When I read about jousting contests as a child, I thought it was a rather brave but utterly foolhardy thing to do, to sit in full armour weighing a ton, don your helmet with all the ceremonial regalia, put a helmet on your noble steed, carry a shield on your left arm which also held the horse’s reins, and carry a heavy lance in your right hand and charge full speed at your opponent with the singular aim of wanting to kill the poor bloke and win the hand of the fair maiden. In mediaeval England, the lady would perhaps bathe once a year or so, and if you got impaled on the opponent’s lance, well that was too bad, isn’t it, because in the preantibiotic era, any deep wound could kill.
This utterly idiotic activity was glorified beyond what it deserved, I suppose a carry forward from the dark days of barbarism, such behaviour continues to this day in blood-soaked activities like WWE , which of course decerebrate over grown fetuses find utterly believable (while doubting that the planet is round, while believing the universe was created in 6 days, or that copulation resulted after eating an apple on exhortation from a snake who spoke, or killing oneself for an afterlife full of utterly unbelievable drunken orgies). Blood sport was never my cup of tea or chalice of wine.
Bollywood introduced a form of a duel in some movies which was utterly enjoyable and even delectable. I loved that every time I was privileged to participate in. When we were in 7th Standard, our class teacher, the effervescent Mrs Siddiqui who thought so many of us could sing on stage together. (Such a misconception! Enthused and deluded by the experience, I continue to indulge in the activity occasionally and my audience generally does not get traumatized nor does it make a dash for the open spaces to get some air, and the Karaoke systems consistently score me in mid 90s, so I can safely assume I sound better than a donkey serenading a toad with laryngitis).
Roshan Lal Nagrath was the undisputed king of the genre and his creativity and visualization of the form was amazingly complex, while remaining melodious and easy to recall. Look at this eternal composition, the longest song ever composed in Bollywood history by a proverbial mile. The lyrics are by Sahir Ludhianvi and the song has no less than 5 singers: a unique and very complicated exercise that is a musical experience par excellence which induces auditory stupor in the audience even 60 plus years after its creation. https://youtu.be/JJbZWdvexXw
The movie is Barsaat ki raat which was a huge hit, produced by R Chandra, and the screenplay as well as the direction were by P L Santoshi. The movie has Madhubala with Bharat Bhushan in the lead, the lady’s skin was a bit smoother than the other one’s. It was a massive hit, one of the top grossers of all time, with Madhubala, Roshan and Santoshi garnering the credit. This one song has Rafisaab, S D Batish, Manna Dey on the one side, and Asha Bhosle with Sudha Malhotra on the other side. The duel form must’ve tested Sahir Saab’s poetic skills to the fullest. Wonder how many cigarettes were turned to ashes and how many glasses downed in the process.
Anyway, one must admire the amazing creativity of Roshan in conceptualising a unique work of art that’s truly unmatched in a 100 years of Bollywood history .
Stay safe, folks, stay happy, healthy and away from the Chinese virus variants. The full truth is yet to emerge.