Lollywood Flashback

Sound of Lollywood: The high notes of hippie ode ‘Make Love Not War’

The song is reminder of the time when Pakistan was a busy thoroughfare along the stoner trail that ran from London to Kathmandu.

One of the challenges facing those of us who write about Pakistani films is that of the many thousands that have been released over the years (over a 100 a year in the Golden Age of the 1960s and early ’70s), relatively few are publicly accessible on the internet or for purchase. Many of the ones that are available suffer from horrible sound and picture quality, making their viewing an exercise in self-torture.

Maut Ke Saudagar, made in the mid-’70s, is in that vast category of films about which I can only conjecture information. I have not been able to locate any reference to the film on any of the several excellent Lollywood-related sites on the net. And the authoritative text, Mushtaq Guzdar’s out of print book Pakistan Cinema: 1947-1997, also has no mention of the film.

But clearly, from the album cover of the soundtrack, such a film was made and at least a few of the songs from the soundtrack were released. So while much about this movie remains a mystery, this particular track is a winner. It immediately conjures up memories of that most famous of RD Burman-Asha Bhosle songs Dum Maro Dum from Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971).

And it is a reminder that once upon a very long time ago Pakistan was a busy thoroughfare along the fabled hippie trail that ran from London to Kathmandu.

Before the traumatic events of 1979 and the arrival of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq on the scene, Peshawar, Lahore and even Rawalpindi were famous stops along the way where beds were cheap and drugs cheaper. Such a deep impression did these places make that they were immortalised in popular music. Rawalpindi, the only Pakistani city with a jazz song named after it, is commemorated in the wigged out epic Rawalpindi Blues from the jazz opera Escalator Over the Hill (1971), though one does wonder throughout the 12-minute piece in what way exactly the town inspired the composer, Carla Bley.

That same hippie traffic seems to be the inspiration behind Make Love Not War. Nahid Akhtar and A Nayyar sing a stoner’s duet that opens with a man taking a long deep toke of the chillam and exclaiming, “Kash pe kash lagao/ nashemein dub jao” (Take hit after hit/lose yourself in the high).

Nahid echoes the final phrases of both lines before repeating them in a dreamy slur, one of her many artistic trademarks. A female falsetto chorus joins in as the lead singers toss the sexy title line back and forth. After the first verse, a watery guitar cuts a riff that echoes the iconic opening bars of the RD Burman classic: a simple quivering stuttering two-note pattern.

The rest of the lyrics are emblematic of the hippie generation: love everyone equally be they black or white; don’t let religion turn us into haters; respect for humanity.

The song sounds like classic M Ashraf or Tafo with its gurgling electronics, tasty guitar licks, and a general happy bounce. But the information I have (don’t rely on it) suggests the music is composed by Kamal Ahmed, a prolific music director whose work included some true classics like Basheera and Rangeela.

Sadly, this little gem remains an enigma wrapped in a mystery. But there is sparkle (and highs) aplenty here.

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.