Lollywood Flashback

Sound of Lollywood: Anything goes and that’s the point of ‘Akh Ladti Hai Jab Dildar Se’

‘Dil Nasheen’ scored by the inimitable M Ashraf, has a dance number that sounds like a wedding band hard at work.

Dil Nasheen (1975) starred Nadeem and Shabnam, the undisputed dynamic duo of Urdu films whose antics and sexual frisson lit up screens throughout the 1970s and ’80s. Like Nadeem, who was the most decorated male actor in Pakistan, Shabnam garnered more best actress awards (13) than any of her female peers.

Dil Nasheen performed moderately well but given the stars was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps this was due to writer Agha Hassan Imsital re-running one of his earlier successful scripts. Imsital wrote the script for Anjuman (1970) a tawaif story that was a huge success. Here he adds a twist or two but essentially pens the same tale of a spoiled nawab who falls in love with a dancing girl with a heart of gold in Pakistan and creates all sorts of friction and complications within respectable society. The final scene, in particular, is an almost exact replica of the earlier film.

But thankfully, the movie’s music was composed by the prolific M Ashraf. After an initial successful partnership with composer/arranger Manzoor, Ashraf was getting a reputation as a brilliant ideas man on his own by the early ’70s. He loved playing around with western instruments, beats, phrases and melodies. Many of his compositions have found a second life in recent years as collectors and curators in the West have likened his fast-paced, rockin’ and rollin’ compositions to those created by RD Burman.

Akh Ladti Hai Jab Dildar Se (When Eyes Fight With My Beloved is the first song of the film. A voluptuous dancing girl hurls herself around the dance floor and onto tables in front of a drunken Nawabzada Salim (Nadeem) and his two equally inebriated companions.

The song opens with a perfect Ashraf sound confection. Within 30 seconds he has tipped his hat (probably unconsciously, but maybe not) to the rockabilly/early rock sound of the legendary American Sun Studios, where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and a host of American musical giants got their start. The jangling piano introduction is followed by a typical South Asian accordion solo followed by some rumbling Johnny Cash/Carl Perkins-like guitar playing.

After one of the Moona Sisters – a ’60s-’70s sibling act most famous for singing fluffy patriotic songs – sings the first phrase, our ears are tickled by some quick electric organ runs and a blazing guitar that would be at home in a Ventures show. A few more lines – all pretty innocuous stuff about making eyes with your boyfriend– and still more instruments are brought in: trumpets, flutes and electronic keyboards. It sounds as if a wedding band has wandered into the studio and each player is determined to outdo the other.

As the song progresses, one gets the feeling that Ashraf doesn’t give a damn. Throw anything in there. Any beat, any sort of sound, any instrument will do. (Harmonica? Sure. Accordion? Why not.) It’s all a huge romper room of fun. The singer and the lyrics are for the most part irritations, though near the end she does manage to throw in a few heavy sighs that mix nicely into the whirlpool of sound.

Finally (and very sadly), the end is nigh and the trumpets and the electric guitar are in a dash to the finish line. Who can go faster and have the final say? Of course, it is the guitar, Ashraf’s favourite child, which wins.

Nate Rabe’s novel, The Shah of Chicago, is out now from Speaking Tiger.

A version of this story appeared on the blog https://dailylollyblog.wordpress.com/ and has been reproduced here with permission.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.