Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Democracy kind of failed. Back to tyrrany.

Thank you all very much for voting. The poll has now closed, and, after 49 votes, the results are:

1. Karz
2. Bluffmaster (Shammi's)
3. Mard
4. Doosra Aadmi & Tridev
5. The Householder
6. Guru
7. Anari, some other 60s Shammi one, the random Vinod/Randhir one, Sindoor, and some Pedro Almodovar

So yesterday, the PPCC sat down, all pleased with itself, to watch Karz. No subtitles. Curses! How embarrassing! The PPCC, however, did not despair (yet). We put in Bluffmaster. No subtitles. Curses again! We put in the other 60s Shammi one. No subtitles. Aaaargh.

Which means we'll be watching...

MAAARRRRDDDDD!!!

...in the meantime. Since so many of you were keen on Karz and Shammi, though, we'll pay a visit to Grumpy Uncle Ji or possibly Other Uncle Ji and see about scrounging them out, with subs. Or else we'll just watch them without subs, and you'll have to suffer through a review that's like, "Uhh... Rishi asks what happened, and then says a bunch of other stuff."

We know. We know. We know what you're thinking. Get it together, PPCC!

We also completely forgot to list about a handful of other unwatched movies in the original poll:

1. Vijeta. 80s. (FINALLY!) Shashi, Rekha, Shashi's son. Govind Nihalani directed. Parallel Cinema, military, our most recent Holy Grail of Shashi films.
2. Kranti. 70s. Manoj, Shatrughan, Shashi, Hema, British oppression, craziness.
3. Pyaasa. 50s. Guru Dutt. We forgot Guru Dutt.
4. Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam. 60s. Yes. We forgot two Guru Dutt films.
5. Asoka. 2000s. SRK, Buddhism, costume epic. What's not to love?

Sigh.

A completely unrelated note about filmi qawwalis

The PPCC loves Sufism, big time. And the PPCC loves qawwalis, bigger time. So inspiring! So devotional! Who wouldn't feel filled with transcendental awe of the divine after listening to Faiz Ali Faiz's most excellent Dam Mast Qalandar?

Anyway, if you've watched Hindi films, you'll know that qawwalis show up fairly regularly - sometimes presented as fun parodies (such as the acrobatic Parda Hai Parda from Amar Akbar Anthony, or the hilariously over-the-top Tumse Milke Dil Ka Jo Haal from Main Hoon Na), sometimes presented a little more earnestly (such as Khwaja Mere Khwaja from Jodhaa-Akbar), and sometimes as inventive variations on the original (Chaiyya Chaiyya from Dil Se really takes the cake for that). Man, it's all good.

But this article at allmusic doesn't seem to think so, and spends a lot of time disparaging filmi qawwalis: they are "bland", "garish", and they "strayed ever closer to disrespect for the music's origins". Oh my! The problem with the article is that it spends so much time disparaging filmi qawwalis, and not nearly enough time explaining what exactly is so wrong with them. Sure, "a low-budget parody of a Las Vegas chorus line" is an easy target for ridicule and certainly doesn't inspire sublime devotion... but we at the PPCC can't help thinking the article comes across as just snobbish. Man, and filmi stuff already gets trash-talked by the Western intelligentsia enough!

What we'd like to read instead is a more in-depth analysis of filmi qawwalis. What do real live qawwals think about them? Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, nephew of the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, doesn't seem to have a problem with filmi qawwalis, as he sings a lot of them (e.g. the haunting Naina from Omkara)! What do lay Muslims think about them? We at the PPCC would think that filmi qawwalis are a positive force, in that they are a fairly standardized way of asserting minority Muslim culture in Hindi films. Everyone loves a good qawwali!

Anyway, thoughts? Feelings?

12 comments:

Anarchivist said...

Crazy! I was just looking up books about qawwali today, so maybe that's a sign.

I love, love, love the qawwali, and the one in Omkara (like the one is Maqbool) is a great example.

Also, there's a scene in Bobby that exemplifies the greatness of the qawwali. The young lovers have had a very Pretty in Pink-like misunderstanding, and she's gone off in a huff. He follows her, and then he gets beaten up. He ends up, sitting at the campfire while she hides in a tent, so near and yet so far. Meanwhile, an old guy is sitting there, singing the most heart-wrenching qawwali. The music totally ennobles what could otherwise be the dumb teen romance quality of the whole thing.

Nothing against "Hopelessly Devoted to You," say, but it just can't possibly compare to that.

I'm blanking on the name of the song, but I'll look it up when I get home...

ajnabi said...

If it weren't for qawwalis, I wouldn't know anything about Sufism, since they inspired me to research the topic. Coming from a religious background myself, I would think that anything that causes inquiry into that religion would be considered a good thing. I think qawwalis are beautiful and a fun way to elevate the mood of what might be a typical love story else. That article reminds me of stuff from Focus on the Family in its overreaction to the subject, only referring to Islam rather than Christianity. However, I'm not Muslim so perhaps I'm missing some sort of denigration... Also I was just looking up qawwali today so that's funny that you posted this. Have you seen this article? http://www.dayafterindia.com/dec206/silver_screen1.html

Rum said...

YAY! I knew my favorite movie would triumph, i hope you guys enjoy as much as i did with the General Curzon statue that looks soooo much like Shashi if u zooom or look very carefully. And its just like dharam-veer it doesn't know what century it is set in, so with tanks gunpowder comes gladiator clad fathers and flamenco clad Amrita. Hope u laugh out loud its hilarious!

Ridhima said...

Qawwalis are the only form of music in our movies these days that always hits the chord...infact cum to think of it, they have always been a success..I liked the scene in Jodha Akbaar's khwaja mere khwaja..thats d original form of qawwali sung at shrines in praise of lord.
In the end Akbar was sooo moved with it that he joined tham..dat indeed is the power of qawwali.

Nina said...

Ooh, can I take this occasion to pimp my favourite, qawwali-soaked, Hindi film Barsaat Ki Raat? Here's what Philip's Filums has to say about it:

"it has a memorable score, with lyrics by the great Sahir Ludhianvi (an Urdu poet doubtless most in his element when—as here—composing for a film about Urdu poets), sung by a stellar list of playback singers, and culminating in a series of dazzling qawwali performances (of love-saturated and Sufi-inflected couplets on the pleasures and pains of love) that are among the best ever filmed."
http://www.uiowa.edu/~incinema/BarsaatKiRaat.html

...I totally concur! And it has three heroines who are strong, determined women. And Bharat Bhushan is a cutie. Ticks all my boxes for sure.

Sorry I can't provide any more intellectual enlightenment on qawwalis in film, but if you find any I'd love to read about it on your blog.

memsaab said...

A lot of filmi qawwalis don't really have religious lyrics, which I suppose if you are a purist would make it actually NOT a qawwali...but I love the style and tempo of them. One of my very favorites is from Dharmputra "Yeh Jo Dil Deewana"---the guy who plays the singer is very charismatic, and Rafi sings it so well.

And no subtitles??? Grumpy Uncle Ji better make good on those.

Beth said...

You need to ask Filmi Geek about qawwalis. She's got lists of them.

And I just got Karz - let's make that happen! Also, coincidentally, I just read about Mard for the first time yesterday and thought "I have GOT to see that."

Filmi Girl said...

I own "Mard" but have not had the pleasure of viewing it yet. I look forward to your review!

Filmi qawwalis are a mixed bag just like filmi anything is a mixed bag.

I do not approve of the disdain in the line from that awful "Allmusic" article: "By contrast the tinsel wilderness of Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) reduced qawwali to a low-budget parody of a Las Vegas chorus line."

Oh, give me a break, music snob guy! "Tinsel wilderness"?

Beth said...

Because I am nosy AND like to do research, I found a bio of the author of the allmusic article. http://en.world.freemusic.cz/index.php/about-us/ken-hunt-bio/

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Anarchivist said...

Thanks, everybody, for the "my favorite qawwali" posts. Now I can get those on my list! Speaking of which, the phrase "tinsel wilderness" just drove "Amar Akbar Anthony" to the top of my Netflix queue.

Sanket Vyas said...

I can appreciate a good article from a music-snob or even a movie-snob (since I am accused of being one from time to time) but in this case the author had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I have asked Muslim friends (both Indian & Pakistani) and they all agree that filmi quwwalis can carry the same gravitas and beauty that 'real' ones do. In addition they feel that since most people get their quota of Desi culture from Bollywood - that without filmi ones most people would never get to hear them.

Also, I feel that filmi quwwalis allow something I don't think you would see in real life - the songs sung by female singers. Case & point is my personal favorite, the title song from 'Hum Kisise Kum Nahin' sung by Rafi & Asha - acted on screen by Rishi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman. 'Pardah Hai Pardah' has the respect of everyone I know that is a music fan and Rafi is one of the few singers that can do songs like that.

P.S. to anrchivist - the song from Bobby is 'Beshak Mandir Masjid' by the singer Chanchal. AAA to the top of your queue is the only place for it ;)