Archive for December, 2022

Most of the songs in the movies being churned out by Bollywood happen to portray feelings of love. One often wonders as to how the heroine and the hero keep changing their outfits in each of the stanzas, keeping the wardrobe designers and producers laughing all the way to their respective banks. The high walls of manmade borders melt away, as they are seen wandering about on different continents of the world without any visa/immigration hassles, proving the age-old adage of Vasudhaiv Kutumbukam. Not to speak of the bevy of choreographers and a 100-piece orchestra which keeps following them scrupulously, without missing a single beat.

But once in a blue moon, we get treated to a love song which is more spontaneous in its depiction. The lyricist and the music director obviously work harder on creating such songs which appear as if these are getting composed by the couple in real time on the screen.

Consider the following songs which fall in this category. 

One of the very few love songs which has an office setting as a background.

Jaane kahaan mera jigar gaya ji…

Movie: Mrs and Mr 55 (1955)

Singers: Mohd. Rafi, Geeta Dutt

Music Director: O P Nayyar

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

 Here is a flirtatious song from an otherwise serious movie. The back-and-forth chat between the heroine and the hero is a sheer delight.  

Hum aapki ankhon mein…

Movie: Pyasa (1957)

Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Geeta Dutt

Music Director: S D Burman

Lyricist: Sahir Ludianvi

What happens when a lovers’ tiff results into a lovelorn backchat between the pair?

Achha ji main haari chalo…

Movie: Kala Pani (1958)

Singers: Mohd. Rafi & Asha Bhosle

Music: S.D. Burman

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

A mischievous heroine puts the poor hero through an ordeal and then has the cheek to teasingly ask as to how he is feeling!   

Haal kaisa hai janaab ka…

Movie: Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)

Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle

Music Director: S.D.Burman

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Claiming some dues from the party of the other part can happen even during a stage performance!

Paanch rupaiya barah anna…

Movie: Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)

Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle

Music Director: S D Burman

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

How did you fall in love with me, asks the heroine coyly!

Sach bata tu mujh pe fida…

Movie: Sone ki chidiya (1958)

Singers: Asha Bhosle, Talat Mehmood

Music: O P Nayyar

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

Yet another song where bickering between a couple takes place during a stage performance.  

Tere pyar ka aasra chahta hoon…

Movie: Dhool Ka Phool (1959)

Singers: Mahendra Kapoor, Lata Mangeshkar

Music Director: N. Datta

Lyricist: Sahir Ludhianvi

A romantic poem gets composed as the hero plays a muse to the heroine.

Chupke se mile pyaase pyaase…

Movie: Manzil (1960)

Singers: Geeta Dutt, Mohammed Rafi

Music Director: S. D. Burman

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

The lovers list the precautions the party of the other part should take, lest any harm may come to the flora and fauna around.

Bikhra ke zulfien chaman mein na jaana…

Movie: Nazrana (1961)

Singers: Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar

Music Director: Ravi

Lyricist: Rajendra Krishan

A delectable confluence of Carnatic and Hindustani music, this song captures the rivalry between two persons, both trying to woo the young lady.

Ek chatur naar…

Movie: Padosan (1968)

Singers: Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar

Music Director: R D Burman

Lyrics: Rajendra Krishan

Getting the beloved to accept that she loves the lover.

Baagon mein bahaar hai…

Movie: Aradhana (1969)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd. Rafi

Music Director: S D Burman

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

Even surreptitious meetings between a couple get overshadowed by the heroine’s wish to return home early!

Achha to hum chalte hain…

Movie: Aan Milo Sajna (1970)

Singers: Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar

Music Director: Laxmikant-Pyarelal

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

Strictly speaking, only the first portion of this song happens to be dialogue-driven. Nevertheless, overall, it surely has a dash of spontaneity to it!  

Sa re ga ma pa…

Movie: Abhinetri (1970)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar

Music Director: Laxmikant-Pyarelal

Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri

The subtle art of dodging the police by showcasing a clandestine meet as a lovers’ date.

O mere raja, khafa na hona…

Movie: Johnny Mera Naam (1970)

Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle

Music Director: Kalyanji Anandji

Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan

A budding romance soon gets transformed into a life-long commitment.

Aap yahaan aaye kisliye…

Movie: Kal Aaj Aur Kal (1971)

Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle

Music Director: Shankar Jaikishan

Lyricist: Neeraj

Social barriers and taboos keep the heroine on tenterhooks, whereas the hero is not worried about such mundane issues.

Gir gaya jhumka…

Movie: Jugnu (1973)

Music Director: S D Burman

Singers: Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

Two playful songs, depicting the sprouting of romantic feelings between two teenagers.  

Mujhe kuchh kehna hai…

Hum tum ek kamre mein band hon…

Movie: Bobby (1973)

Singers: Shailendra Singh, Lata Mangeshkar

Music Director: Laxmikant Pyarelal

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Couplets (dohas) of such Sufi poets as Rahim and Kabir have regaled generations with pristine wisdom, duly laced with an earthy common sense. Trust Rajshri Productions to string some of these together for our sake.   

Bade badaai na karen…

Movie: Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se (1978)

Singers: Hemalata, Jaspal Singh

Music Director: Ravindra Jain

Lyrics: Dohas of Rahim and Kabir

Keep the dialogue on and love will soon follow it its wake!

Suniye, kahiye…

Movie: Baton Baton Mein (1979)

Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle

Music Director: Rajesh Roshan

Lyricist: Amit Khanna

The hero regales a bunch of kids with a juicy story about his encounter with a lion.

Mere paas aao mere doston…

Movie: Mr. Natwarlal (1979)

Singer: Amitabh Bachchan, Master Ravi

Music Director: Rajesh Roshan

Lyricist: Anand Bakshi

The hero and the heroine are cooing to each other like turtle doves. They keep rhyming words and phrases and end up creating an impromptu song!

Kaise ho pagal…

Movie: Chashme Buddoor (1981)

Singers: Raj Kamal, Hemanti Shukla

Music Director: Raj Kamal

Lyricist: Indu Jain

When his six younger brothers fall hopelessly in love, the elder one guides them!

Pyaar tumhen kis mod pe le aaya…

Movie: Satte Pe Satta (1982)

Singers: Kishore Kumar, Bhupinder and others

Music Director: R D Burman

Lyricist: Gulshan Bawra

These are songs which, I believe, showcase a higher level of creativity on the part of our lyricists and music directors. To bring in a spontaneity of this kind is no mean task. Alas, these are very few and far between.

Can you think of any songs which could be added to this list? If so, please leave behind a comment below.  

{Note: Inputs from Ms Madhulika Liddle, Mr Sunil Jain and Ms Pooja Agrawal are gratefully acknowledged}.

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China’s actions to keep violating its borders with India with impunity continue unabated. So do its endeavours to create a ‘string of pearls’ around India. Time will tell if its plans to become a global superpower fructify, but when it comes to its southern neighbour, it may never be able to win over the hearts of Indians.  

Rewind to 1962

India observes National Solidarity Day on the 20th of October every year. This day is observed to honour her Armed Forces. China had begun its assault on India on this date in 1962, giving a good thrashing to Indian forces which were ill-prepared then to meet the challenge.

As a child of around 10 years then, I still remember the kind of patriotic fervour which had sprouted amongst the country’s citizens at the time. Tension in the air. Ears glued to the news bulletins of All India Radio. Blackened windows at home. Stocking of groceries. Half-blackened headlights on all the motorized vehicles. Patriotic songs at school. Movement restrictions. People rushing to train stations to convey their best wishes to departing jawans. Blankets, woollens, medicines, and jewellery being openly donated to strengthen the country’s response.  

Not surprisingly, Bollywood had unleashed its soft power to counter the aggression. At trade fairs and other public spaces, a song, Awaaz do hum ek hain, featuring some of the popular heroes of the era, was getting shown.

What followed were visits by popular stars to the frontier, cheering up the jawans. And, of course, the immortal song, Ae mere watan ke logon, rendered by Lata Mangeshkar in the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru, at a function in January 1963.

Movies like Haqeeqat (Chetan Anand, 1964) brought the harsh reality of war to our cinema halls.

Cut to the present

Beginning on the 5th of May 2020, Chinese and Indian troops engaged in aggressive melee, face-offs, and skirmishes at different locations along the Sino-Indian border. In late May, Chinese forces objected to Indian road construction in the Galwan river valley. According to Indian sources, melee fighting on the 15th/16th of June 2020 resulted in the deaths of many Chinese and Indian soldiers. A low-voltage conflict persists till date, with occasional flare-ups across the border having become the norm.

This time round also, Bollywood has not failed us, but in a different way. The patriotic fervour is not getting whipped up. Instead, nationalistic sentiments appear to be already occupying the centre stage. Increasingly, it appears as if the soft power of Bollywood is being deployed to keep our attention away from the predatory tactics of our northern neighbour.

In 2020, the suicide of one of Bollywood’s popular stars, Sushant Singh Rajput, and his alleged girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, kept us riveted to our television screens, conveniently forgetting the attack on our territorial integrity and even the raging pandemic.

These days, an unsavoury and inane controversy has been whipped up around the colour of the bikini worn by a Bollywood diva in a song of a movie which is scheduled to get released in January 2023. Sure enough, such issues as an aggression on our borders, galloping inflation, increasing unemployment, rising social distrust and polarization, and more people having gone down the poverty line in India have got swept under the carpet. The voyeuristic eyes of the so-called sterner sex of our species are having a field day. As luck would have it, the movie has ended up grabbing our eyeballs much before it would hit the screens.   

We appear to be living in an era of strident nationalism, backed by attempts to keep the fire of communal disharmony burning bright, ostensibly with a view to encashing the same for electoral gains for the ruling dispensation. We keep playing the victim card favouring the majority community to the hilt, painting the minor ones in villainous shades. Patriotism appears to have taken a backseat in our mental space.  

Of movies and patriotism

Amitabh Bachchan, a doyen of the industry, had made some insightful observations at a public function recently. He had spoken of the way in which the movie industry had always stood up against oppression of any kind, right through the days of British occupation of India in the past. For your ready reference, here is the link to his speech which I refer to:

He bemoaned the jingoism and imaginary historical movies which are in tandem with the current political discourse and even referred to the boycott culture which appears to be making light of the formal system of film censorship which India follows.

In a way, Vijay, the disgruntled hero of the iconic movie Pyaasa (Guru Dutt, 1957) was very much like the Vijay of Deewaar (Yash Chopra, 1975), played by Amitabh Bachchan himself. Both stood up against the traditional norms of society. Ganashatru (Satyajit Ray, 1990), mentioned by the renowned actor in his speech referred to above, gave us hope that howsoever rotten the system may be, the youth stand up to support a fair and just approach to problem solving.      

Bollywood deserves to be commended for the staple diet of opium it keeps dishing out for the Indian masses. However, this time around, the support of a pliant media, backed by a motivated use of social media channels, appears to be magnifying its endeavours at keeping us engaged, entertained, and enthused, enveloping us in a kind of selective amnesia, putting some critical issues on the backburner.

A time for some introspection?

In one of his articles, Prof Badri Raina had distinguished between nationalism and patriotism as under:

Nationalism enjoins upon us to believe that our air is the most salubrious, our water magical, our sunsets and sunrises uniquely blessed, our accumulated histories and legends superior to those of all others, our culture the only worthwhile culture, our religious faiths nearest to god, and our stores of knowledge beyond compare.

Patriotism acknowledges that where I live is my beloved space, warts, and all. It makes no claims to exceptionalisms that are thought to be God’s unique gift to us. It recognises that our streets are shabby, our lanes full of clutter, our habits shoddy, our resistance to rationality often grossly debilitating, our defiance of law a routine habit of mind, our male chauvinism shameful and violent, our casteism or racism or communalism deleterious to the most desirable ideals of human rights and human oneness.

While the dragon keeps giving us the chills at the borders, our trade relations continue to show a heart-warming trend. Total merchandise trade between India and China rose 34% to $115.83 billion in the 12 months to March 2022, according to data from the Commerce Ministry released to parliament some time back.

Time for us, the denizens of India, to look within and check if we have lost our innate sense of patriotism; or have we outsourced our thinking prowess and discriminatory powers, thereby losing our ability to sift the wheat from the chaff? Have we got used to getting distracted by inane internal issues and resigning to a relentless bullying by China thus? Can we demolish the narrow walls we have built around ourselves and take a strategic call on meeting external challenges of this kind?

Hopefully, our dynamic government is already working on the same.

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Gone are the days when teachers could terrorize their students with nasty looks, well-oiled canes, and threats to suspend them without seeking any explanations. Now a days, it is the hapless teachers who are at the receiving end, having to justify taking any action against their pupils. Principles of natural justice apply. Pupils, and their doting parents, often demand a democratic style of education, where both the teacher and the taught get treated as equals.

One of the safest courses for the teachers to take these days is to write non-threatening and non-accusatory letters to the parents, conveying only their love for the misdemeanours of the pupils and pointing out the ways of reforming them. Being polite and ensuring a positive tone is of paramount importance.

Imagine rogue kids like Thos, Seabury, Bongo, Peggy, Edwin the Scout, Sebastian, and Clementina studying in any of the present-day schools. What would the harvest be?

Let us consider some of the e-mails and letters recently said to have been received by their blissfully ignorant guardians.

Dear Ms Gregson,

We are delighted to inform you that your child, Master Thomas Gregson, displays remarkable initiative. Not for him the simple-minded obedience to teachers. He believes in thinking out-of-the-box and shows early traits of growing into a business leader with a manipulative mindset.

We refer to his admirable refusal to do homework. We have, however, humbly requested him to stoop to our level and condescend to do his homework.

We also find his habit of leaving visiting dignitaries stranded on the small island in the lake at our premises by setting their boats adrift a trifle disturbing. One of them was recently attacked by an angry swan and vowed to put a hold on his annual contributions of a rather generous nature, thereby forcing us to shut the swimming pool funded by a charity in his wife’s name. This has led to widespread protests by other students. One of the governors was even wondering if we could request you to henceforth foot the bill. We have also counselled him to stay at home on the days when any dignitary visits us next.

Your support in the matter will be appreciated.

Yours anxiously,


Dear Lady Chuffnell,

We are pleased to let you know that Master Seabury is doing as well in his studies as in bullying those who happen to annoy him. We support him in his belief that the art of bullying is what a kid needs these days, to survive and do well, especially when getting trolled for some inane stuff. Authority is something he does not care much about. He believes in equitable and fair treatment. He can look his Latin teacher and warden in the eye and demand protection money. In case it does not get coughed up within the due date, he takes appropriate steps.

He has developed a keen interest in an innovative use of all kinds of dairy products. The in charge of the school mess is never surprised when the slabs of butter stored in the cold store vanish overnight. If the protection money is not paid, he loses no time in creating a butter slide on the steps of the warden’s cottage. Since the latter is covered by the school’s group insurance policy, we merely counselled your child to avoid taking such steps in future and to ensure that at least some quantity of butter is left behind, so the children may not suffer at breakfast time the next morning.

We convey this only by way of information, not as a complaint. We are hopeful that he will one day become a famous dairy expert.

With best wishes,


Dear Ms Travers,

Reg: Master Bonzo Travers

We write this to inform that your child’s distaste for mundane subjects such as mathematics shows an imaginative mind which appears to be more appreciative of subjects in the realm of humanities and fine arts. Why, he wonders, does the square of the hypotenuse have to be equal to the square of the other two sides in a right-angled triangle? He also demands proof that (x + y)-squared translates into x-squared plus y-squared, plus 2 times x into y. It is no wonder that he has scored a splendid zero in his math exam. Unfortunately, even brilliant students must pass exams. Could you gently break that news to him?

We are of the view that given his inquisitive mind, he has a bright future ahead of him as a movie critic, provided he gives up his current infatuation with Emma Corrin.

Yours entreatingly,


Dear Prof. Mainwaring,

Your child Ms Peggy Mainwaring and few of her close friends at school are good at making visiting lecturers nervous. They simply start giggling while the lecture if going on. They also keep staring at the hapless lecturer who is left shuddering from the top of his head to the base. We are of the opinion that she has a great future as a psychoanalyst.

But what we get unduly concerned about is that she slyly persuades the visitor to part with his cigarette case. Often, we have noticed her and her friends hiding away in the shrubbery and puffing contentedly, breathing in the deadly fumes which could do their tender lungs a great deal of damage. We have, of course, counselled her against this, pointing out that Covid is yet to melt away and it is a significant risk she is taking.

While we admire her social and leadership skills, on the academic front, we have recently found that she submitted a blank paper for last week’s science test, influenced by Albert Camus who said, ‘Whether the earth or the sun revolves around the other is a matter of profound indifference’. Your daughter shares that profound indifference, undoubtedly for philosophical reasons.

You may desire to have a word with her as to her developing a smoking habit. Could you kindly also inform her that to study psychology, she must pass class eight first?

Yours plaintively,

Ms Tomlinson

Hon’ble Lord of Worplesdon,

We have always been appreciative of the kind of scientific and engineering flair displayed by Master Edwin Craye. He deserves to be applauded not only for his innovative skills but also for the daily acts of kindness he keeps performing, bringing much succour to his teachers and fellow students.

He can be often found making earnest attempts to open and repair the smart phones of his teachers, after the same have been stolen and then thrown by him into the small fishpond on the school campus. After many of his failed attempts, tiny parts of the damaged phones are found spread all over the corner of the Physics laboratory where he works on some utopian projects.

Leaving lizards and frogs between the sheets of his hostel mates is his way of learning biology.

Whenever the canteen chimney gets clogged, he rushes in to clean it with gunpowder and paraffin. Just the other day, he inadvertently ended up starting a major fire on the premises. Luckily, the fire tenders came in promptly and brought the blaze under control. There was no loss of life or limb. However, a banjo and many other musical instruments used by the school orchestra for a practice session the previous evening were burnt to ashes.

He has a taste in literature, owing to the influence of Lady Florence Craye, his elder sister. It is unfortunate that he is yet to read Types of Ethical Theory. Instead, he appears to be under the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, which is perhaps why he was copying from the boy next to him during yesterday’s test. Like Nietzsche, he believes that Supermen like him have little use for conventional notions of morality. The teacher who caught him copying is a conventional type and promptly gave him a zero.

Yours desperately,


Dear Ms Moon,

Regarding: Master Sebastian Moon

We are impressed by your child’s knowledge of martial arts. In the past month, he has broken two legs, four arms and three noses. He also shows prudence while fighting, taking care to pick on weaker boys. For some reason, however, the fathers of the boys who were beaten up are planning to come over to your home with hockey sticks.

He also happens to be besotted with Drew Barrymore, a Hollywood diva of yesteryears. If you can arrange for him to see more of her movies at home, especially those in the Charlie’s Angels series, he might mend his aggressive ways, try to rise to his higher self, and demonstrate that he is worthy of her affection.

Yours wretchedly,


Dear Parent,

Your ward, Ms Clementina, is a very resourceful student. She is an expert at putting sherbet in the ink pots in her classroom. She has also learnt the art of going AWOL on her birthdays, persuading Ms Roberta Wickham, a cousin of hers, to organize a dinner-cum-movie outing to celebrate the occasion, with the active assistance of Bertie Wooster, her friend.

When Bertie came in to make a courtesy call on Ms Mapleton, our principal, he ended up helping St. Monica’s by chasing away some intruders, even though a guardian of the law happened to be present and only managed to distract him. In the ensuing melee, Clementina managed to sneak in unnoticed and was subsequently found sleeping peacefully in her bed. A letter praising Bertie’s exemplary conduct was promptly despatched to Aunt Agatha.

We are always concerned about the safety and wellbeing of our wards. We suggest such escapades of your daughter get attempted only against a letter of prior approval directly from yourself.

Worriedly yours,

Warden and Class Teacher     

(Illustration concerning Thos had originally appeared in The Strand magazine; it has been sourced through https://www.madameulalie.org/index.html. Illustration concerning Peggy is courtesy Suvarna Sanyal)

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Recently, your truly had the privilege of addressing members of the Rotary Club of Pondicherry Mid Town. Business lessons from some of the cartoons created by the inimitable R K Laxman and Mario Miranda were presented.

Since the orange juice served before the talk was not laced with an appropriate tissue restorative, yours truly was all of a twitter. At such occasions, one tends to get tongue-tied, much like a Gussie Fink Nottle when he runs into a Madeline Bassett. Nevertheless, the Wooster policy of a chin-up attitude comes to one’s rescue. Services of one’s nerves of chilled steel have to be called upon. It also helps not to have any giggling girls in the audience.

This is how yours truly was introduced to the audience.

“Mr Bhatia is a management guy by profession and a romantic at heart. He did his MBA in what he labels as the pre-Jurassic period…

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There are indeed times when one is feeling rather chuffed and believing that God is in heaven and all is right with the world, and it is precisely at times such as these that life plays a cruel joke on one. Residents of Plumsville would agree that it quietly sneaks up behind one and strikes at the not-at-all-bulging-at-the-back head of one with a hollow lead pipe, duly stuffed with cast iron pellets.

A straight forward person like yours truly would never aspire to walk in the footsteps of someone like Soapy Molloy or Sid Marks. But life recently played a prank and made me come very close to such an experience.

I had just returned to my home and hearth in Pondicherry, India, from a lovely trip to Europe, full of sweet memories of the time spent with my children and grandchildren who inhabit that part of the world. The…

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Caring Michelangelo's_Pieta

If we look a little deeper, we are apt to find that lifestyle diseases not only represent a crisis in our lives. These also provide us an opportunity for a spiritual upliftment of sorts.

Take the case of a patient suffering from diabetes. The manner in which this affliction leads one to progress on the path of spirituality can be readily appreciated by considering what a hapless patient has to go through.

Surely, no one aspires to have a silent killer like diabetes as a part of the package of challenges life offers. But once known to be afflicted by it, it takes courage to accept the fact – internally as well as socially. One’s propensity to accept things in a courageous manner goes up.

Willingly having to forsake the pleasures of the palate, the patient learns the art of humility. Delectable sweets get banned from one’s dining table…

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