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Monday, February 7, 2011

A Typewriter that continues to go Tip, Tip, Tip…..In the memory of Late Ismail Merchant


The one and only number that I can recall as having been composed on a 'typewriter' was a duet by Kishore & Asha that went ‘Typewriter Tip Tip Tip Tip Karta Hai…’, which really caught my fancy as it used to be played with frequent rapidity on Vividh Bharti and Radio Ceylon. As the years went by, the song barely lingered in my memory but a decade later, HMV released the song in one of its compilations, which rekindled my interest. I managed to dig out the information that ‘Bombay Talkie’, the film for which, it was recorded, was a co-production of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, whose banner went by the name of Merchant-Ivory productions. Like many of their previous ventures, ‘Bombay Talkie’ was released only in Mumbai and its proximal areas but never went any further. I was given to believe that no print of the film existed anywhere, which gave a severe wrench to my hopes of procuring a copy or at least watching the film on the cable, if for nothing else, then just for ‘Typewriter…’.

Even as I sifted and pared in all VCD shops round the country, I came across Ismail Merchant’s autobiography, a damn expensive memorabilia and one of the visuals in the book showed a gigantic typewriter, with stills of a rollicking Shashi Kapoor and some colourfully clad dancers transfixed on the keys in paroxysmal poses. In a trice, I could visualize what the picturisation of ‘Typewriter…’ would have been like. Rich, sonorous and energetic, just like Shanker-Jaikishan’s infectious beats that were a rage till the turn of the 1970s.

Ismail Merchant for once broke away from his pre-defined norm and came up with a film that was the closest approximation of a Bollywood pot-boiler. So what if ‘Bombay Talkie’ did not run, for Ismail ji’s films were never meant for the turnstiles nor did they ever played to the gallery. They were all polished, up-market ventures that more often than not were a throw-back to the stark Colonial days in India. Ismail ji, sadly has left us forever and the elusive Typewriter has moved from my inner consciousness to a level of sensuous cognition, metaphorically speaking!!

It isn't yet time to put it in the back-burner, not as yet. Not until it stops going ‘Tip, Tip, Tip…’.

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