Thursday, January 28, 2010

This 'sur' is surely out of sync!

It begins with a cliché and ends with one. What makes it more tragic is that even if you choose to ignore the nauseatingly obvious presence of Bollywood peppered all over it, you still do not feel even an ounce of the jingoistic essence that resonated with the masterpiece that was the original. Welcome, reader, to the 'new' rendition of the Doordarshan classic – 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhara' (MSMT).

For those who have forgotten (and the uninitiated), MSMT remains one of the most celebrated hymns that spoke volumes about us as a nation. Now, with the 60th anniversary of our much adored 'Republican status' behind us, it is only apt that something similar to MSMT be produced that talks about us as a country which, despite the historic attempt at ensuring our medieval beginnings on the fateful night of 1947, has overcome a million hurdles and continues to deal with a billion struggles each day. Yes, we as Indians do understand the paradox we have become. Indeed, we are the first ones to acknowledge we might have more to grieve than to celebrate. But what the original MSMT had done when it used to be aired on DD, was make us proud that we represented that very geographic chunk on this planet which had been erstwhile labeled the 'eternally developing nation' or 'the land of fakirs' or 'rickshaw wallahs' by the elite and arrogant West. It re-affirmed our belief that we truly were a nation with so much more than just snake-charmers and devotees sticking rusty iron roads across their cheeks whilst parading a local deity. The musical rainbow it emanated was so unique, that no amount of bass or techno was needed to hum it any day of the year.

Yes. That, my dear reader, was the real essence of MSMT's magic.

And then comes the sequel. Actually it would be wrong to call this one a 'sequel' since its nowhere in the vicinity of the original. In fact it is nothing more than an awful juxtaposing of 'B-City hype' with 'B-City glitz manure'. Yes. It is true! Just notice how almost every Tom, Dick and Sally of B-Glitterati blaze the screen with their overused presence and you will know. Everyone from the inexplicably half-naked Deepika Padukone (tragic, considering her father was in such a dignified blink-and-miss role in the original mouthing a tongue his roots are in - Kannada!) to the clueless random Ranbeer Kapoor is in there. We have Priyanka Chopra crooning mindlessly with a bunch of grinning kids while the entire Bachchan clan makes an appearance without the slightest inkling of national pride in their eyes. As if getting a Twitter account and a blog wasn't enough, they have to monopolize the fond memories of our good old Doordarshan as well? Tch, tch.

The musical part of it is equally out of tune. To ensure proper demographic coverage, we have Oscar winning AR Rahman doing his 'thing' with the same expression of condescence he always seems to have. We have a good portion dedicated to Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy, who 'jazz' it up thus ensuring the 'hip crowd' is not forgotten. There is also a portion where the tune gets seriously out of sync when Aamir Khan decides to be 'cool' with more kids jumping and dancing around him. Did we miss out SRK? Oh not at all! There he is! With the same look he has had for about 3 movies thus far.

When Doordarshan was the only channel we had, everything it used to show automatically became unique. Contrary to what we think of it today, against the backdrop of a million other wealthier counterparts, the looming danger of something as great and profound actually still remains with DD. That said, it is, in my humble opinion, always a bad idea to try and 'pep up' classics like MSMT to make it 'connectable' with the new generation. Uh...excuse me? When did the old one seem irrelevant? But then no. Media folks just cannot let legends be so. They just have to get in there and hash it up in high hopes that it will recreate a similar aura as its much celebrated predecessor. What we end up with, as is obvious in this case, is a Bollywood heavy 'fashion parade' that leaves no room for the fundamental idea MSMT tried to convey – national harmony.

Of course, being a Kannadiga, I did have to look past the fact that despite big names like Girish Karnad, Girish Kasaravalli, TS Nagabharana, Anant Nag, Sudeep (heck even Ganesh and Upendra!) et al, they chose to use popular movie stars for all other local dialects whilst ensuring a nasal Kavita Krishnamurthy is used along with her husband for the Kannada bit of the song. Weird.

It is sad that people haven't learnt a thing from Ram Gopal Varma's 'Sholay'. Certain classics should never be attempted again. Sigh.

2 reflections:

chaitanya said...

As usual, i enjoyed reading this post and completely agree with every word. I felt the same when i saw the new version of MSMT.

ShaK said...

@Chaitanya - Thank you. It is sad that we live in an era that is hell bound to mess up whatever is left from our pleasant past. When will this hungry race for media attention stop? Only time will tell.

Glad to know the piece connected with you.