Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Refuge ...

This completely fictional story was posted on rec.music.indian.misc around 1995.

"Tu to saale bachpan se hi 'buddha baba' hai !" came the comment. I knew it was going to come, but still it hurt. It hurt not only because a typical Gulzarish phrase was used to insult me, but because everybody around laughed, including the members of the opposite sex. Married or not, every male suffers a blow to his ego, when he becomes an object of mockery in front of the better sex. Oh, but that's not what I wanted to tell you. So back to the comment, and why it was made.

It was a perfect Diwali. All relatives, near and distant, old and young, good and bad :-( had come together to celebrate. It's not that we all love each other, but thanks to the mysterious power of the vanishing concept of 'joint family', we do come together on such occasions. Apart from the human members, one nonhuman entity also becomes a part and parcel at such times. The perennial 'Idiot Box' aka TV.

This small little cubical gadget has a tremendous power. A few years back, just a couple of years back, a popular program was a bliss to people like me who have no interest in listening to the heated debates on how to solve the Kashmir problem. Not just these debates but even the female gossip also used to disappear for that particular duration ! :-) What more can one you expect ? It's a perfect Nirvana !

But it was this same TV, that became the root cause of all my troubles. With more than 25 channels being 'aired', it's most unlikely for every one to get satisfied. I was happily watching Anari" on 'Zee Cinema'. Oh, oh, I mean Anari *ing Raj Kapoor and NOT the new one *ing his (un)grand-daughter, who goes to any length (or should I say 'shorts') to milaao his khandan ki izzat in mitti.

Just when the sweet duet, (music by Shanker-Jaikishen, I must add :-)), "dil ki nazar se, nazaroN ki dil se" started, the MTV generation kids stormed into the room.

"Hey bhai, ye kya bakwaas dekh rahela hai ? Aapun ka favourite 'Superhit Muqabala' aane waala hai, kya ! Channel badal dal, jaldi." ordered Nishank, my cousin.

Ever since he watched 'Rangeela', he has started speaking like Amirkhan in that movie. Not that he has to try very hard, for he is from the St.John School, and like most of his friends, he is very proud of his atrocious Hindi.

"What", I exclaimed. Even in that surprised state, my first instinctive reaction was to grip the remote control tightly. "You watched that idiot 'BPL Oye' in the morning, then the ever stupid 'Philips Top 10' in the afternoon, and now you want to watch the same set of 10 songs again in the evening ? Don't torture us any more, we have had enough".

"Abe o", he started. "It's much better than watching the same old songs for 25 years, like you do. Every week, it's the different song at the top of the charts. There is always this suspense, which one will it be this time." I tell you, I really hate all this MTV jargon.

"Oh yes, I forgot, your loyalties change every Friday", I taunted.

"Of course not", he protested. "Ever since Kumar Sanu has come, I am his most ardent fan."

It was quite well known to me, that he considers Kumar Sanu to be better than Amitkumar and Amitkumar to be better than Kishorekumar ! Rafi is not worthy enough to be considered for him. And what he has to say about Mukesh is ... well, forget it.

"Oh, common now, don't mention that insult-to-music in front of me", I said and won more enemies than supporters in the room.

Everybody jumped at my throat. Nishank was furious. He shouted, "You are getting senile, bhai. How can you say such thing about the singer who has won 4 Filmfare awards in a row ?"

But the Brahmastra was fired by Nehali, another cousin of mine. "If Kumar Sanu was so bad as you say, then why did YOUR RDBurman used him in 'Ek ladki ko dekha' ?"

The stress on 'your' was impossible to miss. But even before I could think of any good retort, another Brahmastra struck me. This time it was more powerful. "And why then," she continued, "YOUR so honourable Naushad requested him to sing that 'daddy se puchh lena' song ?".

"Requested ? My foot !" I screamed. "I am sure Kumar Sanu must have blackmailed Naushad by kidnapping his son or something".

But in the anger I had thrown the remote control towards her, she just grabbed it, and changed the channel. I knew that the battle was lost and over. And I also knew that, it was not just losing the remote control, which made me accept my defeat so quickly. It was more than that.

The program 'Superhit Muqabala' started, and the nalayak face of the popular (!) VJ Baba Sehgal came on the screen. He was saying,

"mammi mujhe kyuN daTati hai, papa mujhe kyuN daTate hai,
mere chehere pi kitni pimples hai, Baba kitna simple hai".

"What a despicable joker !" I exclaimed and started to go out of the room.

Nishank did not miss this opportunity, and asked me "Yes, I knew this. How can you like the latest Pop Star Baba Sehgal ? I am sure, Abhay will say that, he is a fan of K.L.Saigal, ha, ha, ha".

"But, I am ! I do think K.L.Saigal was one of the greatest." I sounded almost apologetic.

And then came that 'bachpanse hi buddha baba' comment. Everybody laughed aloud, including the kids, the uncles and the aunties and everybody.

Dejected, I walked out of the room.

It was not the first time that I had lost such an argument. But this time it was too quick. The Brahmastra, too powerful to handle.

During that one hour, when 'Superhit Muqabala' was being watched by everybody, I sat alone in another room, lost in my thoughts. I was sure that I was born at the wrong time. I was suddenly jealous of the previous generation, who were young to enjoy the 'Golden Era' of Hindi film music. What fantastic time they must have had ! When all those great Music Directors, Singers, Lyricists existed at the same time. Producing one marvel after another ! Lucky people.

I heard Sunil shouting for me. "Come Abhay, it's over and we can watch Anari once again".

He was the only one of all my cousins, who shared my tastes about Music. I got up. He had changed the channel, and the song had started - "tera jana, dil ke armanoN ka loot jana".

I stopped. Not because of Lata's voice, nor because of SJ's amazing tune. "Yes", I thought, "this is how the previous generation of Music lovers must be thinking about the 'Golden Era'".

And I was no longer jealous. If _I_ feel so bad, what must they be feeling ! And they don't even have a place to turn to, in such depressing moods. But I do have one such place !!

I have never been so eager to return to office. After Diwaali, I reached office much earlier than I usualy do. I switched on my workstation, entered 'trn' and went straight to "rec.music.indian.misc", my Refuge !

And I felt once again delighted. As long as this place is free of the Nishanks and the Nehalis, I have nothing to fear. There ARE a few stray Nishanks scattered around this place, but the "buddha babas" are in a clear majority. And they are still talking about Rafi and Kishore and SDB and Madanmohan, and I am sure they will do so for a long time. As almost all these "buddha babas" are still very young. Like me :-)

- Abhay.
God save the Refuge !

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