x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Desi Girl: Turkish solitude punctured by classical music

Quiet streets of Mustafapasa present a chance to reflect on the debt Indians owe to Anu Malik.

A few days ago, I left the mad crowds of Istanbul and headed for the serene solitude of Mustafapasa - a tiny Anatolian town whose entire population is less than the number of people that pass through Istanbul's Istiklal Avenue on any given day.

Around town, in various states of disrepair, lie Hellenistic structures that front the caves carved into the mountains by a long line of Hittites and Byzantines.

Until 1924, the town was called Sinasos (City of the Sun) and was home to a majority of Turkish-speaking Christian Greeks. The Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, imposed a compulsory population exchange, forcing Christian Greeks to move to Greece.

As they emptied their Sinasos homes, migrating Turks moved in and slowly built Mustafapasa. Houses feature wooden doors and exquisite carvings in Greek - testament to the original owners and occupants.

One afternoon when I was walking around town, I spotted an exceptionally pretty door. It was half open and I walked towards it so I could take a picture. Catching a glimpse of the beautiful and seemingly deserted building it led to, I decided to go inside.

Upon entering, I heard the unmistakable strains of a violin. Normally I would not be fazed, but I found myself beating a hasty retreat, nearly tripping over my own feet.

That evening I had dinner with Tohce, a local girl I had become friendly with, who asked if I wanted to join her for a classical music concert afterwards. Turns out, it wasn't ghosts playing the violin, just some visiting musicians.

Tohce and I got to discussing our appetites for classical music and she thought I was kidding when I told her that a lot of Indianshave the Bollywood music composer Anu Malik to thank for our ability to enjoy classical music.

Seriously, where would we be without Malik and his musical references to everything from Beethoven's Für Elise to The Godfather theme? This discussion was followed by an entertaining evening watching YouTube videos of various Malik songs and the originals that may have inspired him.

More Bollywood music-related entertainment this week came with the online leak of a song from Farah Khan's forthcoming film Joker, starring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha.

Khan expressed anger at the leak, then went on to explaina racy line in the song's lyrics that made everyone sit up and take to Twitter (I'll leave you to research the "scandal" on the web). She also clarified to the public that the leaked song is an old version.

Whatever Khan says, hats off to her. What better way to get attention for your forthcoming feature than for a song to be leaked and start some controversy? Well played, Farah. We're expecting some real creativity in the film now.