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There was a time when popular music in India also meant Indi-pop, with its own star system and billboard chartbusters. But no sooner was the genre coming of age, it vanished into oblivion, writes Jaya Biswas

Those in their late twenties or early thirties surely wouldn’t have forgotten those evenings when we would it take a little break in between our homework and dinner to watch Chitrahaar, on Doordarshan on Wednesdays at 8:30 in the evening, which was popular because it aired a bouquet of songs from both old and upcoming films. There were no trailers or teasers back then on television so an odd song was often the only sneak peek at a forthcoming film, a peek that the nation seemed to wait for.
Every Wednesday, with baited breath we waited for Chitrahaar. Like much of the offerings on the state run channel, it was shoddily produced and often half-a-song would be edited out to make way for adverts/ news bulletins. But in the difficult and oh-so-far-way 1980s Chitrahaar, since it didn’t have to match steps with satellite music channels, was oh-so-very welcome.
But the early 1990s were a defining period for the Chitrahaar generation. We witnessed the emergence of yet another musical countdown show which made an entire generation dance to its tunes. Our loyalties almost unflinchingly shifted to Superhit Muqabala, aired on the newly launched DD Metro which promised to be more urbane than the staid and Bharatiya DD National. And it was here, in this show, more brazen than DD and more slickly produced that we first caught Alisha Chinai crooning to a shrill Made in India for a breathtakingly handsome Milind Soman. The song caught the generation as if by the collar and became the unofficial anthem of young India.
The story of the ascent of Indi-pop would remain incomplete without mentioning Biddu Appaiah, more popularly Biddu. An Indian-British music producer, composer, song-writer and singer, he not only produced and composed many such hit records worldwide, the credit goes mostly to him for managing to create a non-filmi niche in the 1990s. It was Biddu who made the Indian audience savour the real taste of pop with Pakistani singers Nazia Hassan and Zoheb, a sibling duo whose records, produced by Biddu, sold millions of copies. Nazia and Zoheb were Pakistani singers from Karachi. The group initially gained prominence with their single Aap Jaisa Koi was then featured as a soundtrack for Feroz Khan-Zeenat Aman starrer Qurbani. The song was also part of the group’s debut album Disco Deewane, released in 1981 by Biddu. The album became a best-seller. It also changed trends of music in Pakistan and was the first South Asian album that was also a hit in Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Indonesia. The duo released their second album Boom Boom in 1982 which was also the soundtrack for the Bollywood film Star, made in 1982, starring Kumar Gaurav, Rati Agnihotri, Raj Kiran and Padmini Kolhapure.
Made in India (1995), composed by Biddu, went on to become one of the highest selling pop albums of its times and Alisha, who had made some name years ago singing in Tarzan, became a household name. Biddu, also composer of the Boom Boom track, featuring the then newly minted Anupama Verma made many a heart go aflutter.
Indi-pop or Indian pop music, notwithstanding the distaste that lovers of western pop showed for its denizens, had started taking shape as a subculture. Bollywood was of course there while a singing culture with pan-Indian appeal, started to evolve outside it and very quickly too. 
Next, Biddu turned his attention to Hindi vocalist Shweta Shetty, both writing and producing the Johnny Joker album in 1993. In 1996, Biddu backed another brother-sister duo with Shaan (Shantanu Mukherjee) and Sagarika Mukherjee, producing the album Naujawan. Biddu spent the rest of the 1990s working with various musicians. Into the new millennium, he produced two hit albums with Sansara, Yeh Dil Sun Raha Hai and Habibi.
Biddu was almost a one-man army for the first few years when Indi-pop gained in prominence. But more than just the score, other factors also came into making it popular — creative videos, peppy music, pretty girls and a new group of talented singers. One must remember that Bollywood was on an overdose of Bappi Lahiri and late Laxmikant-Pyarelal, both insufferably kitschy, throughout the late 1980s. While Bollywood turned a new chapter with Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Maine Pyar Kiya, Indi-pop emerged as the music for the nightlife — groovy and clever melange of Indian folk and popular tunes with peppy beats and often heady rap especially of the Baba Sehgal variety in Thanda Thanda Pani. Pop music had arrived and by the time satellites TV invaded the drawing rooms, India finally had its own divas and icons slowly but steadily eating up most of Channel V and MTV’s airtime.
In fact, music videos in the country made a splash with Indi-pop. Film music gave little scope to do videos and Indi-pop took the opportunity to make expensive and often experimental (by Indian popular standards) videos, thereby managing to hold on to the increasingly remote-happy, diminishing attention induced viewership.
Indi-pop soon, perhaps too quickly, touched its pinnacle with artistes like Anaida, Lucky Ali, Mehnaz, Daler Mehndi, Leslie Lewis, Raageshwari, Ali Haider, Ila Arun, Shaan, Anaida, Asha Bhosle, Anamika, Sonu Niigaam, Shubha Mudgal, KK, Babul Supriyo, Shankar Mahadevan and bands such as Euphoria, Silk Route, Stereo Nation, Aryans making Indi-pop a convenient money-minting option with albums sales soaring higher and higher.
Anaida’s ouvre was in churning out a strong storyline in the song, well-choreographed sequences, and tight editing with an eye for the over-all impact. Even ace choreographer Shiamak Davar and superstar Amitabh Bachchan joined the league with their songs Jaane Kisne and Ek Rahein Eer Ek Rahein Beer… respectively, also remembered for the brilliantly choreographed videos. Another big hit on the small screen was Malaika and Jas Arora in Malkit Singh’s music video Gud Naal Ishq Mitha.
Actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi doled out hit albums like Dole Dole and Dum Tara. Ghazal singer Hariharan and singer-composer Leslie Lewis joined hands to form their unique band Colonial Cousins, in 1996. They fused Indian and Western musical genres which were instantly lapped up by the listeners. Their eponymous debut album broke all records including hitting platinum sales in India. The duo also won the MTV Asia Viewer’s Choice Award and went on to bag the US Billboard Viewer’s Choice Award. The album had two major hit singles, Krishna and Sa Ni Dha Pa; their videos repeatedly playing on various music channels.
Shweta Shetty came up with another one in the year 1998 named Deewane To Deewane Hai. Her album became a huge success and her gravel voice and come-hither-sexiness seem to spill out of the television. 
Siblings Shaan and Sagarika hit the jackpot with the remix of Disco Deewane, followed by Roop Tera Mastana and Love-o-logy. Sagarika released her solo albums Maa and It’s All About Love. Few years later, Shaan scored big with Tanha Dil and Tishnagi.
Baba Sehgal, who is credited as the first Indian rapper, shot to fame with Manjula, Thanda Thanda Pani and Aaja Meri Gadi Mein Baith Ja in the mid-1990s. But he went on a world tour and by the time he settled down again no Indi-pop was left. He turned to playback singing and acting.
Around the same time we saw yet another bunch of singers like Daler Mehndi and Sukhbir who made us sample the heady flavours of Punjab. Daler Mehndi switched from classical music to pop, and in 1995 his first album Bolo Ta Ra Ra… was the best selling non-soundtrack album in Indian music history. He received the Award for Voice of Asia International Ethnic and Pop Music Contest in 1994. He earned Channel V’s Best Male Pop Singer Award, which he received in 1996 for Dar Di Rab Rab and in 1997 for Ho Jayegi Balle Balle.
Sukhbir’s unique Bhangra songs were a fusion of Bhangra with rap, techno and reggae. In Oi Triesto (2002), his music was complemented by Spanish and Portuguese rhythms, while he also uses instruments like tablas, congos, guitars and keyboards. He also stated once that Daler Mehndi and Malkit Singh were his biggest competition in the Punjabi music market.
In 2000, Asha Bhosle teamed up with Adnan Sami to release a collection of love songs named Kabhi To Nazar Milao. The music was also composed by Adnan. The album became an instant blockbuster and topped the Indipop charts for most of 2001. Two songs from that album — Kabhi To Nazar Milao, whose music video featured model Aditi Gowitrikar and Lift Karaa De whose music video starred Amitabh Bachchan — became immensely popular.
Sonu Niigaam was perhaps the only singer who could successfully juggle between film playbacks and private albums. His list of non-film popular albums includes Deewana (1999), followed by Jaan, Mausam, Kismat, Yaad and Chanda Ki Doli (2005) — most of which topped the charts.
But sooner than later Indi-pop came to an abrupt, and as we now know, a definitive end. Actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthi had even said that the decline of pop spelled the death of her music career.
Mohit Chauhan, now a popular playback singer and once a part of music band Silk Route, rues, “Music companies are to be blamed which simply refuse to produce Indi-pop albums in fear of incurring huge loss due to piracy. Otherwise, there is no dearth of talent or listerners.”
Suneeta Rao, once famous for her Pari Hoon Main, released her last album Waqt in 2008 which sank. Alisha, like Shweta Shetty tried making a comeback to the Indi-pop scene with Vouz Soulement in 2003. But after that failed, she went back to doing film playback. And then she struck gold with Kajra Re (Bunty aur Babli in 2005). Alisha won several awards for this song and has since scored several hits.
So, what really went wrong? According to music critics and singers, film music itself went pop and Indi-pop lost its musical exclusivity, definition and identity. Almost 20 years down the line, the concept of Indi-pop may sound worn-out and overdone, but we do carry its essence in our hearts! Those who were better performers in the Indi-pop genre — singers, video-makers, arrangers and choreographers — made a quiet but effective move towards Bollywood. And those were there for publicity and money, faded away.
Indi-pop had a short life. Perhaps because Bollywood proved to be too big to take on! Perhaps Bollywood itself accommodated that kind of music. The item number for example, remains a kind of an offshoot of Indi-pop. Many films now shoot promotional videos to go with promotional music. Is it not a legacy of Indi-pop? Perhaps it is. Or may be with the coming of a new breed of talented and smart musicians — from AR Rahman to Santanu Moitra, from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Pritam — Bollywood music itself became varied, tracing influences to not only music forms in India but often outside. Somewhere down the line, Indi-pop lost the plot.
Though choreographer-singer Ganesh Hegde claims to have brought the pop music scenario with his latest album, Let’s Party, could we really forget Lucky Ali’s O Sanam Mohabbat Ki Kasam… or Pankaj Udhas’s Aur Ahista Kijiye Baatein… or Ali Haider’s Purani Jeans aur Guitar? If not, then that’s the take away from a decade of what was born and died young as Indi-pop!

 

 

Jaya Biswas
 

Film: Luv Ka The End
Director: Bumpy
Cast: Shraddha Kapoor, Taaha Shah, Shenaz Treasuryvala, Pushtiie Shakti, Jannat Zubair Rahmani and Ali Zafar
Rating: Good

Luv Ka The End is all about one crazy night as three girls discover love, life, friendship and more… Now, that’s not something which Yash Raj Films hasn’t tried before. It was attempted earlier in Pyaar Impossible and more. With the new Y-Films coming into picture where the focus is on making films of, for and by the young, one can expect the production house to go full throttle keeping youth in mind.
The story of Luv Ka The End also runs somewhat on the lines of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na or Wake Up Sid! in the beginning, with the plot revolving around a gang of girls just out of college, but soon takes a twirl and an interesting one at that.
The film focuses on Rhea (Shraddha Kapoor), who is the quintessential girl next door. She is lovable, cute, lively, vivacious and always dressed in funky clothes that she puts together for herself. Her dream is to watch her favourite rockstar, Freddie Kapoor. Rhea is madly in love with Luv Nanda (Tahaa Shah), the richest and the most popular boy in college. Luv, who so far has been easily befriending almost every hot chick in college, and has even ‘made out’ in the library with a treacher Miss Naaz, now eyes Rhea for a reason. He wants to be the highest scorer at ‘Billionnaire Boys Club’, an online portal that ranks them in the order of their ‘female conquests’. It is Luv’s personal mission to take Rhea’s virginity.
On the eve of her 18th birthday, Luv and Rhea plan to take their relationship to the ‘next level’. Accidentally, Rhea finds out that Luv is not as nice as she thought he was. Rhea decides not to cry but to give it back, in style — to get even and bring Luv Nanda down — and all in the span of one night with the help of her two friends. While most rom-com musicals start with a mushy number, this one is different as it aims to put love to an end.
The song, Tonight by Suman Sridhar is a slow, dreamy number about a young girl in love. Suman has really crooned the song well, effectively capturing the mood. This is followed by the title track of the film Luv Ka The End, sung by Aditi Singh Sharma, which is definitely the second best in the album.
Another interesting fact is debutant director Bumpy’s Hitchcockian screen presence. In almost all of his films, Hitchcock made an appearance much like Bollywood’s showman, Subash Ghai.
Last but not the least, popstar Ali Zafar’s special appearance as Freddie Kapoor adds cherry on the cake. Performancewise, Shraddha Kapoor and Taaha do justice to their roles. However, Pushtiie as Shraddha’s friend is the real show stealer.
Overall, Luv Ka The End is hip and zappy; a fun film worth a watch.

Shauli Chakraborty

Film: Bidehir Khonje Rabindranath
Director: Sanghamitra Chowdhury
Cast: Abhishek Chatterjee, Arpita Mukherjee, Angshuman
Rating: Average

This year being Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, a lot of people have decided to commemorate the occasion in different ways. Filmmaker Sanghamitra Chowdhury too has, in her own way, paid tribute to Tagore through this film.
Sanghamitra explores Tagore’s grief after suffering various personal losses. He saw the deaths of Notun Bouthan Kadambari Debi, his wife Mrinalini Debi, his daughter Madhurilata and son Samindranath. Tagore is said to have attempted planchets in order to reach out to the souls of the departed.
It is a film within a film. Jeet (Abhishek) is a filmmaker who is planning a documentary on Tagore. He loves Bolpur and makes it a point to visit Santiniketan whenever he can. Jeet’s brother has a gang of friends who think this is the perfect opportunity for a weekend getaway and convince Jeet to let them accompany him to Bolpur. Like most youngsters these people know very little about Tagore and are on a constant lookout for opportunities to dope and booze and show very little respect for all things Rabindrik. How Jeet deals with this bunch and manages to shoot his film is for you to find out!
The music is heartwarming and soulful. In fact, it is the music which keeps much of the film afloat. There is a tribal dance sequence that has been shot in Bolpur and is pure delight to watch.
As far as performances are concerned Abhishek Chakraborty alone is worth a watch. None of the other actors manage to make an impression. From body language to fake accents — nothing seems to work for this motley crowd, most of whom are first timers. They seriously need to attend grooming classes before attempting another celluloid appearance.
The film deals mostly with Tagore’s dealings with the supernatural and the kind of impact those episodes had on his life. It is more of a docu-feature than a full fledged documentary. However, editing is poor and a number of scenes could have been easily done away with.
This is not a great film – as the filmmaker has acknowledged herself. But this is
definitely a positive beginning. We hope such films encourage other filmmakers, old and new, to make more documentaries on Tagore and other greats
as well!

Sayandeb Chowdhury

 

 

Film: 7 Khoon Maaf
Director: Vishal Bhradwaj
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Naseruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan, Anu Kapoor, Usha Uthup, Aleksandr Dyachenko, Ruskin Bond, Vivaan Shah and Konkona
Rating: Excellent

Vishal Bhardwaj made Maqbool. And that was it. A new school of cinema was born in Bombay. Cinema that was tough, unrelenting, atmospheric, harsh and full of power. In case of Maqbool, and its successor Omkara, the author was none other than William Shakespeare (Macbeth, Othello). By the time he reached Kaminey, Bhardwaj had already acquired a kind of an unsparing vision of a life and its assorted idiosyncrasies that he had harnessed to remarkable effect. Kaminey, the gangster movie about Mumbai underworld and the horse racing mafia was but cool. In 7 Khoon Maaf, Bhardwaj manages to pull his aces together to create what is perhaps most Shakespearean of his films. In what is a virtuoso adaptation of Ruskin Bond short story Susanna’s Seven Husbands, Bhardwaj shows how he has internalised the Shakespearean eye for the imminent and the immanent, to what beauty he can build an atmosphere of genuine suspense even in the everyday, how premonition and clairvoyance resides in ordinary acts of human kindness and insight. And most importantly how behind chilling acts of crime are often the most tragic and lonely of human beings who are otherwise pilgrims of love.
Priyanka Chopra in what is an author backed role plays Susanna to almost perfect effect, falling for love every time when actually there was none. She lives and breathes her role as a love-seeking, vulnerable woman, who gets accosted by and seduced by six brazen men, who turn out to be different from who they were supposed to be. Her vulnerability is however her biggest weapon in her troubled life and as she grows old, she learns to use them more effectively than ever before. And like any woman who has passed not once but six times, alone, through the territory of impertinent men, she learns to use the craft of her sexuality too, even as her bones and skin turn thicker and thicker under her beauteous, if wrinkled skin. 
The story moves fast and uncontrollably towards its denouement, which is nothing short of revelatory. On the way, Priyanka changes her religion twice, visits Kashmir and Pondicherry, get’s married to a Russian attaché and a Bengali doctor apart from a Rajput rockstar, a Goanese General with one leg and a UP police inspector. Her milieu changes from the brazenly feudal world of the landed military, to that of an Urdu poet with special affection for sadomasochism, from the heroin-induced world of skirted rock singers of early eighties Goa to that of naturopathy of a bankrupt doctor. Her only witness and confidante is the narrator, Arun, who remains the distant young lover and the only normative influence in her mad life, perhaps the only one who could have survived her audacious search for love in a battered human landscape that includes her husband and her band of murdering minsters.
The film’s premise and period moves from the swinging ‘70s to 26/11 and beyond and the details are brought out with total attention and care. Ranjan Palit’s superlative, atmospheric photography is the highpoint of the film, apart from, of course, Bhardwaj’s superb ear for music which includes a rock ballad, a sufi lovenote and of course the Russian folk inspired Darrling, which remains the film’s chartbusting number. 
7 Khoon Maaf is vintage Vishal Bhardwaj, sensible, sensitive, powerful and sparsely illuminating of the darkness that we all carry inside.

Diganta Guha

Bollywood’s famous music director Ehsaan Noorani of (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy fame), was seen in Kolkata, recently, for an event. This year will be a busy one for the trio. They have scored music for a number of big releases and have also composed the theme song De Ghumake for Cricket World Cup 2011. And now, Ehsaan is trying his hands at something different.
He is going to launch his signature line of guitars soon. Talking about it, Ehsaan could not hide his excitement. “I think it’s a big achievement for a musician. Thanks to Jasbeer Singh, the India distributor of the Fender line of guitars, I got this opportunity,” he said.
“I have been in this industry for quite some time now. I have done well, received global recognition. Jasbeer proposed that I launch my own line of guitars. Fender is one of the biggest brands of guitars in the world and is used by all leading musicians,” he said adding it was not an easy process. “There were lots of meetings before the deal finally worked out,” Ehsaan said. 
The musician-cum-composer confirmed that this will be purely a commercial line and he will go all out to promote it.
So what is happening on the Bollywood front? “We have our hands full. Right now the music of Patiala House is out. Then we have Don 2, Chittagong, a British film West is Best, Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and many more,” said Ehsaan. He is also meeting artists outside Bollywood and working on building global collaborations.
We have seen music, director teams parting ways but Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have been going strong and there has never been any news about infighting or problem between them. What is the secret? “We love our work and our entire concentration remains on coming up with good music. We don’t have time for petty bickering. The moment politics creeps in, complications arise,” said Ehsaan.
Bollywood music has undergone tremendous changes over the years. Ehsaan said change was for the better. “There has been a lot of improvement in this field, production wise, technologically,” said the composer. What about hordes of new singers trying to get a foothold in Bollywood? “It’s good since everybody has something new to offer,” he added.
 What about the music scenario in Bengal? “I have followed some rock numbers from Bengal. There are many musicians from Kolkata on my Facebook list of friends. We were supposed to work with Rituparno Ghosh. But somehow it didn’t work out,” Ehsaan signed off.

 

 

Diganta Guha

 
Veteran playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy was in town recently to perform at a concert organised by the Saradha Group of Companies. Excerpts:

There is no dearth of item songs now in Bollywood, but you are the pioneer of such numbers…
I wouldn’t call myself a pioneer. Yes I did sing songs like Hawaa hawaai, Jumma Chumma and Tu cheez badi hai mast mast. I believe those songs had better lyrics. Today’s songs just come and go, at least I can’t recall the lyrics and the antaras. 

How do you see the playback scenario these days?
Well, it’s always important for a singer to walk with time. I am not the type that says, “Oh! The old songs of my generation were far better.” You have to accept what we have today. But I do concede that there has been deterioration in terms of lyrics. We have grown up listening to Majrooh Sultanpuri and many other fabulous writers. Now we have just Gulzar Saab and Javed Akhtar. There is too much orchestra used nowadays. 

You have sung a number of Bengali songs. You should be happy to know that songs of Bengali films are again becoming popular.
That’s very encouraging. The songs are much better and more meaningful. I recently sang for a Rabindrasangeet album called Bhalobashi. It’s doing well and I have plans to sing a lot more in Bengali. 

What keeps you busy nowadays?
I am doing a lot of projects that are ‘non-filmi’. The film offers I get are all inconsequential songs. There are lots of new music directors and lyricists who have come up, but their offers are not interesting enough. But music is an integral part of my life and I am keeping that alive by singing in concerts and  for projects like spiritual albums. 

I know it’s tough, but if you are to list three of your favourite numbers, which ones would those be?
My selection doesn’t depend on the song’s popularity. It has something to do with my sentiment. There are certain songs that changed my career graph and I am very sensitive towards them. I like       Hawaa hawaai, the songs of 1942 A Love Story and of course the numbers in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. I would rate the songs of HDDCS as really special because they were so different and there was so much of variety in them.  
 
Who are your favourite singers from the current crop?
They are all good individually. I like Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Ghoshal and KK.

What is it like to perform in Kolkata?
It’s always a wonderful experience because there is a strong culture of music here. Kolkata genuinely loves good music. It is always heartwarming to perform here.

 

 

The latest Coke ad, with the classic track, Aaj Ki Raat… has caught the imagination of Gen-Y

 

Ashok Chatterjee

Retro ads are gaining popularity with the Indian marketing gurus. Songs from the 1970s and 1980s are making a comeback in Indian commercials. Vintage is special. Success of Akshay Kumar with his printed shirt and big collars in Action Replayy and Ajay Devgn in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai are enough evidence of the retro making a big comeback in our lives. Advertising is known to capture the pulse of the people. So, the numbers Jata Kahan Hai deewane for the Coca Cola ad, Aaj Pehali Tarikh Hai for the Cadbury Dairy milk chocolate ad or Genelia D’Souza’s New Fanta ad surely grab eyeballs. The latest Coke ad, with the retro number, Aaj Ki Raat… has caught the imagination of gen-next.
The advertisers are not only scoring high with the catchy songs but also leaving no stones unturned in recreating the perfect look and feel. Take for example the Vivel Deo ad, which shows a boy and a girl playing badminton in whites, recreating the song, Dhal Gaya Din, from the Jeetendra-Leena Chandravarkar starrer Humjoli or the Himalaya Face Wash ad where the girl dresses up in retro style or even the Biskfarm cookies ad, where a strong retro concept of patriarchal society comes across with the famous dialogue ‘Pran nath, aap kya kha rahe ho?’.
Shah Rukh Khan has also changed his looks for Dish TV advertisement. He is seen as a 75-years-old man in the ad. He looks cool with a stick.
The ads of the late 70s or 80s still have their brand recall. It is hard to forget the Bajaj bulb ad with the jingle, Jab main chota ladka tha, badi shararat karta tha. Meri chori pakdi jati, Jab roshan hota Bajaj — now, there lies the charm. When ad agencies create ads, their goal is to make a commercial that is catchy and memorable. The use of jingles is to make it linger in your head and remind you of the product.
Another television commercial, which is still fresh in our memories, is the Vicks ki goli lo khich khich door karo number. The ad caught on with the audience so much that it led to a rise in sales of Vicks cough drops. If these were the ‘funny’ ads on TV, the classic Raymonds ad which showed the ‘complete man’ still rings in our head. Advertisers feel the same old magic can be recreated with the new products as well. As ad-man Prahlad Kakkar explains, “I’ve been observing this trend for some time now. It all started with the Close-up toothpaste ad, followed by Fevicol ads and the Cadbury ads. The retro theme breaks the clutter. But if the theme is used in abundance, then it becomes a clutter in itself,” he says.
“In advertising, we have been neglecting the Silvers (the silver jubilee club). Since a healthy 35 per cent of the elderly are the target audience, these retro ads not only make the elderly nostalgic but also get the youngsters notice it. We must always remember the moot point of selling a product is to hook the viewers. And these ads are doing it fine,” Kakkar adds.
But senior account executive, Versus Communications, Rahul Mehra, who also is the manager of music band, Insomnia, begs to differ. He says, “Corporate houses are trying to woo the youth. The IT industry has altered the audience base for products. Youngsters, just out of college are earning high salaries these days, working in BPOs. They constitute a major segment of the Indian population. And this population still loves to listen to ABBA and the Final Countdown for entertainment.”
If Jumping Jack Jeetendra once ruled the popularity charts, today Imran Khan is ruling the roost. The latest Coke shadow ad, features the Break Ke Baad hero Imran doing funny act with the classic Aaj Ki Raat playing in the background. No surprises, it is the most downloaded ad today. The song takes you back to the 1973 film, Anamika.
Talking about the success of the jingles, music composer and audio producer, Drono Acharya, says, “One of the major reasons for the success of these songs is the melody. But the advertisements can go wrong if they make mockery of these golden classics.”
Bollywood singer, Kailash Kher, who has many popular jingles under his belt, refuses to believe that retro is the latest craze for ad filmmakers. “I cannot endorse the view. In order to be different, some advertisers go back to the past for inspiration. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t,” says Kher. 
The person behind successful ad campaigns like the Kamasutra condoms and Emami Fair & Handsome, Alyque Padamsee sums up the phenomenon. He says, “It is just a fad. Agencies copy any success formula. The industry is full of copycats. If one retro-themed ad clicks with the audience, everyone follow suit. Personally, I want to be original,” he clarifies.
Fad or not, retro ads surely have got everyone talking.

Jaya Biswas

Film: Tees Maar Khan
Director: Farah Khan
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Akshaye Khanna, Ali Asgar, Apara Mehta, Aman Verma, Murli Sharma, Sachin Khedekar
Rating: Poor

As the title suggests, the film is about the sharpest conman of all Tabrez Mirza Khan alias Khanon mein Khan’ Tees Maar Khan (Akshay Kumar). Here Akshay is a master criminal who learns to steal even before he is born, the foetus fed on crime thrillers his pregnant mother watched.
What begins as a regular comedy gradually becomes the story of the great Indian train robbery undertaken by Tees Maar Khan for the conjoined conmen, played by MTV’s twin baldies, Raghu and Rajiv. They assign Khan to retrieve their loot which the government has seized. Khan pretends to shoot a patriotic train robbery film, Bharat Ka Khazana, while managing the act for real. He also picks a village and casts its inhabitants to act in his film; bluffs them into participating in a crime.
And in all this, Tees Maar Khan deceives the audience by claiming to be a funny movie. If you’ve seen the promos, you know the brand of humour (or the lack of it). And when it comes to the business of conning, it’s only talk and no shock! Though the first half is bearable, the second half becomes Tashan — Part 2, if you know what I mean.
The film’s story, put together by Farah’s husband Shirish Kunder, is a complete mess. But you can’t blame him either. After all, he had to take care of background score, screenplay, story, editing to refreshments on the sets and God knows what else, evident from the credits.
The dialogues written by Shirish Kunder and Ashmith Kunder desperately try to be humorous but fall flat at most instances. Sample this: Tube se nikli huyi toothpaste aur Tees Maar Khan ki di huyi zubaan kabhi wapas nahin jaati or Mere nange haath tumhare nange gaal par — you don’t expect such scary lines in a Farah Khan film.
There is a lot of screaming, grimacing and heaving. Here is an example of the level of the jokes — Khan as Hollywood director calls himself Manoj ‘Day’ Ramalan (Grrrr…)
The eponymous role is custom-made for Akshay Kumar and while he plays it effortlessly, he is clearly getting repetitive in his comic act (a concoction of Hera Pheri 1 & 2, Tashan, Khiladi series et al).
Akshaye Khanna as Aatish Kapoor, an Oscar-hungry actor, whose only mission in life is to groove on the Day-Ho number (akin to Anil Kapoor’s joyous leap on Jai-Ho when he was called to receive one of the Oscars for Slumdog Millionnaire), is brilliant. He is expected to act terribly and he does that with such perfection, that it gets on your nerves.
Farah’s fascination for Manoj Kumar (remember Om Shanti Om controversies?) continues in this one too. It’s high time the filmmaker realises that spoofs don’t work — not always!
Composer duo Vishal-Shekhar’s music has mass appeal. As Khan’s girlfriend in the film, Anya (Katrina Kaif) is categorically roped in only for her sex-appeal and she has oodles of it. Anya, a struggling actress is also cast by Khan in his fake film and her role in it is as questionable as her role in TMK. But Farah Khan’s raunchy choreography of the item number, Sheila Ki Jawani, portrays Kat at her sexiest best. Apara Mehta is a cheap imitation of Kirron Kher in Farah’s previous film Om Shanti Om.
Sachin Khedekar, Aman Verma and Murli Sharma as police officers are hardly amusing on screen. Salman Khan shows his ‘jalwa’ yet again in a cameo. TMK may take a smashing opening at the box office, courtesy Sheila and her jawani, but there is every chance of it fizzling out soon.
Though funny in bits and pieces, too much of hamming makes it a boring watch.

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Shauli Chakraborty
Film: Arekti Premer Golpo
Director: Kaushik Ganguly
Creative Director: Rituparno Ghosh
Cast: Rituparno Ghosh, Indraneil Sengupta, Chapal Bhaduri, Raima Sen, Churni Ganguly
Rating: Very Good

First things first — the film is not just a gay love story. It is more of a love story between two human beings with a strong message. A path breaking film, Arekti Premer Golpo makes you sit up and question if all that you perceive is actually, all that there is to perceive.
Here, Rituparno the actor is faced with his sole competitor — Rituparno the director. It isn’t necessary to choose one or judge both. For a fulfilling cinematic experience you only have to sit back and take note of art for art’s sake. Only then can you come out as a viewer unscathed from social constructs and box office gossip.
Whatever Rituparno’s reasons for choosing Chapal Rani as a subject, the film surely isn’t an explanation. Nor is he using it as a shield. The director makes this point in a scene where Momo (Raima) talks to Basu (Indraneil) about her reservations of Roop’s (Rituparno) intentions. Basu replies, “Nobody knows Roop more than I do…he is anything but a coward.”
The narrative has several layers to it — something that is so characteristic of the film’s creative director. Chapal Rani plays himself and is perhaps one of the lucky people to see his autobiography filmed in his lifetime. Several scenes from his childhood leave a mark. Like the one where Chapal is asked to shave his head after his mother’s demise. He questions, “Why am I the only one who has to shave? Just because I am her son? Why doesn’t Shejdi need to do it?” Later we see a parallel when Roop shaves his head and his unit offers condolences. Roop exclaims, “Nothing has happened. Everybody is fine at home. This is just my new hairstyle!”
There is another scene which depicts Chapal taking a dip in the Ganga and refusing to step out of the water without covering himself. Only his sister seems to understand his plight and throws a gamcha into the water. Chapal’s love for bisexual Kumar is as similar and dissimilar to Roop’s love for a much-married Basu. Also Chapal’s close realtionship with Kumar’s wife (Churni) is a very different one from the disturbing one between Rani (Basu’s wife) and Roop. There are a couple of other parallels as well, but I don’t want to give away the plot.
The film is full of symbolism and imagery. It is also poetic in places. Like the scene where Uday and Roop discuss Abanindranath Tagore’s painting titled ‘Shondhyer Pakhi’ or ‘Bird Of Dusk’ is brilliant. Similarly, music by Debajyoti Mishra is haunting. Bonomalee re…. poro jonome hoyo Radha… has been used all through the film. However, in each sequence the background score has symbolised different things.
When a reporter asks Roop whether his film is about Chapal Rani’s career or his sexuality, Roop retorts, “If I were making a film on Amitabh Bachchan would that have been relavant?” Need I say more?

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