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This 'n' that

Mamma mia! Here they come again

Abba, the Swedish pop superstars, recently got together to sign the foreword to a book about them. This was their first meeting since their breakup.

From Abba to Mamma Mia by pop historian Carl Magnus Palm and photographer Andres Hanser salutes their contribution to music. The book is being promoted at the Frankfurt Book Fair and is described by Kt Forster, managing director of Virgin Publishing, as "a labor of love".

The group was wildly popular in India, and several of their tunes inspired Indian film music. R D Burman picked up their Mamma mia and made Mil gaya, humko sathi for the Nasir Hussain film Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin.

The '70s pop icons, also ex-spouses, have provided photographs and archival material for the book. Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Frida came together to sign the foreword to the generously illustrated book. But "the whole experience was exhausting to all of them. The two girls have become reclusive," said Forster.

Thousands of copies of the book have been published across Britain, the US, and Australia. It is yet to come out in languages other than English.

A costly piece of Lennon

The piano on which John Lennon composed Imagine was sold for 1.45 million pounds at a transatlantic auction.

Film footage from 1971 shows a relaxed Lennon at its keys composing Imagine before he turns to his keyboard player to remark, "That's the one I like best."

Lennon bought the walnut piano in 1970 for 1,000 pounds. The piano had been owned by a private collector and was on display for most of the year at the Beatles museum in their hometown, Liverpool. The museum has offered it a home and full insurance if the new owner will keep it on display there.

Auctioneers fleetwoodowen.com announced on behalf of the anonymous buyer that the piano was likely to remain in Britain. The auction fetched 110,000 pounds for Lennon's old Ferrari 330GT.

Still wanna hold their hands: Read an account of the Beatles in India

Lata for you on B4U

A mid-career Lata Mangeshkar B4U has quietly come into the music channel fray in India, and snatched a big piece of the viewer pie. One report says it has put Channel V behind, and edged very close to MTV.

Lata Mangeshkar, it's now reported, has joined that channel's board of advisors. CEO Kishore Lulla was seen beaming, and telling the press that her genius would enhance the appeal of his channels.

There are fewer ads on the B4U channel now, but otherwise it is quite indistinguishable from the other music channels. It plays the same Hindi film songs and Indipop. Wish we could see some intelligently done programmes, like the witty Javed's Videocon Mangta Hai. That show combined humour and music with dilgently culled information about the musicians and actors of yesteryear, and above all, it didn't take you for a moron.

B4U runs two channels -- one for music and the other for movies.

Gurbani every morning

ETC will telecast Gurbani live every morning for 11 years. The Punjabi channel has just signed an agreement with the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, which manages the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

The channel will set up an uplink station inside the temple, and begin the telecast as soon as the government gives its okay. ETC will give away 10 per cent of all ad revenue generated on the religious programme, and contribute Rs 51 lakh each year towards the temple's education fund.

Kaho naa... costly hai

Rajesh Roshan, whose Kaho Na... Pyar Hai sold wildly, has completed a non-film album. News from Mumbai: all eight songs will have music videos. And the first two, shot on models Shaheed and Waheed, had helicopters and cranes pressed into service. Looks like they're hoping this'll turn into another blockbuster -- the videos are on their way to becoming India's costliest ever. Dev Kohli writes the words, and the singer's Kumar Sanu.

Bose is right

Rahul Roy, who acted as the reluctant IAS trainee in English August, is directing a movie. And he has lured Santana, the guitar sensation, to do the title track. The movie's called Everybody Says I'm Fine, and will have music by Zakir Hussain.

Heaven and Helen

Helen was heaven to yesterday's generation. In most films, she was called in to do just a cabaret number, and to provide a foil to the goody-goody heroine, and she did it with style. Her vampish characters inspired songs that broke away from conventional melody -- R D Burman's Piya tu ab to aaja and Mehbooba mehbooba to name just two.

Doordarshan's Metro channel's still her fan. It has planned a live show in which Aishwarya Rai, Raveena Tandon, Shilpa Shetty and Urmila Matondkar will dance to Helen's songs, sung live. And it'll be telecast late October.

DD tera Metro diwana!

Soda Glass

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