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.

Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971) or Sholay Lite

As part of Beth Loves Bollywood‘s international mandate,  7 days of 70’s, a week-long festival of any and all things 70’s from Bollywood, I offer to you my readers, Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1970) somehing I like to call Sholay Lite!  
 


This film is a delightful mix of  some of the 70’s most delicious masala staples: orphans, dacoits, bandits, dancers, damsels in distress, amputated limbs, music by Laxmikant-PyarelalAnand Bakshi as lyricist,  playback singing by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi, and starring Dharmendra, Asha ParekhVinod Khanna, Laxmi Chhaya, and Jayant.

Now let me take you on a visual walk through Mera Gaon Mera Desh.  We start with Ajit (Dharmendra) as a pick pocket, caught and put on the stand, explaining his fate to the judge and jury…

Ajit gets a chance after serving a light sentance to start over in a small village to where he’s been summoned by  a one armed Hawaldaar-Major Jaswant Singh (Jayant).  Ajit carries a coin that he flips to help him make major life decisions, and it flipped to the side that made him agree to go to the little town. But why?  Why would the one armed man want orphan?

Maybe to help him with some farm work.  That seems to be the reason. Then Ajit hangs out partying with the villagers, and Jayant’s character doesn’t like this and dekh what happens:

Such ugliness! Such mean words!  That’s the limit!  So he tells Ajit to leave, but then has to change his mind:

Enter bad guy, dacoit, and bandit extrodinaire, Thakur gone bad, Jabbar Singh! I’m telling you Vinod Khanna was delicious in this part.  Look at the sideburns and the scoul on his face. Hot!

So as it turns out, the one armed guy sought Ajit for the village (gaon) not for farming alone, but instead to take the lead in fighting off the band of dacoits who have long been terrorizing the villagers. Luckily Ajit finds a double agent in Munnibai (Laxmi Chhaya) who was sent by Jabbar to find out about Ajit, but ends up falling for him instead.

Munni does her spy duty, finds out what’s going on in Jabbar Singh’s dacoit camp and reports back to Ajit.

Ajit informs the authorities, Munni’s mom get’s upset at her indiscretion because like all villagers she rears the wrath Jabbar Singh and his bandits.

In the song, Hai SharmaonLaxmi Chhaya‘s character alerts Ajit to what disguises the bandits are wearing to the fair so that he can catch them.


After some of his men are captured by police at the full moon fair, Jabbar Singh suspects a traitor among his flock and conducts a threatenging interrogation fitting a bandit.

Thing get a wee bit misogynistic.


Meanwhile, back in town, Asha Parekh’s character, Anju, freaks out when Hawaldaar-Major Jaswant Singh (one armed guy) is killed by the bandits. I love it when Asha breaks down. She of course needs a tight slap to the face in order to get a hold of herself.  To make matters worse, now poor munni is thought by Ajit to be responsible for the bandits’ attack on the gaon village.  So she’s once again subject to some man handling, and once again, things get just a tad mysoginistic.

Oh no he didn’t!  Ajit can verbally abuse her, choke her, shake her, and shove her down into the river two times, but what sets her over the edge is that he doesn’t understand that she did not betray him, and that she loves him!  He pushed her over the edge in so many ways, and now look at the face of a woman scorned! DEKH! LOOK AT IT!

Jabbar Singh cointinues with his dacoitery and kidnaps Anju to lure Ajit into his evil den, where he proceeds to tie them up for torture.  Any chance I get to screen cap a scene with the word enmity in it I do, so here:

NOW here is the scene and song that compelled me to see this film in the first place: Maar Diya Jaaye Ya Chhod Diya Jaaye, Bol Tere Saath Kya Sulook Kiya JaayeRaj and Pablo, the charming and lovely radio hosts of BBC Asian Network’s Love Bollywood,  posted this video from the film on their Facebook page. It starts off with Dharmendra tied to a pole getting slapped in the face, and that was only the beginning of this outlandish number, featuring him, Laxmi Chayya and Asha Parekh.

Spoiler moral message ending alert! In the end the lesson is learned: The village must take responsibility to self govern and not rely so heavily on the government, meaning it’s a joint effort, but this effort must first begins at the grassroots level.  As it’s said it takes a village to raise a child, and in this movie, it takes a village to eliminate a dacoit. So now that title makes more sense: Mera Gaon Mera Desh = My Village My Country.

EXTRA CREDIT:  Here’s why Mera Gaon Mera Desh can be called Sholay Lite

Since Asha freaks out so beautifully, I shall end on this note:

Check out all the other groovy 70’s week posts HERE and HERE.

Aaina (1977)

I had originally tried to order Aaina (1977) from Netflix, but got the 1993 version of Aaina instead, which I reviewed HERE.  I eventually did get the 1977 version of Aaina that stars Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna.  I would not be tricked by Bollywood’s duplicate titles and miss out on my original plan to see the 1977 version!

Shalini (Mumtaz)  is a poor yet happy brahmin girl who spends her time laughing and smiling, despite her  family’s poverty.  Ashok (Rajesh Khanna) and Shalini like each other but are from different castes.  They tease each other and have a lot of fun, but ultimately they come to understand that society’s norms will keep them apart.

When Ashok notes that Shalini’s only sari is worn to the point of having holes, he buys her a new one.  Shalini’s mother (Nirupa Roy) lets her daughter know that she can not accept this sort of gift from a man because it would be shameful for the entire family.  I love how this lesson of  family honor is filmed with the characters on either side of the worn sari:

Things continue to worsen for the family when the dad’s evil sister, Janki (Lalita Pawar) comes with her daughter to live with the already financially stressed family.   Janki doesn’t do a thing to help out, in fact she just spends time going to frivolous Bollywood  movies and gossiping.  When Janki finds one of her starving nephews begging for food she fails to understand that her taking money to go to the movies has caused the problem since that money would otherwise go for food for the children. Then Shalini finds her mother one night mixing poison in with the food so the she can poison the family out of their misery.

The next obstacle is that one of Shalini’s brothers wants to go to medical school, so in an attempt to get a recommendation to insure his entry to the program, Shalini travels to the big city. She stays with some friends of the family in the a home with a large central split staircase, so often seen in Bollywood films, hai na?

Shalini’s connection to try and get the recommendation for her brother’s entry to medical school is a fraud, and the situation ends with her being raped, as represented by a mirror aaina being broken.  She then hears of another person who can help her get the medical school recommendation, who invites her home to meet his wife.

But the wife is not there, only her picture is on the wall, and this powerful man has the same nefarious interests in Shalini as the man who first violated her.

So this is how Shalini, a young Brahmin girl, eventually turns to prostitution to support her family. One night she’s enjoying the company of a client, and he discovers that she’s Brahmin like him.  Note the symbolism of the mirror aaina on the wall saying hey, why don’t you look at yourself first yaar, before you point any fingers.

Shalini points out the ridiculousness of his hypocrisy and returns his tight slap to her face with one to his face.  Ironically, later in the movie when Shalini returns home to pay for and attend both her sister and brother’s weddings, who turns out to be the groom for her sister?  Not to spoil things, but it’s this creep here!

I learned from Suhan, a commenter on my 1992 Aaina post, that Laaga Chunari Mein Daag (2007) pulled from the 1977 Aaina.

This one comes out smelling of mothballs, like a wedding dress stored for decades in an attic trunk. Not surprising, since the plot is vintage 1977 from Aaina, and the 1995 Marathi film Doghi. (Hindustan Times).

If you’ve seen LCMD, perhaps like me you remember once Rani Mukerji became a high class call girl, she lived in a super deluxe apartment in Mumbai.  This was the only shot of that apartment I could find, but you get a general idea of its sleek, modern look.

Like Rani Mukerji’s character in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag,  Shalini also gets a fantastic place to live thanks to her profession.  I’m not saying it’s a good trade off, but it sure is a cool place.  One of my favorite parts of the film was when Shalini got a visitor, she would push a buzzer on the table and a curtain would automatically pull open, revealing the client behind the door. Check it out:

Sometimes it was a shock just who would stop by, like in this case, her friend Ashok from back home who told everyone he died in the war.  After knowing he could never be with Shalini, Ashok faked his own death, but eventually years later fate brought him right to her door!

Is that double lucky kismat at work or what?  Not only does he get a prostitute, but she’s also the woman he loves!   What are the odds of THAT happening!?  Alas, Shalini is shocked and ashamed.  Don’t you love that torpedo/bullet bra she must be wearing under her shirt?

Despite her circumstances, Ashok understands and more importantly accepts her as she is, and wonders what could have been between the two of them and life hadn’t taken them on different paths.

Shalini returns home to give her family money and pay for her siblings weddings. A cute part of the movie was the film within the film where the village  watched stars Dharmendra and Neetu Singh film a song sequence to Jaane Kya Ho Jaye with playback singers Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar.  This is scene cuts back and forth being picturized on filmi film stars and the “real” young couple in the film, Shalini’s sister and that scoundrel she’s engaged to, Shalini’s former client:

Shalini sacrifices herself to fund her family and is disgusted to return home only to  find her mother pregnant again!  There are already about 8 kids in the family. Of course her mother has no idea just what Shalini has done to earn money.

Seems word has gotten out around town about Shalini’s new job and her little sister points out how her music teacher (paid for by Shalini) was staring at her. Shalini flirts with idea of suicide to answer the question of her eternal suffering, but when she’s about to jump, she hears the sounds of her siblings calling to her.

So how do you think it all ends? If you’d like to know more, please go to see the plot summary by rAjOo.

I’d love to hear your impressions of Aaina too.

Dharmatma (1975) Feroz Khan does The Godfather, Bollywood style

When Feroz Khan died earlier this year, I thought I’d better see a few more of his films in order to pay tribute to his career.  One of the most mentioned films of Khan’s career seemed to be Dharmatma (1975), so I watched it.

Feroz Khan, who has died aged 69, was an Indian actor and producer who became one of Bollywood’s biggest stars; with his swagger and tough-guy styling he was compared to American leading men like Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen. He based one typically all-action picture, Dharmatma (1975), on Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning film, The Godfather, and starred in another as a suave racing driver who wins the world championship. Later he appeared in a series of cowboy films that aped the Spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone – they became known as Curry Westerns. (source)

First off, let me get this spectacular image out of the way:

Hema Malini’s character declaring her orphan-hood.

darmatma.orphan

Don’t you think that reel for reel Bollywood may have the highest occurrence of orphans than any other film industry in the world?  Now back to the movie Dharmatma (1975), which is essentially supposed to be a Hindustani-ized version of The  Godfather.  One thing The Godfather doesn’t have is Helen.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the film I copied from IMDB:

DHARMATMAWealthy, powerful and influential Seth Dharamdas leads a financially secure life in a palatial mansion. He is known to come to the aid of all people who are beyond any hope of assistance, and this leads to him being known as “Dharmatma”. But Seth Dharamdas does have a number of skeletons in his closet, and a parallel life as a gangster. The only person Dharamdas hates and fears is none other than his very own son, Ranbir, who has sworn that he will never compromise with his father’s dark career, and threatens to expose him. Dharamdas has never conceded surrender or defeat at the hands of any mortal, and will never even consider to do so – even if this means the death of Ranbir. (by rAjOo)

Rekha plays a smaller part in this film and is in love with  the rugged, morally upstanding Ranbir (Feroz Khan).darmatma.enemies

Alas,  Ranbir has sets his sights on Reshma (Hema Malini) a girl living over the border in Afghanistan, since it’s never quite Bollywood until there’s a love triangle.  I enjoyed the lavish tent like home where Hema’s character lived. It looked like a high class yurt, but I thought yurts were in Mongolia, not Afghanistan, right?   Even in this opulently decorated  tent, she’s stifled

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Her adoptive father isn’t going for her relationship with a man of another culture, but she does what she can to change his heart and mind.

darmatma.culture darmatma.orphan.beg

For a taste of that nomadic life, enjoy Meri Galiyon Se, featuring playback singer Lata Mangeshkar with the music of Kalyanji Anandji, and picturized on Hema Malini in some nomadic camp in Afghanistan, or maybe it’s in movie studio, you be the judge. Both Danny Denzongpa and Khan’s character are smitten with Hema’s Reshma. Who will win her love?

Besides digging the hip 70’s vibe of this flick, I was delighted to find it had one of my favorites, Farida Jalal, who played Mona, the sister to Feroz Khan’s Ranbir.  Unfortunately, she’s married to a dacoit, Kundan (Imtiaz Khan) but it takes her sometime to figure this out.  Kundan’s  gangster side kicks are played by Ranjeet and Sudhir, who wear matching outfits throughout the film.  Their shirts are always open, and often made of sheer fabrics. They are very, very bad men, but more on them later.

dharmatma.badguys

Wait a minute, even the good guy wears an open, chest hair bearing shirt a lot of the time:

dharmatma.spell

Eventually Mona lets her creepy gangster husband know that she doesn’t like the lowly company he’s keeping which causes some marital strife.

dharmatma.Farida.dirtyhands dharmatma.Farida.wifewhore

Doesn’t she know this is Bollywood and a woman cannot talk to a man in such a way without suffering a tight slap to the face?  Even I saw that one coming.

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Mona’s husband may be a hopeless pig, but her brother is reliable and caring.   Everything is fine on Raksha Bandhan and she ties a rakhi on brother Ranbir.  Look how sweet!

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Yet moments later she changes her warm feelings when she realizes that …

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Can’t you almost feel that tight slap to the face, or at least hear it?  When I saw this in the opening credits I was very pleased:

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I’m a big Ranjeet fan.  It’s most likely psychologically problematic that I find his bad boy characters irresistibly attractive, but I’ll work that out on my own time.  dharmatma.sudhirNormally I love Ranjeet, but his character was so extra creepy in Dharmatma, that I found him only mildly hot, not ultra hot.  Hats off to his acting distracting me from his beauty. Was is due to being paired with a creepy sidekick played by Sudhir that was too much?  Who knows, but together in their sheer, unbuttoned, and always matching shirts, they were repulsive. I looked forward to seeing each new outfit.

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Their characters were abusive and drunk most of the time. Take a nice look at them here. I believe there can never be enough photos of Ranjeet out there for the world to see, no matter what.

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Ranjeet wears a pinky ring here, which is a tell tale sign of villain-hood:

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Now allow Feroz Khan’s memory to live on and please read his words of wisdom.

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Aaina (1993)

Did you ever get a movie with the same title, expecting another?   I once thought I was ordering Kalyug (1981), but instead got Kalyug (2005).  Such was the case for me with Aaina.  I think I intended to get the 1977 Aaina:

aaina%20old%20dvdAaina is a 1977 Indian Bollywood film starring Rajesh Khanna , Mumtaz in the lead roles and A. K. Hangal, Nirupa Roy, Lalita Pawar, Kamal Hassan and Madan Puri in support roles. The music is given by Naushad. The film is directed by famous director K. Balachander. He had filmed the same story before: the Tamil film Arangetram(1973) with Kamal Hassan. It’s about a Brahmin girl becoming a sex worker to support her mother and siblings. (source)

Aaina%20CoverThat sounds pretty great, but instead I got the 1993 version of Aaina.  For a full synopsis of the film go HERE, but I can tell you it’s basically a story of two sisters, one evil (Amrita Singh), one sweet (Juhi Chawla).  The sisters fight over a fancy businessman, or as they frequently say in Bollywood, a rich industrialist, played by Jackie Shroff. It turns out that Reema (Juhi) has long been a fan of Ravi Saxena (Jackie) who is not only a fancy business man, but has also published some things she’s read.  She runs into him in a book store.  Can you find the pictures of Madonna and Michael Jackson in this photo?


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Alas, Ravi falls for the evil self absorbed sister, Roma, instead of the sister who has long pined for him.  The evil head case sister, Roma (Amrita Singh), eventually looses Ravi’s love since she’s more focused on being a top fashion model and ignores the realationship. Ravi marries the nice sister instead, but then Roma decides she wants him back and tries to manipulate him with various crazy antics, like pretending to kill herself.  Pagli!

aaina.amrita

Singh does a great job acting like a psycho and won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for her efforts.   Eventually her many manipulations pay off and she wins back Ravi, but Reema is on to her sister’s evil plotting and finally grows a spine and confronts her.

aaina.juhiThe sisters have a dance off at a lavish party over Ravi!aaina.amrita.juhi.jackieThere’s even a tight slap to the face!aaina.tightslapThe song Aaina Hai Mera Chehra with real life sisters and playback singers, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle picturized on Amrita Singh and Juhi Chawla, pretending to sing, and pretending to be sisters.  If you don’t want to spend time watching the entire film, this item number sort of summarizes it: behen vs. behen for the pyar of a man.

And real life sisters out there, please don’t fight over a man!  Have you seen either of the Aaina films? Which one did you like more?

Ditto! Mere Mehboob! R.I.P. my Bollywood lovin’ billi.

I put my beloved cat, Ditto, to sleep today. She was approximately 16.4 years old and lived a great life! In fact she probably lead a life more comfortable than most people in the world are able live. I have never been present when a pet has been put to sleep until today, and was amazed that is was just as sweet as it was sad. Why do I write about Ditto here on a Bollywood blog? Well of course I have to write about her zindagi, I mean life, because I loved her and she watched most of the Bollywood movies I’ve seen with me! OK, I admit she slept peacefully through most of the films, unless there was a song, fight scene, or animal sound that piqued her interest and perked up her ears. I think she especially liked Lata and Asha’s voices. I will be looking for this little cat to perhaps be reincarnated into the next Indian Film Industry star! She’d be like that pretty actress who won a pagent, starts out as an item girl in films, but it turns out she can really act! Or maybe she’ll be a playback singer, hai na?

 

Now Ditto’s life was like a lot of Bollywood films. She started out as an orphan that my brother found abandoned, crying out on a cold and rainy night. I think it must have been a lot like the baby left in the park in Amar Akbar Anthony. My bhai brought her home temporarily. Cat lovers, you all know what temporarily means. But there was a problem since my brother already had a cat, Bud, and she was a dacoit! Bud had made my brother her keeper when she found him walking around the block at night, while he would secretly smoke cigarettes. Dacoit Bud and my brother had clandestine meetings that turned into a permanent living arrangement. This is typical of the tricky ways cats work; they scout you out and make you think you found them. Yet bandit Bud had a heart of gold, and though she spent time smoking, drinking Johnnie Walker, gambling, murdering birds, and pretending to have no regard for the new orphan Ditto, she secretly did love the new kitten. Bud proved her love of Ditto by protecting her from a menacing dog. The kitten copied much of what Bud did, and earned her name: Ditto. Fast forward 16 years, Bud has been gone for years, and Ditto has now joined her in cat heaven. Ditto was fond of the beautiful things in life, like napping in the sun, sight seeing out the window, and sleeping to Bollywood movies. She especially loved salmon, pastries, shiny colorful beads, and all plants, particularly flowers. I didn’t have the luck of discovering the joy of having a pet cat until I was an adult. I had a great bulldog as a kid, but no cat. So many wasted years of my youth were lived cat-free! This gorgeous, sweet cat improved my quality of life about 80% to 90%, and since I’ve had a nice life so far, that’s saying a lot! Her sweet spirit and memory shall live on forever. Ditto’s movie watching career (in this lifetime) ended on a high note with Mere Mehboob (translation:My Beloved, how fitting!) and 4 of the 5.5 hours of Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata. On a side note, don’t you think when you take apart the name Barack Obama it sounds a lot like Mahabharata all mixed up? Ba-Rak-O-Ba-Ma. Ma-Ha-Bha-Ra-Ta.

Last night when I knew I’d be putting Ditto to sleep today, I was checking the blog stats page, which shows what search terms bring people to your blog and the highlighted stood out to me:

I must have at one time used the words, “night is always darkest before the dawn” in this blog and someone was led here that way. I am always on the look out for mystical coincidences, and took this to be a lovely one that revealed a message I needed to read last night. How sweet! Isn’t life grand?

At times artistic expression can convey the deepest of feelings and send a healing message. The wonderful film Jaane Tu … Ya Jaane Na (2008) has just such a message in a song that fits my situation today: Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindigi. In this tune Genelia D’Souza‘s character Aditi has a cat that has just died and her friend, played by Imran Khan, tries to cheer her up. The beautiful music is by the illustrious A. R. Rahman, with playback singer Rashid Ali, picturized on D’Souza, Khan, and a kitten!

One of my favorite bloggers, TheBollywoodFan, recently tranlated the lyrics to all the songs from JTYJN. You can read his full translation of Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindigi here. I’ve copied some of his translation to the song here to show you how it was just what I needed today and has a message that we all need:

Occasionally, Aditi, in life like this, it feels like someone belongs to us. Occasionally, Aditi, when he/she separates, it feels like it was a dream. In such a case how can on keep one’s tears from flowing? And how can someone think that everything’s gonna be OK?…Listen a little, the uncontrolled wind starts telling you, that Aditi, those who separate meet again, Aditi, whether or not you know the flowers blossom again.

Bollywood coming through for me in a tough spot! So I will continue to watch movies, missing my sweet little Ditto and being thankful for the great times we had. Maybe a new cat will find me when the time is right. There has been a cat hanging around the house a lot lately, looking like he or she would like to come in. I wonder if that billi would like Bollywood?

What do Ganesha, Sanjay Patel, The Minnesota State Fair, crop seeds, Shree 420, and Bollywood have in common?

I put myself on full throttle ultra purdah for a few days in preparation for my creation of crop art for the Minnesota State Fair. Crop art is the design of crop seeds in artistic arrangements, and if you’re crop arting for the MN State Fair, the artists are to use only seeds of plants and crops that grow in the state. It’s how city folks like me learn about farm crops from the country. I’ve entered before and there is a time commitment involved in gluing seeds down, and you have to make a sacrifice, and you can guess what I had to sacrifice: Bollywood! But my qurbani, I mean sacrifice, yielded this:

I recreated the image using these seeds: barley, canola seeds, corn, flax, golden flax, millet, oats, safflower, sunflower seeds, and wild rice. You can see my Sanjay Patel inspired Ganesha recreation in person in the Ag-Hort building at the MN State Fair through labor day. I would like to think that some people will do a little puja in front of my Ganesha of seeds.

I found Sanjay Patel’s excellent Ghee Happy website back in early 2007 while looking around for Hindu god images. When I saw Patel’s super cute deities I immediately thought: crop art! If you don’t already have it, I recommend his book The Little Book of Hindu Deities to you. It’s not only adorable, but also a clever, fun, and informative read. How could I choose from the dozens of ultra cute deities to recreate in seeds? I decided since the RNC is coming to Minnesota during the time of the fair, that it would be nice for a very different kind of elephant to welcome that RNC elephant. Maybe Ganesha’s divine energy could help out the Republicans.

I did contact animator extraordinaire, Shree Sanjay Patel, via email to tell him about my crop art and to let him know that I may be infringing on his copyrighted material. It seems that the copyright doesn’t cover seeds, so I should be safe from a lawsuit. Mr. Patel graciously responded to my email and was so very kind. Thank you Shree Patel!

When my Ganesha was completed and delivered to the state fair, I got back on the happy Bollywood train. The first movie waiting for me was the 1955 classic Shree 420. The Shankar-Jaikishan soundtrack is awesome, but I was particularly taken by one song for obvious reasons: Eechak Dana Beechak Dana, picturized on Nargis and Raj Kapoor, with playback singers Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh. The Bollywood universe knew I was heavily dedicating myself to seed work during my purdah and rewarded me with this gem of a tune. Just look at the seed related lyrics!

I know what Nargis is talking about, one little seed, two seeds, seed on seed!

Thanks to Sharikazoid for the video with the English subtitles.

If you’d like to hear it again, Dr. Chadhury did a remix of the song.

I’m certainly not the first to recreate Sanjay Patel’s images. Check out this impressive stuffed Kali inspired by Patel’s image. For further reading of the art of seeds, consult David Steinlicht’s excellent CroptArt.com site as well as Colleen Sheehy’s book, Seed Queen: the Story of Crop Art and the Amazing Lillian Colton.