Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Interview of Satyajit Ray on Mozart, Beethoven and Western Classical Music








Dear Readers

In 1994, I recorded Satyajit Ray's interview from Calcutta Radio on Western Classical Music. Interviews were taken by Bulbul Sircar, a famous Calcutta Radio presenter. Ray's opinions on Mozart Beethoven and others are worth of listening. He also mentioned how he got influenced by them.He openly told he did not like Milos Forman's treatment of Mozart entirely. From his biography I also got to know he was offered by BBC to make  a film on Don Giovanni. Sitting in Calcutta he got influenced by the best of Western Classical. Now sadly Calcutta is losing its edge and with waning of interest in Western Classical Music it seems appropriate to revisit the legacy of Satyajit Ray the maestro.

These are not my creation. Copyright must be of Calcutta Radio and Ray himself. I dont intend any copyright violation. This is just for your listening pleasure. Also note Bulbul Sircar's interviewing skills. She was a classy anglicized aficionado of music whose unmistakable accent made it worthwhile. Bulbul Sircar represents a culturally rich past of Calcutta.

Dear Zindagi - a review

I watched Dear Zindagi with great interest because it’s made by Gauri Shinde whose first film English Vinglish was eminently likeable. And to be truthful I watched Dear Zindagi six months after its release. So already I knew the storyline, the reviews. However every viewer has a personal opinion about every film which may not be observed by others. Hence I take this liberty of reviewing it late.

First of all I must congratulate the director to put mental illness on map of Bollywood. Alia, a young spunky photographer whose only problem seems to be lack of romantic relations in otherwise happy-go-lucky life where occasionally a landlord creates trouble. One starts to know her deep-seated trouble once the handsome middle aged SRK comes in as a therapist. With what can be termed as Hollywood style therapy sessions in Goa beaches, nice outdoors, quite contrary to what actual therapy looks like, she discloses how maladjustment with her parents in childhood has haunted her. Now SRK doles out Whatsapp or Facebook meme type one liners to soothe this young mind. I am not against psychotherapy and definitely a therapist as attractive and unconventional as SRK will boost clients reaching out to therapy at least. My problem is with Freudian psychotherapy that our director preaches. Today almost after 80 years of Freud it is well known many mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc has neurological basis and with advances in research there are now ample medications which can ease the symptoms of these illnesses. For example before therapy Alia was already taking sleeping pills which she admitted did not help her. Now-a-days many doctors suggest insomnia may be due to major depressive disorder which only sedatives cannot tackle. Use of antidepressants which target neurotransmitters like serotonin or norepinephrine may rescue the patient. The director entirely overlooks the pharmacological cure that may be available. Only talk therapy doesn’t help many of these patients.
Hence my objection to the premise of this film is ignoring medical aspect of mental illness and putting entire focus on Freudian therapy. Also the therapy shown here was too unstructured and relied on pop psychology. Moreover there is too much reliance on past events of life in early childhood. It is true our upbringing or nurture definitely has an impact on our personality development. But today’s psychologists do not agree to that. There is Cognitive behaviour Therapy or Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy ( of Albert Ellis fame) which helps in retraining human thoughts and rectifies behavioural problems. Just a catharsis (talking out, crying etc) may not empty the chest of the sufferer and cease the illness.
Whatever may be my critique, I liked the movie because of 2 reasons – firstly in a highly insensitive Bollywood where they mock the mentally ill at least there is an attempt to show the mentally ill very humanely and creating awareness about its treatment. It’s true in our country we have lot of insensitivity to gender, caste, mental illness etc. This movie tries to dispel the myth of mental illness. In fact in regional languages there have been better films on mental illness – 16 Park Avenue ( Bengali/English) and Devrai ( Marathi). Secondly I have faith on Alia Bhat’s acting skill. SRK was refreshing but it was Alia who stole the show. If you want to watch then watch Dear Zindagi for Alia. The mirth, the spunk, the unknown sadness, the catharsis-she showed it all with such elan. I particularly liked the tenderness in the last scene when she bade farewell to the therapist with whom she developed near-platonic bonding, the difficulty of leaving the person whom you entrusted with your deepest secrets and who in turn transformed your life was palpable by the little hug she gave to a reluctant SRK in the end ( was he afraid of Transferance?). This was the truest humane moment of this movie. I also liked SRK's advice to Alia on an outing how important it is not to find all possible qualities in your partner. There can be some relations for gossip, some for intellectual talks, some for night out, some for profession but we expect our partner will be a collection of all. Overall this movie is a welcome change in Bollywood and makes a mark.

Disclaimer:   I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist. Opinions are based on personal observations and wide readings.