How Bangalore looks from up above. British professional adventurer James L. Kingston climbs up a crane to come up with dramatic pictures of a city which, increasingly, doesn’t quite look like this from down below.
Facet: Jay Leno is the US equivalent of Cyrus Broacha (to the power of one thousand). Fact: With an income of $21million last year, US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is not just in the top 1% but in the top 0.0025%.
And the nation’s most humourous people are miffed at a skit that does not even have accompanying commentary from Leno as to sue?And the Indian ambassador to the US complains, only to receive a sermon on the First Amendent?
Also read: Who gives a shit to Jeremy Clarkson‘s crap?
On the eve of the fourth Test match against Australia, Rahul Dravid and Harsha Bhogle show that there is more to life than winning, losing or sweating over a cricket match.
Think of life itself.
As Lance Klusener famously said after South Africa’s loss to Australia in the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup and everybody was pouncing on him: “So what, no one died.”
After watching Abhishek Bachchan in this priceless Idea 3G ad, you can only hope his baby takes after Aishwarya Rai (justice Markandey Katju please to note). And they are touting “smart” phones, mind you.
Link via Nastika
It happens only in India, a cricket series Down Under named after an upcoming Bollywood movie which Star Cricket merrily uses as its motif without revealing to viewers that it’s a paid-for advertisement.
Meanwhile, the incomparable M.J. Akbar explains the difference between ridiculous and ludricrous, in India Today:
“Nothing I have heard in the deathbed year of 2011 was more ridiculous than Sourav Ganguly‘s command to our cricket team in Australia on the “Agneepath Series”: Be Fearless! After which he added a paean to his own fearlessness. That was both cheeky and thick.
“Long before he retired, Ganguly began to play cricket with his neck: his neck was far more agile than his bat against the rising ball. On more than one occasion Ganguly developed mysterious back aches at the sight of a green pitch on the first morning. Whenever the world’s quickies were short of a laugh all they had to do was watch a video of Ganguly trying to get out of the way, and the party could begin.”
Read the full article: The year of ludicre
Also read: One question I’m dying to ask M.S. Dhoni
A bunch of Punjabis sing the catchiest version of the song that will be played a million times on Friday night as the “murderous rage” of 2011 slips over into 2012.
Below, CNN reports that the first entry that pops up when you type “Why” into the search window is you know what.
Also read: When Kolaveri Di meet Sharad Pawar ji
In which the Delhi-based Hindustani classical singer Shubha Mudgal joins hands with Swarathma, the Mysore-born Indian folk band, “one of the most exciting independent acts to emerge from the country in the past few years”, in Srirangapatna.
Hindustani classical meets Hindi pop meets folk meets fusion, for The Dewarists.
Link via Nikhil Moro and Yashovardhana Kote
While the Kolaveri Di viral assumes pandemic proportions, a fine Punjabi song composed by a Tamilian inspires a bunch of youngsters—163 of them, actually—from the city formerly known as Bombay to set the floor of a railway station formerly known as Victoria Terminus ablaze.
Also read: When Kolaveri Di meets Sharad Pawar ji
It’s been a strange, surreal week, bookended by a third-rate Tamil song with nursery school lyrics going viral because the non-singer, non-actor who features in it is married to, well, Rajnikanth‘s daughter—and an agriculture minister who has been playing cricket with the country’s farmers and consumers for so long that no one would have minded him being slapped by a more educated, better placed sardar than an autodriver called Harvinder Singh.
Mercifully, someone has found a way out of the astounding piety and political correctness that has greeted Dhanush‘s “Kolaveri Di” and Sharad Pawar‘s ignominy to make sense of the two landmark events of the 47th week of the year of the lord 2011.
Link via Hari Shenoy
PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Modern journalists and wannabe-journalists are an imperviously impatient lot, who think they are the almighty’s gift to the profession.
They expect every story idea of theirs to be instantly accepted for publication, and every finished story to be published, as is, without a comma or turn of phrase being overturned.
Such careerist upstarts (among others) can draw a lesson from the Bangalore-based journalist turned researcher S. Sathyanarayana Iyer alias ‘Regret’ Iyer (in picture).
As a freelance contributor, Iyer collected so many “rejection slips” from editors, who felt there was something incomplete in his work, that instead of letting it bog him down, he took it as a challenge to gain acceptance.
Regret Iyer’s first rejection slip was for a photo-story on Bijapur in north Karnataka in 1964. With over 375 rejection slips, he has earned a pride of place in the Limca Book of Records.
47 years later, in circa 2011, he says he stills feels a rush of blood each time he gets a new rejection note which begins the ominous sounding words, “We regret our inability to publish….”
Unlike many of us who would cringe at such repeated rejection or quit the profession in disgust, Regret Iyer took it all on his chin, incorporated the “regret” notes from publications into his name (view his business card) making it his USP, and kept sending in contributions as a writer, cartoonist and photographer.
He started three hand-written magazines (Shankar’s Herald, Image, and Gruhavani) between 1969 and ’75 to encourage amateur talent at risk of rejection like him. And ran a neighbourhood newspaper in Bangalore called Stencil for five years from 1984.
Eventually, the byline—“by Regret Iyer”—went on to adorn such publications as The Hindu, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Sanje Vani among others. Sunday’s Kannada Prabha magazine carried an article by Iyer on the dolls of Dasara.
Iyer also launched a company under the banner “Regret Iyer Publications and Productions (RIP).”
What is more, Regret Iyer has immortalised success born out of failure. His son, a student of journalism, and his daughter, an MBA aspirant, have both incorporated their father’s nom de plume in their names.
Not to be left behind, Regret Iyer’s wife proudly calls herself Regret Vijaya.
View a Regret Iyer documentary: Crow with a broken wing
Also read: Provocation is in the eyes of the beholder
The 401st Dasara is upon us. On the first day of the nine nights, U.B.Vasudev in Tampa, Florida, forwards a panoramic picture of the main Amba Vilas palace in Mysore, the cynosure of all eyes, all lit up.
This picture, as viewed from the Jayamarthanda gate, overlooking the Doddakere maidan and Chamundi Hills, has been stitched together using four different frames captured by Vasudev in March 2010.
This is how it looks during the day, without lights.
“Especially for some of us who grew up in the erstwhile Royal Mysore, this time of the year is very nostalgic. It would have been nice if Mysore Dasara was what it used to be,” writes Vasudev.
The palace, which turns 100 in 2012, is also the star of Karnataka tourism’s print advertising campaign this year, hammering home the point that the Mysore palace attracts more visitors than Buckingham Palace.
A few years ago, the palace attracted more visitors than the Taj Mahal.
Vasudev also forwards a YouTube video of the anthem of Mysore composed by the late Basappa Shastry.
SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: North-west of Mathrumandali Circle in Mysore, perhaps at a distance of less than three fourths-of a kilometre—beyond the hordes of bleating sheep and a bovine assortment of cows and buffaloes that lounge around along the Paduvarahalli main road in carefree abandon, past the ever anchored ‘Shah Pasand’ horse carriage with its black horse tied to a tree, munching a bale of hay—is 8th Cross, Vontikoppal, the headquarters of the Sri Prasanna Vidya Ganapathi Mahotsava Charitable Trust (SPVGMC).
And it is on this road that an annual ritual takes place. A ritual as much devoted to the veneration of the legendary elephant headed Lord Ganesha, he of the voluminous middle with a snake for a belt, the remover of obstacles and the giver of good fortune, as for the sheer joy and exhilaration of Carnatic music lovers.
For it is on this small stretch of dusty road that once every year, during the month of September, a lot many of India’s finest vocalists and instrumentalists perform on a makeshift stage under a large awning set up with serial bulbs and hired red plastic chairs, for rasikas to drink the nectar of a kind of music that is steeped in a tradition of great ancientness.
And it was on this very road that my own ignorance born of a certain prejudice and a lack of exposure to the larger nuances of Carnatic music was consigned, mercifully, to the dark alleys of no return, on a gently cool evening in the company of a few friends last night.
For it was an evening during which the ‘Padma Vibhushan’, the sangeetha kalanidhi Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, a man endowed with the arcane gift of making a drum encased in strips of wood and closed at the ends with a round casing of tanned leather with a black bull’s-eye mark to it—the mridanga—behave like a beautifully choreographed danseuse in the throes of passionate, obsessive, cataclysmic upheaval at times; a gentle, tender and delicate rosy cheeked baby suckling her loving mother in a state of inclusive calmness at other times; and a cooing damsel ensconced with the fresh whiff of romance at a few other times!
Accompanying the young and exciting Saket Raman, a Carnatic singer who has been blossoming under the tutelage of the legendary Lalgudi Jayaraman and who is surely but unobtrusively pressing the gas pedal on the highway to greatness, the 76-year-old Shivaraman was a virtual study in well rounded extraordinariness when it came to handling the mridanga.
Or was he toying with it?!
And to think that I for one, had for some reason concluded in my mind that the tabla with its almost smooth, honeyed throb and the cascade of a certain well proportioned dulcetness to it which went around in a rhythm of exquisite, well preserved depth as the singer sang his aalaps invariably in the grand Hindustani style with its endless possibilities of improvisation, was the percussion instrument to fall in love with.
The mridanga in comparison, I felt, was a little harsh and crude, not given to the possibility of acoustic refinement. Something that was put to better use during temple rituals amidst the throng of hundreds and thousands of fervent devotees as priests went about chanting mantras in praise of the deity.
But then, I hadn’t heard Umayalpuram Sivaraman, had I?
Seated in concert along with the singer Saket Raman and Sivaraman was Mysore M. Nagaraj, a violinist whose class can elevate you and deposit you on the clouds of intense musical enjoyment; in a state of meditative bliss; a child prodigy who was gifted by god, the fingers to plait a special magic out of the strings that constitute the instrument of his stupendous craft.
Even as Saket Raman began to journey through the various depths and troughs, the channels of his musical expressions, eyes closed and face contorted in a mood of intense expressiveness, it was Umayalpuram Sivaraman who, with his energy and high spiritedness, began to match the ensemble.
The music that he made from his mridanga was one that came forth with an amazing repertoire of a multitude of sounds ranging from the crisp, clear notes of methodical rhythmic repetitiveness to the deep, almost guttural, denseness of a certain set of beats to a virtual coaxing, cajoling, enticing and charming delicateness. Nagaraj on the other hand, with his curly-haired handsomeness and a stage presence that not many can come close to, created his own brand of never failing melody to match with his violin.
Shivaraman’s smile every now and then in the midst of it all; his delicate glances at his accompanying disciple, Krishna Prasad, urging him to play with confidence; the sheer speed of his wizened fingers as they went about in a frenzy of unfailing beats always perfectly in tune with the musical situation; the flourish with which he would close his rendition for either the violinist or the singer himself to take over; the infectiousness of his demeanour on stage at an age when most other regular men would prefer the comfort of their drawing room, a newspaper in hand and a cup of hot coffee by the side and the noise of the grand children’s playfulness around them!
Umayalpuram Sivaraman made my evening memorable. An evening that made me realise that in the phenomenally intricate and complex world of music, the great purveyor’s of which live in the rarefied realms of eternal bliss, I got to taste a tiny morsel.
I’m eternally grateful!
YouTube video: courtesy Nagarathna Sitaram
Photographs: Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman in concert with Saket Raman (vocal) and Mysore Nagaraj (violin) at 8th Cross, Vontikoppal in Mysore on Saturday, 24 September 2011 (top); after the concert, Sivaraman poses for pictures with rasikas and their grandchildren (below)
Cricketers turned commentators, especially the Indian ones, are rarely renowning for turning their phrases. The former all-rounder turned politician, Kirti Azad, bowled a lovely doosra last night, describing Lasith Malinga‘s freaky slingshot action thus: “He bowls around the wicket from over the wicket.”
The Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara is one of the more studious cricketers going around. The “well-heeled son of a lawyer” lists Salman Rushdie‘s Midnight’s Children as his favourite book and carries heavy tomes in his cricket kit so that he can complete the law degree that he was forced to abandon.
Naturally, he brings all his erudition to the 22-yard strip even when it comes to as mundane a task as giving lip service to the opposition for cause and country, as the South African skipper Shaun Pollock found out in the 2007 World Cup.
External reading: ‘The whole world expects India to win’
Nearly 30 years after it was made on a shorter than shoestring budget, the Kundan Shah-directed caper Jaane bhi do yaaro remains one of Bollywood’s most loved movies, presciently squatting at the 2010 intersection of politicians, businessmen and journalists a la Niira Radiagate.
In JBDY, two commercial photographers (played by Naseeruddin Shah and the late Ravi Baswani) pick up freelance assignments for Khabardar, a muckraking publication edited by Shobha Sen (Bhakti Barve) that ostensibly wants to expose the link between an unscrupulous builder (Pankaj Kapoor) and a corrupt municipal commissioner (Satish Shah).
The lensmen come up with damning evidence but, well, the editor is “stringing along” with another builder (Om Puri) and strumming a different tune.
Now, what if the remorseless Bhakti Barve played Barkha Dutt, the “massively influential but ethically embattled” NDTV anchor?
“Barkha’s show of her lifetime left me unimpressed because it did not answer some key questions. Where is her apology to her viewers (she did not look into the camera, address her viewers and say “sorry” even when prompted).”
“If both (Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi) could bring themselves to admitting that they crossed a line, apologise and declare that it won’t happen again, the entire journalist community would breathe easier and hold its head up a little higher. So would a generation of young journalism students and new entrants into the profession, who have grown up idealising Ms Dutt and others.”
“Should Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi say “mea culpa” for letting down their readers and viewers? Absolutely. Then, why don’t they?”
Full coverage: BARKHA DUTT on the allegations against her
Waka, waka? No, lakka lakka.
Liji Francis does a Shakira in this Malayalam World Cup video that ends with fond hopes of an Indian presence in the 2014 tournament.
Link via Pavitra Selvam
Link via Rohit K.G.
The Twenty20 World Cup is being played so far away, it seems like it’s happening on another planet. And it is happening so soon after the previous World Cup (in the same week IPL-3 ended) that it probably doesn’t matter.
Still, Australia versus Pakistan on 2 May 2010 will enter the record books. Australia 191 for 5 at the beginning of the 20th over. Australia 191 all out at the end of the 20th over.
Muhammed Aamer‘s final over: WWWWOW
Author-columnist Anand Giridharadas, the former Bombay correspondent of the International Herald Tribune, on the wedding of the year (so far).
Soutik Biswas/ BBC: A cross-border marriage stripped of romance
CHURUMURI POLL: Double fault by apna Sania?
Justifying the title of his new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, the author Philip Pullman rams into the “ban wagon”:
“No one has the right to live without being shocked.
“No one has the right to spend their lives without being offended.
“Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. If they have to open it and read it, they don’t have to like it. And if you read it and dislike it, you don’t have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book, you can do all those things but there your rights stop.
“No one has the right to stop the writing of this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, sold or bought or read.”
Link via T.A. Abhinandan/ Nanopolitan
On the day The Great Golfer returns to less controversial holes, the father asks a question.