Flesh eating crows and other songs

Nope, this title is not clickbait. I indeed have this weird topic to cover, and you may find it intriguing as well, just like I did. This is mainly to do with Bollywood lyrics related to the title – the crows eating human flesh! Be aware that I am not trying to connect Bollywood to scavenging birds, but I would understand if you wish to refer to them as so.

Okay, let’s start. You would have heard this song titled “nadaan parinde ghar aaja” by A R Rehman, which composed for the movie – Rockstar. If you did, have you happen to focus on the lyric behind it? I did not try to understand until recently. In fact, I was fully concentrating on what this overrated Nepokid Ranbir was trying to bray on the screen.

If you notice, there is a line that reads:

Kaaga re kaaga re mori itni araj tose Chun chun khaaiyo maans. Arajiya re khaaiyo na tu naina more Khaaiyon na tu naina mohe Piya ke milan ki aas

I could not believe my ears when I heard this!. For those who do not read Hindi thoroughly, let me translate it for you. It appeals to stray crows asking them to go ahead and eat his flesh by picking as per preference. That, except not to feast on eyes, which apparently, are required for him to hold a union with his love interest. I am not kidding. This is true.

I had no clue why so much gore in these lyrics. To be absolutely sure about what I heard, I asked Alexa to play it a couple of times more. Amazon’s AI engine picked up my request and queued up a few more songs with the same lyrics on my radio. The next was Sonu Nigam and All Yagnik singing the same in more contemporary dialect Hindi.

कागा सब तन खाइयो चुन चुन खाइयो मांस

दो नैना मत खाइयो मोहे पिया मिला की आस

Then there was another by Kailash Kher, then one by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and I know this now by heart!

Initially, I was so confused about why all these good people singing the recycled verse, appealing to scavenging birds to eat all the flesh but eyes? Is this some kind of sacrificial ritual practiced by a tribe? Or does it have any historical significance?

After a bit of research, I found this blog post that tells me that it was originally written in Punjabi about a millennium ago. It was written by a Sufi mystic in Northwestern India, which is present-day Pakistan. He was Baba Sheikh Farid (1173-1266 ). You can read more details here.

This is what he wrote :

Kaaga karang Dhadoliya saglaa Khaaiyo Mass Aey Do Nainaan Mat Chhuchho pir dekhan ki aas

( O crow! come and peck all this flesh over this skeletal frame of mine, Leave these two eyes untouched for they are in wait of that Grand beloved of mine )

I am not gonna judge the baba or his followers on why this was made famous over centuries because I don’t know how love worked during then. May be birds involved, and maybe not. But our current generations of Bollywood should have known better. This is not the song for the present century, and we should stop using it.

Let me know your thoughts.

[Book vs Movie]Calling Sehmat vs Raazi

Generally, I do not get involved in the business of comparing the movies against the Book based on. The primary reason for that is that I will have to read fiction for the comparison. And I hate reading fiction! Nevertheless, here is an attempt. This is more of a fictionalized biography rather than a novel, hence the exception 🙂

The movie in the discussion is Raazi starring Alia Bhat. She is a nepo-kid with reasonably good acting skills amongst a truckload among quintessentially bad actors and movie makers. For a change, the movie is loaded with decent actors; songs are brilliant with excellent lyrics. Its quite old movie by now and you would have seen it already. The book is based on “Calling Sehmat”, authored by Harinder Sikka penned on fictionalized biographical narration based on what he gathered from actual Sehmat.

On an overall and surface level, the movie captures the essence and sequence of events described in the Book. However, there are a few fundamental differences, which could be deliberate or creative. I will leave you to decide:

  1. The movie does not capture the first chapter of the Book. The chapter is an essential part of the storyline, but the film chooses to leave behind. The book takes its own time, deservedly, to define Sehmat, her love interest, passion, etc. The movie does not care about any of that.
  2. The movie Sehmat is a weak girl who flinches with the pistol backfire, the book’ Sehmat is a cold-blooded determined soldier who is willing to kill, lie, kidnap, and blackmail for her nation which was at war. The Book’s Sehmat does things as her conscious directs her, while the movie’s Sehmat does it as obligations to her Indian handlers.
  3. The movie ultimately leaves put last few chapters, which most probably is to avoid hurting sentiments of a rowdy family lived terrorizing a village in rural Punjab. Also, they probably do not want to show Sehmat owes her newfound sanity to a hermit.

Also read: Letting Meghna Gulzar direct Raazi was the biggest blunder, rues Calling Sehmat author Harinder Sikka

The Last Samurai, Taranaki Maunga and Mangaluru

Question : Do you recognize this mountain? Name and location please..

Yes, it’s the same one in the backdrop of the legendary movie – The Last Samurai. This is supposed to be Mount Fuji where Tom Cruise and other ancient Japanese’s warrior tribes fought their last battle and perish.

However what you are looking at is not Fuji, It’s Mount Taranaki! In fact, It’s not even in Japan. This is located thousands of miles away, in middle earth. I am not kidding, it’s apparently true. A mountain played Body-double for another mountain for its striking resemblance with other. I wonder what did Hollywood show as body-double for the Himalayas? Mongolia?

Like any mountain, Mount Taranaki has a history, let me cover the “its name” part of it. The indigenous native Māori people had called it as Taranaki for centuries. When European explorers came down, their first natural instinct was to rename it. They named it Mount Egmont. Then the colonizers arrived, and unsurprising stuff followed. They claimed the country with the cunning use of Flag . As usual practice a lot of things were formally renamed, including Taranaki – as Mount Egmont.

For about a century it is called by both names in official records. Let me fast forward the story to the current century. Almost a year back, authorities and legislators finally resolved to have one and only one name for the mountain. It’s now called Taranaki Maunga. So well done there. It’s a sentiment that matters, and I fully agree with them. Why should anyone call themselves or places with a name their colonisers or comfortable to pronounce with? It should always reflect the roots.

However, a section of society finds this kin of renaming very hard to swallow. To this date, some people prefer to call themselves as they are from Bombay. It’s the name their colonizers gave while breaking fingers of their cotton Weaver’s. In comparison, Chennai has caught on better. I hear no one is calling it Madras any more. Prayag for previous Allahabad is yet to catch up, I wonder what Amitabh Bacchan answers now if you were to ask about his roots. It’s all about the collective self-respect of locals.

Anyways, the thumb rule is a name that should be devised by local. There could even be multiple names as long as they all are all local. I have seen numerous local names co-existing. For example, let’s take a city of Mangaluru, it has/had at least 13 titles – mostly regional. FYI only, Mangaluru has very diverse cultural deviation, perhaps next only to Northeastern states.

  • Mangaluru in Kannada, the state language and language of education
  • Kodial in Konkani, a language spoken by Saraswats and Catholics refugees emigrated from Goa to avoid Portuguese persecution and Inquisition. A language is closer to Marathi than Kannada.
  • Kudla in Tulu, mother tongue of Aishwarya Rai and Shila Shetty. A local transactional language. Widely spoken in the region, but has no script. Vocabulary is closer to Tamizh than Kannada.
  • Kodeyaala in Havyakka, a dialect of Kannada sounds very poetic and closer to medieval Classic.
  • Its Maikala in Beary, a language spoken by local Muslims, which is closer to Malayalam than Kannada.
  • Its Mangalapuram in Malayalam, Keralites who share a border with Mangaluru.
  • Its called Kaudal in Urdu

Historic references. These names faded away due to its number of speakers reduced in the region.

  • Manjarun in (Samskrut) Sanskrit exists only in books
  • Nitra (Greek Ptolemy – based on the river Netravati)’
  • Manjarour/Manjiloree (Arabic), traders named it.

Finally, Let’s come to two names given by Colonisers/invaders :

Mangalore in English. This is no longer a standard spelling.

Jalalabad – Tippu Sultan, temporarily renamed it – this did not get caught on.

P.S. The producers of The Last Samurai may have their own reasons to shoot a Japanese Legend in New Zealand. Bollywood does it too. It did shoot most of its 80s and 90s dance sequences in Europe, mostly Switzerland. They did this even when Kashmir was peaceful primarily, and Insurgency did not start.

P.S.2 Hollywood gets the ethnicity of actors wrong as well. More often than not, an Indian character role is fulfilled by an English actor with a Pakistani or Srilankan descent. I have seen vice-versa as well. For example, the Arab princess jasmine in the movie Aladdin (2019 – Disney) was half Indian Naomi Scott.! The protagonist was played by Egyptian-Canadian and Genie was played by African-American. To remind you, the story was about Arabian nights in 14th century Iraq. Its a discussion for another day

Be afraid, Be very afraid!

Image captioned “Don’t mess with Finland” is making rounds on the Internet. It’s called “Be afraid, Be very afraid!

Very impressive, indeed. However, do you know what is even more unique and outstanding? One which involved us Indians. The Battle of Longewala!

Battle of Longewala
Tank tracks at Longewala. Photographic reconnaissance image taken at the time showing the desperate last minute manoeuvres by Pakistani tanks in the Longewala sector. Circles show destroyed Pakistani tanks.

Indians won the battle despite being outnumbered and overpowered. Can it still be called “the last stand”?

Too bad it is not in top 10. Anyway, be afraid, Be very afraid!

Children of Taliban

If you tame a snake to kill your neighbour, after doing that, its gonna come back to bite you !

Frankenstein monster is now in Pakistan. And you can watch it (if you haven’t already!) on PBS/Frontline documentary by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy “Pakistan’s” Children of the Taliban (2010) where she explores alarming consequences.

(That was 2010 movie, if anyone has follow up documentary, please share)

The Taliban often use radio broadcasts to drive home their message.

In one typical address, a preacher proclaims:

“Sharia Law is our right, and we will exercise this right whatever happens. We will make ourselves suicide bombers! I swear to God if our leader orders me, I will sacrifice myself… and blow myself up in the middle of our enemies.“

The Taliban have destroyed more than 200 government schools in Swat since they took control of the region.  Walking through the rubble of a school that once taught 400 girls, the reporter comes across two nine-year-old girls who used to study there.

image from sharmeenobaidfilms.com