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Monday, March 24, 2008

Main aaj kal kamaal kar rahee hoon

I try and avoid Salim-Javed, but it is hard to do that. What a body of work they have!
More of matter and less of art. This line is from the 1978 Yash Chopra classic Trishul. Probably one of the earliest corporate warfare movies in Hindi cinema. Vijay Kumar (Amitabh Bachchan) is the illegitimate son of Raj Kumar Gupta (Sanjeev Kumar) and Shanti Devi (Waheeda Rehman). Vijay grows up with a burning desire to right the wrongs - perceived and real - done to his mother. After his mother's death, Vijay sets himself up as a builder who challenges the might of M/s RK Gupta. One of R K Gupta's employees - the very efficient Geeta (Raakhee Gulzar) - is fired by R K Gupta. He is under the impression that she has been passing vital information to Vijay. Although the misunderstanding is cleared up (in fact by Vijay himself in a dramatic moment), Geeta still decides to part ways with RK Gupta. Post her separation, she meets Vijay in a five star hotel coffee shop. Vijay starts the conversation with

"Geeta mujhe tumse kuchh kaam hai. isiiliye milnaa chaahtaa thaa. "
"aaj kal  kyaa kar rahee ho"
to which Raakhee responds with
"tumne sunaa hogaa, jo log kuchh nahee.n karte, kamaal karte hai.n. main aaj kal kamaal kar rahee hoo.n"
" तुमने सुना होगा, जो लोग कुछ नहीं करते, कमाल करते हैं. मैं आज कल कमाल कर रही हूं"

I haven't found a better description by lotus-eaters of their vocation. Nick Nolte came close in the Three Fugitives (1989) when he said "I am in between jobs". But this is really interesting. More so probably because it is in Hindi.
Literally it means "I am doing wonderfully well these days". But it would actually mean that you are doing nothing - simbly sitting idle (sic). So go ahead, when you do not have any work to do and someone asks you what you are doing, tell them
"मैं आज कल कमाल कर रहा/रही हूं"
Conversely, do not say "main kamaal kar rahaa hoon" unless you are implying that you are doing nothing. We live in strange times - all communication is strangely layered.

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