Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why are only women targetted?

Just read a clipping on Hindustan Times website." Telugu film actresses among nine held for prostitution ".  The report says , Telugu film actresses Saira Banu and Jyoti and seven others were caught red-handed in a prostitution racket busted by Hyderabad police on Monday. The police have not revealed the identity of the other arrested but sources have not ruled out involvement of some rich and famous in the racket. Kundan Bagh is a high-security area having houses of ministers, bureaucrats and other VIPs.

Why didnt the report headlines say, " So and So ( the male customers) held for visiting prostitutes ".Is the dignity of the women involved not at stake? Why are the names of the males involved never revealed? Discrimination against women never ends.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kishore Kumar's Interview -- 1985

Recieved by email  this classic interview of Kishore Kumar by Pritish Nandy, conducted circa 1985 and published in the Illustrated Weekly of India

Pritish Nandy: I understand you are quitting Bombay and going away to Khandwa…
Kishore Kumar: Who can live in this stupid, friendless city where everyone seeks to exploit you every moment of the day? Can you trust anyone out here? Is anyone trustworthy? Is anyone a friend you can count on? I am
determined to get out of this futile rat race and live as I’ve always wanted to. In my native Khandwa, the land of my forefathers. Who wants
to die in this ugly city?
PN: Why did you come here in the first place?
KK: I would come to visit my brother Ashok Kumar. He was such a big
star in those days. I thought he could introduce me to KL Saigal who
was my greatest idol. People say he used to sing through his nose. But
so what? He was a great singer. Greater than anyone else.
PN: I believe you are planning to record an album of famous Saigal songs….
KK: They asked me to. I refused. Why should I try to outsing him? Let
him remain enshrined in our memory. Let his songs remain just HIS
songs. Let not even one person say that Kishore Kumar sang them
PN: If you didn’t like Bombay, why did you stay back? For fame? For money?
KK: I was conned into it. I only wanted to sing. Never to act. But
somehow, thanks to peculiar circumstances, I was persuaded to act in
the movies. I hated every moment of it and tried virtually every trick
to get out of it. I muffed my lines, pretended to be crazy, shaved my
head off, played difficult, began yodelling in the midst of tragic
scenes, told Meena Kumari what I was supposed to tell Bina Rai in some
other film – but they still wouldn’t let me go. I screamed, ranted,
went cuckoo. But who cared? They were just determined to make me a
PN: Why?
KK: Because I was Dadamoni’s brother. And he was a great hero.
PN: But you succeeded, after your fashion….
KK: Of course I did. I was the biggest draw after Dilip Kumar. There
were so many films I was doing in those days that I had to run from
one set to the other, changing on the way. Imagine me. My shirts
flying off, my trousers falling off, my wig coming off while I’m
running from one set to the other. Very often I would mix up my lines
and look angry in a romantic scene or romantic in the midst of a
fierce battle. It was terrible and I hated it. It evoked nightmares of
school. Directors were like schoolteachers. Do this. Do that. Don’t do
this. Don’t do that. I dreaded it. That’s why I would often escape.
PN: Well, you are notorious for the trouble you give your directors
and producers. Why is that?
KK: Nonsense. They give me trouble. You think they give a damn for me?
I matter to them only because I sell. Who cared for me during my bad
days? Who cares for anyone in this profession?
PN: Is that why you prefer to be a loner?
KK: Look, I don’t smoke, drink or socialise. I never go to parties. If
that makes me a loner, fine. I am happy this way. I go to work and I
come back straight home. To watch my horror movies, play with my
spooks, talk to my trees, sing. In this avaricious world, every
creative person is bound to be lonely. How can you deny me that right?
PN: You don’t have many friends?
KK: None.
PN: That’s rather sweeping.
KK: People bore me. Film people particularly bore me. I prefer talking
to my trees.
PN: So you like nature?
KK: That’s why I want to get away to Khandwa. I have lost all touch
with nature out here. I tried to dig a canal all around my bungalow
out here, so that we could sail gondolas there. The municipality chap
would sit and watch and nod his head disapprovingly, while my men
would dig and dig. But it didn’t work. One day someone found a hand -
a skeletal hand- and some toes.
After that no one wanted to dig anymore. Anoop, my second brother,
came charging with Ganga water and started chanting mantras. He
thought this house was built on a graveyard. Perhaps it is. But I lost
the chance of making my home like Venice.
PN: People would have thought you crazy. In fact they already do.
KK: Who said I’m crazy. The world is crazy; not me.
PN: Why do you have this reputation for doing strange things?
KK: It all began with this girl who came to interview me. In those
days I used to live alone. So she said: You must be very lonely. I
said: No, let me introduce you to some of my friends. So I took her to
the garden and introduced her to some of the friendlier trees.
Janardhan; Raghunandan; Gangadhar; Jagannath; Buddhuram;
Jhatpatajhatpatpat. I said they were my closest friends in this cruel
world. She went and wrote this bizarre piece, saying that I spent long
evenings with my arms entwined around them. What’s wrong with that,
you tell me? What’s wrong making friends with trees?
PN: Nothing.
KK: Then, there was this interior decorator-a suited, booted fellow
who came to see me in a three-piece woollen, Saville Row suit in the
thick of summer- and began to lecture me about aesthetics, design,
visual sense and all that. After listening to him for about half an
hour and trying to figure out what he was saying through his peculiar
American accent, I told him that I wanted something very simple for my
living room. Just water-several feet deep- and little boats floating
around, instead of large sofas. I told him that the centrepiece should
be anchored down so that the tea service could be placed on it and all
of us could row up to it in our boats and take sips from our cups. But
the boats should be properly balanced, I said, otherwise we might
whizz past each other and conversation would be difficult.
He looked a bit alarmed but that alarm gave way to sheer horror when I
began to describe the wall decor. I told him that I wanted live crows
hanging from the walls instead of paintings-since I liked nature so
much. And, instead of fans, we could have monkeys farting from the
ceiling. That’s when he slowly backed out from the room with a strange
look in his eyes. The last I saw of him was him running out of the
front gate, at a pace that would have put an electric train to shame.
What’s crazy about having a living room like that, you tell me? If he
can wear a woollen, three-piece suit in the height of summer, why
can’t I hang live crows on my walls?
PN: Your ideas are quite original, but why do your films fare so badly?
KK: Because I tell my distributors to avoid them. I warn them at the
very outset that the film might run for a week at the most. Naturally,
they go away and never come back. Where will you find a
producer-director who warns you not to touch his film because even he
can’t understand what he has made?
PN: Then why do you make films?
KK: Because the spirit moves me. I feel I have something to say and
the films eventually do well at times. I remember this film of mine -
Door Gagan ki Chhaon mein – which started to an audience of 10 people
in Alankar. I know because I was in the hall myself. There were only
ten people who had come to watch the first show! Even its release was
peculiar. Subhodh Mukherjee, the brother of my brother-in-law, had
booked Alankar (the hall) for 8 weeks for his film April Fool- which
everyone knew was going to be a block- buster. My film, everyone was
sure, was going to be a thundering flop. So he offered to give me a
week of his booking. Take the first week, he said flamboyantly, and
I’ll manage within seven. After all, the movie can’t run beyond a
week. It can’t run beyond two days, I reassured him.
When 10 people came for the first show, he tried to console me. Don’t
worry, he said, it happens at times. But who was worried? Then, the
word spread. Like wildfire. And within a few days the hall began to
fill. It ran for all 8 weeks at Alankar, house full! Subodh Mukherjee
kept screaming at me but how could I let go the hall? After 8 weeks
when the booking ran out, the movie shifted to Super, where it ran for
another 21 weeks! That’s the anatomy of a hit of mine. How does one
explain it? Can anyone explain it? Can Subodh Mukherjee, whose April
Fool went on to become a thundering flop?
PN: But you, as the director should have known?
KK: Directors know nothing. I never had the privilege of working with
any good director. Except Satyen Bose and Bimal Roy, no one even knew
the ABC of filmmaking. How can you expect me to give good performances
under such directors? Directors like S.D. Narang didn’t even know
where to place the camera. He would take long, pensive drags from his
cigarette, mumble ‘Quiet, quiet, quiet’ to everyone, walk a couple of
furlongs absentmindedly, mutter to himself and then tell the camera
man to place the camera wherever he wanted. His standard line to me
was: Do something. What something? Come on, some thing! So I would go
off on my antics. Is this the way to act? Is this the way to direct a
movie? And yet Narangsaab made so many hits!
PN: Why didn’t you ever offer to work with a good director?
KK: Offer! I was far too scared. Satyajit Ray came to me and wanted me
to act in Parash Pathar – his famous comedy – and I was so scared that
I ran away. Later, Tulsi Chakravarti did the role. It was a great role
and I ran away from it, so scared I was of these great directors.
PN: But you knew Ray.
KK: Of course I did. I loaned him five thousand rupees at the time of
Pather Panchali-when he was in great financial difficulty- and even
though he paid back the entire loan, I never gave him an opportunity
to forget the fact that I had contributed to the making of the
classic. I still rib him about it. I never forget the money I loan
PN: Well, some people think you are crazy about money. Others describe
you as a clown, pretending to be kinky but sane as hell. Still others
find you cunning and manipulative. Which is the real you?
KK: I play different roles at different times. For different people.
In this crazy world, only the truly sane man appears to be mad. Look
at me. Do you think I’m mad? Do you think I can be manipulative?
PN: How would I know?
KK: Of course you would know. It’s so easy to judge a man by just
looking at him. You look at these film people and you instantly know
they’re rogues.
PN: I believe so.
KK: I don’t believe so. I know so. You can’t trust them an inch. I
have been in this rat race for so long that I can smell trouble from
miles afar. I smelt trouble the day I came to Bombay in the hope of
becoming a playback singer and got conned into acting. I should have
just turned my back and run.
PN: Why didn’t you?
KK: Well, I’ve regretted it ever since. Boom Boom. Boompitty boom
boom. Chikachikachik chik chik. Yadlehe eeee yadlehe ooooo (Goes on
yodelling till the tea comes. Someone emerges from behind the upturned
sofa in the living room, looking rather mournful with a bunch of
rat-eaten files and holds them up for KK to see)
PN: What are those files?
KK: My income tax records.
PN: Rat-eaten?
KK: We use them as pesticides. They are very effective. The rats die
quite easily after biting into them.
PN: What do you show the tax people when they ask for the papers?
KK: The dead rats.
PN: I see.
KK: You like dead rats?
PN: Not particularly.
KK: Lots of people eat them in other parts of the world.
PN: I guess so.
KK: Haute cuisine. Expensive too. Costs a lot of money.
PN: Yes?
KK: Good business, rats. One can make money from them if one is
PN: I believe you are very fussy about money. Once, I’m told, a
producer paid you only half your dues and you came to the sets with
half your head and half your moustache shaved off. And you told him
that when he paid the rest, you would shoot with your face intact…
KK: Why should they take me for granted? These people never pay unless
you teach them a lesson. I was shooting in the South once. I think the
film was Miss Mary and these chaps kept me waiting in the hotel room
for five days without shooting. So I got fed up and started cutting my
hair. First I chopped off some hair from the right side of my head and
then, to balance it, I chopped off some from the left. By mistake I
overdid it. So I cut off some more from the right. Again I overdid it.
So I had to cut from the left again.
This went on till I had virtually no hair left- and that’s when the
call came from the sets. When I turned up the way I was, they all
collapsed. That’s how rumours reached Bombay. They said I had gone
cuckoo. I didn’t know. I returned and found everyone wishing me from
long distance and keeping a safe distance of 10 feet while talking.
Even those chaps who would come and embrace me waved out from a
distance and said Hi. Then, someone asked me a little hesitantly how I
was feeling. I said: Fine. I spoke a little abruptly perhaps. Suddenly
I found him turning around and running. Far, far away from me.
PN: But are you actually so stingy about money?
KK: I have to pay my taxes.
PN: You have income tax problems I am told….
KK: Who doesn’t? My actual dues are not much but the interest has
piled up. I’m planning to sell off a lot of things before I go to
Khandwa and settle this entire business once and for all.
PN: You refused to sing for Sanjay Gandhi during the emergency and, it
is said, that’s why the tax hounds were set on you. Is this true?
KK: Who knows why they come. But no one can make me do what I don’t
want to do. I don’t sing at anyone’s will or command. But I sing for
charities, causes all the time.
[Note: Sanjay Gandhi wanted KK to sing at some Congress rally in
Bombay. KK refused. Sanjay Gandhi ordered All India Radio to stop
playing Kishore songs. This went on for quite a while. KK refused to
apologize. Finally, it took scores of prominent producers and
directors to convince those in power to rescind the ban- Rajan]
PN: What about your home life? Why has that been so turbulent?
KK: Because I like being left alone.
PN: What went wrong with Ruma Devi, your first wife?
KK: She was a very talented person but we could not get along because
we looked at life differently. She wanted to build a choir and a
career. I wanted someone to build me a home. How can the two
reconcile? You see, I’m a simple minded villager type. I don’t
understand this business about women making careers. Wives should
first learn how to make a home. And how can you fit the two together?
A career and a home are quite separate things. That’s why we went our
separate ways.
PN: Madhubala, your second wife?
KK: She was quite another matter. I knew she was very sick even before
I married her. But a promise is a promise. So I kept my word and
brought her home as my wife, even though I knew she was dying from a
congenital heart problem. For 9 long years I nursed her. I watched her
die before my own eyes. You can never understand what this means until
you live through this yourself. She was such a beautiful woman and she
died so painfully. She would rave and rant and scream in frustration.
How can such an active person spend 9 long years bed-ridden? And I had
to humour her all the time. That’s what the doctor asked me to. That’s
what I did till her very last breath. I would laugh with her. I would
cry with her.
PN: What about your third marriage? To Yogeeta Bali?
KK: That was a joke. I don’t think she was serious about marriage. She
was only obsessed with her mother. She never wanted to live here.
PN: But that’s because she says you would stay up all night and count money.
KK: Do you think I can do that? Do you think I’m mad? Well, it’s good
we separated quickly.
PN: What about your present marriage?
KK: Leena is a very different kind of person. She too is an actress
like all of them but she’s very different. She’s seen tragedy. She’s
faced grief. When your husband is shot dead, you change. You
understand life. You realise the ephemeral quality of all things. I am
happy now.
PN: What about your new film? Are you going to play hero in this one too?
KK: No no no. I’m just the producer-director. I’m going to be behind
the camera. Remember I told you how much I hate acting? All I might do
is make a split second appearance on screen as an old man or
PN: Like Hitchcock?
KK: Yes, my favourite director. I’m mad, true. But only about one
thing. Horror movies. I love spooks. They are a friendly fearsome lot.
Very nice people, actually, if you get to know them. Not like these
industry chaps out here. Do you know any spooks?
PN: Not very friendly ones.
KK: But nice, frightening ones?
PN: Not really.
KK: But that’s precisely what we’re all going to become one day. Like
this chap out here (points to a skull, which he uses as part of his
decor, with red light emerging from its eyes)- you don’t even know
whether it’s a man or a woman. Eh? But it’s a nice sort. Friendly too.
Look, doesn’t it look nice with my specs on its non-existent nose?
PN: Very nice indeed.
KK: You are a good man. You understand the real things of life. You
are going to look like this one day.