Monthly Archives: March 2016

Morricone Magic

Ahmedabad WaterfrontA full 50 years have passed since I was in the city of Ahmedabad – an aerial view of its waterfront is shown alongside – in the Western India state of Gujarat. I was checking out safety and quality issues at an oxygen manufacturing facility in my capacity as the General Manager of Indian Oxygen headquartered in Calcutta on the other side of the subcontinent. The branch  I visited was one of a dozen such factories in India and vital nationally for the supply of industrial gases – mainly oxygen and argon – throughout the country.

The city did not lend itself much to tourism five decades ago. So I found there was little to do after my appointed task but to repair either to a local social club, or to a downtown cinema hall that would normally feature Bollywood Hindi movies. However, the manager of the hotel I was staying at perked up when I inquired as to how I could spend an entertaining evening before returning to Calcutta. He responded, “Why, sir, there is an American ‘cowboy’ film showing this very week that you must see – my own family thoroughly enjoyed it the other day.”

In short order I was sitting in a balcony theater seat watching The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with superb acting by Clint Eastwood and riveting music by an Italian Ennio Morricone (shown below in Hollywood when accepting one of his many awards. )
Ennio_Morricone_Cannes_2012With my penchant for Westerns instilled in me when I was a teenager, I knew of the actor, but never before of the composer. I was riveted! Ever since, whenever and wherever I’ve been in the world I’ve never hesitated to check out the latest “Spaghetti” movie in town featuring the magic of Morricone unforgettable soundtrack, which sometimes commands more of the cinemagoers attention than the film itself – unless, of course, Clint Eastwood’s presence on screen overrides every other consideration.

Some background: My family in New Delhi was comprised largely of shikaris (hunters in Hindustani.) They were passionate about big-game hunting during the annual summer open season, particularly in the jungles of the Terai in the Northeast, and on a more regular basis about spending all day out on a weekend with our heavily laden but dependable Ford V8 car heading for the adjacent wilds that then surrounded the neighboring village of Sonepat and township of Rohtak for birds (partridge, grouse and occasional pheasants) and small game that might inspire our faithful Muslim cook back home to preparing a tasty Mughlai dinner for alleviating the hunger of the sweat-stained starving members of the ebullient and wisecracking sahibs on their return to hearth and home.

I never fired a shot myself, but went along for the ride with my father, elder bother and my father’s cronies drawn from both the public and private sectors of the capital’s upper crust. As a teenager, I became very familiar with the rituals connected with the sport, even joining the villagers who were hired to act as beaters beating the bush in an organized and relentless manner to flush out the hidden prey.

I must admit to my chagrin now that I was always excited by the hunt in the wilds of India, and the chase for a quarry could sometimes be, for me, a heart-throbbing and hectic experience all told. That adrenaline rush I still harbor and its memory probably makes me beholden to the vicarious thrill of watching the likes of Clint Eastwood and his coterie of weather-beaten rough riders scouring the make-believe Wild West with all their might and main – and with deadly force more often than not!

Afterword:
Over six hundred European Westerns were made between 1960 and 1980. The best-known Spaghetti Westerns were directed by Sergio Leone and scored by Ennio Morricone, notably the three films of the Dollars TrilogyA Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), as well as Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). In fact these are consistently listed among the best rated Westerns in general.

References:
Wikipedia; My Diary (of 1960-70)

 

Copyright © 2016 Azim Lewis Mayadas