Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mausam and many other things

I sometimes get crushes over cities. We all do. Books have got a lot to do with it. Some authors have the talent to transport us to the towns they write about and once we turn the last page, we find ourselves missing the streets and cafes and people of these places that we have never visited. It was Marrakesh some time back. Now it is Edinburgh. And Varanasi. I have never been to either. Edinburgh is of course due to the deluge of Alexander McCall Smith novels. I find myself fantasizing about buying sun-dried tomatoes from Valvona and Crolla and drinking espresso at Big Lou's cafe (unlikely as in real life I am a Mocha kind of person, not to mention the fictional nature of the cafe) and walking down Princes Street. You know how newly-learnt words keep popping up from everywhere, it seems that cities that we would like to know better do the same. And so, when we sat down to watch the not-so-awesome Mausam yesterday (more on that later), I was quite excited to note that parts of it were shot in Edinburgh. Beautiful, beautiful Edinburgh. Any readers there? Hello, I say. Let's have an Irn-Bru sometime, yes? (Note to self: Don't go reading Trainspotting now.)

My other love-interest is Varanasi. Benaras. Yes, of the pan and saris and the ghats and the aartis and the colourful language and the food. This one is obviously within reach and I was exploring flight and hotel options before sitting down to writing this post. I finished the first draft of that novel, you know and I am letting it stew for a week before sitting down with it again and figuring out the glaring anomalies and the unforgiveable errors, all this while the dreams of Benaras running at the back of the mind. I don't even know if I should just let this day-dream be, having spent enough time in UP to know that the reality will be nowhere near what I imagine it to be. And yet....

Also, while the novel stews, I can pay some long-due attention to my poor, neglected little blog.

The children. The boy is in Singapore with his father. The house is quieter, emptier, lacking an essential ingredient let's say. Maybe next year, M can take both of them for a vacation and then, well, I don't know what I would do. Something fun, I suppose though you would be correct in betting on moping. And consuming junk food.

So anyway, what was wrong with Mausam? *SPOILER ALERT*

I love Pankaj Kapur. His turn as Jehangir Khan or Abbaji in Maqbool is probably one of the finest acts in Indian cinema. (I know I am sounding like a pundit here but indulge me, won't you?) And so, when he takes on the mantle of director, we - perhaps unfairly - automatically expect great things. The problem with Mausam is that it's set between 1992 and 2000's but it's released in the time of Facebook where finding someone, anyone takes only minutes. I think the audience of Mausam will be polarised basis their willingness to suspend disbelief. We love love stories, we do and it's pretty enough a film I suppose with even our jaded Punjab da pind looking fresher than they have in the longest time. But how many times can two people miss each other? Why is it so difficult to track down a squadron leader of our air-force specially when he has not gone missing behind enemy lines? Why is there no forwarding address left? What is the point of Harry's damaged hand in the story? The problem is not that there should be answers to these questions, the problem in fact is that we are asking these questions in the first place. The film doesn't lift you and make you an invisible participant in the goings-on. Comparisons are odious but I will still stick my neck out and say that the acting gene got mutated from the senior Kapur to the junior. (I of course, am talking about Shahid, not Sonam, whose primary task is to look pretty and wraith-like.) The high point of the film for me was the fine rendition of Abhi Na Jaao Chhor Kar from Hum Dono. I really just hope Pankaj Kapur acts a lot more, directing be damned.

It was not a day for the arts. After the debacle of Mausam in the morning, my mum still had a Jagjit Singh concert to look forward to last evening. A bit of  a fan, she had prepared her requests for the ghazal-maestro and was sent off in the evening by Raagu and her amma. As it happened. Mr Singh suffered a brain haemorrhage yesterday and has been admitted to Lilavati Hospital. Hope he feels better soon.


chandni said...

Istanbul. Orhan Pamukh made me fall in love.

dipali said...

@chandu: I've loved Istanbul for a very long time, from before even hearing of Pamuk. It is a fabulous city- I would love to go there again.
@Parul: Yes, I love McCall Smith's Edinburgh.
I am also fascinated by much of Varanasi, especially the classical music legends who have emerged from its soil, and the amazing craftsmanship of the saree and carpet weavers, and my beloved Sant Kabir, who spent much of his life there. The ghats look beautiful in photographs and movies.
I do hear that it is also very dirty, and the 'pandas' that latch onto you at the great temples, all are huge put-offs. I suppose I must go at least once in this janam!

Roli Bhushan-Malhotra said...

Loved this... As always! Keep writing! You are such an inspiration, P!

i-me-myself said...

Ditto feelings about Mausam. I should have left ze common sense at home.

Harshika said...

I am from Benaras. You think right, it is dirty, crowded and the men bad bad bad. But it is my hometown, so ofcourse I love that darned city . The visitors? I dont know, only the firangs and the buddhists seem to love it...but you should probably visit at least once, street food is awesome. Meethi supari lovely, sareees cheap and pretty, silks and brocade gawgusss, ghats very dirty...temples crowded and pandas very badmaash indeed. BHU- grand, sarnath- very grand...mail me if u need tips.