Halli daariyalli….evening hothinalli

It happens often. And it can drive you crazy. Atleast it happens to me. You suddenly remember a song, and then you want it badly. So badly that it can drive you insane.

It happened to me again.

From somewhere out of the blue, an old kannada song called ‘halli daariyalli’, started to haunt me. A song that I vaguely remember seeing Kokila Mohan dancing in some jazzy dinchak outfit. A song that had made my new ‘Dyanora’ color tv proud, some years back.

I kept tossing and turning last night in my sleep, trying to remember the song fully. I woke up singing the same tune. I could not take it any longer. I needed it. And needed it really bad.

I tried googling it with no luck.

Then I youtubed it. And i found this interesting clip. Though it isn’t the original, I must admit that the dude out here has done quite a brilliant job of it. So watch it to get an idea of what this post is all about.

I had no clue which movie it belonged to. But I could bet that SPB was the singer. 

So, with this limited knowledge I first went to the neighboring music stores, Planet M, Music World, Calypso and a few others. Unfortunately, noone knew what I was talking about.

And then I remembered this unique tiny shop called Totalkannada.com located in the basement opposite Pai Vihar, Jayanagara, a shop completely dedicated to kannada movies, music, books and other “Jai Karnataka Maate’ paraphernalia. 

This was my last resort. I was going half mad. And I hoped and prayed that I find it there.

As I entered, a salesgirl was sitting at the counter. A simple young kannadiga girl, who was almost dozing off to some old kannada melody on the speakers that was apt for a sleepy afternoon like this. There was another lone customer loitering around and messing up the alphabetically arranged Vcds. 

One look at her and I was convinced that she would have no clue either. 

With full anxiety, I leaned over the counter and whispered adding the customary ‘maydam’ before every sentence to sound as authentically kannada as possible….

“Maydam, ondhu haadu hudukutha iddini…..(I’m searching for a song) …….halli daariyalli”

She turned down the volume of the speakers that was playing ‘Namoora mandaara hoove’.

I repeated my request ‘Maydam…halli daariyalli’, with an irritating eagerness that I didn’t care to hold back.

She turned the volume further down and closed her eyes to concentrate on getting the tune of my request.

I impatiently waited for that one customer to clear the field, and then cleared my throat.

“Maydam …haadla..(can i sing it?)”

She nodded impatiently.

I looked around and broke into the song accompanied by a half-hearted jig, to add some excitement to her memory jogging process…..”Halli daariyalli……tan ta daan ta da taan ta da taan…” and abruptly stopped, wishing that her imagination would take over with this cryptic clue.

She gave me a look as if to say “Go on…don’t stop, it’s coming …it’s coming in my head…keep it going”.

So I took a good look around and continued….

“Halli Daariyalli……tan ta daan ta da taan ta da taan…

Thampu breezinalli…tan ta daan ta da taan ta da taan…

hmmmm hmmmmm hmmmmmm…something something and 

ooru inda bandanu Mr Maraaanu”

She showed me symptoms of having heard it before. Her eyes lit up and she started mouthing the words to herself. She closed her eyes and transported herself back to her ‘Dyanora or Solidaire TV’ days. 

I encouraged her further by again repeating all that I knew.

She jumped “Correct. howdu….ivaga nyaapka barthaayide…..Englishu Kannada mix maadi ondu haadu” (Ya…now I remember, it’s a song that mixes up English and Kannada words)

I was thrilled to bits and continued…’ya ya, haaruthide love birdsugalu…..’ and was promptly interrupted by some fool who walked in wanting some Darshan hits.

The imagination that we had built up till now was drowned the minute she slipped in the ‘Darshan Hits’ CD to test it. The sepia toned imagery floating in the air was ruthlessly spoilt by the garish garbage that belted out of the speakers.  

I casually asked that customer “Saar Halli daariyalli haadu yaav picturu antha goththa?” (Sir, do you know which movie is ‘Halli Daariyalli’ from?)

He meditated for a while and said with supreme confidence “Halli Daari alla adu…halli meshtru…..Ravichandran picture” (No …it’s called halli meshtru..a Ravichandran film).

I controlled all my urges to slap him. And let him groove to the irritating tune of his latest purchase that was blaring from the speakers.

Thankfully, the guy was happy with what he was hearing, and he soon exited leaving us alone to resume our exciting search.

And the salesgirl promptly returned. 

I took off from where we left.

“Correctu madam….English Kannada mix…haaruthide love birdsu galu…oduthide cowsugalu..”(love birds are flying and cows are running)

“Hero yaaru gotha?’ She asked frowning hard.

“Seriyaagi nyaapka illa madam…Kokila Mohan anusoththe” (Cannot remember clearly….I think it is Kokila Mohan)

“Haan…” she jumped in excitement and promptly returned with a Vcd of the movie ‘Kokila’.

We quickly poured over its contents.The Vcd also contained a listing of all the songs. But no, this number did not feature.

She was visibly dissappointed with her ineffeciency. And I was visibly happy that she was taking such a keen interest in this.

We both agreed that it could only be SPB who could have sung this song.

She kept humming the tune to herself, as she rummaged through dozens of SPB hits looking for this number.

I picked up a bunch of illayaraja hits hoping that I’d find it in them. I always felt it had a very ‘Illayaraja’ flavour to it.

But we both failed in our searches.

She then picked up a big fat book, a kannada cinema encyclopedia and began searching for it. 

After about 20 minutes of pouring into it, she lifted her head and looked at me strangely.

She studied me carefully.

Obviously there was something running in her head.

And then she said in a nervous whisper “Actually nam bossige gothirathe. Andre ivaaga nidde maadtha irthaare!” (Actually my boss would know. But he’ll be sleeping right now).

She was mentally weighing the worth of this deal. Even if she did identify the cd, it couldn’t be costing more than 30 Rs. Was it worthy enough to spend a phone call? Or risk disturbing the owner at such an untimely hour?

I could sense the dilemma going on in her head. 

I put on the most desperate face I could. 

She pondered for a while and thankfully decided that it was more important to please me than worry about the deal and her boss.

She hesitantly picked up the phone and punched the buttons.

I could see the tension on her face.  

“Sorry sir…..ondhu customer bandidhaare…halli daariyalli bekanthe…yaavu piccharru antha goththa nimmage?” (There is a customer searching for halli daariyalli song here. Do you know which movie it belongs to?)

There was a pregnant pause. She made unpleasant faces at me, imitating her boss’ mood at that time. 

She tried to sound her polite best as she responded to him “..’Muniyana maadri’…..andre adralli Shankar Nag alva…haaan….correctu…….Kokila Mohanu idaane…thumba thanks sir” (Oh Muniyana Maadri…but isn’t that Shankar Nag!….oh ya right….even Kokila Mohan is in that one. Thank you sir)

She hung up and bit her tongue feeling happy that she was done with the difficult part. She rushed and reached out for that Vcd. And ran through the listings.

Yes. The song did feature.

She handed over the vcd to me and said “Boss kopuskondru…parvaagilla….nimmage haadu sikkthalla!” (Boss was wild. But it’s ok. Atleast you found your song).

I grabbed it and was all set to rush back and listen to it. 

But she held me back for a few minutes, frantically rummaging through a few other Cds. I was getting impatient. I had dug out the exact number of notes needed for the transaction, to make it as speedy as possible.

She finally returned with a compile of SPB and held it out to me.   

“Saar. MP3 nu sikkthu…beka? Beri 25 Rupayee!!” (I also got an MP3 of it. Do you want it? It’s only 25 Rs!!’)

I knew that she was doing this only to justify the deal in her own head.

And I could have paid anything for such sincerity.

halli

 

 

 

 

So here it is……I later found it in on youtube….Now that i know which movie it belongs to.

 

Thanks to someone, who’s so passionate about their job.

The little I know about Malgudi

I must be having a world record for entering into arguments. Somehow, on one topic, I have never found another point of view. That Malgudi Days is undoubtedly the best piece of work created for Indian television. 

I can imagine the nightmare Shankar Nag must have gone through to even gain the confidence to take up this masterpiece and convert it to film. 

That decision involves messing around with the million Malgudis that people might have formed in their own little heads. Albert Mission School might have taken various forms, Lawley Extension must have resembled some locality close to their home. The casting was complete in the head with faces of people they knew who fit the bill. 

Though the book took care to detail out every little nuance of the characters and the place, it still had blank spaces to make the audience fill it up with their own props.

It had become too real to remain unreal. 

To finally put a definite picture to this little town, that was only missing in the Indian map, was too risky a task.

That was not the only sensitivity that Shankar Nag had to deal with.

Malgudi was a small little town somewhere in South India, but he wanted to make a serial that reached the entire country, which would mean that it had to be in Hindi. Though the novel was in English, he now had to make them speak Hindi.

Then he must have thought in his own head, then if people can relate to the characters speaking in English, they could very well do so, even if they spoke Hindi. 

He perhaps made the most sensible decision in his life, to make the characters speak Hindi in a South Indian accent. And thankfully not the caricatured version of it, that Mehmood popularised in ‘ek chathur naar’. 

The characters of Malgudi, now found their own language, a simplified version of hindi, that had its own sweetness.

I have been such a fan of this series that now I have gathered some unverified trivia on it. Everytime I met anyone vaguely associated with this masterpiece, I have quizzed them endlessly on their experiences.

Apparently, Shankar Nag was very cautious during the making of this entire series. 

Earlier, when RK Narayan lent his story ‘The Guide’, to be made into a film, he was extremely unhappy with the result of it. The Dev Anand Starrer turned out to be a super-hit, but was anything but that to the writer. It was commercialised and reduced to such an unrecognisable form, that RK Narayan then swore to never again part with anymore of his stories.

Meanwhile, Shankar Nag had a more genuine interest. He just wanted to present these beautiful stories in as exact a form, as it was in the writer’s head.

But the precedent had already been set at mediocrity.

He had a very tough time convincing ‘The once bitten, twice reluctant’  RK Narayan to believe in him.

After a lot of haggling, RK Narayan decided to give him a chance. Shankar Nag took RK through every single scene, and kept him informed on every single move he made throughout the making of the series.

This respect reflects in every scene.

There was no directorial input that threatened to steal the limelight from the story and its characters. Shankar Nag had the supreme wisdom to realise that these stories need no further value addition. He understood that his only role was to do complete justice to the story, and nothing else.

It’s surprising as to how he managed to unfold every scene at such a languid pace and yet wind up in the prescribed 20 odd minutes.

Every time i watch it, I pick up something new. He always kept his backdrops busy. His backdrops said everything else, that might have been an interference, had it been in the book. He cleverly borrowed characters from the other stories and put them in the backdrop, in a manner, where you could expect a story on them sooner or later.

A street urchin running past with an old cycle tyre. A bunch of jobless guys congregating to discuss on some useless topic. A mad man chasing a bus. A peddler sharpening knives. A street performance by a monkey and his troop.

Shankar Nag narrowed down on Agumbe as the location for shooting the entire series. Now, Agumbe had far more trees than needed. And Shankar Nag wanted to recreate the streets in the novel, and so asked his art director (the under-rated John Devraj) to cover up the trees with plaster of paris to look like poles, rather than fell them down.

I’ve even heard that he has cancelled shoots only because a prop used was not right, like a coffee cup. Shankar Nag cancelled an entire schedule because he felt that the coffee cup in that dingy hotel didn’t look authentic enough.

The casting of Swami has its own tale. Over a hundred kids landed up for the audition, and Shankar Nag instantly took a liking to Manjunath. He was certain that in Manjunath he had found his ‘Swami’. He decided to instantly sign him on.

Later, that night he discovered that Manju didn’t know a word of hindi. Shankar Nag pondered over the problem. He realised that he could not let a language barrier defeat the much needed innocence he saw in Manju. He didn’t want a duplicate Swami. He went ahead and cast him much against the advice of various others.

In fact, Manju had no clue about the story. He was far too young to understand the hugeness of his character. He had no clue that he was going to play one of literature’s best written character. Shankar Nag kept him away from all the pressure, just to preserve his innocence. He would give Manju the Hindi lines the previous day to rehearse, but never explain the story to him. 

Another story is that during the making of ‘Swami and Friends’, Manju had to stay for a prolonged period of time at Agumbe. After some time, Manjunath fell home sick. Shankar Nag decided to indefinitely postpone the shoot than force an unhappy child to proceed with the shoot half heartedly.

Manjunath came back to Bangalore and started attending school regularly. Shankar Nag patiently met Manju every other evening after school hours, and generally chatted with him about the day, never mentioning anything about the shoot.

It was only after Manju voluntarily said that he wanted to shoot again, Shankar Nag decided to resume the shoot.

 

It’s probably this purity of thought that makes this serial rise above all, to such a status, that even writing a blog on it is scary.

‘Swami and Friends’ went on to win various awards in the country and abroad. I recently read in an ‘Interview with Manju’, where he says that the biggest award he got was RK Narayan telling him that ‘You are exactly the Swami I had in my mind’.

 

That is a statement that could move anyone to tears.

 

What’s probably bigger is those million Malgudi fans echoing together ‘This is exactly the Malgudi, we had in our minds’.

 

Thank you Shankar Nag.