Friday, January 29, 2010

Phir Mile Sur

Great Bong has beaten me to a piece on the Phir Mile Sur video that has been released as an attempt in making the masterpiece “Mile sur mera tumhara” relevant to a generation twenty years ahead. I had attempted a similar piece but filed it away. Anyway, GB’s piece is much more hilarious a spoof I could have ever drafted. Much of the punchlines are predictable and very much the same themes I was picking on, for example, Abhishek tagging along wife and paa. (We think the same thoughts; only package them differently and flourish them forth like we had cooked it all ourselves; and them we hop to other blogs and read the same tired clichés and simmer – Hey! I had thought of that first!) Though his paradaa-faash on the Zoom TV angle was an eye-opener and explained a lot. The point is not GB, whose wit I am confessedly a fan of, but… something else.

I used to watch Mile Sur when I was a small town kid and really pretty naïve and idealistic, prone to believe anything I saw and read. It was, perhaps, a time; a generation. I was too young to realise the skill that had so deftly captured that simplicity. I remember but that my favourite portion was the fingers of Louis Banks on the keyboard (I have not seen the video for more than a decade) and the booming big B, flanked by Mithun and Jeetendra. J

That the new Mile Sur is almost entirely cramped with Bollywood, even to the depths of Shahid Kapoor, to the exclusion of even giants, I am not surprised. It is, in that sense, a very keen reflection of the present times. In fact, I liked some bits of it. Salman’s portion with mute kids touched me and I only wished he had left his baniyaan persona for a moment and worn a shirt at least, if not something more traditional, as, for me, appearing in a tribute like this demands a respect like standing at the national anthem, where personas of machismo and casualness have to be temporarily deferred. (For the same reason we refrain from tapori language among elders.)

Why I chose to not post the piece that I wrote was that I felt there was a bigger essence, of a loss, that words could not do justice too. Especially nit-picking humour recycling the same done-to-death bits.

The loss is not a loss of a time, but an aesthetic. More than that – a sensibility. I write this deliberately not watching the original video surely there on youtube, but relying on what I remember. (Education is what you remember after you’ve forgotten what you learnt. In that sense, memories can be a truer source of essence.)

I wonder if the video really needed to be made contemporary. Of course, not because they say it (the motive was the same which inspires any two-bit artist to do a tribute to a classic, Jessica Simpson’s “Boots are mode for walking” for instance, to borrow authentic glory for self-promotion). But, just seriously. I perhaps knew Zaakir Hussain and Kamal Hassan in the montages preceding the trio from Bollywood mentioned, including the heroines and Lata, but the video still affected me. Would it have made a difference if it had all been artists I would never have known the name of? No. I would have still intuitively grasped that they are all essentially and deep-rootedly Indian.

But then, I come from a generation which has seen a transition. In the video, I can see that subtle crowding out of ordinary Indian people and the really intelligentsia with bhaands, the faux poignancy and simplicity, but is there a generation that has been denied that yardstick? But what did we have that was denied? My generation jokes about how vividly they remember a Campa Cola sip (park behind GPO in small plastic cups in evening with Chicky at my side), how we had one toy we broke, repaired, broke, and things we didn’t have.

So what has been denied to the new generation? This very denial?

Or is this the same I-studied-under-street-lamps romanticism we got that we we got that we are throwing back to the next one?

But surely, the absence of silence, and simplicity, even in a post-modernistic meaningless world of simulacra, images flashing atop each other, sound bytes clambering upon eachotherblahblah is still felt. Do not we still welcome that silence between the intakes of breaths of a yakking idiot? Does silence have to be taught now? An absence, dignified and stating more hence.

Or is this mindless generation that ChetanBhagat and ZoomTVs and ShahidKs lay claim to only a minority? A simmering majority lie unexpressed below? If not, I shudder.


Pankaj said...

We are certainly in the middle of a strange media frenzy driven era. Movies like "Natural born killers" and "Network" seem to be in reaction to similar trends in the US in earlier times, which India has moved into now.

Part of our reaction is surely nostalgia of good ole' times. Life is indeed more complicated than it was in our era. But the same holds true for our era and the era before that and so on, as life has become increasingly urban and complex. There can't be anything inherently better about having Campa in a cup vs Coke in a PET bottle.

But that is not to say all ages have the same character. Thanks to the overwhelming media exposure this age seems to be all about appearance and devoid of content. But i guess that just a fluke which is a result of contemporaneity influences. Just as the 70s "socialist" era was more about ideologies thanks to a coming together of influences.

ramya sriram said... i liked this guy's