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Showing posts from August, 2016

The Karim Lodge and the Indian John Brown

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Hafiz Abdul Karim at the Windsor castle
In Agra, there used to be a building called Karim Lodge near the Bijli ghar. It was built for its last occupant on land gifted by one of the most powerful persons living then, the Queen of England. The last occupant of it was, believe it or not, one who could have attained so much but asked for little, and he was Queen Victoria’s friend and confidante during her fading years. Their passionate story, the story of the sexagenarian rani and her Munshi, is unique and beset with intrigue and sorrow, a story the house of Windsor tried hard to first suppress and then erase. She the empress of India, protected him as long as she was alive, when powerful forces worked against his presence at the palace. As soon as she died, Abdul was unceremoniously sacked and sent home to India, and all written records destroyed.  Was their relationship platonic or was it not? Let’s find out by going back a century and 30 years.
The story was well known to people workin…

Crane, The Phillips affair and India

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Introducing India’s friend Robert I Crane
India is quite a nationalist country and most people are content with homespun and homegrown heroes. While it serves the greater populace, the many others who were hugely influential in its creation and existence as a modern democracy are hardly known to the teeming masses, not that it would get noticed, even if one were to write an article about it. I will nevertheless try to tell you all about one such person, an American, born in India and who went on to make an impact on the American government’s stance on India during a period when Britain and America were firmly tied up as allies in the WW II.
As Churchill leaned heavily on America’s president FDR, forcing him to withdraw tacit support for India’s independence, the Indian lobby being so created in Washington DC was working overtime to at least tilt the state department’s stance in favor of Indian independence. At one point of time, there was a lone American driven by his convictions, a …

When Melody was Queen - Making the song

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Part 2 – Making the song
For a person to listen to a song and finally say – ‘are wah! kya gaana tha… yaar, woh’, the song has to be nothing short of inspirational. From conception to production, from advertisement to music CD release is a long process, and somewhat haphazard when it relates to Bollywood. By the time the music director finally has his copy ready for mass CD or record punching in the pre-90’s era, he was huffing and puffing and would have lost a good deal of hair.
In the first article ‘From the original soundtrack’ we went through the historical development of the music scene. In this one we will study the steps taken to get a song ready. As we saw, a few film studios were established in Bombay during the 30’s and some names like New Theatres, Prabhat talkies and Bombay talkies were prominent. Many others followed, notably Imperial Film Company, Minerva Movietone, Ranjit Movietone, Sagar Movietone and Wadia Movietone. Of course Calcutta and Madras had their own studios…