31 July 2016

Quiz Shows


Today morning I watched Rajdeep Sardesai's new quiz show called 'News-Wiz' on India Today channel. It was okay and Rajdeep behaved like a good quiz master. (Didn't ask his participants when they would settle down?). The participants were school children from different parts of India. Looking at the innocent faces of the participants, I felt so nostalgic. I was missing my childhood days when I loved quizzing a lot. I was really passionate about quizzing back in those days. 

I still remember very faintly Siddhartha Basu's 'Quiz Time' on Doordarshan. I was very young then. This quiz show was shown on DD1 in the eighties and it was hugely popular back then.  

In the nineties there was 'Bournvita Quiz Contest' on Zee TV. The show was hosted by Derek O'Brien.

Then I remember 'Mastermind India' hosted by Siddhartha Basu on BBC. This was a really tough quiz contest. The show was followed by a quiz book too. The first time I bought a quiz book for myself was from College Street when I was very young. I still have that book.  

Then comes the mother of all quiz shows - Kaun Banega Crorepati? It was Amitabh Bachchan's debut on the small screen. Big B was going through a very rough patch throughout the nineties and through KBC in the year 2000 he again rose like a phoenix from the ashes. KBC was aired on Star Plus. The show became so popular that the streets would run empty. Cinema halls reported almost zero attendance for the night shows. The last time such a thing had happened in India was during the telecast of Mahabharat on Sunday mornings. The first Crorepati on KBC was a man named Harshvardhan Navathe. The charisma of Big B in the show was stupendous. This show was not only about money. It was about ordinary citizens encountering extraordinary situations and sitting in front of the one and only Amitabh Bachchan.

During the KBC days, Big B had started wearing a blue sapphire ring. Many people said that his luck came back to him once he started wearing this neelam stone. In those days I was in Class XI. I used to go for Accountancy tuitions. A friend of my Accountancy tutor won 50 lakhs on KBC. That guy was studying for CA exams. After winning the money he decided not to appear for CA exams that year and instead got married to his girlfriend. 

I also tried very hard to get into KBC. Whenever the phone lines opened for the general public, I called repeatedly and always answered correctly. Most of the time the line used to be engaged. It was very difficult to get through. I even used to call throughout the night and used to connect successfully around 3 or 4 a.m. Every time I gave the right answer but the computer never picked me for the second round. Bad luck!   

KBC continued for a few more seasons and later Shah Rukh Khan hosted it too, but the charm, novelty and magic of Season One were not there any more. Gradually the show lost its appeal and we all moved on with our lives. When Shah Rukh Khan first hosted it, the contestant was the incumbent contestant from the previous season when Big B used to host it. SRK commented that for the first time in human history, the contestant has remained the same whereas the quiz master has changed. Since the contestant was from Calcutta therefore SRK sang a few lines from the song 'Dekho Dekho Chamatkar' from his 1992 film 'Chamatkar'. The lines were :

Chom Chom Langchya Paantua
Chao Ke Dao Boley
Bombai Thekey Dum Dum-ey
Urey Jao Choley
Kolkatai Raat Ki Din
Hor Dom-ee Load Shedding
Chon Mon Chon Mon
Keno Je Ei Mon
Ghurchhey Bon Bon
Aamee Bhabchhi...

Star Plus conquered the entire prime time slot first with KBC and then with 'Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki' and 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi'. Zee TV was left sulking. Zee tried to hit back at Star with 'Sawal Dus Crore Ka' but it flopped miserably. This quiz show was hosted by Anupam Kher and Manisha Koirala. I still remember this particular episode when Manisha Koirala struggled to pronounce the name Hiranyakashipu in a quiz question. And Anupam Kher's 'freeze it' was no match for Amitabh Bachchan's 'Lock Kiya Jai?'. Back then The Telegraph newspaper had carried out an article on Anupam Kher titled 'Fools Rush In'. 

Zee even tried out a strange format in the name of 'Aap Jo Bole Haan Toh Haan, Aap Jo Bole Naa Toh Naa'. It also failed miserably. Most probably Suhel Seth was the host of this show. Star TV's stars were on the rise and Zee could do nothing to stop them. To counter Star TV, Sony tried out something called 'Jeeto Chhappar Phaad Ke' which was hosted by Govinda but this show was simply utter crap. 

Years later Shah Rukh Khan hosted 'Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hai?' which was the Indian version of 'Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?'. This show was aired on Star Plus and it flopped. 


A long time back there was another quiz show which was hosted by Barry O'Brien most probably on Doordarshan. I can't remember its name. There once Barry asked the young contestants, who were all school children, how they felt being in the show? One honest boy replied, "Could you please make these seats a little more comfortable?". Barry was so impressed by the little boy's honesty that he immediately gave him a gift. 

During my childhood days in the eighties and nineties, The Telegraph Colour Magazine used to have a page dedicated to quiz by Neil O'Brien. I was an avid follower of this quiz page. The answers were given on the same page but they were printed upside down. 

There was once this crude and weird quiz show called 'Comedy Quiz' on DD7. Though it was not at all funny on any level. There was another quiz show on Bangla Doordarshan which was quite okay. Can't recollect its name now. A few years back Sourav Ganguly hosted the bengali version of KBC. KBC also had other regional versions in Tamil, Kannada, Bhojpuri etc. 

A few weeks back Neil O'Brien passed away at the ripe age of 82. He was the grand old man of quizzing in India. End of an era. May his Soul rest in peace...


26 July 2016



I just love rainfall. I just love it. I love it more than anything else in the world. More than Money, Women, Sex, Fame, Power, Glory, Immortality etc. Whenever it rains and if I happen to be at home at that time then I always sit beside my window and watch the rainfall with a hot cup of Chafee (coffee mixed in tea) and I always listen to Kabir Suman's songs. And every time I miss my first girlfriend who now stays in U.S.A. with her husband. Just at that moment Kabir Suman sings, Sraboney Sraboney Aami Tomaakey Chai, Okaalbodhoney Aami Tomaakey Chai...

Fourteen years back on my birthday it had rained a lot that morning. It did not rain cats and dogs but rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses. Several parts of Calcutta were waterlogged. Still she came to my place braving all the water. She almost had to swim to reach my house. She had made a special birthday card for me. She didn't buy any greetings card from the market as she firmly believed that those commercial cards would not be able to convey her feelings properly. On the cover of the card, she drew the picture herself and decorated it with colours and glitter. I still have that card with me. 

In the early nineties I used to love the above rain song very much. It was sweet, simple and innocent. There was indeed an innocent feel to this song. The lyrics were simple and the music was light and catchy. The female model was Aditi Govitrikar. Back in those days this song was shown in Superhit Muqabla on Doordarshan.

In my childhood days, I used to be very happy when our school used to declare holiday on account of a rainy day. I hated getting up early and going to school. 

In the mid nineties, once there was tremendous rainfall and the whole of Calcutta was almost flooded for like two/three days. Water had entered the ground floor of our house. We mostly ate Khichudi for those two/three days. Thankfully my mom had stocked Maggi beforehand. The Statesman newspaper had dubbed Calcutta as The Venice Of The East.   

Then as I started growing up and hormones took control of my body, I started loving this rain song more and more. In those days Raveena Tandon was the hottest "cheeeez" in the universe.

In 2001 I bought Shilajit's album 'X=Prem' from Music World at Park Street on a rainy afternoon. I came back home and listened to it throughout the evening. It was a rainy day. It also rained throughout the night as well. In my mind the album got somehow associated with rainfall. Whenever it used to rain, I used to listen to this album back in those days.

As I grew up I started loving the monsoon songs by Rabindranath Tagore. Loved songs like Nil Anjanghono Punjochhayay, Aaji Jhorer Ratey Tomar Obhishar, Abar Esechhey Ashaar, Aami Tokhon Chhilem Mogon Gohon Ghumer Ghorey, Amar Priyar Chhaya etc.  

During my childhood, our locality used to get water logged, even after a medium sized downpour. I remember that I used to float paper boats once the rain had subsided. A few years back I did the same again. I wrote about it here

Making love to a woman with rainfall in the background is another fascinating experience. Especially on a rainy night. I have always been fascinated by the smell and sound of rainfall. The smell makes me instantly happy. The sound is melody to my ear-drums. When I was born, that day it had rained a lot. And it was Janmastami too.

In St. Xavier's College, whenever it used to rain, I used to go to our top floor balcony and watch the rainfall from there. It used to be a beautiful sight. Sometimes I used to keep my bag and mobile phone with a friend and go out on our huge playground and get wet. Others would soon join me. It used to be fun. I sometimes used to wonder whether I would be hit by a lightning!

These days whenever it rains, and if I happen to be in Park Street, I then always go and sit inside Au Bon Pain, on the window side with tea or coffee. And watch the world go by. 

Many years back, there was a film titled 'Monsoon' which was directed by Jag Mundhra. It was probably released in 1999. The film had Helen Brodie and Gulshan Grover. I had gone to see some other film at Lighthouse Cinema and there I saw the trailer of 'Monsoon'. I was so titillated by the trailer that the very next week I went to watch the film. Felt extremely horny before the screening. Though the film was a damper. There was one good sensuous scene though.  

I have seen so many cricket matches which were interrupted by rain. Its a really damn irritating thing when the Rain Gods interrupt a live cricket match. This year on the day of the India-Pakistan T20 match at Eden Gardens, it rained a lot. The match was reduced to eighteen overs per side. Strangely enough, there was no rain the day before and the day after the match. 

And yes, I am a Pluviophile...

Here are my ten favourite rain songs in Hindi (in no particular order) :

Pyaar Hua, Ikraar Hua from Shree 420. The three kids walking in the rain were Randhir Kapoor (then 8 years old), Rishi Kapoor (3 years) and their sister Ritu (6 years).

Lagi Aaj Sawan from Chandni. A haunting song.

Koi Ladki Hai from Dil Toh Pagal Hai. Love the last part of the song. 

Sun Sun Sun Barsat Ki Dhun from Sir. Anu Malik copied it from Listen To The Falling Rain by Jose Feliciano. 

On The Roof, In The Rain from Masti. A fun filled song. 

Garaj Baras from Paap. A rocking song by the Pakistani band Junoon. 

Rim Jhim from 1942 A Love Story. A beautiful song.

Rim Jhim Girey Sawan from Manzil. Monsoon in Bombay. 

Aakhir Tumhe Aana Hai from Yalgaar. Love the use of dialogues inside this song.

Indian Rain by Colonial Cousins. Priceless!

Here are my ten favourite rain songs in English (in no particular order) : 

November Rain by Guns N Roses. 

Singing In The Rain by Gene Kelly.

Rain Fall Down by The Rolling Stones.

Early Morning Rain by Gordon Lightfoot.

Raining In My Heart by Buddy Holly

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head by B. J. Thomas.

Its Raining Men by The Weather Girls.

Listen To The Falling Rain by Jose Feliciano. 

Riders On The Storm by The Doors.

A Hard Rains Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan. 

Here are my ten favourite rain songs in Bengali (in no particular order) : 

Abar Esechhey Ashaar by Rabindranath Tagore.

Nil Anjanghono Punjochhayay by Rabindranath Tagore.

Amar Priyar Chhaya by Rabindranath Tagore.

Meghdut by Kabir Suman.

Eso Koro Snan by Kabir Suman.

Ekdin Bristitey Bikeley by Anjan Dutta.

Aami Brishti Dekhechhi by Anjan Dutta.

Srabon Ghonay by Nachiketa Chakraborty. 

Jhiri Jhiri Bristi Rey by Saikat Mitra. 

Megh Holey Mon by Srikanto Acharya. 


21 July 2016

Cricket Tours to West Indies


The best part about cricket tours to West Indies is that the live telecast in India starts around late evenings. I still remember that during my school days I used to come home from school in the afternoon, take a bath, have my lunch and then go to sleep. I used to wake up late in the evening and then watch the cricket telecast with a cup of Chafee, which is a cup of tea with coffee mixed in it.

In the 90's the West Indies had a good team and there was good pace and bounce on the West Indian wickets. These days they only produce flat dead pitches. And they had Walsh and Ambrose. I faintly remember India's tour of West Indies in the 1996-1997 season. Abey Kuruvilla had made his debut. We were all impressed by his height but not that impressed with his bowling abilities. India lost that series. I still remember the episode when Kuruvilla was a guest at Shekhar Suman's 'Movers and Shakers'. Suman asked him, "Toh Upaar Mausam Kaisa Hai?". We all had a good laugh.   

I distinctly remember Australia's tour of West Indies in the 1998-1999 season. It was a tightly fought series between two good teams. It was a four match Test series and the series was drawn 2-2. I clearly remember Brian Lara's double hundred. He scored two more hundreds in that series. There was also crowd trouble in one of the matches. Someone from the crowd threw a glass bottle at Steve Waugh and it narrowly missed his forehead. The Australian Captain was very angry and he stood his ground and looked firmly at the crowd. I remember seeing Shane Warne running back to the pavilion hurriedly once the crowd trouble erupted. I just loved that series because it was so fiercely fought between the two teams. 

Then I remember India's tour to West Indies in the year 2002. India again lost that series. But there was one remarkable thing. Anil Kumble bowling with a broken jaw and a bandaged face. He even got the wicket of Brian Lara. I was in Class XII at that time. Simply loved those late evening live telecasts. Sometimes I used to have two cups of Chafee. I used to relax on the large sofa in our drawing room with the landline phone in hand, chatting with my then girlfriend, or with other friends, without a single care of this world. My mom used to ask me to study but I never listened to her. I used to be engrossed in the magic of Caribbean cricket...


17 July 2016

Independence Day 1 and 2


I watched 'Independence Day' at Lighthouse Cinema on 8th April 1997. I was around 14 years old then. This was the first time that I saw an English film in a cinema hall. I had gone for the evening show. I had written down this date in my diary. I was tremendously excited. Loved every second of the film. Didn't take my eyes off the screen for even a split second. I didn't want to miss even 0.000000001% of the film. It was a very good film. Loved Will Smith in it. 

In those days Lighthouse used to showcase the best of Hollywood movies. Lighthouse, along with obviously New Empire, were the best destinations for English films. The day Lighthouse closed down forever on 22nd February 2002, I felt great pain and extreme sadness. It was as if a part of my childhood was being murdered. Somethings shouldn't change because Calcutta is actually described and defined by them. Without them Calcutta would no longer be Calcutta.

As a revenge I have never shopped at the Esplanade CitiMart which has taken Lighthouse's place. I have also requested my friends and relatives to never shop there. I really miss Lighthouse. Today when I see 'Independence Day' on various TV channels, I immediately get emotionally transported to that special evening of 1997. 

A few weeks back I watched 'Independence Day 2' at New Empire. I could have watched the film at South City Inox, which is nearer to my place, but I chose to watch it at New Empire, simply because it is adjacent to the erstwhile Lighthouse Cinema Hall. The sequel came after almost twenty years. It is a good film but somehow I like the first one more. Maybe because I am emotionally attached to it. Once I came out of New Empire, I started missing Lighthouse even more...


My Son Jerry Debnath


I once had a son named Jerry Debnath. Actually he was an adopted son. My then girlfriend had two kittens. She named them Tom and Jerry. She gave me Jerry and kept Tom to herself. A few months later we broke up. But Jerry stayed with me. 

The first time Jerry came to my house, he felt really sad at the sudden change of residence. The sadness was evident in his little face. He tried to figure out things in this new place and was getting confused all the time. 

But then I gave him so much love that he felt right at home here. He used to sleep on my bed by my side. He used to curl up to me. I loved his soft touch on my body. When he used to sleep, his face looked so innocent, as if Bhaja Machh Ta Ultey Khetey Jaaney Naa!!! In the morning he would wake me up by constantly licking my face. 

I used to feed him milk, chicken and fish. He loved raw Lotey Machh very very very much. Whenever my Mom used to bring Lotey Machh from the market, Jerry would smell it even from a distance, and suddenly used to be super excited. The way we react to Chicken/Mutton Biriyani, Jerry would react the same way to Lotey Machh.

Then he grew up a bit. I once went to New Market and there are two Pet Shops at the extreme end of the Market. On a whim I bought a small packet of Whiskas Cat Food. Back home Jerry loved this Cat Food very much. He was asking for more, which I didn't have. So the very next day I again went to New Market and bought the largest packet of Whiskas. That evening Jerry ate the Cat Food to his heart's content. 

Once I met this beautiful girl at the Calcutta Film Festival at Nandan. We exchanged our numbers. A few days later we were chatting on Whatsapp at night. Here's how our conversation went :

She : So, how was your day?

Me : I went to Office in the morning and in the evening went to New Market to buy food for my son. 

She : What? You have a son! You are married! I thought you were a bachelor. 

Me : Well, my son is my two year old pet cat. His name is Jerry Debnath.

She : Awwwwww... Thats so sweet...

Jerry got addicted to Whiskas. So much that he refused to touch ordinary food like fish or chicken. He demanded Whiskas every time, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then a crisis emerged. Whiskas suddenly went out of stock in that Pet Shop in New Market. I searched for it in all the other Pet Shops in Calcutta, but it was not available. Some said there was some problem with the distribution company. Some said there was some problem with the parent company. I don't know why, but suddenly Whiskas went out of market. Jerry was hugely disappointed. 

That year I went to Chandannagar on the last day of Jagadhhatri Puja. There in a departmental store I saw a packet of Whiskas. Must be old stock. I immediately bought all the packets available in that shop and brought it to Calcutta. Jerry was supremely happy. 

When Jerry became an adolescent boy, he started to explore our neighbourhood. It became very difficult to keep him indoors. After breakfast he would go out and only return late in the evening for dinner and sleep. Sometimes he would return the next day after having a night-out. Maybe he was busy chasing all the pussies in our neighbourhood. Jerry Debnath was very handsome and healthy and strong. I am sure all the pussies were chasing him, and not the other way round.

Once Jerry was bitten by a street dog. There was blood all over his stomach and it looked as if he would die. The way he looked deep in my eyes and curled up on my lap as if saying that this could be our last time together. Imagine the amount of pain and trauma that my little Jerry had to go through in this near death incident. I immediately took him to a Veterinary Doctor and thankfully his life was saved. By God's mercy and the doctor's help we could cure him completely and he became fine and healthy again. Here is a picture of Jerry's wound:

After recovering from his injury completely, Jerry again resumed his daily activities, as if nothing had happened. He again started going out on his own. Sometimes he would get involved in fights and brawls with the other cats and then return home with injuries. Whenever he used to come home with injuries, his tail would be down, as if he was apologetic for getting involved in a fight. Jerry became a rowdy cat and used to regularly get involved in fights with the other cats of the neighbourhood over territorial issues. We started calling him Rowdy Jerry after the film 'Rowdy Rathore'. 

Whenever the sky used to get cloudy, Jerry would immediately come back home. He sensed that it would rain. He was a very smart cat. Inside he would sit on my bedroom window and watch the rainfall. In those times he looked so philosophical. As if he was pondering over all the mysteries of the universe and over the existential question of life.  

Jerry Debnath loved listening to Kabir Suman's songs. I used to play them constantly in my computer and he used to sit beside me and listen to them. He never asked me to change the songs. Jerry was intellectual enough to understand the deep and hidden meanings and the various layers and sub-layers of Kabir Suman's songs. 

Jerry used to chase and kill all the little rats in our house. But he used to avoid the big mouses. Whenever he used to kill a little rat, he would bring it to me in his mouth as if to tell me proudly that he had done a great job and that I should appreciate the fact that he was a great warrior! 

Then one day Jerry came back home with a massive injury. He did not eat anything that day. The next day he went out again. And never came back. He must have sensed his end and therefore chose to die in some obscure corner in our neighbourhood. We never found his dead body. May his soul rest in peace.  

Here are some pictures of Jerry :


P.S. : Here is the link for more pictures of Jerry Debnath...