Sunday, April 05, 2009

Song and Dance

I was in hospital for treatment of a deep vein thrombus in my right leg. So I saw a load of films, copied for me a few months ago by my sister Sita. These included five films of Pedro Almodovar, the Spanish director. The one I liked most was Hable con ella (Talk to Her).

The highlight of the film for me was the song "Cucurrucucu Paloma" by Caetano Veloso. I had grown up hearing this song sung by Harri Belafonte. I was hearing the song after more than thirty years. So yes, it was very moving. Not the least for Caetano's rendition. I was completely entranced by the song and was haunted by it in the days following. Amodovar filmed this at his country house, and the crowd is a group of his friends.

The lyrics (in Spanish) and translation into English are available here.

And thus did I finally get introduced to Caetano, who has been called one of the greatest songwriters of the century. Hats off to Alberto Iglesias, who was responsible for the soundtrack of the film.

Also entrancing in "Talk to Her" were the two dance sequences choreographed by Pina Bausch, the first from her production "Café Muller," and the second from "Masurca Fogo", with which the film begins and concludes.

Almodovar had evidently been greatly inspired by Pina Bausch. Pina and her group had visited our Talimi Haq School in 2006 and 2008, and so once again, there was a deep personal resonance for me.

Also among the films I saw in hospital was E la Nave Va (And the Ship Sails On), directed by Federico Fellini. That too had an appearance by Pina Bausch! In fact when Caetano made the CD of the concert in which he paid homage to Federico Fellini, he made a tribute to Pina Bausch. Caetano said, “Like Fellini. I am in love with Pina”. So he dedicated the song “Dama das Camelias” in his tribute to Fellini to Pina Bausch.

My friend Sam Mills told me Caetano's Billie Jean was worth coming out of hospital for! And so here is that.

1 comment:

Gregg Allen said...

Mr. Ramaswamy,

I've been jumping around reading various entries in your blog. I just would like to tip my hat to you. Your blog is literate, and wide ranging in subject matter. I'm astounded too at how prolific you are. You are very hip, and doubly so, because I don't think you are striving for that. Your blog is a gift, and I thank you for it.