Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hair Offering Custom...Do You Believe In It Now?

Picture is from The Hindu.

When I read the news in The Hindu, the caption, 'Tale of a hairy sale', which said that 'Trumala temple has got a huge stock of 471 tonnes of hair, offered by devotees, for disposal, profitably (!)', I remembered taking my sons to Tirumala long back for their hair tonsure!

As per our family custom, we had to tonsure my sons' heads, first at Gunaseelam temple, Trichy and then at Tirumala, Tirupati. This god (Gunaseelam temple) is supposed to be the elder brother of Tirumala's Venkateshwara. Read the rest of the details in the above link.  We were supposed to do the first one, in the 3rd year for the first baby .  Only 'odd' years! Until this was done, we could not visit the temple, both temples, Gunaseelam and Tirumala, for any reason...even for attending a wedding or for darshan! My first son had long hair (double plaited) when we went to Gunaseelam! The second son was some 8 months old. The babies were made to sit on their father's lap while tonsuring.  I remember my husband telling me that both of them cried a lot! In those days, there were only male barbers for doing this job.  Women/mothers were not allowed inside the room.  Now, we can see women also doing the job (Picture above). After tonsuring, the babies should be bathed and some priest would apply sandal paste on their heads.  Some devotee would apply the 'naamam' on their forehead Lord Venkateshwara wears, like this:

I have got their pictures with shaven head and naamam on their forehead...I laugh and they glare at me, whenever they see it!

I was just wondering what our wikipedia says about this and yes, I got the story and only now I know why I offered my sons' hair to the god!

When Lord Balaji was hit on his head by a shepherd, a small portion of his scalp became bald. This is noticed by Neela Devi, a Gandharva princess. She feels "such an attractive face should not have a flaw". Immediately she cuts a portion of her hair and with her magical power she implants it on his scalp. Lord Balaji notices her sacrifice. As hair is a beautiful aspect of the female, he promises her that all his devotees who come to his abode should render their hair to him, and she would be the recipient of all the hair received. Hence it is believed that hair offered by the devotees is accepted by Neela Devi. The hill Neeladri, one among seven hills is named after her.

Some of my relatives (husband's side - Tamilians) offer their babys' hair at Vaidheeshwaran temple. But as far as I know, every child's first hair was offered to some temple, mostly Tirupati. My Maharashtrian friend said that they don't have this custom. My mother's side (Udupi) too, don't have this custom! Is it just the custom of the Tamilians?

I don't know if I would ask my son to do this ritual and the ear-piercing ritual for his children. The babies are too small while doing this and I can't bear the crying of small babies.  Or as an elder, I might like them to do so...I might think it as the family custom and might be good for their well being! I think the younger generation would abhor this custom. They say that the hair will grow thicker if it is tonsured completely in the early years, do you think so?

What is your opinion?

Edited to add on 26.5.13: Profit for Thirumala from selling of hair!

Picture courtesy of Lord Venkateshwara: Google

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Be Happy Always!


This song, based on raag Ananda Bhairavi, was composed by music director A.R. Rahman.  He won the National Best Music director Award, Tamil Nadu State Award and Filmfare award for the songs in this movie, 'Minsara Kanavu' (Tamil). It was directed by Rajeev Menon.  Vairamuthu was the lyricist. Kajol,  Prabhu Deva and Arvind Swamy were the main actors.

I love this song by Anuradha Sriram, for the softness in her voice and the soulful melody of Rahman.  The orchestra is with very less instruments. The picturization also blends with the softness of the song.  And Kajol's eyes...expression in her face...great! Kannada actor Shankar Nag's wife, Arundhati Nag acted like a typical, devoted nun, here.

Hindi version of the song is equally good.  Anuradha herself has sung this song and lyrics by Javed Akhtar:

They always say when they mention about Christmas, 'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy Christmas'.  I like it very much.  I noticed that everybody whether they are Hindus or others, wholeheartedly greet everybody with this greeting, here, in our blogosphere too! Let me also join in!




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Japanese Wife - An Unusual Love Story!


I am a big fan of Aparna Sen, both as an actress and a film maker.  I remember admiring her first movie as a director, '36, Chowrangee Lane', in which Shashi Kapoor's wife, Jennifer Kendal played the main character.  It was a serious movie.  Most of you must have seen her 'Mr. & and Mrs. Iyer', a beautiful movie, in which her daughter, Konkona Sen acted as a heroine (opp. Rahul Bose, who is the hero of 'The Japanese wife'). I was interested to watch this movie just because it was Aparna Sen's movie.

Now, to 'The Japanese Wife'! Snehomoy Chatterjee (Rahul Bose), is a school teacher, in a small West Bengal village. The village is like an island.  Only boats connect it to other surrounding towns.  He is fascinated by English and comes across the 'Pen Pal's section in a magazine and starts writing letters to a Japanese friend Miyagi (This girl's sweet English accent is interesting and has acted well). This goes on for a few years and without meeting one another, they plan to get married.  He sends her the white bangles, which the married Bengal women wear, to her.  He wears a wedding band sent by her. They continue to send gifts and mails to each other for many years.  His aunt wants him to marry her friend's daughter, Sandhya, but he continues his friendship with his Japanese wife.  Then the friend's daughter comes and stays with them with her son, as a widow, after her mother's death.  As per the local custom, she wears a white saree and never comes face to face with Snehomoy.  Slowly after sometime, they come to talking terms and even though he becomes slightly attracted to her, he goes back to writing letters to his Japanese wife.  Her son comes closer to him.  That boy also acted very well. Then Miyagi gets ill and Snehomoy goes to all types of doctors and sends herbs and golis to his wife and talks to her over phone to console her, with his broken English. His expression while searching for doctors for his wife's illness is superb.  He is so much in love with his wife that he takes 6 months' unpaid leave to search for doctors to cure her illness. Such devotion! The love and concern for his unseen wife is visible in his face, so well.  Then one allopathy doctor asks him to bring his wife to him for treatment, he gets very upset.  On the way back, he is caught in a storm and then dies of pneumonia.  In the end, they show his white saree clad Miyagi, with shaved head, coming to his/her home.

Moushumi Chatterjee who has acted as his aunt (mausi), was a famous actress in her hay days and here, she has done her job superbly. Raima Sen (Moon Moon Sen's daughter) as Sandhya was a surprise.  I know her as an average actress - sort of 'item girl' actress. Her acting is superb, here, in this movie. She must be a director's actress.  If the director is good, she is good! She has got huge, expressive eyes! Rahul Bose, is a good actor.  Here, the subdued acting as a villager, takes him to a higher level. His body language is just like a villager's. His slow English with typical Bengali accent is very endearing! He keeps on saying, "my English while writing is better than while talking"! Miyagi's (Japanese actress, Chigusa Takaku) English also matched with his English! Her soft voice and expression is very interesting.  Oh, I have to mention about the kite competition, which is very interesting! Snehamoy sends the kites his wife sent him, to the sky, as if he is connecting with his wife. I liked the way the villagers' and Sandhya's son's interaction here. The movie is like our normal movie in this portion! The picturization of the movie is superb!

The first half of the movie is tooooo slow.  You need lot of patience to continue watching! The next half of the movie speeds up a bit.  But in the end, you feel that you have watched a good movie! Rahul Bose and Aparna Sen give us that feeling! I watched the movie without sub-titles for the first half an hour, thinking that I will just follow it with Hindi words with an 'o' accent! But no, it was difficult! Well, did I tell you? This is a Bengali movie!

Let me show a small video clip, so that you can have a taste of the movie. The way Rahul Bose grows up from a young man to middle aged man...his hesitation in body movement in the middle age...well, he is superb, thanks to Aparna Sen. A clean movie to item songs or dances! No songs at all! Still, I had a good feeling after the movie was over!

Picture courtesy: Google

Edited to add on 21.12.11: Though I have given the wikipedia link to the movie, I thought I should mention that the movie is based on the novel of the same name by the Bengali writer, Mr. Kunal Basu.

Edited to add on 22.12.11!: Please read my friend Kavita's comment in the comment section! It is interesting!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Award for me!

Thank you, Ashok for the 'Versatile Blogger' Award! I am honoured!

Ashok himself writes about different subjects and he is interested in architecture a lot, which you can find from his posts. He seems to be a good photographer plus a poet.  His sketches also are interesting, one is here, which I liked a lot.

Nice to know you, thank you, once again, Ashok!

P.S.: It is very difficult for me to select and present this award to my friends now. Will take my time, Ashok! I was thinking about the names for a long time and then decided to postpone upto my 300th post?! Forgot in the end to mention, this! (Edited to add at 4 AM, 20.12.11!).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Govind Nihalani's Classic Movie - VIJETA (1982)!


I heard this classical raaga based song of Asha Bhosle in the radio programme, Sangeet Sarita, a couple of days back.  The song is based on raaga Aahir Bhairav, a morning raaga and Asha's voice was impeccably melodious.  Rekha is, as usual, superb in the song video.  Then I saw the name of the movie, 'Vijeta'.  I remembered that I had been planning to watch the movie for a long time and I did, today! And it is a Govind Nihalani, my favourite director's movie! I have watched, Ardh Sathya, Party, Aakrosh etc. and if I mention 'Tamas', the TV serial, it is enough to know of his calibre...I remember its impact on us when it was transmitted in Doordarshan, in the 80's.  He was the cinematographer for the movie 'Gandhi' and he has done this job for this movie, Vijeta, too. Now, hear the song first and you will know why I got hooked to the song and the movie. This is the only song in this whole movie and this is a Hindi movie!

This is the story of how Nihal Singh's (Shashi Kapoor) son, Angadh (Shashi's real son, Kunal Kapoor), matures in his life from a confused teenager to a fighter pilot.  Neelima (Rekha), as Angadh's protective mother, has done her job, superbly.  I had never thought that Kunal Kapoor could act so well amongst the talented actors like Shashi and Rekha.  He did his role very well. 
The story begins with the India-Pakistan partition scene (though they don't show it, but just hints) where Shashi loses most of his family members and so, often gets nightmares.  His mother, Dina Pathak offers her first grandson to the Sikh religion, as is the practice in many Punjabi families as a 'mannath'. So, Angdh is brought up as a Sikh boy. This is not a partition story or war story, but revolves around the emotions of the parents, Shashi, Rekha and their son.    Shashi is shown as a sort of weak personality.  Because of a short extra-marital affair, his wife Neelima is emotionally detached from him and the friction reflects on their son Angadh.  He is restless and is not able to concentrate in his studies.  So he was sent to a boarding school but he leaves it halfway and comes home.  So, there is fiction between father and son and Rekha is very protective of her only son.  Then, her brother, Om Puri (this superb actor comes in a short role, in this movie) suggests to Angadh to join Air Force so that he becomes focused in his life with the discipline he has to go through over there. Here, again, the father is against it.  But Angadh joins the Air Force. 
Then the story develops to show how Angadh gets accustomed to the atmosphere at the Air force, their training, his friends and how he changes into a self confident person as a fighter pilot and comes closer to his father.  The training of the fighter pilot and later, the war scene (Indo-Pakistan war scenes are not shown in detail, but just the scenes where Angadh's personality is developed) are shown superbly.  Govind Nihalani is a good cinematographer and it is visible in these scenes. Wikipedia says: 

The film is notable for some rarely seen aerial photography of combat aircraft active with the IAF in 1980's.  The central character of Angadh himself, is a MiG-21 pilot and is shown flying the aircraft in ground attack role in the 1971 India-Pakistan war.  Much of the movie, including the climax involving MiG-21bis, was shot at Pune.  The IAF No.4 squadron (the Oorials), provided the pilots and planes for the film's aerial sequences.  The movie included good colour footage of the Oorials aircraft in fight and in operations.
I am a great admirer of Shashi Kapoor's movies (well, some of them!), like Junoon, Kalyug, Kabhie Kabhie etc. People who know/have seen Rekha's movies, will always be her fan.  I can't mention her movies because it is a looooong list! She is one of my favourite actors.  Khubsoorat, Kalyug, Silsila,, I will stop here!  

Let me post some good scenes from the movie, so that you will definitely watch this movie after reading this review.  I am very much impressed by it, you know!

The dialogue by Shafi Inamdar of 'Yeh jo hai Zindagi' fame, is superb, here.  You can see KK Raina also here.  Amrish Puri as Angadh's Fighter pilot instructor, has done a very good job in this movie.  Supriya Patak is a stage actress (Angadh's girl friend) and so naturally, has done very well. Now, to the videos:

Poster courtesy: Google
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