doordarshan days

doordarshanIn those good old days of Doordarshan raj, I never had a fight with my wife for the remote, it being still a remote possibility when I had my first TV.  Otherwise also you could not fight as there was no alternate channel to switch to.

While watching the Bengali Movie Dhananjoy (with subtitles) a few days back, I was reminded of the Doordarshan Days when one of my favourite programs was the telecast of regional movies with subtitles. These movies, though not popular, were high on the cinematic art.

Ironically, the first Doordarshan telecast that I watched was the live coverage of the final journey of our Late PM Indira Gandhi. A TV station had started functioning in Berhampur a few months back. The college hostel where I was staying did not have TV. In front of our college hostel were the staff quarters of Berhampur’s only Government women’s college. A staff member who had a TV was generous enough to allow us to witness the telecast. I was lucky enough to be inside the drawing room through a connection while many of my hostel mates were jostling outside the door and the windows to catch a glimpse. It was 1984.

Subsequently our hostel got a TV set. But it was not untill I got married and had my own TV that I became a DD convert. From college Days till the days of bachelorhood in Indian Air Force the only serials I remember watching regularly were Ramayana and Mahabharat, which were of course hugely popular in those days.

Whatever becomes scarce or does not happen frequently, becomes fascinating. Thus was the case with the weekly feature films or, chitrahaar – the half hour show of film songs telecast twice a week.

malgudi days.jpgApart from the regional films, the serial Chanakya was one program that I eagerly waited to watch every weekend. Some of the other programs of my interest, as far as I remember,  were: Jaspal Bhati’s Flop Show, Malgudi Days, Zaban Sambhal ke, Bharat Ek Khoj, Tamas, World This Week,  Karamchand and programs on classical/folk  music & dance.

Even after the availability of a plethora of channels, I have not lost touch with DD. It is only on DD that one may get to watch programs on Indian classical dance and music. Some of the programs on DD Bharati, DD India and DD Kishan are quite interesting. If you want a wrap up of the important events of the day, I think DD news is still the best. On DD channels you may get to watch a lot of documentaries of interesting people and places. Some of these programs are far better than those shown on National Geographic.

Here I would like to make a special mention of a film that I watched on DD.  It was Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Ek Ruka Hua Faisala’. Later on I learnt that the film was a remake of an award winning English movie Twelve Angry Men. The movie is about the deliberations of a jury constituted to decide whether a nineteen year old should be pronounced guilty for killing his father. Eleven members of the jury are in a hurry to vote ‘guilty’ while there is a lone dissenter who succeeds at the end, in convincing the jury, after a lot of patient persuasions that they should not take decision based on popular opinion, or personal biases.

In my previous post, based on a couple of movies, I have touched upon the issue of fair trail that happens only in the world of fiction. Ek ruka hua faisala is one more such movie. But, it is an eye opener, provided the people who take such decisions watch and learn from this movie. In addition to immaculate direction, superb performance of all the actors in the movie (Pankaj Kapur, Annu Kapur, Aziz Kureshi to name a few) created such an impression in my mind that I remember the movie vividly even after three decades.

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moving adaptations

There would be, perhaps, half a dozen movies for which I must have read the original book either after or before I saw the movie. Of course, unlike the Hollywood ones the Bollywood productions have been disappointing.

Gone with the Wind

In case of Gone with the Wind, first I saw the movie, for the first time some twenty five years back. By that time this 1939 movie had already become a classic. I read the lengthy novel  afterwords. Contrary to what I had thought the fact that I had already watched the movie did not diminish my interest in the novel. Maybe, had I not watched the movie  I would not have read the novel. It won 10 academy awards and is considered one of the all time greatest movies of Hollywood.

Unlike the Bollywood movies based on  Chetan Bhagat books, this  movie is not a loose adaptation of the novel. The professionalism displayed by everyone connected with the movie is remarkable.  One can experience all the flavours of this 1000 odd page novel in the four hour movie. I watched the movie (DVD) for the second time a couple of months back.  It is worth mentioning that ‘Gone with the Wind’ is the only novel written by Margaret Mitchell in her life time.

Silence of the Lambs

In this case, I read the novel first. In an earlier post on this blog titled A Gripping Tale,  I have written about my reading experience and how I came across the book. I had read the book before the movie was released. Hence I was curious to see how the movie was adapted. I was not disappointed.

Elementary, my dear Watson

Being a Sherlock Holmes fan since childhood, it was logical that I should not have missed the 2009 movie ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and the sequel ‘Sherlock Holmes-  a game of shadows” released in 2011. Robert Downey Jr. has played the eccentric detective perfectly with befitting support from Jude Law as Dr. Watson.

Earlier, I remember watching a number of BBC serials  based on the Sherlock Holmes stories. Even though my memories are vague, I don’t think the serials were as interesting as the books.

Now a days many adaptations of Sherlock Holmes are run as serials on various channels, a Chinese lady passing for Dr. Watson in one version that I saw. It is titled Elementary. With Guinness book of records listing Holmes as the most portrayed movie character, it has become difficult to keep track of the various spin off versions of Holmes.

Tales from Malgudi

R K Narayan was himself disappointed when he saw the movie ‘Guide’.  Narayan’s Guide had to undergo necessary improvisation to fit into the Bollywood version with necessary songs and dance and the usual tadka.

But, the serials produced by Kannada actor and director Shankar Nag brought in all the nuances of RK Narayan’s stories. It is still a pleasure to catch up with one odd episode of Malgudi Days telecast on good Old Doordarshan from time to time.

 

 

 

 

A Pilgrimage

A package tour would definitely include the houses of murderers and tyrants, but not that of a humanist or humorist. So every travel brochure about Mysore, whether off line or online, include the places where the kings lived. I doubt whether even the ritual annual tours of schools include the house of RK Narayan.

What were the kings of yesteryear?  They lived the most luxurious lives while the common man of those days toiled day and night to keep his body and soul together. When the country was under colonial rule the kings were cleverly used by the British to act as their tax collectors, of course for a hefty compensation. Neither the British, nor the kings bothered about how the common men suffered.

We hear, how a king used the revenue of sixteen years and a quarter of the man power of the whole kingdom to build a great temple. Those who refused to provide quality work were hanged in public. And many others must have perished due to the collapse of the already fragile  public welfare system as every material and other resources were diverted to fulfill the whim of a mad king. At least that is what I felt when I visited the temple some years back.

Again in the name of art  what do you find on the walls of those palatial houses – the painting of soldiers, wars, weapons and other events glorifying mass destruction and the king’s hunger for more territory.

And these are the places that prominently feature on any package tour, whether for recreational purpose or educational purpose.

In our country we are only bothered about the memorial of politicians. Thank God, at last, at least we got a memorial to a writer like RK in India. Otherwise how many such memorials do you find in India. Tagore’s is a different story. He was in some way associated with the freedom movement and he got a Nobel.

In RK’s case, the house built by him was already there. So, no new memorial has been built. In fact had there been no such house, and had the house not been subject of a controversy (when some real estate sharks tried to demolish it), nobody would have thought of a memorial for RK. In a way, like his Guide protagonist who became an accidental Hero, his house too has become an accidental memorial.

RK’s works were not part of my high school or college syllabus. I first came across him through a translated short story published in the local newspaper. It was titled – ‘Another Ratnatkar who could not become a Balmiki’. The gentle irony and humour touched me even in the translated version. There after I developed a curiosity to read his works in original. This happened during my high school days. So, when I visited his house on Vivekanand Road, Mysore,  I was filled with a strange feeling of nostalgia. Moreover, his characters are no different from the people who I encountered around my home on a daily basis.

RK has written about how he built this house in his autobiography – My Days. It is a modest house compared to other houses in the locality. Of course the municipal corporation of Mysore that made effort to restore the house and develop it as a museum, has also put directional broads to the house, at many places in  Mysore.

The place is nothing in grandeur compared to the regal, religious and scenic  fares in store when you visit Mysore. Still, my feeling is that every tourist trip to Mysore should start from this place, in place of a temple. At least, for children it should be made a must see place so that it fuels their creative spirit. But this may alarm our Indian parents who do not want any career for their children other than medical or engineering. (I have also encountered many parents who strictly forbid their children to read anything other than what is there in the syllabus).

I have suggested, through the comment section of the visitor’s book kept in the house and by an email to the City Corporation,  to name the street as Malgudi Street. But I know the chances are less. Because the street already has a Shudh Deshi name. Had it been something like Victoria Road, things would have been easier.

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