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Hrishikesh Mukherjee - A legend remembered

By Kaveta A Chhibber

(A Kavita Media Presentation. Please email comments here.)

Every year when the time rolls around to do this annual tribute to my favorite director Hrishikesh Mukherjee I’m like a kid in a candy store. I make a grab for all his films and see them all over again. When I finally find an old gem, like Musafir, I’m ecstatic. I also come up with all kinds of ideas on how to do this tribute. Each annual tribute has left me incredibly happy and equally sad.

I’m happy because I rediscover the joy of watching a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film and discovering so much more about him as a film maker and a human being. The love and joy with which people speak of him and his work is incredibly gratifying.

I also get excited about how I would do the tribute each year. When Hrishi da passed away three years ago, I had written a tribute that came straight from my heart. A year later, it was as if the Universe wanted me to expand on it. With the help of some amazing people-Hrishi da’s daughter in law Swati who is not just gorgeous to look at but has the most wonderful heart, the amazing legendary writer Sachin Bhaumick who connected me with so many people, and who I absolutely have come to adore as well; and Faroukh Shaikh who has acted in many of Hrishi da’s films and is one of the most incredible actors and human beings I know. Faroukh was key in connecting me with so many people.

It was as if floodgates of love, memories and melody opened as actor after actor, directors, musicians shared some very lovely memories of Hrishi da with me. We revisit those every year as well and it feels as if I just did those interviews yesterday.

Last year was even more memorable because I spoke with so many members of Hrishi da’s family to share their personal stories about the legendary filmmaker. Many funny, poignant, special memories were revisited and what deeply touched me was the simplicity, intelligence, warmth that each family member exudes and that they trusted me to tell the story with the sensitivity it deserved. They are very private, and Hrishi da kept them away from the fake glitter and glamour of the film world. So the treasure trove of nuggets they shared were quite precious and simply incomparable.

This year I thought why not get people who may not have worked with Hrishi da but have excelled in their craft, whatever it may be. I also wanted to honor some of the actors who may not be the superstars like Amitabh Bachchan but were an intrinsic part of Hrishi da’s films.

So this year’s annual tribute is being kicked off with an interview with director and media personality Karan Johar and I was very touched at Karan’s genuine appreciation of the man who made many larger than life stars seem like real people. Many thanks to Ashanti Omkar from the UK, who did this exclusive interview for the emag at a very short notice.

What saddens me is the fact that he isn’t here to see all this adulation. We often forget the living and idolize the dead. But Hrishikesh Mukherjee remains quite unforgettable as does his amazing body of work and not just for me.


The Death Of A King:
Michael Jackson Passes Away

By Aditi Nadkarni

A Kavita Media Presentation. Please email comments here.)

Michael Jackson is gone. He was my very first introduction to pop music, our generation’s pop music. If it weren’t for him, our times would not have had any star to show for itself, no Elvis, no Beatle mania. We from the 90s would have passed by without a craze. Instead the 90s gave the world its King Of Pop. His biggest and best selling albums were made popular by my generation. We were the teenagers who followed his moonwalking footsteps and filtered his lyrics through the funnels of our walkman headphones. I remember hearing the scream, the sounds of shattering glass weaved into his music, the irreverant howl, the vulnerable quiver of his voice and the startling hiccup that punctuated his songs so in contrast to the steady, unbroken, melancholy notes of Indian music. It was different, like nothing I had ever heard before and so a pre-teen eager for something to define me, I fought valiantly for rights over the sole music system which my father’s Jagjit Singh and Ghulam Ali albums had monopolized for preceding years.

At my all girl’s convent school, every annual function had a dance on a catchy Michael Jackson number. Girls dressed in black and white, with big plastic hoops for earrings performed what could not really be called a break dance but when the famed "crotch" move came along, howls ensued from the crowd and loud clucks came forth from the nuns. In an otherwise solemn classroom, when Sister Maria asked us who was the first man to walk on the moon, our whispered answers amidst suppressed giggles included "Michael Jackson". In India, somehow we never saw Michael Jackson as Whacko Jacko. For us, he was merely this one representation of what the West itself was: eccentric, different, crazy and laden with bling-blings. If you asked a kid off the streets what America was to him, he would promptly say "Michael Jackson" and bust a break dance move. Johny Lever even created an Indian counterpart including "Mai-ka Lal Jaikishan" (Mother’s pet, Lord Krishna) for one of his comic routines and everybody in audience, young or old knew whose name he was parodying.

When Michael Jackson arrived in India, even the usually Hindutva and nationalistic fervor ridden Bal Thackeray was smitten, raving to delighted news reporters about how MJ had stopped at his home and used his toilet. The concert was something I could not even dream of attending. Instead I fed on the remnants of the wave that his arrival set forth in Bombay. Riding on the buses the next day, we pointed to each other, flyers and posters of the concert and the places that we speculated MJ must have surely passed through on the way to his hotel. "Look", we cried excitedly, "They said he stopped there before they drove from his hotel to the concert!". Street children wore the one white glove symbolic of the King’s visit and street hawkers made a killing selling MJ hats with a lock of curly hair attached. I was one of Bombay’s teeming middle class. being part of the concert was not for us unless its traffic manifestations counted. We only took pride in the fact that MJ had decided to visit our city. He knew he had fans here, we told ourselves and therefore he knew us at some level. He had come all that way to our city and bathed it with his music, matched the beat of our crowded local trains with the rhythm of his songs and even put in a bharatnatyam dancer in his album. He acknowledged us and we loved him for that. He folded his hands and said namaste and even the grandmothers dismissive of his moves were touched. Mai-Ka-Lal-Jai-Kishen.

At my own grandmother’s house, there lived a beautiful new god that had just made its way into India: cable TV. This tele-caravan of non-stop entertainment brought with itself, MTV and VTV. I watched MJ move around Naomi Campbell crooning "In The Closet" and that to date remains my favorite dance MJ number, its sensuality somehow ripening with age, mine and the song’s. At thirteen, this to me was sex in the West. A voluptuous, scantily clad woman sashaying with a tall, frail man clutching his crotch. One monsoon day on our way to a movie theatre, the shattering of glass and a well-delivered scream in Jam, startled my dad when maneuvering our fiat through Bombay’s tricky traffic. And much to my dismay MJ was banned from playing in our car.

"Do you even know what he is saying? Can you even tell?" my mother asked one day, challenging my adoration as I stared into the TV and let the the beats consume me. I turned up the volume and pretended to ignore her but her comment set me off. Up until then I did not understand his accent. I only knew that the beats of his songs excited me and made me want to dance. So the next time I made sure to look through the little lyric booklet that came with the cassette and learned a new language, his language. Suddenly, I was even more in love, not just moving with the beats and humming the tune but singing with the song. My mother immediately regretted having unintentionally led me into this karaoke phase. As I recognized the words, the message in "Black or White" and the angst in "Stranger In Moscow" were delivered with the beats. When our richer cousins bought a gigantic stereo system with speakers in every corner of the room, consumed with a mixture of pride and envy,I feigned nonchalance but only until "Blood On The Dance Floor" made its way into my tapping feet through their shuddering marble floor. I had never heard an MJ song being played like that before, at such a dangerous volume.

Through all his legal trials and the plastic surgeries, it became somewhat shameful or embarassing to admit that you liked him and adored him. And yet his music remained his one true face, untarnished and whole bringing discotheques alive when the 90s were called upon. Yesterday, I got back after a long day at work and just as suddenly as the shattering of glass and his trademark howl had entered my world, startling me years ago, I found out he was dead. I felt an urgency to listen to one of his songs. It is amazing how a tune can transport one back into the time to which that music belongs. Last night, I sat on my sofa, turned up the volume, closed my eyes and was a teenager again.

"Do you remember the time, when we were in love. We were young and innocent then"

Aditi Nadkarni is a cancer researcher, a film reviewer and a poet; her many occupations are an odd yet fun miscellany of creative pursuits.

Visit her blog http://musemirror.blogspot.com, for more of her articles and artistic as well as photographic exploits. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the writers/interviewees and do not necessarily represent those of the editor/publisher.

 


Creation is a Vibration

By Desh Kapoor

(A Kavita Media Presentation. Please email comments here.

In 1687, Newton published Principia where he laid the foundations of Gravity, which explained how the planets stayed in their orbits and large bodies work. Five years later, a Cambridge philospher Richard Bentley asked him a very innocuous question that hit at the root of Newton’s discovery. Bentley wrote a letter asking Newton: If the gravity was always an attractive force, why doesn’t the Universe Collapse? This question came to be known as the "Bentley Paradox".

Bentley not only pointed to the inherent instability of a creation made of one directional force, he started a series of actions that would later nudge the scientists from Einstein to today’s top Nobel Laureates to look for the ’Truth" - a "Theory of Everything".

Einstein tried to explain it by saying that Universe was probably expanding or contracting and not static (meaning an inherent force was at play, over and above the attractive force of Gravity). So strong was the entrenched scientific ideology (YES! Scientists are as dogmatic as the religious), that they forced Einstein to change his reason and come up with a Cosmological Constant. This was the repulsive and balancing force to gravity such that the Universe could be static and not collapse. Of course, if such a force was to hold the Universe together it would have to be very precise and Universe Equilibrium very unstable indeed - even a little nudge would bring things down!

Twelve years later Ed Hubble came out to tell the world that the Universe was indeed accelerating, embarassing Einstein to have him say that cosmological constant was his "Greatest Blunder".

Well, now things were settled, or so it seemed, about the gravity. It was argued that now Gravity will somehow slow this acceleration down. Around the turn of the 21st century however, it was clear that Universe’s expansion was accelerating and NOT decelerating. So, now, Einstein’s Cosmological Constant was dusted and brought out. His "blunderous" repulsive force was probably behind the accelerating expansion. It’s been called Dark Energy. When something happens that we cannot explain and is not according to our wishes, we characterise it as "Dark". This episode showed that even scientists have superstitious minds.

Now the question is - if this Dark Energy is constant or growing? It seems currently that it is static. In any case, we will lose the sight of most galaxies in the next few billion years. So, if you wish to see any of those galaxies, do it NOW! It might be too late a few billion years from now!

Force-fields and Electromagnetism

Michael Faraday was, what they called at that time, a "Natural Philosopher". He was assistant of Humphry Davy a well known chemist of his time. In the class-driven British society of that time, he was treated as a servant by Davy’s family and others, sometimes working as a valet replacement apart from his lab duties. It was after Davy’s death that Faraday came into his own.

Faraday’s greatest accomplishment was the finding that a changing magnetic field produces an electric field. His discovery did an important thing - it linked two forms of energy as mutually responsible for each other. Faraday’s lack of mathematical rigor brought in James Clark Maxwell. He fashioned Faraday’s findings into mathematical equations and was able to show what Faraday had demonstrated - that Electricity and Magnetism were manifestations of the same energy.

However, Maxwell, went further than that.

He found, mathematically, that magnetic fields and electric fields could be changed into one another. He found that if they changed from one to another in a never ending pattern - then they could create a wave just like in an ocean.

In 1864, he said: "This velocity is so nearly that of light that it seems we have strong reason to conclude that light itself is an electromagnetic disturbance."

While Faraday had brought together Electricity and Magnetism; Maxwell brought Light into the picture as well. He showed that all three - Electricity, Magnetism and Light were really manifestation of the same energy.

Interestingly, Swami Vivekananda had suggested the same, based on his understanding of Vedic philosophy, in one of his lectures in late 1890s:

out of this Prana is evolved everything that we call energy, everything that we call force. It is the Prana that is manifesting as motion; it is the Prana that is manifesting as gravitation, as magnetism. It is the Prana that is manifesting as the actions of the body, as the nerve currents, as thought force. From thought down to the lowest force, everything is but the manifestation of Prana. The sum total of all forces in the universe, mental or physical, when resolved back to their original state, is called Prana.

Of course, he went further that just magnetism, electricity and light were manifestations of a energy, but even "thought"! We shall see how science later went to that point much later.

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

Einstein’s special theory of relativity led to the Mass-Energy equivalence. Coupled with that he showed that speed of light is actually a basic property of our existence.

Special relativity reveals that c is not just the velocity of a certain phenomenon, namely the propagation of electromagnetic radiation (light)-but rather a fundamental feature of the way space and time are unified as spacetime.

He followed this up with the General Theory of Relativity, which incorporated Gravity in the model as well. In the General Theory, he unified the Special theory of relativity and Newton’s law of Gravitation. He described gravity as a geometric property of space and time, or spacetime.

Kaluza’s Unification of forces

In April 1919, Theodor Kaluza was trying to solve Einstein’s equation for General relativity using 5 dimensions. He found that Maxwell’s equations of Electromagnetism emerged spontaneously.

Kaluza through his work was able to unify Light (electromagnetic forces) and Gravity. He also suggested that Light was but "ripples" in the 5th dimension.

Quantum Theory, Schrodinger’s Cat and Consciousness

Quantum theory has come to be defined by the Copenhagen Interpretation (although there are other theories). Although there is no definitive statement of the Copenhagen Interpretation, it can be understood from its defining principles. [5] Primarily, it says that any one time, that electron could be wave or particle, and that the wave collapsed on observation into a particle.

However, the observer was taken to be objective. Schrodinger’s Cat experiment brought this part out that the nature of measurement or the observation was not very well defined in this experiment.

Eugene Wigner then brought his friend into the Schrodinger’s Cat experiment:

The Wigner’s Friend thought experiment posits a friend of Wigner who performs the Schrödinger’s cat experiment after Wigner leaves the laboratory. Only when he returns does Wigner learn the result of the experiment from his friend, that is, whether the cat is alive or dead. The question is raised: was the state of the system a superposition of "dead cat/sad friend" and "live cat/happy friend," only determined when Wigner learned the result of the experiment, or was it determined at some previous point?

He brought in Consciousness to bear upon the Quantum Collapse, making consciousness material to the quantum measurement process.

Wigner suggested that Consciousness causes Collapse. This is explained best as:

The rules of quantum mechanics are correct but there is only one system which may be treated with quantum mechanics, namely the entire material world. There exist external observers which cannot be treated within quantum mechanics, namely human (and perhaps animal) minds, which perform measurements on the brain causing wave function collapse.

String Theory - Unification of Everything

String Theory dusted Kaluza’s light ripples in the 5th dimension to extend the work of Einstein for a "Theory of Everything" (TOE). It was an attempt to merge the Quantum Theory with Theory of Relativity (Gravity and Light).

This is still an evolving area and has many theories, but the most inclusive is the 11-dimensional M-theory. It has since evolved into the "SuperString Theory".

According to this theory, sub atomic particles are simply vibrations of the "string" or Branes (p-brane) as they are known.

0-brane is a zero-dimensional pointlike particle, a 1-brane is a string, a 2-brane is a "membrane", etc. Every p-brane sweeps out a (p+1)-dimensional world volume as it propagates through spacetime.

According to the M-theory, strings of energy could grow to branes as large as the size of the Universe.

Basically, in layman’s term, Creation may actually be a Vibration. Depending on how Consciousness is defined and how being conscious - a property is defined, Creation is just a Vibration in the Infinite Consciousness.

The world is nothing but a mere vibration of consciousness in space. (Maharishi Vasistha to Shri Ram in "Vasistha Yoga")

Vasistha’s Yoga also goes ahead and defines its meaning of Consciousness extensively:

That self is subtler than even space since it has no name and cannot be described; and neither the mind nor the senses can reach it or comprehend it. It is pure consciousness. The entire Universe exists in the consciousness taht is atomic, even as tree exists within the seed.

Eugene Wigner had brought consciousness into play as he was deeply affected by Vedanta. In that sense, Vedanta and its philosophy of creation and existence has affected the debate in Modern science more than once.

Reference Links:

1. Bentley’s Paradox
2. James Clerk Maxwell
3. The Nobel Prize in Physics 1963 - Presentation Speech
4. Eternal Illusion and How Observer Creates His Own Reality
5. Copenhagen Interpretation; Principles
6. Consciousness causes Collapse


Desh Kapoor is a consultant and loves writing on different things. You can read his blog at http://www.drishtikone.com


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the writers/interviewees and do not necessarily represent those of the editor/publisher.


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