Meanwhile (off Gawker’s blog?) I found this Steven Colbert idea –
“If this is truly
Cote d'Ivoire, be very afraid.
Good friend – middle-class
“This will last till Wasabi opens again.”
Meanwhile (off Gawker’s blog?) I found this Steven Colbert idea –
“If this is truly
Cote d'Ivoire, be very afraid.
Good friend – middle-class
“This will last till Wasabi opens again.”
I’m slightly better disposed towards Aravind Adiga after reading this –
"Do you feel that the world ignores
The truth is,
Perhaps simple to the point of being trite, it’s just that I entirely agree with his prioritisation. I’d add one more point (which I have mentioned on this blog earlier) – the need to make all citizens stakeholders by making them taxpayers.
Even earlier, when Harbhajan leaped in joy at the last wicket and the rest of the team converged on the pitch, he was alone, jogging in from the outfield, a smile on his face but his eyes hidden by those glares. He had a hand held up to high-five his mates. The only guy he could find was the next-to-newest member, Amit Mishra. He still smiled.
Oh, they chaired him off the ground afterwards. And Mahi had already made a grand gesture of asking him to set the field for a while after the 8th wicket fell. It’s a sign of the man’s enthusiasm for the game, or perhaps his love of being in charge, that he actually accepted the offer. I thought it was a trifle demeaning, he should have smiled and waved it off.
Then they left the ground. The curtain came down. He’ll come back to his home in Behala and then, perhaps, when we can’t see him, the smile will fade.
He may deny it, but there are regrets. Those last 15 runs that eluded him in the first innings. Hell, the 17 runs that were his for the asking in
It was never just about the cricket. There will be a few dozen articles and a couple thousand blog posts about how he gave Indian cricket Attitude, about his record as captain and his magic through the off-side. But for most of us, and especially in
He was never one to go gentle into that good night. But like they wrote on Cricinfo, after a while a man bears the marks of “every glove that laid him low, or cut him”, and it’s better to leave on your own terms.
It might be bathetic to label him our last tragic hero. Unlike his opening partner (Chhoto Babu to his Babumoshai) he was too human for deification. He was never larger than life, let alone large enough to be a superhero. Maybe he was even a loser in his last war. But then again, perhaps those lines spoken over the body of another loser might not be out of place – “This was a man … ”
And some Conversations. Including one with The Mentor, long distance. I said I’m increasingly pessimistic about this country as a place to bring up my daughter, we should probably emigrate in 5 years. Which prompted a couple of choice expletives and a list of reasons for hope. Orissa, and some response by the Govt. to the issue of mayhem on grounds of religion. The arrests in the
Yes, well, that’s good. And the consideration that if one is to avoid corruption, the only viable option seems to be
About corruption. The Greatest Country in the World makes a lot of hoo-haa about the annual report on corruption. Some of our more “enlightened” countrymen then make despairing noises about “the state of this country”. Which is ridiculous when you consider that the Vice-President of the Greatest Country has an open deal with a firm called Halliburton. And that - coincidentally, of course – in 2006 Halliburton were awarded 45 BILLION dollars worth of contracts in
And let’s not even get into the question of fair elections. The Chief Executive is elected on a recount in a state where the highest government executive - in charge of running elections too – is his own brother. And when it comes to a recount, guess who’s in charge? A lady who was on his campaign team. Even after 8 years, the level of moronicity bothers me.
There’s a slew of other things that bother me – reality shows, SMS greetings, taxis parked at corners, misplaced apostrophes, Shilpa Shetty’s grin – but I’d be the first to admit that they’re not good enough reasons to emigrate. I probably wouldn’t be able to avoid them even if I did emigrate. Hell, not even La Shetty’s grin.
Meantime, all that happens, happens for the best in this best of all possible worlds. After the Singur imbroglio, “Dr.” M. Banerjee and the head of the Left Front agree on something. To wit, that the very basis of a democratic polity is endangered by the Election Commission’s ban on graffiti (better known in devout circles as “the writing on the wall”). Given a choice between, on the one hand, giving your consent and having your walls re-decorated in avant-garde mode, and on the other, NOT consenting and having your features re-arranged in Neanderthal mode, which would YOU choose? The democratic option, of course. The greatest good of the greatest number. It’s so heart-warming when our leaders agree on a matter in the public weal. Leaves me all saahgy wiv emoshun and teary-eyed.
On the other coast, there is a patriotic movement. No, not saffronised bowel movements (though those may be happening in Utkala Desh – more of that later). The Western movement seeks to intensify nationalist sentiments. Think global, act local types. If you start with beating up people who are “Not Us” (and not armed), you may eventually get good at beating up people who are REALLY Not Us AND shooting back at you. Practice makes perfect and all that. Score so far – 4 dead, a few dozen injured, vehicles burnt, man-days lost. All in the great tradition of democracy. I am loving it.
In Orissa, Diwali came some months early. There were bonfires and merriment, there was good religious sentiment which involved killing real people (so much more fun than burning effigies). This has led to Parliament making wise noises (not too loud, since A Particular Religion is still the Religion of the Majority). It has also led to friends (whom I had hitherto considered rational) sending out cyber-whoops on the lines of “THAT will laarn ’em!” Organised religion is such a sweet thing. It must be so comforting for all concerned to read Nice Things about Love Thy Neighbour, Humanity is the Ultimate Creed etc. and then, spiritually uplifted, go out to rape and kill and burn. I love Organised Religion. In my book, it is one of mankind’s finest experiences. You know, in terms of enrichment, somewhere between an acid enema and a boil on the scrotum.
Say after me – I Love My Country. I Love My Faith. I Love My Fellow Man (AND My Fellow Woman. ESPECIALLY My Fellow Woman). I Love Our Peaceful Tradition. And I Love Killing Anybody Who Disagrees.
Pucca sahibs would probably limit the term to food made from grain flour (usually wheat), leavened with yeast and baked in an oven. Fiddlesticks. Or rather, Ey Mamu! The majority of Indian breads are unleavened, some are fried or even roasted and many are made from rice gruel or even lentil pastes. The more the merrier, say I. Man does not live by bread alone, but (as anybody on the Atkins Diet will vouch) life is pretty bleak without it.
First, the Big Question. Is it bread if it’s not made from grain? Check out pashti from Arcot in Tamil Nadu, rice flour dumplings pan-fried in ghee and eaten with chutneys or spicy meat. Or pesarattu from Andhra Pradesh, which is made from moong daal and fried on a griddle. Or, indeed, the entire family of dosai and their variants, from Kerala’s appam to uttapam and neer dosa. If these are dismissed as more pancakes than bread, where would you place thalipeet? The dough for this Maharashtrian favourite may contain – among others - beans, wheat, rice, onion, jaggery, vegetables and spices. It’s kneaded and rolled, unlike a crepe or pancake, but it’s not baked and it isn’t wholly wheat. So is it bread?
Most Indian breads are flatbreads, rolled from dough and roasted over an open fire or baked in a tandoor. In the far north, we have the chewy Ladakhi cambir or khambiri, dabbed with butter and eaten with home-made apricot jam or with tea. Kashmiris, surprisingly, eat more rice but have a wide variety of breads. Tsot and tsochvoru are small round breads, topped with poppy and sesame seeds and traditionally washed down with salt tea. Lavas is a cream coloured unleavened bread, probably derived from the Armenian Lahvash or Armenian cracker bread, a soft, thin flatbread sometimes sprinkled with toasted sesame or poppy seeds.
In the heartland, the humble chapatti is part of Indian history. It was carried from village to village and used as a signal before the rising of 1857. It’s also comfort food for millions, especially when hot off the fire with a dab of butter melting in the middle. It has a number of variants, all round flat unleavened breads made from grains other than wheat. The bhakhri, made from jowar, bajra or even (in Karnataka) from rice flour, is a staple in the western states. The jolada rotti of Karnataka is made from sorghum. Both these variations keep well and are good travelling food, usually eaten with pulse curries (daal, jhunka) or with chutneys such as thecha, a paste of chillies that can set fire to paper at 50 paces. The rock star in this category (or bhangra rapper?) is makki di roti,
Fried breads are
Parathas are the big brothers of puris. They range from the comparatively innocuous ones that are just thick rotis with a gloss of ghee to the utterly sinful sheermal from
Some North Indian breads are stand-alones, like the Gujarati khakra and mattha. Light, flaky, almost pastry-like, these are spiced and roasted rather than fried, giving them a long shelf-life and making ideal snacks. Rajasthan’s baati is richer. These baked dumplings are quick-fried for a crisp outer crust and most famously eaten with daal and churma. And of course gobs of ghee. The Bihari version, litthi, evokes nostalgia in a zillion engineering institutions and staff colleges.
Leavened sahib bread is not unknown, as the numerous bakeries in Bandra attest. The real legacy, however, is not English but Portuguese. The poder or traditional baker (though the term is also used for the delivery man) is a part of Goan tradition, his honking announcing the morning delivery of pao, soft square bread that fills the stomach and gladdens the palate. Pao, ideal for mopping up the last drops of tongue-tingling curry, is the accompaniment to spicy vindaloo and sorpotel. Mumbai’s pao bhaaji can only be a wan poor cousin! Pokshie and katre are other avatars of pao, distinguished by their shapes (pokshie is also more crusty). My Goan friends swear that the secret ingredient is the use of toddy instead of yeast for leavening. Poie or poee is Goan brown bread, fat, hollow and often “butterfly” shaped so that it can be broken by hand into four pieces. Generations of grandmothers swear that it is “ideal for diabetics”, an assertion supported by modern medical science.
Man does not live by bread alone? Enough already! Pass the butter.
Money quote - “She as an unchaste woman had defendant 1 (Tiwari) as her paramour even during the subsistence of her marriage...”
I laugh that I may not weep.
Update: Why is The Telegraph the only paper following this story? Not even the sensationalist TV channels have taken it up. Strange.
So this year I’ve missed it. Or most of it. I did get one Sunday afternoon with friends and beer while the sound of knashor ghonta floated up and the ladies fluttered in sudden panic over being late for the pujo. The rest of the time, really, I was just too sick to care.
But being sick isn’t so bad. I can’t remember the last time I spent an entire week at home. One. Whole. Week. Haven’t even stepped out of the front door. How strange. No office, meetings, dinners, cocktails, gym, library. No Saturday-lunch-and-shopping, no let’s-try-that-new-place-for-dinner. No stopping-by-the-office-to-send-off-a-report. Nothing.
Instead … a succession of books. The Kite Runner.
I could get used to this. Far too easy.
I worked for six years in the industries department in
I was only a small part of a large team, but I felt good when the results started to show. For a while, we all believed in the change, in the new
The basic issue was the right to property. Can the State take away your private land for a public purpose if you don’t want to sell it? I’d say yes, up to a point. You may not agree with the purpose, but the State has to (theoretically) act for the greatest good of the greatest number. But as I said, only up to a point. And in any case, the compensation for taking away your property should be at least equal to market levels.
What constitutes public purpose? Building a highway (or an inter-galactic bypass – ask Arthur Dent), or a sanitised zone, or even an industrial estate. Is it public purpose if the industrial estate is to be privately owned and operated? On balance, no. The private entrepreneurs can negotiate and purchase their own land. The State should ensure speed and transparency, publish clear estimates of land value, speed up documentation and transfer.
There’s a catch. Once industry starts buying up land, prices shoot up. Fine, pay more – that’s the law of the market. But what if you buy 980 acres out of the 1000 you need, and then get stuck because of 20 acres right in the heart of the project area? Could be any reason – price negotiation, political pressure, sheer cussedness. It’s happened to me, a 200-acre project was stuck for months because of 9.47 acres. So does the State have a responsibility to step in and sort out these problems for a huge private project? In the Singur case, did the State do the right thing by being pro-active and acquiring land themselves?
Perhaps not. But right or wrong, the whole process could have been far more acceptable given greater transparency. Why didn’t the
Having made these mistakes, could they still have made the best of a bad deal? Most certainly. By offering compensation at market rates or better and publicising it. They could have recouped the extra expenditure from the Tatas, maybe called it a speed surcharge, development costs, whatever. In a project of this size, one can’t have full consensus. But the Govt. could have more effectively addressed the grievances of the unwilling land-losers. That would have reduced the opposition to the project and the political fall-out.
Now to the specifics. Once the Opposition had made their point about adequate compensation for land-losers, once the Governor had stepped in and brokered a compromise, why did the process fail? First, because of one woman’s insistence that 300 acres of land within the project area would have to be returned to farmers. Bloody ridiculous. Much more honest to come right out and say, take your project and sod off, we don’t want you here. Second, because the Govt. could not deal separately with the Opposition’s demands – a political issue – and their methods, which broke the law of the land. Perhaps a third reason too – despite the huge media criticism of the Trinamool actions, this Govt. has never had any clue of public relations or media management.
End result – the project is stalled, 1000 acres of land are now useless and a few thousand residents of Singur are bankrupt. In effect, the last two months have pi… washed away most of what we worked for in those years. Yet again, vindicates my decision about my last career move. But it still leaves a very bad taste.
Now Chicken Manchurian has nothing to do with
This is the essence of what we proudly call “Calcutta Chinese” food – any faintly Chinese ingredients spiced up with large amounts of fresh garlic, ginger, and hot chillies, “like ramped-up curries minus the ground spices”, as New York’s Village Voice put it. It may not be Chinese, but boy, does it sell! And it originated in an eastern corner of
Purists like the formidable Ram Ray, one of
The Chinoiserie prides itself on its authenticity – even the chillies for the chilli paste are flown in from
A number of Taj personnel have struck out on their own, the best known being the Red Hot Chilli Pepper chain. Their fried rice was superb, mainly because they cooked the rice in stock and not water. Nowadays, however, they have had to adapt to the Indian palate rather than stick with authenticity. Perhaps authenticity is affordable at the Chinoiserie alone, where a meal for two would set you back by at least 3500 rupees.
The premier fish dish, however, is served by Josephine Huang of Eu Chu. Tucked away on the first floor behind a petrol pump on
The standard Tangra fare these days is more Shyambazar than
There’s a short-hand to interpreting the menus here. Chilli means hot and batter-fried, Manchurian dishes (even cabbage Manchurian!) come in a sweet and salty brown sauce, and
There used to be some family-run restaurants in this area too. I still remember the foo yung rice and kup tai mei foon (rice noodles with what I thought was pork liver, turned out to have kidneys and heart as well!) in Tai Wah on
Which only proves my basic point. Chinese food as she is ate in
So here I stand, head in hand. Or rather, here I sit, full of … you get the picture.
So I went and watched Rock On!! (complete with the exclamation marks) and was seriously underwhelmed. Only Arnab, blast his keen little eyes, has gone and reviewed it already and I agree with him. So no post on that film. At least not now. In any case, I was seriously disturbed and considered counselling because for a fleeting moment I found Koel Purie hot. Which is rather like lusting for T Rex. Or Mayavati. Whatever.
And I was supposed to Do Some Research over the weekend - on Chinese food in
And I had a day trip to
Then I beat my own record by falling asleep in the terminal. With short breaks for boarding, disembarking, reaching home and faling into bed face first.
I wish I were still there.
Sister Maria of the Loreto Mission has spent her life changing lives. She teaches, nurtures, helps children who live on the sidewalks of
As far as I’m concerned, Sister Maria is their God. She – and we – were there because Ashish Vidyarthi loved his father. And because he chose to show his respect for the late Govind Vidyarthi by instituting the Vidyarthi Samman. To acknowledge the people who don’t hit the headlines, the people who touch our lives but go unnoticed, the people we end up taking for granted. Four people were felicitated this year. Biswanath De from Malda, who for 65 years has worked in a form of folk satire called Gombhira. Hemendra Chandra Sen, who for 50 years has made the instruments that Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan play. Debi Haldar, make-up artiste in Bangla cinema for 53 years, and an invisible part of the work of Satyajit Ray. (This last is especially poignant now that make-up has been accepted as a category in the National Film Awards). And of course, Sister Maria.
Govind Vidyarthi, born TK Govindan, was one of those people who earn respect without demanding it. You can read about him here. I never met him, or his wife Reba, but I didn’t need the tributes from Nadira Babbar or Shyamanand Jalan to understand the kind of people they are. It’s evident from the son they raised.
The evening was a humbling experience. First, because of the four awardees and their silent achievements. Their humility. Their dignity. And again, because of the effort that Ashish puts into this every year. From making the arrangements for the awardees’ transport and accommodation to taking time out from his killing shooting schedules to go buy the angavastrams himself. To honour his father’s principles and his father’s memory. My father is special to me, but do I show it enough?
After the awards, Ekjute staged their play Dayashankar ki Diary. Nadira Babbar’s script is matter-of-fact, realistic, well-developed. Very relevant to the theme of the evening, because it deals with a man in the opposite situation to the four awardees, a man who sees no dignity in his situation, derives no satisfaction from his condition or his work. It doesn’t preach. A big plus point here, because I loathe preaching. It’s more than funny, it’s satire and an everyman tragedy. And it had Ashish.
You know how, when you have a friend who’s very good at something, you tend to take it for granted? How his special talent becomes invisible from close up, because it’s just what he does? Well, Ashish is this good friend who just happens to have a National Award. I tend to focus more on his camera (Nikon D200, thank you very much. I have impure thoughts about it, the kind that a younger man might have about Jessica Alba) and his text messages from weird places at weird hours. It took 90 minutes of Dayashankar ki Diary to wake me up. Ninety minutes, hell, I was kind of open-mouthed after 9 minutes. I forgot - this man is an ACTOR! Day-umm.
I won’t forget it again in a hurry. Thanks, mate.
Somewhere in our minds there is a disconnect between the blog world and real life. We read all these posts and are happy about how clever and wise and funny and incisive we are when talking about the world’s problems, but of course bloggers don’t have problems of their own.
Reality struck back yesterday.
Lalita Mukherjea died. She stayed her lovely self through a painful battle against cancer. On Monday, after weighing the balance between the time gained and the pain endured, she stopped her medication and went her way. On her own terms. As usual.
She was … well, she was a wonderful person. We only met three times, but every time I was aware of a personality that was stronger, wiser, kinder. I won’t presume so far as to say trite things about a person who had such innate strength and, really, goodness. Read her blog. Her character is evident in every line.
Rest in peace, Lali.
A majority of my readers (that is, 5 or more) have said I’m pedantic. That I’m finicky. A few (i.e., 3 or less) have even said they spell-check their comments because I might point out errors. I am aghast. As a double drop-out, I don’t know enough to ped any ants. But I do hate bad spelling and bad punctuation. Which is why THESE guys are my current heroes. Go for it, Herson and Deck!
Another unlikely hero came into my life yesterday. Very Nice Colleague was in my office for a meeting. Received a call on his cell-phone. Spoke for a while. Tried to explain that he could help out the caller, but only if he were given a complaint in writing. Now VNC is a totally chilled person. Suddenly, he burst out in Hindi – Abbe b*****i ke, tu kar le jo karna hai! Haan record kar le, sun aisa kar, loudspeaker on kar aur poora
It was a little like seeing Federer spit at a line judge. Parallel universe. Turned out it was a call from a collection agency – some lady in his office had defaulted on a payment to ABN-Amro and they wanted him, as head of office, to Make Her Pay. After he’d pointed out politely (about 11 times) that her personal loan was her personal business and he really has no jurisdiction over it, the caller from the collection agency threatened HIM with dire consequences. At which point he lost his cool. (The caller hadn't realised that VNC is a Bihari, not a Bong)
We carried on with the meeting. The same guy kept calling. After the 15th call or so, I answered the phone. And thoroughly, oh so thoroughly, enjoyed myself. Sample exchanges (pardon the Pnjaab-bi and the lack of translation, but I thought the accent would make him feel at home)
§ O jee, aap ka naam kya ai jee? Kalra? Aap Pnjaab ke ai? Naeen? Jee ey to Pnjaab-bi naam ai jee. Ya to aap ke purkhon mein se koi Pnjaab se aaya owga, naeen toh koi Pnjaab gayee ogee, ai naa? Aap smajh rae ain naa?
§ (Later, when he had shouted at me thrice and used the familiar tu) Jee aap kee tehzeeb toh lajawaab ae – aap
§ Jee ae Archna kaun ae jee? Manne kahaan milegi? O jee baat sun lo, ladkee se gal karni ae toh himmat rakho, khud jaa ke gal kar lo jee, humein beech mein mat laao.
§ Baat bataao, aap ka is Archna se kya rishta ae? Darte kyun ae? Kya aap shaadi shuda ae? Nahin ae? Jee aap ke maa baap bhi shaadi shuda nahin the? Parampara ae kya?
§ Kya jee? Eddrass likh loon? O jee main kya likh paoonga, aap jaisa parha likha kahaan hoon, hota toh main bhi call centre mein na baith jaata?Kya? Meri naukri pyaari hai ki nahiin? Jee naukri toh bas naukri otee ae, aap mujhe doosree naukri dilwaogey kya? Main toh tyaar hoon.
§ O jee dil chhota na karo jee, maa-baap ne aap ki padhai adhoori rakh dee toh aap ka yeh haal, toh kya hua, aap bhi sattoo besan ke pakore bech ke trakki kar sakte ho jee.
§ Jee aap gussa thook do jee, aap ka blad prashur barh jaawe toh call centre mein toh madkel banfit nahin hogi, hai naa?
After 7 minutes and 48 seconds, spluttering incoherently, he hung up. With the promise to call again. And again. Sadly enough, he hasn’t kept his promise. I miss him. Come back, Sandeep Kalra who collects for ABN-Amro. I SO enjoyed our conversation. See, I could even introduce you to the nice people at ToI who swiped Twilight Fairy’s photo off her Flikr album, printed it in their paper and then offered her 1500 bucks “because they hadn’t asked her in advance”. Such nice people, no? And maybe they didn’t have the time to ask her because they were busy Leading India and Teaching
There should be a list of the Top 10 Bloody Awful Super Hits. How about Tu cheez badi hai mast mast from Mohra? Or more recently, Crazy kiya re, which is doubly loathsome because it is picturised on my Least Favourite Actress of All Time. In the dim and distant past, there was Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy and a series of ’80s atrocities by Bappi Lahiri and his clones (youngsters, think Anu Malik with fewer instruments). Nominations, anybody?
But this post was triggered by happier things. Bongo Pondit’s take on memorable Hindi film “dialogues”, which somehow appeared on my sitemeter this morning. Do Hindi films still have separate credits for “Dialogues”? The taali seeti line seems to be a thing of the past, it’s been replaced by camera angles and the heroine’s navel. Sad. I appreciate Shilpa Shetty’s .. errr… acting as much as the next man, but I’d trade in the entire crop (down to Sherlyn Chopra and Geeta Basra) for one line like “Dawar Sahab, main ab bhi phNeke huey paise nahin uthata hoon” Taaliyaan!
OK, before we start, let’s leave out Sholay. That was the film that started “dialogue karaoke”, with the entire audience murmuring the lines as they were spoken on-screen. Take a look at the others from the ’70s. Before the Amitabh era, there was Anand and Rajesh Khanna’s Zindagi aur maut toh upar waale ke haath mein hain jahanpanah. The repeat in the last scene (remember Maut, tum ek kavita ho ?), the sudden Babumoshaaaai as Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee sobs over Anand’s corpse, still sends chills down my spine. Another isspessul Kaka line was Pushpaa, Pushpaaa, I hate tears in Amar Prem, but that is remembered (and caricatured) more for his delivery than the line itself. How about “Understand? You better understand!” from Seeta aur Geeta? This line – recycled by Sridevi in Laadla (?) - was Salim-Javed writing for Ramesh Sippy before Deewaar happened and they became THE Salim-Javed.
After that, of course, the deluge. That great line from Deewaar quoted above. I prefer that to the jatra sequences of Jaao us aadmi se likhwake laao or Mere paas Maa hai. Zanjeer gave us Jab tak baithne ko kaha nahin jaaye, sharafat se khade raho. Special appeal because my SP once did something very similar with an MLA in the face of a 2000-strong mob. Amar Akbar Anthony had a couple of great exchanges between Vinod Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan, my favourite being Haan saab, bahut phemus hain … bade bade akhbaaron mein chhoti chhoti tasweerein chhapte hain. And that drunk scene in front of the mirror (lifted from Charlie Chaplin), Eeydiut lagta hai tu, pakka eeydiut … SRK has now made the Don lines his own, but pliss to remember that they originally gathered chauwannis in 1978. (The multiplex crowd have never seen sweepers fighting to be the first to clean up after a show. People really used to throw coins at the screen.).
The ’70s were also a great period for comedies. Golmaal, Chupke Chupke (Dharmendra wasn’t even nominated for an award for that superb performance!), Rang Birangi, Angoor –they all had their lines, but mostly in context. Utpal Dutt made the most of that late scene in Golmaal – Main tumhe Benaras ke pede khilaoonga, Kalkatte ka rasgulla khilaoonga, Dilli ke laddoo khilaoonga … nahin toh police ke dande kaise khaoge betaaa? He also had one of the best last lines in Indian cinema, when – as the sublimely named Inspector Dhurandhar Bhataodekar in Rang Birangi – he leaped from his chair roaring BR Chopra ko pakad ke laao! Some years later Chashme Buddoor took forward the self-referential humour. When Farooque Shaikh started a motorcycle (a Yezdi. How many of these kids have SEEN one?) that Rakesh Bedi and Ravi Vaswani couldn’t, they shrugged it off with Tu toh is film ka hero hai.
Slipping into the ’80s, there was the I can waak Ingliss I can taak Ingliss sequence in Namak Halaal, but that was really about The Amitabh Show rather than the script. And of course Rishtey se tera baap lagta hoon in the Second Coming crafted by Tinnu Anand, or the Vijay Deenanath Chauhan line from Agneepath (OK, that was 1990, so what?) Dammit, weren’t there any paisa wasool lines by any other actors during that period? Big B has wiped out an entire generation of leading men even in memory!
No no wait – there was ONE ’80s film that was a cult in itself. Who can forget the Mahabharat cheer
The late ’80s also had Mogambo khush hua, something we oldies still trot out after a good meeting, but on the whole those years were a little arid in terms of GREAT lines. (What the ’80s had in trumps, really, was Names for Villains. Shakaal. Dang. Mogambo. Kanchha Cheena. I mean, what were they smoking?!)
I have some off-beat favourites from the ’90s onwards. Daud (1997) was a Ram Gopal Varma flop that I liked, especially for an exchange between Sanjay Dutt and Urmila Matondkar in the second half of the film (when they – and the audience - still don’t know each other’s names) –
SD – Toh teraa naam kya hai?
UM (after some Attitude) – Daya Shankar
SD (stunned look)
UM – Kyon? Kya kharaabi hai is naam mein?!
SD (hurriedly) – Nahin, koi nahin. Acchha naam hai.
UM – Toh teraa naam kya hai?
SD (deadpan, turning away) – Uma Parvati!
And Neeraj Vohra with Yeh mere shikaari the, jo bahaauuutt bade pitaji the. Silly to the point of perfection. Where have you gone Sanjay Chhel, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you (especially after horrors like Welcome). Chhel gave Sanjay Dutt another good throw-away in Khoobsurat, again opposite Urmila - Par tu toh maal hai naa Shivani?
There were some heavyweight moments in the ’90s, like Ye dhaai kilo kaa haath jab kisi pe uthtaa hai and Judge order order chillata rahega aur tu pit-taa rahega in Damini. The real line in that film, however, was Taareeqh pe taareeqh, which has echoes of “And the oranges must rot, must be forced to rot” from The Grapes of Wrath (the book – I don’t think it’s in the film).
Then there was Jhankaar Beats, with Shayan Munshi threatening Rahul Bose – Tumhe maloom nahin mera papa kaun hai? And getting his come-uppance with Nahin. Kyon, tumhe nahin maloom tumhara papa kaun hai? There were moments of divine inanity in some David Dhawan films, my favourite being Govinda’s obviously ad-libbed Hum toh bas underwyaar underwyaar khel rahe the in Jodi No. 1.
All in all, it’s the gags that stay in the mind these days. Cheat Update - Yes, I loved Rangeela, Aamir was superb, but the good lines were gags rather than the de taali high drama types. I vaguely remember Andaz Apna Apna and my surprise that Hindi cinema could come up with such throw-away gags, but I also had the impression that the lines were better than the Khans' timing could do justice to. Maybe I was wrong, I shall try and rent it over this long weekend. I like SRK’s line Kaun kambaqht bardaasht karne ko peeta hai, but this, like Don, is a direct lift from the earlier version. Where are the movie lines that resonate in the memory, that stay alive long after the movie has sunk? Is it because the scripts don’t value the big dramatic moments, or is it because actors try to Be Cool rather than heroic?
I’d love to get some feedback on this. Before I’m reduced to googling for “Great Lines By Harman Baweja” or “Mohit Ahlawat – the Director’s Cut”. And hey – how many women in Hindi cinema have had great lines? Forget Meena Kumari, leave out Basanti – what are we left with? Sharmila Tagore in Mausam with Yeh bilayati sharaab saala bahut haraami hai? C’mon, I’m an old MC. Show me the great lines from women.