Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Small Replica Of The Grand Canyon Of The U.S. In India!

The river Pennar has created this gorge in Kadappa, Andhra Pradesh through the years.

We had been to the U.S., a couple of years back and visited The Grand Canyon over there and I did a post on it too here! The place was amazing.  There, the Colorado river's flow/force, made the designs in the mountainous route it flowed.  Here, in Andhra Pradesh's Kadappa, Pennar river flows through the rocky/mountainous region and has created beautiful designs on the red granite rocks.  Until we visited here, I hadn't heard about it before.  To look at this gorge, we have to climb uneven rocks. I too climbed up to some level and took some pictures!

This picture was clicked by me from a bit lower level! The red granite rocks give more beauty to the area.
My son climbed up on the uneven rocks which looked as if they were piled up on each other and took beautiful photographs.

Son climbed up these rocks and clicked the first picture from the top most rock! It was like a rock climbing sport!
Now, let me tell you a little history of this gorge.  Gandikota (Gandi means Gorge and Kota means Fort in Telugu) is a small village on the right bank of the river Pennar, 15 km from Jammalamadugu in Kadappa district, Andhra Pradesh. The gorge, which is a natural one, forms as a protective barrier on one side of this fort. The mountains are around 300 ft.above sea level.  The fort was built by the Chalukya in 1123 A.D. by Kapa Raja of nearby Bommanapalle village and a subordinate of Ahavamalla Someswara I, the Western Chalukyan king of Kalyana. More details can be had from this video and wiki link.

To reach this place we have to go through the zig zag route inside the Fort (I saw this type of zig zag routes inside the fort in other forts we visited earlier too, to cut the speed of the enemy troupes).  Our car went up to a km. inside and then had to stop.  Then we climbed up the rocky area and visited the old Jamia Masjid. Walked further through the rubbles of the old remains of the ancient buildings.  The whole area was uneven with stones.  All were red granite rock bits.  It was noon and the sun was high.  But we walked.  Son had said earlier that he was going to surprise us (we never knew about this place before!) and yes, this was a beautiful surprise for us.

So many designs, the flow of the water has created through the years and more will be there after another 20-30 years.  I liked the colour of the rock...bright colour.  The rock/stones were seen all over the area. They look sort of beautiful.

In Arizona, U.S., the Grand Canyon hasn't got this colour but more unique, unbelievable designs were there.  You can see them in my post referred to above.  They have promoted the place very well there but here, no symptom of promotion is seen.  We can put a bridge across the gorge and make way to reach the place easily.  Now, the way is via the fort and through the remains of the old fort...stones are strewn all over and it is very difficult to walk.  I think this rock climbing expedition also must be interesting for youngsters but for others, some easy way should be created. So many natural treasures and man made treasures are here in our country but maintenance and promotion is nit.  People also abuse these places. Hmmm....

Now, to more pictures of the place:

These temple-like structures were seen in the Grand Canyon too! Water force has created this through the years.  But now, the river looks so calm! Monsoon was not good this year too!
Story material for a movie? Male & Female footwear:)
Nearby airport is Hyderabad and then we can take taxi.  We went by road from Chennai, stayed at Kadappa and visited this place.  You can stay at Haritha Resorts at Gandikota, run by Andhra Pradesh tourism. 

We visited Belum caves after this, another nature's wonder. 2 hours' drive from Gandikota! Our India has got many treasures!


Friday, December 16, 2016

Foto(s) Friday!

Great Egret

Cattle Egrets

Cattle Egrets
Click on the picture to view clearly pl.
This picture is not very clear, so skipped last night...but I love this picture, so it is here now, the next morning!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lord For Immortality - Mrithyunjaya Temple At Thirukkadaiyur

Mrithyunjaya/AmrithaGhateshwara/Abiraami Temple, Thirukkadaiyur
We had been to this temple thrice...for our relative's and friends' 60th birthday celebrations! We had been there a couple of days back and thought will write about it today.

This temple is particularly associated with Shiva saving his young devotee, Markendeya from death, and the tale of a saint, Abhiraami Battar, a devotee of the presiding goddess, Abhiraami.

This is a more than a thousand years old Shiva temple situated at 300 Km. from Chennai near Kaaraikkaal (off Pondicherry/Puduchery)). The main deities are Amrithaghateshwarar (Amritha Ghata Eashwara) Thirukkadaiyur derives its name from the pot, called Ghatam in Tamil. Vishnu, Indra and the other Devas needed a clean place to consume the ambrosia (Amritha) that had been churned out during the  Samudra manthan and, therefore, brought the ambrosia pot here...Wiki says), Kaala Samhaara Murthi (Markandeya, who is blessed to be ever 16 years old, worshipping this (Shiva linga) deity) and Abhiraami Ambaal, Eashwara's wife (This deity was worshipped by Abirami Battar,  a staunch devotee of Abhiraami and wrote Abhiraami Andhaadhi 100 verses in Tamil, praising her). You can hear it here.

I think Markandeya story has to be told here! Wiki is helping!

Shiva saving Markandeya from Yama (Courtesy: By Raja Ravi Varma)

Long ago, near the temple of Tirukkadaiyur, there lived a sage named Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati. They were both devotees of Lord Shiva and worshiped him day and night for many years, asking to be graced with a child. After many years of penance, Shiva appeared to Mrikandu and Marudmati. He told them that he heard their prayers and would give them a choice: they could either have a gifted son who would live to be only sixteen, or a son of low intelligence who would live a long life. Mrikandu and Marudmati chose the former, and were blessed with Markandeya, an exemplary son, destined to die at the age of sixteen.

As Markandeya grew, so did his devotion to Lord Shiva. As advised by his father, Markandeya worshipped the Shiva Lingam at Tirukkadaiyur, even bringing water from the Ganges to the temple via an underground passage. On the day he was destined to die, Yama, the deity of death, appeared with his noose to tie around the soul of Markandeya and take away his life.  Markandeya sought refuge in the Lord and embraced the Siva Lingam. Lord Shiva appeared and warned Yama not to touch Markandeya, as he was under his protection. Yama refused to listen and threw the noose anyway, binding Markandeya and the Lingam together. Angered by Yama's extraordinary arrogance, Lord Shiva kicked him and held him under his foot, making Yama inactive. Markandeya was blessed by Lord Shiva to remain sixteen years old eternally. It is for this reason that Lord Shiva is also called "Kala-samhara" (Sanskrit: "Destroyer of Time") at this temple.

Meanwhile, with Yama being rendered inactive, there were no deaths on earth, but people were still being born. Burdened by the weight of so many people and unable to sustain their hunger, the earth-goddess, Bhumi Devi, appealed to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva, feeling compassionate for the earth-goddess, released Yama, allowing death to occur again. However, in order to remind Yama never to try to kill someone while they are worshipping Shiva again, the icon of Lord Shiva in this temple depicts the Lord with his forefinger raised in warning.

Since it is believed that Lord Siva subdued Yama in Thirukkadaiyur, the Lord is called Mrityunjaya (Sanskrit: "Conqueror of Death".

It is a Hindu tradition to visit this temple when the man of the family (don't know if women are given importance to do the pooja for them!) turns 60, 70, 75, 80 and hundred years old to live longer with good health.  Homams are conducted in this temple in their name and they are called:

Shashtiabhdha purthi (60)
Bheemaratha Shaanthi (70)
Vijayaratha Shanthi (75)
Shathaabhishekam (80)

For hundred years, they do 'kanakaabhishekam', I don't know if they are doing it here.

These homams are conducted 365 days a year.  Nearly 30 to 35 Homas can be conducted at a time, around the main garbhagriha of Shiva and around Abhiraami garbhagriha also, it seems.  They do Gaja pooja (A young elephant is there...pooja for that), Go pooja (cow & calf pooja), Ganapathi homa, Navagraha homa, Mrithyunjaya homa, Dhanvantri homa etc. for the package.  During 60th and 80th, the man ties the mangalsutra around his wife's neck.  It is done nearly like a wedding! One more interesting thing...a priest tells us the story about why this pooja has to be done and Markandeya's story too! He was good this time!

The homams are conducted according to the cost, from Rs. 35,000 to 50,000.  Any Hindu can come here and get it done.  They can bring their relatives also.  They help in recommending restaurants and hotels (some restaurants are there.  We had it in a small house, had home made food there.  The priest helped us get this done.)

Homam is going on...
A couple of pictures of the gopuram of Thirukkadaiyur temple, which I took in the morning of the pooja:

Thirukkadaiyur temple Gopuram
Thirukkadaiyur Temple Gopuram

The priest's phone number:

Kannan: 9442688200

We stayed at Hotel Manivizha: 04364287840

They did rudra homa, the previous evening from 6 pm.  After the pooja, at 8 pm, we visited Thirunallaaru Shaneeshwara temple, which was open till 9 pm. which was just half an hour drive away. The pooja at the venue went on till 9 pm., it seems.  Next day was Shanipradhosham day and this temple would have been difficult to even enter!

Next day, after the pooja, we visited Vaitheeshwaran Temple. It was open till 12.30 pm. The pooja had started at 6 am and was over by 9.30 am. Had brunch and left!

We had visited Chidambaram temple on our way to Thirukkadaiyur, which was also open till 12.30 pm.  They open again at 4 pm in the evening, it seems. 

So, we can visit all these temples.  People who are facing Shani Dasha visit Shaneeshwara temple.  Vaitheeshwaran temple deity cures illness.  Chidambaram Nataraja temple is famous for Art.  Beautiful architecture.
Chidambaram Temple Gopuram

Chidambaram Temple gopuram
Vaitheeshwaran temple looks very very ancient.  Gopuram is not maintained properly at all.  The inside of the temple also is very bad.  But it was too crowded when we went there.  Chidambaram temple looks well maintained.  Thirukkadaiyur is OK.  But all are ancient temples.  We had good darshan in all the temples this time.  Shani darshan was also good because it was late in the evening!

I always love to visit ancient temples!

First Picture Courtesy: Here

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Now, I Am A Fan Of Ustaad Rashid Khan!

Image result for Rashid khan, free picture
Ustaad Rashid Khan
We had been attending 'Naad Ninaad' concerts for the past few years now.  The Hindu(news paper) is sponsoring them and it comes in November.  This year too we went to Chennai's famous Music Academy to hear the music. And loved it.  Thanks goes to The Hindu!

We, i.e. our family heard about Rashid Khan (The name is pronounced as Raashid and not Rashid!) in the very old (1998)Saregama, a musical Reality programme anchored by Sonu Nigam. Many stalwarts from Hindi Film music industry and our Hindustani Classical music stalwarts participated as judges.  Many following episodes showed them singing in front of India Gate and other prominent places and we came to know about many famous Hindustani music singers then.  One of them was Ustaad Rashid Khan.  I still remember him singing in that programme.  No, I hadn't heard about him before that.  We, South Indians are involved with Carnatic music than Hindustani music then.  Now, the atmosphere is changing.  Every year we get to hear many Hindustani concerts in our famous Music season, in Chennai, in November and December!  This concert was houseful till the end, i.e. 9.30 pm! Mostly people start leaving the hall by 9 pm! Both Ustaad Shahid Parvez Khan and Ustaad Rashid Khan made us sit glued to our seat till the end! The sitar played by Ustaad Shahid Parvez Khan was divine.  I will write about him also sometime!

Please have a look at this video first.  This is just a sample.  He expanded this song elaborately, with a touch of pure classical in the end at the concert.  This one is mild, ghazal type.  Really, melodious:

Ustaad Rashid Khan (Wiki says), born on 1st July, 1996, belongs to the Rampur Sahaswan Gharana and is the great grandson of the founder Inaayat Hussain Khan.  Every gharana has got unique type of singing Hindustani music.  But Rashid Khan didn't just stick to his gharana, though he got trained in that, adopted many other gharana styles like Amir Khan's and Bhimsen Joshi's.
He is married to Joyeeta Bose, from the family of Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose.  (The comment section in the 'yaad piya ki video gave some details). 

This information is for serious Hindustani music fans:

His renderings stand out for the emotional overtones in his melodic elaboration. He says: "The emotional content may be in the alaap, sometimes while singing the bandish, or while giving expression to the meaning of the lyrics." This brings a touch of modernity to his style, as compared to the older maestros, who tended to place greater emphasis on impressive technique and skillful execution of difficult passages.

Rashid Khan has also experimented with fusing pure Hindustani music with lighter musical genres, e.g. in the Sufi fusion recording Naina Piya Se (songs of Amir Khusro), or in experimental concerts with western instrumentalist Louis Banks.

Rashid Khan gave his first concert at age eleven, and the following year, 1978, he performed at an ITC concert in Delhi. In April 1980, when Nissar Hussain Khan (his maternal grand uncle from who he was learning music) moved to the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Calcutta, Rashid Khan also joined the academy at the age of 14. By 1994, he was acknowledged as a musician (a formal process) at the academy.

Wiki says:  Pandit Bhimsen Joshi once remarked that Rashid Khan was the "assurance for the future of Indian vocal music".He was awarded the Padma Shri as well as the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2006.

You can know more about him in his interview programme in Rajya Sabha TV.

Shaksiyat Rajya Sabha programme:

This is his typical classical singing.  He sang this at the concert. Click here: Awesome rendition!

He has got two daughters and a son, who also have started giving concerts.  He has done playback singing in some movies like Jagjit Singh and his voice is melodious and soft in them. This is one:

From the movie 'Jab we met':

I used to hear just Jagjit Singh's ghazals all these days.  Now, Rashid Khan will also become my favourite! Never knew about him this much.  This concert has introduced me to an incredible, unique voice!

The video which is given below shows my favourite Carnatic singer Bombay Jayashree and now my favourite Hindustani singer, Ustaad Rashid Khan in a 'different' type of music, is it fusion...well, I liked it! You too will love this! Over to Coke studio:

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Waiting...A Beautifully Made Movie!


I seem to be writing movie reviews often nowadays! Well...I seem to watch good movies often nowadays! I am enjoying our retired, relaxed life now! Think of the positive things in life...take life as it comes! Nothing can be controlled! Whatever happens, happens for good....well, preaching ends here!

I had been planning to watch this movie for a long time now...I had read reviews about how well Naseeruddin Shaw and Kalki Koechlin had acted in this movie.

The story of the movie can be written in two lines but the way it is picturized is beautiful...

Shiv Natraj (Naseeruddin Shaw) is a very senior psychology professor, who is taking care of his comatose wife Pankaja (Suhasini Manirathnam) in a Cochin hi-fi hospital. He has sort of settled in his routine of finishing his work at home and coming to the hospital to sit beside his wife who had been in the hospital for the past 8 months.  He holds her hand and talks to her, reads to her every day.  He is friendly with the nurses (a nurse brings him food from home everyday) and doctors.

Then comes Tara Kapoor Deshpande (Kalki Koechlin) who was a recently married young advertising agent whose husband met with an accident at Cochin, now in the ICU with a severe brain injury.

Both of them are waiting in the hospital for their spouses' recovery. They meet often and come closer while consoling each other.  Both of them love their spouses (Naseer's had been a 40 years of happy marriage and Kalki loved her short term husband). 

Their generation gap is shown their thinking is world apart, language, how they look at their lives etc.  Kalki uses the foul words in every sentence and Naseer is a very straight forward, simple man! They come closer inspite of all these diversities.  Naseer is not even familiar with 'Twitter'! Every frame in this movie is well thought of.

I liked the acting of the assistant of Kalki's husband (Rajiv to me) and the doctor (Rajat Kapoor).  Both the cases are entirely different and I liked the way the doctor handled both of them!  Rajat also is a good actor.

Naseeruddin Shaw is a veteran actor and I have watched many of his movies.  Kalki, I liked her in 'Margarita with a straw'.

Now, to the trailer of the movie:

This movie is being screened often in TV or you can download too.  If you want to watch a meaningful movie, this is for you!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Still Alice...This Will Go Into My Memorable Movie List!

I think it is better to watch the trailer first!

I try to watch movies without reading the gist, or watching the trailers.  So, the story will be a surprise for me! My mind will be blank to enjoy it fully!

This movie, 'Still Alice' is about a middle aged lady, not a very old lady, Alice, stepping into Alzheimer's disease symptoms slowly.  The movie starts with Alice Howland (Julianne Moore...brilliant acting and got an oscar for this film!) jogging in the morning.  She is slim, tall and runs very fast for her age, 50! Comes home, cooks, cleans, takes care of the family of three children and a husband, goes out to work as a professor at Columbia University (as a linguistic professor to be precise) and she is famous there with her students.  While taking the class, she forgets a word here and there.  She becomes tensed up a bit and checks with a Neurological doctor and gets to know that she is in the early onset of Alzheimer's disease...She comes to know that this disease is genetic and she had got it from her father.  She tries to evade the disease by following some mental exercises.  Her whole family is supportive.

Well, I should not write the whole story.  It is a bit tension filled movie.  But Julianne's acting is so brilliant that we forget about coming out of the movie mode by just switching it off! Her physician husband, John Howland, supports/helps her a lot.  She wants her younger daughter who was in theatre, to finish her degree and be stable in her life.  She wants the daughter to be safe when she won't be there to guide her.  She loses her job because she was not able to be focused.

I liked the speech Julianne gave about the disease at the Alzheimers' conference, when she was half way into it.  You must watch the movie to appreciate it.  Many other memorable scenes/stages are there in the movie.

This movie is  based on Lisa Genova's 2007 best selling novel of the same name and is directed by Richard Glatzer and Wah Westmoreland.

This is from imdb 'trivia' section:
Co-director Richard Glatzer, suffers from ALS and can't speak. He directed the film using a text to speech app on an iPad. Both Moore and Stewart dedicated their "Ice Bucket Challenge" to Glatzer. The team couldn't attend the Oscar function where Julianne received her Best Actress award for this movie, because Glatzer was seriously ill and died later.

(Physicist Stephen Hawking suffered from this ailment and I did a post on his movie here!)

This movie and Julianne got many more awards and the list is in wiki. She is beautiful!!

Long back I read a book by Arthur Hailey, 'The final diagnosis' which was about the lives of intern students in a medical hospital.  Every night, after their classes, the students compare the symptoms of the diseases they studied in the class, on their bodies! That was a very good book.  Like that, I was checking myself at some stages in the movie! As you know, I am 'maradhimanni' i.e. Forgetful queen! I forget nearly on an average, 10 times a day, about words, things, incidents etc.  I think after I started writing here, the symptoms are coming down slowly, still, it is there!  I was a bit nervous, watching the movie! Then, I told myself, when I can do mixture (a bit tough!) and so many sweets at home for festivals, I don't think I will step into Alzheimer's that easily!!!  

I liked the ending in the movie!

Watched this in Tata Sky's Le plex channel! Very good movies are being screened there!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sangeeth Saritha, Radio Programme, Again!

As I have already written earlier, I am a fan of radio since my childhood days.  We grew up hearing the radio throughout the day, well... until TV took sometime of the day, later.  Even then, the mornings are exclusively for Vividhbharathi programmes.  I don't listen to FM radio because the presenters shout all the time and too many advertisements.  Vividhbharathi gets minimum advertisements and many are govt. sponsored like 'gobar gas', 'road safety', PM Modi's 'swachch bharath' and other reforms (this is the recent addition!).   Other programmes will be heard randomly without much attention but the 7.30 to 7.45 am programme is THE Sangeeth Saritha.  I love to listen the discussions on Hindustani/Carnatic music...many maestros discuss the raagas, how they are used in film music, different types of taals and many more.  Just to influence ordinary people who are not serious classical music lovers (I am not a serious classical music fan...I love all sorts of music!) mostly they include one film song based on the raaga in discussion.  I have written a couple of posts about this programme earlier and here, they are!    And here!

Normally, in this programme, one series about some subject goes for 10-20 episodes.  Now, I am hearing for the past few days, a programme about different music directors, the way they use particular instruments for songs, some famous classical singers who sang for a couple of movies....etc. etc.  The VIP here now, is Pt.Nithyanand Haldipur who is a famous bansuri/flute player.

Today, he was discussing about Shiv-Hari's (famous santoor player, Pt.Shiv Kumar Sharma and famous flute player, Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia) contribution to film music. Today, he was talking about one song from film, 'Tere Mere Sapne'
and the song is given below.  He said, 'In those days, RD Burman, SD Burman's son was becoming famous and was very busy recording songs.  SD Burman got the above movie for directing music.  Singers, Latha Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar were fixed. He had shortage of orchestra players.  At that time he came across Shiv-Hari and got an idea.  He asked just the both of them to play for one song.  With just two instruments, Santoor and flute, he finished recording one beautiful song.  I hear just the tabla sound apart from the two instruments in the background.  My favourite song.  Really, SD Burman is a genius.  Now, hear the song.  The lyrics by Neeraj is superb.

Kishore, Latha's voice, Dev Anand, Mumtaz's acting made the song a hit.  The movie also was a hit.  My parents were not happy about us, young girls, watching this movie (adult theme it was, in those days (1971, I think!).  I and my sister went with my cousins to Rajkumari theatre (a complex is there now!) at Pondy Bazaar, Chennai, to watch this movie.  All the songs were good.  A movie was always a hit in those days, if the songs were good!

I had written about SD Burman and RD Burman's music here!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Our Favourite Musical Programme Now...Voice India Kids!


Our week end prime time is exclusively for watching &TV programme, 'Voice India Kids'.  The finale is nearing, so all the kids are in perfect form.  This show has become famous for the talented kids and the most talented coaches and judges, Neeti Mohan, playback singer, Shekar Ravjiani, Singer cum music director, Shaan, Singer.  They are coaching the kids very well, we could see the improvement in the kids' singing, every week. 

Remember, Shreya Ghoshal, Arijit Singh, Ganjawala, Anwesha and many other singers are products of reality shows. 

 I love this girl, Shreya Basu's voice! All are very very young...

This girl Priyanshi Srivastava is a strong contender!

Saanvi Shetty is singing here! What a voice!

Wonder who will win....3-4 voices are very good.   Sometimes the children who come 3rd or 4th in the reality shows, become famous later, with good training and dedication.  Shreya Ghoshal participated in Saregama as a small girl, look, where she is now!  Musical reality shows started then.  Sonu Nigam was young and was the favourite anchor of many households, including ours! I had done a post on this subject, long back, here, it is!


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Lata Mangeshkar, Who Was/is My Favourite Singer Since My Childhood!

Singer Lata Mangeshkar
The Great Lata Mangeshkar!

Where shall I start? I had been hearing Lata Mangeshkar's songs from my childhood via radio.  It was 'Aap ki farmaayish' during daytime in those days and even now, though we hear her in 'bhoole bisre geeth' in the morning too, where very old songs are played.  She is 87 years old now!

From my mother, grand mother to my sons, love her songs/voice! My son loves her old songs, though!

Wikipedia gives more details about her here! I think I will write mainly about the precious cassette we had during the late 1970's!

It was the Cassette season then! No CDs.  We used to hear via radio for many years until then.  Then my husband brought home a car stereo.  It was like small box with knobs and a slot for inserting cassettes.  My elder son was around 2 years old.  He grew up hearing music even when he was in my womb! I am crazy about music...mainly film music, a little doze of bhajans too! I used to play the radio, mainly Vividhbharati from early morning bhajan programmes to night's 'aap ki farmaayish'.  You must be knowing that I am a great fan of 'Sangeet Sarita' programme which can be heard even today from 7.30 to 7.45 am.  The result, my sons also became very familiar with music.  (I think this programme has influenced us to appreciate all sorts of music from ghazals to western classical music).  We used to have many cassettes after the tape recorder came home.  One was 'Lata Mangeshkar's 1971 Live concert  at London's Albert Hall'. It was played 3-4 times a day, everyday! I remember my son mimicking the English words which can be heard in the beginning of the cassette! Dilip Kumar speaks in chaste Urdu! I can't follow many words in his speech even now! But it sounds good in his voice! The cassette became useless after it got cut 2-3 times (I had pasted them again and again!).  I couldn't get a new one later.  I had been searching for it for many years now.  Thank god, I got it now, thanks to 'you tube' and Mega Ayub! Her voice during this concert was at its peak! Soft and clear! Each and every song covered here, is a gem!

Here is some notes about this event at the famous 'Albert Hall' in London:

The 103-year-old Royal Albert Hall in London -- Britain's most prestigious auditorium with a seating capacity for 6000 -- witnessed a musical phenomenon unequalled in its hallowed history when the inimitable Lata Mangeshkar made her international "debut" on its august stage with a series of three concerts in the aid of the Nehru Memorial Project in Britain in March 1974.

Seldom, indeed, has the hall been booked for a single recitalist three times in one week. What, however, made the event equally unique was to have the hall packed by an oriental artiste for all three nights -- and something more. For even after the intermission on the final night (March 14), there still were crowds willing to pay double the highest price for admission to the hall!

Inside the hall, Lata, the cynosure of all eyes, received a big ovation as Dilip Kumar -- one of India's top-notch film stars, who was also specially invited by The India League, sponsors of the Memorial Project -- introduced her at every concert as his "little sister" and as "a singer with the voice that defied description and definition".

Tribute after tribute, as also bouquets galore, came to Lata from many eminent personalities of England and India.

Then amid the ideal setting that matched her many-splendoured talent, Lata sang her songs with a seraphic impulse. She could demand and obtain the spontaneous surrender of her 18000and odd listeners -- and sent them home with gladdened hearts and nostalgic memories

That is at once the singular distinction of the one and only Lata Mangeshkar..."the undisputed melody queen of India"..."the pint-sized bundle of musical genius"... "a singer with a moonlight in her throat"... "a legend in her lifetime"...                                      

I am hearing this now after many years but still can remember the song list clearly!  She is singing even now....for the current famous music director, AR Rahman!

P.S.: I heard this song just now, from the movie, 'Anand'. Goose bumps! She is unbelievably good!

Monday, September 19, 2016

PINK, I Will Never Forget This Movie!

Some movies affect you so much that even after a day you keep on thinking about it...frame by frame! 'Pink' is doing it for me! 'Piku' also did it but in a happy way! But this hurt me, enraged me first and made me happy in the end.  We are reading about girls being raped, thrown acid for saying 'NO' to their advance and some murdered for the same word 'NO'! Esp. in our capital, Delhi.

The story in this movie happens in Delhi, very aptly! Three well educated, well placed in good jobs girls are staying together in a flat, which is common nowadays.

Image result for Free images of Kulhari and Andrea in Pink movie
The three normal working girls, Meenal (Taapsee), Falak (Kirti) and Andrea (Andrea) in the film, 'Pink'!
The movie starts with three scared girls in a car returning to their flat after attending a party where Meenal happened to hit a guy with a glass bottle.  A set of four boys are going in another boy, Rajveer Singh has a bandage in his left eye and they discuss about the girls who hit him.  I was wondering what was happening..thought if I missed something because they didn't show the party scene or the hitting of the boy! But the story starts there!

They come to their flat. Starts discussing about the incident animatedly.  Then the girl, Meenal gets a phone call threatening her about the consequences.  This can happen to any working girl staying away from her family.  

We think that this is like any other story, where the boy is the nephew of a politician, so the girls will be threatened and later put to jail, raped and so on.  But 'NO'.  This is different.  Meenal was taken to jail for 'enquiry'.  But a good Samaritan, a retired lawyer, Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan) enters the scene.  He is weak, forgetful with a sick wife.  He stays just opposite their flat and had watched the girl jogging in the park and then picked up by the police that day.  He is inquisitive and asks the girls to show the FIR...He decides to fight their case.

Later on, the court drama starts! Since the 'affected' boy had influence, his 'loud mouth' lawyer starts abusing the three girls with very intimate questions.  Yes, this looks like a normal story .... until now! Deepak Sehgal just watches the drama for most of the time.  After Falak breaks down, he gets up and starts 'talking'.

He starts questioning the girls.  It looked like he was  not their lawyer ... well, I should not reveal more.  

Amitabh looks like a sleepy, very old person, older than his real age.  But when needed, his booming voice comes out!  Movies are going to run for him...this one included.  'Piku' will be remembered always for his comedy and this one for his 'stayed back' acting!

Taapsee as Meenal is new to me.  She is superb.  She must have been an unknown, not very famous actress until now! She will go places.  First the scared look, then hurt look, then resigned look....she is great.  And she is beautiful!

Kirthi Kulhari, also is new to me...she did very well when she exploded in the court.  

Andrea, as a North-East girl looks timid, typical hurt girl for the mere reason that she was from Meghalaya.  

I liked the way Mamta Malik acted as a typical corrupt woman police officer.  God, we can relate to her. 

The best acting apart from the main characters was by Dhritiman Chatterjee as Judge! 

The judgement was unexpected and Amitabh's verse in his booming voice and the scenes they show during credits which was also unexpected, adds to the uniqueness of the movie.  Hats off to the director, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury!

We can see different types of men, the soft-natured landlord of the girls' flat (Vinod Nagpal of 'Hum Log' fame), the leering neighbour who was bent on proving that the girls were characterless, the boy's lawyer who questioned the girl in a very dirty manner without batting an eyelid (he must be having daughters, I hope!)...It is always the girls' fault, all men say.  Boys never get any advice from anywhere even from mothers. 

This is a hit movie, I know! No one will say 'NO' for that!

Beautiful lyrics with English translation is here!

The trailor of the movie is here:

Enjoy the movie without fail!


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Our Treasure - III

I wonder how I forgot to continue the series 'Our Treasure' after writing Part I and Part II! friend, Shail, did a post on Thiruonam/Onam festival which triggered my memories.  I told her that we had seen a beautiful sculpture of Trivikrama/Vamana at Ellora(!).  During our road trip we had covered Ajanta, Ellora, Badami, Aihole and Pattada kallu at a stretch.  Now, it is more than one and a half years and I am getting confused! This Trivikrama sculpture is at the Badami Caves.  All the three of us, I, my husband and son were so overwhelmed when we saw the minute design of this sculpture, we spent more than half an hour, in front of this unique display of the talent of our ancestors.  Even now, as soon as I saw this, I felt breathless.  Have a look at it now and you too will feel like me!

Trivikrama, a sculpture at the Badami Caves (Karnataka). Notice the fingers, toes, the posture of King Mahabali's subjects pleading with Vishnu/Trivikrama...the Devas are on top...
Another angle!

The whole sculpture is here!
Click on the image and notice the hand holding a sword (on the right side). Such minute details can be seen here.  So many are there.
The story of the sculpture goes like this:

King Mahabali was a powerful, good King, though he was described as asura (demon).  His subjects loved and respected him.  He brought nearly the entire world under his kingdom.  He conquered Indra, the King of the Devas and occupied Indralokha.  He wanted to rule Indraloka permanently.  As per his Guru Shukracharya's advice, he conducted Ashwamedha yaga...a pooja to be the King of Indraloka.  He had done 99 yagas and had started doing the 100th, when Indra's mother Adhiti pleaded with Vishnu to help her son retain the Indraloka.  Vishnu assured her that he would do the needful.

He reincarnated as a Brahmin dwarf boy (Vaamana) and came to the Yagashala, the place where the yaga was taking place.  Seeing him, Mahabali asked him what he wanted, since it was the practice to give anything (daana, it is said) the Brahmins asked during the yaga time.  Vaamana praised Mahabali for his good and peaceful ruling of the kingdom. He reminded Mahabali that his great grandfather Prahlada was a great Vishnu devotee and also praised Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada's father, for his power and determination. 

Finally Vaamana said that he will need just three steps of land which he himself would measure.  Mahabali told him that he is not happy to give such a small amount of daana/gift and asked him to ask for more.  But Vaamana said the 3 steps of land would do.

The King's minister/adviser Shukracharya sensed that Vaamana was Vishnu and asked Mahabali to refuse giving the gift.  But Mahabali was adamant on giving the daana Vaamana had asked.  Mahabali did the sankalpa (sort of promise with tulsi water) and agreed to the 3 steps of land which Vaamana had asked. 

Next minute, the short image of Vaamana grew up in size, so huge that it was impossible to describe in words (which was called as Trivikrama Roopa).  The sculpture shows how the other images dwarfed in front of him.

His first step covered the earth, second covered the sky and when asked where to keep his third step, Mahabali offered his head.  Vishnu did that and Mahabali went into Pataal loka, below the earth.  

Before going down Vishnu gave Mahabali a boon as per the wish of his subjects, he will rule his country for one day a year as their king, every year.  This day is celebrated as Balipadya in Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra after Deepawali and as Thiruvonam/Vonam in Kerala (Thiruvona nakshathram/star in the Malayalam month of Chingam...Aug/Sept.).  Onam is celebrated in Kerala (for nearly 10 days, welcoming their King!) with feast, art festivals etc. 

I think I will be writing more about our treasures for a long time!


Friday, September 9, 2016

Foto(s) Friday!

Cloud pictures taken from a moving bus...on our way to Las Vegas!


P.S.: Third and Fourth pictures look similar! Which one shall I remove?! 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Ganesha Chathurti!


We grew up reciting

'Gajananam bhoota Ganaadhi sevitham,
Kapiththa Jamboopala saara bhakshitam,
Umaasutham shokha vinaasha kaaranam
Namaami Vigneshwara paada pankajam'   from childhood.

Ganesha Chathurti festival means, at home, in my mother's place, is normal Ganesh pooja with many Ganesh shlokhas.  We, Mangaloreans don't keep painted Ganesha or clay Ganesha but pooja is done to the usual Ganesh vigraha! Amma used to make coconut and jaggery stuffed modaks out of maida or wheat flour, fried in oil.  The usual different types of fruits are kept in front of god.  Appa  used to do the pooja reciting a number of shlokas. 

But after marriage into a Tamil family, the celebration of this festival became entirely different! We have to draw rangoli in front of our doors which was not important in Mangalore/Udupi.

Normal day rangoli/kolam
Festival day rangoli/kolam
We have to draw normal rangoli/kolam on normal days and padikkolam with red coloured border (Kaavi).  Normal days' kolam can be drawn with rangoli powder but on festival days it is maakkolam (rice soaked and ground with water, drawn with a small piece of cloth).  I learnt to draw this kolam very soon.  We lived with my sis in law for a few months to learn cooking (very slight difference from Mangalore cooking...use gingilly oil and groundnut/refined oil instead of coconut oil!) and the way to celebrate festivals in Tamil style. I was working then and so learnt some of the tough cooking slowly! One was the making of kozhukkattai/modak on Ganesh Chathurti! I was postponing to learn this and one day my husband said that his cousin had prepared kozhukkattai, the taste of which was still in his mouth! This woke me up from slumber/laziness.  I opened the book 'Samaiththuppaar' (cook & see) which was given to me by my friend maami .

Did the kozhukkattai and I never stopped from then on! Started doing all the sweet and savouries for all the festivals, thanks to the book!  Our Hindu festivals make us become active from our routine cooking.  God doesn't expect anything from us except whole-hearted prayers.  But in India, different regions celebrate our festivals in different styles.  Everything is interesting in their own way!

I had written about the way we celebrate Ganesh Chathurti is explained here.
My mother had ingrained in my brain that if we skip celebrating festivals once, we might be compelled to skip for the next 3 years, means, some death or something will happen in the family and we are barred from celebrating festivals the whole year! I know it is silly, but....

So, celebrate festivals happily and enjoy! The recipes might not come out easily in the first attempt, but you will improve in the years to come!


P.S. (Edited to add on Vinayaka Chathurti day, 5.9.16): I want to add this song of Seekaazhi Govindarajan, which is my favourite song on Ganesha till date! This is the first Tamil song we learnt after coming to Madras in 1962, without even knowing the language! I, my sister and brother used to sing this together...all of us were very small children then! Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2016

I Am Overwhelmed By Rabindranath Tagore & Anurag Basu!

First I must thank the director, Anurag Basu for introducing ordinary people like me to such intense stories by our own Indian Writer/Nobel laureate/Painter/Poet, Rabindranath Tagore.  I know Tagore as a poet (Gitanjali...a bit familiar), a writer of our National Anthem 'Jana Gana Mana', vaguely familiar with his paintings also.  I knew he wrote stories.  Am very familiar with Rabindra Sangeet, have heard them and watched them in TV.  Love the typical/unique tune of those songs.  But never knew that his stories were so intense, psychological, women oriented.

Well...I am talking about the TV serial 'Rabindranath Tagore Stories' which is being screened in EPIC channel at present.  The stories are based on the lifestyle of  people in India, esp. Bengal in the 1920s and 1930s.  I can relate/understand the situation in those days because I have heard from my mother and her sister, some typical stories of suppressed women of those days.  But here, in Tagore's stories, the women are portrayed as very intelligent, sometimes rebellious, who wanted to come out of the so called 'traditional' web. I had two grandmothers (Father's and Mother's mothers), both widows, one's head was shaved and no blouse, the other one wore blouse and even home stitched underwear! The first one always sang bhajans, shlokas, very religious and the other one recited shlokas but loved classical music, film songs, watched movies with daughters, read books and newspapers etc.  Well, let me go back to the Tagore stories now!

Please read about our Tagore first....He was born on 7th May, 1861 in Calcutta.  Lived for 80 years...and gave us so much in literature/poetry and many more things.  He is the youngest of thirteen children, lost his mother very early in his life and was brought up mostly by servants Wiki says that many of his siblings became famous in some or other area.  Tagore largely avoided classroom schooling and preferred to roam the manor or nearby Bolpur and Panihati, idylls which the family visited. His brother Hemendranath tutored and physically conditioned him—by having him swim the Ganges or trek through hills, by gymnastics, and by practising judo and wrestling. He learned drawing, anatomy, geography and history, literature, mathematics, Sanskrit, and English—his least favourite subject. Tagore loathed formal education—his scholarly travails at the local Presidency College spanned a single day. Years later he held that proper teaching does not explain things; proper teaching stokes curiosity.

He comes from a Zamindar family and so, no dearth of money at any time in his life.  His father wanted him to become a lawyer and sent him to law school in the U.K.  He didn't complete that course but was interested in English poets!

Became interested in painting at the age of 60 and had an exhibition in France!

He wrote and acted in drama-opera! Mind boggling personality, he was!

I have watched some movies based on his stories, again, they were based on the period of early 1900s, lifestyle in Bengal.

He started Vishwabharathi University in Shantiniketan (Indira Gandhi studied there, I think!)

Hmmm....I must thank the director of Rabindranath Tagore stories, a Hindi serial, Anurag Basu.

Until now, I didn't have an idea of how great Tagore was. He had written all types of stories from love stories to thrillers! Superb story-teller and great director combination is here! Wherever music is needed, Rabindra Sangeet is used.  Background music is memorable...yes, memorable! A big plus point to the serial. I am addicted to this programme.

He says in this video clip given below that he approached many channels for screening Rabinranath Tagore stories, which were short stories in individual episodes.  At last EPIC channel accepted and now, they are being screened in the channel.  Many familiar faces of TV and movies are there in nearly every episode.  You see them in entirely different angle.  Serious, good acting.  The women are beautiful in traditional Bengali dresses.  Men in dhothies with old, oily hairstyle.  I was feeling, sometimes heavy-hearted ('Tyaag'), sometimes laughing loudly ('Dhai Aakhar Prem Ka') after watching each episode! I started watching a bit late, so missed some episodes.  They are available in Netflix, it seems.  The name of the stories are here. Each and every episode/story is a gem.

My favourite actress Radhika Apte is in an episode.  Mind-blowing acting!

Now, to a glimpse of 'Rabindranath Tagore stories' clip! I used to use Punjabi words like 'Puththar' at home when 'Buniyaad' serial was screened in DD, long back and now, pronounce Chandrakanth as Chondrokonth, Madhavi as Madhabi!

This EPIC channel has got many interesting programmes, mostly based on India, its history, heritage and mythology.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Dream Chasers! The Fastest Man On Earth!

The Olympic season has started! Just 2-3 weeks back, I watched a couple of movies based on Olympic games. One was 'Race' which was based on the famous Jesse Owens, the track and field athlete, the American player.                                                                        

The original Jesse Owens is shown in the above pictures. He was an American track & field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medal winner in the 1936 games. Owens specialized in the sprints and the long jump.  He was recognized in his lifetime as "perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history''. Owens was the youngest of ten children, three girls and seven boys, born to Henry Cleveland Owens and Mary Emma Fitzgerald in Oakville, Alabama, on September 12, 1913.(Read more in the wiki link).

He became famous for his talent plus for participating in the 1936 Berlin Olympics during Adolf Hitler's rule.  I read about him after seeing the movie.  The movie was very well-made.  They show how he improved his talent step by step with good, sincere coaches.  His coach during the Olympics was Larry Snyder, a track & field coach at Ohio University, where Jesse studied.  Jesse's real name is J.C. Owens...he was nick named Jesse by his school teacher! Now, to a clipping from the 1936 Olympics where the great Jesse could be seen!

He has got such an innocent happy face.  The crowd loved him.  Hitler was not happy because a non-Aryan race black man was leading in most of the athletic events.  He wanted his Germans to win an show the world that their race is supreme.  So, some controversy was there.  He was not there for the 'medal awarding' ceremony.  He ordered not to film the event, etc.  You can see how much ordeal Jesse went through in the film.  The American camera woman was given lot of trouble, but she did film his final event which got him the Gold medal.  Asked him to pose (running pose) after the event separately, for  her and the picture became very famous. The Germans didn't like it at all.

His coach gave his 100% in pushing him, encouraging him throughout.  He even went out at midnight to get a pair of new shoes for Jesse (with all the army questionings).  Really, Jesse as well as the coach are great! I can write pages and pages about this person and the movie.  But it will be toooo long.  So, some videos now from the event as well as the movie.  First, to a link where the real Jesse, his coach and the movie castings can be seen here!

 Now, to the real Olympic games scene and the real HITLER!

Everywhere in Berlin he was discriminated because of his colour.  A controversy is there that Hitler didn't shake his hands after he won the gold medal.  But Jesse said that The Chancellor waved his hand at him before leaving the stadium! He said further "Hitler didn't snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." Roosewelt was the President then.

Yes, the American President didn't even bother to congratulate him even after he came back from Berlin.   The colour always dominated them.  One good act was from Lutz, a German athlete who helped during the Olympics, stayed Jesse's friend till his death during WW II. The movie shows the friendship beautifully! You can see the friend in this video clip!

Stephan James as Jesse and Jason Sudelkis as his coach did a memorable job! I liked the American Camerawoman too (Carice van Houten). Now, to the 'Race' movie trailer:

Owens was quoted saying, the secret behind his success was "I let my feet spend as little time on the ground as possible. From the air, fast down, and from the ground, fast up."

Jessi The fastest man on Earth!


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