Monday, April 25, 2005

Encylopaedia of Indian Cinema

Encylopaedia of Indian Cinema, the cover announces, is "the most authoritative and comprehensive compendium as yet on Indian Cinema". Its authors provide us with a wealth of information and detail, and also high-falutin criticism and analysis.

"The film (Phir Subah Hogi) includes the poet Sahir Ludhianvi's famous critique of Nehru's non-aligned liberalism: Chin-o-Arab hamara, with an opening stanza declaring "China and Arabia are ours/India is ours/We have no roof over our head/The whole world is ours' (China and Arabia being references to Zhou En-Lai and Nasser)."

Complete rubbish. The song is a take-off of Iqbal's tarana-i-millat, written in 1930s. Sahir's song is about the poor of the world, it has nothing to do with India's foreign policy, but everything to do with the claims of glory and greatness that Iqbal made for his nation, first in tarana-i-hind, and subsequently in tarana-i-millat.

The opening stanza quoted in the book is fully borrowed from the tarana-i-millat, and so was actually written by Iqbal in 1930s, and if one is going to quote Sahir, then that is hardly the verse to do so with. Sahir's contribution can be found in the other verses in the song, but even those are basically hilarious revisions of what Iqbal originally wrote.

So as far as I can tell, these guys just make up their analysis, pretending to be authorities when they have no idea what they are talking about. If you have a question about Bollywood, ask a pretty girl from Desh, instead of reading this encylopaedia. That's Amar's plan anyway. (Hello darling, you know who you are!)