Penalty;Movie on football, prejudices. Kay Kay shines.

In recent times I do not remember any movie which has got such bad reviews as Penalty has. It has been called a terrible football film with no sense of craft or politics and it has been termed culturally awry as well.

The 2019 movie was streamed by Netflix a few days back. It was mostly panned by the critics. I however mostly disagree with the reviews. I liked the movie and I found it realistic and truthful.

Penalty is written and directed by Shubham Singh. He was earlier assistant director for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Son of Sardaar and Mere brother ki dulhan. Penalty stars Lukram Smil as a young Manipuri student who comes to Lucknow to carve out a future for himself as a professional football player. He wants to play for India and realizes that with Lucknow being the football powerhouse and a Lucknow based University, SRMU being University champions 18 years in a row, his best chances of playing football at higher level is by first playing for SRMU.

However, Lukram faces racial profiling and discrimination. His playing skills are overlooked and sadly the injustice is encouraged by none other than the dictatorial chief coach/manager, played by Kay Kay Menon. The manager goes to the extent of interfering with selection matters and dominating them to ensure that “insiders’ are in the team and “outsiders’ are excluded/not selected. Kay Kay’s assistant coach is Shashank Arora, whom we have earlier seen in Manto as well as Made in heaven. Shashank tries to do justice to talent through proper selection but is not allowed to. Kay Kay even sells him guilt by hinting that non-selection of deserving players had resulted in his selection as well and seeks to continue ruthless implementation of his insider-outsider theory with him as successor.

The travails of Lukram are many. He is called “C” for his looks and is physically assaulted when he says, “Don’t use that word“. He also survives an organized and planned physical attack which could potentially have given him career-ending and life threatening injuries. Lukram even thinks about giving everything up and returns to Manipur but decides to come back and pursue his dream. He is assisted by a friendly Sardar roommate Ishwar, beautifully played by Manjot Singh, who we have seen in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Student of the year, Udaan and Fukrey . Lukram and Ishwar are great friends. Midway he feels that he has been betrayed but later he realizes that the Sardar has a heart of gold.

What I liked most about Penalty was Kay Kay’s portrayal of a ruthless football Manager. He has done it effortlessly. I also liked the concept of crowd-funding being shown in a dignified manner. The underprivileged do have less opportunities, but if required , unknown strangers will rise to the occasion and bail them out. Well done, Mr Director for touching upon this aspect. It was also a nice touch to have a Sardar stand up against discrimination and racial profiling, since they too face it, which however has not been shown in this movie.

Penalty could have improved in some areas. Kay Kay’s Xenophobia is unnecessarily sought to be explained towards the end by him playing the victim card to explain his behaviour and life long mission of keeping out “outsisers”. Lukram’s acting needed improvement since his is the most important role. The football scenes should have been better since it is a football movie. Lukram’s love interest angle was totally unnecessary and did not need inclusion.

Overall, Penalty is a good movie about football, about prejudices, and with excellent acting by Manjot Singh, Shashank Arora and of course the evergreen Kay Kay Menon.

Pics credit; BookMyShow.

Chaman Bahaar; Jitendra Kumar once again shines.

Jitendra Kumar

Chaman Bahaar, a new movie on Netflix is set in Lormi, which is in Mungeli district of Chhatisgarh. The movie stars Jitendra Kumar, an IIT Kharagpur graduate and former MNC employee who after chucking his job, ventured into the entertainment industry. He already has had major successes including the movie Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan and the web-series Panchayat. He does a fine job here as well.

Chaman Bahaar, like Panchayat is also based in rural India/small town India. This trend started a couple of years back but is no more a novelty, as it was earlier and the theme itself was looked forward to, both for the newness as well the nostalgic feeling. However now there is a surfeit of such movies/series and therefore it becomes even more of a challenge to keep the viewer interested. Possibly recognizing this, the makers of Chaman Bahaar decided to go in for a short movie instead of going in for a web-series.

Jitendra Kumar shines. His role is that of a young man named Prem Kumar Yadav who is employed as a forest guard with the DFO ( District Forest Officer), a job the males in his family have done since generations. Within the 1st five minutes of the movie, an encounter with a bear leads Prem to resign and take up the ownership of a Paan shop, the name of which is Chaman Bahaar.

Henry Ford had once said that “Location, location and location is a key strategic concern for any business“. This is soon realised by Prem, who spends his time alone in his shop, without any customers, since the location is not appropriate. However soon the situation changes and this is because the local engineer shifts there with his family which includes a beautiful teenage girl, Rinku. To see her, there is lot of rush in the paan shop, and Prem’s and Chaman Bahaar’s fortune changes.

With the increasing rush and business, Prem gets money to improve his shop, pay off his debts and even gifts his father chicken and scotch whisky. However after some time, a problem arises. He too falls for Rinku, a role played by Ritika Badiani. Now the entire town is in love with her, for they have never seen a beautiful girl wearing shorts, what they call half-pant. She also rides a scooty and that too fast, and walks a dog. The small town boys can’t get enough of her sight- even though they know they have no chance, for three “powerful” suitors are there, a politician’s son, a rich kid and the DFO’s son. The parallels are clear, power, wealth and position. Others reconcile to placing bets on which of the three will get her. Prem too falls for her and draws up schemes of “divide and rule” so that the rush in his shop will diminish- even though it badly affects his business.

Where the movie does well is replicating the small town experience in an authentic manner. All who have stayed in villages or even small or mid size towns will recollect the carrom clubs and the gatherings in front of and beside the local paan shop. So also the speculation as to who would be the boyfriend of a pretty girl, even though almost all would not have the guts to even say a Hi or hello. What is well brought also and adds local flavour is the way the young boys address each other as daddy and call Shila bhaiya (the powerful politician) and Ashu Bhaiya (the rich kid) the biggest daddies amongst them.

Where the film does not do well is objectifying the girl. Everyone sees her as an object. She too has not been given any role at all, except for dressing up nicely and walking the dog or riding her scooty. Interestingly, in the entire movie she does not speak a single word. The movie also shows even her school teacher as falling for her, which was probably not needed at all and seems a bit unpleasant and unnecessary. Finally her father also says that somehow small towns don’t suit them and he has decided that he will shift the family back to a big city. This may actually be realistic though and many officers in civil services , banks and private sector companies actually do this, by staying alone in the hinterland and keeping their family in the state capitals. However, is this growth ? Is this integration ? It is not, which is ok, in the quest to depict reality, but it is not shown in a positive way. It shows a sense of resignation and failure in a way.

In fact, the film actually seems to be anti-women. “Bhai, kya dikhti hai, English bolti hai, half-pant pehenti hai, gadi kya chalati hai” which is the theme seems to be jarring and incongruous as it is repetitive and is stretched almost the entire movie. The girl does not seem to object to what is quite open if not eve-teasing, leering after her. Shila Bhaiya follows her in a jeep with his goons, and actually tells his henchman who is driving the jeep to make her feel sure that she is followed. The objective behind this is not stated. It may have been meant to be funny, but it seems creepy. Similarly, when a cop beats up Prem for shaming her, the mother of the girl seems to be apologetic about it, saying that he did so as he was a family friend, and his posting earlier too was in the same district where they were posted. Will any Mom behave like this ? Will any Mom be sorry and apologetic at the eve-teaser of her teen daughter being roughed up by the cops. No. It is also disturbing to see grown men chasing a school-girl, though the attempt is to show reality.

Where the film scores is the acting of Jitendra Kumar. He is outstanding and his acting is subtle and realistic. It is also clear that he works hard and as he himself says in an India Today interview, ” I invest good time in preparation for my character before the shoot begins. Mannerism, body language, thought process, how a certain person would present himself. I like to learn the nuances which fill in the gaps of me and the character“. He has done superbly in the movie, and his acting itself is enough reason to see the movie. The side male actors too have done well. I especially liked the cop, Bhadauria, played by Bhagwan Tiwari and Shila Bhaiya, played by Alam Khan. The movie is the debut direction of Apurva Dhar Badgaiyan. Is there a hidden message in the cop roughing up the paanwala, as Bhadauria is a Rajput who beats up an Yadav. We do not know.

See the movie, to see Jitendra Kumar’s skilful performance. The movie however is average and one is happy that it got delayed and was not the debut of Jitendra as it was meant to be. Oherwise who knows, if it had not done well, we may not have seen him in the lovable web-series Panchayat (read my separate blog on Panchayat).

Hopefully we will see a lot of Jitendra Kumar in the future. Handled skilfully, he could be a future Amol Palekar.

Pics Credit; India Today

The 3 W’s are united. Rest in peace, Sir Everton Weekes.

File photo of Sir Everton Weekes.

Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Everton Weekes were three great batsmen who were known as the three W’s. Frank Worrell was the oldest amongst them and was born on 1st August 1924. They were born a mile of each other in Barbados and were delivered by the same midwife. Everton Weekes was born on 26th February 1925 and the youngest of the great trio was Clyde Walcott was born on 17th January 1926. The first to move on was Frank Worrell, who was only 42. Next was Clyde Walcott who lived till the age of 80. Yesterday Everton Weekes moved on at the grand old age of 95. He was the third oldest living cricketer with only John Watkins of South Africa and Don Smith of England, both of whom are 97, being older than him.

Let us fondly recollect these three great batsmen and leaders and reminisce some little known trivia about them.

Frank Worrell was the 1st black cricketer to be captain of the West Indies team for a full series ( George Headley had captained for a solitary Test). Worrell was the captain in the 1st Tied test between Australia and West Indies. He was also the captain when Charles Griffith injured Nari Contractor and he was the 1st to offer blood to Nari Bhai, and helping to save him. Cricket Association of Bengal organizes an annual blood donation camp every year in his honour and the function is called Sir Frank Worrell day. Since 2009, Trinidad and Tobago too has a blood donation drive day, which not coincidentally was inaugurated by Nari Contractor.

Worrell had two 500 runs plus 1st class partnerships, one with John Goddard and the other with Walcott. Only he and Ravindra Jadeja have this feat. In his career spanning 51 Tests, Worrell had an average close to 50 (49.48) and had 9 hundreds with a highest score of 261. This was at Trent Bridge and he had a 283 run 4th wicket partnership with Sir Weekes. Aussie great Neil Harvey is on record saying that “he was one of the players I would pay money to go and watch, because he always went out there to entertain“. Harvey calls the 3 W’s a frightening combination and Sir Worrell as probably the most stylish batsman amongst them. As a captain he made such an impact that Australia-West Indies tour trophy is called Sir Frank Worrell Trophy.

Sir Frank Worrell passed away, very young, at just 42. He was the 1st of the 3 W’s to be Knighted, when he was just 39. Worrell had a cameo in Raj Kapoor’s “Around the world in 8 dollars” which was released after he passed away. This is perhaps the Hindi film industry’s only movie dedicated to a cricket player. His memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey and it was the 1st time ever a sportsperson’s memorial was held there.

Sir Clyde Walcott was the youngest of the 3 W’s and the hardest hitting batsman amongst the trio. Initially he was called a wicketkeeper who can bat and he kept wickets for the 1st 15 tests of his career. However at 6’2, keeping is not easy and back issues led him to play as a pure batsman thereafter. He ended up with an average of 56.68 and as many as 15 centuries in just 44 tests and a highest score of 220. In 1950, the West Indies team had its 1st Test win and that too at Lords, and one of the stars was Clyde Walcott with an unbeaten 168. In 1955, he became the 1st batsman to have 5 centuries in a single test series, and the team to bear the brunt of his broad blade was Australia.

Walcott had an excellent career as an administrator after his retirement. He also became Chairman of Selection Committee and Manager of the world cup winning team in 1975 and 1979. He was the coach of Clive Lloyd and Rohan Kanhai. In 1993, he became the 1st non-English and non-white to become Chairman ICC. He was Knighted in the same year,1993 and was the second of the W’s to be Knighted.

Sir Everton Weekes was born in 1925. In that year Everton football club signed on the great football player Dixie Dean and fans/supporters were very happy. One amongst them was this great cricketer’s dad who named him after the football club. Reportedly Jim Laker told him, “It was a good thing your father wasn’t a West Bromwich Albion fan”. Everton’s middle name was DeCourcy and possibly there may be a French connection to this about which he was unaware.

Sir Everton was born in a poor family and was good in both football and cricket but chose the latter for a career. All the 3 W’s were great batsman and it is a tribute to Weekes that he was considered the best bat amongst the terrific trio. He reached 1000 test runs in just 12 innings thereby equalling the record of Herbert Sutcliffe. This was one innings less than none other than Sir Don Bradman. In fact Richie Benaud says that Weekes was the closest in style and class to the Don.

Sir Everton had an incredible average of 58.61 and had as many as 15 tons in his 48 Tests. He had centuries in five consecutive test innings and was run out for 90 ( considered by him an umpiring error), missing a sixth. Only Rahul Dravid could come close to it with four consecutive hundreds. In the course of this incredible run , Weekes scored six centuries and five half-centuries in 11 innings. He also had seven consecutive test scores of 50 plus, a feat which has been matched by Andy Flower, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Kumar Sangakkara.

After retirement, Everton Weekes enjoyed several careers such as coaching, commentary, analyst, cricket administrator, International match referee and International bridge player. He was coach of Canada’s 1979 World Cup team. He represented his country in bridge and became a Justice of the Peace as well. He was Knighted in 1995. His son David Murray also played cricket for the West Indies and was a brilliant wicketkeeper but sadly his career was curtailed short after going on a rebel tour to South Africa.

At 85, in an interview with Tony Cozier, Sir Weekes had said that if he survives till 90, he would reach 100 as well. He had a disciplined life and in his 90’s too he used to swim, drive and cook for himself. The swim was in the sea, not in any swimming pool and his daily swim in the sea stopped only on doctor’s advice when he was 93. However his desire to hit a century in real life could not materialize and at 95, he has moved on. Rest in peace Sir.

The 3 W’s shared 39 hundreds in 143 tests matches. They gave us joy. They respected the opponents despite dominating them and in return, got double the respect given, for their cricketing brilliance and for their reputation of fair play. With Everton Weekes moving on yesterday, the three immortals are now reunited together.

Pics credit; Getty Images.

Lag Jaa Gale; Happy birthday Madan Mohan Ji

MADAN MOHAN... The Musical Legend | The Official Website of Madan ...

Rai Bahadur Chunilal was working as an Accountant General in Iraq. He and his wife were blessed with a son at Baghdad on 25 June, 1924. To the good fortune of the Indian film industry, the father returned to India and Mumbai for career reasons. 

How is the return to Mumbai associated with good fortune of the Indian film industry. To know that, read on;

The son studied in Mumbai’s famous St Mary school initially and then after passing out from Colonel Brown’s military academy in Dehradun, he served in the army for a brief two year career during the second World War. Thereafter he joined All India Radio for a year and after he was transferred to Delhi he resigned as he wanted to continue in Mumbai. A full time career in the Hindi film industry awaited him.

The legend I am talking about is none other than Madan Mohan, who was given the title, Ghazal ka Shehzaada, by Lata Mangeshkar. Madan Ji had a special relationship with Lata Didi. He himself was a good singer and had a duet with Lata Didi for the film Shaheed , which however was not used in the movie. He also had sung ghazals penned by famous poets Behzad Lacknawi and Dewan Sharar. He had duets with Shamsaad Begum. He sang the song Koi ek Ana with Rafi saab for Dhun, and the song Mere jaisa nahin milega with both Rafi Saab and Kishore Da for Fifty Fifty

Madan Mohan himself had aspirations to be a hero but that did not work out. He then decided to take up composing and briefly was with SD Burman. The song Mera sundar sapna beet gaya from Do bhai was their collaboration. However Madan Ji’s talent was such and he could sense it that he decided to become an independent music director himself.

Madan Mohan had a soft corner for Lata Didi. They were very close to each other. Urban legend has it that once Madan Ji had said, that till Lata sings, she will sing almost all his songs. Lata Didi too, on her part, was very clear about the greatness of Madan Ji and said that while she was well trained, even she found it difficult sometimes to master his compositions. Madan Ji on being conveyed this said that it was Lata Didi’s fondness for him which led to this amazing compliment.

Some of the top Madan Ji-Lata Didi songs were Lag jaa Gale (Woh koun thi ), Aap ki nazron ne samjhha ( Anpadh ), Tu jahaan jahaan chalega mera saaya saath hoga ( Mera saaya ), Naina barse rim jhim rim jhim ( Woh kaun thi ), Ruke ruke se qadam ( Mausam ), Dil Dhundta hai ( duet with Bhupinder in Mausam ), Tum Jo mil gaye ho ( Duet with Rafi saab in Hanste Zakham ), Baiyan naa dharo ( Dastak ), Nainon mein badra chhaye ( Mera Saaya ), Milo na tum to hum ghabraaye ( Heer Ranjha ), Wo bhooli dastaan lo phir yaad aa gayi ( Sanjog ), Hum pyar mein jalnewalon ko ( Jailor), Unko yeh shikayat hai ( Adalat) and Khelo na mere dil se (Haqeekat ). There are many, many more.

Some relatively unknown trivia about Madan Mohan-Lata songs. Here goes;

The 1st movie they collaborated in was Bhai Bhai, and there was a Lata Didi song Kadar Jane Na. Begum Akhtar liked it so much that she called up Madan Mohan and he had to sing it to her over telephone as many as eighteen times.

One of Madan Ji’s biggest hits was Mera Saaya. Interestingly the name of the movie was originally Saaya. However, there was a party thrown by Madan Ji after the movie was completed. Madan Ji was a terrific cook and used to love serving food to his guests. He used to go personally shopping for the raw materials to Null Bazaar for mutton and Crawford market for vegetables and he had created some unusual dishes like Bhindi mutton, baingan mutton, doodhi mutton and Khada chicken. In this particular party the song tu jahaan jahaan chalega mera saaya was played again and again by him as he was very pleased with his composition. At the end of the party, the director Raj Khosla Ji decided to change the name of the movie from Saaya to Mera Saaya.

Lag Jaa gale is one of the best songs of all time. Ironically, it was not accepted by the director, Raj Khosla Ji. Madan Mohan was very disappointed and he told Manoj Kumar who convinced Raj Ji to give a second chance. In the second sitting, Raj Ji immediately accepted it. Manoj Kumar then asked him why then he had rejected it a few days back, and Raj Ji replied that he must have been absentminded or he has gone mad, otherwise why would he say no to such a wonderful tune.

Legend has it that SD Burman once said, if Madan Mohan gave him credit for Aap ki nazron ne samjha, he would give him credit for all his memorable compositions in return. Surprisingly though, Madan Mohan Ji never won Filmfare award though he was nominated four times. He was disheartened after Woh kaun thi did not get him the award and it was Lata Didi who comforted him. He had a wonderful collection of cars and once he was driving in Mumbai and a cop stopped him. He was about to say sorry for over-speeding when the cop said, “you should have got award for Anpadh“,

Madan Ji, being a giant as regards classical music is concerned, not unsurprisingly, he has lot of terrific songs with Mohd Rafi Saab. They were very close as well and every year on Eid , Rafi saab used to send Kheer and seviyaan to Madan Ji’s house, and Madan Ji’s children used to call him Mohd Barfi instead of Rafi due to the delicious Kheer sent by him.

Some of the top Madan Ji-Rafi Saab songs are Teri aankhon ke siva duniya mein rakha kya hai (Chirag ), Rang aur noor ki baaraat ( Gazal ), Kar chale hum fida (Haqeeqat), Ye duniya ye mehfil (Heer Ranjha) Aapke pehlu main aakar ro diye ( Mera Saaya), Chhadi re chhadi ( Mausam ) and aap ko pyar chhupane ki buri aadat hai (Neela Aakash).

Madan Ji passed away when he was very young. He was only 51 but had put in a glittering 25 years of immense contribution to music. The respect he had from the film fraternity can be know from the fact that his pall-bearers were megastars Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan and Rajendra Kumar. 29 years after he passed away, his compositions were used for a collaboration by his son Sanjeev Kohli and lyricist Javed Akhtar for some magical songs in the ShahRukh Khan starrer Veer-Zaara, produced by Yash Chopra and Aditya Chopra. Madan Mohan too got posthumous credits as music director for Veer-Zaara and the award for best music director was given to Madan Mohan-Sanjeev Kohli.

Happy Birthday Madan Ji. Just 4 years is left for your 100th birthday and we hope that the Film industry gives you a fitting and well-deserved tribute.

Pics credit; madanmohan.in Info credit; madanmohan.in and other information on public domain.

Trivia journey of top Lata Didi and Mukesh Songs.

Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh Songs Lyrics - Hindi Songs Lyrics

Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh Saab had lot of similarities. Both were gifted and great singers. Both wanted to act before taking up full time singing. While Mukesh Ji was a hero in several films before concentrating on singing, similarly Didi acted in a couple of Art movies before becoming the Goddess of singing. They were very close and had a brother-sister relationship. She used to call him Mukesh Bhaiya and Mukesh Ji used to call her Didi. When Mukesh Ji became a producer, he called her up to say, that she had to do the playback singing, and if she did not do so, his movies would be released without a single song.

Mukesh Ji, being senior to Lata Didi had gone on several concerts and stage-shows abroad before she had gone even once. Later of course, Lata Didi’s stage shows were very successful and much awaited worldwide. However the 1st time Lata Didi did any stage show was with Mukesh Ji in Canada and it was a super hit. Some young friends and fans invited Lata didi for dinner and since Mukesh Ji did not want to be bored and alone at the hotel, he tagged along. After the dinner was over, the young fans were collecting money from each other as it was a “Dutch” dinner. The large-hearted Mukesh Ji did not allow this and paid the bill. After returning to hotel, he laughingly told Lata didi, “tumhare saath dinner jaana bahut costly hai”. (It is very costly to go out for dinner with you).

Their last concert too was supposed to be together at Michigan, USA but suddenly Mukesh Ji passed away. Since “the show must go on“, instead of cancelling the concert, Lata Didi bravely sang alone and Nitin Mukesh accompanied her in the duets. They concluded the concert- and then returned to India to complete the rituals.

Lata Didi and Mukesh Ji were that close. Didi had only one regret, that Mukesh Ji did not have some great classical songs as she was sure with his dedication and work ethic he could have done so.

Let us reminisce some top Lata-Mukesh songs, and the trivia around these immortal numbers. As always , my request is to you to hum the songs while reading about them. See them once again on youtube to relive the magic. The list is my personal preference. I would love to know if some of these songs would be there in your list and which others you would like to include.

1 Kabhi Kabhi mere dil mein. (Kabhi Kabhie)

Kabhi Kabhie Mere Dil Mein - Amitabh Bachchan - Mukesh - Kabhi ...

Music was by Khayyam. Since musicians were on strike, Yash Chopra organised musicians from the Indian navy to give the music for Lata Didi and Mukesh Ji. Sahir won his 2nd Filmfare award for best lyricist for this song. In fact he overruled Yash Chopra who had wanted Laxmikant Pyarelal to be the music directors as Sahir felt that they could not do justice to his lyrics and Khayyam Saab was the chosen composer.

Kabhi Kabhie, like Pyaasa was a movie in which each and every song was superb. In the film industry there were rumours that Yash Chopra made Kabhi Kabhie as an ode to the relationship between Sahir and Amrita Pritam. For Yash Ji, it was very important that Rakhee acts in it , so much so that he had said if she did not, then he would shelve the movie. Mukesh Ji won Filmfare best male playback singer for this song which has two versions, a Mukesh Ji solo and a Mukesh-Lata duet. Kabhi Kabhie was shot in Kashmir and Yash Chopra described the entire production as a honeymoon since all actors were like a happy family.

2 Har dil jo pyar karega (Sargam)

Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega - Raj Kapoor - Vyjayanthimala - Rajendra ...

This evergreen song is from the movie Sargam and is picturised on Raj Kapoor, Vyjayantimala and Rajendra Kumar (with Mahendra Kapoor singing for Rajendra Kumar). See the eye-expressions of all the three stars. Thats the feat of course, of master director Raj Kapoor. Music is by Shankar Jaikishan and lyrics by Shailendra. Raj Kapoor had originally thought of a movie called Gharonda with Dilip Kumar, Nargis and himself. However it could not be made and ultimately the movie saw reality as Sangam with a new star cast.

Mukesh Ji was the voice of Raj Kapoor, so much so that when he passed away at the young age of 53, Raj Kapoor had broken down and said,”mein ne apni awaaz kho diya hai” ( I have lost my voice). They were part of a group of close friends and Raj Kapoor was devastated that his third close friend had moved on. In his words “When Shailendra left us (lyricist Shailendra) I felt that i lost an arm. When Jaikishen ( One half of music director duo Shankar Jaikishen) passed away, i lost another arm. But when Mukesh passed away, meri jaan hi chali gayee, ( I lost my life). I am the body, my soul was Mukesh.”

3 Phool tumhein bheja hai khat mein. (Saraswatichandra)

Phool Tumhe Bheja Hai Khat Me Full Piano Notes | Pianobajao

This mellifluous song is picturised on Nutan and Manish and is from the movie Saraswatichandra directed by Govind Saraiya. The black and white picturisation does not minimise but rather accentuates Nutan’s natural beauty.

Music is by Kalyanji-Anandji for which they won the national film award for best director. Lyrics are by Indeevar. This movie also had the memorable song, Chandan sa Badan, which had two versions, with the male version by Mukesh Ji and female version by Lata Didi.

4 Dil tadap tadap ke (Madhumati)

Dil Tadap Tadap Ke (HD) | Madhumati Songs | Dilip Kumar ...

Salil Chowdhury gives the music for this enchanting song from Madhumati, and it is picturised on Dilip Kumar and Vyjayantimala. The movie is Madhumati and the master director is Bimal Roy. The movie won the National film award for the best feature film in Hindi.

For this movie, Salil Chowdhury had first composed the music and later Shailendra gave the lyrics. Hungarian folk music was also used by Salil da for this movie. Bimal Roy being a great friend of SD Burman had given Dada Burman the unfinished tracks but SD Saab did not make any changes at all and rather gave some constructive suggestions. Salil da initially wanted Talat Mehmood for Dil tadap tadap ke but it was Bimal Roy who felt that Mukesh Ji would do justice. Dada Burman suggested Lata Didi’s name which Salil da gladly accepted and she in fact sings all the songs of the movie.

5 Saawan ka mahina pawan kare sor (Milan)

Sawan Ka Mahina - HD (Eagle Jhankar) Milan - Sunil Dutt & Nutan ...

This all time great song is picturised on Sunil Dutt Ji and Nutan Ji and is from the movie Milan. Lyrics are by Anand Bakshi and music by the great duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal. However LP had a role in the lyrics. Sunil Dutt plays a villager and Nutan an educated lady. In North India the pronunciation of Sha is Sa. LP had noticed this and gave the idea to Anand Bakshi.

Milan had as many as eight songs with only two singers, Mukesh Ji and Lata Didi. They had three duets, will all three songs being super hits. The other two are “Hum tum yug yug se ye geet milan ki” and “Bol gori bol tera kaun piya“.

Mukesh Ji had refused Saawan ka mahina pawan kare sor as he had to teach correct pronunciation to Lata Didi and in his own words it would be a touheen. However Lata Didi laughingly told him that the song was just in fun and in real life she would always teach her “Mukesh Bhaiya”. After that only Mukesh Ji agreed to sing the song. It became an iconic hit and is the personal favorite of Lata Didi. In all their tours abroad this song was usually the biggest hit for the live audience.

6 Ek Pyaar ka Nagma hai (Shor)

Ek pyar ka nagma hai lyrics in Hindi | एक प्यार का ...

Shor was written, produced and directed by Manoj Kumar. It was the rare film in which his name was NOT Bharat. This iconic song is picturised on Manoj Kumar and Nanda. Jaya Bhaduri was already signed for the main role and while Manoj Kumar treated Nanda as his younger sister he was not sure whether she would accept a smaller role. However not only was Nanda enthusiastic about it, she insisted that she will not take any fees for the movie. Mukesh Ji was nominated for best male playback singer for this song, which was composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Mukesh Ji still won the award though for the uniquely different song “Jai bolo beimaan ki” from the movie Beimaan.

Lyrics of Ek pyar ka Nagma hai were by Santosh Anand, and while he won best lyricist award for Roti Kapda aur Makaan and Prem Rog, Ek pyaar ka nagma hai was the favorite song of his career and he was nominated for best lyricist as well for this song but lost out to “Jai bolo beimaan ki” with lyrics by Verma Malik. Even so, Ek pyar ka Nagma hai was rated the song of the millenium.

7 Wo chand khila vo taare haseen (Anari)

Woh Chand Khila - Raj Kapoor - Nutan - Anari - Lata Mangeshkar ...

This song written by Hasrat Jaipuri and music by Shankar Jaikishan is from the 1959 movie Anari, directed by master director Hrishikesh Mukherjee. It is picturised on Raj Kapoor and Nutan Ji. This movie swept the awards with best actor for Raj Kapoor, best music director for Shankar Jaikishan, best supporting actress award for Lalita Pawar, best male playback and best lyricist award for Mukesh and Shailendra for Sab kuchh seekha humne. Anari also won the President’s silver medal for best feature film in Hindi. While Raj Kapoor is more well known as a director, Anari showcases his acting talent. Two scenes are especially superb. His sadness when Lalita Pawar accuses him of theft and his reactions in Sab kuchh seekha humne where he tries to smiles and laughs while singing but one sees sadness in his smile and his eyes, as he is hurt with Nutan Ji.

8 Hum to tere aashiq hai (Farz)

Hum To Tere Aashiq Hain - Superhit Romantic Song - Mukesh, Lata ...

This peppy song with lyrics by Anand Bakshi and music by Laxmikant Pyarelal is picturised on jumping jack Jeetendra ji and Babita. It is from the 1967 spy movie Farz, which is a kind of desi Bond movie. LP’s music was inspired by James Bond movie songs and later he knew that RD Burman too was planning to use the same music. However when RD heard this he withdrew and LP used the music. It had two sequels, Keemat (1973) starring Dharmendra and Rekha and Raksha (1982) starring Jeetendra and Parveen Babi. The common character Agent 116 is there in all these three movies.

Farz was a hit and ran in the theatres for 25 weeks. Strangely after 25 weeks the censor board had some issues about this song and ordered some cuts. Public uproar led to the song once again being included in full and the movie ran for another 25 weeks. Ironically Jeetendra had signed the movie only as it had been planned to be finished in one 35 day schedule and he was busy with his sister’s wedding and the movie’s fees would be helpful towards that. Little did he know it would be a super hit.

9 Main naa bhoolunga (Roti Kapda aur Makaan)

Main Na Bhoolunga | Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar | Roti Kapada Aur ...

This song is from Roti Kapda aur Makaan, a movie once again written by Manoj Kumar and produced and directed by him. This is the only movie of Manoj Kumar starring Amitabh Bachchan. Manoj Kumar had taken the slogan from Indira Gandhi’s 1967 election campaign. This beautiful song is picturised on Manoj Kumar and Zeenat Aman. There is a history to Zeenat Aman acting in this movie. Manoj Kumar wanted to launch Mumbai Doordarshan newsreader Smita Patil in it but she was not interested for a career in movies ( at that point of time). Sharmila Tagore was then offered the role , but she wanted Moushumi Chatterji’s role, which was not acceptable to Manoj Kumar. Hence Zeenat Aman got the role.

Lyrics were by Santosh Anand and music by Laxmikant Pyarelal. As mentioned earlier, Santosh Anand won best lyricist award for this song. Manoj Kumar won best director as well while Mahendra Kapoor won the best male playback award for the highly philosophical song “Aur nahi bus aur nahi“.

10 Ramaiya Vastavaiya (Shree 420)

Raj Kapoor Ramaiya Vastavaiya Shree 420 | Mr. & Mrs. 55 – Classic ...

This song is from Raj Kapoor’s epic movie Shree 420 written by the legendary KA Abbas and produced, directed and acted by Raj Kapoor (with Nargis). This all time song is sung by Rafi Saab and Lata Didi but Mukesh Ji sings at the end as the voice of Raj Kapoor.

The lyrics by Shailendra are superb and have to be penned down as below;Pl sing along.

रस्ता वही और मुसाफिर वही
एक तारा न जाने कहाँ छुप गया
दुनिया वही, दुनियावाले वही
कोई क्या जाने किसका जहां लुट गया
मेरी आँखों में रहे, कौन जो तुझसे कहे
मैंने दिल तुझको…

Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar Songs |Jukebox| - HQ - YouTube

Mukesh Saab and Lata Didi , thank you for these gems. Thanks a lot.

Pics credit; Youtube, Dailymotion, Pianobajao, Insta lyrics on, Shemaroo. Info credit; Wikipedia, Sa Re Ga Ma music programs on youtube and also various other information available in public domain

A fond tribute to Sushant Singh Rajput

Sushant Singh Rajput was to get married in November, family ...

Most of us have To-do lists. Popular star Sushant Singh Rajput had one too. We will come to his later.

Sushant passed away at his Bandra, Mumbai residence on Sunday, June 14, 2020, reducing entire film community and in fact the entire nation into deep shock. While police investigation is on, prima facie it seems to be a case of suicide. Sushant was just 34 and it was inconceivable to all his friends, admirers and fans as to why a young and successful star would suddenly take his life.

Speculation followed, which in my view is not just unfortunate, but unwarranted and disrespectful to his family and friends. Since Sushant took the extreme step and nothing can be more extreme, I feel the least one can do is to respect his privacy, especially since one does not know his pressures or problems (or anyone’s for that matter). In the circumstances, speculation would be unnecessary and certainly avoidable.

In his brief career, Sushant gave us many moments of joy. Let us pay a tribute to him by remembering these moments of happiness and remember him and his terrific smile.

Before Sushant entered the Hindi film industry in 2013 with Kai Po Che, he was an extremely popular TV star. Two dance reality shows Jhalak Dikhla Jaa and Zara Nachke Dikha had showcased his dancing talents, which he had learnt from none other than King of dance, Shiamak Davar. His acting prowess had already been seen in Star Plus’ Kis Desh mein hai mera dil and in Zee TV’s Pavitra Rishta, where he played Manav the mechanic. Both these serials were by Balaji Telefilms, and Ekta Kapoor had once again given a future star to the film industry.

Sushant in just 7 years in Bollywood has put in several varied and interesting performances in different genres such as romantic comedy (Shuddh desi romance), thriller ( Detective Byomkesh Bakshi), drama (Sonchiriya), friendship drama (Kai Po che), Biopic (Dhoni, the untold story) and Emotion (Chichhore). He also held his own again in a movie with the redoubtable Aamir Khan in PK.

I will mention in detail just three of Sushant’s movies and some interesting trivia.

RIP Sushant Singh Rajput: From playing MS Dhoni to a bandit in ...

Kai Po Che was based on Chetan Bhagat’s The three mistakes of my life. Sushant drew accolades for his role of Ishaan in the critically acclaimed movie which starred Amit Sadh and Rajkumar Rao as well as his two friends. Sushant took four months cricket training for this role. It helped him get the role of Dhoni as well later in his career since Dhoni himself saw Kai Po Che on a flight and recommended the name of Sushant for his biopic.

Celebrate his life and his work': Sushant Singh Rajput's team to ...

Sushant also got lot of praises for his role in Dhoni, the untold story. The movie was realistic, possibly because while director Neeraj Pandey liked cricket, he was not a fan of Dhoni, preferring Tendulkar and AB De villiers, and so his was not a fan-boy tale. Sushant put in lot of hard work for the movie and got the ultimate compliment from Dhoni himself, who when he saw the helicopter shot said, that Sushant had totally photocopied it and was now ready for Ranji Trophy selection. The movie’s cricket consultant was Kiran More who spent many months with Sushant and once at BKC Bandra when Sachin Tendulkar saw Sushant, he asked More who the boy was and was batting well. When More told him it was a filmstar playing Dhoni’s role in a movie, Sachin’s reply was epic, “he can play proper professional cricket if he wants to. He seems that good”.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has praised the “severity of his professional effort” in his tweet with the example of his asking Sushant how he managed to give the iconic shot of Dhoni hitting the winning six in the World cup to absolute perfection, and Sushant’s reply that he had seen Dhoni’s video a hundred times.

Finally, Chichhore. Sadly and ironically, Sushant plays the father of a teenager who attempts to take his life and how Sushant helps his son through his trauma and takes him through a flashback to his own college life. One of Sushant’s dialogues were, “Hum haar jeet, success failure mein itna ulajh gaye hain, ki zindagi jeena bhool gaye hain, Zindagi mein agar kuch sabse zyada important hai toh woh hai khud zindagi”. (We get so involved with success and failure in life , that we do have forgotten that what is most important about life is life itself)

While Sushant, through his role in Chichhore, must have motivated so many, he could not practice the same philosophy and decided to move on. We will always remember him and his trademark smile.

We come back to Sushant’s To-do list. There are some aspirational ones, some on sport, some on career and some extremely noble ones too. He wanted to help train women in self-defence, teach dance to children, help prepare students for India’s defence forces, work for free education. Let us emulate him by doing our little bit for these noble goals.

Rest in peace Sushant Singh Rajput.

Pics credit; India TV, HT, New Indian Express

Jamtara; Sab ka Number Ayega. Director is the hero.

Jamtara Netflix Series Release Date, Trailer, Cast, Director, Writer, and More

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending e-mails or making phone calls to individuals inducing them to reveal sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers. It is quite a menace and its nice that a web-series was released regarding this practice.

The web-series Jamtara-Sabka number Ayega ( referred to as Jamtara from now on) was released on 10th January, on Netflix. It was released without any publicity, which was possibly an experiment by the entertainment giant, a kind of testing the waters. Originally it was commissioned for Viacom18-owned streaming service Voot and made by Viacom18’s digital label, Tipping Point, but it was bought by Netflix and released by them.

The series has been directed by software engineer turned director Soumendra Padhi. Soumendra had earlier debuted with the Manoj Bajpayee starrer Budhia Singh, Born to run, which had won the National award for best children’s film at the 63rd National Awards, 2016. Jamtara also had an interesting innovation- it has no established actors except for Amit Sial who plays the main villain. In Jamtara the director’s stamp is seen throughout- so much so that without hesitation I will say the director is the hero.

Amit Sial had excelled as the spinner Devender Mishra in both the seasons of the cricket/match/spot fixing related web-series Inside Edge. Here he plays a ruthless mafia don turned politician Brajesh Bhaan, who has a tight control on all activities in his constituency and stronghold. The constituency in question is Jamtara, a sleepy district in Jharkhand, 225 km far from Ranchi which was the last home of giant social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar ( he must be wondering what went wrong).

Director Soumendra based his research of over two years on an actual phishing scam that originated from Jamtara, which had a population of less than 2000 but had 40 mobile shops, and boys who had not even gone up to class 5 conning tech-savvy metro persons. As per news in social media, Jamtara’s juvenile criminals have conned many doctors, engineers, bureaucrats, businessmen and even politician Preneet Kaur ( Hon’ble Punjab CM’s wife) and megastar Amitabh Bachchan.

Interestingly, the Jamtara scam was engineered by juvenile boys, below 18, and not educated, as stated earlier. They used to ring up random numbers and somehow, with different convincing requests manage to get the CVV number of the debit card. The common thread in the different approaches is that they seek to capitalize on man’s greed and stupidity. What’s frightening is the ease with which even so called seasoned people can be fooled, which has been excellently depicted in this web-series.

While Amit, as the menacing villain Brajesh Bhaan is the star of the show, other pivotal roles are played by Aksha Pardasany ( Plays IPS officer Dolly Sahu), Dibyendu Bhattacharya (Inspector Biswa Pathak), Sparsh Srivastav ( Sunny) and Monika Panwar (Gudiya). Dolly Sahu is an IPS officer in second year of field posting who is determined to see that Brajesh Bhaan is arrested for his misdeeds. Interestingly, at least twice in the web-series , she says that she qualified the IAS. That is probably because for most unaware ( and certainly in a small town like Jamtara) the exam is IAS exam and candidates clearing work in various departments including IPS. For this role, Aksha worked very hard. An interesting memory she shared in an interview was that in a particular scene she is supposed to be sharing a cigarette with the cyber-crime officer she has asked to help her out. Being a non-smoker, she kept on coughing and the Director said that he can cut out the scene. However, since she knew he wanted her to smoke in the scene as it would put another shade in the character, Aksha asked for time , smoked a few cigarettes “to make her lungs get used to it” and then carried off the scene convincingly. Dolly Sahu’s character is based on SP Jaya Roy, who in 2017 had arrested the Mondal brothers of Jamtara. Currently, the young 2011 IPS officer of Jharkhand cadre is on deputation as SP to the NIA.

Inspector Biswa Pathak , like most of the police force of Jamtara ( before SP Dolly Sahu takes over) is in the payroll of Brajesh Bhaan. The mafia-don seeks to get SP Dolly Sahu too into his payroll but she does not budge, and slowly but surely starts winning over the respect of her staff, including Inspector Biswa. Sunny is a young boy who is a mastermind of the phishing racket. He and several other boys perform and master these phishing techniques and he is the best amongst them. Brajesh Bhaan , realising their money making potential gets them into his fold, offering protection in return for a lion’s share of the loot. The series then explores how Sunny is the only boy who does not agree and he sets off on his own phishing racket.

Now, who is Gudiya ? She is a class 12 pass girl who has knowledge of spoken English. Realising a goldmine potential, Sunny offers her several lakhs of money to marry her so that she too can help him in phishing. Gudiya agrees, as she also needs money to fulfil her dream of going abroad. This marriage starts off a trend in Jamtara, with several juvenile boys marrying older women who are good in speaking English. It also emphasizes the brilliance of the Sunny who recognizes that a lady, that too someone who speaks good English will be better for phishing as the targetted person ( especially if male) is more likely to believe a girl over the telephone and get duped. He is the pioneer who starts the trend.

With this, Director Soumendra deftly brings into play several other factors and social issues such as inter-caste marriages, wife being older than husband, immigration and “kabootar” racket in sending young people abroad to USA through Mexico and so on.

A bit more about Amit. His role is terrific in its villainy. Interestingly he was uncomfortable as he says he in real life was not the person he has portrayed in Jamtara, but he was happy he was playing a character who displays unprecedented heights the human heart can be capable of.

Current Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, when he was Chief Secretary had described Jamtara as “digital India’s underbelly”. Watch Jamtara since sabka number ayega. Sooner or later you will be the target of a phishing attempt. Seeing this web-series may provide not just entertainment but education about phishing and how easily one can be conned. The awareness may be of help.

Well done Director Soumendra Padhi. Hopefully we will have a season 2 of Jamtara.

Iconic status to common man; RIP Basu Chatterjee.

Amol Palekar first worked with Basu Chatterjee in Rajnigandha (1974).

He started his career as a cartoonist in Russi Karanjia’s The Blitz and worked there for a long period of 18 years. However, his fame and future was in the Hindi film industry where he shone as a screenwriter and film director. He started by assisting Basu Bhattacharya in the Raj Kapoor starrer Teesri Kasam in 1966. He was Assistant director to Govind Saraiya for the Nutan starrer Saraswatichandra in 1968 and just a year later he made his directorial debut with Sara Akash, which dealt with internal conflicts of a newly wedded couple, unprepared for married life. Independent directorial debut in just 3 years was quite an achievement, considering there were so many stalwarts around.

He is none other than Basu Chatterjee (referred to as Basu Da from now on) who made a career out of making films about ordinary people. Basu Da passed away on 4th June in his Santa Cruz residence. He was 93.

As soon as Basu Da moved on accolades and commiserations flew in from everywhere. Amongst the 1st to Tweet was Hon’ble PM, Shri Narendra Modi, who said, “Sad to hear of the demise of Shri Basu Chatterjee. His works are brilliant and sensitive. It touched people’s hearts and represented the simple and complex emotions, as well as struggles of people. Condolences to his family and innumerable fans. Om Shanti“.

Hon’ble President Shri Ram Nath Kovind said, “In the passing of Shri Basu Chatterjee, the world of entertainment has lost a living legend. He will be remembered for his masterpieces like Khatta meetha, Rajanigandha, Byomkesh Bakshi , Rajani and others. My condolences to his family and friends.

Many others including Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Hon’ble CM West Bengal Mamata Bannerjee and megastar Amitabh Bachchan also tweeted their condolences for the ace director. NCP chief Sharad Pawar ji summed it up beautifully by saying, “Humane depiction of urban common man was his strength.”

Basu Da directed almost 40 films out of which as many as 8 were with Amol Palekar who himself became an ace filmmaker and quit acting just 7 years after winning awards and huge praises for his performance in Golmaal. Amol Ji, while expressing his sadness at Basu Da’s moving on said that the acclaimed filmmaker never got his due recognition from the film industry. He was a pioneer in making parallel films , without making any commercial compromises and yet made very successful films and for this itself he should have got more recognition. Amol Ji also said that Basu Da’s films are still relevant since they were made about simple, ordinary people.

Let us briefly remember his career and especially his association with Amol Palekar. Together, they gave iconic status to the common man.

Vidya Sinha went through so much in the last few years of her life ...

The brilliant partnership of Basu Da and Amol Palekar started with the blockbuster hit Rajanigandha. Urban legend has it that Amitabh, Shashi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore were original choices for roles played by Amol Palekar, Dinesh Thakur and Vidya Sinhat the budget did not permit it bu. Interestingly, Amol Palekar had been offered a role by Basu Da for Piya ka Ghar and had not accepted it. However the large-hearted Basu Da offered him a role in Rajanigandha and a surprised Amol Ji quizzically queried how a Hindi movie could have no action, no drama and no villains. Basu Da’s answer was memorable- “Thats why I am doing it.”. Basu da had come across the picture of Vidya Sinha in a print ad. Vidya who had been Miss Bombay had been modelling for several brands. Basu Da felt she was perfect for the role of Deepa Kapoor in Rajanigandha. It was her first movie.

Amol Palekar and Vidya Sinha made a good pair and went on to act in several films together. Prominent Amol Palekar- Basu da films were Rajanigandha, Chhoti si Baat, Chitchor, and Baton Baton mein.

Basu Da- Amol Palekar films had incomparable music with varied music directors like Salil Choudhury, Rajesh Roshan and Ravindra Jain. Yogesh, who moved on just a week before Basu Da on 29th May was a preferred lyricist for Basu Da and his music directors, maybe because his lyrics too were simple and reflected the thoughts of the common man, wonderfully portrayed by Amol Ji. Interestingly, Basu Da directed many big and commercially successful stars as well , including Amitabh, Dharmendra, Jeetendra and Mithun and also gave them roles of a common man in his movies and generally the roles they played in Basu Da movies were different from the roles generally played by them.

Some of the iconic songs in Basu Da-Amol Palekar movies are  “Rajanigandha phool tumhare”, “Kayee baar yuheen dekha hai”, “Roothe sab ka kadam”, “Jaaneman Jaaneman Tere Do Nayan”, “Na Jaane Kyon Hota Hai Yeh Zindagi Ke Saath”, “Jab Deep Jale Aana, Jab Shaam Dhale Aana”, Aaj Se Pehle Aaj Se Zyada”, “Gori Tera Gaon Bada Pyara” and “Tu Jo Mere Sur Me, Sur Milale”.

Rim Jhim Gire Sawan - Lata Mangeshkar (Manzil -1979) (With images ...

Amongst Basu Da’s other notable movies, I would like to mention Manzil, which had Amitabh and Mousumi Chatterjee and Mumbai’s perennially favorite rain song, “Rim Jhim Gire saawan“. Amitabh did this movie in 1979 after he had become the undisputed superstar, replacing Kaka.

Will end by saying that it was not that Basu Da did not try other genres. Ek Ruka Hua Faisla ( based on Sydney Lumet’s’ 12 angry men) and Kamla ki Maut dealt with social issues. Chameli ki Shaadi, though a comedy, was a satire on casteism.

Basu Da is survived by his daughters Sonali Bhattacharya and Rupali Guha. He has moved on, but his making the common man iconic will in itself ensure that he will always be in our heart and minds.

Pics Credit; PTI, Times of India, Pinterest

The White House; Residence of World’s most powerful man; Musings.

Image may contain: 4 people

The White House is located at 1600 Pennysylvania, Avenue NW in Washington D.C. It is the official residence and workplace of the most powerful person in the world, the President of the U.S.A since 1800. The White House is a National Heritage site and along with the Empire State Building, it is always in the top two list of America’s Favorite Architecture.

Right now protests have intensified outside the White House with hundreds of protesters gathering outside this symbol of American might and some even resorting to stone pelting. Protests against George Floyd’s death has spread to several cities, 13 initially, 30 very soon thereafter and then well over a hundred cities with more than 9000 arrested so far. Thankfully, as of now, the protests have become by and large peaceful.

However discussion on that some other time. This blog is about the White House and I will try to bring to you some interesting and related information on this historic property.

I was lucky to see this historic site 5-6 years back when I had gone for an official visit to the great country. I liked seeing the White House so much that in a short 2-3 days visit, I went there to see it twice and I recollect having spent quite some time there, soaking in the grandeur and the overall atmosphere.

USA prides itself in being a country of immigrants, with immigrants constituting almost 15% of it’s population. USA alone accounts for 20% of the world’s immigrants. The architect of the White House was also an immigrant and his name was James Hoban. George Washington had admired his work and he was also the winner of a design competition whereby the architect of the White House would be selected. Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson, the Secretary of State, had also anonymously submitted a design as well for the competition. Quite obviously, the White House is the most noted work of James Hoban for which he is famous. 2008 was the 250th birth anniversary of Hoban and there were various functions as a mark of respect for him.

The 1st President of the USA to stay at the White House was John Adams. This was in 1800. One day after moving in he told his wife Abigail, “I hope none but honest and wise men shall ever rule under this roof”. Abigail Adams used to call it “the great castle“. Just 14 years later, in the Battle of Bladensburg, the British let by Major General Robert Ross defeated the Americans led by General William Winder and thereafter in the “Burning of Washington“, the British soldiers burnt down several prominent buildings, including the White House. This is the only instance of a foreign power capturing and occupying the capital of the USA, albeit for little over a day only. Eerily, within 24 hours a tornado put out the fires. The occupation of Washington was for just 26 hours. Consequently, Brookeville, in Maryland is called the US Capital for a day. This is because President Madison fled the White House and took refuge in Brookeville. Famously, the 1st Lady, Dolly Madison and White House slave Paul Jennings saved several critical relics, including a portrait of George Washington.

Reconstruction of the White House started almost immediately. President James Monroe moved into the partially reconstructed building. Subsequently, many Presidents, notably Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Harry Truman made important improvements. Theodore Roosevelt got the name White House engraved on the stationery for the 1st time in 1901 and officially gave the name White House. For the earlier 100 years, various names were used such as President’s palace, Executive mansion and President’s House. Oval Office was designed the time of Taft. During Truman’s tenure, the White House was in a state of collapse. Hence Truman order its reconstruction. For three years, he shifted to Blair House, but moved back to the White House in 1951.

After the Truman reconstruction, out of respect for the historical character, no substantive changes have been made to the State rooms, though every President has made changes to the private area where they stay, as per their convenience. Changes to State rooms have been made as well, but with approval of the Committee for the preservation of the White House. This committee consists of eminent citizens in the field of architecture and decorative arts having experience in the field of historic preservation and no one other than the US President appoints them.

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White House tours are much in demand. For security reasons, American citizens have to submit the request through their Congressional representative and citizens of other countries to their Embassy in Washington. The request has to be made between a minimum of 21 days and upto a maximum of 90 days before the planned visit. Secret service members are present in every room and can answer queries. Security is obviously tight and no video-cameras or video-recording are allowed. Smart phone is allowed and so are selfies. The tours are free.

Ritesh Misra.

Rest in peace Lyricist Yogesh

Veteran lyricist Yogesh Gaur dies at 77, Lata Mangeshkar pays ...
कहाँ तक ये मन को अंधेरे छलेंगे
उदासी भरे दिन कभीं तो ढलेंगे

कभी सुख कभी दुख, यही ज़िंदगी हैं
ये पतझड़ का मौसम घड़ी दो घड़ी हैं    
नये फूल कल फिर डगर में खिलेंगे
उदासी भरे दिन कभीं तो ढलेंगे

These lines are from the song कहाँ तक ये मन को ( Kahaan tak ye man ko), from the movie Baton Baton Mein and it has become the current anthem in these stressful COVID times. The lyricist was Yogesh who passed away on Friday 29 May 2020. Though his full name was Yogesh Gaur, he was popular as Yogesh. When he moved on, he was 77.

Yogesh ji's passing away moved Lata Didi so much that she gave as many as three tweets remembering him. Didi said, "Mujhe abhi pata chala ki dil ko chunewale geet likhnewale kavi Yogesh ji ka aaj swargwas hua. Ye sunke mujhe bahut dukh hua. Yogesh ji ke likhe kai geet maine gaaye. Yogesh ji bahut shaant aur madhur swabhav ke insan the. Main unko vinamra shraddhanjali arpan karti hun (I just got to know about the death of Yogesh Ji and I am deeply saddened. He wrote so many heart-warming songs. I have sung many songs written by him. He was a very calm and composed man. I pay my respects to him)." In another tweet, she posted a picture of Yogesh receiving Deenanath Mangeshkar award from Hon'ble Union Minister Nitin Gadkari ji in 2018 and in a third tweet, Didi said that "Na jaane kyun, hota hai zindagi ke saath" was a song of Yogesh ji, for which music was given by Salil Da and she really loved the song. 
Yogesh was born in Lucknow and shifted to Mumbai when he was just 16. He stayed in a Dharamshala for a week and then shifted to a slum and did menial jobs for a living. He used to write poetry as a hobby and a high point was that once Gulshan Bawra read his poetry and gave him Rs 25/- as a reward, which for Yogesh was very precious as it was worth two months of rent for him. After a few years of struggle he was given a break by Salil Choudhury and he seized the break and never looked back. 
What made Yogesh a very popular lyricist was that he wrote about people around him. In his own words, "Jo dekhta thha, jo jeeta thha, vohi likha hai". Hence the audience could very easily relate to his songs. Can anyone ever forget Amitabh and Moushmi walking in the rains of Mumbai to "Rim jhim gire saawan". Will not anyone imagine himself to be either Amitabh or Moushumi in a similar situation. That was the power of Yogesh writings. 
Let us recollect some great songs given to us by Yogesh Ji.
Kahin door jab din dhal jaye, Zindagi kaisi ye paheli haye, Badi sooni sooni hai, Kai baar yun hi dekha hai, Rajanigandha phool tumhare, Jaaneman jaaneman tere ye do nayan, Na bole tum na maine kuchh kaha, Rim jhim gire saawan, Na jaane kyun hota hai ye zindagi ke saath, Kahaan tak ke man ko.  There are many more, but these are my favorites. 
Yogesh was a simple man. He lived a simple life and gave us simple songs. He could not keep pace with the fast changing needs of the industry and hence , in the later years of his live lived simply in his flat in Goregaon, without any major work. However, he has given us many memorable songs for which we will always remember him fondly.
Ritesh Misra