollywood movie, ‘Raja Harishchandra’, was screened at Mumbai’s Coronation Cinema. Here is a tribute to some of the directors who have made the 103 year long journey of Bollywood so very remarkable.

ashokbhatia

Quite early in life, I discovered that a movie should be selected for viewing not based on its cast Lekinbut based on its director. Each director has a distinctive perspective on life, and the manner in which he/she presents a theme is as unique as, say, one´s finger prints. Admittedly, the core brilliance of a movie is determined by the producer-director duo. But the unmistakable stamp on the narrative is that of the director. To put it simply, if you sit down to watch a movie by Gulzar saheb, you know what to expect. On the other hand, if you are going to see a David Dhawan flick, you already suspect what is in store.

The Brand Equity of a Director

Over a period of time, a movie director builds up a strong brand equity for himself. It comes from the uniqueness of his style, the choice of his…

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Dadasaheb_Phalke_Stamp_1971As Indian cinema completes 103 years of its remarkable journey, it is time to remember the doyen of the industry whose passion, determination and perseverance started it all.

My Views On Bollywood

 By

 Sharada Iyer

 dadasaheb

A hundred and thirteen years back, one man’s passion and vision gave birth to what has become a billion dollar industry today which has managed to carve a unique identity for itself commanding respect from a worldwide audience and holds the distinction of producing the maximum number of films in the world in a year.

The man was Dhundiraj Govind Phalke or Dadasaheb Phalke as he is popularly referred to and with the release of his first silent film ‘Raja Harishchandra’, he not only became the Father of our Indian Cinema, but also inadvertently sowed the seeds of a passionate and deep-rooted relationship between movies and moviegoers in our country which has only grow deeper with the passage of time.

200px-Publicity_poster_for_film,_Raja_Harishchandra_(1913)My article is but a small tribute to this visionary genius…

May 3rd, 1913: This historic day marked the beginning of the journey…

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