Watch your kite soar!

In Indian cinema, poets and lyricists have expressed the joys and sorrows of people, through songs using the humble kite as a metaphor. Watching your kite soar, caressing the skies on a clear day is a simple delight.

Across the oceans to the west, or bending far over in the orient’s east, you see kites in exotic shapes and sizes but with staggering prices. Father and son leaving the neighborhood park after an hour of structured fun, is a far cry from kite-flying around “Sankranti” – celebrated annually on 14th January, unfailingly. Restless kids practice to perfection their skills, honing them in anticipation of the battles that are waged on ‘The’-Day. 🙂 Onward of December, sales of colorful ‘patang‘ (kite) and reels of “maanja” (string) begin to soar.

I remember from my childhood days – a ‘fast’ friend of my maternal uncles. “Kanu” maama, was a seasonal ‘stockist’, but an immensely gentle soul who loved kids. During the summer season, just before the onset of monsoons, he stocked umbrellas and raincoats of all shapes and sizes. We always stopped by his Station Road store to say hello to him during our vacation in the summer holidays. Again, almost towards the end of a month-long Christmas vacation spent at my grandparents’ home, a visit to his store was a given. This time around it was more exciting for us kids.

What fun, all the way to the top were arrays of kites, neatly stacked. Hanging from the ceiling, in the store’s narrow, tunnel-like space were all these colored kites and reels of string that beckoned us! In awe, we wanted as many as Maa could handle carrying these fragile paper kites back to Mumbai on a crowded train. Without doubt, boarding a train headed back to Mumbai at the end of Xmas season would be a nightmare, but this shopping was a must! It did not matter – two kids in tow, a couple of carry-on (sans wheels) bags, a few pishvis packed with food – goodies that were a specialty of Surat — think Mazda bakery’s butter biscuits, naan khatai, surti papdi (for Maa to make undhiyoo), ghee-coated pistachio ghaari, and paunk (fresh soft grain from the fields) to be savored with a bunch of other delightful, sweet-n-savory items… and the firki-patang!  A stockpile of kites is a must.

Who wants to run out on kites when you could be running across the streets, or from the top, on your building’s terrace to match kite-flying skills, with that of your opponent’s — usually that guy across on the neighboring building! Slashing his maanja requires tact and skill, when that kite sails downward, you cry out – not unlike a war-cry “Kai-po-chhe“! Yes, those strings that you tie the papyrus thin kite with, in strategic knots, is actually coated with fine glass… you’d say that’s not child’s play… but oh well, politically correct or not… I haven’t heard of anyone being sued for flying kites this way in India. That said, for the urban lot — ‘occasional’ kite-fliers like us, maanja without the glass coating was mandatory. Kanu maama had ensured that.

The soaring kite, a hard feat to achieve, that comes with practice may be used as a figure of speech for dreams unlimited — masculine; while the fallen kite — “kati patang” may be a depiction of a crestfallen maiden.  The fun and fury of flying kites surpasses the delight of flying drones or remote-controlled airplanes… any day! So… here are some songs to last you week-long… hum along! 🙂

Here is a medley of moods, music, situations.

Film: Bhabhi (1957). Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan. Composer: Chitragupt. Singers: Lata Mangeshkar & Mohommad Rafi. Actors: Nanda & Jagdeep

 

Film: Zameen ke Taare (1960). Lyrics: Anand Bakshi. Composer: S. Mohinder. Singers: Sudha Malhotra & Asha Bhosle. Child Actors: Daisy & Honey Irani

 

Film: Raagini (1958). Lyrics: Jan Nisar Akhtar. Composer: O P Nayyar. Singers: Asha Bhosle & Kishore Kumar. Actors: Kishore Kumar & ?

No kite flying visible in this song… and yet…

Film: Nagin(1954). Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan. Composer: Hemant Kumar. Singers: Lata Mangeshkar & Hemant Kumar. Actors: Vyjantimala & Pradeep Kumar

Again, this is depicted as a dance ballet on stage. Lyrics speak of patang & maanjaa.

 

Film: Patang (1960). Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan. Composer: Chitragupt. Singers: Mohommad Rafi. Actors: Om Prakash

A hard fact of life…

Film: Kati Patang (1971). Lyrics: Anand Bakshi. Composer: Rahul Dev Burman. Singers: Lata Mangeshkar. Actors: Asha Parekh

This post would be incomplete without this one… the crestfallen maiden!

 

This is colorful — Gujarati flavors and colors. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a Gujarati, whose opulent Marathi-flavored Bajirao-Mastani is playing to packed houses currently, was writer-producer-director of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999). Ismail Darbar, the music composer debuted with this film. He is a Surti. Now, Surat, Gujarati and kite flying are virtually synonymous. Ask anyone… oh well, just enjoy this song! 😉

Film: Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999). Lyrics: Mehboob Kotwal. Composer: Ismail Darbar. Singers: K.K., Shankar Mahadevan, Jyotsna Hardikar, Dominique Cerejo.

 

 

 

 

Bollywood fans? Awaara Dream Sequence Interpretation

By sheer accident a few minutes ago, came upon this site… Now what was I searching for? Yeah, Awaara – interpretation of the dream sequence in this film. For a project I’m working on in collaborative mode, I’d considered a very different interpretation for the end of this song… (without having ever watched the iconic classic of the early ’50s; had just read the storyline).
Wondering whether Raj Kapoor calls out Seeta, Seeta Seeta at the end, or is it Rita, Rita, Rita… or as someone suggested – Neeta Neeta Neeta… 🙂 I thought he utters “Seeta Seeta Seeta” – his mother is banished by her husband on grounds of infidelity when she’s abducted by a rogue character. But in fact, the rogue had learned that she’s an expectant mother. So he leaves her untouched. After a few days, he allows her to return to her husband (he’s a judge by profession, and the abduction by Jagga was some vendetta of sorts). But the Judge would not accept his wife on grounds of possible tainted chastity. She’s now a destitute. Her baby grows up into this young man, a role played by Raj Kapoor. Nargis, leading lady in the film, is the daughter of the Judge (well, he had raised her, it seems and she’s a lawyer by profession). For Raj Kapoor’s misdemeanor she stands as his advocate. (He’s obviously smitten by her beauty+brains). As a consequence of the inner conflicts of his mind and heart this dream sequence conjures up in his head. It could also be a nightmare of sorts. Towards the end of the sequence he calls out to Nargis, who’s being pulled by this evil genie like Jagga and she’s fast fading away. Raj Kapoor calls out… now was he all mixed up and calling out to save his mother who’s the virtuous Seeta Maiyaa  type character in the film? Seeta who was abducted  by Ravana in the epic tale Ramayana? On her return to Ayodhya, she’s banished by her husband Rama (who had rescued her from Lanka)  under pressure from the people. She had to prove her chastity! Oh well, so… I viewed RK as calling out to Seeta… Never mind all of the above. 😉
If you’d like to watch the dream sequence here it is:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLCmhNeaYfA
If the storyline I wrote in a mish-mash manner piqued your interest, bookmark this page for further info.
For the plausible interpretation, check this out… http://www.letstalkaboutbollywood.com/article-20545057.html
Now I just found yet another reference to the ‘direct inspiration’ for the dream dance from Uday Shankar’s “Kalpana” (1948). Check this out. http://cinemanrityagharana.blogspot.com/2013/04/simkies-choreography-in-awara-dream.html  This page also has the link to the older film itself. (Am watching it here now). 😉

 

The About Me reads: “I’m a French lover of Indian cinema, but I’m also interested in literature, science, art, and reflection in general. This blog will reflect these tastes more or less!French lover of Indian cinema, but I’m also interested in literature, science, art, and reflection in general. This blog will reflect these tastes more or less!” Wow… kudos to him/her for the interpretation. We may never learn the late actor Raj Kapoor’s true metaphoric intentions.  A bit more about the actor for those who’re interested is an interesting read @ http://southasiainstitute.harvard.edu/website/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Raj_Kapoor_film_comments.pdf

The Wisdom Tree film… a spiritual journey that traverses farther yonder!

On a dark, stormy night, driving on an empty road in Northern California, Steve Hamilton, a self-conflicted quantum physicist meets with an implausibly bizarre car accident! Dr. Trisha Rao, a compassionate but unwavering neurologist attending to Steve’s injuries, and an anguished FBI Agent, Mike Parker, attempt to untangle this baffling accident. The mystery deepens as the trio stumbles upon clues rooted in fine art, music, mysticism, spirituality, and science. The confounding clues trigger a cascade of questions; before long, the troika foresees the inevitable — the human race is at risk! With twists in the plot, this sci-fi drama progresses to avert a looming catastrophe.  A haunting background score with ethereal vocals, integral to the story, lends to the timeless dimension of The Wisdom Tree film, essentially a fiction story.

The Wisdom Tree melds quantum physics with eastern mysticism in a riveting mystery that swirls around human desires and their latent fears. The knotted plot of this sci-fi drama tangles around an exquisite backdrop of fine art paintings, Indian classical music, and new age elements, alluding that the universe is multidimensional, strange, and harmonic; and, as some eastern spiritual traditions have long maintained, “All is One”. Amidst this harmonious confluence of colors, shapes, shadows, light, space, time, mystery, math, music, and the mystical, lurks a profound question, “Could this be true?”

Recently, did you watch the film première at AMC Metreon in San Francisco? Or, their next screening in Orinda, East Bay, California? Well, if mysticism, mystery, sci-fi, spirituality, art, music are your scene, you may not want to miss this film. Ever since its private screenings earlier in 2013 at Emory University, Atlanta, and at the Science and Non-Duality Conference, San Jose, audiences and invitees have been intrigued by this indie. Here’s the small catch… it isn’t mass-distributed. Hence, you may want to sign up to request a screening in your town. If this subject excites you, you may even want to volunteer and get your friends, family, like-minded folks near you at your Meet Ups or Groups to sign up. The sooner you all sign up, and the more number of folks express interest, the sooner it will be screened in a town near you. Well, I’ll make this easy… watch The Wisdom Tree film trailer. 😉

Oh, I almost forgot to mention… the ravishing Sheetal Sheth is in the key role as neurologist, and Patrick Alparone, a fine theater actor you may know of already, plays his first film role as quantum physicist. Check them out. There are many fine actors this film has drawn. The crew also includes some eminent Oscar winners and other award nominees. Personally, it all speaks well of Writer/Director Sunil Shah, and the co-producers of the film, Laura Techera Francia and Renu Vora. There are many names you may recognize. Visit their facebook page, or join their growing number of followers on twitter… indeed, they’re active.

Chitralekha vs Chitralekhan… the distinction.

On a Google search for ‘chitralekhan‘, I always encounter this question: Did you mean chitralekha?

NO! I meant what I typed… gee, doesn’t Google get it! The following popped up as one of the search results… it’s fascinating. So I’m reproducing it here for my own future reference. (Not plagiarizing, please.) Incidentally, juggernaut , derived from Lord Jagannatha, holds a special place in my life.

Thank you, harekrsna.com; thanks, Wikipedia… and thanks, Google. 😉

Scroll Paintings in Lord Jagannath’s Orissa

BY: ASIS K. CHAKRABARTI

Pataua Folk Painting, West Bengal

Feb 20, KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL (SUN) — A two-part review of the tradition of scroll paintings with special emphasis on Lord Jagannatha.

Folk art is an indivisible part of folk culture. The study of folk culture in the subcontinents of India dates back to the 19th century. Some eminent personalities or connoisseurs began to study folk culture absolutely to quench their personal interest. In this respect, the names of Dinesh Chandra, Sen. Reverend Lalbehari De, Ramendrasundar Trivedi, Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore and Gurusaday Dutt should be always mentioned. Of them, Gurusaday Dutt is the foremost pioneer in the field of collection, consequation and deliberation of folk art and culture in Orissa.

As quoted by the famous Bengali historian Nihar Ranjan Roy, Gurusaday Dutt had revealed the origin and flow of folk art and culture with the insight of an expert jeweller, who can easily identify a real stone.

Folk art has been defined in various ways and words. A thorough observation of the social, historical, geographical and cultural remains of the Indian subcontinent suggests that folk art is the art form created by the rural people for the rural people, which is centered round different kinds of folk and tribal religious rites, customs and festivals. The creation of folk art needs no grammatical norms set up by any ancient author of folk art and culture. The art form that is created by the spontaneity of a rural artist in the simplest possible way with the help of natural colours and ingredients may rightly be termed as folk art.
Antiquity of Scroll Painting: Historical Backdrop

Generally speaking, ‘pattachitra’ refers to an art form or painting created on paper or cloth. The literal meaning of the works ‘pattachitra’ or ‘drawing of a patta’ seems quite absurd, and this term might have been added later on, which is why, we find even in Tagore’s songs – the words –

    Tumi Ki Kebol-i-chobi,
    Shudhu Patte likha”
    “Are you just a painting written only on a scroll?”

The word chitralekha has been in use for a very long time. In ancient India, the word ‘chitra’ signified hand-drawn pictures and inscriptions or sculpted out images. In that age, to differentiate hand-painted pictures from smeared or inscribed pictures, these were called written or “lekhya” pictures, and the practice of drawing was known as ‘chitralekhan’. In spite of being unaware of the grammatical authenticity of the word ‘chitralekha’ (writing of a picture), the Patuas have coined the term ‘pattalekha’ (writing of a scroll). The word ‘lekha’ suggests a link of the Patuas with the ancient scroll painters.

According to the concept of folk paintings being executed by the folk painter, scrolls are written rather than drawn or painted by them. In Sanskrit, ‘patta’ means ‘a cloth’. According to the history of Indian art, in ancient ages, pictures were ‘pattachitra’. The creators of ‘pattachitra’ were introduced as the ‘patuas’. On the basis of regional differences, the Patuas are classified as – pattikar, patkere, pattidar, mistry and so on.

However, the Patuas claim to have descended as a class belonging to ‘Chitrakara’, who had taken birth from celestial parents – the celestial artist, Vishwakarma and the celestial dancer, Ghritachi. Nowadays, art formS are not created on cloth, rather all the creations are produced on paper. Gazi Patta and Yama Patta, collected by Gurusaday Dutt, were made on cloth. These are now conserved in the Gurusaday Museum of Bratacharigram, Joka, Kolkata.

The Chitrakaras, or the scroll-painters, were mentioned in the 10th chapter of Brahmavaivarta Purana, written in the 11th or 12th century A.D. At a certain time, the celestial artist Vishwakarma descended from heaven and took birth in a Brahmin family. Simultaneously the celestial dancer, Ghritachi, took birth as the daughter of a gopa (milk producer) family. They got married and gave birth to nine sons: Malakara, Karmakara, Sankhakara, Kundibaka or Tantubayee, Kumbhakara, Kangsakara, Sutradhara, Chitrakara and Swarnakara.

According to the story, Vishwakarma and Ghritachi were the original parents or ancestors of the Patuas or Chitrakaras. In this regard, they are as honourable as any other artist or artisan of the Hindu society. In reality, however, Patuas are considered to be untouchable and ostracized. There is a myth behind this ostracism. An ancestor of the present day Patuas once drew the portrait of Mahadeva, the Great Lord of Hindu religion, without seeking His permission. After drawing the portrait, the artist was naturally very much annoyed and afraid as to what would happen if the Lord were to get angry with him. Incidentally, Mahadeva was just then coming by.

The painter hid the paint brush inside his mouth. Mahadeva asked the artist why had he made the brush unclean by keeping it inside his mouth. The Patua replied that he had done it out of fear. Mahadeva got angry and said that the Patua could have thrown it away. Instead he had made it unclean, so he had to accept the punishment. Then Mahadeva imprecated that from then on, the Patuas would be ostracized from the society. They would neither be Hindus nor Muslims. They would have to perform Muslim rites and work like the Hindus, i.e., they would draw pictures and read or sing.

As far as history is concerned, this is the reason behind the ostracism of the Patuas due to the imprecation of Mahadeva. So the Patuas now go to Mosques like the Muslims and draws the pictures of Hindu deities, sculpt out their images and sing the praises of Hindu deities presented on the scrolls.

The reason for the ostracism of the Patua community has been mentioned in the Brahmavaivarta Purana. Since they had violated the rules of painting directed by the Brahman, the Brahmin society cursed them. As a consequence, they have been outcasted. So, both history and folklore suggest that violation of set up norms led to the ostracism of the Patuas. This fact is further supported by Parasurama’s sloka:

    “Vyati Kramena Chitranang Sadyashchitra Karashtta Patito Brahmo shapeno Brahmonanancho kopata”Deviation from the normal art form has led the Patuas to be outcasted by the curse of the Brahmin society.

Regarding the ostracism of Patuas, Gurusaday Dutt pointed that the form of Bengal’s generalized Hindu religion is quite separate from the scriptural religion devoted only to Brahma. The eternal, independent imaginative Bengali soul could not conform to a fixed regulation set up by the scripture while performing religions rites and creating images of deities. Rather, the Bengali Patuas have formed and moulded the images of deities according to their own imagination and expression. As a result, Bengal has its own forms of Rama, Sita, Laksmana, Shiva and Durga. They bear little similarity to their original historical forms.

The generalized form of Bengali Radha-Krishna does not conform to their corresponding historical or lila form. Bengali Patua’s Sita-Rama are different in appearance and nature from their counterparts, mentioned and portrayed by Valmiki or Krittibasa. To reach the masses and to fulfill their heart’s desire and imagination, the Patuas were courageous enough to violate the rules set up by the dominating Brahmin society even at the cost of their identity and existence. They have been bold enough to reflect Bengali sentiment and spirit in their songs, on their pattas and in the moulding of images of deities.

(Reproduced from HareKrsna.com)

Kabab Palace, Tempe, AZ… beyond kababs… offers veges & vegan!

Since the Kabab Palace AZ website seems infected with a virus (when I last checked a couple of days ago), I thought of reproducing their menu and flyer images here for those interested in sampling good Indian cuisine in the Greater Phoenix Area. After a visit to their restaurant  you can determine whether or not you’d like to give the Kongara couple a fair chance to build their business.

They bought this Afghani restaurant in late 2009. Until then, the restaurant catered to a meat-eating palate. However, now that the owners are of South Indian origin, it is only natural for the KP menu to morph, including both, vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Furthermore, some of the dishes on the menu are suited to vegan palates as well. Alas, they are presently constrained and hence unable to change the restaurant’s name!

In all fairness to them, this is my own initiative… although I know the owners personally, they have not requested me to reproduce their menu here. I do hope this will show up on Google Searches for Indian vegetarian Cuisine in the Phoenix metro area. If this posting drives even some traffic to the restaurant, it could help further their business a wee bit. If you enjoy the food that the chef prepares under Srini’s tutelage, and if you experience an understated warm hospitality, please do visit them again. 😉

Incidentally, if you see some of these photos on their walls during your visit, you may recognize them from here. Do they fit well? 😉 😉

Menu, Kabab Palace... Indian Cuisine in Tempe, Arizona.

A sample of Menu items, Kabab Palace, Tempe, Arizona... Take out, anyone?

Fly’n’ Past Flickr…

Flickr… alas, I seem to have drifted away from here… this past year.

Sathvaro Radheshyam No… saath chhuti gayo, for now!

Just called up the Thakkars in the US, but Nilesh & Arpita Thakkar’s troupe, who staged the dance-ballet Sathvaro Radheshyam No, has returned to Inda. No shows in the AZ region… sorry!

But they may be back next Spring, around April 2010. Something to look forward to, I guess…

Sathvaro Radheshyam No… brought to you in the US by…

It’s Sunday and in my determination to locate the sponsors/organizers of the dance ballet production, here’s the precise theme information I found:

Gujarati Dance Ballet produced by Arpita and Nilesh Thakkar
Gujarati Dance Ballet produced by Arpita and Nilesh Thakkar
Gokul, Vrindavan, Nathdwara or say, "Shrinathji".
Gokul, Vrindavan, Nathdwara or say, "Shrinathji".

Sathvaro Radhe Shyam No… Nilesh Thakkar and Arpita Thakkar!

Yesterday I heard rave reviews from friends in Los Angeles about this Gujarati ballet.  They drove 70 miles each way on 21st July to see this fabulous production, and said it was worth every penny and every minute of their time. Having never heard these friends utter such superlatives, I was rather impressed. More so, am intrigued and eager to see this highly rated production. Would anyone know of the schedule for Sathvaro Radhe Shyam Nobeing staged in the US any time soon i n 2009? Would really appreciate the information. Thanks in advance

Trick the eye… wait, this is no scam!

A few days back, I blogged about scams that have ruled the better (or, in this case, worst) part of 2008. But today, as this year draws to a close, I’m referring to trickery of a pleasurable kind… visually pleasing, this art technique involves creating extremely realistic images in two-dimension, but they give you an illusion of 3-D paintings!

“Yeah!” as 15th century Dae Jang Geum would say with wonder-filled eyes and a beautiful smile, if she were to see 21st century chalk artist Julian Beever’s pavement art. The Belgium-based English artist paints murals and oils but is most famous for his anamorphic paintings created with a uniquely distorted perspective. I haven’t had the opportunity to see the original work of the old masters like Masaccio or modern masters like Salvador Dali who utilized this technique in some of their paintings, but I do recall seeing wall murals in old Quebec City with the same stunning effect that Beever conjures through his art on the streets of cities worldwide.  Thanks to the internet, email “forwards” and “virtual” images, (even if one hasn’t had the opportunity to see his ‘real’ work) he is perhaps best-known for pavement artfrom Birmingham to Buenos Aires; from New York to Australia.

Sad to say, though, a three decades old mural on 112-4 Prince Street in SoHo, NY, painted by architectural muralist Richard Haas, was vandalized with graffiti on it, earlier this year.

Here’s an image of what I saw a few years back and then again more recently last summer in Place Royale, Quebec. You can see other examples of  trompe-l’oeil art even in Italy, France, Germany, the US and even in Cuba!

Wall Mural
Place Royale, Old Quebec City, Canada: Wall Mural