Sunday, February 16, 2020


                 (Amar Mahal Palace,Jammu)
           (Old Tawi Bridge, Jammu)


Since 1998,   I have  been recording interviews of  persons who were  young boys in 1947 and were living in Jammu city. Here are some wonderful impressions of Jammu city conveyed to me :-

" Yes ,I have many memories of Jammu of 1940s. From Jammu, i  have gone to Sialkot many times  with my father  . We would go by   train. . The train would start from present location known as   Bikram Chowk. The old  Jammu railway  station was exactly opposite to present day Police lines  gate . We would come in a Tonga from Kachhi Chawni Tonga stand. There was no habitation across Tawi bridge right up to Satwari. At Satwari , the train slowed down and one could see some lights . The 27 miles  journey was covered in about one and a  half hour with four halts . The train fare was three annas.  At Satwari, there used to be small cantonment where Maharaja's forces were stationed. My father took me to two important temples of Sialkot. One was Jagannath temple  in the city and the other was Puran Bhagat Temple . Puran Bhagat Temple  was outside the town' and was  also known as Baba Sehaj Nath Temple. The Jandial community was attached to this temple.  The Jandials from Jammu would hold annual  assembly and Bhandara at this temple.   Puran Bhagat Temple had a well.
We also saw Ramleela in Sialkot once.

 Sialkot was open town. It had good roads . It had two churches also. We had many relations in Sialkot. Many people from Sialkot  would come to Jammu for shopping . During summers, people would stay for the night enjoying the cool breeze around Canal . Near present day canal park, some Dhabas had also been opened. They offered food and cots to customers. The Dhaba owners charged some Annas  for good food and cot . Those who stayed in Jammu for the night would catch the morning train at 11AM to Sialkot . There were some  buildings from Gumat  to canal. Talab Tillo , Mohinder Nagar and all present day localities were fields where farmers grew paddy and other crops. In 1940, old Jammu city had taps that supplied drinking water lifted from Tawi. Electricity was also available to residents .  "

(Avtar Mota)
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Friday, February 14, 2020




Ganesh Kumar Sharma( Born 1956 )
He comes from the border village Sanoora in Samba district of Jammu. Presently, he lives at Hiranagar in Jammu. 
He survived from a major road accident in 1991 and was operated upon 19 times . He remained confined to bed for about 2 years but his creative passion could not be subdued.
I saw his sculptures and paintings recently . His work on stone and wood ,especially drifted wood looks exceptional. Trained by great sculptor Vidya Ratan Khajurua , Ganesh Kumar Sharma has exhibited his work in many solos held in various cities of the country. Not only Lalit Kala Akademi , his work is in possession of many galleries , hotels, corporate offices and private individuals in India and abroad. I upload a sample of his wonderful stone and wood sculptures. Next time more on this sculptor.
( Avtar Mota )
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Thursday, February 13, 2020


                                       ( Photo Source .. Internet Name mentioned .. Sameer Mushtaq ) 


In 1964, Shiraz cinema hall was opened at Khanyar locality of Srinagar city. Raj kapoor's SANGAM was the first movie that was screened at Shiraz Cinema .The movie drew crowds from all walks of life . School students , families and college students came in large numbers to see the movie. Songs of this movie like, ‘O Mere Sanam , O Mere Sanam ‘ , ‘ Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ki nahin ’ , O Mehbooba O Mehbooba , ‘ Dost Dost Na Raha ’, Har dil jo pyaar karega ’ and ‘Ye mera prem patra ’,etc. became quite popular in Kashmir during those days. And then the song ' Ichh Liebe Dichh 'meaning I love you in German, won hearts of young generation of that period. The song had Russian words ' YA lyublyu tebya' meaning I love you . The song was picturised in colour on Raj Kapoor and Vyjayanthimala . With ski slopes of Swiss Alps in the background , the song created a grand and lasting impression on cinema crowds.

Interlaken is a beautiful resort town in the mountainous  region of central Switzerland. Sangam was shot in Interlaken. Sangam became very important for Interlaken Tourism ( Switzerland ) because it gave most Indians their first glimpse of Swiss mountains, glaciers and other romantic spots. It was the first Indian movie shot in Switzerland.

This movie introduced Sangam sandals (ladies) in Kashmir. SANGAM became a trusted and reliable name in trade and commerce . One could see many shops that had boards like , Sangam Tea Stall, Sangam Shoes, Sangam Embroidery Works, Sangam Tailors, Sangam Cloth House ,etc. We had the well known SANGAM THEATRE ( Dramatic Club) in Kashmir .
For many years, the Punjabi shoe making shop at Badiyar Bala ( close to the house of artist DN Walli ) in Srinagar city sold SANGAM sandals only.
In Kashmir , a movie was known as Kheil , a word that literally means a game . The common sentence exchanged by movie goers was like this ;-
‘Kya sa Kis Chha Ye Kheil ’
‘ Hello ! How is the Movie ? ’
People from Rainawari would usually go to Shiraz Cinema . Students from Rainawari would bunk classes to see a movie in Shiraz cinema . Tongawallas and drivers would join the late night show. This cinema hall was barely one kilometer away from Rainawari .
The owners of Shiraz cinema were prompt in switching over to religious movies during Eid or Shivratri . In 1968, Khan e Khuda was screened in Shiraz and people removed their footwear outside the cinema hall as a mark of devotion and respect . The cinema hall was washed everyday at the start of the first show. People would enter with Sheerin ( candies ) that was showered on the screen. Kashmiri Pandit women with their families would be seen watching religious movies like HAR HAR MAHADEV or HARI DARSHAN or SAMPURAN RAMAYAN in Shiraz cinema during Shivratri period mostly after the Salaam festivity.. They would also be seen reciting some Mantra / Leela or clapping in the hall. Some elderly Pandit women carried flowers to be showered on the screen as lord Shiva appeared .
Religious movies were free from black-marketing of tickets , a common feature in all cinema halls of Srinagar city .For religious movies , tickets were freely available and quite often, sold at the entry gate by the gate keepers .
Friday was the movie change day for cinema halls in Kashmir . People would make enquiries about new movie on every Friday. Quite often trailers of new arrivals were shown on the screen . The movie trailers would lay emphasis in advertising things like , Cinemascope, 70mm, Technicolour, Eastmancolour ,etc.
Once Narayan Joo Miyaan ,a teacher known for enforcing discipline in DAV School ,Rainawari , caught some school boys outside Shiraz Cinema gate and gave them good thrashing. The boys had bunked their classes to watch Mehmood's Gumnaam . Gumnaam was screened in Shiraz Cinema at least five times. And then some boys saw Narayan Joo Miyaan wiping his tears after he came out of Shiraz Cinema where he had gone to see Sunil Dutt's Meherbaan. In the DAV School , none believed that Narayan Joo had tears in his eyes or he could weep . Narayan Joo had created an excellent football team for DAV School, Rainawari. This team had some well known football players like Bashir Najar ,Habib Daandh and Wahid Rawal.These players later played for Zindshah football club. Zia , who played for J&KSRTC football team was a student of DAV School ,Rainawari. Narayan Joo Miyaan was a hockey player apart from being a great patron of football.
Watching a movie in lower stall or third class, as it was known during those days had some additional charm. You would find yourself in the company of excited movie goers. This excited crowd would cheer up the hero during some fight scene. The villain received nastiest abuses from lower stall. This lower stall crowd blew whistles during a kiss scene. Some people would try to throw burning cigarette bits towards the screen. These bits generally landed on the walking space in front of the lower stall. Sometimes when the hero was shown receiving some punches from the Villain, someone from the lower stall would cry ,
"Parvaai na . Amiss gatchhan vaen biriyaana"
'No worry. This villain will soon be cut to pieces"
Hero getting punches from the Villain was simply unacceptable to the crowd in lower stall.
Smoking inside cinema halls was a common practice in Kashmir. With no exhaust fans or adequate air ventilation, Shiraz cinema hall was full of smoke during movie time. Headache was a bonus in this cinema hall. As the movie progressed, one would see men moving in darkness through columns and rows crying" Cake piece Lefton (Lipton) Chai ' . They carried small tea glasses in hangers made of wire along with some bakery items.
" "
More next time..

( Avtar Mota )

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Sunday, February 9, 2020



This portrait of Ghalib  was found by the British among Bahadur Shah's possessions after the Rebellion .it has been dated to 1856.  It is apparently a copy of *this original*, which is now in the Red Fort Museum.....

To this portrait, I add a small write up on Speed, human tragedy and Ghalib.

Expediency is value currently. And expediency is speed. Isn’t speed a trap laid by the runaway technology? A trap that disallows us to see human reality.  This human tragedy has been beautifully put forth by Ghalib in his below-mentioned couplet:-

“Pinha  tha  daam-e-sakht qareeb aashiyan  ke
Uddney  na  paaye thay  ke giraftaar hum huve”

(The  hunter’s  firm net lay hidden  close to the nest
The young chick  got trapped before it could take  its maiden flight )

And sometimes the mind gets fed up with the speed and desires to go slow. It raises a cry like this :-

Aey sarv e ravaan aey jaan e jahaan
 Ahistaa guzar  ahistaa chal,
Jee bhar ke me tujh ko dekh to luun
  buss itnaa thahar buss itnaa thahar..

( Oh walking cypress, oh Life of the world ,
Pass slowly , pass  slowly.
Let me look at you to my heart’s content ,
Only stop that long, only stop that long.)
(Avtar Mota)

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020


            (Sharon Lowen)
                        (Self Portrait)
                       (Self Portrait )
                       (Dina Nath Nadim)

                            (Triloke Kaul)

(Photos  from the Book  ....'The Art of G R Santosh'  by Shantiveer Kaul..Roli Books  Pvt. Ltd. ISBN:81-7436-141-3 )

G R Santosh drew all these  portraits .Poet  Dina Nath Nadim (done in 1962 ) , Artist Triloke Kaul (done in 1963 ),   Sharon Lowen, Odissi dancer from America    (done in 1970 ) and two self-portraits (done in  1954 and 1966 one in Pablo Picasso mould and the other in the mould of Salvador Dali )  ) . In the book under reference , Shantiveer Kaul  writes this about the Neo  -Tantric art of  Santosh :-

“ Viewed from a certain perspective most of Santosh’s Neo-Tantric paintings look like stylised portraits of the female form, seated in Padmasana ( the lotus position ). This is no mere coincidence. There is a definite suggestion of the female torso in the placement of geometric elements within the composition. This stylisation is symptomatic of the devotion of Santosh for Shakti, the Divine Mother. Santosh wrote Shakti Vichara in 1980, a long poem in the hallowed tradition of the epic Bhavani Sahasranama , dwelling exclusively on Shakti in her various manifestations.”

(Avtar Mota )

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Sunday, February 2, 2020




Bhai Anant Singh Gauri (a philanthropic Sikh gentleman) brought cinema to the Kashmir valley by opening the Palladium Talkies at Lal Chowk, Srinagar sometime in 1932. Ardeshir Irani’s Alam-Ara was the first movie screened in this hall. When Sher e Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences was set up at Soura, Srinagar, Bhai Anant Singh donated more than 50 Kanals of land for this premier medical centre in Kashmir valley. Bhai Anant Singh kept his cinema hall at the disposal of the National Militia or Peace Brigade cadres of Kashmir after the tribal raid of 1947. During that period, the cinema hall also became the headquarter of the emergency administration headed by Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah.
The historic Palladium cinema of Srinagar is now a heap of debris. Burnt and destroyed during armed militancy, the story of Cinema in Kashmir is the story of this Cinema Hall. The story of cinema crowd management in Kashmir could well be the story of Mohammad Ismail.
Mohammad Ismail was on the payrolls of Palladium cinema Lal Chowk. He was well built and would be seen outside the entrance to the third-class ticket window or sometimes near the stall window. Many people believed him to be working for the cinema ticket ‘ BLACKERS ’. He would pull out his cane or leather belt and create terror outside the ticket windows by his unique style of crowd management. Sometime in 1981or 1982 , i was told by the nearby Chaurasia Paan shop owner something like this :-

“ Mohammad Ismail is a clever dramabaaz. The ticket BLACKERS are his agents or vice versa. They work for each other’s interests. The moment any BLACKER notices some gentle family coming near the ticket window, he cries , ‘ Aaayi ha Bobu ji ta Khoja Sahib ’ or ‘ People from gentle or respectable Pandit and Muslim families have come’. And Ismala (as he was known fondly ) immediately makes noise and charges upon crowds near the ticket windows with his cane or belt. The gentle Pandit and Muslim family ticket buyers get frightened and move away from the ticket windows. At this moment the BLACKERS come out with bundles of tickets and sell them to the respectable and frightened people at a premium. This is all done in connivance. The police, the owners and the employees know everything about this activity .”

Sometimes Mohammad Ismail was seen with the film advertisement band that would start from the Palladium around 9.30 AM with posters, hoardings and a proper band Baaja. Kashmiri painters advertised the new movie with their innovative sentences written artistically. Sentences like ‘ Ek naagin talwaar chalaane mei maahir ’ or ‘ Gaanv ki bholi ladki aur shahar ka jadoogar ’ or ‘ Maum ki gudiya ki aag se takkar ’ or ‘  Ladaai  aur maar kutaayi  se  bhar-poor ’ or ‘ Ek Ladki do deewane ’ . The band master and bagpipers played music to the amusement of the onlookers on the road. The bandmaster known as Rajab Sahib ( Mohammad Rajab ) would lead this parade to advertise a new movie. This strange group carried hoardings as they moved through the streets of the city playing music. The advertisement system later changed to hiring Tonga and making rounds in the city with posters and hoardings.

( Avtar Mota )

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Thursday, January 30, 2020



Bhaand Pather Theatre Artists .
(Photo source..NATRANG Jammu.)


From "Sincerest attachment " to "Who you are ?" .Zindabad.. I add select lines from Dina Nath Naadim's poem Zindabad ...

“ Zindabad me Huz Buss Chonuyii Sreh
Zindabad Tche Pyokha, Adhha Huz Pe
Zindabad, Tche Kuss Huz ?Valaa Huz Beh,
Aessi Vo’t vuchhan Yi Haal Lagaai
Yu Chhu Soruyii Mayaa Zaal Lagaai
Sonn assith Zun Aeiss Traam Sapidh
Kyaa Taam aasith Kyaa Taam sapidh

( Dina Nath Naadim )
“ Long Live sir ;
My sincerest attachment remains for you alone .
Long Live Sir ;
Have you lost?
Then get lost.
Long Live sir ;
Who are You ?
Come sit here .
We have only been witnessing such like things ,
And All this is a mystery or “Maaya Jaal ” dear.
We were gold but look at how we became copper now,
We were something special
but look at how we became some other thing now."

( Select lines from From poem “Zindabad” or Long live . A sharp socio-political satire by modern Kashmiri poet Dina Nath Naadim )
( Avtar Mota )

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