destination india

Monday, November 01, 2004

welcome to tipsyland

The other morning I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (one time Radio Ceylon!) is still a charming radio station. Its ability to select and present songs of yesteryears every morning with extremely few repetitions speaks volumes for the dedication of the staff. The radio station possesses an excellent collection of songs that are catalogued and preserved to be presented on specific occasions. It is one of the few radio stations that keep track of birthdays and anniversaries of past singers, actors and all those associated with the field of entertainment. Thereby, it helps the audience to relive those lost moments – the start of the day owes a lot to these songs.

The morning I am talking about, it was the turn of drinks and drunks to come centre stage!!
It is an accepted fact of life that drinks, hard drinks that is, make one tipsy.

I first tasted hard drinks in Kanpur. I and a few others were civilian employees among a group of Airmen. When we were assigned a task and it was completed, we used to celebrate by going for a picnic to the nearby Wilson Forest. In this picnic, there used to be one Sergeant Chakravorty, a teetotaler, who would man the drinks counter. Drinks would be a cocktail of XXX Rum, XXX Rum and XXX Rum mixed in a huge barrel. No one kept count of the number of refills and, at the end of the day, young men who were bubbling with energy only a few hours earlier could be seen trudging with difficulty to the vehicle. Some of them would have to be located and bodily lifted into the transport.

When I landed in Maharastra, I was introduced to the mosambi and narangi. The kick they gave was stronger than that of a mule. You would have considerable difficulty in making contact of your feet with the ground beneath your feet and would not know whether you were coming or going. I speak from experience.

However, when it comes to depicting such scenes on the silver screen, our heroes and heroines fail to do justice. Invariably, the heroes hit the bottle to drown their sorrows thereby presenting an opportunity for a song sequence. The heroines, on the other hand would pretend to be drunk just to prove a point. In this context we cannot forget Asha Parekh in ‘Ziddi’ dancing to that beautiful number – ‘raat ki samay, jhume chandrama’. We also had Rekha alongside Farookh Shaikh in ‘bibi ho to aisa’ performing on similar lines. Other heroines like Helen and Bindu were forever imitating drunks and dancing into the hearts of the cine goers via sizzling dance numbers. But, one of the most memorable performances was by the duo Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz in ‘aap ki kasam’ – the number? Jai Jai Shiva Shankar. An unforgettable rendering of a couple of intoxicated souls – the intoxication was not a result of hard liquor as we know it but of an indigenous version called ‘bhang’.

Among the heroes, Amitabh Bachhan, Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar have impressed with songs like ‘chal mere bhai’, ‘sawaan ki mahine mein’, ‘mujhe duniyawalo sharabi na samjho’…. And, I have lost count of the number of times that legend of a man Keshto Mukherjee enacted the part of a drunk. But, in my opinion, one of the most impressive rendering of a drunk was by Lee Marvin in ‘Cat Ballou’. The way he would draw his pistol and shoot down bottles thrown up in the air, while tottering drunkenly on his feet, just goes to show how good an actor he was. There are very few artistes who can deliver such memorable performances.

Is anyone contemplating remixes of such songs?


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