Tuesday, March 29, 2016



     ( Balkar Sidhu Performing  a NUKKAD play in Punjab University Campus Chandigarh )
BALKAR SIDHU..(Born 1952)

He is a well known Theatre Personality from Punjab . Presently General Secretary Chandigarh IPTA , Balkar Sidhu has been performing on Stage , Streets ( Nukkad ), Television and in films . A versatile Actor , Director, writer and choreographer , his story is again a life dedicated primarily to Theatre . Having worked with doyens of Theatre in the country, Balkar Sidhu is currently engaged in imparting acting skills to children and younger generation in Punjab. He also trains them in various dance forms like Bhangra, Jhoomar, Luddi, Gidha and Sammi. He is a member of the National Executive committee of IPTA affiliated to UNESCO.
              (With Film Actor Ranjeet)      

A student of Punjab University Chandigarh informed me :

“ It is a treat to watch him act . He came to Chandigarh University Campus to perform a Nukkad play that was so powerful in its message . Not only the students , even the teaching staff rushed to see him act as Madaari with a Dug-Dugi.”

He superannuated as Assistant Director from Languages Department Govt of Punjab.Balkar Sidhu is post Graduate with Honours in Hindi and a Diploma in Translation(Urdu).A Diploma in Bharatnatyam and a Sangeet Bhushan is demonstrative of his varied Artistic and literary interests.

                                              ( With Hindi Cinema Actor  Rishi Kapoor )

                                                      ( With  Actor Om Puri )
Balkar has represented India in various Theatre Festivals or folk dance Festivals either as principal performing Artist or Choreographer and sometimes as Troupe leader..In this capacity, he has visited Indonesia, Malaysia, England, USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea and many other countries.
And in 2004, he has represented India in the International Street Theatre Festival held at Burno in Czech Republic.

     (With filmmaker M.S Sathyu )
Balkar has a rich experience of directing Operas .SASSI PUNNU , that he directed for National Theatre Competition in 2004 was very well received by audience .Then again he acted , choreographed and danced for the popular Play GOODMAN DI LAALTAIN that had more than 150 shows all over the country . This play was performed continuously for 6 years( from 1986 to 1982 ) on repeated public demand. He has directed , choreographed and performed and danced in hundreds of shows , Plays , Ballets and operas .
Though his focus area has been Street Theatre , Stage , Punjabi Films and Television , We also saw him in some Hindi films like Tanu Weds Manu , Desi Magic ,Meray Dad K Maruti .Aayi Bala Ko Taal Tu etc. Not only that , Balkar has written and published some Books as well.I quote some notable works l like Batth Peiyaa sona ( a collection of Three Plays ) and punjabi translation of Dr Paul Hauck's Book "Depression" . He is currently scripting SASSI PUNNU for a stage performance .

 He defines his life and the struggle that he launched in a couplet of  urdu poet  Mazhar Imam :

 “Havaa Thhi  Teiz  Jalaatay  Rahay Dilon Mein Charaag,
Kati hai Umar lahu Apnaa Raigaan Kartay..
Dayaar Khwaab Mein Thehray Hisaab  e Gul Mein Rahay,
Magar Yeh Gham Hi Rahaa Khudd Ko Shaadmaan kartay..

So long so much on Balkar Sidhu..Next time something more on this dedicated and wholesome Artist.

( Autar Mota )

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Saturday, March 26, 2016



(PHOTO 1880 AD).

Kashmiri Muslims have always been master Artisans /craftsmen . The Papier Mache , Willow works, Walnut Wood carving , Shawl Making , Namda making , Gabba making , Crewel Embroidery, metal works especially copper,Silver works , Glass making , Paper making and so many crafts in Kashmir valley have flourished due to the extraordinary skills of Muslim artisan .And contribution of Sultan Zail ul Abdin or Budshah is second to none in this field.

Another contribution by kashmiri Muslims is the creation of a huge repository of Taleem Papers or Manuscripts of Designs for Carpet Industry.

However some kashmiri Pandits have also contributed in the field of Taleem writing or Writing Carpet Designs . Late Sher Ali ( Exporter of Kashmiri Handicrafts ) used to talk about one Moti Lal of Downtown as Master carpet Designer . According to him , Moti Lal had some exquisite Persian Designs in his Custody . Some one from his family was working as Master Designer or Taleem writer in a carpet factory .

Adds Shri Brij Krishen Dass :

“Pundit Arjan Nath Koul-Charibuchea, resident of Dadikadal was one of the professional 'Taleem' writer and an ace designer in great demand. Early fifties he shifted to Kanpur.”

Adds shri Tej Krishen Tikoo:

“Pt.Kashi Nath Bhan also knew the art of Talim writing and of course he was himself a best designer.Even Gabba center at Shiwala Mandir was looked after by him which exclusively was opened to help widows.All designs at the center were designed by him.”

And later in the second half of twentieth century , some top kashmiri Pandit Artists contributed immensely for creation of a Repository of Designs for kashmiri Handicrafts when a " School of Designs " was started by Government of Jammu and kashmir .Even prior to that , some Kashmiri Pandits were working as Handicraft Designers in Kashmir Valley .

This photograph clicked in 1880 AD in Srinagar city , shows a kashmiri Pandit working on Taleem papers ( Carpet Designs ) .

 ( Autar Mota)


(a) Please see extreme right.The person sitting with an overcoat is a  kashmiri  Pandit. 
(b) This post refers to a period covered by 19th and 20th  Century .
(c) The post in specific Refers to Artisans and not Traders .

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016



YEAR 1903 .

They are possibly engaged in singing some  Leela or  Bhajan  . A Dolak and Harmonium can also be seen . Even young children have a Pugrree or headgear or Dastaar on their heads . Dastaar used to be a  tradition , culture and a dress code in valley. Dastaar was s symbol of respect and dignity as well.

Dastaar  or Headgear was common to Muslims and  Pandits of kashmir. With the style and colour of one’s Dastaar , people would recognise the  Economic  status of the person  in the society .During  marriage time or functions  a colourful Dastaar was used  . A  White  Dastaar meant respect and dignity .

  In kashmiri society , A Father would  generally tell  his  grown up son or daughter ;

“ Dastaarus kareiziem Raetchh. Yenna Rubb  Mathhaa’humm”
 “This Headgear  is my respect . Conduct yourself in such a way that this respect is  protected. Don’t ever put  this Pugrree or Dastaar to disrespect ”

And Prof. Hari Krishen Kaul wrote a wonderful satirical  kashmiri play DASTAAR for   Door Darshan. This popular play was  staged at Tagore Hall also .

Further  Dolki or Dolak and Harmonium  was in vogue in  kashmir in later part of  Nineteenth Century . Many Punjabi khatri families  in Srinagar city used Dolak  .  

Sadhus coming for Annual  Amarnath ji  yatra  to kashmir would always bring Dolak  for singing Bhajans during their Journey.

( Autar Mota )    

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Monday, March 21, 2016




( water colours by William Simpson )

William Simpson ( 1823-1899 ) was a scottish Journalist ( War Correspondent ) and water colour Artist . In 1859, his employers (Illustrated London News) sent him to India to collect stories about the Mutiny of 1857. While in india ,he was also required to prepare sketches for subsequent publication. The artist arrived at Calcutta on 29 October 1859, and traveled to Punjab, Bengal, UP, Madras , Central India , Himalayas and Kashmir. In February, 1862, he left India and returned to England . He drew about 250 sketches . These sketches were lithographed and published in the form of a book later in 1867.
In kashmir, he was amazed to see craftsmanship of shawl weavers . Some of his sketches relate to artisans of kashmir. These water colours created a renewed demand for kashmiri shawls in European market . It had already captured some market in France and England where it was known as Cashmere Shawl and was popular in Aristrocratic families .Even Josephine Bonaparte (Napoleon's wife) wore a Cashmere Pashmina Shawl. Josephine had a collection of 60 kashmiri shawls. Emperor AKBAR and Ottoman Royals also wore kashmiri shawls.Royals in princely states of undivided India wore kashmiri shawls. I have personally seen these expensive shawls in various museums all over India.
                                                 ( Shah e Hamdaan Mosque by William Simpson )
                                                         ( Pir Panjal Pass by William Simpson )
                            ( Maharaja Ranbir Singh Meets Viceroy by William Simpson )
British Officers were more than happy to receive a kashmiri Pashmina shawl as NAZRAANA from Indian royals. Even Article 10 of the Treaty of Amritsar signed in 1846 required Maharaja Ghulab Singh to present three pairs or 6 Pashmina shawls annually to British Government.

In early nineteenth century, a kashmiri shawl could be seen in Iraq, Turkey and Egypt.

Taxed heavily in kashmir, it had brought the artisans to abject poverty .The poor shawl weavers were also exploited by middlemen and greedy Traders .

*The state used to collect a revenue of 12 lakhs per annum from shawl manufacuring Industry known as DAG- I –SHAWL. It was Maharaja Ranbir singh( 1830-1885) , who once remitted this DAG- I -SHAWAL altogether so as to help the Industry survive as it had turned totally sick . Maharaja Ranbir singh ruled the state from 1857 AD to 1885 AD.But damage had already been done. A large number of shawl weavers had already moved out to punjab and other areas for livelihood .
( Autar Mota )


• Source for Waiver of Shawl Tax or Dag I Shawl......Page 108 “ Kashmir Through Ages “ by Gwasha lal kaul ( BA) Journalist .

*In Carola Oman's book 'Life of Sir Walter Scott, The Wizard of the North' , published in 1897, it is mentioned that Scott's French bride Charlotte Carpentier was given an expensive Kashmir shawl in 1797 which cost about 50 British Pounds at that time.

*During 19th century, a sizeable number of shawl weavers from Kashmir were moving out of kashmir valley due to various reasons .These reasons could be  High Taxation on Shawl  Trade and Manufacture ( DAG I SHAWL ) , Industrialization, Recurring famines, floods and cholera .Though Maharaja Ranbir Singh waived shawl Tax or Dagi shawl but the damage had already been done.This Taxation was started during dark days of Pathan rule. There is a definite route through which these kashmiri shawl weavers moved out.They moved via kishtwar and Bhaderwah to hilly kingdoms of Basholi, Chamba,Nurpur and Kangra etc. They also moved to Punjab primarily to Amritsar, Ludhiana and Lahore.They were also instrumental in establishing shawl industry in Amritsar and Ludhiana. Many kashmiri shawl weavers had settled in Basholi. .So were they employed by hilly kingdoms of Chamba, Nurpur, kangra etc. you have a Pashmina shawl weaving tradition to this day in Basholi, Nurpur, Chamba and adjoining areas. The phulkari of Punjab has some designs that are starkly kashmirian. And Amritsar was a second home of kashmiri shawl weavers. The tallest kashmiri  sufi poet Shamas faqir practiced shawl weaving for some time in Amritsar before his return to Kashmir. And  then  M J Akbar  ( Journalist , writer and Politician ) , Saif ud Din kitchloo (The great Nationalist leader from Punjab ) and  Agha Hashr kashmiri ( Urdu Playwright connected with Parsi Theatre  )  belong to  the families of shawl Makers/ Traders  that had moved out from kashmir.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016





“ Deprivition often makes a writer.”
Ved Mehta

He is Ved Mehta. Ved enjoys a respectful and long  Presence in Literay circles of America.He is an American Citizen but India lives in his heart .

Born in 1934 in Lahore, the youngest of five children in a well-to-do family, Ved was Struck by Cerebro-spinal meningitis . He turned Blind due to irreversible damage from this tragedy when he was barely three years old.

In 1947, his family crossed into India and moved to Bombay as refugees with just clothes on their bodies . Later his father ,who happened to be an affluent doctor in Lahore , got him admitted to the Arkansas School for the Blind .He also went to Cambridge and Oxford.

1983, at the age of 49, Mehta married Linn Cary whom he knew since she was 11.

“ She gave me what I always wanted: Companionship and children. I was a rolling stone, and she brought stability and joy to my life."

Since the 1980s, Mehta has taught creative writing and Indian history at universities including Yale, Vassar, Columbia and Oxford. He has been a staff writer for “New Yorker” magazine.

 His life happens to be the source material for a  great Novel.  Ved Mehta has written about 20 Books . Some  prominent Books penned by him  are …

(1) Face to Face (Autobiography, 1957)
(2) Walking the Indian Streets (Travelogue )
(3)Fly and the Fly-Bottle: Encounters with British Intellectuals (contemporary Philosophy and Historiography)
(4)Delinquent Chacha (Novel)
(5)Portrait of India
(6)Daddyji (Biography),
(7)Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles
(8)All for Love ( A Personal History of Desire and Disappointment )
(9)The Ledge Between the Streams ..

I have read only one book penned by him; His Autobiographical work “The Ledge Between the Streams” .It is the story of a boy who lost eye sight at an age of three years and his subsequent sruggle to come up the ladder of life and be a successful writer . You also learn how he learnt English, Braille, horseback riding, bicycling, touch typing, roller skating coping with his blindness.
The book takes on an engrossing journey through Lahore, Muree and Rawalpindi . The stories of Partition and then Mehta family living as Refugees. Some rare family photographs also form a Part of the Book .Chapters Like “Threads of Lahore “ keep you engrossed .

kashmir also figures in this book where Ved Mehta along with his parents visited as a boy of 9 during summer Holidays of 1943. In fact the Book derives its title from an incident in Kashmir only where he and his family had a miraculous escape.

During the family’s kashmir visit in 1943, He remembers he was tempted to put his hands in the confluence of Jhelum and an icy stream. A narrow ledge separated the icy fast-moving water coming from the snows of the Himalayas and joining Jhelum river . When Ved sat on his heels down on the ledge and put a hand in each stream at the confluence point, A cloudburst suddenly caused the Jhelum River to rise, and the Mehtas had a miraculous escape.

The book comes up as a  brilliant  and engrossing Narrative  .  He writes with a unique and impressive style that is unruffled  and leisurely.  I read it in one go .

He has been a frequent visitor to India and has also visIted kashmir during some visits . About one such visit Poet Farooq Nazki Informed me as under :

“Yes I did spend sometime with him in Nedous  Hotel where he stayed for a couple of weeks.I  read out some passages from kashmir history  and also about the Prophet’s (PBUH) relic  at  Hazratbal shrine in kashmir. We  had a shikara ride up to  to Chhatabal.  He never made you to believe that he had some disadvantage;  I mean his unfortunate  blindness. He was brilliant and well informed  all along our conversation. Such people are actually God’s gift  “

My friend Adarsh Azad Arora ( son of poet Jagan Nath Azad ) informs  as  under :

“I met Ved Mehta when I went to invite him for a DD programme. As I entered his room, he got up from his chair, came to me unerringly and offered his hand. A person who did not know would never imagine his visual handicap.We sat down and talked. I told him of a book of his which I had read. I appreciated the masterly way he had narrated the issue concerning the 1964  Holy Relic issue  of kashmir  , and quoted the exact lines where without specifically accusing, he made it clear who actually was  responsible  for that unfortunate incident . He liked it.”

In July 1982, he won a  John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation award, a five-year fellowship for $236,000 .

So Long so much on Ved Mehta …..

( Autar Mota )

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                                   ( Poet Ali Sardar jafri with his wife Mrs Sultana jafri )

ALI SARDAR JAFRI ( 1913-2000)

The world of love does not distinguish people on the basis of name or caste . Flowers are meant to cheer up humanity at large . Fragrance was never created for division like this Indo Pak divide. But In every upheaval , the flowers are the lone sufferers . The thorns have nothing to lose ;Neither the conviction of peaceful coexistence nor elegance , colour or exquisiteness.

 Urdu Poet Ali sardar Jafri adds..

"Jahaane Ishq mein Tafreeq e Ism o Zaat Nahin
Jahaane Husn mein Taqseeme Hind o Pak Nahin
Siva Gulon ke Girebaan Kisi Ka Chaak Nahin
Nafas Nafas mein Meray Zamzamaa Muhabbat Ka
Mera Wujood qaseeda Bashar Ki Azmat Ka
Yeh Sab Karishma Hai Insaaniyat Ki wahdat ka"
( Autar Mota)

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Friday, March 18, 2016





“ The Weapons Agreement signed with Pakistan is something great.Please stick to it .On other front , please strike a similar deal with India as well.Send old and discarded weapons to both the countries because all those weapons that you used in previous wars must be of no use to you . This discarded and useless ammunition shall reach a proper destination and your Arms factories shall not go idle .
Uncle , Old American woolen coats are fantastic. Our *Loonda Bazaar was totally worthless had these coats not arrived . But why don’t you send us trousers . Don’t you remove your *trousers ? May be you divert them to India . You are very clever .There is something to it ; You send your old coats here and your trousers to India . And when India and Pakistan go for a war , it shall be actullay your coats and trousers fighting each other with the ammunition that you dispatched to both the countries “

( Translation from Urdu )


“ Uncle , Why my country was carved out of India and How it became free must be well known to you by now.That is why I take the liberty to write this letter .The way this country became free after being cut apart , I too feel I was made free after being cut apart . Uncle , a person of your stature can well understand what freedom does a bird acquire when its wings are cut apart.
Let us forget this story for the present moment, Uncle My name is Sadat Hassan Manto and I was born at a place that is known as India currently. My mother lies buried over there .My father too is buried over there .My first child is also sleeping under the soil of the land that is not my country at the moment .My country is known as Pakistan now .

Uncle , My counry is not like your country .I regret to say that if the supreme court over here punishes me , there is hardly any paper that can publish my photograph and print the stories of my court cases .
My country is very poor.We don’t have paper to print our Newspapers . We don’t have good printing units .I am the biggest proof of the poverty over here .Uncle , you may not believe it But a writer of 22 books like me does not have a house to live in . You may slip into a great shock on learning that I do not own a Packard or Dodge or even a second hand car. As and when I have to go to some place , I use a rented bicycle.In case any write up gets published in any Newspaper , I earn @Rs7/= per column . That makes me to earn Rs20 to 25 for a story or write up.The moment I earn this amount , I feel like using a Tonga as my mode of transport for buying my drink that is purely Country made or Home distilled cheap liquor . I am sure you shall use Atom Bomb to destroy any such Distillery in your country that manufactures this spurious liquor. “


( Autar Mota  )

( For Letter No 1 )

* ( Kya Aap Patloonein Nahin Utaar-tay? is the sentence that Manto writes in Urdu ).

* Loonda Bazaar exists In Lahore and Amritsar . It is a Bazaar where old clothes and cheap goods are sold . Old Coats , shirts , Trousers ,Blankets, caps , Books and even socks are bought by people from this market. Something like Sunday Market of kashmir . In Amritsar , This Loonda Bazaar thrives just opposite the Railway station.

* Uncle Sam was a personification title used for America as a nation more specifically for American Government .

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016




K A ABBAS (1914- 1987)

Yes he is K A Abbas . Lonely , left out by people ( whom he helped to grow ) at the fag end of his life. Cooking his own food in a small flat that he acquired after he lost everything in his production venture ” Chaar Dil Chaar Raahein “ (1959) . Many betrayals visited him and made him to suffer but he never opened his mouth . At heart , he remained a child . Simple, without malice , sensitive and forgiving but emotional to the core; That was K A Abbas . Any scene that touched him brought tears to his eyes .Any story that he heard made him pensive . Those who worked with him were often touched by his childlike simplicity .

A small, simple , ground-floor flat , a small Table , Some chairs and books . Here in this room , sitting on his chair and sometimes sitting on the mattress below, he wrote some master pieces for Indian Cinema. He wrote short stories , Books , Plays , columns and articles for many News papers . On the simple white washed walls of his room , a visitor would see  photographs of Abbas with Khrushchev, Tito, Nasser or Nehru.  And here ,he would be seen cooking his own food or making Tea  for the guests that visited him .

Actor Tinu Anand ( son of inder Raj Anand ), who treated him like his father would drop in and be by his side during those critical days . Inder Raj Anand  was always  dear friend  to Abbas .

He was the man who gave first break to Amitabh Bachan in Saat Hindustani (1969) . Amitabh once clarified this issue in an interview . And before allowing him to report for shooting , Abbas spoke over telephone to his father Dr Harivansh Rai Bachan to confirm that Amitabh had not run away from his home. Dr Harivansh Rai Bachan was a personal friend of Abbas .

His wife died at a young age . He had a daughter. He helped his friends and relatives in whatever way he could. He would make it a point to attend marriage functions and other events of his friends and relatives . A present on Walima or Gift on Birthdays would always come from his side .

He remained connected to IPTA , never joined any political party or group but remained steadfast in his commitment to Socialism and Democracy .

Great Grandson of well known urdu poet Altaf Hussain Hali from Panipat, K A Abbas was doyen of paralell cinema.The man who wrote Naya Sansar  for Himanshu Rai and the man who gave a new lease of life to Raj kapoor ( His life long friend ) after the Great showman landed  himself  in severe financial Mess with his Autobiographical venture “ Mera Naam Joker “. For his friend he compromised with his story and script and wrote a playful teen-romance Bobby. And that turned out to be a superhit ! Raj Kapoor not only paid all his debts but also earned enough for his newer Projects.

For his friend Raj kapoor , He also wrote many successful films like Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Jagte Raho(1956), Boot Polish etc.. RK banner’s Henna (1991), which was directed by Randhir Kapoor, was also based on one his stories. In fact , he also wrote the beginning and end of Raj Kapoor’s Ram Teri Ganga Maili, a fact that not many people know.

In 1953 he made Rahi (1953), a story by Mulk Raj Anand, depicting the plight of workers in tea-plantation estates. His next film, Munna, (1954) so impressed Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, then Prime Minister, that he expressed a wish to meet the child actor of the film, Master Romi. Some other films of Abbas come to my mind at the moment . I can recall Shehar Aur Sapna (1963) that won the National Film Award ,Bombay Raat ki Bahoon Mein , Asmaan Mahal and Do Boond Pani (1972).

And for 35 years , he wrote the last page of Bombay’s popular English Tabloid BLITZ. As a matter of fact , this tabloid had ever widening readership on account  of the last page that Abbas wrote  . He wrote it in his unique  humanistic and beautiful style.

I still remember his short story Abaabeel ( Swallow ) and the central Character Rahim Khan . I believe I read the story sometime around 1985. He was as brilliant as Ernest Hemingway .

 Abbas was a Kashmir lover. He had so many close friends and admirers  in Kashmir both in literary and political fields .
   ( 1947..K A Abbas in kashmir with  Navtej singh ,Som Nath Zutshi and Rajinder Singh Bedi )

So Long so much . More some other time.

I end this post with some couplets of Ahmed Faraaz ,

Aey Yaar e Khush Dayaar Tujhe Kyaa khabar Ki me
Kab se Udaasiyon ke Ghane Jangalon Mein Huun
Tu Loot kar Bhi Ahle Tamanna Ko Khush Nahin
Me luut Ke Bhi Vafaa ke Unheen Kaafilon Mein Huun…”

( Autar Mota )

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Monday, March 14, 2016


                                              ( Safia and sadat Hassan Manto in Mumbai  )

Not much is known and written about Safia (wife of Sadat Hassan Manto) .let me add a little that I happen to know....

She belonged to kashmiri family from Lahore. Her father was an officer in Bombay police during British rule .He had been deputed to East Africa for some time and the family lived in a flat on third floor of Jaffar House at Mahim Bombay.

It was Manto's mother who was eager to get him married. She had seen Safia and her family as she also happened to live at Mahim with Manto's married sister. Manto's brother in law did not go well with Manto .He had given clear message to his wife that neither should Manto visit their house nor could she go to his house to see him .

Manto's Nikaah ceremony was solemnised in September 1938.In his letter dated nil September , 1938 ,Manto writes to poet Ahmed Nadeem Kasmi:

" I have been engaged to a girl from a kashmiri family of Lahore.we have many things in common Her father is dead and so is mine. She uses spectacles and so do I .Both of us are born on 11th May. Our names start with S. "

Manto’s Marriage Baraat had many film personalities  as Guests who were entrtained to a lavish kashmiri style feast at Safia’s home . Manto names some of them as  Babu Rao Patel ( Editor Film India ), Rafiq Gazanavi , Khalish Kashmiri , Director Nanda , A R Kaardaar , Director Gunjal, Actor E Billimoria , D Billimoria , Noor Mohd Charlie , Actress  Padma Devi etc.

Safia was possibly a matriculate .She was an excellent cook who served keema Paraantha to Actor Ashok Kumar as and when he visited Manto's house in Mumbai.Safia had befriended Actress Nargis as well. She would also visit actress Naseem Bano's residence along with her husband . .Safia would also go for shopping with Ashok Kumar's wife.

Safia had literary tastes. In Bombay, she went to many Mushiaras with Manto. Urdu writer Ismat Chugtai was also close to Safia .

In her spare time, safia read Manto's stories and enjoyed them. She loved films. That was safia Manto's Bombay phase of life. Possibly the only happy period of her married life .

After partition riots broke out , Manto had little work. It was Hamid Jalal, his favourite Nephew who brought Safia and children to Lahore and put them in a flat on ground floor in Lakshmi building Lahore .Manto arrived months later.
Hamid Jalal also lived on first floor in this building with his family. The building belonged to Lakshmi Insurance co .
Though safia's brother Bashir Deen was always supportive, it was Her sister Zakia's husband and Manto's favourite Nephew Hamid Jalal who supported Safia all throough . Her mother and  Sister Zakia also  stood like a rock to support Safia .

While in Pakistan, Manto turned an alcoholic and did not earn much .He was dragged to courts for his writings.He also remained sick  and also in hospitals for long durations . For about an year before his death, he wrote simply to earn for his daily drink  .

Hamid Jalal rose to become a very senior and influential Bureaucrat in Pakistan.He was a man of liberal views and quite helpful to his relatives in general more specifically to the family of his wife's sister.

Fed up of living with an alcoholic, a time came when  Safia thought of leaving Manto and moving away with her children . It was her  brother who consoled her  and told  her not to take this extreme step as Manto was  gravely sick . When Manto died , Safia was 39 .

Safia was a courageous woman , devoted wife and a caring mother who had no personal or material ambitions.
Alas this great lady saw  too much of  pain and suffering.  Safia died in 1977 when she was 62.

(Autar Mota)


For this photograph i remain indebted to  Manto Family and  Ayesha Jalal ( whom i believe to the source of this photo available on net ) .

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Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

Sunday, March 13, 2016





The new RCC Bridge over Chenab river at Ramban was built much later  ( After 1965  ).   Prior to that , this suspension bridge over river Chenab was the only link to kashmir valley for Motor Vehicles Passengers had to get down and cross the bridge on foot .The vehicles would slowly cross the bridge one  by one  . The passengers then boarded the vehicles across the bridge. This bridge was completed during the rule of Maharaja Partap Singh who sat in the first vehicle that passed over it on 2nd May 1921 .This was annual Darbar move from Jammu to Srinagar.

And in 2004 , this suspension bridge  was declared unsafe for vehicular traffic. Before a motorable bridge was built over river Jhelum at sangam ( Near Bijbihara Town in kashmir Valley ) by Maharaja Partap Singh in 1910, passengers would generally use Doongas ( Big River Boats ) from khannabal Jhelum Ghats  to travel to srinag├ór.

( Autar Mota ) .

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


  ( Left to right  Akhtar Ul Imaan , Daughter Shehla , another Daughter , wife sultana and son in law actor Amjad khan husband of shehla )

                                                            ( Akhtar Ul Imaan )

AKHTAR UL IMAAN ( 1915-1996)



In an Interview Akhtar Ul Imaan once said :

“ My ancestors were Surajvanshi Rajputs from Raokhedi . It was sometime aroung 1857 that our ancestor Ram singh embraced islam . "

Akhtar Ul Imaan did not bring his poetry to films and never his scripts and stories to his poetry. For him poetry remained an Art while story and dialogue writing for films a profession. He wrote scripts/ Dialogues for films like DO BADAN, MERA SAAYA , DAAG ( 1973 ), PHOOL AUR PATHAR ( 1966 ) , WAQT ( 1965 ) DHARMPUTRA ( 1961 ) . GUMRAAH ( 1963 ), ROTI ( 1974 ), PATHER KE SANAM ( 1967 ) and many more movies that proved quite successful at the box office.

He never ever wrote a song for films . When his friend Giri Lal jain ( Editor Times of India ) requested him to write a song for his daughter’s wedding , Akhtar Ul Iman politely refused .

He would always say ;
“ Poetry comes from somewhere deep within . You can not write for an externally created situation . That is not poetry . It is heartless as it does not move through your heart. ”

He was well educated ( Post Graduate ) and had a profound knowledge of world literature . His life took many turns . As a child , He lived in an orphanage as well but never abandoned his education .

Akhtar Ul imaan started his film Career from Shalimar studio Pune ( owned by W Z Ahmed ) as story writer on a monthly salary of Rs150/= in early 1947. And in june 1947 , the studio was closed due to partition riots and he had to move to Bombay. Krishen Chander , Ramanand Sagar and Bharat Vyas also moved to Bombay after June 1947.He took up a residence at Turner Road .

During this period , Poet Meera ji was roaming in Bombay like a heartbroken fellow. Meeraji shared a room with Madhusudan ( a friend of Akhtar Ul Iman ) who lived at kalaghoda, later Meeraji moved to live with Mohan Sehgal and finally shifted to stable at Byculla. He was a total broke and ill. It was Akhtar Ul Iman who stepped in and brought him to his home and engaged him by starting a Monthly Magazine “Khayaal “.Meeraji died in 1949. Some work here and there , Akhtar Ul Iman finally moved to story Department of Filmistan while simultaneously writing scripts for Kamal Amrohi , M sadiq , S M Yusuf and kabir Ahmed. He wrote Nastik and Anarkali but no credit was given to him. In 1958 ( And remained there till 1975 ), he Joined story Department of B R Films on a monthly salary of rupees twelve hundred . It was only after the release of films like Kanoon , Mughal e Azam ( He was a co writer ) and Waqt that his luck took a swift and favourable turn.Offers for writing Dialogue and scripts poured in and he started charging good amount for his services .By now he was a father of three daughters Shehla, Asma and Rakshanda and a son Ramish whom he fondly named GUDDU.. He ensured their good shooling and as father , got deeply attached to them and their welfare.

The poet suffered major financial crisis after he ventured into film making. In 1979, With Jemal singh as partner, Akhtar ul Imaan produced a movie” lahu Pukarega” . He wrote the script and also directed it.From the editing room , the negatives were whisked away by Jemal singh who releaased the film on his own . But then radical changes were already sweeping Indian Film Industry Post 1970. New faces , New film makers ,Newer concepts and New challenges had arrived . New equations were visible in the Film world . Film making passed on to people who just wanted to make quick buck . He spurned many offers to write Masala scripts that lacked social purpose . After his break up with B R Chopra , He did not go well with Yash Chopra also . From 1975 to 1988, he had only five assignemnts in 13 years ( including his own film Lahu Pukarega ) .He had almost no work in films .This was followed by his by pass surgery in 1986. It was his son in law and actor Amjad Khan who came to his rescue. He did all arrangements and booked tickets of Mrs Sultana ( His wife ) Dr Ashok Hitolkar ( His family Physician ) and Akhtar ul Imaan for USA apart from paying advance amount to ST Luke’s Hospital Texas . He stayed there for about a month and returned to India with pending bills to the extent of 26000 US Dollors. To his son in law , he told that all bills had been settled . Again some close friends raised a substantial amount from BCCI, Hamdard Foundation and othe Charitable institutions of Mumbai.

Amjad Khan’s death in 1992 came as a great shock to the poet.

Dr Ashok operated him again for a painful Fistula whereafter he got his Kidney problems that needed regular Dialysis .He also sold his spacious Bandra flat for 30 lakhs and shifted to a two room small flat on ground floor of Ravi Darshan ( A 3) . Shamas ur Rehman Farooqi’s intervention and Ashok vajpayee’s help bought a monthly stipend of Rs5000 for two years to him. The expenditure on Dialysis alone was Rs6000 per month. His wife stood like a rock to support him . He was on regular dialysis since 1994 and breathed his last on 9th March 1996.

DrAshok Hitolkar ( From Nanavati Hospital ) was at his bed side at that last moment.


I need to say something about his poetry as well…
Though he carries his own style , language and content , his work also bears influence of two well known urdu poets namley Noom Meem Rashid and Meeraji .

An integral part of Akhtar Ul Imaan‘s poetry is its intensity , Suggestiveness,metaphors, symbols imagery  and philosophical style . His thought is emancipated .It is free from religion , History and political commitments . I quote …

“Loghaat alfaaz ka ek deir hai lafzon pe mat jaana
Naya aahang hota hai Morattab Lafz o maani ka
Meray haq mein abhi kuchh faisalaa sadir na farmaana
Me jis din aaoonga taaza Loghaat hamraah laaoonga”

(The dictionary is nothing but a pile of words
Be careful and discreet as a fresh plan is in the offing
To describe everything afresh  .
Pray, Don’t pass any judgement at this moment,
The day I come my lord,
I shall bring along with me the new Glossary )

After reading his poems , I found that the poet in him is ever in search of a New Mode of expression.There is a tone of genuine anguish and sorrow in his poetry . A sorrow that is funadamentally linked to internal demands of every Human being set against innumerable external influences arising out of existence .It appears that he himself has been a student all along his creative endeavours indulging in self analysis and self Criticism with extraordinary aloofness . For this I suggest every reader to read his poem “Ek Ladka “ . “Ek Ladaka ‘ is a poem about all of us .The structure of the poem is sarcastic and spectacular. A boy within him keeps trailing the poet . This boy peeps into the contradictions of his tall thinking and small actions . The reader feels a sense of loss and passing time in this poem. I add some lines from this great poem …

“Anaasir Muntashir ho jaane Nabzein Doob Jaane tak
Navaa e subh ho ya Naala e shab kuchh bhi Gaana hai
Zafar mandon ke aage rizk ki tahsil ki Khaatir
Kabhi apna hi Nagma Unn Ka keh Kar Muskaraana hai
Sahar Ki aarzo Mein Shab Ka Daaman Thhaamta huun Jab
Yeh ladkaa Poochhta hai Akhtar Ul Imaan tum hi Ho “

“ Me uss ladke se kehtaa huun voh sholaa mar chukaa Jis ne
Kabhi chaaha thhaa ek Khashak e Aalam Phoonk Daalegaa
Yeh ladkaa muskarata hai Yeh Ahistaa se kehtaa hai
Yeh Kizb o Iftira hai Jhoot hai Dekho me Zinda huun “

“Khudaa e Izz o Jal Ki nematon ka Mota’rif huun mein
Ussi ne yaava goyon ko mera Khazin Banaaya hai
Magar Jab Jab kissi ke saamne Daaman pasaara hai
Yeh ladkaa Poochhta hai Akhtar Ul Imaan tum hi Ho “

Akhtar Ul Imaan has published seven collections:

Tareek Sayyara (1943)
Gardyab (1946)
Aabjoo (1959)
Yaden ( The book won him a Sahitya Academy Award in 1962 )
Bint-e-Lamhaat (1969)
Naya Ahang (1977)
Sar-o-Samaan (1983)

In an interview to Ghulam Rizvi “Gardish “ , he once said :

“The concept of time in my poetry is so felt as if it is a part of my “Being”and goes hand in gloves with me in my creations. This concept is neither of MAAYA nor of MORTALITY . It is such a living and ever pervading being which is infinite.Had it not been time, it would have been something greater than God because due to its presence even the form and concept of God ever goes on changing. Our entire poetic process bears the stamp of the same stereotyped language whereas everything has gone through a sea change. Ironically , whatsoever is left out is nothing but slogan mongering of the lover and the beloved. I have tried to save myself from this heresy and kept the diction as anti romantic , rough and rugged”

In July 2015, We were inside a Theatre in UBUD ( Bali ) Indonesia , watching a Balinese Ramayana show.. Far away from India . Far away from Friends and well wishers . Far away from familiar faces , language and environment . The Theatre was packed with Tourists from Europe , Japan and Australia . And then some one cried :
“ Hey Namaskaar Mahraa “ .
A strange feeling visited me . To describe it , I can only add Akhtar Ul Imaan’s poem Ittefaq …

( Ittefaq )
Dayaar-e-Gair main koyee jahaan na apana ho
shadeed karb ki gharriyan guzar chukane par
kuchh ittefaq ho aisa ki ek sham kahin
kissi ek aissi jagah se ho yun hi mera guzar
Jahaan Hujum e Gurezaan mein Tum Nazar aao
Aur Eik Eik Ko Hairat Se Dekhtaa Reh Jaaye
( Akhtar Ul imaan )

My English rendering would be as under...

“In a foreign land ,
Where none is your own
After spending some intensely anguished moments ,
And by Sheer coincidence ,
one evening it so happens ,
While Walking casually through a place ,
Where , among the passing crowds ,
I happen to see you ,
And then In Total Astonishment ,
Each of us keeps looking at the other …”

Akhtar Ul Imaan has the capacity to bring his reader to a spot that is in between a Dream and the reality .His Nazms project a deep and profound humanism. I add a sample Nazm "Tabdeeli "( Change ).
(Tabdeeli )
Iss Bhare Shahar mein Koyee Aissa Nahin
Jo Mujhe Raah Chaltay Ko Pehchaan Le
Aur Awaaz Dhe “O Bey! O Sar Phiray!”
Donon Ek Doosray se Lipat kar Vaheen
Gird o Pesh aur Maahaul Ko Bhool Kar
Gaaliyan Dhein Hansein Haathha Paayi Karein
Paas Ke Peid ki Chhaanv Mein Baith Kar
Ghanton Eik Doosaray ki sunein Aur kahein
Aur Iss Nek Roohon Ke Bazaar mein
Meri Yeh Qeemati Be Baha Zindagi
Eik Din Ke liye Apnaa Rukh mod le
(Akhtar ul imaan )

My Simple English rendering of this poem would be as under …

( Change )
“On the Pathways of this teeming city ,
There is none to Recognise a traveller like me .,
And then cry “ So Here you are ! My Reckless Friend !”
And then there itself ,
We embrace each other ,
Forgetting who is around or in our surroundings ,
Start abusing each other ,
Engage in a brawl and smile together .
Sitting under the shade of the near by tree,
Keep listening and speaking to each other
for hours and hours .
And then in this marketplace of virtuous lives ,
This precious and priceless life of mine ,
May take a new turn and change direction ,
Just for a day only.”

I end this post with his Poem Jummud ( Stagnation )

Tum se berangi-e-hasti kaa gilaa karanaa thhaa
Dil pe Anbaar hai Khuun-gashtaa tamannaaon kaa
Aaj Toote huve taaron kaa Khayaal aayaa hai
Eik melaa hai pareshaan si ummeedon kaa
Chand Paz-murdaa bahaaron kaa Khayaal aayaa hai
Paanv thhak thhak ke rah jaate hain maayusi mein
Pur-mahan Raah-guzaaron kaa Khayaal aayaa hai
Saaqi-o-baadaa nahin jaam-o-lab-e-juu bhi nahin
Tum se kahanaa thhaa ki ab aankh mein aansu bhi nahin

Rest in Peace Akhtar Ul Imaan …………….

( Autar Mota )

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.