Posts Tagged ‘Hindi’

Charles Darwin, were he to be around in the exciting times that we live in these days, and if commissioned by a prominent Hollywood studio to study the manner in which Hindi movies have evolved over time, might have come up with some unique insights into the matter!

Perhaps, he might have proposed that movies do change over time, that new movies often pop up from some of the pre-existing ones, and that all movies share two common ancestors – an Adam who keeps providing the producers with healthy returns on their investment and an Eve who keeps nourishing wide-eyed-and-glued-to-their-seats kind of denizens with wholesome entertainment. He might have proposed that the concept of entertainment itself has undergone a major transformation. If the audience in the past used to get entertained by movies based on classical music and dance forms – like Baiju Bawra (1952) and Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955), the flavour of the season now is that of item numbers, say, something on the lines of ‘Laila o Laila…’ in Raees (2017), which are meant for momentary gratification only, soon to be forgotten.

Recently, Bandish Bandits (2020) came as a whiff of fresh air.

He might have pointed out that there are indeed movies which try to convey a social message as well, but these belong to a different genre/species. When it comes to caste-based prejudices, we have had Sujata (1959), Masaan (2015) and Article 15 (2019). A movie like Jhund (2022) showcases the everyday struggles of vagabond Dalit youngsters, haunted by the humiliating gaze of society. Speak of the disadvantaged and we are apt to think of Ankur (1974), Akrosh (1980), Chakra (1981) and Nil Battey Sannata (2015). Think of the angst of the educated unemployed and we discover Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai (1980) and Rang De Basanti (2006). Speak of sex workers and movies like Chandni Bar (2001), Chameli (2003) and Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022) pop up in our minds.     

He might have even concluded that there is no universally applicable formula for whipping up a blockbuster, that past success does not guarantee future conquest, that such formulae have a rather short shelf-life, and that one must factor in the then prevailing social mores, the economic condition of the target audience and the impact of disruptive technology which has its own pace of evolution. If a delectable mix of sex and violence worked at a time, and if star power was the magnet which kept the box office aflame, content, acting prowess and slick editing work the magic now.

He might have pointed out that each genre/species has its own unique characteristics, that each one has its own path of evolution, and that the onset of the multiplex phase, followed by the OTT-era, has enabled our dream merchants to climb newer heights of imagination. Those of us who have loved such series as Gullak (2019-2022) and Panchayat (2020 onwards) might concur with this thought.   

Specifically, he may have made a few general observations about the evolution of our Hindi movies over time:

Some Tectonic Shifts

In the pre-partition days, the audience lapped up offerings which were based on values, patriotism, mythology, or religious beliefs. Raja Harishchandra (1913), Bhakt Vidur (1921), and Amar Jyoti (1936) can be mentioned in this context. Kismet (1943) was a different cup of tea altogether.   

In the years followed by India’s independence, hopes for a new country ran high. Besides romantic ones, idealistic movies steeped in socialistic thinking – like Awara (1951), Boot Polish (1954), Jagte Raho (1956), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957), Mother India (1957), Pyaasa (1957), and Phir Subah Hogi (1958) – came up. Mythologicals like Sampoorna Ramayan (1958) and Mahabharat (1965) also kept the audience engaged.  A primarily agrarian economy liked such offerings as Do Bigha Zamin (1953).  

In the next decade, we loved seeing movies like Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Hum Dono (1961), Sangam (1964), Guide (1965), and Aradhana (1969).

During the 1970s, the angst of the common man was identified by our dream merchants to be a key point of attraction. Movies like Deewaar (1975) and Sholay (1975) came to rule our collective psyche. Thanks to the likes of Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani and others, the parallel cinema stream catered to the tastes of the intelligentsia. We also had some Hollywood-style movies with a taut script, such as Ittefaq (1969) and Achanak (1973). The critics loved these, but not the non-discerning audience sold on cheap melodrama.

Thereafter, many of us would remember Tezaab (1988), Chaalbaaz (1989), DDLJ (1995), Lagan (2001), and Bunty aur Babli (2005). Somewhere down the road, cheap, low budget movies aimed at the front benchers also flooded the market. Many of these were South Indian productions made on tight budgets starring the likes of Jeetendra etc. in this phase, the production sources were dubious, and films were tasteless and crass. Over time, the upper classes withdrew from cinema halls and started devouring movies on VCRs.

Thanks to economic liberalization, we started becoming Westernised to an unrecognisable extent. Consumerism started blooming. The joint family system started disintegrating. Individualistic themes gained prominence. Gradually, we found ourselves faced with the reality of living not only in ‘Bharat’ but also in ‘India.’  The former was catered to by single-screen theatres. However, thanks to upward mobility, rising incomes, and ready availability of international merchandise, the culture of shopping malls and multiplexes sprouted. The multiplex phenomenon opened the doors for shorter and crisper flicks, based mostly on urban-centric themes. The cinematic landscape changed, offering ultra-commercial masala fare dished out by the likes of Subhash Ghai and Sanjay Leela Bhasali to the ultra-niche cinema of Vishal Bhardwaj, R Balki, Anurag Kashyap and Madhur Bhandarkar. 

Over time, internet became easily available and then OTT followed. We, the audience, exposed as we were to international media offerings, became choosier. Now, our critical eye looks at a wider range of the cinematic offerings – its genre, storyline, acting prowess of the characters, music, camera movements, technical excellence, and so forth.

The Yin and Yang Balance  

Most of you who have examined the phenomenon of falling in love would agree that in the earlier days of Bollywood, those belonging to the tribe of the so-called sterner sex happened to be the dashers and the knights in shining armours who could do nothing wrong. All the hero had to do was to flex his muscles, and a coy member of the tribe of the so-called delicately nurtured would swoon and fall in his arms. Most of the times, the females would not be dashers but merely dormice, exerting their soft power occasionally. Only once in a blue moon, when pushed with their backs to a wall, did they strike back.

Cut to the present. The heroes are no longer diffident about shedding their macho image and reveal their softer side on the screen. The heroines have now become far more decisive and assertive. They resist amorous advances. They call the shots. They continue to be as beautiful as ever but have become far bolder. Now, they come into their own out of sheer free will, revealing the inner strength they possess.

Even though the fight against a deeply entrenched patriarchal mindset is far from being over, the Yin-Yang balance has tilted in favour of the females. They rule the roost. On the other hand, the males are no longer shy about showing their vulnerabilities. The male rabbit often gets attracted by a female dasher. He no longer has the luxury of concentrating on some mild, gentle dormouse with whom he could settle down peacefully and nibble lettuce. In the past, we had Arth (1982) where the heroine chooses to lead a life independent of either her well-wisher or her ex-husband. Of late, we have had such movies as Astitva (2000), Aitraaz (2004), Wake-Up Sid (2009), Inkaar (2013), Queen (2013), Dedh Ishqia (2014), Ki and Ka (2016), English Vinglish (2012), Thappad (2020), and Jugg Jugg Jiyo (2022), which speak of women empowerment. On the OTT platforms, we have had Delhi Crime (2019), Bombay Begums (2021), Modern Love Mumbai (2022), and Modern Love Hyderabad (2022).

Not to forget such stand-alone female-centric movies as Kahaani (2012), Gulaab Gang (2014), Mardaani (2014), Parched (2015), Nil Battey Sannata (2015), Jai Gangaajal (2016), Neerja (2015), and Gunjan Saxena (2020), where males play either a supplementary or a villainous role. 

Of late, script-backed roles for heroines have gained better traction. The effeminate side of males has garnered better prominence. Heady days are here!

Mamma Mia!

The image of the Indian mother has got a 180-degree makeover.

From a weepy, sacrificing Sulochana (Dil Deke Dekho, 1959) and Nirupa Roy (Do Bigha Zamin, 1953) to a dictatorial Dina Pathak (Khoobsurat, 1980) and Supriya Pathak (Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, 2013), we have seen her role metamorphosing over the decades. Now, we even have a mother who hatches a plan to torture/murder an abusive son-in-law, a la Shefali Shah (Darlings, 2022)!

Yes, we have always had the morally upright mother who goes to an extreme to restrain her errant son, like Nargis (Mother India, 1957) or Reema Lagoo (Vaastav, 1999).

Sex Education

No more flowers swaying in a gentle breeze touching other flowers. We are not only beautiful; we are also bold. Steamy scenes are now an essential part of a movie/series. Several movies use the services of an ‘Intimacy Director’ to manage the delicacy of such scenes, when getting shot. Teenagers no longer need to necessarily depend upon unreliable sources to learn the nuances of love making.

Consider the 1953 version of Parineeta (Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari) wherein the mere act of garlanding signifies a matrimonial alliance. However, in the 2015 version (Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan), the level of intimacy between the couple goes to a different level altogether.

LGBT relationships are out of the closet and no longer make us raise our eyebrows, like Fire (1996) managed to do in the past. Whether it is a series like The Fame Game (2022) or movies like Badhai Do (2022) or Maja Ma (2022), such affairs are now out in the open.  

Technology Rules

No more dacoits on real horses. Thanks to our new-found sensitivity towards other species, most scenes depicting animals depend on technology, which has made things easier. Compare the magnificent battle scenes of Mughal-E-Azam (1960) with those of Samrat Prithviraj (2022). In the latter, whole battalions of soldiers can be seen marching ahead in perfect unison, putting our brave soldiers who participate in the Indian Republic Day parade each year to shame. The absurdity and the sheer artificiality of the scene made me laugh out aloud, prompting my multiplex co-viewers look at me with scorn, their shapely highbrows raised more than an inch.   

‘Dishoom-dishoom’ scenes have all but vanished. Instead, what we have now are gravity-defying stunts which would be leaving Sir Isaac Newton shaking his head in disbelief and perhaps even squirming in his grave.

The day is not far off when AI-backed tools will be churning out innovative scripts, screenplays, and lyrics, leaving many of the Bollywood writers and lyricists crying all the way to their respective banks.

The Diminishing Returns of Tragedies

One of the side-effects of the arrival of economic liberalization has been the reduction in the audience’s appetite for outright tragedies. When the aspirational upwardly class is obsessed with chasing economic goals, there is a greater need for positive narratives and happy endings. Tragedies like Andaz (1949) and Sahib, Bibi aur Gulam (1962), featuring such actors as Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari, gradually become passe. While feel-good and revenge-oriented themes continue to be popular, movies like Matto Ki Saikil (2022), which depict the harsh realities of life, receive critical acclaim but meet with open disdain at the box office.

Many Shades of Grey

Gone are the days when we would be shuddering in our seats in a theatre while listening to Amrish Puri saying ‘Mogambo khush hua…’ while drumming his heavily ring-infested fingers on one of the arms of his throne, or Gabbar Singh calling out ‘Arre o Sambha, kitne aadmi they…?’ while prowling around menacingly with a pistol aimed at three of his terrified cronies, or Prem Chora pouncing upon a damsel in distress with clear intentions of outraging her modesty while mouthing such dialogues as ‘Prem naam hai mera, Prem Chopra’.

If Pran was a suave but scheming villain unleashing his vicious plans on a hapless couple, Ajit, duly attired in a white coat and even wearing white-coloured shoes, sent quite a few shivers down our spines. In each story, there was a good guy and a bad guy. When the ‘angry young man’ happened, the hero’s character itself took on an unapologetic black shade.

If Sholay set a new benchmark in the action sequences, directors like Vidhu Rahul Rawail, Vinod Chopra, and Ram Gopal Verma gave us gut-wrenching fights and dreaded villains in such movies as Arjun (1985), Parinda (1989), Satya (1998), Shool (1999), and Shiva (2006). These showcasedraw cycle chain and knuckle duster fights.

The advent of characters with negative shades has further accentuated this transformation; think of Shahrukh Khan in Baazigar (1993) and Darr (1993), Kajol in Gupt (1997), Aishwarya Rai in Khakee (2004), and Aamir Khan in Fanaa (2006), just to name a few.

I am skipping flicks in the horror genre here because I have never watched any of these.

Once liberalization happened, nobody had the nerve to lash out at a rich guy. Wealth ceased to be a liability; instead, it became a desirable goal and a badge to be unabashedly worn on one’s sleeve. Blacks and whites disappeared from our screens, and shades of grey became predominant. Movies moved closer to the real world and ceased to be pure fantasies. 

The brain started kicking on all its six cylinders and eventually started ruling over brawn. In the past, cerebral offerings such as Jewel Thief (1967) were few and far between. Now, we have the likes of Kahaani (2012), Andhadhun (2018), Raat Akeli Hai (2020) and Drishyam (2013, 2022) keeping us biting our nails and twiddling our thumbs trying to figure out what will hit us next.  

This trend gained further traction owing to a seminal change brought about by OTT. Think of Abhishek Bachchan playing Bob Biswas in Breathe: Into the Shadows (2020) series.

The original script of one of our epics, Ramayana, is still there. But the shades of the hero and the villain have evolved. Achieving the goal has become supreme; means be damned. Just like the characters in Mahabharata, different shades of grey prevail.

Lingua Franca

Given the delightfully rich diversity of Indian languages and dialects, movie makers obviously do a smart thing by resorting to the local dialect when presenting different characters on the screen. For example, Aamir Khan mouthed dialogues in what is alluded to as the tapori dialect of Mumbai (Rangeela, 1995). Tamannah Bhatia aped the Haryanvi dialect in Babli Bouncer (2022).  

But when the characters start using cuss words, things go a bit too far, especially in movies which are meant for general viewing. Take the case of Vidya Balan in Ishqia (2010) or Rani Mukherji in No One Killed Jessica (2011).

However, with the plethora of movies and serials which capture the endeavours of northern hinterland warlords inundating our screens of late, this appears to have become a trend. The warlords wait till the end to jump into the fray directly. They let their henchmen do the dirty work, while they enjoy a public life which is as pure as freshly driven snow.

Likewise, urban-themed offerings now ape the American way, routinely using such words as sh*t, fu*k, and the like. This is the new normal.

Consider Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Jamtara – Sabka Number Ayega (2020), Masaba Masaba (2020), and Hush Hush (2022) for instance.

The Loo Mania

Relieving oneself in open is rather common in India. However, to have it depicted on our screens, is rather nauseating and appalling. By doing so, the message given out is that it is perfectly normal to do so.

Even our top-notch actors have not shied away from performing such acts. Many of us would remember Akshay Kumar gleefully doing it in Singh is Kinng (2008), Madhavan and Sharman Joshi in 3 Idiots (2009), Ranbir Kapoor in Besharam (2013) and Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwaani (2013), Aamir Khan in PK (2014), and Anupam Kher in Baby (2015).

The fact that a tactic of this kind needs to be resorted to merely to improve the Comic Quotient of a movie goes on to show our directors and script writers to be woefully short of imagination at times. 


The Sounds of Music

Over the decades, the music in Hindi movies has evolved in more ways than one.

Mother Nature Gets a Short Shrift

Elements of nature (moon, rains, lakes, rivers, seasons, clouds…) have gone missing. High rises, cityscapes, interpersonal relations take the front seat. So do emotions, feelings, and the like.

Songs like ‘‘Ye raat ye chandni phir kahaan…’ (Jaal, 1952), ‘Aaja sanam Madhur chandni mein hum…’ (Chori Chori, 1956), ‘Ye raatein ye mausam…’ (Dilli Ka Thug, 1958), ‘O sajana, barkha bahaar aayi’ (Parakh; 1960) and ‘Chalo dildaar chalo, chaand ke paar chalo…’ (Pakeezah, 1972) have almost vanished from the silver screen. Once in a while, we get treated to such songs as ‘Suraj hua maddham’ (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham; 2001), ‘Barso re…’ (Guru, 2007) and ‘Hawaayein…’ (Jab Harry Met Sejal, 2017).

Visual Appeal Elbows Out Our Ears and Minds 

Gradually, the orchestra and the sound have elbowed out the lyrics somewhat. Songs which appealed to the audience not only for their deep layered meaning but also for their soulful music have become part of a rare breed. Philosophical truths of life have got relegated to the background. Thus, we have become used to getting entertained by offerings which accord a higher priority to our ears than to our minds.

Moreover, with the new-found zeal for quick cuts, adroit camera work and the razzle-dazzle of a heightened visual appeal, we have virtually stopped hearing songs and have willy-nilly become reconciled to seeing them. Cinematography rules. Locations keep changing in quick succession. Even before we have had the chance to savour one, the next one pops up. The camera has become obtrusive. Even if a patriotic song like ‘Teri mitti mein mil jaawan…’ (Kesari, 2019) comes up, we are exposed to a visual world which is in the fast forward mode. Since our eyes are constantly being bombarded with visual information, the hapless ear often has no other option but to take the back seat. 

Actors no longer need to worry much about their lip-synching abilities. Most songs get relegated to the background.

Cabarets have metamorphosed into ‘item numbers’.

Lullabies Lose Out to Screen Time for Kids!

No longer do we have scripts with room for any lullabies. Remember ‘Aa ja ri aa, nindiya tu aa…’ (Do Bigha Zamin, 1953), ‘Mein gaoon tum so jaao…’ (Brahmachari, 1968) and ‘Pyara sa gaon…’ (Zubeida, 2001)? Of late, the only lullaby we got treated to was ‘Jo tum saath ho…’ (Salaam Venky, 2022).

Kids are smarter these days. They need only their technical gizmos to get to sleep. Parents may rest easy. Inspired by ‘Mere buddy…’ (Bhootnath, 2008), grandparents of all hues, sizes and shapes are busy honing their dancing skills!

Like real-life kids, reel-like kids have also become far more intelligent, often mouthing dialogues which would leave us twiddling our thumbs trying to figure out their real age. Gone are the day of innocence epitomized by Baby Naaz, Daisy Irani and Baby Farida.

Species Which Have Become Extinct

Besides vamps and villains, poor comedians have also become mostly extinct. Though we still have the likes of Raghuvir Yadav and Rajpal Yadav entertaining us, the separate comedy tracks have all but vanished from our screens. Such roles have been usurped by mainstream heroes and heroines.

The comic timing of such talented artists as Sridevi (Chandni, o meri Chandni…Chandni, 1989) and Akshay Kumar (Hera Pheri, 2000 onwards) has consigned the parallel comedy track in which we earlier had such character artists as Johnny Walker, Mehmood, Mukri, Agha, Tuntun, Aruna Irani, Manorama et al, to the dustbins of history. In the past, even some villains had tried their hands at comedy, and successfully, at that. I refer to Amjad Khan in such movies as Qurbani (1980) and Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986).

An interesting phase was that of the Wodehousian comedy of a subtle kind, presented to us by such artists as Om Prakash, Utpal Dutt, and David in such movies as Chupke Chupke (1975), Golmaal (1979) and Baaton Baaton Mein (1979)

Even the golden hearted house help, popularly known as ‘Ramu Kaka’,has all but vanished.

Of Political Headwinds

Our politicos have never shied away from influencing the kind of messages which need to be conveyed to the hoi polloi through the powerful medium of cinema. Our dream merchants have also been sensitive to the political thinking of the day, coming up with movies which are relevant to the theme of the times.

The first Chinese aggression in 1962 prompted Chetan Anand to come up with Haqeeqat (1964) which tugged at our heartstrings. 

Naunihal (1967), directed by Raj Marbros, was about Raju, an orphan, who believes that his only surviving relative is Chacha Nehru. The film’s music was composed by Madan Mohan, with lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, including the song ‘Meri Aawaz Suno, Pyar ka Raaz Suno’, sung by Mohammad Rafi. The song captured not only the funeral procession of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru but also his study and his office; a loving tribute, indeed, to a towering personality then.

Much later, in 1988, one of his seminal works, The Discovery of India (1946), was presented by Shyam Benegal in the form of a television serial, labelled as Bharat Ek Khoj.

Rewind back to 1965, when Pakistan attacked India. Mr Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minister, came up with the slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’. He is said to have persuaded Manoj Kumar to come up with a movie based on the slogan. That is how we got to see Upkar (1967).

Assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 led to riots in Delhi and elsewhere. The same were covered in the recent movie Jogi (2022) and were also briefly touched upon in Laal Singh Chadha (2022).

Mani Ratnam gave us Bombay (1995), based on the riots which took place in the city between December 1992 and January 1993 after the demolition of the Babri Masjid led to religious tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities. Gujarat riots in 2002 led to movies like Parzania (2005) and Firaaq (2008)

In the recent past, many of us have been swayed by the political headwinds and movies with a jingoistic nationalism have caught our imagination. A movie like Kashmir Files (2022) which shows a minority community in a negative light has been openly promoted by the present ruling dispensation. Another one, Samrat Prithviraj (2022), went a step further and highlighted the bravery and sense of nationalism of the majority community. The Accidental Prime Minister (2019) attempted to show the previous Prime Minister in a negative light, and now we wait for Emergency (2023).

Come to think of it, the worlds of movies and politics have several common traits. Dream merchants thrive in both. So does star power. Funding and returns on investment are fundamental concerns. Eventually, the onus of sifting the wheat from the chaff obviously falls on the common public. 

A Rich Cultural Heritage Getting Lost?

It may not be out of context to mention here that in the days of yore, the kings used to consciously nurture fine arts and culture by patronizing poets, musicians and dancers. However, the way successive governments are turning a blind eye to the essential task of preserving our cinematic heritage, and even gradually withdrawing support to creative cinema, while continuing to gobble up the revenue generated by this industry, is a travesty of justice and common sense. Remember the outfit known as the National Finance Development Corporation, which gave us a stream of gems in the past – Ankur (1974), Manthan (1976), Mirch Masala (1987), Ek Din Achanak (1989), Train to Pakistan (1998), Mammo (1994), and the like? The future looks bleak on this front.      

Acting Prowess and Content: The Ultimate Winners

Even though star-power, presentation and packaging continue to be important, content has now come to rule the roost. Acting is also back on its throne, where it rightfully belongs.

Now, if we root for a blockbuster like Pathaan, we also love an actor-driven movie like Laal Singh Chadha. If we like to see the trials and tribulations of the heroine in Gangubai Kathiawadi, we also empathize with the dilemmas faced by an elderly couple in Vadh, besides appreciating such off-beat offerings as Doctor G and Kantara.

As we sit bleary-eyed in front of our smart TVs, we now have the best of both the worlds – glamour, duly backed by razzmatazz, as well as the depth of genuine art.

(Some inputs from a few members of the Best of Cinema and OTT group on Facebook are gratefully acknowledged.)

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Memoirs serve a useful purpose. These not only capture the life and times of a seasoned professional but also offer a deep insight into various facets of life. One gets to learn precious lessons in management of people, resources and institutions. One comes across precious nuggets of wisdom, based on the experiences of the author. These leave behind a legacy of sorts; more so, when written with a sense of humility and not in a self-congratulatory mode.

This book is one such offering. It is an interesting autobiographical account of a life well lived. It sketches out in detail the kind of hard work, persistence and emotional intelligence that a senior administrative professional needs to leverage so as to be able to ensure delivery of timely and effective services to the common man. It gives the reader an inside view of how the vast government machinery in such a diverse country as India functions, and author’s handling of the kind of challenges faced and successfully overcome. 

The narrative is intimate, introspective and invigorating. The author is frank about how an abiding commitment to his career affected his relationships with his family and how his wife dutifully moved in to support him through thick and thin. He mentions some moving encounters with death and disease. Often, he is open about the manner in which he realized in retrospect as to how a given situation could have been handled better. At many places, he does not shy away from revealing self-doubt and disappointment. The narrative is riveting and personal and motivates one to aspire for higher goals in all spheres of life.

The underlying message in this narrative is that of a relentless focus on one’s goals in life and the criticality of following high values and ethics, despite temptations and obstructions. The importance of not always being a yes-man and occasionally standing up to a higher power also gets highlighted. There are occasional dashes of subtle humour as well.

These memoirs are not a commentary on any of the policies of the government of the day. Those who are expecting to read an analysis of the history of the economic strides made by India from the 1960s till now are also likely to be disappointed. Nor do these provide any insights into the various ideologies present across the entire political spectrum. Littered with instructive quotes from scriptures, poets, philosophers and literary figures, these provide a ringside view of the life and times of an able administrator, whether on the personal or on the professional front.

During the past several decades, Indian youth have collectively lost interest in making a career in the central or provincial services. Career choices of youth have invariably favoured the private sector, that too in the realm of Information, Communication and Technology systems, besides engineering and medicine.

Hopefully, this book will not only inspire the youth of today to consider the option of entering public service more seriously but also motivate them to prepare well to gain an entry into this exalted profession. This way, if they succeed, they will eventually have the inner glow of satisfaction for contributing towards the transformation of this unique country of ours.

The present version of the book is available in the Hindi language. It had a global launch recently and is now available at https://www.amazon.in/dp/B091MRXM5R?ref=myi_title_dp.

(The author of this book, Mr. Ashok Bhatia, is a retired officer of the Indian Administrative Services. He had chosen the state of Gujarat to serve the nation. In his career spanning 49 years, he also held several important high ranking positions with the Government of India.

He lives with his wife in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.)

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Creative persons often respond to crises in their lives with a renewed enthusiasm and vigour for their art and craft. Creative juices help them to not only retain a state of mental equipoise but also pour out some strikingly positive thoughts. The shadow of a deep sorrow within eventually decides to part company and move on to some other soul which happens to be more vulnerable. A pale parabola of joy becomes visible on the horizon, leading the tormented soul from an abyss of darkness to a brighter and cheerier environment. Goddess Saraswati provides a healing touch.

Late Shri Harivansh Rai Bachchan lost his first wife at a young age. One of the poems he penned at the time is a great composition which could enthuse anyone who is grappling with the sudden loss of a loved one.

Translation skills of yours truly are indeed debatable. However, the essence of the poem entitled, say, ‘What has happened has happened‘, is pregnant with some relevant lessons from one’s environment. But before we come to that, let us savour the original first.

जो बीत गई सो बात गई

जीवन में एक सितारा था
माना वह बेहद प्यारा था
वह डूब गया तो डूब गया
अम्बर के आनन को देखो
कितने इसके तारे टूटे
कितने इसके प्यारे छूटे
जो छूट गए फिर कहाँ मिले
पर बोलो टूटे तारों पर
कब अम्बर शोक मनाता है
जो बीत गई सो बात गई

जीवन में वह था एक कुसुम
थे उसपर नित्य निछावर तुम
वह सूख गया तो सूख गया
मधुवन की छाती को देखो
सूखी कितनी इसकी कलियाँ
मुर्झाई कितनी वल्लरियाँ
जो मुर्झाई फिर कहाँ खिली
पर बोलो सूखे फूलों पर
कब मधुवन शोर मचाता है
जो बीत गई सो बात गई

जीवन में मधु का प्याला था
तुमने तन मन दे डाला था
वह टूट गया तो टूट गया
मदिरालय का आँगन देखो
कितने प्याले हिल जाते हैं
गिर मिट्टी में मिल जाते हैं
जो गिरते हैं कब उठतें हैं
पर बोलो टूटे प्यालों पर
कब मदिरालय पछताता है
जो बीत गई सो बात गई

मृदु मिटटी के हैं बने हुए
मधु घट फूटा ही करते हैं
लघु जीवन लेकर आए हैं
प्याले टूटा ही करते हैं
फिर भी मदिरालय के अन्दर
मधु के घट हैं मधु प्याले हैं
जो मादकता के मारे हैं
वे मधु लूटा ही करते हैं
वह कच्चा पीने वाला है
जिसकी ममता घट प्यालों पर
जो सच्चे मधु से जला हुआ
कब रोता है चिल्लाता है

जो बीत गई सो बात गई

(Courtesy: http://kavitakosh.org)

If you had a star in your life which was bright and beautiful, the day it fell from the sky, it just fell. The sky does not grieve over it. When fragrant flowers fall, the forest of honey does not wallow in sorrow. The vessels of mud, containing tissue restoratives, fall and break. But those in a merry making mood move on with their celebration of life. There is not much point in mourning over the loved ones who have parted company for ever.

Life goes on. Look forward to tomorrow with some uplifting thoughts and ideas. Do not grieve over a lost opportunity.

A profound message, indeed.

(PS: If you liked this post, and happen to be a fan of P G Wodehouse, you may like to check this out as well: 



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Purists might scoff at the use of classical music based compositions to connect with Hindi movie buffs, but such endeavours do have the singular advantage of popularizing such uplifting ‘ragas’ amongst the masses.

Here is an interesting post which elaborates on the use of one of the better known ‘ragas’ of Hindustani classical music in Bollywood songs.


My Views On Bollywood


Sharada Iyer

The repertoire of our century old Hindi film music boasts of a wide range of songs based on a variety of classical Hindustani raagas. Instead of composing these songs in a typical classical style which may appeal only to true music aficionados, our music directors use the raag to compose semi-classical songs and at times touch upon the raag lightly to include subtle modifications in the raag which makes it easier for the general public to enjoy them. Such compositions not only help to enhance the appeal and reach of these raagas to the large base of film-viewing populace of our country, but also exposes them to our unique heritage.

In this blog, I have chosen to explore the raag ‘Shivaranjani’, an ancient raag which derives its name from the words ‘Shiva’ = Lord Shiva and ‘ranjani’ = to please.  It is said that when Lord Shiva was performing his ‘taandav’ (cosmic dance)…

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Languages are an important means of communication. The better you are at communication, the higher are your chances of Languages Winnipeg_Forks_-_Plains_Cree_Inscriptionsuccess in life. Success need not always be on the materialistic plane. It could even be just a sense of inner contentment you experience when you are able to connect with people of a different region or country. The sheer joy of being able to express yourselves clearly, as also that of being understood by the party of the other part, makes you feel at home in the most alien surroundings.

My father, who was born and brought up in British India, knew three languages – Hindi, English and Urdu. Whenever I came across a word of chaste Urdu in a poem or a song, he would explain it with much relish. On quiet evenings, he would pull out his worn out diary and read Urdu couplets to us. I always found Urdu very fascinating and lyrical, though I could never get to learn it. The ghazals, the nazams and the shaayari this language has spawned just leaves me mesmerized.

Life has been kinder to both my children who have ended up learning not only English and Hindi but also Sanskrit, Tamil, German and Norwegian. Not to be left behind, the newly arrived toddlers in the family are already honing their communication skills in diverse languages. The ease with which they switch between various languages and use different words from different languages in the same sentence leaves the entire family exasperated at times. You could very well call this Esperanto!

What about yours faithfully, you may well ask. People who are familiar with my subdued levels of IQ are of the opinion that I shall never get nominated for a Nobel Prize in any field of human study, especially so in the realm of linguistics. I am pretty dumb when it comes to learning languages. Other than Hindi and English, I have merrily tossed away opportunities to learn many other languages.

In childhood, I ended up learning Telugu which I found to be quite similar to Sanskrit. However, having never had to use it Languages Ancient_Tamil_Scriptagain, my knowledge of Telugu as of today is close to nil. Sanskrit was a part of the curriculum at school and what a treat it was to learn this mother of several other languages. The present knowledge of course happens to be rusty. It is a pity because knowledge of Sanskrit opens up newer vistas of wisdom enshrined in the Indian scriptures.

I spent quite a few years in Chandigarh. Somehow, the rustic nature of the Punjabi language never agreed with my innate soft nature. For close to eighteen years now, I have been living in the southern part of India. However, the only phrase I have learnt to speak so far is ‘Tamil teriyaadi’; in other words, a declaration that I do not know Tamil. I use it regularly, much to the amusement of the street vendors who are decent enough to give me an indulgent smile with a shrug.

Yes, I have a ready excuse for having practiced this policy of linguistic isolation. In senior management circles that I move in, my interactions are limited to those who speak English. However, I do realize that this laziness of mine in learning the local language is entirely my own loss. Admittedly, Tamil is a very rich language. May be some day I shall pick up the courage to fulfill my pious intentions of learning it!

I have never had the chance to learn Bengali, but I really find it very soothing to the ears. One of the best gifts I ever received from a friend of mine is a set of audio CDs containing Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s songs in Rabindra Sangeet, sung by a proficient Bengali singer in Hindi. The experience of listening to it on a quiet evening is absolutely uplifting and invigorating!

For a family where the parents hail from different regions of India, it is natural to have a conversation at home either in the ‘mother tongue’ or in the ‘father tongue’! Enter a visitor who knows neither and the family effortlessly switches over to English. Family members also enjoy the freedom of exchanging socially unpalatable remarks about the visitor who has no clue as to what is up!

Our family languages help us to maintain strong filial bonds. These also help us to preserve and build upon our cultural IMGP8066roots. However, knowledge of other languages helps us in building bridges with people from other regions and countries. By learning and using a language, we also help to preserve and perpetuate it for posterity.

Mine is a wrong example to follow. Even at the risk of being labeled a hypocrite, allow me to say that if you ever get an opportunity in life to learn a different language, just grab it! You learn your mother tongue naturally. If your parents are from diverse cultures and regions, you naturally end up learning your ‘father’ tongue as well! If you are lucky to live in a country other than where you were born, you naturally get exposed to colleagues and friends and also pick up the native language.

So, if life throws another chance your way, just pick it up and learn a different language altogether. You would surely end up having more fun. You would also end up being better connected to another part of humanity. Yours would be a more contented soul!

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