Bollyspace

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Don Theatrical Trailer

Writing about film style? Farhan Akhtar is your man.

Bollywoodization of Page 3: a quote

One of the themes that kept coming up during my interviews with media producers and execs in Mumbai concerned Page 3, and how Bollywood personalities seem to have taken over Page 3 culture. Here's an excerpt from an interview I did with a TV producer:

Page 3 started off with high-society. But in the mid-90s, Bollywood started becoming cool, and the line between high-society and film became very blurred. There used to be a separate page for cinema, and a separate one for Page 3, and gradually, the characters on the two pages started crossing over from one page to another.

This was also the time when Bollywood was no longer about Govinda - it was about Shahrukh and Adi chopra and Karan Johar. And I'd even say it was Karan Johar mainly - he was the poster boy. He was a mahalakshmi kid who went and made one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. on the one hand, he was making films with his childhood friends in them, like Kajol. On the other hand, he was hanging out with Avanti and Yash Birla and his friends were Rhea Pillai...socialites, you know.

Adi was very media shy. Karan was really the guy who made Bollywood cool, and brought in the crowds who previously used to look down on Bollywood films. And in time, the socialites also realized that it was cool to invite Bollywood stars to their parties. These stars were no longer like Govinda and Mithun - they were cool, suave, very cosmopolitan, very global.


Dor, starring Shreyas Talapde

We will soon see Shreyas Talpade, who played Iqbal to much acclaim, essaying the role of a Rajasthani man who helps a murderer's wife track down the victim's wife. Produced by Sahara One, written and directed by Kukunoor, and starrring Talpade, Ayesha Takia (as the victim's wife), Gul Panag (murderer's wife), Girish Karnad, and Pratiksha Lonkar. The film releases this September.

I liked Iqbal a lot, and thought Teen Deewarein didn't get enough attention. While I hope this film translates into moolah for Kukunoor, I also hope he stays in the space of off-beat cinema that is being carved out in India now. More here, and here. [Pic from IndiaFM]

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

One year as ABD!

Around this time last year, I made the transition into that realm of great uncertainty known as ABD! I'm still there, making some progress. But there's a ways to go before I can emerge from the quicksand-like zone marked all-but-dissertation and move into one where I'll be almost-bloody done.

For the most part, these early days are fun. I'm writing a chapter, and doing a good job of thinking about the chapter and not the entire dissertation. I still like my topic. When friends ask me what I'm working on, I am able to give them a satisfactory answer in less than a minute. I don't snap at people who ask me how the dissertation is coming along. I planned ahead and came up with a routine that lets me be civil and cheerful: furrow eyebrows, nod slowly, say "it is coming along," and wait for the other person to follow up or be gracious and change the subject.

And you know what? I'm putting in my "fifteen minutes" every day, and that's that.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Feel like a smatterer? Its a good thing!

Feel you know a little bit here and there? Familiar with the ideas of a few big names, in two or three disciplines which intersect with your interests in some ways? Nervous you'll be hauled up for not knowing enough? Feel like a smatterer? Smatter away then! It may not be a bad thing, says this crusty old scholar-critic [see last paragraph, if you're not inclined to read the whole thing!].

BAFTA Goes Bollywood

Last month, BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) organized a three day series "designed to celebrate and explore contemporary Bollywood cinema." In addition to screening hits like Rang De Basanti, K3G, and Dil Chahta Hai, the series also roped in prominent UK media personalities to conduct interviews with Shahrukh, Aamir, Karan Johar, Yash Chopra, and Preity Zinta. The interviews are long (35-40 min), but there are some interesting segments (for e.g., the part where Aamir explains why he prefers hearing scripts to reading them, and how different directors have their own styles of narration - at about 8 minutes in).
(via Naachgaana)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Chaya Geet: Film Music, Fandom, and Memory

The day after I arrived in Athens, Georgia, to begin graduate studies (august, 1999), I walked to a computer lab on campus, logged on, and discovered rec.arts.movies.local.Indian (r.a.m.l.i) and rec.indian.music.misc (r.m.i.m). Over the next few months, I spent many happy hours browsing through discussions (and occasionally participating) of heroes, heroines, villains, playback singers, and music directors of Indian cinema (mostly Hindi cinema) with other fans, many who were graduate students like myself.

Several fans on rmim and ramli also set up websites of their own using space provided by their college/university or sometimes, using services like geocities. One such fan - Sami Mohammed - was a particularly active member of rmim, and also a fan of Naushad and Rafi. A grad student at Lehigh, Sami also developed a series around the popular film music show (on All India Radio's Vividh Bharati) Chaya Geet. The series, as he describes it, is a small tribute to my favorite Vividh Bharati announcer (and Chhaya Geet hostess) Kanta Gupta."

Some of the themes that Sami developed seem to emerge from grad student life in the U.S. in the early-mid 90s, before the Internet, CDs, and VCDs enabled direct and immediate contact with the world of Indian cinema (exams special, FORTRAN 94, Insomnia). Other song lists are developed around emotions such as intezaar (waiting) or bichhaRna (separation) - themes that Chhaya Geet was known for. From what I can read through now at Sami's site and rmim archives, it is clear that this series was a tremendous hit with the hundreds of other rmim-ers.

I like Sami's site for both personal and academic reasons. It is a terrific archive that can help us account for the role of grassroots cultural production in the emergence of an Indian cinematic cyberpublic, well before dot-com companies like IndiaFM and Indiatimes entered the picture (more on this later). And on a more personal note, it resonates deeply with my own sense of being a "fan" of Indian films and film music, and why radio shows like Chhaya Geet, television programs like Chitrahaar, and later, shows like Pepsi Ungal Choice on Sun TV were so important as spaces for fan expression.

As I've mentioned earlier, the "fan" is a marginalized figure in India, thought of primarily as a rowdy (an imperfect citizen in aesthetic, cultural, and political terms). Sami, and other fans on rmim and ramli, are anything but rowdies. And what is more, for many of these fans, it seems shows like Chhaya Geet and Binaca Geet Mala constituted a "virtual" community, a site of participatory culture that was "safe." By safe, I mean both anonymity, and the fact that film music has always occupied an ambiguous "middle brow" position where cultural definitions were concerned (my parents didn't bother me when I tuned in to Chhaya Geet, but they didn't like it when I hung around a street corner fan association!).

Perhaps every fan letter that anchors like Ameen Sayani read out loud on Radio Ceylon and All India Radio served to legitimize a mode of being a fan who was neither a "rowdy" nor a "rasika" (high-culture connoisseur). When Kaanta Gupta opened each episode with the lines, "chhaya geet sunne walon ko Kaanta Gupta ka namaskar," perhaps she brought together a community of fans, convened an adda, if you will, that lasted a mere 30 minutes, but came together each night at 10:00 p.m.
Little surprise then, that "recreating" these shows on the Internet evoked such nostalgic and joyous responses from hundreds of other fans with similar experiences.

Ugly Betty? Betty la Fea? Jassi?

"Yo Soy Betty, la Fea" ("I Am Betty, the Ugly") first traveled to India and became Sony TV's smash hit Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin. And now, with Salma Hayek's backing, the Colombian telenovela comes to the U.S. as Ugly Betty.

There's been enough written in anticipation of Ugly Betty on ABC's primetime lineup this coming fall, but fo
r the most part, people haven't mentioned the India connection (except here). I think it is worth bringing up the India connection if only to recognize that there are many circuits of global media flows that are not driven by media corporations in the U.S. or the U.K., "south-south" cultural and economic exchanges that took place well before globalization (as a primarily west-driven phenomenon) became a buzz word.

"Ugly Betty" is an interesting case also because India's encounter with telenovelas goes all the way back to the early days of Doordarshan!
We would not have spent hours watching Basesar Ram, Bhagwanti, Lallu, Chutki, and others if not for Miguel Sabido, the man credited with developing the first "soap operas for social change" in Mexico during the late 1970s. The story goes:

"[Sabido] travelled to India with David Poindexter, who was working at the Population Institute, a nonprofit organization that focusses on family planning. (The following year, Poindexter founded the program that would become P.C.I.) The two met with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the Indian health minister. When Sabido asked the health minister what proportion of India's population had access to contraceptives, he answered, "A hundred per cent." As the meeting ended, Sabido told me, Mrs. Gandhi took him aside and said of her minister, "That man is a liar!" She then approved a Sabido-method telenovela for a state-run network. The show, "Hum Log" ("We People"), which went on the air in 1984, became one of the most popular dramas in Indian history."

More on Sabido here, and here's an interesting account of how Sony execs in India were convinced that "an ugly woman as the star of a series" would work.

Gandhi and Tagore: Against/Post Nationalism

Excerpts from a thought provoking essay by Ashis Nandy in a recent issue of EPW.

"I am treading on dangerous ground. Not only have I drawn attention to the eccentric hostility of our national poet to the idea of nationalism, I have diagnosed the nationalism of the Father of the Nation as fraudulent. Worse, I have read his assassination's nationalism as the genuine stuff, grounded in dominant contemporary ideas of sanity and rationality."

"Fortunately for the Indian nationalists, secular or otherwise, the evil influence of the two maverick thinkers I have discussed is waning. We are now proudly moving towards the genuine stuff - the real, textbook version of nationalism about which Ernest Gellner once said that you do not have to examine its contents in different parts of the world, for they are always the same. That is, paradoxically, nationalist thought is never nationally distinctive; it is globalised by definition. And it was so decades before globalisation became a buzz word."

Go
here to read "Nationalism, Genuine and Spurious: Mourning Two Early Post-Nationalist Strains."

Friday, August 25, 2006

SRK on Kamalhassan

Gautham Menon, the young director who wowed Tamil film audiences with Kaaka Kaaka, must be pleased with initial reactions to his much-hyped Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu. Starring Kamalhassan, Jyothika, and Prakash Raj, with music by Harris Jeyaraj, the film seems to be doing well. Anyways, last week's Friday Review featured an interview with Gautham Menon and for some inexplicable reason, the interview opens with SRK's thoughts on Kamal. And oh, the interview itself seems little more than a place-filler.

"I walk down the road and people want to kiss me. I'd never do all that to anyone. Not Mr. Bachchan or Mr. Rajnikant. The exception is Kamal. I asked him if I could touch him when I first met him," said Shahrukh Khan during the shooting of Dil Se. "He has an amazing sense of using space. When he plays an old man his gait and the way he stands is enough to convey his age. He doesn't need make-up. I find him greater than Dustin Hoffman and De Niro put together, I know Kamal can make you cry with a look in his eyes. I know his pauses. He has an amazing sense of timing that he knows the audience likes. He's a technician par excellence. That kind of knowledge and control every actor should strive to get," said `King Khan' with a look of adoration in his eyes.

Bollywood Flicks on AOL.com

AOL enters the online video business in a bid to fight firms like Movielink, CinemaNow, and Netflix. And what's more, AOL offers a surprisingly large number (more than 600) of Bollywood films, including some recent hits like Fanaa.

From the NY Times [link]:

AOL said yesterday that it would offer movies from four major Hollywood studios for downloading on its Internet video service.

AOL, which is owned by Time Warner, said films from 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures and the Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group would be available for download on AOL Video for $9.99 to $19.99 a movie. Link.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Binaca Geet Mala: Early Years


Ameen Sayani recalls, among other fascinating details, Binaca Geet Mala's early years on Radio Ceylon. Article here.

"For all of Rs. 25, I was required to select the songs, produce, script and compere the programme, and also sort the mail. The programme involved a competition and we expected 40-50 letters. The first episode brought 9,000. Within a year, that number touched 60,000. We had to shelve the competition and introduce a countdown show."

If you've played cricket...

Played a few hundred hours of cricket growing up? Think that's enough to have a feel for what exactly transpires in the middle when Rahul Dravid is batting? Rohit Brijnath asks you to stop cribbing about slow run rates and reflect, even if only for a moment, and marvel at what cricketers do. Article here.
When Brett Lee bowls, he propels the ball at a speed beyond our understanding; 150kmph is meaningless to us, we have no frame of reference.

From 22 yards, most people would not see the ball, would not register its course, before it arrives at their throat to complete an involuntary tracheotomy.

Yet in these fractions of a second, as our brain arrests, Dravid has seen, recognised and categorised the ball, sent a message to his hands, legs, body to arrange themselves, blending memory and reflex and anticipation and knowledge, and as his bat rises, and soft hands ensure the ball drops right down to his feet, here's what you and I think. Dammit. No run.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Heart Attack? Don't Bother Calling for an Ambulance

Scott Carney, my friend from Madison who is currently in Chennai, writes about what the U.S. could learn from India about healthcare. He is impressed by the fact that it is possible to walk into a doctor's office and get treated without any fuss. No forms to fill out, no worries about insurance. Even at a private clinic, the treatment is affordable and at government hospitals, it is free. I agree - I've had the experience of coming down with the flu in the U.S. and having to wait for one whole day before I was treated by a nurse practitioner. It is very, very frustrating.

Scott admits that there are other major problems with healthcare in India. To my mind, one of the most serious problems concerns emergency services. My father recently died of a heart attack, and my mom managed to get him to a clinic near home with the help of a neighbor who owns a car. The clinic arranged for an ambulance, and he was taken to a bigger hospital nearby. At the hospital, it took nearly 45 minutes for a cardiologist to arrive.

No ambulance with flashing lights and a shrill alarm speeding past vehicles that move to the side of the road (in an area like Malleswaram, on Sampige Road, there is no side you could move to even if you wanted). No code blue, a la Grey's Anatomy. Too little, too late. Everyone recognizes that my mom did the best she could under the circumstances, but it wasn't enough.

A day before we left Bangalore, I came down with a bad throat infection and went to my mom's doctor, who is also a cardiologist. Minutes after I reached the clinic, a family arrived in a van and out rushed a middle-aged woman. She asked the clinic staff for a wheel chair, took it outside, and with the help of two of her neighbors who had accompanied her in the van, managed to get her husband into the wheelchair. The doctor came out, felt his pulse, and realized right away that he had had a heart attack and was in a critical condition.

But he could do little else. His clinic wasn't equipped to deal with such an emergency. He did not know how to get an ambulance. The receptionist did not know either. She did not even have phone numbers of major hospitals handy. I ended up calling a call-taxi service using my cell phone, and until the taxi arrived, I was out on the road, trying to flag down cars. None stopped. And there wasn't even an auto in sight.

Eventually, the doctor called a friend of his at a nearby hospital who then arranged for an ambulance. Now this ambulance, as we found out a full fifteen minutes later, was a Maruti Van with the back seat taken out and placed lengthwise. That's it. No flashing lights, no oxygen tank. The driver had just woken up, and was still dressed in his lungi and banian, and arrived alone. So the driver, the patient's neighbor, and I somehow managed to get the patient off the wheelchair and into the ambulance. We were clumsy - we had no idea if there was a proper way to handle him. We might have contributed to his worsening condition. And I don't know if he survived.

I went in and asked the doctor if this was par for the course and he nodded. It is very frustrating, he said. This was a doctor who had worked in the U.S. for more than two decades before returning to Bangalore. "Unlike in the U.S., where the county or the city provides emergency care - at least an ambulance which gets you to a hospital - there is nothing like that here," he said. "The Bangalore City Corporation does not provide this service. If you call 102, a number listed in the phone directory, no one picks up. Trust me, I've tried."

If you don't have a car, if you don't have neighbors who own cars and are at home at the time, if you live in a part of the city where autos aren't easy to find, or if you have a medical emergency late at night, you're in trouble. All you will have left is a crushing sense of guilt that you did not/could not do enough to save your loved one's life.

As I said earlier, I had this experience a day before I left Bangalore. So I did not have a chance to make some calls and find out what emergency health services the City of Bangalore or the State of Karnataka provides or are expected to provide. I hope to do this in October, when I'm in Bangalore next.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

KANK: Review Roundup

Rediff's Raja Sen writes that "the characters are cardboard, the setting is glitzy, the songs are tiresome, and the story oscillates between high melodrama and slapstick hilarity, going nowhere." He concludes: Damn, it still hurts. Think it'll take a couple more viewings of another film with a limping leading man to soothe the pain.

Taran Adarsh, at IndiaFM.com, has nothing but praise. "Just don't expect KANK to be a typical candyfloss entertainer. Or an archetypal fare that Bollywood is known for. In those 3.06 hours/22 reels, Karan packs in some solid stuff." Evidently, Taran Adarsh believes reviewing or critiquing a film involves one of two things: gush about it, or declare it a dud. And how does he outline KANK's merits? By alerting us to dialogues in the film that are eminiently cringeworthy: "The spat between SRK and Preity on one hand [Preity: 'I wear the pants in this house'], followed by the heated argument between Abhishek and Rani [Abhishek: 'You can't even bear a child'] is amongst the most remarkable portions in the film." Yes, remarkable indeed.

The NY Times' Neil Genzlinger wonders
"why Mr. Johar’s cinematic eye seems stuck in the land of Playboy videos, shampoo commercials and early MTV." Perhaps Mr.Genzlinger hasn't seen Mr.Johar's attempt at recreating the Archie-comics era in 90s India in his superhit debut, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The review is kind though, and concludes: But those looking for subtlety and sophistication should not have wandered into this film in the first place.

Indiatimes.com plays it safe, saying "
after a while we have a Bollywood film that’s as easy to admire as it is to enjoy." They couldn't possibly afford to get SRK on their bad side. Newbies in India would be mistaken for thinking Filmfare is in many ways SRK's mouthpiece. But no, hang on. Just when you think the Times group couldn't really sink any lower, they decide to give you a "quick roundup of all the juicy tidbits" with this headline: Get the skinny on all the KANK-y stuff. *blech*

But thankfully, Nikhat Kazmi over at TOI gives it to us straight: Too long. Too tedious. And strangely plastic. No, this time, Karan Johar seems to have got the formula skewed.

It does seem clear that after KANK, a lot more people are going to wary about anything Karan Johar decides to do next. And Abhishek Bandekar at Naachgaana expresses hope.
"Karan Johar was inspired to make Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna(Never Say Goodbye), his study of love and its complex nature in these rapidly changing times, after a single viewing of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset. For the sake of all of us, may his DVD collection burn and/or the library he rents titles from run out of classics."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Kannada Cinema: 1934-2006

From The Hindu: The mega portal of Kannada cinema Chitraloka is throwing a feast for cineastes on the occasion of Suvarna Karnataka. An exhibition of 2,500 stills from films released between 1934 and 2006 will be on display at Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, beginning August 14.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Filmfare on the Web: Early Days

The Wayback Machine is truly remarkable! Working on a chapter that looks at the role played by the Internet in enabling Bollywood's global flows, I really really wanted to take a peek at what some of the big-name sites were like way back when the Web was a new-fangled thing. Sites like Rediff, Indiatimes, and IndiaFM. The Times Group was one of the earliest of the media houses to go online, and along with the Times of India and Economic Times, Filfmare also went online as early as 1996! Here's a peek at 2 such pages. For more, go here.


Posted by Picasa

Making of Where's the party tonight?

Yashraj does know how to promote a film. "Where's the party tonight," ask Abhishek, Shahrukh, and Preity and lead you into a typical Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy disco number, but which also has a key role in pushing the story forward. NDTV carried this promo. And oh, don't forget to scroll down the "explore more videos" section for all the NDTV Night Out stuff and a sweet little fanvid with all the stills that have been released.

Making of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna

If you're one of those who loves to bitch about K-Jo films but will go see it twice anyway (and then buy the DVD because K-JO movies grow on you), here's something to keep you going until the film hits a screen near you. SRKPagali has uploaded the "making of KANK" (aired on NDTV and ZEE). And IndiaFM.com has also announced that you'll be treated to a trailer of Dhoom 2 when you go to see KANK (both distributed by Yashraj Films).

Monday, August 07, 2006

Filmy Trivia: Teaser-Ad

From Screen (July 16, 2003):

Back in 1940, a dramatic WANTED and a passport size picture of Sadhana Bose immediately drew attention to the release ad of Kum Kum - The Dancer. The crowd-pulling gimmick went on to say that a charming pickpocketer who commits highway robbery, had picked the pocket of the zamindar's son and robbed him of his heart. She had then married him and robbed his father. After that, she had come to Bombay and robbed the cinema loving audiences of over Rs.13,000 in one week. People were warned that this dangerous criminal was now in the city and could be spotted by her beautiful dancing in Kum Kum. "For other points of identification, visit the Imperial Cinema today at 1 p.m., 4, 6:30, and 9:30."

"NRIs are the villagers of India," says King Khan

If he hasn't quit yet, what is Shahrukh Khan smoking these days? In an interview with Mayank Shekhar (Mumbai Mirror), Khan holds forth on many a topic. Here's what he has to say about NRIs and the K-JO genre:

MS: How do you explain being the prime draw among NRIs?
SRK: The technical reason is the return of the cinema in the '90s after VCRs became outdated. We did 'yuppie' films that featured English-speaking actors. However, let me also tell you that NRIs are the villagers of India. You meet them and they go, "What you are doing yaar; I don't know what the f*** is happening, yaar". They went abroad from Amritsar, Pind; and even now, 90 per cent of NRIs are from the villages of Gujarat'. The South Indians are the only educated people you will find abroad and they are not the greatest audience we have. We have a South Indian film audience but they are not our NRI audience. The bottom-line is that we are again catering to the same people.

The rest of the interview here.
(via Indian Writing)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Trisha Fan Club

And now, Trisha, an in-demand heroine in Tamil cinema, has a fan club. This is not an online fan club that might fizzle out in a few months, but one that aspires to function like a Vijaykant fan club. From Behindwoods:

The fan club of a heroine may give an idea of a ragtag group of loyalists who whistle loudly at every appearance of their favourite lady on screen, but this fan club is far from that sort of thing.

As soon as this club was they decided to sponsor all the needs of 10 orphan children. They also constantly monitor and take care of the needs of a home sheltering those with impaired mental development. They also give away educational aid to deserving students from economically backward classes.

Trisha is not the first heroine from Tamil to have a fan club dedicated to her name; one existed for an actress, not too many years back. But this is surely the first time that such a fan club has steeped into social activism.

And yes, they have a flag too! Red, blue, and a star in the middle with Trisha's picture in it!

Aran: Shot in Kashmir, Amidst Gunfire

Poland just won't do, decides an ex-army man turned producer. R. B Choudhary, who has helped filmmakers like Mani Ratnam plan film sequences in border areas, talks about his experiences shooting Aran (starring Mohanlal).

They pushed realism to the limits.Producer R. B. Choudhary, director Major Ravi and the crew plonked themselves in the turbulent terrain of Kashmir, for nearly a month (27 days to be exact) amidst real gunfire, for the shooting of `Aran.'

"Generally I never go to the sets; nor do I travel with the unit. But `Aran' was a different ball game ... a high-risk project, because we were shooting in Kashmir. I couldn't sit here in peace when my people were working under potentially perilous conditions," smiles Choudhary. He stayed with the crew in Kashmir for all the 27 days.

Full story here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Film Music as Solace

An hour before the kick-off of the Convergence Culture Symposium, I received a call from my sister saying my father had suffered a heart attack. She added that the doctors didn't think he would make it. I rushed to the airport, got my tickets changed, and a few minutes after I got past the security check, I got another call saying it was over. He was gone. I've been in Bangalore the past few months, and am now back in the U.S., trying hard to get on with work. It's been slow and agonizing, but I am now able to persuade my mind to think about that, ahem, "long paper" I need to write.

I considered using this space to work through what I was going through. But it has taken me this long to accept, and not just understand, a change that in its finality is nothing but excruciating. I now hope to blog regularly, and not just about filmy stuff. But for now, I will mark this return with a note about film music.

After the traditional period of mourning, and the feast on the 13th day which marks the end of mourning, all our friends and relatives left, leaving me and amma at home. For the first time after my father's death, we were left alone with our thoughts. It was difficult, to say the least, to continue living in an apartment that seemed eeriely empty yet reminiscent of time spent with anna. While we tried our best to stay occupied - visitors, shopping for groceries, cooking, watching television - there were times when we would just sit quietly, afraid to talk lest we break down again, inconsolable. The one thing that provided much comfort during those initial days was, strangely enough, film music. And in a way, the radio - which he would leave on all day long, switching stations constantly - became an object that helped amma and me smile at times. "I would get annoyed at times," said amma one morning. "Some nights he would fall asleep with the radio on, and I would have to find the remote in the dark and switch it off." The Matinee Show on Radiocity 91.0 FM, Chaya Geet on All India Radio at 10:00 p.m., and much else to fill up the rest of the day.

As I heard songs that I remember anna enjoying and humming, it seemed a nice way to mourn. At times when it felt like there was nothing left to hold on to - no diary, no letters, no last words at the hospital - film music was a balm for grief. And one song in particular resonated with much of what I was feeling: kal ho na ho. I recognize that the song may mean little to many people, and might even sound utterly corny. But I found the lyrics of the song, and the affect it produced under the circumstances, very comforting. It helped me come to terms with the idea of moving on, and reminded me to cherish relationships.