About – 2012 Edition

[Note:  I have another “About” page that is not necessarily all obsolete, so if anybody wants to read another, even wordier page that can tell you “About” this blog in some other ways, which was written close to three years ago (and which I actually took a  much longer time to write), then go there.  I’m am sure that either page has its advantages…]

This blog was originally devoted to “global” music, albeit much of it from or related to the Indian Subcontinent (or, in pre-partition terms, just plain India).  Then I got very involved specifically in old Indian films and music. One reason that this happened is that I was fortunate enough to live in the Queens, New York City neighborhood called Jackson Heights, near some of the best “Bollywood” DVD stores in the world.  (I no longer live there – I am presently on Staten Island.)  Another factor that went into this particular development on this blog was my communication with other “Bolly bloggers” and YouTube channel people, who helped to give me a tremendous education in this stuff.  And I found myself especially drawn to material of the early Golden Age and the Vintage era, specifically the 1940s and early ’50s.  I love the music from these films and the way many of the films are made (cinematography, etc.) as well as many of the actors and actresses and singers from that time, and also the social-political content (much of it on the left).  Also, of course, I do like the heart of the Golden Age, going further into the ’50s (where some of the best dance can be found), but my interest starts to wane a little by the ’60s (although I think there were some real masterpieces made in the ’70s).  So, anyway, let’s say that when it comes to films and their dance and music, the general era that I concentrate on is Vintage-into-Golden-Age, sometimes almost exclusively, but never totally so.

I have gotten a lot of good feedback about my concentration on that era of filmmaking, and when I post about that material, I imagine that the blog seems very consistent.  But I also have my own peculiar tastes and whims, especially when it comes to contemporary fare.

I have found that when I look more at what is going on in the present day, my interest in Hindi films wanes quite a bit.  I am much more attached to contemporary music and dance from places on the Subcontinent outside of “Bollywood.”  For a while, I was saying that a lot more of the contemporary material that I would be emphasizing here would come from South India, but that is not true at this point.  I do like contemporary South Indian movies (vs. films from other regions) particularly for the dance.  But music is another matter…  I still do like looking at and posting contemporary folk/pop/dance music from the whole Subcontinental region, just as I did at the very beginning of this blog.  But my tastes tend most often to lean toward the north.  I have developed a great fondness for contemporary Pakistani pop, and it seems to me that Pakistan is producing excellent pop, rock, and dance music (much of it based on more traditional stuff, such as folk music or spiritual music).  I actually had some exposure to Pakistani music (and inspiration to explore it) long before my obsession with Indian films, and I developed a particular fondness for the music of the Sufis.  Along the same lines, I have realized that I love a whole range of music that has Punjabi or Sindhi origins.  (Of course, many vintage Indian films also have Punjabi origins.  And I have also posted a good amount of material that comes from Golden Age Pakistani films – both Urdu and Punjabi – but that is mainly because of my love of a singer originally from Vintage “Bollywood,” Madam Noor Jehan.)

I do still like music from other parts of the world, even the area that I come from, the East Coast of the U.S.A.  I actually was a pop/rock critic for a couple of prior decades.  (No, I am not a youngster.  Though I am not a senior citizen yet, either.)   But for some reason (or a number of reasons), even though I like other music(s), the bulk of what I’ve been listening to in the past several years has come from India and Pakistan.  And in order to have at least some consistency, I have decided that the vast majority of the stuff that I post here on this blog should come from that region.

Sometimes I wonder if this might seem a bit peculiar since I have no personal Indian roots.  I originally came from The Bronx, and my ancestors were Jewish, and they lived in Russia and Ukraine!  But on the other hand, I don’t really believe that roots – at least in the traditional sense – have to be so important in determining our cultural likes an affinities.  Personally speaking, though I’m from the U.S.A., I grew up in a city where I had exposure to a good number of cultures originating from all over the world, and I see no reason why I shouldn’t take advantage of that fact by growing my own roots based on things that I have found and love!

So, that, in the proverbial nutshell, is what I’m doing here and why I am doing it.

8 comments on “About – 2012 Edition

  1. sir, music and art have no boundaries, so am happy you like Indian traditional music, and I praise your choices. Not every one, even from India, does appreciate thumries etc. Thanks

  2. Richard,

    Hope you are doing your Bollywood well!

    I recently came across your blog and totally loved it. I am a journalist based out of Dubai who is in the middle of starting an e-magazine for the NRIs in DXB and I’d love it if we could associate with you for our magazine. The magazine is going to be about the colour, culture and chaos of India that NRIs miss & crave for! Be it the annoying fumes or the dhobhi or the PCO booths & more. And most importantly FILMS and that’s what brings me to you.

    A little about the magazine: It is a product that aims to touch the souls of the NRIs here, forgive the drama of touch the souls! Basically, we’d talk about all things Indian that makes a NRI all gooey and nostalgic. Say Bollywood, couture, cuisine, festivals, travel…. Indian memories be it as simple as missing waking up to the sounds of vendors and the fumes in Mumbai air, etc. We’d talk about everything from their love for Bachchan to Butter Chicken!

    A little about me: I am a journalist with seven years of experience who has recently shifted base from New Delhi, India to Dubai. I am currently working as a freelance editorial consultant and writer for a couple of magazines (Eat Stay Love, Air India magazine, Atelier, Atelier Diva, Khabar, Ashvarttha & more), publishing houses (Maxposure Media) and portals (Halabol). Prior to the shift I was working as an Associate Editor with a publishing house in New Delhi, India wherein I was responsible for three quarterly magazines – Mercedes-Benz magazine, Nissan magazine (nissanmagazine.in) and ICICI Elite Life (elitelife.co.in).

    I’d like you to write a lovely piece for us on the classic,Mughal-E-Azam. Let me know your thoughts on the same and I’ll be happy to share what I have in mind. Also, since we are taking our baby steps we’re not making any monetary compensation but working purely by giving full credit & publicity to the people working with us.
    Purva Grover

  3. Dear Purva,

    Thank you for your kind words and your invitation. I just read this letter today when I was about to walk out the door, and I might need a couple of days to get back to you. But I didn’t want to delay posting your note and acknowledging it. I will write to you again over e-mail and probably in this comments section, too, soon.

    All the best,


  4. Looking over this page quite a while later, I have to confess that I think I totally neglected to send a final answer to Purva Grover’s request! I have to apologize now – much, much later… That was a hectic time for me; I was very involved in applying to, then getting ready for, a job out of town…

    Anyway, I hope they got what they were looking for. (No one contacted me again, so I assume that it was not too urgent.)

    Among all the classic films, Mughal-E-Azam is one that I really have to watch again sometime, and also one that a lot of other people probably know more about than I do.

    Also, this magazine seems so much aimed at NRIs, which I am not. (I don’t know how much that matters, but…) And finally, there is the issue of no monetary compensation… If there is no monetary compensation for something like this, I tend to prefer contributing such efforts to my own blog or to something that feels very much like my own environment.

    Anyway, once again – oops, sorry, maybe that lapse was very unprofessional of me…

    Maybe I should also have deleted all the comments here so as not to make myself look like such a jerk. :) But, I’m afraid I am too honest for that…

  5. humbling having read the confessions of the honest kind ! It is good not to have deleted the episode.It is interesting, albeit at your cost ! when all around it is about lies, to speak the truth is ‘revolutionary’, as someone so insightfully said.

  6. Richard do you understand Urdu or Hindi to understand the songs and the movies. I have read your brief, but still cannot make how indian and pakistani music clicked you? It is quite a puzzle or a phenomena not understand. Musarrat Khan

  7. Musarrat, I can understand a few words of Hindi or Urdu here and there now, but I didn’t need to understand these languages to watch most of the movies I’ve watched, because most of the ones I watched had English subtitles. It is not hard to find Hindi films with English subtitles in New York, and there are also a bunch posted online.

    Even without subtitles, I have been able to enjoy quite a few Indian or Pakistani movies for the music, dance, and lots of the qualities in good cinema – such as all the things that can be enjoyed visually and the emotional content of the acting. Given a decent plot summary, it is not that difficult. Or, as another non-Indian blogger going by the name Memsaab once said, you can sort of make up your own chunks of plot and dialogue. :)

    Regarding your comment that you “still cannot understand how Indian and Pakistani music clicked [with] you…” Honestly, though I tried to give some explanation, I don’t even know if it is necessary. Frankly, I can’t understand why you can’t understand. Music is music. As Shakilakhtar said above, “music and art have no boundaries.” I grew up in New York, a global city containing people from many different cultural origins. I’ve been close to people from India and Pakistan. I have heard Indian music since I was a small child. It’s been in the pop music that I have heard. The Beatles brought Indian music over to the West when I was about four years old. My family took me to Indian restaurants that sometimes had live music. I heard Indian music in the park, etc. I heard it on the radio… It was easy enough to find in the right record stores… In the ’90s, it was easy enough to find plenty of Indian fusion, via the Asian Underground genre. And now, with the Internet, the access to different genres of Indian music it is limitless.

    So, I had plenty of chances to hear it and ended up liking it… Loving it, in fact. I am not the only non-Indian person to like Indian music! Or Indian films. (There are quite a few people who do Indian film blogs who are not Indian. I am far from the only one.)

    So why do you (and other people once in a long while) consider this to be such a mystery? Once again, that’s something I truly can’t understand.

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