Saturday, June 30, 2007

We couldn't get much higher
To portray a bohemian, Atlas Drugged, fallen prima-donna like Jim Morrison is far from elementary. To do it well is difficult. But, to do it realistically AND convincingly, is exemplary.

New respect for Val Kilmer, as I'm still trying to figure out how this 1991 Oliver Stone flick, The Doors, got past me. Its so challenging to portray the world, as seen through the eyes of a supercoked-up phenomenon like Morrison. A delicate but effective performance by Meg Ryan, in an extremely out-of-character role for her.

You can see the humble beginnings of Stone's Dali-esque visual tactics, which he used unabashedly in Natural Born Killers. While it tells the true tale of one of Rock & Roll's greatest legends, it also makes one think about the people we idolize. Morrisson, Cobain, Hendrix - all around the age of 27 when they died, under mysterious circumstances, all attaining pedestals of fame which are near-mythical. And, because of their reckless, devil-may-care attitudes and lifestyles, we have the modern correlated triumvirate of sex, drugs and rock & roll.

Regardless of whether Morrison was idolworthy or not, this movie does not preach that his lifestyle was wrong, or whether his end justified his turbulent lifestyle and habits. In an alternative template, it makes you feel that Morrison lived his life, completely, the way he wanted to, the only way he knew how, and, from the chilling and abrupt final scene, - almost, opening the door of death when he wanted to, when he knew his time had come.

Song of the moment: Riders on the Storm (The Doors)
Work Blogging is Back!

Yes! Finally! I knew they couldn't keep it up for longer! Blogger is back in the workplace. See, its one thing to blog. Its a completely other thing to get paid to do it :-)

In other news, here's the AFI's "top 100 movies of all time" list. I've got only 32 down :-( Netflix, here I cometh!

And its finally, summer in New York! Which means Summerstage, Shakespeare in the Park, Movies in Bryant Park, and tonnes of such events that make NYC the place to be! (Of course, throwing projectiles at the not-so-pressed-for-time cretins waiting in line, through rain and shine, for the IPhone at the Apple store is particularly engaging. Its JUST an overpriced device, mineons!)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Amanat Ali from Dubai

Spotted this guy on SaReGaMaPa Challenge 2007, a show that has degenerated infinitely in format since the golden Sonu Nigam days. But, its singers like him and performances like this one that bring life back into the show. Seriously - what a performance! As Vishal Dadlani put it - "pure singing" and simply "mindblowing". Right from his song selection (Yeh Hausla - Dor) to his effortless rendition of a really vocally-challenging song - this guy is really inspiring.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mar ke kaise jeete hain, is duniya ko batlaane,
Tere laal chale hain, maaye, ab teri laaj bachaane..

If patriotism were packaged into a song, this would be it. A challenging composition, and an even more challenging song to sing. I gave it a shot, with a simple string ensemble background. Updated in the music section of my website. Check it out (recommended listening: on a pair of good surround headphones).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Enchanting. Completely short of words to describe the "3rd Dimension Tour" performance of A R Rahman in New York, at the packed Nassau Coliseum (14,400 people).
More respect for the Yamaha Tyros, which formed his central musicstation for the evening. What a piece of work!

Rahman's show packaging was lethal, with a great line-up of supporting artists and musicians. I feel that after much experimentation, Rahman's musical troupe has arrived and truly give a complete musical experience. Yes, there's a lot of pre-recorded tracks, but they are supported significantly by live musicians, percussion and vocalists, under the able tutelage of Rahman and conductor, K Sridhar. Watching him at soundcheck was an experience, as it was amazing to see how his team was in absolute awe and respect for this genius. A simple few words from him, were enough to motivate everyone to try harder, and do better. Each time they'd try something new, they'd look to him to see if they've impressed him sufficiently. Sometimes, he'd just continue to stare at his keyboard, sometimes he'd look back and let out a subtle smile. I bet that smile meant more to them than a National Award - acknowledgement from a true musical exponent.

Among the best performances of the night were Sukhwinder's Chaiyya Chaiyya which was one of the most comprehensive performances, as he blended it seamlessly with Thaiyya Thaiyya. The other would have to be Ramta Jogi - a song that one almost forgets when one thinks about the amazing soundtrack of Taal. But in live performances, one realizes how many intricacies of the song were painstakingly brought together to create it - the blowing sound in the beginning, the water splash sound in the background, the way the bass kicks in late and gives the song energy, the brass set in the middle - all in all, it can easily be one of the most unconventional songs ever in Indian music. No parallels. Quite like many of Rahman's other hits. Some of his Tamil songs, including Thee Thee, and the Sivaji tracks (especially Sahara and Vaji Vaji, which had a unique chord progression when performed live), were awesome as well.

One of the most energetic performers of the night was Rahman's new protege, Naresh Iyer (inset), who sang many of the Rang De Basanti songs, including one of my favorites, Roo-ba-roo. With longer hair on stage, he looked so much like Sanjaya Malakar, that it was almost scary.
You start to love a lot of Rahman's songs once you hear them live. Like the Ghanan ghanan track from Water (not Lagaan). The energy involved in the live performance makes you completely fall in love with the rise and fall of the santoor and the interplay with the vocals which make this song lethal. The "Kesariya Balma" solo by the Rajasthani folk singer was really powerful as well.
Sivamani - no words for this man. He's a revelation.
What amazes me is that, if actually considered, Rahman doesn't have a strong stage presence. He doesn't interact too much with the audience, he's really shy, he's always so deeply engrossed in his own world while singing, he speaks barely a few words to the audience. One would think that these factors would go to turn people off. But yet the love and adulation when he comes up to sing, is epic. Rahman solos, Dil Se and Vande Mataram, were the clear winners of the night.
Rahman's fans and true aficionados are unlike any other cult in the world. They either love his music for the energy, the way it makes them feel or the intricacies which make him eras ahead of his time. They recognize his songs right from the opening chord. They love him to death. We've all seen singers and musicians fall with simply a few bad tours, or unpopular soundtracks. Even in musical attempts which seem to be a little lack-lustre or unlike his usual work, his fans find appeal in the subtle bits of genius that emerge in all of his songs, and even make excuses for him ("he was too engrossed in his broadway and west-end work, that's why this seems a little out-of-character for him"). And it will take neither hell nor high water to prevent them from coming together for a performance of his - as is clear from his 12 sold-out shows across the US.
I don't think any other artist in Indian history, has actually had this much international love and appreciation. Is it his sincerity? His simplicity? His genius? His sheer love for his art that emerges in everything he does?
Perhaps its all of it put together. Which makes him who he is.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Etihad - Diamond Zone

Katherine Heigl and Priyanka Chopra

Especially after watching Knocked Up, I really think these two look startlingly similar. Any takers?

However, haven't been lucky enough to find pictorial proof of this.

Meanwhile - Mulholland Drive awaits. David Lynch is the man!

Monday, June 11, 2007

What I don't get...

When people say "congratulation" instead of "congratulations". What .. do I not deserve more ... is there a shortage ... or has your country imposed an embargo on best wishes?

People walking around with the bluetooth earpiece. I mean, how crucial is the mere potential of a call, that you require an annoying blue-blinky-blink in your ear all the time? Do you even realize that it doesn't even look like you're important, but more like you're impaired?

Best Airplane Read: Frederick Forsythe's No Comebacks - intricate short webs spun by an ever-so-brilliant story teller.

And my incomparable quote of the week - spoken by the one and only Ms "I-Can't-Believe-How-Much-I-Love-Chicago", at our recent intriguing encounter, over wine and over-herbed tzatziki dip at an unpronouncable sports bar at the O'Hare Hilton. "I'm so sickeningly educated" - How subtle, no?