The Gold at Madh Island!

I put this up on Bachchan’s blog as a response to something he said.. then thought it might make for a fun post..

I have always felt that if it is Madh Island there should be ‘sona’ arriving there from somewhere! More gold has arrived on this ‘coast’ than any other in human history! And you had then the exchange of ‘tickets’ or a piece of paper where one side provided one half and the other completed it. Often subterfuge was involved. The gold would arrive elsewhere leaving behind either a very irate villain or else a very frustrated policeman. Given how overused this location could be it was rather surprising that the Bombay police did not establish a permanent presence on the island! But this sort of observation is in bad taste. The whole charm about this theme if you will was of course the element of repetition. It was comforting to hear that the gold was going to show up at Madh Island. Occasionally it would be Versova or something else and this would be deeply disappointing, even disturbing. To paraphrase an advertising refrain ‘if it’s gold, it must be Madh Island’! The only competitor here was the ‘maal’ that would perennially show up on the ‘docks’!

In Homer or other kinds of oral poetry, and for reasons of necessity if the scholars are to be believed, they employed these formulaic phrases again and again in the poems. So Achilles for instance would be referred to with a certain set of adjectives and so on with everyone else. This created a kind of mnemonic device where in the absence of writing one could rely on these oft-repeated phrases and not have to remember as much (though this seems like a bad joke given how much those bards remembered despite the formulas!). But in a different sense these epithets (or as the case might be) were also comforting for the audience, something they were always familiar with. And so the charm whether with this sort of poetry or the kind of cinematic archive I’m referring to is the mix of the strange and the familiar using such devices of repetition. the analogy is not inexact even otherwise. Because all those millennia before masala those Greek poets were already plumbing the same mythological material again and again to come up with poems or plays or whatever. Repetition in this sense hardly implies anything stale, it is often the greatest ally of creativity.

This was a world for those with imagination. Those who wrote these things and those who viewed them. Certainly in my memory the gold is forever arriving at Madh Island and I am constantly looking out for the sudden switching on of flashlights and that ‘unwelcome’ (not for me!) police presence!

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4 Responses to “The Gold at Madh Island!”

  1. Great comment, I am sure the souls of KN Singh, Ajit, PremNath, Iftekhaar, Jagdish Raj etc are taking a walk at Madh Island. LOL!

  2. Thanks greatly for this post Satyam, really enjoyed reading this- the line “docks se maal utarne waala hai” was such a permanent fixture of my childhood. In this context Sippy had a terrific sequence on a ship in Dum Maaro Dum – shot in the passage from evening to night. Kamath and Co go to the docks to catch Barbosa and there is a fine shootout-cum-chase sequence follows. Anyhow, there is an initial shot of Abhishek standing on the ship with his back facing the audience which finds a parallel with his father’s own great shot from Agneepath where Vijay goes to meet Kancha Cheena…Bachchan really lords over the screen in that scene. And of course Sippy literally personifies the ‘sone ke biscuit/biskut’ (in this respect I thought the best scene in “Players” involved that heist sequence involving the gold bars) into “Lorsa Biscuita” (and I thought selecting Panscholi was a great decision on Sippy’s part- with that bald look the guy actually became a modern-day Prem Chopra). But IMO Sippy’s master-stroke was to use these visuals and memories for a far greater purpose than just invoking ‘nostalgia’…for instance the image of the docks and gold in DMD actually subverts our entire notion of ‘fondness’ associated with these things. The docks in DMD are pretty much a hell-hole. There is also a good one in OUATIM which involves Devgn and his henchmen unloading the goods

    • This is an outstanding comment Saurabh.. thanks much.. DMD is one of the very underrated films around. I have long meant to revisit it. Haven’t done so since the theatrical release.

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