December 09, 2015

Discovering the Beatles: Introduction

During the last semester at my medical college I had made an 85-minute docu-drama on my batch-mates. It was for that film that I had written the poem 'Joote Kahaan Utaare The' that later featured in Vikramaditya Motwane's 'Udaan'. That docu-drama carried snippets of interviews of my batch-mates, loosely connected through the theme of friendship. And for its closing credits, thanks to a friend's suggestion, I had used the Beatles track 'With a Little Help from My Friends'. My association with the band started and ended with that and I hadn't heard even the most popular of their songs when I visited the Beatles Cathedral in Rishikesh in April, 2014.

The Beatles' India-connection is very well-known. In Rishikesh, they had stayed at the Maharshi Mahesh Yogi ashram which now lies in ruins for almost 18 years. It is situated inside the forest land which is out-of-bounds for public. However, for the last few years, the abandoned ashram has been the site of graffiti artists who have created paintings on its walls, faces of the Beatles and their spiritual gurus, and the lyrics of their songs. And the satsang hall of the ashram is now known as the Beatles Cathedral. You can visit this surreal place by bribing the guard at the gate of the forest-land and find a fellow-traveller playing his guitar or smoking a joint or dancing in a trance inside its haunting, hallowed premises. I practically knew nothing about the band when I visited that place that April afternoon. But I knew that my discovery of the Beatles is only round the corner.

Finally, this September, I formally started my discovery of the band with some of their most popular songs but especially their first album 'Please Please Me'. Every little detail associated with the Beatles has been a revelation for me. Like, they were in their early twenties when they started the band and became overnight sensation with the unprecedented success of their first album. George Harrison, in fact, was only 20. Reading about the assassination of John Lennon when he was only forty now hurt like never before. And I don't think there has been a single week ever since I started paying attention to them that the Beatles have not featured in one or the other news article on my Google News page. Finally, I feel I'm experiencing one of the most important and loved cultural legacies of humankind. And hence I decided to document this journey - of my discovery of the Beatles.

Yesterday was the death anniversary of John Lennon. And this morning, I woke up to this news article on the first page of the Indian Express that reports the Uttarakhand government's decision to open the ashram for public. So this morning I decided to finally launch this new series on this blog. It has hardly anything to do with cinema. But then, does it really matter? I never wrote about my discovery of Pink Floyd more than seven years ago. Don't want to repeat the mistake. So stay tuned and share with me your Beatlemania...

'Discovering the Beatles' is my documentation of discovering the music of the legendary band, album by album over several months. Click here and read from bottom upwards for the entire series.

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