Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Knowing that I have a fascination for things Japanese and also a fan of Malgudi Days, my daughter suggested to watch this series on Netflix. I am into the fifth episode and I have not been disappointed.
Each episode is an independent short story. However they have one thing in common. Most of the actions take place in a restaurant that is open from 12 in the midnight to 7 in the morning.
Through these stories, one gets glimpses of life and the mind of the everyday (or, every night :D) life of the Japanese living in the city of Tokyo.
Binge watch 1: World’s longest bus journey
All the five episodes of this DW documentary is available on youtube. When a peruvian bus company decided to run a bus service covering the 6300 km distance from Rio in Brazil to Lima in Peru along the Transocenica Highway, DW decided to send a crew to be part of the maiden journey.
It was supposed to make the journey in five days, but unforeseen delays along the way extended the journey by another day and a half.
In the backdrop of this journey one can peep into the life of the common men in South America. One can draw a lot of parallels with the life and governance in our developing south Asian countries – unplanned growth and lack of proper control playing havoc with the environment, unfinished and corruption riddled infra projects, and even frequent roadblocks by local to draw attention to their problems.
The journey is spiced with glimpses of personal life of the main driver and some of the passengers. Main tourist spots along the way are also explored in detail.
Binge watch 2: Harmony with AR Rahman
This series on Amazon Prime also has five episodes in total. AR Rahman, one of our greatest music directors, has a plan to conduct a special symphony that includes rare artists of vocal and instrumental tradition of classical and folk Indian music. The first four episodes explore the back story of these four artists as Mr Rahman travels to the homes of these artists starting from Kerala to the North East.
Sajith Vijayan may not be well known even in his home state Kerala. Equally lesser known is the instrument that he plays. It is known as Mizhavu, a drum traditionally played during temple festivals.
From Kalamandalam of Kerala, Rahman travels to Mumbai to meet with Ustad Mohi Baha’uddin Dagar, one of the dozen surviving players of the musical instrument Rudra Veena. It was interesting to learn that his ancestors, who were Brahmins before getting converted to Islam, hailed from a village named Dagar. Rudra Veena is the oldest among the stringed Indian instruments.
The third artist, Lourembam Bedabati, is a folk singer from Manipur. She has dedicated her whole life to revive the folk music known as Khunung Eshei, even preferring to remain unmarried. She is the main vocal artist in the symphony of the final episode. Her rendering was heart touching in spite of the fact that I could not understand the meaning of the lyrics. That is the power of music.
Mr. Rahman’s search ends in Sikkim where he meets with Mickma Tshering Lepcha who plays a bamboo flute know as Pangthong Palith.
Now the challenge remains for Mr. Rahman to harmoniously blend and amalgamate all these diverse traditions of music. The master of music that he is, there is no doubt everything falls into place in the grand symphony in the final episode.
It also shows how in spite of India being a land of diversity and plurality, since time immemorial, music has always found a way to transcend the boundaries of religion, ethnicity and other difference.