Search This Blog

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Preserving Punjabiyat

The other day I was watching the ETC Punjabi channel on television and the Miss World-Punjaban contest, held recently in the city of Ludhiana, was on air. This was not the usual 'beauty' contest and had more to do with testing the contestants' awareness of Punjabi language and culture as well as their skills at practising folk art forms like Giddha and BoliyaaN. The dress code was also traditional throughout the various stages of the contest.

As far as I can remember, the various rounds included one based on solo-dance (traditional), a Giddha round, along with a round where each participant had to wear a bridal dress and one where each contestant had to pick a slip of paper out of each of two bowls, on one of which would be a question related to Punjabi heritage and culture for the young lady to answer and on the other would be a subject, a Boli related to which the girl would then have to recite.

By the time I turned on the television set, the Bridal-wear stage was already over and the solo-dance was in progress. Some of the participants managed to impress my mother (who was also watching) too, with their graceful movements. Others were not so good and some even seemed to have copied a few steps from dances in Bollywood movies, which was saddening. All of them danced to traditional Punjabi tunes, however.

Giddha was much better as all the participants, who had to perform together, as a group, for that is what the dance-form requires, had obviously received some help from the organisers too. It was a well-co-ordinated performance and though I am no expert, I dare say that all the girls put up a rather good show.

Also, all of them, some of whom had come from Indian states other than Punjab and some from as far away as Australia and the United States, appeared to have done their homework well for the final round and all but one participant managed to answer the questions with a fair amount of accuracy, as well as to recite the Boli that was asked of them. Some of the questions seemed fairly easy to me, while there were others the answers to which I did not know. So, I was amazed at and really admired the depth of knowledge that some of the pretty young ladies had about the rich Punjabi virsa (heritage). I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that such girls still do exist in this day and age, when most young Punjabans spend their spare time keeping up with the latest trends, fashions, television soap-operas, gossip and other such frivolous pursuits (It's not that most Punjabi young men fare any better on this count!) and I felt enormously proud of all of them!

The contestant who won the Miss World-Punjaban saggi-phull comes from Australia. I could not help noticing that she has an immensely beautiful pair of eyes. It is so difficult to notice such things, on account of the bare-dare or skin-tight outfits that most girls otherwise wear these days!

I am sure many would agree with me that the Sabhyacharak Sathh has done a highly commendable job by organising something like this. However, I think it would not only have added greatly to the prestige of the event, but also made it complete, in a way, if participation had also been secured from the Punjab that exists on the other side of the Indo-Pak border.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Jee aayaaN nu (Welcome), Atif Aslam!

Atif Aslam is in town at the moment. He is to perform live at the Centre-Stage Mall in Noida tonight. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the concert this time. Well, may be next time!

In fact, he has been in India for a few days now. Earlier, while he was at Bombay, he appeared on a couple of shows on MTV India. I was able to catch a little bit of the conversations he had with VJ Rannvijay and VJ Anusha on MTV Super Select and MTV Chillout, respectively.

Apart from the fact that he is immensely talented musically, he seems to be quite a regular guy and a full-blooded Punjabi to boot. He also likes to ride his motorbike around and bought it with his own money, just like me. The only difference is that he owns a Honda VLX (which costs upwards of Rs.20,00,000), while I have a Yamaha RX135 (which I bought for about Rs.46,000!).

When asked about his favourite song among all that he has sung so far, he said it is 'Gal Sun Ja' from the album titled Jalpari. He also sang it live on the show, with no musical accompaniment except some light strains of his own guitar. It sounded absolutely wonderful that way and, in fact, far better than it does on the album!

I sincerely hope that some one will post the audio or video recording on the internet very soon, so that I can download it and listen to it as often as I want to.

The following video shows Atif performing the song live at the Indus Music Awards show not so long ago, obviously, with full musical accompaniment:

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Puppy Love

Tinkoo came to live with us a few days ago, after his mother was taken away by the employees of the municipal corporation. They were acting upon a complaint registered by some local residents, stating that the stray bitch was a threat to the local populace and tried to bite any one who tried to go near her. The complainants, of course, did not take into consideration the facts that she was acting in that manner because some urchins (of the human variety, obviously) had beaten her up with sticks very recently and that she had a very young puppy to care for.

We were out of town, when all this happened. When my mother tried to find out what had happened to Nikki (the name we had given Tinkoo's Ma), upon our return, she was given a detailed account of the sequence of events, by one of the neighbours. So, she went looking for the pup in the bush where his mother lived and came back with the little bundle of joy that my brother has christened Tinkoo.

Initially, the little one could not see anything, because he could not open his eyes (like most puppies his age) and could only manage to drag himself along the ground as his legs did not even have the strength for him to stand up straight. Gradually, he began to toddle along on his tiny feet and now tries to chase us around too. He was also able to open his eyes after the first few days and seems to be able to see well enough these days.

At first, we tried to feed him buffalo's milk (diluted with water) through a dropper, which was quite a task in itself! Now, we have acquired a feeding-bottle, through which we feed him his liquid diet about four times a day. The photograph above shows Tinkoo at supper, being helped along by my Ma.

For a good part of the afternoon and through the night, he sleeps in a cardboard box that a neighbour was kind enough to lend us. The box is lined with old newspapers and some rags (to keep him warm), which we replace when he wets those, or worse, and his inbuilt sound alarm goes off! Of late, though, he does seem to be learning to relieve himself while having an 'out-of-the-box' experience, rather than when he is resting inside.

He did give us a few anxious moments over the past three days, for something caused him to have an upset stomach and, therefore, loose motions. However, we have been giving him some medicine and he seems to be responding well to that.

He also seems to have understood the power equations in the family well enough and follows my mother around a lot more than my father or brother or I. My mother, whose writ runs unquestioned most of the time and who had earlier threatened to let him return to live where his mother did i.e. on the street, once he is old enough, has now adopted a softer line and my brother and I hope that he will be allowed to live with us for good. The two of us, on our part, have been doing whatever we can to help make that happen, in terms of cleaning up after him, feeding him whenever our Ma does not feel like doing that, etc.

Whatever else may happen, I hope that Tinkoo will have a long and happy life ahead!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Name Is Not Enough

Over the past few weeks, the Star Movies channel had been airing James Bond movies. It started with the earliest ones starring Sean Connery, moving on to those starring George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and, finally, Pierce Brosnan as the fictional super-spy. The latest one, in which Daniel Craig has played the role of Bond, is still running in theatres and, obviously, can not be expected to appear on television until much later.

I was able to watch most of these, apart from a few that I missed on account of power cuts at my place or that of the local cable television service operator's.

On thursday, my brother and I watched the latest Bond flick i.e. Casino Royale, as well, at a local theatre.

Out of all these movies, three i.e. the two that had Timothy Dalton as Bond and the latest one that has Daniel Craig as the leading man, stand out in particular, in my opinion. While watching the two starring Dalton i.e. The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, I was rankled slightly by the fact that Dalton's personality was not quite impressive enough, somehow, to live up to the legacy left behind by Connery and Moore, in what otherwise were rather well-made Bond movies.

Casino Royale is one I would have enjoyed watching quite a bit, had it not been a part of the James Bond marquee. Not only does Daniel Craig not appear 'suave' enough to play Bond, but he also does not seem to have the 'finesse' (that I would expect from James Bond) to carry off some of the wittier lines that the dialogue writers have given him (and it is not that he has been given too many such lines, in any case). He has plenty of 'beef-cake' in the form of muscle, but appears to be too 'working class' to play Bond. I suppose he would have to have a lot more of 'charm', to successfully essay the role. I do wish that Pierce Brosnan had been retained as 007.

Also, Bond is sloppily dressed in many parts of the movie, as compared to all the earlier ones, and especially so in the opening sequence.

Two of the major reasons for which I like to watch Bond movies, are the cars that the secret agent gets to drive and the gadgets that he gets to use in these films. This movie disappointed me partially on the first count and almost completely on the second. Bond does get to drive the Aston Martin DB5 and the new DBS (which reportedly has a 6 litre, V12 engine) in the movie, but not only are these cars not a part of any exciting chase sequences, these also do not have any interesting inbuilt gadgets except something as unexciting as a defibrillator in the glove box of the DBS. Apart from that, there is almost nothing in the movie in the name of gadgets, in addition to something as drab as a microchip implant transmitter that is injected into Bond's arm and transmits Bond's location as well as information related to Bond's medical condition to MI6 headquarters.

In fact, Bond should not have been driving the DBS at all, had this movie been produced as a prequel to all other Bond movies, considering that it is based on the first novel that Ian Fleming wrote in the series. However, this film seeks to establish a new timeline and narrative framework. That is also the reason for which Bond uses the Walther P99 as his personal weapon in the motion picture, instead of the Beretta 418 that he was supposed to use, as per the novel (Bond continued to use the Beretta, until it was replaced with the Walther PPK in 'Dr. No'). Producing a prequel would also have meant dispensing with Dame Judi Dench as 'M' and hiring a male actor for the job. These, however, are just interesting asides and I can not say whether I would have liked the movie any more than I do now, had it been produced as a prequel with the cast, crew, director and script-writer remaining the same.

One does tend to have a lot of expectations from a James Bond film.

The only aspect of the movie that does not disappoint, is the selection of the Bond-girls and Eva Green as Vesper Lynd and Caterina Murino as Solange are as gorgeous as they come!