Intezaar – The Wait!!

INTEZAAR is a short film cum song video conceived and produced by Ahsif Khan, with my music and lyrics alongwith their team of young aspiring cinematic professionals and actors. It is due for release on 14th August, 2018 to commemorate on India’s Independence Day – the FEELINGS carried by families of armed forces personnel and seafarers who stay for long periods away in service and welfare of their nation and world at large..

Ahsif Khan is a very unusual friend. He is perhaps less than half my age, so is his cinematic team. He has won accolades and awards in international arena even before he finished his cinematic education in India recently. More importantly, he reminisces and dreams; which is what I have done in the real world of business to find ‘new business’ and now doing for music and a trajectory for thematic cinema or video – so it kind-of…jives!

This morning as I was planning to write this brief about how this idea to collaborate for this film came about, I read a HT column on Alia Bhatt. Despite all the ‘dodo jokes’ surrounding the outspoken star of Bollywood, she says “it is Experiences which make a person what he/she is not the age”. Maybe she was referring to her link up with Ranbir Kapoor, but then she is daughter of Mahesh Bhatt and done fantastically in challenging roles that would have made legendary actresses proud.

This above, is an apt simile to introduce Ahsif Khan, whom I met at a glittering award function at Film City, Hyderabad where we were felicitated for divergent recognitions – him for his short films and me for business & a passion for music (maybe!). Over these 3 years since, we have been in touch sharing ideas. So when he narrated this story of a family of a young man posted on warfronts, who wait for him (that’s all they CAN do !) and finally get hit by tragic news, I said “but Ahsif, what’s so new about this?”.

I recalled the old Dev Anand movies, “Hum Dono”, “Rang de Basanti” and so many more where the music is legendary and an all-timer. But the reason he gave astounded me.

He said “I am from Bangladesh and since I was a kid I was very influenced by the way Indian troops came to free his country” and the old oneness from days of Mukti Bahini. I was instantly transported back to my days in Delhi Public School at times when as kids we were overwhelmed and wore our patriotism on our sleeves. I was one of the few boys in school choir who sang patriotic songs each morning and somehow that became a trigger for music as a passion for all times. Yes I wrote a few then as well, even as my friends would envy that the choir kept me in closer touch with the best girls in school.

So it was within 5 minutes for reading his synopsis and script and I said the most obvious thing –

“ye kahani to purani hai,

par na meri na tumhari hai

inko dekho, inko jaano

khel jinka jaan ki baazi hai.

Shaan-ae -Hasti…QURBANI hai…

Ye Kahani…to purani hai!!”

Intezaar, Intezaar, aur thoda Intezaar…

Intezaar, Intezaar…

Translated:

This is an age old story (nothing new!)

But (more importantly), it is not of me or you!

Look at these guys, understand their feeling

For whom laying your life out is (just) a game!

Their ESTEEM itself lies in SACRIFICE~~

Waiting, Waiting, a little more to wait….(in chorus)!!

 In a way my prediction when we were speaking with each other in Hyderabad and on his later trips to Delhi when we met briefly, were coming true that “one day we will embark on a cinematic and musical project”. The FEELINGS have no country, caste or creed so in this patriotic song you will not see a country flag! These are people who carry the ‘flag’ in their heart.

So, this came out as a message from my lyrics that were writing themselves through a long ‘experience’ and that’s why Alia Bhatt I salute you and all young folks with confidence that the country is still one of immense intellect and it is the TIMES which spur us to keep our inbuilt love for our flags and ethos to dynamic action.

There is a broader aspect to understand collaborations like “Intezaar” and what has always made aspiring musicians, artistes, filmmakers, actors to invest in their own ideas even when these are ‘opportunity costs’ to a more normally enjoyable life at any age and building our family assets? I think this as way of God and fact that all kinds of people can collaborate with only pre-requisite “do you have a heart or passion?”. I have learnt in my experience that this is what keeps this ilk apart from rest of humanity.

So what is “Intezaar” all about? It is about what we all wait for; it is when we aspire, toil to achieve. The Border and Frontlines on international sphere do not come without risks. Isn’t that what our kinds do too? We risk our money, our families to create what? Just a song that does not meet what goes – “jo chalta hai”. In the end they become Anurag Kashyaps too but Karan Johars too find their trajectories and not just from money!

So, INTEZAAR is for people who risk their lives and happiness, enjoyment, etc. to fight crazy odds of everyday life. There has been no war since the Bangladesh war. But does that mean that risks are less? We are reading so many things even corruption, raw arms deals and that’s what the movies talk. There is no need for a new story, in fact; just that we need to keep reminding each other of ‘ordinary stories’ with BIG feelings that are life-changing, impacting health, aspirations and life the way we normally desire to live.

When I graduated from the Marine Engineering college in ‘70s, there came news of some of my seniors who died in a series of mishap with leakage of ‘deathly gases’ from septic tank. The friend who went to save the colleague too died and then another who tried saving them both – he died too. A Captain of a ship held hostage in Somalia and families fighting unexpected battles – the families fight…only AFTER that the administration, isn’t it?

This sums up “Intezaar” from my side. As in every business, “the cheque is in the mail” – if and only if  – friends and well-wishers motivate and support…so please share and view a 100 times for sake of this ODD TEAM of investors in themselves and FEELINGS of a crucial section of society whose struggles go generally unsung.

PS: Patriotism is not an idea that can be forced into our psyche and ethos. It is not even understandable in simplicity, nor obvious where it exists. It is just there…where it needs to be and when its time does come! This is the message in the film and song “intezaar” for this Independence Day, 15th August, 2018.

Other Music:

https://www.youtube.com/yog007esh

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(with Ahsif Khan, first meeting at INDYWOOD, 2016)

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Nobody Appreciates my Music ☹

It’s the World Music Day today ! It comes suddenly. It’s not on my list of holidays, even at my home studio; nor have I ever celebrated it by going for a concert, or even listen to my favorite playlists. I get to read it in magazine section of the newspaper, where our favorite musicians world over are ruing over their trysts and struggles than celebrating their success. This is how my heart bleeds too and I feel for once, I am part of who’s who, whatsoever I may be seen as, by the world around me.

But am I qualified? This is an unasked question by music fraternity of whom, over the years alongside of my long corporate and professional engineering career, I have been faced with.

Why am I happy? Because at 60+ now, I started learning nuances of music at age 52 when I gave up a full time job to record a music album. As it stands, the album is still in making as the race between capital that goes into doing one independently and what I might use to run my life and family is endless. But sure, it has allowed me fantastic improvements, to master songwriting, composing, playing many instruments, programming music digitally, mixing and mastering it – all by myself as I carry a briefcase studio to my core jobsites! It does not guarantee keeping up with the massive technological and marketing transformations that the music industry goes through.

Ten years ago, I was recording one of my compositions in voice of the well known singer from south N. Srinavas himself an engineer by profession before he gave it up to be amongst the top playback singers, singing Bollywood hits from ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, ‘Yuvraj’, etc. He said that even sitting in office in initial stages of his career, he had made up his mind where his heart is. Story of Shankar Mahadevan and many others is similar. So in my case, this 50-50 life between my 50s and 60s was fraught with ‘ugliness’ to say the least!

Taking my daughter to A. R. Rahman’s K.M School of Music when I was living in Chennai; the lady in charge said that here we encourage our students to have an alternate profession and not give up their studies until they are sure they have made ‘the mark’; she was voicing Mr. Rahman’s belief, as one who has collaborated with genius he saw in musicians from diverse sectors, countries and genres. There it was, I came in touch with Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan through his sons and his words ring in my ears too “if we have not learnt how to live our life, we are wasting our time doing music”.

Today, that I am wiser, I think this is what musicians and singers are ruing, ‘cribbing’, mourning in their fate as musicians “does the public even understand what they are doing?” Even a successful composer like Amit Trivedi says that constantly dealing with rejection is part and parcel of being even popular and successful. With aspiring classical musicians around me in Delhi, who despite best of training have stories that can often even be grim and saddening.

I occasionally sing and record myself to Bollywood tracks, experimentally most of the times. I post them on YouTube if a particular track has some ‘special quality’ mainly for closer friends, family and seeking critique of professionals. I sang “Moh Moh ke Dhaage” recently after seeing videos of how difficult it was for composer Anu Malik to put this song together and repeated trials with singers Papon and Monali Thakur who took time to do it ‘perfect’, but have made a name with this song. I wanted to see why was it so difficult. Recording myself, with nobody directing; then mixing it on my own was very challenging even technically, as resonance-frequency conflicts tend to make tracks sound out of tune in places. But it was too much work so I kept perfection asides. But an associate classical musician calling the whole of me “besura” (tuneless) as a singer itself followed by the advice that I should give up music – was height of critique. It does of course energize me to leave no stone unturned in finishing my “Main” productions, whenever that shall be!

So all I can request is “bear with us please”, understand our specific circumstances. To make a song like Bollywood costs lakhs and lakhs of rupees to get heard and a video of cinema quality must accompany it for a now impatient world entangled in euphoria to make it worth even listening. But that cannot stop a man for whatever age and mettle – as life has the journey as its subset and my kinds enjoy the journey!

We are on the path just to that, but we work for no guarantees just like the infrastructure and power projects I have done in my life, that took more than ten years of follow-up as a business development professional and then to come for tendering; then we competed with the best in the world to see profits, or losses and yes, even many careers rolling downhill! Let’s face the RISKS of a blessed life with dignity; for people like us, who toil towards their own respective state of “perfection” and combined perfection of equally talented and dynamic teams. And yes, I was and am, a very special man….and music is just another “business” to me!

What’s Good, Is What’s Bad!

Featured Image: Courtesy NDTV – The political dilemma of ordinary people when we see these faces!

The strange headline is only a teaser. Blog is about confusion in minds of people nowadays, whether learning should come from books and teachers or our politicians and their tuition staff for history and social development. I address the subject through (A) Politics (B) Education and (C) the media, arts, music, films as in recent news. My writing is definitely not as boring as this statement, is a promise at the outset. English is incidental, though I do not know tough words.

Blog starts with what I do not like and why? How does it affect my choices? Finally what I would like to say to Mr. Modi, like “Man ki Awaaz”. Brace up for The Good, The Bad & The Ugly! How will you do it, is your take if you just trust your imagination and park it on to my roller-coaster.

In childhood we saw, read about and even followed people of grandeur, splendour and awe – legendary leaders, saints, musicians, rock-stars, artistes and even administrators, policemen, policewomen, just like now. What is alarming about now is that power is once again showing signs that ‘absolute’ power is once again attainable.

In fact, the world over, politicians and cronies can randomly strike off as many heroes from past and replace with fresh ideas – what was actually good 50 or 5000 years ago, it doesn’t matter. The reach via over excited news media fanatic over TRPs or just social media, is phenomenal and fool proof.

Politics, Society or Education, we had thought that pre 1940 ideas would have been eradicated, but as we read and see everyday, we are looking the demonic or zombie phase in-the-face; reasons perhaps why horror films and crime serials even on TV being actually loved, not to forget that TV serial writers are openly and brazenly having a fun time distorting scripts on daily whim of their producers and adverts are more than content to tell us – “Public, you are a tool and fools to lap whatever we will give; to hell with any kind of creative genius and creativity anywhere”. Why is nobody complaining? Is there an active I&B ministry, still, or is everything commercially buyable?

Suddenly, the school teachers of our 60’s and ’70s now seem bloody liars who fooled us. People born that time are at loss to judge how to believe a BJP, RSS or what have we world over, many recruits born much later, and some, who just never saw it all are the ones spreading messages – that’s where my confusion is directed. Then to even utter this, I must fear if I might be seen as a Congressman, when truly I have never known what myself – ever!

I just love good people do and open to point out negatives in black and white – an ill I have retained just the way Padman or Toilet might have been scripted – by default of times we live in (2018). Those who could not afford pads or toilets did not love what they did ever! So if Modiji, took step forward to make them affordable too to those it mattered, the signs are positive. If people still won’t and use money to marry daughters to anybody faster than before, it paint does paint him a Saint for giving a chance, right? Remember ‘Rang de Basanti’? Did it stop corruption? Nobody knows. The hero got bigger, producers made bigger budget movies to ‘educate our people’. Good or Bad?

Now, Rahul Gandhi born much after me could be right in explaining people in Singapore and round the world, what’s happening in India. Inadvertently he is matching Modiji’s schedules while telling the world what’s happening in India too. Both are saying the same thing giving way to my ticklish interpretation of what they actually mean to say – “our public is always stupid. Show them huge cut outs of leadership that looks visually good, elite, strong; coin fantabulous phrases, know how to stifle public outbursts with calm smiles and some home-bred nautanki, arrange strategic gathbandhans and they shall ‘hail’ with ‘Jai Ho!’ “.

Honestly, I have always nurtured a deep-hearted desire to join politics which should be evident in passion with which I write, I imagine. Problem is that soon as I start having faith, in a leader or party to be doing something right, we see something very stupid and old school returning and we say “oh, not again!”. Then there are reminders by ‘friends’ who were in ‘thick’ of politics – “how much money you have and who do you know?” – Money & Power equations (M&P).

I have come to realize that anyone today who follows beelines to local political honchos, always has a second question too, “okay, if I spend and I take all my time on somebody’s victory, what will I get?” A personal plus peps in, though it may not strike immediately. From ‘service’ to falling in traps of more M&P is a short road; but a politician can turn me wrong any day and “salaam” to their kind of grit, though I am not sure if a blog-writer will imbibe it soon enough.

All with political tilt are not bad; perhaps none. There are many in our country and elsewhere, who work selflessly in public transformation. We know all so many heroes through SRK’s TED TALKS, Amir Khan’s talk shows that bring tears to our eyes. I have personally seen and met some too.

Usually these people who did real-time Good, were mostly underdogs, did not live in influential big-gate colonies. It is my feeling that those less fortunate are always ready to lead or follow a good man or idea. But usually also these people were only rectifying a situation in their core trade and things just happened in succession; they had a character to just keep going!

Mostly through social media I notice people who feel they have done everything they ever wanted, are happy and satisfied with what they have They have a particular way of showing nationalism and care for the world. I notice them each day through blogs, groups of WhatsApp. I love their ‘good mornings’ and say, “just like me – he is reaching out, great!” The fallout is that writing or sending a post does not make us that “thought” and teaching anybody does not make us a better citizen.

I am always looking for people who may have enough, but are still hungry as I am today, to do the next thing the next best they did than to say “once upon a time”. We see too many of those, right? But if you are a parent to today’s youth, is it even relevant? My dream team is still far ahead in a haze, I guess, to make a political or socially out-reaching pitch.

I will use another bizarre simulation. The education sector just last week loved the inclusions and formatting of the English, Hindi, Physics and possibly other subject exam papers of ongoing CBSE board exams – they were easy but very lengthy! The student may be dumb, but can he sustain interest?

So for all those who might read my blog to the end – thank you, “you passed” and you can message those who don’t that they “flunked”!

And dear Modiji, I know neither you, nor Rahul, nor his predecessors would find any rationale in supporting a fundamental rationalist (you never have), you will all look at your relevance in the western world, outside India, than care for the Indian in the India or outside it if he fails you in election process. It’s not just me, even TV media has made a show “har shaakh pe ulloo baitha hai” on Star Plus. Creativity loved in titillation is what is bothering some of my young friends doing Indian classical music too!

But honorable PM is really bringing the public examination of BJP to a climax, we will all be part of you in 2019; just change a few remaining mind sets as I can see you are doing somewhat these days. Then count me in, to join you. I propose the same to Rahulji, Kejri bhai, with folded hands….from the latest owl ‘on the block’ who is very democratic.

Lastly about another news item today, “half of engineering seats lie vacant” in Indian colleges; every youngster firmly trusts “best, be an owl”.

Modiji, just who will do projects you announce, but never get finished? China, benefits from our every stupidity – a strategy to create only owls that would follow just beliefs of being BEST will not keep the dragon away from Brahmaputra and PoK, nor will the US come to fight our wars.

Even Shah Rukh Khan is spreading his arms for more colourful ways to learn. Beavers of my school days have new Avataar,  “do not stress the child”. Rightly so, for all I got then was dementia after too much tutoring by my “good” friends, associates, parents and elders make me smart enough to be the owl who shares my mind with you so openly and blatantly fearlessly to. No secrets here, just ask me, provide feedback thumbs up or down – say it!

Beaver or Owl – I have imbibed both in rotation – got it? Media must not make public “ordinary” our worthy leaderships, please value ‘the rationalist’, if not his vote, because to overcome China, every branch cannot have only that – Ulloo!

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Please do not forget my music on YouTube, especially Holi HuddDhangg 2018, link below..

 

The Power of Concentration

I have borrowed the title from my video and song posted yesterday on YouTube where I followed this elephant, which has been so well captured by my son on his safari at Serengati, Tanzania. What I couldn’t present was that he was brimming with newfound learning from the basic rules of humanity, creativity, life and its various manifestations – which is what animals in the jungle too can teach you. Else why would Discovery Channels and National Geographic be at all, sites and forums where the highest of investments go, be so popular; presumably at par with entertainment. The young will learn and the older ought to be wiser enough to exemplify, if “to teach” be not such a good word in times of “Lord Google”.

The elephant grows with the herd, then he learns a lot, gets wiser and wiser and then he starts moving away at a distance from the herd. His big bulky frame and the mystic ‘yogi’ (our Lord Ganesha is he too) in him makes him sway as he trudges, sometimes closer to the carnivores than rest of the herd. His big ears are flapping to catch the slightest of sound and subsonic frequencies of sound. He has experience to catch on to where the big cats, the lions, the wolf packs and angry soaring birds could charge out of nowhere. His thick skin, the experience gives him confidence, the long trunk some expression too besides the obvious power to smell trouble.

The Zebras will never leave their herd or family. They will position so that their eyes in combined formation are covering eight directions N-S-E-W-NE-NW-SE-SW or close to that.

Each one must eat, yet constantly improvise as natural resources too never stay around forever in one place. It’s a constant strife and effort for survival, yet to enjoy life, scenery and blessings of the God’s immense creativity.

Many years ago, after a fabulous career and jumping to entrepreneurship, I started my music albums, business and learning in many directions. It was to be a complete hotchpotch; only that I was learning to be that elephant perhaps. Me and my wife spent some memorable moments at the Tirumala Balaji temples in Chennai and Tirupati.

At these temples, there were goose pimple moments, like when I was staring into the same idol as the featuring image of this blog, where the Lord is reclining, relaxing with his soulmate Lakshmi massaging his feet. Suddenly a learned priest came from behind and said “that is the Lord relaxing” and he joked “that is his Misses doing what misses do” and explained that was Balaji and Mrs. Balaji. Okay wives are not supposed to do that, but to accomplish big things or when chips are down one needs to relaxed and focussed needs solitude and full concentration. Lord Vishnu gave “birth” to creator of universe, Brahma; we can accomplish our miniscule goals pethaps.

In Chennai too, exactly a decade ago I followed very closely, a unique man, who did not exemplify to me, a typical Indian in the business of Music, as I knew until then. Later he was titled “Mozart of India”, but what I was keen to know was why he sat in his solitary one man studio when we know that he used big band orchestra to create those fabulous melodies and thumping statements of national pride. In fact I spent my entire earnings till that time to live myself in solitude on 12th floor of an apartment complex and attempt the same and the results are somewhat in my YouTube posts but the better part hidden from you all because of many reasons.

People like Mr. A. R. Rahman and so many great musicians and creative genius of this country and the world are elephants and everyone will tell you, that ‘destiny’ is never written, but the path is. That’s where the “Elephant” comes in. The carnivores are those who might typically mock, scorn and advise how to hit the nail on the head, but like the advert of Ambuja Cements, people who make cement do not make the nails, meaning we need to learn to swim before we leap and like for every field, nothing comes easy. So I toil whenever there is time at hand.

But today I will reveal something about me and this path. Not Mozart of India, but decades ago, when a young executive in a US shipyard, they did name me “Kolkatta Cowboy” for the way I hoarded ammunition (titbits of knowledge) and openly expressed my views or deemed solutions that were often bizarre for the times. “Creativity” and “Innovation” are a HRM tagline, but have limited value to give you the rightful value is what I learned.

More importantly, when the good Lord wants you to be better, it is only He who will decide when our time is right and if Hinduism has given the world anything, it is the simplicity of “Om Bhoor Bhuvah Swahah” to just keep doing your best, keep those big years open, position yourself in the best way for protection, preservation; so that if the demons of adversity ever come face to face, you already have the path that you know better so as to ward off the negativities.

Yesterday, it was the Elephant who reminded me the path. Six months ago, it were these big stitches on my chest and long time in hospital and bed. where I lay down like the Lord himself in the image, to think, ponder, re-strategize and all the things that creators and leaders might have done to shape humanity, for I can only trudge the way I can and use all I have learnt.

It is also to mention what my dear friend, a great Musician and Sound Engineer from Bollywood, my age too, told me a year back “Yogesh, we are now Dinosaurs! The younger musicians are doing things….” which is saying the obvious and what I hear every now and then, but my reply to that was “but how can that be? I started learning my music and found my lyrics AFTER my dinosaur age and all my teachers, friends and well-wishers are decades younger than me…(so how can I not be what is relevant??)”. 

The sharpness to listen to, recognize and finetune a wide range of  frequencies is called “Equalizing”, the equalizer on your HiFi system. The power of concentration exemplified by music makers is largely a product of the complete knowledge of the musician, the sound designer and the production team. By default I have had to wear all those hats myself, so that college time “losty” tag could be properly understood by my mates through this blog as well. Why I cannot market to Bollywood, is because I will kill my path where new compositions, new ideas are getting born within days and hours…..if YouTube is saturated to have me heard, YouTube has to beaten by “Likes” and Views, but do I have time to coax it out of you…no, I must get better just for my love of you, isn’t it?

With this and a fews 😉 ‘s, I welcome Bollywood and who have we into my little temple of concentration for I have done my bit to learn from their own. And all those who know of better ways to do what I can’t the invite is open as well with warmth that only the amazing concentration camp of my personal belonging can give..ha ha!!!

With thanks to all my friends and relatives…..and the elephants, zebras; yes, any potential lions and wolves as well. And yes, thanks to Lord Ganesha, twice I lost or left with complete strangers, my belongings, even once my laptop with all my work and music at the Siddhi Vinayak temple in Mumbai while praying for my own success in my endeavors, but found it waiting at the security gate…so the power in the elephant Lord does exist!

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Indian Classical Music is now “World Music”?!

Technology has not only made lives easier or complex as we experience now in every area, it has given a new lease to aspiring musicians of today to understand all what we waive aside as complex Indian classical with ‘aaa aaaa wale alap-taan’ that got on nerves with some; it is even being applauded as ‘wow man’ and music of today. But we will keep the superficial applause of what ‘goes’ today (jo aajkal chalta hai), to dwell deeper into mind-sets of proponents of Indian classical music within popular culture today. There have been brilliant efforts through Bollywood and now the ‘band culture’ as well. Nevertheless, the purists are as relevant or more sought after now, than my childhood times is a ‘claim’ I am trying to bring forward here, which can be debated of course (my aunties, uncles listening?).

Last evening while attending a talk show by the legendary duo Pdt. Rajan Sajan Mishra, the moot point arising from this discussion attended by many students of music like myself was that God resides in the swara, the notes. The notes too are not the smallest fragments. The sub-notes, called shruti, which do not appear in written formats make for completion of a musical composition sung with a certain discipline, which makes music – Music! The philosophy is same in every kind of music round the world, but the ability to define what learned gurus have attempted through evolution is documented through the ages and within the Vedas and spiritual texts. This is what makes Indian Classical Music special and those who love it – ones with God always!

The whole issue is more generic and relevant for everything that has changed with modernity. Just when we begin to feel that old traditions have died out or are likely to disappear, there will be somebody, somewhere quietly wrapping tradition in fresh packaging, often leveraging technology and reading into prevailing mind-sets to have his or her own final word over standard lines of thinking.

Since this is a blog, there is a personal side to understanding this sense of modernity in music as one born by default into a family with passion for music and some grounding in Indian classical music and dance. As such, quite unknowingly I have carried a balancing act through an eventful career in shipping and international business to collect all these poppy seeds of diverse music and cultural ethos from India, past, present and futuristic; as well as from remote corners of the world during my nomadic career and times in these seemingly leisurely pursuits.

So blessed am I, that thanks to my overloaded computer which does my business commerce and technics to music and video with many accessories of course; I never dropped any of those valuable titbits of musical knowledge and endeavour as often I hear people say with that awkward halo around their heads when justifying such loss victoriously with that quip “oh, those were our days; where is the time now?!”

To be never too busy to nurture talents and passions inside of our impressionable minds is the key to feel alive and well. As we age, many look towards spirituality and God but here too my default has been to find Him or Her within the swara, even as friends and relatives, close ones at that too would often mock me for trying to be a Rock-star in my age! Gotcha now, right hey!?

But even with that belief, I dropped so much, so many times until last year when a stroke put me in bed for several months. Then it was YouTube and social media, which helped me recapture much of what had trickled out from my goody sack of passions. So there is also now a desire to share what I have learnt during this grand opportunity to actually work it all out first hand from listening to all kinds music up to actual practice and sharing my experiments in music with you all through social media.

So what’s the story of this transformation of Indian classical music to World Music as a term I see being used so often. Is this about some white or black man or lady playing sitar in Saree or Kurta? Is it about Indian Ocean or metal bands playing electronic sitar?

No – debatable, but my view is that it is not even the term “Fusion” that we have known from what Pandit Ravi Shankarji gave to the world. It is a more ready access that technology in music has given even to cusp musicians where the basic knowledge of learning classical Indian music can be adapted by anybody to a kind of music that everybody can understand and here’s the story in short.

Living in New Delhi, a public euphoria surrounding cultural circuits blanked out for what seem were decades. But actually it was all there, hidden just for me. The schools were thriving the world over and something was going on that would uphold tradition and perhaps one day enable peace and tranquillity to prevail over decaying moral values of the fast developing world. I pray!

So, here as I lay recuperating my health, an array of brilliant young Indian classical and semi-classical musicians was retrieved from strings of old recordings that were never earlier made public and new ones too, where quality of music astounds me exponentially. Seeing hundreds of thousands of “likes” beneath the YouTube and posts on other form of social media, I am noting that the discussions are increasingly by the youth and the passion seems no less than my own times. Only the mattress, pillows and white-sheet baithaks are generally replaced by Hi-Q sound at studios and concert halls. The synths and electronica added by some bands too are only adding to keep the traditions live in my view, though they may not always appeal to the connoisseur.

We all tend to listen to legends of yore or those very few who are famous. But once again I see incredible performances by first generation of classical singers, instrumental soloists, a wide range of percussionists, tabla players, specialists in sound, arrangers, event managers along with diverse sponsors and investors; the whole paraphernalia that goes Into staging great musical concerts and bringing them to reach of millions for free via social media.

Gharanas are alive with remarkable upscaling of nuances with singers like Kaushiki Chakravarty, daughter of Pandit Ajoy Chakravarty groomed under lineage of legendry Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Sons of Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, messrs Ayan and Aman, Shujat Khan son of Ustad Vilayat Khan, Pandit Ravi Shankar’s internationally famous sitarist daughter Anushka, Rakesh Chaursia wIth flute and Usad Zakir Hussain now a senior with tabla are some of the other names but there are also many from lesser known lineage.

Then there are unique displays of innovative fusion between Indian classical music and others from remote Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa and Latin America which are all hugely tasteful enough not to disturb the essence and ethos of Indian classical music forms, of of the others – this is where excellence matters!

When I look at all this, one thing seems to hold out in common though as we see sustenance and even superlative excellence of emerging artistes. That is, the essence and growing relevance of collaboration and looking openly at all forms of music to cross boundaries along with inherent talent, hard work and strenuous efforts irrespective of any lineage or fame. Everyday I am learning so much from young Ustads too!

These young artistes are not just singing and playing their music, they are also talking and explaining the nuances in live display of their entire range of deep knowledge and “feel” for the art and its evolution through history past centuries.

Ultimately it is deep passion too of legends who have taken Indian classical music to international heights and fame, as also creative genius of those known for their popular music, but surely have always used Indian classical music as base for songs and background scores for blockbuster movies. Credit Is due too, to genius of likes of Mr. A. R. Rahman, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shankar Mahadevan and Anu Malik to name a few from this era and many others of yore.

This blog was itself inspired from efforts of the dancer and musician Madam Uma Sharma who has been organizing events with Sangeet Natak Academy and organizes the now hugely attended Haridas Tansen Music and Dance festival in New Delhi held each winter. What she has achieved in enthusing youth to listen to, learn and perform Indian Classical music Is indeed commendable and very touching when she speaks about her passion. Then there have been legends like Girija Devi and Pandit Chhannulal Misra who have sustained the Thumri and more expressive forms.

Oh yes, there are many doing amazing work and against distraction of so much music competing for space nowadays. But me and you have this great opportunity to relearn where we left off and to carry the torch in our own unique ways, utilizing technology and fusion to best effect but definitely with no intent to reinvent the wheel in a form that is loud, vulgar, titillating and video-ready to excite that certain kind of production houses (though temporary profit is guaranteed in bang-bang ang posts).

Indian classical music’s purity may lie in treating every syllable and swar with utmost Godly devotion, but it has no religion to boast of through its evolution, other than people came from Persia to India to become a new India, which has gone to US and world to become “World Music” – wow, isn’t it?!!

But here comes my question. As World Music takes over, what will male artistes presently always “Ustad” or “Pandit” be called? The young geniuses may be better off giving away the ‘tags’ is a personal view to let it all flourish as destiny would have it.

It’s only the HEART that needs to be pure and love in abundance for “swara” which captures hearts to flow. To aspire, just drop ‘chalta hai’ by the way-sides as the greats of today will tell ya’ll!

I…TRY! 🙂

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‘Modicare’ is not Insurance Company: Budget 2018

Yes, this was my first concern but got cleared up very soon as I read varied reactions from sections of society pertaining to Indian Budget as revealed yesterday. Also this blog is definitely not a critical look at the budget per se or an incisive attack on its orchestrators. Over the years, we have come to realize that ‘a budget is a budget’; the real thing comes only when we are to feel its impact on our daily lives and work. The opposition will reject every clause with vehemence that we are now accustomed to and the Finance Minister will stand tall just this day after we all know that it is the PM, or the PM’s boss (yes, we have had such occasions too) to lead him on into the formulation process to what was at the apex of agenda – somewhere between next election and ‘India shining’, depending on how close it was to next general elections.

Back in mid ‘90s just after Narsimha Rao era of liberalization and privatization, as a business development head of a energy infrastructure company, I would read each and every clause because then what I wrote the next day was not a mere blog; it was my idea to leverage from any knowledge, the benefits to the organization. Those were days when we stuck newspaper cuttings on A4 paper along with our write ups and notes. Now we can just attach links to the news itself. But what happened over the years of doing that was that I now don’t have to read it all. The textual reasoning from FM’s speech is very much ingrained within my psyche. I am sure that FM’s team too has the same psyche, for Ministers may change, but the bureaucrats do not.

With those personal notes above, I applaud the ‘Modicare’ tag of 2018 budget for its health-care sops, because this aspect was never part of our Indian psyche. I remember living in America and where governments can fall if the healthcare focus is lacking, just as much as the taxation aspects. Truly, returning to India in the same mold of business development and marketing too, I remember back in 90s and even later it was just for “taxation” and focus on infrastructure projects that my post agenda reports found meaning within the organizational context of multinational companies.

Now, much older, I myself went through a very sudden heart operation recently and it is seeing the huge growth in India’s healthcare capabilities, facilities and what all insurance provides that I can see how India would potentially progress a lot faster when each and every person in whatever socio-economic status, would have access to healthcare. In fact I saw Indian healthcare at par with what I experienced in America, where people actually manipulate healthcare insurance and benefits just to take break from their stressed work life; no issues with anyone, no eyebrows raised!

Confidence instilled in any individual that my ailing mom or dad will be taken care of, my wife can have a safe delivery, my troubled mind or a tooth-ache will not take me away from my job focus exponentially adds up and certainly no pretentious nationalism, religious bents, flag color need be exercised to demonstrate patriotism if one is thankful to its government for taking care of his family.

At the same time, there is great need for governments today to tackle corruption in medical professionals, callousness of the officials right down to the ward boys who have committed horrendous crimes. After all, there has to be a way to close the huge gap between salaries and earnings of doctors and their support staff who too, are coming from modern India’s training schools and colleges as I learnt during my own hospitalization. They find highest demand amongst all nationalities overseas in middle-east and Africa; but in India they must live in crowded clusters, devoid themselves of health-centric and cleanliness environment.

In fact I take this opportunity to thank and congratulate Modiji for these two aspects of his governance, whatever opposition may shout off; the “Clean India” movement and now “health-care”.

Even if I compliment these aspects, as a follower of budgets and development while going back many years I am also reminded that free clinics for poor were always there. But then at that time minds were not corrupt and we as kids were not afraid of the doctor, who had a nice word, even lollipops to make us love him Question is “where did all that “disappear”? More importantly he came home without any airs at any time and charged according to the ‘pocket’. Was it due to any government, or society’s own fall from grace as my blogs are now generally having in common to trigger me to write.

Modiji seems still far away from having true and correct feedback on ‘implementation’ aspects. But no denying his greatness as a world leader and man whom the world over I see people talking about with respect sans awkward initiatives. Clean India has done decently, women are getting ‘padman’ focus but no reduction in crimes for rise in enforced morality, redefinition of patriotism with gung-ho release to goons within society as caretakers for Namo’s vision. This is the only grouse of rationalists; who stand on wrong side of the shooting range suddenly despite valiant attempts to rationalise India’s “shining” status.

But then Modiji is a firm reformer to a more progressive India within his own vision. One can criticize aspects of giving sops to textile mass producers but keeping the handloom and crafts producers aside is perhaps Mr. Modi’s way of justifying that traditional arts and crafts are fine but country needs to cover every man from head to toe in ‘chadar’ before buying those expensive ethnic stuff at Suraj Kund mela! Yes, isn’t that what our chic societies have made out of handicrafts. Seen price levels at Janpath and Handicraft emporiums. Who gets the profits? The madams in farmhouses, who will talk chic at their glam parties, right?

In the end, I am finding many similarities between Donald sir and Namoji. They are okay at all times, by being just “different” and learning on job, may be for varying reasons that may get us to understand the simple fact – else how would a top-class profit mongering businessman and a young boy who rises out of a tea stall learn to find their place at the apex of their country’s governance when the world is so chaotic, filled with so many challenges. The Hit and Trial process too may bring demonetization as some might argue; but I am beginning to believe that somewhere there is strong inherent vision born out of personal circumstances that each of these two great leaders of world’s biggest democracies have found their relevance.

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When Sportsmen Take to Crime

My Blogs, as I have said before take birth with the morning newspaper where I have been taking up issues of decaying morality, intolerance upturns – trends that need moderation from public at large for correction within society, as has been for the world to be preserved this far. So in my limited way, I coax you to dwell a bit into psyche of talent that gets glorified and suddenly finds the dark alleys, just to find wealth, for talent may or may not realize wealth and fame, the way it is expected to.

The society is never inherently bad or seeking highest returns by hook or by crook. In fact it is a lot better. The bitter truth is that it is above average intelligence, desire to excel, some mental steel to break barriers – all qualities that schools preach and aim to instill in youth for success, and to spur people on, without giving in to the burdens of their own assets, talents and those very qualities that put them over and above the rest.

After all, except for the fact that goons are usually depicted as big, heavy muscular and dumb make us laugh in certain variety of cinema, comic books and even the ‘don’ depiction of criminal leaders; the ‘dumb’ aspect, I think may be only limited to their inability to tread the ‘right path’ when at crossroads of their lives and careers.

Typically, sportsmen, talented actors, musicians, comics, even spiritual leaders and big-time politicians have found themselves at crossroads when the world seems to take too much away out of their hard work, standard beliefs for personal or family uplift.

So, today’s paper has this headline “Ex-sportsmen excel at crime”. Truly, in recent months, just in and around New Delhi, we are reading about police capturing dreaded gangsters who are found to be ex-sportsmen – anybody from dangal groomed bright young wrestlers to sharp-shooters, cricketers and even aspiring film-makers or actors!

Okay, so me and you would have faced that silent jeering that is never in-the-face in our seemingly learned society, but that ‘back-stabbing’ aspect due to which some of our peers would leave for USA at one time; this typical Indian phenomena of ‘pulling you down’ if you rise within your circles at young age. But is this phenomena only Indian? I think, in its many variations it is global; else why would self-development books and cinema always emphasize that jeering from public is your asset, just like your own desires, hard work and zeal to excel.

So, this is a natural outcome of ingraining excellence in us could be reminiscent of our own travails in youth where there will always be a time when we feel down and out and lost out to the world for all our knowledge, talents and the damned CV, which nobody actually understands after some point, where we seem to have run across the finishing line, with nobody cheering. What then?

But all this aspect of ‘people’ saying things behind the back could be just one of the reasons; the simple fact that sportsmen and talent of any kind have rarely ever been supported by society and government officials forever twist constitutional and humanistic agenda is key to frustrating youth.

Yes, sportsmen are adulated from the time they win their first medal in school, then college. There are admirers and even your whole family is smiling, egging you on to go reach those glorious heights. You are apple of the eye of your parents and few best friends might just be beginning to feel uncomfortable at those little victories, while there will be those who truly care and stand by you, just the way we see in the movie on cricketer par excellence, Mr. M. S. Dhoni.

I do revere stories, biopics and movies that demonstrate the power of resilience, oneness, the path from talent, hard work, desire to excel and reaching the pinnacle of success in some legend’s personal triumphs against a jeering world. Yet, even at that height there will be those ready to say, “man, you have had your best days and now you are done!” You can actually see the scorn on that perpetrator’s face, isn’t it? You identify with that and imagine your own scowler(s),  as the celluloid phases through its colorful frames.

For imagination, let’s say that this gangster who is caught, jailed and is now, out of jail. What might he want to see? Will it be his fellow gangsters to plot the next heist or murder for money or would it be his parents, his wife, his loved ones and who will enforce a grand change?

I somehow tend to think that he would like to see those who jeered and those whom he could only answer the way that he did then, when he was sentenced to jail. I think those would be the only people whom he thought of at times he was in the jail too. Won’t you tend to believe that if he sees society unchanged, he will not bathe in a bucketful of cow milk, nor will his disgust enthuse re-creation of old talents? What triggered us to change for better or for worse, once upon a time – can they be easily forgotten?

I think that the time of reconciliation lies in people other than those who are convicted for diminishing from their own inherent excellence to become criminals or in extreme cases, mental wrecks, to change themselves. And that ‘people’ is society at large.

Remember that scene in “Mary Kom”, the movie on India’s great female boxer from ‘north-east’ where the government official jeers obnoxiously, or that bureaucrat in “Chak de India” who condemns girls for playing international hockey; for the coach, played by SRK to spur them to glory of winning the world cup (this was not a biopic though).

But why are we making these movies and why are writers once again writing about what went past and is gone. I think it is for the same reason that many are wanting to change history text books and Indian literature because they feel that their heroes somehow became lesser – the equal and opposite reaction that stabilizes society!! Yes, the case of ‘Padmavat(i)’ is typical of what some people see in a movie and what my kinds just may not! As one award winning film-maker from Kolkatta said last night at an event “people tend to get divided when we adapt stories (like above) and getting offended has become a national pastime”.

So, to end this blog, I take continuity from my previous blog on “intolerance upturn”. Intolerance cannot be countered by intolerance and if you who read this is on path to excellence and are at crossroads, tolerate that jeering ass****, take those dips and go on with renewed vigor to where your folks were smiling with you, than to bring sadness to those who mattered most.

More glory to bloggers and TED Talks please (LOL?!!).

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