.'Hum Dono Coloured' and the nostalgic 11 (Comment)
By Mahendra Ved
A teenaged girl who came escorting her grandparents and four middle-aged couples were the only viewers at one of Delhi's downtown multiplex theatres for a screening of "Hum Dono Rangeen", the newly released coloured and high-tech version of the 1961 black and white classic.
Being among the nostalgic 11, one felt really good about re-visiting a film seen as a teenager five decades ago.
The theatre staff consolingly said the hall was full over the previous weekend and hoped it would again be so, provided the movie ran into a second week.
But there was a lingering sense of disappointment about the obvious preference for fast paced, loud storytelling, with Westernised music and up-front overtones that appear to keep the current crop of teenagers and the young away from this movie.
The mixed audience response sends a clear message - each generation has its own set of values.
Brushing aside these concerns, it is however perfectly possible to enjoy the new version with a slightly altered name. That Dev Anand, the producer-actor who carried the film to glory on his slender shoulders, is very much around to promote it in his very special way does matter. It helps relate with the movie better.
Dev Anand, who is making films at 88, opens the new film with a very brief commentary, in black and white to begin with and slowly turns to colour as he extols the Cinemascope, the Dolby sound system and other technological value additions.
But the content remains the same. The emotion-charged situations in a story by Nirmal Sircar, ably written by the late Vijay Anand who went on to make more successful films like "Tere Mere Sapne" and "Teesri Manzil".
The piece de resistance is the lilting Hindustani classical-based music by then debutant Jaidev who composed iconic songs.
If "Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya" underlines Dev Anand's philosophy of life that he advocates for everyone, two of Indian cinema's best 'bhakti' (devotional) songs - "Allah tero naam" and "Prabhu tero naam" - also make it a memorable experience. Sung by Lata Mangeshkar they defy attitudinal and technological changes that occur with each passing generation.
The movie has Dev Anand in a double role, playing two army officers, quite different in their age, mannerisms, but basically humane, who get emotional while serving on the war front.
Their emotions may seem too gushing in today's cynical world, but their hold on the audience remains undiluted even now.
Dev is ably complemented by Sadhna, the rich girl in love with the younger version of the star, and Nanda, married to the elder one. The deep understanding and the sense of sacrifice these women display despite education and urban living are a tribute to the eternal Indian woman.
Set against the backdrop of World War II, more specifically, the Burma front, the film strikes the right chord by stirring universal emotions of love, patriotism, sacrifice and dedication.
Director Amarjeet was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 1962 Berlin International Film Festival.
For Dev Anand, playing the romantic Anand remained his forte for much of his acting career. But the older generation relished his role as Mahesh, the moustachio-ed army major. It was the more celebrated of the two performances.
Today, the cocky Major would seem somewhat unnatural. His put-on accent is neither Col. Blimp's, nor Brown Sahib's. It is just Dev Anand's - at places overdone.
Both the characters Dev Anand plays are smokers. Indeed, the cigarette lighter with a lilting tune that Sadhna presents to his beau keeps appearing and chiming from beginning to end. These are musical moments.
Today's Hindi cinema audiences are used to watching films lasting about two hours, so "Hum Dono Rangeen" could be a test of patience. There are long drawn scenes and extra long pauses that contribute in a major way to this three-hour long affair.
Perhaps, "Rangeen" could have been released as a snappier version, no more than 150 minutes, and could have attracted larger audiences.
Stong likelihood of Mubarak stepping down: CIA director (Third Lead)
Cairo/Washington, Feb 10 (IANS) There is a strong likelihood that embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will step down Thursday night, CIA Director Leon Panetta has told the US Congress.
Mubarak has agreed to yield power to his vice president, CNN quoted a senior US official as stating, citing contacts within the Egyptian government.
Speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information, the official said that given the mixed signals sent throughout the crisis that "we need to see it happen".
The information came from reliable and ranking officials in the Mubarak regime, the source told the news channel.
Asked when the transfer of power might actually take place, the official said: "We are told soon is the plan."
The secretary general of Egypt's ruling party confirmed Thursday that a transition was underway and he expected Mubarak to address the nation soon.
Hossam Badrawi, a prominent doctor who was appointed to the ruling party's post last Saturday, told the channel that he believed Mubarak's words would "accommodate the protesters".
Badrawi hinted that the transition process had been accelerated but he was unclear exactly when Mubarak might step down.
He said certain constitutional reforms have to be implemented before the president can relinquish power.
"The process is ongoing," Badrawi said. "This will give confidence to the protesters."
India must look outward to reap demographic dividend (Comment)
By Shiv Muttoo
Recent reports indicate India may not meet its objective of a stable population base by 2045. Instead, this goal is likely to be met only by 2060 when the country's population stabilizes at 1.65 billion -- 200 million more than the original target. After 10 years of rigorous enforcement, the mark has moved forward 15 years!
The government is confident that an increasing use of contraceptives will enable India reach this target (a brilliant deduction, but one thought we had already missed the target!) and is beefing up the supply chain mechanism to reach the grassroots. But the government does not want to impose legislation to drive stricter compliance -- possibly mindful of the reaction of the "aam aadmi" (votebank!) to such imposition in the mid-1970s.
While the government wakes up to this new reality, expert estimates have suggested for some time that India will not lose much of its enthusiasm for procreation in a hurry and its population will keep growing almost till the turn of the next century (something that the future health minister will possibly realize 10 years from now!).
For the past 60 years, India has instituted a pioneering family planning programme that has halved the country's fertility rate to under three, but its population has still increased 3.5 times over this period, contributing, along with Africa, to half the world population growth in recent years.
As the "aam aadmi" grew in number post-independence, his affluence measured by per capita gross domestic product (GDP) inched up at a what economists and demographers refer to as the "Hindu rate" of 1.5 percent annually right up to 1980 -- a legacy of the Soviet-style central economic planning that advocated public investments in heavy industry, license-driven private entrepreneurship and cottage industries at the grass roots. All this while, most of the country continued to till the land.
Since 1980, however, India has steadily upped its economic growth momentum and is now poised at the cusp of greatness. The key task is to harness the rapidly growing productive (15-64 years) population base. We can learn from China, now four times our size as an economy, that derived significant advantage from pushing its productive resources -- man and machinery -- to its cities. This propped up its growth rates to vertigo-inducing levels over the last three decades as rice farmers transformed into factory workers.
China has absorbed an additional 400 million in its cities since 1980 compared to India's 200 million. Over the next three decades it is now India's turn to gainfully employ 400 million people that will flock to its cities. But given the state of Indian cities, such pressure is likely to cause them to implode.
The situation is grim, is there a solution? Well, send the migrant from Jhumri Talaiya straight to Tokyo!
Japan's population peaked at 128 million five years ago and has started declining. By 2050, Japan will have less than 100 million people and 50 million by the turn of the next century. The country's fertility rate has remained under 2.1, the level needed to sustain a low mortality population group, and remains steadfast at around 1.5 despite the government's best attempts to vitalize it.
As a result, the country will see growing labour shortages and decline in consumer demand, asset values and overall economic productivity. Meanwhile, it is estimated that Japan's GDP will crawl up from $5 trillion at present to $6 trillion by 2050. Achieving this will require unprecedented increase in productivity of the average worker, backed by huge investment in technology, both of which are unlikely to happen in the prevailing recessionary conditions. So, the economy may instead be headed south over time.
Japan desperately needs people, rural India desperately needs employment. And the opportunity is not limited to Japan alone. Countries across Europe will see their populations shrink, requiring external infusion of human resources to maintain economic productivity.
Most of India's states have a large and ever-growing base of people who have nowhere to go -- the country's farmlands cannot sustain more people, its cities have no space left in them and infrastructure investments that can potentially create more localized opportunities are not taking off as rapidly as they should be.
Now is the time for India to break free from its Nehruvian obsession with self- sufficiency and look outward. The key is to closely track global skill gap-based opportunities, prime up the currently unemployable rural mass and invade greener pastures globally -- the grass on this side of the fence has all been eaten up!
(7.2.2011 -- Shiv Muttoo is assistant vice president for investor relations with Hindustan Construction Company. The views expressed in the article are personal.