Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mission Ustaad: Rahman Jaage!

Sidekick's curiosity brings her back to Mission Ustaad although her patience is wearing thin

Can the dual goals of raising social consciousness and providing entertainment coexist? Based on the evidence from the first full week of Mission Ustaad, sadly the answer is an unequivocal No! Not so much because this is much too ambitious to undertake, but because the creative forces behind the show haven’t the faintest clue how to execute its concept.

Case in point: this week’s theme was “Jaago”. A well-meaning, noble, generic anthem if there ever was one, but one without a context or a well articulated purpose. The immediate question that arises is: Arre yaar, kiss liye aur karna kya hai? In the first of the weekend’s two episodes, the luscious Lara Datta presented us with a set of dismal facts on how developmentally backward India is. We know the issues in the abstract, but I’ll concede that the statistics are chilling. What is missing here is the call to action - okay, so now what? How can we be instruments of change?

If you’re expecting a show with a real social mission, one that will awaken a genuine social conscience ala Rang De Basanti or Lage Raho Munnabhai, it’s time to desert this sinking ship. However on the entertainment front this is not yet a lost cause. So let’s get to the stuff that really counts - the superficial- and let me count the ways:

1 Sur, Taal aur Laye: The singing is fantastic. For two more straight episodes, I loved hearing these talented and accomplished ustaads. Dil Khush hua when Rahman opened with “Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera” to an audience swaying to the beat, holding up candles in a darkened studio.

2 Yeh Apna Fashion Hai Bhaiyya: The darjis on the show (there’s a huge gaggle of them including some big name designers) are top notch.

  • Simone Singh (who for some reason the captions identified as Simon Singh, my fave author!) sported a variety of elegant Anarkali kurta ensembles

  • Lara wore a green sari with a very interesting blouse in the currently popular pallu over one boob style (which is a no-no with the fashion forward Drift Janta) in the first episode and a sparkly fitted black dress in the next episode. In the black dress she was seated throughout, so my phaltu Drift advice to the show runners is to make sure that Lara stands up and models her outfits appropriately for maximum masti.

  • Sonali and Vasundhara wore really pretty kurtas with their jeans that I would love to source.

  • The men were a tad boring, but Naresh was unintentionally hilarious in his unkempt outfit with red jacket, flapping belt and rose colored (literally!) glasses inside the studio.

  • My Bitter Half joins Aspi in Judge Javed (JJ) kurta-envy. He wants to write to JJ to ask where he gets kurtas, so that he can buy some on our trip to India this week.

3 Jhagde Zindabad: JJ is living up to his glorious potential for conflict and this has unexpectedly become a three way fight between JJ, upstart Kailash and smooth operator Roop Kumar in the king of verbosity sweepstakes. Where the upstart is by turns confrontational and contrite, Roop Kumar is super slick and sneaks in a generous dose of irrelevant shayari to upstage JJ who is of course up to the challenge and answers in fitting style. More spectacular fireworks are surely to follow as the cumpteeshan heats up. But most satisfactorily, pomposity and verbosity reign supreme.

4 Rahman Jaage: Simon …. er Simone did something smart and frankly self preserving in the first of the two episodes - she sidelined Rahman. She got to him last if she did at all. He was allowed to stare vacantly into space (I mean compose Jodha Akbar’s background score!) thus permitting him to stew in peace. Perhaps this emboldened him or he isjust a slow starter, or the Rahman-chatoing JJ pitched in with advice - take your pick.

But in the second episode our reticent Rahman jaage. Silver tongued he is not, but in his inarticulate way he dissected compositions expertly. In particular his analysis of the interplay of melody and lyrics in Kya Hua Tera Vaada and the analysis of the Naresh-Shweta Bhramastra (which means an original composition by the artists) were interesting. Perhaps having come that far he was tempted to overreach - he even declared that the Rathods’ Bhramastra surprised him!

Tut, Tut, Rahman saar - love that you’ve found your voice, but while that was a nice composition that likely has repeat value – but really was it such a great surprise???



Unknown said...

Sidekick, thanks for this little gift before you leave.

I want to see more of Sonali Rathod on this show - between her husband, JJ and Kailash Kher, she doesn't get a chance to talk. Same goes for Mahalaxmi Iyer - she needs to thump these guys with the mike so she gets a turn.

Anonymous said...

If they really wanted it to be a show with a cause, they could have tried to raise money for various causes - a la American Idol. Also done little clips on how people could get involved.

The judges and the participants could pick a cause to promote. Enough NGO's in India that would love to get this kind of exposure.

Have people call in for their favourites and donate all the money they receieve via SMS's to some cause or the other.

I am sorry to say Indian junta in general and the film industry in particular is not very charitable.

Tania said...

Kya Joules ji , aapne to desi junta ke dukhti rag par hath rakh diya. A show like this can be used so well. If they wanted to get the junta involved., get the sms rokda and use it for some charitable cause. Whats the point in having such bigwigs and couture for no rupaiyas? My friends back home debate with me, that no desi junta is being charitable, don't you see Mrs Murthy doing so much work.But then I say "Its just to show some social responsibility on part of Infosys for the sweat shop it runs." This could have been a show for every season for a good reason.But alas, it will die just like the fights between half jaage Rahman and omnipresent JJ.

Anonymous said...

Sidekick, wow,I admire ur patience. U have given a very good graphic description of all thats happened there. Kudos to you. But I must confess, i am thoroughly confused as to what its all about. I am not too sure its interesting enough to watch. So please do the honours and keep updating us on all thats happening:).(U must be thinking I am a sadist:)).

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading most of the posts here. I especially liked this one. The captions on the pics are absolutely hilarious. I still cannot stop laughing at the "cumpteeshan" bit.
Anyhow, I am always skeptical when it comes to bollywood/designer types trying to "jagaao" the nation.

Anonymous said...

Agree with RabriDevi:
If this kid of music can arouse masses against poverty , there would not have been any poverty . ( Given that India had greats in music )

This is a clever commercial operation in the name of Poverty removal.


Anonymous said...

I dont like this silence on the drift. I know Aspi is busy, but what about the rest of the drifters.....Rakhiben, atleast you should give us some wise comments before the NB3 finals.