Monday, 28 July 2014

ABBA – the the group (and Mamma Mia, the movie!)

Another one of those admissions which might attract scorn and get even a bigger lot of folks looking down upon me and mah tastes!!

I loved ABBA – one of my first loves, and rediscovered their wonderful talents and body of work through this absolute delight of a movie : Mamma Mia!
As kids our first brush with music was when Dad got us an audio cassette player and recorder. But we didn’t have any audio cassettes at home to play save for one of Bhajans which Dad had got.   I think dad had meant to use this mainly for recording and not as much for playing songs.

Anyway we kids were really excited about it (well, at least my elder brother was). So we decided to buy some audio cassettes to play and listen to music on. And we wanted English songs because the Indian and Hindi songs we heard on the radio all the time through AIR (All India Radio) and local channels. (FM was to come nearly 15 years later).

So we walk to our neighbourhood music store – only to discover, surprise surprise that the store only stocked LP records (Long Playing records made of vinyl). Yes I am from that era.

We were crestfallen. The guy at the store looks at us and says what were you looking for – and we tell him that we wanted to buy a good audio cassette to listen to. He says he can do this for us from one of the LPs – we just need to tell him which one.  We go through the album covers and some of them frankly looked a little scary for us kids and a little too ‘adult’ for south indian conservative kids (Kiss and Black Sabbath or megadeath were a big no no!)

There was also one other big hitch. We figured we had money only for one audio cassette.

The safest bet was something called “Super Trouper” by ABBA, and we asked him to record this for us. He asked us to come and take it in the evening.  We went back home and were glad we made the choice when we saw that ABBA was listed in the Guinness book for having record sales for the album Super Trouper the year before.

And we heard it – and liked it.  We then moved on to other songs, and I for one realized music was not really my scene (but then, also into little else ‘cept for food and reading and what you see on this blog).

I forgot about ABBA. And going with the flow, as happens when you are in a group ABBA was seen to be ‘infra-dig’ and people disowned this Pop Group while only preferring Rock and heavy metal bands. Maybe I didn’t care much, but I didn’t wear them on my sleeve either (like I am doing right now).

And then came the movie Mamma Mia based on the songs of ABBA– which, again I didn’t watch like for almost two years post its release.

I think I was in London when the musical was launched, but didn’t go to see it, because it was expensive and of course, it wasn’t 'cool' enough. (settled for the ol’ faithful “The Mouse Trap” instead).

When I bought the movie Mamma Mia on DVD, one attraction was the starcast of Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan.

But when I finally saw the movie, and this was with my family on a Sunday, it truly blew my mind – and I thought it was one of the most wonderful things to come across in a long time.  A great celebration of the talents of the group ABBA and storytelling in its loveliest way.

Firstly, who ever paid attention to lyrics (not me at least), and even if I did, who ever knew or realized there could be such Profundity and that this could be weaved into a story like this? (in fact, might have got mighty scandalized at that age on what voulez vous and some other songs were really talking about!)

And then of course the talents of the entire starcast – right from the lead players, the young couple to Meryl’s friends and the extras in the movie, the location – everything’s a bang on winner.  I loved it, absolutely loved it.

My experience from the movie was unlike anything connected to the simple pleasures of discovering Western music in my youth.

It’s a treasured DVD, and I keep watching it from time to time and it gives us a lot of moments of good fun.

Do watch it when you can.

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