Loser songs of the 90’s

Anyone who knows me would tell you that songs especially Bollywood numbers play a huge part in my life. In fact every time I make a new friend, within the first two three meetings I ask them what songs do they listen to and more often than not, the future course of the friendship gets decided by that discussion. I can’t interact with people who don’t have an interest in music nor can I get along with the ‘I love only firang songs coz they are supposed to be cool’ crowd. I could spend days discussing old hindi film songs and my ideal vacation activity would be a campfire singing old songs.

But there is a category of songs that I am particularly fond of discussing. I call them the loser songs of the 90’s (umm actually could include some 80’s songs too). Now the 90’s were the era when I had my first crushes and had all those growing up pangs and all. And the songs of that era particularly were about some sort of impossibly undying, pining away sort of love. As an infatuated teenager I used to really believe in ‘Dil jigar nazar kya hai main to tere liye jaan bhi de du..’ but now that I look back I cant help laughing at the songs and their loser in love kinda lyrics.

Many a stimulating discussion I have had about these songs and how the hits of that era now just remind you of the silliness of your own life then. I remember a discussion with Smiling Serpent which I am unlikely to forget anytime in my life because I have never laughed so much ever (much to his consternation, because unfortunately the joke was on him :-). This post has been inspired by insomniacal chats during night shifts with Phoenix in the last few days.

The 90’s were a ‘dramatic love’ era. I remember Filmfare and Stardust publishing stories about fans who used to write fan mail in blood. There were people who had committed suicide after Divya Bharati died. So it was all about hyperbole. Naturally the songs of the era also followed this trend of being high on an aching, nauseating kind of unrealistic love which was supposed to true love. So you had Kumar Sanu crooning away ‘Tu meri zindagi hai’ (I do like this one still) as if he were a dying man looking for the oxygen of love (ooh even reminiscing about the era is making me use hyperbole). That is why I call them the ‘loser’ songs, all about aching love nothing about love’s uplifting qualities. That reminds me of the ultimate loser song, ever heard Achha sila diya tune mere pyaar ka?

The songs of the era were the kind that the roadside tapori would sing in his mistaken view of love which actually would be some funny form of eve teasing. ‘Premi pagal aawara, aashiq majnu deewana…’ or ‘Main hoon aashiq, aashiq aawara’. The songs of the era also seemed to propagate the myth that if you chase a girl hard enough (like a needy psychopathic stalker) she is bound to fall in love with you. ‘Is tarah aashiqui ka asar chod jaunga, tere chehre pe apni nazar chod jaunga’ scary man. Or ‘First time dekha tumhein ham kho gaya second time mein love ho gaya yeh akkha India jaanta hai ham tumpe marta hai…’ Perfect songs for the guy who is waiting at the corner of the road for his favourite girl to walk past.

Lots of metaphors and lots of promises of undying love. ‘Tu shayar hai main teri shayari (I remember everyone of us girls in the school had tried to move their index fingers the way Madhuri does in that song). ‘Saanson ki zarurat hai jaise’ ‘Tumhein apna banane ki kasam khaayi hai khaayi hai’ ‘Dil hai ki maanta nahin’ ‘Saanwali saloni teri jheel si aankhein’ (cute still) ‘Juliet ki tarah honthon pe hai surkhiyan dekh le khud ko tu nazar se meri jaaneja’.

Unrequited love, betrayal or some form of separation was a common theme. ‘Chupana bhi nahin aata’, ‘Accha sila’ mentioned above, ‘Ae kaash kahin aisa hota ke do dil hote seene mein’ ‘Jaao tum chahe jahan yaad karoge wahaan ki ik ladka duniya mein hai jo de sakta hai tumpe jaan’ ‘Woh meri neend mera chain mujhe lauta do’ ‘Ab tere bin jee lenge ham zehar zindagi ka pee lenge ham’. How many lovers of that era must have gone through breakups listening to these depressing numbers.

There were also the quirky ones with weird lyrics. ‘Tu tu tu tu tara…’ ‘Ole ole’ ‘Oye oye’ ‘Ruk ruk ruk’ ‘Sexy sexy’ ‘Choli ke peechey’ ‘Bambai se gayi puna’ ‘Jaipur se nikali gaadi dilli chali halle halle’ ‘Barana de’ ‘Shehar ki ladki’ ‘Madhuri Dixit mili raste mein’ ‘Meri marzi’. I could go on and on.

Each of these songs brings back some memory of some Antakshari won while travelling jam packed in a school rickshaw, some train journey listening to these songs on the walkman (do they exist still?), some wedding band favourites, some that I sang to my then crush in the privacy of my own bedroom believing every word to be coming truly from my heart, some poem I wrote taking off from the lyrics of some loser song, lots and lots of memories of growing up. I dearly loved these songs then, I laugh at my own adolescent image of love now. What was I thinking when I used to sing ‘Teri ummeed tera intezar karte hain’ or sometimes shyly to myself ‘Raah mein unse mulakat ho gayi..’? Well I guess I was just behaving my age.

Some of these songs are gems and I still love them. But ‘loserness’ being the characteristic of the songs of that era, I cant but help call them all loser songs of the 90’s. Anyone remembers any more of these songs, please add your list in the comments section 🙂 Lets remember the days when we were all bitten by the bug called infatuation 🙂

Death of a mayfly

It was Simon and Garfunkel again. It had been ages since the strains had scented the air. But the pain was the same. It was almost evening. The lights were going out and the mayfly was lying in a corner huffing. Its life of one day was coming to an end. It remembered how people had told it that it should not have come out. It should have stayed in the protected cocoon. But it knew it had wings and had wanted to try them out. They had said that it was not a butterfly. Why hadn’t it listened? It had wanted to atleast know what flying meant. So it flew the moment it came out of the cocoon. It flew all afternoon, glowing in the heat of the warm sun. It made love to the wind. It felt glorious. It felt that it was probably worth it despite all the pain. For a while it forgot that it had only one day. That was its mistake. Now it was lying there gulping in some last breaths of air.

She saw the dying mayfly. The last bit of the song was playing.

I am a rock

I am an island

For a rock feels no pain

And an island never cries.

She wondered why the mayfly couldn’t have been a rock or an island. Why did it have to be this little vulnerable thing with dreams of flying? The rock and the island are tied to their places, yes, but then they don’t know what it is to move so they will never miss it. But the poor mayfly, now lying there dying. Why have wings if you were to die fallen on the ground like that?

She had always been a zoology enthusiast and had an unusual liking to breeding insects to study them. In its short life the mayfly had surely laid an egg somewhere in the water tank. But looking at the dying mayfly, she wondered if she would ever let its child out of the cocoon. Maybe she should just kill it before it started to want to fly, yes she should just throw away all the water from the tank tomorrow. Maybe…. She didn’t know what to do. The song, which was on loop, started again.

A winter’s night

In a deep and dark December

I am alone….

Enjoying the kill

As a child I had never owned a toy gun or even one of those tanker trucks. The closest I must have come to so called boys’ toys was probably a car. I had my dolls, my mini kitchen sets, my building blocks and some gender neutral games like carroms and scrabble. But a few days ago, a friend suggested trying out some text based mafia games on Facebook. At first I laughed it off, what could I possibly get by shooting and robbing imaginary targets? But my friend insisted and I joined in thinking lets see whats the big deal about?

I belong to a generation where video games were considered a luxury in most cities in India and being the studious student I was, I was taught to look down upon these useless addictions J So when I started playing combat games on Facebook, I had no idea what fan following these games had. But man, was I hooked. Suddenly I completely understood why exactly were people all around me so excited to grow one new virtual crop, make virtual billions, ice some cold-blooded killer or earn the tag of a knife thrower.

I also discovered that out of my virtual mafia team members, majority were girls. Another friend told me about this growing trend that around 30% of the hardcore gaming market in India now comprised of women. So I thought why not check this out. When I set out to do the story I discovered that all over the world, online gaming companies were coming up with new websites specially targetting women. Most of these were casual online games (70% of the market for these hand-eye co-ordination and easy click games is women). But there was a growing number of combat and strategy games that were being added to these sites constantly. In the US, women in the age group of 30-40 were slowly capturing almost half of the total market for all sorts of hardcore (violence included) games.

The women gamers I met were a bigger surprise. One would expect that someone interested in such games would probably be a rebellious character, maybe a young college goer with a piercing or black coloured nail polish. But Dhiranjana Pais was a homemaker who looked like your typical bahu in full salwar kameez and a huge bindi. She was hooked to Halo, Hitman and Counter strike and had been initiated into gaming by her brother in childhood. So addicted is she to the game that she uses an old N-Gage phone just because it is designed better for gaming. Another woman I met was an office goer and for her lunch break was the time to play racing games and beat her colleagues at strategy.

But during all this time what I kept wondering was that a male player would get exciting assignments like rescuing a damsel in distress and then having her as a virtual girlfriend. A female player would have to pretend being straight because the game would only give her a girlfriend! But then I discovered that the women oriented sites had games like Rescue your boyfriend. But it’s a long way off to equality when it comes to game world female characters. Only once in a while do you have a Lara Croft, otherwise the combatants are generally taken for granted to be men. But if gaming companies are to be believed, this too is soon changing. Maybe soon in the future you could choose whether you want to be a male operative or a female one. Till then I shall just be sugar and spice but nowhere close to nice while I shoot my targets away.

P.S. check out the story at http://ibnlive.in.com/news/game-for-a-game-30-pc-hardcore-gamers-women/101572-11.html

Before breaking news

On our channel yesterday we paid a tribute to Doordarshan turning 50 years old. We had the most recognisable and the first news anchor of India Salma Sultana on the show. I don’t know how many of you remember the lady with a severe face who always sported a flower behind one ear and read the news on DD. When Rajdeep Sardesai asked her that you were in an era where there was no breaking news, the lady wittily replied, “Hamare zamaane mein breaking news nahin, rukawat ke liye khed hai hota tha.” That brought so many memories of watching movies where right at the time of the climax when the killer was going to be revealed or the villian was going to be shot, suddenly there would be a black out and after a few seconds it would state ‘Rukawat ke liye khed hai.’ Man I grew up with all of that.

I was born the year Indian TV saw its first cricket world cup broadcast and what fortune we won that cup. Now looking back I sometimes feel I am very old. Many people today dont know what a great achievement it was for a family to buy a TV and then to switch from black and white portables to 14 inch colour. Today we are in the hometheater age. Maybe it was this feeling of achievement that Onida TV exploited when it came up with the tagline ‘Neighbours envy, owners pride.’

The thrill of waiting for Sunday mornings that started early with Rangoli, went on to mythologicals and then to the favourite cartoons and special children’s shows. The Jetix generation would probably never know how excited we used to be by He-Man and Spiderman cartoons and how eagerly we would wait for weekends for the latest episodes. We also waited for the Sunday evening movies and the only show my friends and I were allowed to watch during our exams was Chitrahaar.

Serials were about families and the troubles of the aam aadmi and aam family. Clean fun, no extra marital relations, no vamps, no generation leaps, only realistic, normal people like you and me. Social messages on Nukkad and Rajni, emotional sagas on Buniyaad and Humlog, short story wonders on Malgudi days, Mitti ke rang and Potli Baba ki. Comedies did not mean mindless aping of regional accents or tomfoolery, but clean fun with situations and liberal use of puns. Idhar Udhar, Ye jo hai zindagi, Mr. Yogi, Flop show and Dekh bhai dekh come to mind, shows that can be watched even today with equal pleasure. If it was science you had turning point. DD had something for every genre. If it was thrillers and detective shows that you liked then you had the amazing Byomkesh Bakshi, Tehkikat and Reporter. If it was travel and culture you wanted then you had the unbeatable Surabhi. I remember getting the first rush of watching a romantic story when they telecast Kashish. You had regular quiz programmes. Afternoons were about educational and women oriented shows. India’s first daily soap Shanti was quite a revolution in women oriented programming. And DD had some really cool year ender and summer vacation programming.

And your serials didn’t have to have only Gujaratis, Punjabis or Bengalis as central characters. You had even Kashmiris play central characters in Gul gulshan gulfam. You had UPites in Neem ka ped and Talash. You had a Maharashtrian in Wagle ki Duniya. Malgudi days had essentially south Indian characters. Truly unity in diversity.

I remember seeing how news evolved from lines just being read out by an anchor to showing some pre edited visuals, to news magazines like World this week and Newstrack, discussion shows and then to the current style of news stories and live telecasts. DD had tied up with CNN to get the live telecast of the Gulf war and thats when for the first time they had started bulletins in the afternoons also. There are countless stories of how politicians used to sabotage news telecasts because DD was after all the government mouthpiece.

But somewhere along the way after Cable tv was allowed in India, the bureaucracy started dictating more and more terms to the government channel. Viewers moved on to fresher looking programming (though I must swear that even shows on Zee and Sony were much better then) and as the viewership declined, producers also stopped giving fresh shows to DD. DD bosses also being slaves of bureaucracy were not really bothered because their salaries were probably not based on the channel’s TRP’s. The channel declined fast after that and today hardly anyone watches it.

But give me a Byomkesh Bakshi, a Surabhi or a Malgudi days anyday over a screeching, dramatic woman trying to choose a husband or a foolish whacko trying to outsmart other people in some random house or jungle. Give me atleast one show that I would write about 20 years after it got over.

Virginity and ambition

There is a new movie in town called Kaho na Kaho. Of course you may never hear of it leave alone go for it, but what you must know about is the wonderful tagline they have come up with for their poster. It reads, hold your breath darlings, “Ambitious woman always loses her virginity.” (You don’t believe me, please check out the poster at the Dadar station.) What I would really like to do is find out if the actresses of the movie consider themselves ambitious or not 😛 And the million dollar question who was at the helm of the marketing and copywriting for this film?

A friend of mine on seeing it commented so does that mean unambitious women don’t lose their virginity? Most of us do at some point of time or the other isn’t it? So I fail to understand what is the connection between ambition and virginity? Let me refresh their knowledge of history a bit. Long ago there was an ambitious Tudor princess in England called Elizabeth and you know what she went on to be called the ‘Virgin Queen’ of England. Any Brit worth his salt would say that she was very very ambitious. Whether she lost her virginity later on is still a matter of debate.

Case in point 2. Can you then explain to me the fact that in the US there are a lot of teenagers who lose their virginity and also drop out of school/college? Some of them end up as housewives too. So unambitious (the conventional definition, not mine) isn’t it? And yet they have lost their virginity. So will they now be called ambitious? Actually why go to the US, there are many women in our country who are married off early and remain housewives and marriage does mean a loss of virginity (unless your husband is gay), so are they ambitious or unambitious? I am really confused here.

As I was researching on this topic I found out that some great literary geniuses like Jane Austen, Shaw, Lewis Carrol and W.B.Yeats were celibate. They were all ambitious. Oh heck there are two men here, how could I forget. Men are supposed to be ambitious, natural instinct and all that so it doesn’t matter if they are virgins does it? In fact there are people in the West wondering if celibacy means more productivity? (For the simple reason that celibacy means no severely close relationships, no surrender of control of your life to another human being and therefore you could do what you want and not because virginity is sanctity).

But is virginity about ambition or is it about preparedness for a sexual life? Why the drama over virginity? If you look at history closely one of the most obvious reasons to ensure virginity of a bride was so that the successor born to that particular woman is surely that of her husband, a ploy to ensure that property goes to a genuine member of the bloodline. (However the devil in me wonders what if a woman loses her virginity to one man and bears the child of another, who was to tell in the era of no DNA tests?) And why is only a woman’s ambition or virginity an issue? If a woman has to necessarily be a virgin, who is to guarantee that the man she marries is a virgin? A man can be ambitious or not ambitious, but it never affects any of his choices in life. But an ambitious woman is always a BITCH (Babe In Total Control Of Herself btw).

So is this tagline talking about the casting couch? If so, is it only the ambition of the victim to be blamed for the existence of such an institution? So what will they say about ambitious men who sleep with men for jobs? (Yes it happens you know). But well, we have a tendency to always blame the victim. If a girl gets raped, she has invited it and if a guy/young boy is raped by another man or woman, he didn’t have the guts to fight back. It is always the victim’s problem. And hey what ambition do rape victims have I would like to know because even they lose their virginity.

There will be many who will denounce me as trying to corrupt the value system of the society. All I want to tell them is that I am not advocating mindless sex, all I am saying is that virginity is not the measure of character or lack of it. Nor is ambition the measure of when you will lose it. Ambition at best is just the measure of where you see yourself in the future not even how the world sees you, because everyone has their own definition of ambition isn’t it?

P.S sorry for any loss of coherence in the post, the ridiculousness of the whole thing just made me a bit angry.