Apocalyptic Blues, the Hard Ones

The Bard just sang in the 21C

That someone had told him

In the last century that the Age

Of the Antichrist had begun

I don’t know about that as

I was too young and ignorant

Then, perhaps not even born

Nonetheless, I dig what he says

For from where I stand today

It seems almost too clear to me

That the Apocalypse is already

On, is on and is rolling out on

Though the Sun still rises and sets

It seems the accounts are being

Settled by whoever God has

Appointed, or whoever has

Become God or many Gods

At this point, I am tempted to

Say the same old so far so good

But there has been a catastrophic

Glitch in the divine machinary

In now settling the accounts, for

It is clear as glass that the God’s

Recordkeepers have jumbled up

All the accounts so that there are

Cases galore of one Ramprasad

Having committed the crime but

It being Shyamprasad who was

Held to account and sent to hell

Literally, that is, not as metaphor

Tons of records of actual crimes

Have gone missing and have

Evaporated, never to be found

At the same time there are too

Tons of records of many crimes

Uncommitted and misattributed

Misrepresented, miscommunicated

Ramprasads have become the Heroes

Of heavenly abodes that have come

And still to come in the Apocalypse

That is already ongoing here now

On, is on and is rolling out on

Thus even the Apocalypse has

Gone horribly wrong, all just

Because of a technical glitch

Or the carelessness of the God’s

Recordkeepers, or some mischief

By some heavenly Ramprasad

The purpose of which may be

Divine secret as they tend to be

Or may be it’s just an indexing

Error, a kind of human error

Err, I mean a divine error here

Still one can’t completely rule

Out the possibility of the Bard’s

Song’s truth being the real truth

Channelling Bresson, it can be

Said that who is leading us by

The nose? To which the answer

Being simply as the man on the bus said

Le Diable Probablement, quoi d’autre?

ईश्वर का साथ हमारे साथ

(गीत: बॉब डिलन)

मेरा नाम, अरे, कुछ नहीं है
मेरी उम्र का अर्थ और भी कम
मैं जिस देश से आया हूँ
उसको सब कहते हैं मिडवेस्ट
मुझको वहाँ यह पढ़ाया और सिखाया गया
कानून की राह पर चलना
और यह कि जिस देश में मैं रहता हूँ
ईश्वर का साथ उसके साथ है

अरे भाई, इतिहास की किताबें बताती हैं
और इतना बढ़िया बताती हैं
घुड़सवारों ने धावा बोला
और इंडियंस कट गए
घुड़सवारों ने धावा बोला
और इंडियंस मर गए
अरे, देश तब जवान था
और ईश्वर का साथ उसके साथ था

अरे स्पेनी-अमरीकन युद्ध
का भी अपना समय था
और गृह-युद्ध को भी जल्दी ही
पीछे को छोड़ दिया गया
और नायकों के नामों को भी
मुझको रटवाया गया
उनके हाथ ज्यों बंदूकें थीं, वैसे ही
ईश्वर का साथ उनके साथ था

अरे, प्रथम विश्व-युद्ध का भी, यारों
समय आया और चला गया
लड़ाई का कारण लेकिन
मेरे पल्ले कभी नहीं पड़ा
पर मैंने उसे मानना सीख लिया
और मानना भी गर्व के साथ
क्योंकि अपन मरों को नहीं गिनते
जब ईश्वर का साथ अपने साथ हो

जब दूसरा विश्व-युद्घ भी
अपने अंजाम को पा गया
हमने जर्मनों को माफ़ कर दिया
और अपना दोस्त बना लिया
चाहे साठ लाख की उन्होंने हत्याएँ की हों
उनको भट्टियों में झुलसा कर
अब जर्मनों के लिए भी
ईश्वर का साथ उनके साथ था

मैंने रुसियों से घृणा करना सीख लिया
अपनी पूरी ज़िंदगी के लिए
अगर एक और युद्ध होता है
हमें उनसे लड़ना ही होगा
उनसे घृणा करनी होगी और डरना होगा
भागना होगा और छिपना होगा
और यह सब बहादुरी से मानना होगा
ईश्वर का साथ अपने साथ रख कर

पर अब हमारे पास हथियार हैं
जो रासायनिक रेत से बने हैं
अगर उन्हें पड़ता है किसी पर दागना
तो दागना तो हमें पड़ेगा ही
एक बटन का दबाना
और एक धमाका पूरी दुनिया में
और तुम सवाल कभी नहीं पूछोगे
जब ईश्वर का साथ तुम्हारे साथ हो

अनेक अंधेरी घड़ियों में
मैंने इस बारे में सोच के देखा है
कि ईसा मसीह के साथ विश्वासघात
एक चुंबन के साथ हुआ था
पर मैं तुम्हारे लिए नहीं सोच सकता
तुम्हें खुद ही तय करना होगा
कि क्या जूडस इस्कैरियट
के भी साथ ईश्वर का साथ था

तो अब जब मैं तुम्हें छोड़ रहा हूँ
मैं ऊब और उकता चुका हूँ
जिस संभ्रम में मैं फँसा हूँ
कोई ज़बान जो है बता नहीं सकती
शब्दों से मेरा सिर भरा है
और नीचे फ़र्श पर भी वो गिरे हैं
अगर ईश्वर का साथ हमारे साथ है
तो वो अगले युद्ध को रोक देगा

What Hindi Film Music Doesn’t Have

I once mentioned the incredible diversity of Hindi film music. This is one stream of music that has absorbed musical waters from all around the world: from country to classical, from rural to urban, from eastern to western, from ancient to modern, and pretty much everything in between.

However, after I mentioned Bob Marley in the last post, I realized that there are some things that Hindi film music simply doesn’t have.

In fact, even if we consider music that can be seen as somewhat independent extension of Hindi film music, there is still no one like the two Bobs. There are a few like Jagjit Singh who have carved out a niche for themselves more or less outside the Hindi films, but they are not really outside the stream of Hindi film music by parameters like their musical and lyrical characteristics, amazing as they are. Even after the coming of the Music Video era, popular (urban) music in India is still mainly film music.

That’s an interesting question. Why has there been no Bob Marley or Bob Dylan in Hindi film music or in Indian popular music?

Yes, I know there are people like Gaddar, but they are in a different category. And they never achieved the kind of popularity that Dylan or Marley achieved even among the apolitical.

One reason that could be given is that it is due to the way Hindi film music works. Someone (the lyricist) writes the song, someone else (the Music Director) composes the music, and someone else sings them. In most cases, there are three different individuals or teams for these three aspects of the creation of what is called Hindi film music (which is actually Hindi film *song* music, as background score is not really given that much importance in Hindi films and is usually taken care of by someone less important). The Bob Marley or Bob Dylan kind of music can’t be produced under such conditions, as the two Bobs are present in all aspects of their music, like the movie directors who are honored (honoured for the non-dominant party) by the term ‘auteur’. Moreover, the songs have to fit in (in the Hindi film kind of way) and be approved by the movie director and the producer and perhaps even the financier.

The explanation given above may be a good one, but I still wonder whether there is something deeper that has prevented an Indian Bob Dylan or Bob Marley to appear on the musical scene and become popular.

I strongly suspect there is.

Conspiracy theory! Conspiracy theory!

Conspiracy of silence?