Pardes: America is very bad for the Indian soul!

This is my contribution to Roti Kapada aur Rum’s  international call to all Indian film bloggers to submit something for Shameful Classics celebration in July, 2011.  After I saw Pardes (1997) last year I was very enthused about it, yet nearly every NRI I spoke to, emailed, or tweeted about it said how much they disliked the film.  I adored  Pardesmaybe because as a gori I’m free of the cultural shame some NRIs have over Bollywood films, so when Shameful Classics month came up, I figured it’s time to do a post on this insane film, after all I loved the film so much I practically screen capped it all!  In fact, if you scroll quickly over this post it will look like a flip book of the movie, THAT’S how many screen caps there are.  So I suppose at minimum I should be ashamed of adding to internet pollution. One of best parts of doing this blog is being able to rave about a movie that most of you saw years back that I’m just discovering now.  As I said, I LOVED this movie, but then again I tend to love all Subash Ghai films for their kitsch value and dramatic plot twists. Glancing over Ghai’s filmography, I’ve seen and enjoyed all of these, Vishwanath (1978);  Karz (1980);  Krodhi (1981);  Meri Jung (1985);  Ram Lakhan (1989);  Khalnayak (1993);  Trimurti (1995) (producer);  Taal (1999);  Aitraaz (2004) (producer);  Kisna: The Warrior Poet (2005);  Iqbal (2005) (producer);  Black & White (2008); and with time I’ve even remembered Yuvvraaj (2008) as resonating as a fun film, especially when Katrina’s character says something like , “You’re 100% complete anti-family hai!” to Salman’s character.  Remember that?! I LOVED that!  So is it possible that Ghai’s my favorite Bollywood director?  Should I be ashamed? Let’s continue on with Pardes!

Pardes, meaning “foreign land”, is a story that revolves around Ganga (Mahima Chaudhary). She is an Indian girl living in a rural village, brought up by her conservative family. Kishorilal (Amrish Puri) is a wealthy and successful businessman who lives in Los Angeles, America but is still deeply attached to his motherland India and adores the values and culture of India. On a visit to India, he meets his old friend Suraj Dev (Alok Nath) and stays at his house. During his stay he gets to know Suraj Dev’s family and becomes very attached to Ganga, Dev’s eldest daughter, who is the epitome of Indian culture. He hopes to find an Indian girl for his westernized, American son, Rajiv (Apoorva Agnihotri) and feels that Ganga is just right. He offers a marriage proposal between Ganga and Rajiv; Dev’s family accepts. Kishorilal knows he will have a tough time trying to convince Rajiv, who has never even visited India. But Kishorilal has a plan. He sends his foster son, Arjun (Shahrukh Khan) (‘Little Master’), to play cupid and convince Rajiv to visit India and meet and approve of Ganga. Arjun arrives at Dev’s house and makes changes and arrangements to make the place suitable for Rajiv. Rajiv joins him in a few days and initially does not like the idea. Arjun spends many days trying to get Ganga and Rajiv to like each other and, in the process, becomes a close friend of Ganga. Eventually Rajiv and Ganga agree to the wedding….(source)

Pardes (1997) is one of those America is bad for the India soul films, but unlike the more recently released MNIK, Pardes simple “America’s evil culture is bad, and India and its people are good,” theme didn’t bother me at all.  Perhaps this is because America was played a lot of the time by Canada, (Vancouver) in Pardes, and the places where innocent beautiful bride Ganga ( Mahima Chaudhry) does show up in the USA are really not so chaste, such as Las Vegas, aka sin city.

 

So let’s begin the tale of Pardes in India, where everything is good, see:

Those are the words of Amrish Puri’s character, Kishorilal, the typical NRI rich industrialist living in Ameerika who travels back to Hindustan to keep in touch with his roots and meet with childhood friends, like Alok Nath’s Suraj Dev.  After some typically spectacular Indian hospitality, Kishorilal thinks, “I Love My India” and figures why not marry his fancy American-raised son to a pure woman of India, Suraj’s beti, Ganga!.  Wouldn’t you do the same given the opportunity?

He  returns to India to pitch this idea to his fancy son, Ragiv (Apurva Agnihoti), who is of course amoral having been raised in the USA. But how to soften this blow to Ragiv?  How can a lad raised in the pure and constant luxury of America understand and accept India, a developing country?

How to solve this dilemma?  Well as it turns out, Kishorlal has a quasi son, a pure hearted orphan named Arjun, played by  Shahrukh Khan

who’s grown to be both an accomplished auto mechanic, who runs a fancy garage, where he dances with his boyz in their off time

 and also manages to be an Asian Music Chart topper!

 

See how humble Arjun is when being interviewed on a big radio show, even though he’s a chart topper? He’s from India, he’s a good man.

So Arjun escorts Rajiv over to India as his cultural attaché, which comes in handy when some village guy thinks he’s got a claim on bride-to-be Ganga and they decide to play a game of kabaddi to settle the score.

 

NRI Rajiv, is like Kabaddi? So this is where Arjun’s cultural attaché-ness comes in handy, he not only shows him how a mean game of kabaddi is played,

but he shows how to play kabaddi to win the girl!

I think I forgot the part where Ganga sees Arjun when he first arrives in India and thinks he’s cute before she ever sees Rajiv, so there’s that.  Just keep that in the back of your mind for now for dramatic foreshadowing purposes only…  Back to America, and Ganga is a bit shy upon arrival to this foreign land, for it’s so different from her beautiful India, but she’s not too shy to perform      I Love My India in front of the masses at a function. Kishorilal begins to plan for the wedding and it’s clear that he’s been contaminated by his time in America, revealing his superficial materialism, which does not exist in India, right?Ganga is comforted by orphan to foster savior son, Arjun, who is there in Canada America to soften the blow of culture shock. Rajiv is always busy with work and then while looking around the home, abandoned Ganga sees trashy gori and kali girl photos plastered on the walls, as well as dirty magazines and is rightfully concerned.   What does it all mean? Rajiv’s evil cousin helps to explain the morally bankrupt ways of America to innocent Ganga.

Rajiv, Arjun, and Ganga go out to a party on a fancy yacht in the port of Los Angeles Vancouver one afternoon and there’s a scuffle, and while Rajiv is focusing on his own richi-rich status…he doesn’t even notice when some guys leer and grope on Ganga, but watchful Arjun does, and defends her honor.One night the same three all go to a disco, something new to Ganga. She’s shocked to see Rajiv is smoking, but Arjun to the rescue, explains away any concerns about this to Ganga:

No worries, right?  It’s only a bit of smoking, right?  They go one to play some game at the disco called Prince & Princess Made in Heaven Contest which in all my time spent in American discos, I’ve never seen.Their compatibility is revealed in this game and they win!  See how happy they are together?

See the cute statue they win in the leucite box? Alas, their happiness is fleeting because in the background Rajiv is getting drunk.

But remember, Ganga is engaged to Ragiv, not Arjun, the man who’s maintained his pure Indian soul despite his long-term exposure to American culture.  Rajiv having spent all his life in the USA is not so fortunate to have learned good Indian morals, and he gets drunk and Arjun helps remove him from a brawl.

So these warning signs are adding up: the smoking, the drinking, the bar fight, the fight on the yacht, the dirty magazines, and an ex-girlfriend with a gori name. Rajiv even abruptly tells Ganga one evening he’s going out with his girlfriend, which is sort of a red flag, hai na?  Ganga is feeling reluctant about her upcoming marriage to Rajiv and seeks comfort in her friendship with Arjun.  On Arjun’s birthday she brings him a cake and some balloons and hangs out with him at the garage with the boys while Rajiv is probably out somewhere with this Kelly.Ganga even brings their “Match Made in Heaven” statue to the party and Arjun’s wise friend is bit suspicious, remember, Ganga is Rajiv’s match, not Arjun’s match.

It’s Arjun’s wise friend (Pavan Malhotra), peering around some Bollywood balloons, who sees the love he has in his eyes for Ganga. Can you see it too?

Rajiv becomes a bit jealous of the friendship between Arjun and Ganga, tells his dad Kishorilal, who in an effort to keep Arjun away from Ganga,  transfers him to another office very far from where they live now, which I tought was Vancouver posing as Los Angeles, but maybe it was really being Vancouver all along since he was sending Arjun away to Los Angeles, confusing.

In the meantime, Rajiv takes Ganga on a little trip to Las Vegas, corruption capital of America! There were plenty of gori extras,

and for the first time in a Hindi film I saw kali extras too:

Up in the hotel, Rajiv wants to share a penthouse room with his Indian fiance, and “take things to the next level.” Ganga is pure, Ganga is not having that!

What’s so spectacular about this near rape hotel scene is that Rajiv insults Ganga, but it’s not until he makes disparaging remarks against India that she snaps!  After the insults to India, the fight is on and she beats him up. I believe he does get one tight slap to the face in, but once Ganga is fired up, her rage for defending her mother India is unstoppable!  She escapes after knocking him out, and as luck would have it, some of Arjun’s home boys catch wind of Ganga’s location at a truck stop near Las Vegas. Please note the brick phone, I didn’t take this screen cap for nothing!

Kishorilal and Rajiv put the rush on the wedding plans and  plan to catch up with Ganga, who has now returned to her mother India with the help of Arjun, who rescued her from her peril in Las Vegas.  Obviously Kishorilal goes nuts and demands to know how she disappeared from the Vegas hotel, and Rajiv, doesn’t say, “well, I tried to rape her and she knocked me out,” but instead lies:

 

If you’ve read this blog before, you may know that I have a small hobby with spotting Johnnie Walker bottles in Indian films, and this shot is the limit!  Look at the slutty poster on the wall and FIVE bottles of Johnnie Walker, black label,  (not to mention the implied bottles that lurk between him and that poster) to match Rajiv’s black American heart!

Now safely back in India, Ganga’s reputation is ruined, because the NRI Americans have said she ran off with Arjun because they were in love, neglecting to tell the truth about Rajiv’s immoral and criminal behavior.  To be fair, Kishorilal has been lied to by his son Rajiv, so how is he to know that his orphan to foster son is really an innocent savior as pure as the Ganga, and Ganga herself? I love my India! Ganga’s mother is mortified at the disgrace that’s happened since her daughter returned unmarried, which really messes up the family izzat. Ganga’s dad, Suraj Dev believes the stories from America that Ganga has run off with Arjun.

Poor Ganga wants to protect her father from the truth about what happened in the US, considering that Kishorilal is his BFF and in leaving out a few key details (attempted rape) she and Arjun become the focus of Suraj Dev’s rage, for after all, a returned bride-to-be is a dirty thing in India.Wow Dad, so harsh! But you know who WON’T let his chaste Ganga be defiled with cruel lies or be hit by her own father!? Arjun! And here things get HOT! SRK goes full-blown crazy, cutting himself with a gigantic saber by pulling it by the blade from Suraj Dev’s furious hands!

I love it when SRK does crazy, it’s one of his strengths as an actor, that over the top  deliscious D R A M A, and Pardes delivers with his self mutilating with a large sword, to clearly make his point to Ganga’s dad. No one will hit or talk trash about Ganga!To escape further harm to Ganga’s already mistakenly tarnished reputation, Arjun runs off to what is supposed to be the bus station, but what is Fatehpur Sikri.  Remember, he was originally an orphan, so he believes that a return to orphanhood is perhaps his fate.  I loved how these scenes shot in historic Fatehpur Sikri were made to look like a bustling bus stand where SRK keeps toting around his backpack in various attempts to storm off in dignity. I had the good fortune to travel to Fatepur Sikri near Agra, India almost 2 years ago, and it looked more like THIS.  I’ve added a few of my own travel photos of this historic site here so you can see I was right near where Arjun was! Dekh! My Fatehpur Sikri:

Arjun’s Fatehpur Sikri:

Arjun’s Fatehpur Sikri may have some sufi action:

 But MY Fatehpur Sikri in the same location has some kingfisher action:

While Arjun runs off, Ganga has been locked away in the house, only to be released by her grandmother who urges her to go after Arjun!

Ganga catches up with Arjun before he gets on the bus at Fatehpur Sikri, but to preserve what he thinks is family honor, he feigns disinterest.  Ganga declares her love for Arjun, he holds back.

Grandma catches up to the scene and encourages Ganga and disburses wisdom.

That’s right girl!

Arjun and Ganga seem to work things out,

 

but guess who has arrived on the scene? Rajiv and some of his goonda friends wielding field hockey sticks, and Kishorilal!

Sorry Ganga, they have returned for you.  Let’s take a break for another view of My  Fatehpur Sikri, right about where all the action is taking place in Pardes:

And Action!

Rajiv finally gets his comeuppance!

Then Ganga finally reveals the wounds she suffered at Rajiv’s hands to Kishorilal and her own family.  Reputation cleared, izaat intact, for Ganga, for her family, for all of India!At last the wise orphan addresses his foster father and tell him what America has done to Kishorilal’s soul:What Kishorilal forgot in America is what he learned in his Bharat MataDoes Arjun get the girl? Is Kishorlal about to slap him or give him a pat of approval? If you don’t know see the film to find out.

It’s unfortunate that Kishorilal and Rajiv weren’t able to read and follow this sign that I found posted in the local mandir, The Hindu Temple of Minnesota. This would have helped them avoid all of the problems they had in America all together,

but then it’s a good thing they didn’t, so great film like Pardes could be made! Please share your thoughts of the film with me.

Johnnie Walker bottles in Bollywood

Yaar, I had to call you and tell you the news…I’d like to send out the old year and welcome in the new year with a toast to all you readers with a peg of Johnnie Walker.

I always notice Johnnie Walker whiskey bottles in Bollywood films. Perhaps I have a very specific obsessive compulsive disorder that deals exclusively with finding Johnny Walker bottles in the films. I have photos of Johnnie Walker bottles sprinkled throughout this blog, but I thought I’d follow the lead of Shweta at Apni East India Company, who keeps a chronicle of Bollywood chandeliers and create a separate page for all the Johnny Walker.  So please click over to the new Johnnie Walker in Bollywood page and send me your photos to add.

 Have ek aur peg of Johnnie Walker now for our toast! I raise my glass to you, wishng you all the best in the new year!

That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010) and how I met Anurag Kashyap in Minneapolis!

Back on November 3, 2010, I had the pleasure of watching Anurag Kashyap’s new film written with, and starring Kalki Koechlin at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Asian Film Festival.

That Girl in Yellow Boots is an upcoming Indian Thriller film by critically acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap. Starring Kalki Koechlin and Naseeruddin Shah, the film will premiere at the Venice Film Festival. It will also be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Ruth (Kalki Koechlin) comes to Mumbai to find her long-lost father, but when she takes a job as a massage therapist to make ends meet she becomes involved in the seedier side of the city. Although the money is welcome, and she does enjoy the adventure that comes with her new job, she soon faces an important moral decision. (source)

That Girl in Yellow Boots was the opening film in the festival, and as an added bonus, the director attended the film and answered questions before and after the screening. I had no idea this festival was going on and thanks to a tweet from Nicki, the Hmong Chick Who Loves Indian Cinema, I was able to learn about the event just 2  hours before it happened!  I’ve seen Kashyap’s  Black Friday (2004) and Dev. D (2009) and was already a big fan of his work, so I was delighted for the opportunity to see his new film. What was even more exciting was that Kashyap appeared at the event!

That Girl in Yellow Boots also was shown in September of 2010 as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, which you can read about here in a review by Marissa Bronfman

Look how fancy THAT event was! And get a load of Kalki’s gorgeous saree.   Kashyap’s outfits at the different events indicates The Minneapolis/St. Paul Film festival was quite a bit less formal that the Toronto festival.

Q & A before and after screening of That Girl in Yellow Boots

During the pre and post question and answer sessions, Kashyap graciously answered questions about his new film as well as previous works.  He spoke about the censor board in India and the difficulties to passing films through that process.  He also spoke about some missing (lost or destroyed, I can’t recall) footage from Black Friday (2004), and how it was merely pieced together with much of  its full/original content gone.  Having enjoyed Black Friday very much, I can’t imagine how more footage would have improved on an already great film.  A lot of the comments were basically, “Your films are so dark” and at one point Kashyap responded in good humor, something like, “With 800  happy films made in India in a year, it’s OK if 200 can not be happy.”  I bet there’s some recording of these before and after film comments by Kashyap and if I come across it, I’ll link it in.  I can only rely on my memory of the event, and I was so thrilled to be there that a lot of what I heard  has receded in to a vague happy memory.  I should have jotted down some notes or written this down right after it happened, but alas I did not.   There is a very nice interview with Kashyap done by MTN, and while the interviewer does not seem to understand quite how big of a deal Kashyap is, and doesn’t ever manage to say his name correctly, she makes up for this with her earnest curiosity, so I forgive her. :)  If you watch the interview, which I recommended, note how polite Kashyap is with his interviewer too, meeting her at her level of understanding and moving her along quickly to learn a lot in a short time.

The full interview with Kashyap on MTN can be found HERE.  There’s also  a very nice review of the film, by local writer, Will Wright, HERE.

Upon completing the question and answer session after the film, several audience members stopped Shree Kashyap for photos, autographs, and conversation while he was exiting the theater.  I caught him and said something like, “Do you want to know my FAVORITE scene from  Dev. D ?” I didn’t give him a chance to say no, and told him it was the scene when Mahi Gill’s Paro is dancing, knowing the Dev (Abhay Deol)  is finally on his way back home to the Punjab from London, but not back yet, and suddenly she glances up and sees him photographing her.

And then she meets him privately in the house, and he puts his arm up against the wall, to make sure she stays:

The scene described can be found here starting at 2:20:

That is one of my favorite movie sequences EVER for it completely captures the passionate anticipation the characters have for each other.  Though I told Kashyap how  much I loved that scene,  I’m not sure if he heard what I exactly said, since I said it so quickly and he was trying to attend to his other fans, but I loved having the opportunity to tell him that in person.

The After Party

If that wasn’t good enough, here’s the even better part: I actually got to sit and chat with Mr. Kashyap after the film! There was a gathering after the film viewing at a nearby bar,  Honey.  Now I know Honey sponsored the event, and they serve Asian fusion food, and this was an Asian film festival, BUT just across the street, within a stone’s throw of the Ganga Mississippi River,  is Nye’s Polonaise Room, voted best bar in America, which would have been my choice.

Nye’s has a lot more filmi charm and the character that a director of Kashyap’s reputation deserves, but I digress. Along with some of the audience, I made my way over to Honey and watched Anurag Kashyap speak with viewers.  I had a wonderful time talking about films with some NRIs and after about an hour we worked up our courage to approach that table where the director was sitting and eventually we sat down and talked to him.  As time passed I was able to sit right next to him and tell him another favorite scene I had from Dev. D. It’s the one where Kalki Koechlin’s character is asked to decide on a name to use in the brothel by Chunni (Dibyendu Bhattacharya)

and while watching Madhuri Dixit’s Chandramuki in Devdas (2002) on TV, she replies:

I also love the steaming momos sequence in Dev. D. but forgot to tell him that.

I asked Kashyap if he liked how Emosanal Attaychar was worked into  the background soundtrack of Peepli Live (2010). He asked what I thought of the new film. I told him it was fabulous.  Though the subject was dark, the humor and suspense worked in throughout relieved the intensity at just the right times.  I especially loved the scene where the goonda breaks into Ruth’s home and stubbornly struggles to work the various remote controls for her entertainment system.  I overheard one of the Tamilian NRI‘s at the table talk to Kashyap about Rajinikanth.  These Madrasis can’t help but talk about their superstar, I understand.  While Kashyap did not mention that he’d be working with Rajinikanth, he did say he was working on a film with Prithviraj and Rani Mukeji, if I heard correctly.  I’m not sure if he meant on the same film, if he was currently working on this project, or if they were separate projects not yet started.  My internet research does confirm the Prithviraj project.   Another thing discussed were the film’s yellow boots. Kashyap said in the store it was a choice between yellow or red Doc  Martens, and the yellow boots won.  I told him I thought the work boots were to represent that Ruth was there in Mumbai to do the heavy labor of finding out the mystery of her past;  she was there to take care of some dirty business, thus the work boots.  He said, no, but that this is the beauty of film, one can think what they’d like, make a variety of their own interpretations regardless of the director’s intentions.  I also told him that his films are in our Minneapolis library system, and he seemed to like that.  I did exercise great restraint by NOT saying some of these things I was thinking:  “Where’s Kalki?  I wanted to see Kalki too! How much does Nasruddin Shah charge  to be in a film? What about Abhay Deol?! He’s SO cute, what’s he like?!” I did though try to touch Mr. Kashyap’s feet for fun, something I like to do to Indians because I love when they say, “no, no, no,”   just like in the movies and it’s how I indulge my fantasies of being a gori extra in film.

He did the usual, when I tried to touch his feet and Anuragji said, “No, you must not do this.”  Kashyap left the table to go out to smoke and left his iPad, and I thought if I were the stealing type, a goonda, a dacoit, that would be a great iPad to steal, maybe get a few movie ideas out of it to sell.  While I did not steal his iPad, I confess, I stole on sip of whiskey from his unattended glass, only just a small part of the peg.  I felt fancy and daring doing this, and I’m almost positive that it was Johnnie Walker, and I would presume it was black label, hai na?  Wouldn’t you have done the same given the opportunity?

I was delighted to have the opportunity to see Kashyap’s new film and get a chance to share a few  moments chatting with him.  Read more about The Girl in Yellow Boots HERE, and in Katherine Matthew’s insightful Bollyspice review HERE, and be sure to see it when it’s released next year.

Awaargi (1990)

Awaargi (1990) is a little tale about a prostitute with a heart of gold who is rescued from the brothel while she’s still chaste, by a goonda who also possesses  a heart of gold under his rough exterior.   This picture rolled at the film’s start and aren’t we all grateful to Hema for something?  Allow a moment to reflect…

The lead Meena (Meenakshi Shishandri) never actually becomes a full-fledged prostitute, but I like to write prostitute with a heart of gold, so let’s just leave it like that, instead of the more clumsy nearly became a prostitute with a heart of gold.  That sounds too awkward, doesn’t it?  Here’s a nice little collection of screen captures of Meenakshi/Meena as a nautch girl before the lovable scoundrel Azaad,  played by a well-mulletted Anil Kapoor, saves her from that fate.

I just loved Meenakshi and can’t believe I hadn’t seen her in more films.  I now would love to see her entire filmography and was able to find a mutual love for her at Nicki’s Hmong Chick Who Loves Indian Cinema’s blog and also at Bollywooddeewana.  Meena’s innocent past included singing at the mandir and studying music under the guidance of her music teacher father.  After a near miss at a prostitution career, Meena is catapulted toward super stardom and is half of the singing and dancing duo.  How does that happen you may wonder?  Well as it so happens, pop star Dhiren  (Govinda!) sees Meena performing in a hotel lounge singing gig that Azaad secured for her and is immediately enthralled by her.  Govinda is very luscious in this film.  How would YOU like to be the focus of Govinda’s gaze here?

Doesn’t that make your heart skip a beat? He invites her to become his song and dance partner and to go on tour with him.  She’s so nervous!  But look how he helps encourage her to go!I didn’t realize that Bollywood invented flamenco dancing until I saw this film and the song Ae Mere Saathiya featuring playback singers Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Aziz, with music by Anu Malik, and lyrics by Anand Bakshi.  This is proof:

This wonderful flamenco inspired number includes an impressive backdrop of chandeliers that Apni East India would covet.  It’s so hard to capture the fluid and graceful Govinda in the dance, but despite the blurred focus, these are still something to behold. Govinda and chandelier:

Meena stays with Azaad, and he begins to fall in love with her and dream of a life away from the one he’s lived as a goonda.

Ever since Azaad  has lost his drive for the goonda lifestyle,  his don, played by Anupam Kher, notices this change and tries to encourage Azaad to not lose his focus on crime.

And if this isn’t enough trouble for Azaad, now Meena realizes that she’s falling in love with Dhiren, and the Bollywood love triangle begins!Meena is aware that Azaad is the one who saved her from the fate of being a nautch girl/prostitute, so she is indebted to him and thus rejects Dhiren’s love to fulfill her perceived obligation to Azaad.   Eventually she lets Azaad know her feelings are conflicted.


Azaad finds out about the feelings Meena and Dhiren have for each other and to stop their love from blooming rushes ahead with a marriage proposal.  Dhiren falls into a sea of despair, thinking he’s lost his chance with  Meena.  Normally I see Govinda as a jolly good time guy, dancing and prancing about, but  behold the deliciously rare emo-Govinda!

At a party to announce his engagement to Meena, Azaad becomes drunk and decides to deal with his jealousy over Dhiren and Meena’s love by telling everyone that he bought Meena from a brothel.  Now that  somehow did not help smooth things over.

Dhiren is at the party, and witnesses Azaad humiliate Meena and can’t understand how she could agreed to marry Azaad.

So *spoiler alert* Dhiren goes to comfort Meena after her public humiliation and ends up (as we say in the USA) going all the way with her during the time that Azaad is sleeping off his drunkness.  When Azaad wakes up, his friends tell him about what an idiot he was at the party and he goes to look for Meena to apologize.  Remember, Azaad is a goonda, savvy to the ways of the world, so when he sees a clue like this…

Now you are most likely not a goonda, and perhaps a bit more naive than Azaad, so I’ll help you out with a clue.  Look beyond that bottle of Johnnie Walker on the table, and take a closer look at what Azaad sees…

That’s right! Lipstick on the glass, a glass that is emptied of its Johnnie Walker red liable whiskey! Which can only mean *spoiler alert* that Meena and Dhiren went all the way! Meena tells a Azaad something like, yeah I slept with Dhiren, and!  Then of course the fight begins over her love and a love triangle Bollywood brawl begins.

How does it end?  I’ll let you guess!  The entire movie has been uploaded to YouTube with English subtitles HERE so if you need to know who ends up with who, give it a watch.  Have you already seen this film?  If so, tell me what you remember.  Now before I leave, I have to share with you that Awaargi had so many instances of Johnnie Walker bottles, that felt obliged to make a visual record of it.  Some bottles are red label, others are black label, but they all show up in scenes here that warn of trouble brewing. Let this be a lesson to you: When you see a Johnnie Walker bottle in a Bollywood film, trouble is not far behind.

Now just LOOK and how lucky this shot is!  It includes BOTH the Johnny Walker bottle and a threat of the tight slap in the same shot!  These of course are two of the things I track in all Bollywood films, so for this reason, I say Awaargi is a classic, because I really don’t take a Bollywood film seriously until I see a tight slap, or at least the threat of one, and a bottle of Johnnie Walker.

Dayavan (1988) The Khanna-o-Rama that is Vinod

In honor of Beth Loves Bollywood’s international Khanna Family initiative to celebrate all film industry Khannas, Khanna-o-Rama, I would like to contribute a little write-up on Dayavan (1988).

 

It starts out with poor little orphan, Shakti Vellu, aka Dayavan (kid version of Vinod Khanna) ending up witnessing his dad being unjustly murdered by some corrupt police.  He has to flee his southern home and hide in Bombay for safety only to run into some punks on the seaside who try to beat and rob him.  During this fight, Dayavan runs into a little ruffian, Shanker (kid version of Feroz Khan), who is impressed by Dayavan’s fighting skills,  flair, generosity, piety, all that good stuff , which to me are the personality traits I want to believe the Khanna’s  (Rahul, Akshaye, and Vinod) posses in real life, don’t you?  OK, real life, whatever, back to the movie.  Dayavan sets Shankar straight about his true inner badass nature, for within the composed orphan, lies a heart capable of murderous rage with he witnesses injustice!

I am too lazy to get into retelling you the plot of the film, so here’s a synopsis to suffice and then I’ll skip to the parts I liked best.

After having witnessed his dad being killed by the local South Indian police, and being orphaned and homeless, Shakti Velhu develops a hate, and distrust of the police in India. He is befriended by another homeless boy named Shanker, who asks him to accompany him a slum in Bombay, where they live with a kind-hearted Muslim named Karim Baba, and his daughter, Shama. This is where Shakti and Shankar spend their childhood. When they mature, they take to petty crime. Here too, Shakti witnesses police brutality and atrocities, especially at the hands of sadistic, alcoholic, and womanizing Police Inspector Ratan Singh. When Karim Baba is arrested, jailed, and found hanging by his neck in police custody, Shakti hunts down Ratan Singh, and kills him in broad daylight in front of the several hundred people. An investigation is launched, but no one comes forward as a witness. Thus Shakti gets his reputation as a Don with a good heart viz. Dayavan. Shakti marries local prostitute, Neelu, and has two children, Suraj and Sarita. He becomes even more powerful and influential all over Bombay, and his working partners are powerful criminal dons who have ruled over Bombay for eons. Shakti eventually replaces these dons, and becomes Bombay’s only Don. This creates enemies for him and his family, but he believes since he has not really done any harm to anyone, he and his family will be safe. It is this belief that will take a heavy toll on his life and that of his family, when the truth dawns that he, himself, is responsible for being kind to a man, who will ultimately bring forward ruin to the Velhu family. (source)

Fast forward from their childhood to adulthood still in the slums, think Slumdog Millionaire, except in this case the two guys stick together and have a life long bromance.  Check out one of their bromantic escapades here:

There’s the supreme policeman villain there to push Dayavan’s buttons, talk about a corrupt dude!  Inspector Ratan Singh (Amrish Puri!)  harasses the slum dwellers, especially a spicy widow played by Aruna Irani.

As a spinster, I’ve managed quite well for very long without a husband, Amrish-ji, I mean Inspector Ratan Singh.  When the evil cop is not harassing widow Aruna, he  lies about with the courtesans of the slums drinking hooch.

Enter Khanna hero, Vinod, who witnesses the harassment of the widow and breaks into a justice fueled fury, and executes a beat down on the inspector.

Haughtiness intact!  Yet another trait I image the Khanna’s have in real life: intact haughtiness under adverse circumstances.  Then after the severe police brutality takes its toll on Dayavan’s body, enter Shankar, to comfort him. Take in the splendor of the bromance:

How do you cheer up your buddy after an assault from a crooked cop?  A night out at the local brothel of course!

The tune I liked most from the film was Kahe Saiyan Teri Meri Baat with playback singers Ahsa Bhosle and Kavita Krishnamurthy (music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal, lyrics Aziz Qaisi). I couldn’t find the video separate from the film, so to see it go to 2:30 in the clip below to see the greatness.

Shankar teases Dayavan about his lack of experience with women and arranges for him to have an overnight stay in a room at the brothel, if you know what I mean.  Dayavan uses the room to sleep off his night of drinking and is awakened, as is so commonly the case, by the innocent prostitute, who is quietly, yet intensely studying for her exams.  He gives her money to continue her studies, and leaves her untouched.  Now doesn’t this remind you of the class and flair of what you’d imagine the Khanna’s to be like in real life?   Anyway, I suppose I mentioned just then that Madhuri Dixit was in the film  and I found it a waste of her talent  since she really didn’t dance too much and her role was too brief.  Kya waste hai! Here’s a taste of her dancing in a Holi number.

I don’t like seeing other people kissing, since it’s so private, so Hindi movies are perfect for me.  Dayavan has a famous kissing scene between Madhuri and Vinood,  in fact if you google videos for the film, the kissing scene is most prominent and you can see it here if you’re inclined.  If you watch it please make note of how unconvincing Madhuri’s hands are in the scene, which reveals to me she was not comfortable filming it. I mean wouldn’t most women have more gusto in their grasp if sharing a moment with Vinod Khanna?

Let’s end with a few more memorable screen captures & subtitles from Dayavan:

Double point for me here, since the screen cap includes a subtitle with dacoity (which is even better than dacoitery in my book) and a lone bottle of Johnnie Walker black label, which is obviously better than red label, isn’t it?  Look at Vinod Khanna’s intensity here when someone comes to him to get justice: Did I mention that Feroz Khan is in the movie?  Seems like I’ve ignored him, but here he is, handling business!

And handing out a little vigilante justice, which I know chandelier connoisseur Shweta will enjoy:

During the course of the film, Dayavan’s daughter  (Amala)avoids him due to his illegal work, and ironically she marries a police officer  played by Aditya Pancholi,  who is cheated, since she declared herself an orphan.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with declaring ourselves orphans now and again. Dayavan is a remake of the Tamil film called Nayagan (1987).  Have you seen the movie in its original Tamilian form? I want to see it now in its pure form!  Since I’ve  focused on Vinood Khanna here,  I must throw a bit of attention on his sons, Rahul and Akshaye, to balance out my Khanna-o-Rama contribution.  I will ask you the ask the  timeless question that Briyanshu posed: Rahul or Akshaye? HERE’S THE ANSWER.  Now I command you to click on this feast of Khanna-o-Rama blog posts to fulfill all of your Khanna Family desires.

Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008) Beware, O beautiful Ones!

In Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), I enjoyed seeing Ranbir revise his baap Rishi Kapoor’s Bachna Ae Haseeno tune from Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin (1977), with playback singer Kishore Kumar and music by R.D. Burman. Out of respect, let’s view the senior’s version first:

Now here’s a modern reworking of the tune with Rishi’s son, Ranbir:

Great job Ranbir, but sorry to tell you your dad wins this round, simply for the fact that he wore that great heart necklace. Old is gold. Which one do you prefer?   Now here’s a bit about the movie:

BachnaAeHaseeno.coverThe film follows the journey of Raj Sharma (Ranbir Kapoor) from the age of 18 to 30 and how he meets three girls at different stages of his life : Mahi (Minissha Lamba) – a small-town girl from Punjab, Radhika (Bipasha Basu) – a model from Mumbai and Gayatri (Deepika Padukone) – a NRI taxi driver and student from Australia. The film is about a boy who goes from one love affair to another, only to run into true love. (source)

Raj has had 2 girlfriends, Mahi and Radhika. He leaves them both without too much thought about their feelings and the consequences of his actions.  Then he finally falls for a girl who can’t commit to him, the taxi driving, convenience store working, college attending Gayatri.

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So now the shoe is on the other foot.  (Is that also a saying in Hindi? The shoe is on the other foot?) Finally Raj  understands how Mahi and Radhika must have felt when he wouldn’t commit to them. To make amends for his playboy living and redeem himself for true love, he goes back to apologize to the 2 women he’s hurt years earlier.

WBachnaAeHaseeno.mahihen he first met Mahi, Raj played into her romantic  DDLJ inspired fantasies. Mahi overhears him talking crassly about her to his friends at the airport. She’d been tricked! She’s devistated  and looses her trust in love.

Years later we return to Mahi’s home in the Punjab, and to place us in Amritsar, there’s a requisite shot of the Golden Temple.  Her husband is the super hot  Kunal Kapoor, I mean Joginder Ahluwalia. Joginder is a proud Sikh man, who loves his wife.  Joginder is wealthy, and wears a Hermes scarf.

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I must add that I was in Amritsar a few months back and saw nobody wearing a Hermes scarf, but I did see a guy wearing a shower cap covered in strawberries.  I drove by him so fast, but I wanted to shout to him, “Yaar, did you ever see Strawberry Shortcake?”  See the Strawberry Shortcake Sikh.

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So Raj makes the trek to Amristar to apologize to Mahi, but encounters her husband first. Jogi has all the trappings of marriage from Mahi, but not her love, since Raj robbed her of her belief in romantic love years before. Joginder takes Raj out to the woods to so he can talk man to man, drink some Johnnie Walker (Black Label) and threaten him with a gun.

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Raj finally gets his chance to apologize to Mahi who wears this smashing sari.  I LOVED that sari!

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Look at her bangles, and all that gorgeous fabric in the sari:

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The song I really loved from the film wasJogi Mahi.  Can you listen to  it and not move?  Impossible not to at least bob your head, or tap a toe to this. Vishal-Shekhar wrote the catchy tune and it’s picturised on Ranbir Kapoor, Minissha Lamba & Kunal Kapoor. The playback singers are Sukhwinder Singh, Shekhar Ravjiani & Himani Kapoor

The second woman Raj goes back to apologize to is Radhika (Bipasha Basu). They been shacking up in Mumbai are all set to get married.  Radhika and her pals plan on meeting Raj for a civil shaadi ceremony…

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He leaves her waiting on the stop of city hall in Mumbai, and she never gets that marriage license.

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Then he goes to Australia, just to make it clear he’s really gone.BachnaAeHaseeno.bipasha

Fast forward several years and Raj now wants to apologize to Rahdika, who has now become a huge diva with a new naam: Shreya!

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In order to gain forgiveness, Raj agrees to be Shreya/Rahdika’s personal assistant. For days she treats him horribly and attempts to humiliate him. Raj’s rejection fueled Rahdika to fame, yet she’s bitter and afraid to love.

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At last she breaks down and forgives him, only after telling him how she felt when he left her years before.

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As they say in India: Why buy the holy cow, if you can get the doud for free?

Let me know what you thought of the film, and as always my mitr, all the best!

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Get well soon SRK-ji! With Love from, Amitabh, me and the readers!

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“Shah Rukh’s surgery went off fine and he should be back home in two days. However, he will require some good rest for a long period and he has been advised not to do any strenuous work,” said Sanjay Desai, orthopaedic surgeon at Breach Candy Hospital here. (The Hindu)

This blog is all about cutting and pasting today friends. I mean it often is, but today more so than usual:

Prayers For Shahrukh Khan’s Speedy Recovery:  Prayers were performed at a hair-cutting saloon in Bhopal to wish a speedy recovery of Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan, who underwent a successful shoulder surgery on Monday.  Naresh Sen, a barber in the saloon said that Khan had inspired their community to become successful through his film Billu. “The havan(ritual) which I performed was for Shahrukh Khan to live a longer life. He will live much longer. I performed this ritual in my saloon because he has given us inspiration through his film Billuand an opportunity for the poor class to move forward.” said Naresh. The 43-year-old actor underwent an arthroscopic surgery on left shoulder, which kept nagging him for quite sometime. Doctors at the Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital said Khan was recovering well. The operation lasted for around one-and-a-half hours by a team of three doctors, a hospital official said.  Before he left for the hospital Khan said that getting injured was part of his job.   “I think when you working in a profession like this you ought to fall and jump. It is obvious you can get wounded like this. So I always believe this is a payment for all the goodness that I get,” said Khan. (Hindustan Times)

First off, could Amitabh be looking any cooler than in these photos of him posted on his blog recently?ab1

I think we all have to admit that he can even rock that cartoon bear sweater and not only get away with it, but somehow make it look cool.  Who can do that?!  Amitabh Bachchan can. More cut and paste, this time from Mr. Bachchan’s blog from day 300 in which he writes about ShahRukh Khan’s successful surgery:

ShahRukh has been in  hospital for a surgery. I had sent him a message for his speedy recovery. He calls back to thank and inform that he is home. Was getting depressed in hospital he says so came away. Oh ! I was planning on visiting you in hospital. Come home sir, we shall play some games. Do not take after surgery too lightly I warn him, take rest and do not get into any kind of activity. He sounds a little groggy. I shall visit him tomorrow. (bigb.bigadda.com)

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Great to think about Amitabh stopping over a Mannat for a few games.  Perhaps Parchisi? Or maybe Snakes and Ladders?

Speaking of, I recently read a good book with the same title, Snakes and Ladders, by Gita Mehta which you may like reading, since you are here in the first place. 

Or maybe they’d play some Texas hold em?  Or what about this game here which I’ve seen in the Indian films called carrom? Well probably carrom is out until his shoulder is fully healed.

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I love imaging playing some table games with SRK and Amitabh at Mannat!  I spent an evening playing dominoes the other night, which I love to do.  Now, since reading the posting on Amitabh’s blog, I’m thinking how fun it would be to play dominoes with Amitabh and SRK.  Or spades or hearts!  My mind is spinning with the possibilities now that I know they’re both gamers. I also love a jigsaw puzzle. Can you imagine THAT?  “Hey Amit-ji, here’s another edge piece.”  I just know that Amitabh would have the sense to construct the edge of the puzzle first.  “Aur SRK, are you still working on the sky?  Here’s a couple blue pieces. Vay!”   We’d finish the puzzle whilst sipping on Johnnie Walker, black or perhaps even blue or green label since they are so fancy.  We’d discuss many things.  I would mind my tongue and casually say The Indian Film Industry and NEVER say Bollywood, as that may set off the stars.  I would ask even more fake casually if they wanted to play chess (which I can’t play) and say, “Oh by the way, Amit-ji, I remember when watching  The Chess Players, that I heard your voice narrating.  Do tell me what you remember about working with Satyajit Ray on that piece?”   His head would snap and look to me, thinking suddenly that I had some Bollywood, I mean Indian Film Industry street cred. The lovely Gauri Khan would slip in from time to time with some ladoos, maybe a paratha or two and some chai.  Not the help, but Guari, because she’s a hands on wife I’m sure. Finally, late into the evening, Gauri comes in and says, “Janeman ShahRukh, time to rest, remember you just had surgery! OK guys, Amitabh-ji, Sita-ji, thanks so much for stopping by. The flowers are lovely!  Do come tomorrow for a swim!”

On that note, like Amitabh, I say to SRK along with you all, “take rest and do not get into any kind of activity.”  Get well soon, we need more movies!

INDIA-ARTS-CINEMA

More Images from Sawan Bhadon (1970) Jayshree T.!

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As promised in yesterday’s post, I present you with more lovely images from Sawan Bhadon (1970).

Enjoy these images of the luminous and lusciouss Jayshree T. .

How could I narrow down the choices?  I couldn’t, so I’m posting them all.

Here is Jayshre T.’s  first performance in the film at the den of sin, as evidenced by the bottle of Johnnie Walker, red label.  At this point she is under the impression that she is being admired just for her dancing.


sawanbhadonjayshreetjohnniewalkerIt’s really not Bollywood for me until I see that bottle of Johnnie Walker and see someone slapped in the face.

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To listen to the song  that go with these images, as well as all the music from the film, check this download at Music From The Third Floor.

 

Would you rather be a Namak Haraam or a spoon(chamcha)? My first poll!

Dosto, I recently watched Namak Haaram (1973). Fabulous! Here are the basics:

Namak Haraam (Devanagari: नमक हराम, Nastaliq: نمک ہرام, is a 1973 Indian Hindi film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The music is by R.D. Burman and the lyrics by Anand Bakshi. The film stars Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. The film also stars Rekha, Asrani, Raza Murad, A.K. Hangal, Simi Garewal and Om Shivpuri . The film focused on two friends ( Rajesh and Amitabh) and how Rajesh tries to infiltrate the trade union of his friends. (wikipedia)

For a more coherent and substantial review of the film, check out rediff.com and Memsaab Story. I will of course deal with the superficial. I like to eat the frosting more than the cake, so first feast your eyes on this screen capture of our beloved Amitabh from the film which should be titled state of the art:

All starts out well with rich Vikram (Amit-ji) and super BFF, Somu (Rajesh Khanna) hanging around, wearing matching outfits, living the good life. They visit hot nautch girls and drink whiskey. Looking at Jayshree T. here it’s understandable why these guys would like to just hang out and be entertained.

But people in town talk, (haters!) and they are starting to call Somu Vikram’s spoon. Say What? I had never heard this phrase before, and I love when something like this comes up in a movie. I start to wonder is it: a.) a term I’ve just never heard of in English?; b.) Is this a British English term?; c.) Is this a Hindi figure of speech translated directly into English? Whatever it is I LOVE it. I ain’t nobody’s spoon! I take that being someone’s spoon means to be their flunkie, stooge, yes man, or dare I say, as used in the streets, their bitch? Anyway, the point seems to be that a spoon blindly follows someone who has more perceived power than the spoon does. Hindi speakers, please, I welcome your corrections to my interpretation of the term spoon if I’ve got it wrong. Somu’s sister tells him about what people are saying and he sets her straight!

Oh snap! Oh no he didn’t say that! So fast forward, Vicky has to go manage his father’s factory and his spoon, I mean Somu, tags along. They cook up a plan that Somu will infiltrate the factory, first posing as a worker and then eventually working his way up to, you’d never guess, a union organizer. Tricky! Somu eventually understands the struggle of the factory workers.

I adore seeing Johnnie Walker in these Bollywood films, and here it is, the extra fancy black label used to symbolize the good life, and its potential for arrogance. Somu tries to tell Vicky that it’s useful to try and call the low caste workers by their names:

Somu becomes so touched by the day to day struggles of the common worker that becomes a traitor, or as was written in the movie’s subtitles, namak haraam, to his friend Vicky, switching his loyalty from his friend to the workers. Namak haraam literally seems to translate to food/salt that’s not OK to eat, not sanctioned, not clean, not pure, not halaal, but figuratively the term means traitor. Once again, over some whiskey, Somu tries to make rich Vicky understand:

I know, I know, I already used this photo in yesterday’s post, but it’s so great I had to use it twice.  Can you blame me?

These socialists are such buzz kills! Eventually Vicky learns the wisdom of Somu’s ways. When Vicky finds out of Somu’s trouble, which you’ll have to watch the movie to find out about, he shows a delicious taste of angry Amitabh:

Namak Haraam is art imitating life as evidenced here. Doesn’t this sound a bit too familiar now:

Well since elections are coming soon here in the U S of A, here’s a timely song from the film titled Woh Jhoota Hai Vote Na Usko Dena, picturized on Asrani and a hot young Rekha, with music by R. D. Bruman. You can check it out HERE.

And speaking of voting…I’m so excited to present my first poll on the blog! So here I ask you the impossible question: Would you rather be a Namak Haraam or a spoon?

extra credit:

When looking up Namak Haraam online, I came across Arun Krishan’s clever podcast on his site, Cutting Chai, Learn Hindi from Bollywood Movies, since in it he credits a tune from the film in the music credits. You will certainly enjoy this, as well as all his other great podcasts:

Episode 47. Alcohol. Is alcoholism such a bad thing?

Bally Sagoo is a nice guy.

 

My blog dosto, I have missed you! I have been ignoring this blog since my last post about Bally Sagoo coming to Minneapolis. I attended the show with blog poster Brahmanadam, who was kind enough to purchase VIP tickets. With the fancy VIP tickets came a meet and greet with babuji Bally Sagoo. Since the picture was less than flattering of me and my friend, I had to do a little bit of subtle editing. Bally Sagoo looks cool, as expected.

So what does one say at a meet-n-greet? Well first off, we all had a drink of Johnnie Walker in celebration of the occasion, then I wasn’t sure what to say, so I said this:

Sita-ji: Sat Sri Akaal Bhai Sahib!

Bally Sagoo: Hi.

Sitai-ji: So you must really hate this part.

Bally Sagoo: No I love it, it’s great! (said with sincerity)

Sitai-ji: So do you have any questions about Minneapolis that I can answer?

Bally Sagoo: No.

Sitai-ji: Hey I saw on the internet that you and your wife do feng shui. That’s cool.

Then we moved on and the next people had their picture taken with Bally Sagoo, and so on, and so on. Now that I reflect on this awkward event, I think that maybe you’re supposed to be quiet and smile and have your picture taken. Next time I’ll do that if I ever have to participate in a celebrity to civilian meet and greet. Had I known that Bally Sagoo was in a movie, Sajna Ve Sajna, out now on DVD, I would have brought a copy to sign. Here’s how his website describes the film:

Bally (Bally Sagoo) lives the life as the spoiled Grandson of Multi-millionaire Kartar Singh (Dalip Tahil). His aspirations are to conquer the world with his band Desi Fever and marry his long-term girl friend Charlene (Zoë Szypillo) Will Charlene be able to fit in as a daughter-in-law within a respected Panjabi family? What about Manpreet who sacrificed her own love so that Bally could have his way? Can the two different cultures meet eye to eye?

Yes, two different cultures can meet eye to eye. The show was very melodious and funky and Bally had a sidekick Sikh hype man next to him all night. Who was this guy? Was he a friend? A relative? Bodyguard? Maybe he was all of those things, but whoever he was, he sure seemed to have fun and enjoyed Bally’s expert Djing, as did the hipster desi crowd. There even was the required groupie gracing the stage all evening.

You can see more images from Bally Sagoo’s 9.19.08 Minneapolis show HERE.

Now let’s check out a little bit of Bally Sagoo’s work.  Thanks to Richard over at Rough in Here for reminding me of Shree Sagoo’s remix of Reshmi Salwar Kurta Jaali Ka, that is titled Gori Gori Kudi, and performed by playback singer Shreya Ghosal in his movie Sajna Ve Sajna. The song was originally found in the 1957 film Naya Daur that you can’t help but love, and here it is reworked by Sagoo:

And here’s a bit more from Shree Sagoo:

Sorry for neglecting this blog, I got a bit sidetracked with work and with my new blog on swan towels, or should I say towel swans?