Vagabonding and Lucky Ali

When it comes to traveling, unfortunately, I have been like a Kite with Chinese Manjha. Basically, I have been to some places but always tied to a certain place with a cord that could never be broken. I have hardly traveled. When I see YouTubers with backpack travelers, it just fills me with envy and amazement (that their fellow people allow them to travel alone? Or is it just the mind that is conditioned to be stationary). The show Lonely Planet on Discovery back in the 90s used to be one of my favorites. In fact, you need not even watch a TV Show (or Google Earth) to travel anywhere. There are songs and music and voices which can take you places.

The music of Lucky Ali is like that. It gives a sense of a person traveling to somewhere alone with a backpack across the countryside. There is a feeling of leaving the civilized world behind, and sometimes returning to the civilized world but there’s travel involved. His videos also visualized a person going somewhere, meeting people, and searching for something while the destination not being very clear. The lyrics and the somewhat different-than-usual music and voice always painted a picture of a vagabond.

There’s a video of Lucky Ali performing live in Goa floating around on the Internet nowadays. And then there are some more videos of him where he is bearded, humming things, and living a life of his own. Maybe he himself wants to keep his image like that. A Musician traveling to places with his guitar, now aging with every appearance, still having the soulful voice and the magical gift of making music that stays with you long after you’re done listening to it.

When ‘O Sanam’ was released, I had no inclination towards or knowledge of music. The only song I grooved to at that time was Pak-chik-pak-Raja Babu. I was not even a teenager then but Lucky Ali made me hooked at a different level altogether. I told myself that one day when I will travel alone, this would be the first song on my playlist. I remember I used to never miss visiting one of my relative’s house because they used to own the audio cassette of his second album ‘Sifar’ and just getting to listen to ‘Dekha hai Aise Bhi’ was bliss.

Travel and Music are two things that take you places, literally and figuratively. Movies involving traveling always have peculiar music too. One recent example was the movie Karwaan. Traveling is something I have always wanted but never got the courage to really try traveling alone. Maybe a time will come for that, maybe it won’t. Till then, I can keep listening to Lucky Ali.

Having said all of the above, I am not a fan of his Live performances. Maybe the reason is that when you see a live performance, it is stationary and the melody is not just the same. It looks like he is struggling to sing and he would better be traveling and singing someplace else.

Photo by Andreas Selter on Unsplash

So I recently read: Off the Corporate Bus and into the Creativity Boat

Off the Corporate Bus and into the Creativity Boat
Off the Corporate Bus and into the Creativity Boat

A Confession

I started reading this book at the beginning of this year and finished it only a week ago. No, it is not that big a book but this year has been particularly bad about book reading for some reasons. I had to give reading up time and again and got involved in one thing or the other. Yada yada yada, I want to apologize for not finishing it earlier. Sorry, Ashoo Ma’am!

But that cannot stop me from writing a review now when I have completed it, finally!

This book is one of the most unique ones I have ever read. It is a non-fiction and a fiction book combined into one. To sum it up, the book revolves around a conversation which 2 people have about a person lost on an island and from that conversation, the author discusses ideas which form the basis of the concept of creativity.

I won’t go into the fictional part of the book but rather I would like to focus on the non-fiction part. Most of us, I would like to believe, have a creative side of us. That gets overshadowed and becomes latent with age due to various reasons like responsibilities, family, education, and society. This book tries to evoke the dormant part of our brain which deals with creativity and encourages the reader to explore it again.

After each chapter of the fiction, there is a lesson learned which discusses various forms of creative expressions. This deals, with a lot of conviction and scientific logic, as to how our minds form ideas. Examples from Photography, Writing, Art, and Music are explored with a lot of research.

You can read this book in a couple of days while sipping tea and enjoying the rain. I am pretty sure that a book like this would appeal to everyone’s senses who feel that they used to be creative but then life happened. Certainly, this can be the trigger to reinvigorate the hidden creative part of you. You might take out the instrument you bought long back but didn’t play or finish the incomplete poem you wrote long ago and pick up a new hobby if not done yet. Although the book’s title says ‘Off the corporate bus…” but of course, not everyone can leave their jobs and become artists. But one can take some time out and try to do a bit about their hobbies which they used to have in their childhood. Sometimes, to break the monotony of life, one has to do go back to their childhood and do the thing which made them happy. That is what the book aims for.

If you want to read this, you can purchase the book from here:

P.S.: My name is mentioned in the credits of this book as a contributor to the illustrations. I am so glad I could be of use for a book like this. The illustrations I made were certainly not a piece of art but rather diagrams, to be frank. When I was making them, I had no idea what they would be emoting. But after reading the complete book, I understood the clear picture, as the protagonist of the fictional story within the fictional story of this book was told, that sometimes to see the clear picture, take a step back and observe again. You might find them showing a lot more than what they depict.

Thanks to Ashoo Khosla Ma’am again!

2018, the year Hindi Music Industry died or how selling nostalgia is easy

Since I travel to and fro from work to home on a 2-wheeler, I don’t often listen to music while driving. (Those who do put earphones while riding a 2-wheeler deserve a small-non-fatal pat on their back by a more-wheeler). So, nowadays I mostly listen to music on weekends (or while doing dishes). I am not the only one but it has been observed since last 1 to 2 years that top 10 Hindi music hits comprise of at least 5-6 songs which are a rehashed version of some 80s or 90s songs. And this trend has been on a rise more so in 2018.

If you notice top songs on this list or even the 2017’s top numbers on this list you will find the same stat.

Have we finished our quota of original music and lyrics in Hindi music industry? Or this fashion of remixing 90s hits as official songs of the movie has become such a thing that if some movie presents original songs, they are looked down upon?

Remixing has been there since forever. But when I was growing up, most of the remixes came out only as private pop albums. They had a very limited audience of monkey-wash-jeans-wearing teens and this genre deservedly died down in a couple of years. However, movie music is the very crux of Indian Cinema. More and more of old is being served to us and I feel our appetite is now being crushed. I don’t really remember listening to any song in last 2 years which has had a really long-lasting impact on me. Rarely any song from past couple of years has hit the right note and only a handful of songs have deserved repeated listening.

I would be wrong to say that only Hindi music industry has died, of course, it has stooped to a very low level. But Hollywood has been doing the same lately. The number of franchises which should have gone done and dusted is still continuing by putting out same content in a different wrapper year after year.

Check out this video by NerdWriter about Intertextuality in Hollywood:

I understand that it is easy to sell Nostalgia. All 90s kids will remember this and that. It is pretty easy to dole out stuff repeatedly to keep generations after generations harping on the same stuff. Star Wars released in the 1970s. Star Wars is still releasing in 2018s. The core audience is still the same. Also, our innate desire to tell our friends or spouses or offsprings about the life we live or lived or the pop culture we followed will keep fueling the fire.

I will cease to watch more Jurassic Park movies after this summer when I am done with next sequel. 🙂

The Stinking Attack of Nostalgia

It was Saturday morning. I was in a Cab traveling to a distant part of the city. The Driver had put the radio On and it was playing songs in Kannada in very low volume. By now, I have developed a mental system of phasing out sounds on the road which I cannot easily comprehend out of my mind. Then the advertisements started, which are sometimes in English which I understand, sometimes in Kannada which I try to understand and sometimes in Hindi which is my mother tongue. And sometimes they’re in a combination of all the 3 languages, which nobody understands.

Then came a public service announcement commercial about Swacch Bharat Abhiyan (Cleanliness Mission by Government of India) which was as ignored as we ignore the heaps of garbage on the road. But the advertisement ended with a small jingle in Hindi. I will put the link to the song at the end of this post.

And that hit me. Let me give some context first:

Back at home, in North India, and I assume it happens everywhere there, we get a garbage truck in the morning. The peculiar thing about this truck is that instead of knocking people’s door and asking them if they have any garbage to dispose of, the truck plays this song in a continuous loop. So, when you are at your home relaxing nonchalantly in the morning, first you hear a faint sound of this song. That hints us to keep relaxing but stay prepared for the truck, as it would be coming towards your house soon. Thanks to Doppler Uncle, this sound keeps increasing as it approaches nearer and nearer. Only when it is 100-200 m from your house, you actually get to hear the words of the song. And only then you need to get up, collect the bins and hand over to the municipal people your precious garbage which you held dear for the whole night. Then the truck goes over to the next street and the song becomes fainter and fainter and eventually diminishes. This has been happening since last 2-3 times of my home visit. So it had become a daily ritual of hearing that song and dumping the garbage till I was home. (At least this much I can do at home, right?)

garbage truck

After coming back down to South India, I forgot this song. Days passed. Months passed. This song went into the recycle bin of my mind. And then yesterday, I heard it again. Even though, I heard only a line. But it hit me. The stinking nostalgia of days at home hit me. Sigh. Weird, but true.

What is the most weird thing that makes you think of your home?

The human mind is an amazing thing of beauty. It creates filters to push irrelevant things out. But it leaves some holes, wide enough to bring your memories of the past back when you least expect. We all have senses which crave the sounds, smells, and colors of our home. Of course, no one wants to remember stinking garbage trucks for that. For me, it was the jingle rather.

Here’s the song by the way:

The Art vs The Artist

Music is pretty much like religion. If you force it on to someone, it leaves a very peculiar taste in mouth. And so goes with any other kind of art form as well but you can’t close your ears to the music around.

Mostly people don’t distinguish between the two. If an artist has created something genius, the artist is considered to be a genius as well. Fandom of theirs starts considering them Godlike. All their moves, gestures, antics and styles are imitated. And then a certain point comes when even if the artist creates lowest grade of work by their own and general standard, no fan can ought to take it like a good loser. Although it is perfectly okay to be a non-genius sometimes but who will tell this to the fan!

There are certain songs which are easy to listen. Listen to it once, you will like or dislike it. Like ‘Get Lucky’ of Daft Punk. Listen to it once, and automatically your foot starts tapping. Then there are certain songs which take their time to ‘grow’ on you. I remember, it was 1999 when the movie ‘Taal’ was released and it was the first time when Subhash Ghai was collaborating with the genius AR Rahman. Rahman hadn’t won any Oscar then and had composed music for only a handful of Hindi films. Although, his genius was proven already thanks to the still his best work till date ‘Bombay’ and ‘Roja’. When I first heard the CD of Taal, I wasn’t particularly amused by it. It felt like weird experiments of uncommon instruments and usage of sounds of rain which were a rarity in Hindi Music. Though, after repeated listenings, I started liking the songs. Since then, I can relate to someone when they say they’re giving Rahman repeated plays to let the songs grow on them. This has gone a bit far now as there are a number of ‘Rahmaniacs’ who cannot believe that there could be some people who might have not liked the music of ‘Rockstar’, etc.

Eminem’s ‘Stan’ (and now ‘Bad Guy’) tell the story of fans who went berserk over the artist and took their works literally word by word. Well, majority of Eminem’s songs are referring to himself and he insists on telling his fans that love his music but leave him alone. Respect the artwork he has created but let him live the life he wants. Enjoy the songs but let him enjoy a peaceful supper with his family if he goes out in the evening to some restaurant. Usually, as it goes with any ‘star’, if they’re seen in public, people barge in on them and at times, the ‘star’ obliges to give auto & photographs. Though sometimes, given the pressure of looking good, carrying the ego of a public figure and amount of public going gaga over them, they lose their temper and misbehave. That’s why thinking of meeting your favourite artist is like trying to meet the president of some nation.

Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter rock. And they just don’t rock like any other rockstar, they rock like no one does. I am talking about the guys behind Daft Punk. ‘Around the World’ hit me a long time ago and then I heard ‘Aerodynamic’, ‘Da Funk’, ‘Crescendolls’, etc and ‘Random Access Memories’ has made me their permanent fan. And this is where they (and Eminem too for a bit) hold me from becoming a fanatic. They don’t appear much on TV, don’t give many interviews, and when they do, they are always in their super brilliant disguise with those amazing Helmets. Their point of view is that they want their music to take the front stage and let their personal details stay hidden underneath those lovely Robotic Helmets (which go by the kind of music they create).

To put it simply, the art will surely outlive the artist. I am going to cherish the art more and worry less about the artist. I am going to give full respect to the artist for creating that art which moved me but I am also going to show my discomfort with the art by the same artist which failed to impress me.

Critically Act Lame Post

Since the day I’ve became famous (heh, I’ve still got a bit of humor left in me) and was adjudged a movie buff, I’ve come across plenty of people/bloggers who kind of consider themselves as movie reviewers. Not that this is a new practice or path breaking stuff, people used to share their takes on the movies they watched earlier too, peacefully. I also shared my expert opinion about Tashan once and how much I enjoyed it but everyone is a reviewer now. Whenever a new movie, music album, TV show or even a trailer hits the web/TV, they come out and start pimping their expert reviews about the subject with the word go. This pimping continues every <insert your desperation limit> minutes on Twitter and other social media platforms till <insert your tolerance limit> until you click to read the review finally. And I have a problem with all that jazz.

Firstly, anything which is shoved up your face that read my review on this and that, becomes a turn off. But since we are on Twitter so I should better stay away from this practice.

Secondly, I firmly believe that nobody has any right to hold back anyone from sharing their opinion. Everyone is entitled to say what they feel where ever they want, whenever they want, how many times they want. My problem is just that while they are sharing their opinions, they forget that it is ‘their’ opinion and ‘their’ opinion only. I look for certain words and phrases in their blog posts which range from: in my opinion, i feel, i think, it looked like to me, my point of view is that, my conclusion, etc. And I found none. Nobody owns any copyright (heh) or any qualification to become a reviewer but point to note that it is you who is giving your opinion about a certain thing. What you have concluded cannot be the final judgement. Look around, the movies you had written off, say Housefull 2, to be a circus of non sense scenes and full of idiots, has earned more than what you could ever dream of. (I have not watched that movie and have no intention to watch crap) In a country of ours where opinions are so much divided that people can fight even over anything, even the way one glanced the other, how can you be so sure that your take will be even given any respect. You talk about technical details? Take a look at your own blog Sir/Madam and the aesthetics of the space from where you are announcing that the movie is a unedited series of ham videos not even worth of being shown in Bangladesh’s Funniest Videos but the movie ends up being a hit and the normal people actually enjoying it whole heartedly? What sense do you make out it?

Like they say, the best way to become famous now is to hit below the belt and when the person cries out in pain, take pics of him and put it on 9gag. Similarly, to become a critic, blast the movie off. Don’t become a constructive reviewer, no no no no no, how will you be famous then, just make fun of it, that is the right way, no? The most hilarious thing is the stars or thumbs up these reviewers give. This movie had bad direction, lets cut 1.523454 stars out of 5, this actor had slept with the producer’s wife, lets add 0.69 stars to it. This movie had brilliant music but all inspired from Asian and Arabic music, lets cut the stars from the rating by 2 bilangs.

Try doing something creative and let others judge you. Then review whatever you can.

That is my opinion. And i don’t expect you to follow it. But you should.