Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Random thoughts 25072017

Mumbai previously known was Bombay under Portugese rule from 1534 to 1661 A.D. It was given away to the English under the Marriage treaty of 1661 when king Charles II of England married Catherine of Braganza, the daughter of king John IV of Portugal. To keep the historical context in mind , the first battle of Panipat which heralded the Mughal rule in India was fought in 1531 . Which means that Bombay was almost never a part of the Hindosthan as ruled by the Mughals . The British occupation of Mumbai also as contemporary as  Taj Mahal which was completed in 1654.

Aurangzeb was the only Mughal ruler who realised the threat of the English .After the death of Shivaji in 1680,  the Mughal rule spread to the Konkan area too. This brought them in conflict with the English and Portugese who tried to blockade the sea routes to Arabia and beyond.  Between 1686 and 1690  the British East India Company and the Mughal empire fought a war commonly known as Child's war . Emperor Aurangzeb issued orders for the extirpation of the English, and the confiscation of their property. The English possessions were reduced to the fortified towns of Madras and Bombay.

In 1689 the strong Mughal fleet from Janjira commanded by the Sidi Yaqub and manned by Mappila (Moplas , Muslims from Kerala) and Abyssinians (Habshis) firmly blockaded Bombay. After a year of resistance, the English surrendered, and in 1690 the company sent envoys to Aurangzeb's camp to plead for a pardon. The company's envoys had to prostrate themselves before the emperor, pay a large indemnity, and promise better behavior in the future. The emperor withdrew his troops and the company subsequently re-established itself in Bombay and set up a new base in Calcutta.

In 1686, the English East India Company, which had unsuccessfully tried to obtain a firman, an imperial directive that would grant England regular trading privileges throughout the Mughal empire, initiated the so-called Child's War. This hostility against the empire ended in disaster for the English, particularly when Aurangzeb dispatched a strong fleet from Janjira commanded by the Sidi Yaqub and manned by Mappila loyal to Ali Raja Ali II and Abyssinian sailors firmly blockaded Bombay in 1689.  In 1690, the company sent envoys to Aurangzeb's camp to plead for a pardon. The company's envoys had to prostrate themselves before the emperor, pay a large indemnity, and promise better behaviour in the future.

Siraj ud daullah , Nawab of Bengal who fought the East India company in the battle of Plassey was born after four decades of this English defeat and magnanimity of Aurangzeb . In fact his maternal grandfather Alivardi Khan , whom he succeeded was born in 1671 .

Friday, 21 July 2017

Only, you never knew.

Go, scour the distant shores ,
the myriad alleyways of the world
to seek the elusive nectar
they call as happiness.
When you come back ,
you'll find it , within you .
A pearl hidden inside the shell .
Only, you never knew.
Feel it, kneeling down all alone,
on a vast green meadow,
as the rains drench you.
Smell it , as you walk under a tree
laden with its fresh blossom.
Hear it, in the silence of the hills,
punctuated by the rustle
of the leaves, nodding gently
to the soft whistling breeze.
Taste it, in the clear water
of the spouting spring ,
cupped in your palms.
Watch it , on the canvas of the sky.
as the early morning unravels
the colours of the sun
You will understand , how
it was always there, within you.
Only, you never knew.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Vertigo

In this kingdom of
the sparkling sunlight,
a terrible fear of heights 
stopped me from climbing .
So I remained rooted
somewhere near the base camp ,
even as people crossed me
and went up high and higher ,
first, beyond the sights
and then beyond the vision.
Some how I never realised
how the ground beneath me ,
which I stand was getting dug up ,
inch by inch, deep and deeper
than ever before.
Earlier I could reach
across the other side ,
crossing the old bridge .
Now often the question
that haunts me -
What happens if the bridge
that connects us breach someday
and leaves me stranded
across this deep abyss of mistrust .
The sum of my all fears are back. 
Be it the heights of  fantasy
or the depths of desolation ,
the curse of vertigo stays with me.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

A whole night of love

A whole night of love
on a wet night
with the sound of rain
falling on the tin roof .
Forget everything ,
all those woes of life ,
this is the time to savour
the moments of madness.
Break free
into the prison of desire
that binds us together.
Walk on the sky
to reach the stars above.
As our world explodes,
in the ecstasy of two souls
the sudden fragrance of passion
spreads to make our tryst
a never ending journey
to its final consummation .

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Tiger and the Jackal

#Mythicaltales  The Tiger and the Jackal -  Many many years ago, there was a king named Pourik . He was a cruel and tyrant ruler and his subjects remained unhappy with him. As a retribution, he was reborn as a jackal after his death.

But he remembered everything about his past life and that made him grieve always for his wrongdoings as a tyrant. He always rued the fact that as a king, he was not worthy of good deeds that could be his salvation.

As a penance the Jackal gave up on eating flesh and started living on fruits and vegetables. He also started being truthful always in his action and speech and soon he become a very pious being.

The jackal lived in his lair near a cemetery. The other jackals who lived there were very surprised with him and they would always taunt him “Brother, you eat vegetables and fruits . That's idiotic to say , the least . With abundance of flesh here, why do you have to be a vegetarian?" , they would say.

The Jackal did not get vexed at their taunts. He replied them without rancour- “Friends, do I have to keep off the right path only because I am born a Jackal? If I can live by eating fruits and vegetables, then why do I have to eat flesh? "

A tiger was passing that way. He overheard this conversation and was pleased with the jackal. He thought- “Ah, this jackal seems to be a pious soul and a wise animal. Let me make him my Chief Minister. "

He called the Jackal” I am sure you are a very noble soul. Be my Chief Minister, O Jackal. "

The Jackal replied” O King, I am honoured by your offer. But I have a few conditions, which, you should agree before I accept the offer. You have to abide by whatever I decide for you. When I advise you, nobody else should be present there. And you can't punish me even if you are cross with me."

The Tiger said “I agree to your conditions. Now you come with me."

This way the jackal now became the Chief Minister of the tiger's kingdom. Within a very few days, the Tiger realised what a good choice of minister he has made. He too placed the Jackal at a high esteem and valued his advice with a lot of respect. The Jackal too enjoyed his new role and put in his full efforts to serve the king in a selfless manner.

But the coterie of the old courtiers who used to surround the Tiger became very insecure due to the Jackal. They were used to the good life of corruption and cheated the king. These rascals found that with the coming of the Jackal as the Chief minister, the various sources of their income was drying up . So they all joined hands and sought a way to get the Jackal banished from the court.

Everyday, the best cuts of meat were earmarked for the Tiger. Nobody else was allowed to eat those pieces. One day the mischievous servants of the Tiger stole them from the Tiger's cave and spread them near the Jackal's lair. Neither the Tiger nor the Jackal had any inkling of this because they were asleep. In due time the Tiger woke up and felt hungry; but there was no meat for him in the cave.

The Tiger roared in anger. He wanted to know who was responsible for this . His rage knew no bounds. The wicked courtiers were waiting for this chance to poison his mind. They said - “My Lord, it is the Chief Minister who has done this. You may think him to be a pious animal. But he is actually a very greedy and crafty fellow." Then they took the Tiger near the Jackal's lair where they had hid the pieces of flesh. The Tiger was out of his senses. He asked the servants to kill the Jackal.

The servants would have killed the Tiger, had it not been for the king's mother who was a very intelligent tigress. She understood the plan of the wicked courtiers and approached the Tiger saying- “My son, you know these people and how they were ruining you before the Chief Minister Jackal came here. Just recall, how many times you have wanted to gift him with valuables, but he has never had any use for them. Why should he steal your share of flesh? You inquire about this in detail. I sense some foul play. “

The tiger came to his senses, hearing the soothing words of advice from his mother. He realised his mistake and remembered the conditions he accepted before the Jackal took up his employment. Now he made a thorough enquiry and learned about the conspiracy by his servants. He punished them.

The Jackal was now held in very high esteem by his employer the king Tiger. But the intelligent Jackal could well understand that working for such a temperamental master was always risky. So he bid his time and after a few days very politely excused himself and left the service of the Tiger, wishing him all the best of luck.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Posto

#Posto not only touches but tugs at the heart too . Again a very good movie that I have watched after #Bishorjan. It proves that the creative Bengali film industry is alive and evolved with new identity of its own . Since this movie showed a sold out Sunday evening show in INOX Raghuleela Vashi, I had to drive about an hour up and down , pay toll tax of Rs 70 and forego the afternoon siesta to watch it in Bhandup , about 30 kms away from my home, on the insistence of my wife who never likes to miss a Bengali film or program in Mumbai. But it was really worth it.

The mindless copy of crass commercial copies of southern blockbusters full of colour, action , dances and unreal story-lines  may have helped the Bengali film industry in raking money but cinematically they have brought Bengali films at par with Bhojpuri films.  Away from all this flashy and garish over the top drama,  the realistic , soft , mature , emotional , focussed and issue based films that was the forte of Bengali films have come back to the mainstream due to the effort of some very competent contemporary filmmakers who have also brought in audiences to recoup the investment . That Posto has done well at the box-office is a redeeming feature.

The duo of Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee has given us some memorable movies over the last decade or so. They have consistently tried to make meaningful films with a central theme linked to our lives. The currently running movie #HindiMedium which has been hailed for its theme is said to be greatly inspired by the movie #Ramdhanu created by this duo. The recurring feature of their movies have been their soft and understated handling of emotions and a very mature sense of blending the story with the characters.

#Posto  brings forth the issue of parenting and upbringing of a child and explores the father son relationships between three generations. Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee is just awesome in his role as a grandfather to a small boy. The nuances, depth , facial expressions , dialogue delivery , physical movements  each one of them has been presented in such a masterly manner that the audience never feels that he is a character from the film. He seems to be one of our own , a father or an uncle. Speaking about or praising his acting skills will be  absurd and laughable as coming from a person like me. But let me point out that this gentleman , a great banyan tree of acting is 82 years old and reportedly suffering from some critical ailment. But would you believe that when he acts ?

Among other actors Jishu Sengupta  as the son of the old man and father of the child proves his talent and matches up to the challenge . Lily Chakraborty is a seasoned professional for her role. Paran Chatterjee delivers a fine serio comic performance . After a long time , saw a court room drama which is a substantial portion of the film. The directors have very cleverly used Sohini Sengupta, a veteran stage actress in the role of the defence lawyer against Paran Chatterjee to highlight the dramatic court room dialogues and keep the attention riveted with their stage acting skills. Argha , the young boy Posto is so lovable and inocent that he steals your heart .

But to me, the surprise package of the film is Mimi Chakraborty . She will be remembered for this role and establish her as a leading actress of the Bengali films . Perhaps when she  will look back on her career after a decade hence , this role will be a milestone and turning point for her. 

Personally I was not too much impressed with the music but one song by Nachiketa was superb and  though written and composed by Anupam, it was only Nachiketa who could have sung the song  - Keno Erokom kichhu Holo Na-  in that way. 

Cinematically,  #Posto has some flaws in its composition and presentation. Perhaps the story could have been  put in a tighter script and be made a bit more pacy. But the emotion, acting and dialogues take care of these blemishes. Without being boring or sermonising , it brings out the need of a family and family values in our lives. And like most of the movies by Shibu-Nandita , this too is also a feel good movie. With subtitles in English , this can be  a good watch for everybody who would like to have a relaxing , soft and uncomplicated movie experience.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Random thoughts 21052017

#Justsaying  While watching old Hindi (even Bengali) movies , you may notice that those Izzatdar and Rais aristocratic characters are shown to be wearing a thick loungecoat over their clothes at home. These lounge suits were called housecoats by us, lesser mortals.

Those days homes were not air-conditioned , even for rich people ; at least it doesn't seem so from the scenes. And they always smoked cigars and pipes. I wonder how they managed to wear those wraps in Indian summer. Or is it that they all lived in Shimla or Darjeeling ? The housecoats symbolised wealth and position of the person in the society. Many middle class gentlemen (I know a few) also followed this fashion at home , mostly limited to the first or second housecoat.

On the other hand , nowadays  even middle-class homes have air conditioning . But housecoats have gone flimsy and are invariably worn by lissom heroines  more as a prop to reveal their physical assets rather than their bank balance.

And aristocrats  ? That breed seems to have vanished even from silver screens. The rich and powerful are now shown wearing sportswear and shorts are the in thing as fashionable lounge dress. And we middle-class follow the fashion at home . Good for summer.

Well , the answer to these thoughts coming to my idle and blank mind would be , yes you have rightly guessed , when everything fails - blame it on global warming.