ARTS TRIBUNE Friday, October 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India
 

Finish with a flourish
Vikramdeep Johal
R
ecall the climax of Bimal Roy’s "Bandini": Just when Kalyani (Nutan) agrees to meet the mother of a doctor who has proposed to her, her first love Bikash (Ashok Kumar) turns up. The latter, very sick now, still loves her and needs her desperately. This puts Kalyani in a fix. As S.D. Burman’s O re Manjhi... plays in the background and Bikash prepares to leave in a steamer, Kalyani’s predicament rises, for she has to choose between the two. Ultimately, following her instinct, she rushes aboard to join her beloved. What an end!

Man behind soulful melodies
Mohit Goswami
H
e has regularly been penning soulful lyrics for Malkit Singh, Surinder Shinda, Sukhi Brar, Paramjit Sidhu, Gurmeet Bawa, Hardeep and many other Punjabi singers for the past 20 years. Some of his songs have been rendered by Bollywood singers Mahendra Kapoor, Suresh Wadkar and Mangal Singh. A person wedded to Punjabi folk music and dance, Gill Surjit has more than 700 songs to his credit.

Naseeruddin in ‘Ismat Apa ke Naam’
Asha Ahuja
L
udhianvis will have a chance to witness the famous film and theatre actor Naseeruddin Shah, his wife Ratna Pathak Shah and his daughter Heeba Shah in a play "Ismat Apa ke Naam" on October 16 at a city auditorium. The acclaimed actor and his team have been invited by the Ludhiana Sankrit Samagam.

SIGHT & SOUND

A limit to horror
Amita Malik

"I
have switched off my TV set, I simply can’t take it any more." This not from some elderly, nervous senior citizen, but from a young student who lives next door. And I can’t really blame him. First there was September 11, with all its horrors brought all the nearer to us because over 200 Indians, our brightest young talent, shining in the USA, were also listed as missing, believed killed. And then the anxiety about racist killings, like the unfortunate Sikh petrol station owner, mistaken for an Arab. 


 

Top






Finish with a flourish
Vikramdeep Johal

Recall the climax of Bimal Roy’s "Bandini": Just when Kalyani (Nutan) agrees to meet the mother of a doctor who has proposed to her, her first love Bikash (Ashok Kumar) turns up. The latter, very sick now, still loves her and needs her desperately. This puts Kalyani in a fix. As S.D. Burman’s O re Manjhi... plays in the background and Bikash prepares to leave in a steamer, Kalyani’s predicament rises, for she has to choose between the two. Ultimately, following her instinct, she rushes aboard to join her beloved. What an end!

Climax, denouement, finale, ending — call it by whatever name — it is hard to deny that the last part of a film (or play or novel) is extremely crucial for its success. Though ideally a story has to be spellbinding from start to finish, it is the finale which often makes or breaks it. The audience looks forward to it and feels cheated if it disappoints them. A great ending can raise immensely the value of a good story and cover the flaws of an average one, as shown by the famous short stories of O.Henry with their brilliant last-minute twists.

As early as in ancient Greece, plays were classified as tragedies or comedies, primarily on the basis of their endings. While the former concluded with a death or two (murder, suicide or execution), the latter ended on a happy note, usually with the marriage of the lovers. In many of Euripedes’ dramas, a deus ex machina ( in the form of a god) landed on the stage towards the end and solved the problem in the story, thus allowing the play to conclude. Pioneers of cinema, realising the significance of the denouement, kept the most exciting sequence, often a chase, for the end. It became a very popular method of concluding a story.

Talking of love stories, nothing delights viewers more than the and-they-lived-happily-ever-after end. A tragic, heart-breaking ending, where the lovers commit suicide or get killed, has even a greater impact. Tales of unrequited love often have a disturbing finale. Take "Darr," where the obsessive lover meets a bloody end; or "Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya," in which lovelorn Urmila turns into a mental wreck.

Murder mysteries or whodunnits rely heavily on clever, unpredictable endings. The reader/viewer waits with baited breath for the mystery to be unravelled at the end of the story. The vital questions —who did it and why? — are answered by the detective, who reassures the audience by identifying the criminal and bringing him to book, thereby restoring order and sanity.

The way a film or play ends, particularly if it is a commercial venture, is governed by the idea of justice, of retribution. The villain ultimately has to be eliminated or captured ( an exception being the Hollywood film "The French Connection," which ends with the bad guy making good his escape). Not many people know that in the original ending of "Sholay," Gabbar Singh was to die at the hands, rather feet, of the Thakur. However, the censors objected to this violent end — those were Emergency days! — and directed director Ramesh Sippy to change it. Unwillingly, he did it and got Gabbar arrested by the police.

With the advent of the New Wave cinema, the "open" ending came in vogue. Film-makers eager to shun the beaten track explored complex political and social problems, but refused to give facile solutions. By ending the film abruptly and ambiguously, they encouraged viewers to interpret it in their own way and search for solutions themselves.

Sometimes, the ending tends to split the audience into two groups, one being satisfied with it and the other feeling that the story should have ended differently. The German film "Run Lola Run" tries not to disappoint anybody by giving three endings emanating from a common beginning. It kicks off with a girl named Lola getting an SOS from her boyfriend Manni: "Arrange a huge sum of money in 20 minutes or see him dead". As the clock ticks, Lola runs for his life. By robbing a showroom, they get the booty, but Lola is shot by the police. "It can’t end this way," laments Lola, and lo — a second version of the story begins. But this too ends tragically, with Manni being run over by a truck. The third (and final) finale, to the relief of the lovers and the viewers, is a happy one.

The denouement calls upon the scriptwriter, as well as the protagonist, to take major decisions. The former has to wind up his story and give its moral, if any, while the latter has to solve his problems or achieve his aim. The finale reveals the moral stance of the two. In "Mother India," Radha (Nargis) shows superhuman courage in killing her errant son; Guru Dutt in "Pyaasa," a disillusioned poet, rejects an uncaring world along with a prostitute. In "Ardh Satya," Om Puri, playing a cop frustrated by working in a corrupt and unjust system, ultimately takes the law in his own hands and strangles to death an underworld don. Above all, who can forget the finale of "Oedipus Rex," in which the guilt-ridden king gouges out his eyes and his queen Jocasta ends her life?

"This is the way the world ends/ Not with a bang, but a whimper," said T.S.Eliot. Well, better ignore his words when you are writing a story. End it with a bang, finish it with a flourish, and have the last laugh.

Top

Man behind soulful melodies
Mohit Goswami

He has regularly been penning soulful lyrics for Malkit Singh, Surinder Shinda, Sukhi Brar, Paramjit Sidhu, Gurmeet Bawa, Hardeep and many other Punjabi singers for the past 20 years. Some of his songs have been rendered by Bollywood singers Mahendra Kapoor, Suresh Wadkar and Mangal Singh. A person wedded to Punjabi folk music and dance, Gill Surjit has more than 700 songs to his credit.

Admitting that it is the singer who gains the most when a song is a hit, Surjit accepts that the effort of the lyricist does not go unnoticed. Asserting that quality is his top priority, he contends that he writes for only those singers who he believes will not let down his writing skills.

A winner of the NIF Escorts Cultural Award way back in 1971, he has also been presented around a dozen awards by cultural bodies based in Punjab. Foreign recognition of his contribution to the promotion of Punjabi culture is evident from his being conferred the Punjabi Folk Music Award in Canada in 1994.

Among his recent popular numbers are Chandigarh shehar di kudi ..., Munde gabroo Punjabi ve ..., Main na angrezi jandi ... and Shehar Patiale de munde ... . The songs close to his heart are Vanga da vanjara aaya ... and Chete kar bachpan nu ... .

His first album as lyricist was Ishq di balle balle ... in 1981. He is among the chosen few whose works figure in the compilation of songs and poems of old students published by Punjabi University.

A postgraduate in Punjabi and black belt in judo, Surjit is also an accomplished folk dance performer. He has been a bhangra regular since his childhood. This versatile genius has represented India in folk dance and youth festivals in many countries.

This Punjabi folk veteran has been coach of the national bhangra and giddha teams for the Festival of India in Germany and Russia. He has also presented cultural programmes in Dubai and Singapore, besides choreographing New Year television shows for Jalandhar Doordarshan.

Top

Naseeruddin in ‘Ismat Apa ke Naam’
Asha Ahuja

Ludhianvis will have a chance to witness the famous film and theatre actor Naseeruddin Shah, his wife Ratna Pathak Shah and his daughter Heeba Shah in a play "Ismat Apa ke Naam" on October 16 at a city auditorium. The acclaimed actor and his team have been invited by the Ludhiana Sankrit Samagam.

The play will be different as three stories will be enacted by the three players. The first story is enacted by Ratna called "Mughal Bachcha". She talks of the decline of the so: called successors of the Mughals, the landed gentry of Uttar Pradesh, in the time of the British Raj, unable to come to terms with their declining status and desperately clinging to the tattered remnants of their ancestors’ past glory. The second story will be told by Heeba. This story is a tribute to the power of rural women, expressed through an incident of child birth witnessed by three fascinated and differently affected women, in a train compartment. A first person account, it could well be a personal experience of the writer.

"Gharwali" enacted by Naseeruddin, is a heady satire on the institution of marriage, as well as on the social mores of the times (the ’40s). And the amazing thing is that Ismat Apa’s observations on the nature of human relationships are as pungent and ring as true today as they did when she was first writing and enraging the hordes of male chauvinists she was, in all probability, surrounded by.

Indeed, Ludhianvis have a treat in store as they will witness a unique kind of play by illustrious artistes courtesy the Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam. In the promotional leaflets of the play, director Naseeruddin says about Ismat Khanum Chugtai: "I thought Ismat Apa was a funny old lady when I was privileged to meet her briefly , in one of her many ‘avatars’, that of a film actress this time. In my ignorance, I took her for a cute cuddly Grandma, nothing more. By the time I took the trouble to read her works, she was already a distant memory. In the course of her journey, I was to learn, she had been, at different times — novelist, playwright, screenplay writer, short-story writer, film maker and educationist.

This would be the first Hindustani language production. ‘Ismat Apa ke Naam’ is a tribute to this witty, wise, warm wonderful woman, truly a unique and amazing writer by Motley’s first production in any Indian language.

Top

A limit to horror
Amita Malik

"I have switched off my TV set, I simply can’t take it any more." This not from some elderly, nervous senior citizen, but from a young student who lives next door. And I can’t really blame him. First there was September 11, with all its horrors brought all the nearer to us because over 200 Indians, our brightest young talent, shining in the USA, were also listed as missing, believed killed. And then the anxiety about racist killings, like the unfortunate Sikh petrol station owner, mistaken for an Arab. Barely had the immediate horror from New York simmered down and the news was more about refugee relief and less cowboy style threats about dead or alive, when came the tragic air accident involving Madhavrao Scindia, four of our bright young colleagues, a woman pilot on her first commercial sortie and the pilot. The scenes of shock, grief, more mangled bodies and the parts of a burnt plane stuck in the mud inundated our small screens. Many could not sleep at night after anxiously following every shattering detail of the terrible news and its human impact. Even politics took a back seat for a few hours. Then, as dignified funeral arrangements made one calm down, there came the shocking suicide bombings in the Kashmir Legislative Assembly, more mangled, bodies in a pool of blood, more wailing relatives of innocent people least invovled in politics, including two girl students from a nearby women’s college, among the dead. The unforgettable sight of an old Kashmiri gentleman throwing up his hands in horror in the midst of the carnage, and then pointing speechlessly at a body lying near him, epitomised the senseless cruelty of it all. It was, as the young man said, more than one could take. Our local TV channels have not spared us even one minute detail of the gory events. They have, in fact, competed about showing more than the rest.

Yet, in the midst of it all, the ads went on merrily. It may be recalled that after the terrible happenings of September 11 in New York, both the BBC and CNN drastically cut down their advertisements to the bare minimum . Ads tend to be frivolous and jarring at the best of times, and it showed good taste as well as media decorum that these two famous international channels rose to the occasion and spared viewers a surfeit of ads when advertisers were hoping for more exposure and more earnings, since viewers were glued to the news channels in particular. I was particularly hurt as a media person that Channel Aaj Tak, which carries too many interruptory ads. at the best noisy ads. for consumer goods which did not fit in with the spirit of the news. Which is a great pity, because I think Aaj Tak did the best immediate live coverage, far ahead of Zee and Star News, of the actual arrival of the mortal remains of Madhavrao Scindia at Gwalior and its sad journey through streets lined with mourners, to the palace where it was to lie in state. The other channels were then busy with Kesubhai Patel and the horrific attack in Srinagar, which was legitimate, but certainly many viewers appreciated some relief in the dignity of death and watching the last journeys of our colleagues as well as a highly respected politician.

At the same time, I have heard too many reports about children and other vulnerable viewers getting very disturbed, and the children getting terrified, watching it all. I think in India not enough supervision is exercised by fond parents on why, what and when their children watch TV. And yet, when they could have watched alternative programmes which are educative and entertaining, they are telecast, particularly by Doordarshan, long after the children’s bed time. Programmes such as two travelogues, produced by Juhi Sinha, one on Sikkim and another shot in Rajasthan with some splendid folk singers, which I finished viewing around midnight.

Top