Saturday, July 22, 2017

REMEMBERING " SURAIYA " A GREAT SINGER AND HINDI CINEMA ACTRESS


                                                                            



“YE KAISI AJAB DASTAAN HO GAYI HAI..
CHHUPAATAY CHHUPATAY BAYAAN HO GAYI HAI”
……………………………………………………..
SURAIYA JAMAL SHEIKH OR SURAIYA ( 1929-2004)


 She was a Muslim and from Lahore who chose to stay back in India post Partition even when her friends and Co-singers like Noorjahaan and Khursheed moved to Pakistan. Like Manto , she was in Love with Bombay and its Openness. From singing , she moved to acting in Hindi films .

Born on 15th June , she had all the traits of a typical Gemini , her Zodiac sign. She was fiercely loyal friend, true ally and a sensitive lover . She was affectionate, highly talented and Artistic . She had prominently expressive and Beautiful eyes. And like a true Gemini ,she happened to be a little indecisive as well.
It is said that if a Gemini woman does not get the right life partner / Companion , she will spend her time alone unwilling to disturb others. And Suraiya proved it true.

Suraiya’s father owned a small furniture shop in Gujranwala Punjab  ( Now in Pakistan ) where from he moved to Lahore.   Suraiya was taken to Bombay on the request of her mother and maternal  and uncle.

In films she worked with stalwarts like K L Sehgal and also with the flamboyant Devanand . She did seven films with Devanand . And they came close and closer in real life during this period. Add to that, Dev saved her from Drowning while they were shooting for a movie. That built an ineffaceable trust in the man she was romancing with . This romance did not translate into a permanent union or marriage . She dropped the idea of marriage once for all . 

A deep crush on Gregory Peck resulted in an unusual meeting with this Hollywood star in 1954.Gregory Peck rang the doorbell of her marine drive house with a Bouquet of flowers one day. He was In Mumbai that time . He had also seen some Hindi films wherein Suraiya was in lead role . Amazed at this , Suraiya chatted for two hours with Gregory Peck that day. A dream come true and Life moved forward .



A feature film “ Mirza Ghalib “ brought her to the notice of Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru. Sohrab Modi got Sadat Hassan Manto’s original Story / Screen play polished from J K Nanda and Used services of Rajinder Singh Bedi as Dialogue writer. Manto had written the story for a film project that was shelved due to partition and some other issues . Suraiya acted as Ghalib’s Courtesan beloved Moti Begum and also sang some soulful Ghazals of Mirza Ghalib for this movie . It won many awards and also the coveted President’s Medal. After watching the screening of this film inside Rashtrpati Bhawan , Nehru said:

“ Rarely we see such feature films .I must give due credit to Mr Sohrab Mody for this project. I am equally Delighted to know the contribution of Suraiya Ji for this Film. She has really brought back Ghalib to life." 

Every Gazal that she sang for Mirza Ghalib broke all previous records of popularity .Some songs that Suraiya sang are still my favourite . I quote a few ..


(1) Dhadaktay dil ki Tamnaaaon Mera Pyaar ho Tum
(2) Yeh kaisi ajab Dastaan ho Gayi Hai
(3) Chup Chup Khade zaroor Koyee baat hai 
(4) Tum Mujh Ko Bhool Jaao 
(5) Mun Dheere Dheere Gaaye re Maloom Nahin Kyon
(6) Chali Pee Ke nagar Ab Kaahe ka dar morey Baanke balam Kotwaal
(7) Tu Mera Chaand me Teri Chandini 
(8) Voh Pass rahein Ya Door Rahein 
(9) Phir duniya ko yaad Rahega.


My Father would always talk about Badi Behan , Anmol -Ghadi and Dil Lagi as his faourite Suraiya films .


Suraiya sang more than 340 songs in her career spanning  20 years.Among male singers Suraiya sang maximum duets with  Mohd Rafi (24 Duets) and among female singers she sang maximum duets with Lata and Shamshad Begum (5 Duets each). She acted in more than 75 films.


Suraiya had a lonely end in a   Marine Drive flat after being admitted to a private Hospital for about three weeks .She owned  an orchard in Lonavala Hills  and a building   in Worli ( Mumbai ) that had some flats. 

She died without leaving a will for her property .


For quite sometime before her death, she had distanced herself from the world of Glitter and Glamour .


So Long so much on this Great artist.




( Autar Mota )
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A POWERFUL POEM OF FAIZ AHMED FAIZ DEALING WITH ISSUES OF EXILE


                                                                                  



A poem dedicated to  the suffering exiles world over …….


 (Meray Dil Meray Mussafir )

Meray dil meray mussafir
hua phir sey hukm sadir
ke watan badar hon hum tum

dein gali gali sadaayein
karein rukh nagar nagar ka
ke suraagh koyi paayein
kissi yar e nama bar ka

har ik ajnabi se poochhein
jo pata thha apney ghar ka
sar e kooey nashenayan
hamein din se raat karna

kabhi iss se baat karna
kabhi uss se baat karna
tumhein kya kahoon ke  kya hai
shab e gham buri balaa hai

hamein yeh bhi tha ganeemat
jo koyi shumaar hota
hamein kya bura tha marna
agar eik baar hota
( Faiz Ahmed Faiz )


My simple  English Rendering would be …



O Traveller! My Heart! I
Once again,
A decree was passed on us,
To leave this beloved land,
Cry and weep in distant lands.
Moving through alien cities,
We search for the postman
to bring us letters from our land.
From every stranger we seek
The whereabouts of our left over homes..
In this land of unknown people,
We have been ordained to spend our days and nights.
O Heart! Pass this time by talking to this or that fellow.
Do not ask us the pangs and agony of
this terrible evening of sorrow.
Even this living was better Heart!
If only we were made to know for how many days more.
For us even death was not unwelcome
Should it visit once only?
O Traveller! My Heart!,,....

( Autar Mota )


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Monday, July 17, 2017

EITHER THE PAIN IS IN THE PROCESS OF A PARADIGM SHIFT OR YOU HAVE TURNED YOUR GAZE TOWARDS ME


                                                                                       

                                        
JIGAR MORADABADI ...

YA DARD NE KARWAT LEE.. YA TUM NE IDHAR DEKHA ..

At times, Why does this heart throb and race with strange excitement ? I can attribute it to two reasons only. Either the pain is in the process of a paradigm shift or you have turned your gaze towards me .



And in love , may be my foolishness was determined to bring all this infamy to me ; I don’t deny. But then you too didn’t feel at ease until you had cast a glance at me .

Yuun dil ke tadapney ka kuchh to hai sabab Aakhir
Ya dard ne karwat lee, Ya tum ne idhar dekha..
Tha Baaiss-e-Rusvaai harchand junuun mera
Unko bhi na chain Aaya jab tak na idhar dekha

( Jigr Moradabadi )
         
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VAISHNAVISM IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL KASHMIR .


                                                                          

VISHNU IN DARK GREY LIMESTONE FROM VERINAAG ( ANATNAAG KASHMIR ) 9TH OR 10TH CENTURY IN SPS MUSEUM SRINAGAR KASHMIR ..)



                        ( VISHNU CARVED IN WALL OF AWANTIPURA TEMPLE RUINS  )
                                                                             
    (  STONE CARVED VISHNU IMAGE   AT MARTANDA SUN TEMPE RUINS )


VAISHNAVISM IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL  KASHMIR 

Apart from Buddhism and Shaivism , Vaishnavism is abundantly visible in stone sculptures relating to ancient and medieval Kashmir. Attributes of Vishnu are starkly visible in so many sculptures in Kashmir . Some of these sculptures are still facing the fury of weather in the temple Ruins of Awantipora . And Awantipora temples were dedicated to both Shiva and Vishnu .

 Evidence suggests that the  ancient Shiva Temple at Buniyaar was originally dedicated to Vishnu . The  craftsmanship of this temple depicts  early Kashmiri Temple  Architecture. Due to age and neglect, the  temple is in total   dilapidated condition at the moment .

Images of Vishnu can be distinctly seen on the outer wall of the sanctum sanctorum of Martand sun Temple  . Though dedicated to sun God , the Temple has some stone  carved  images of Vishnu that are  still visible to naked eye .

Both Kalhana and Jonaraja in their Rajtarangini inform us  existence of a highly venerated  Vishnu Temple known as  “VISNU RANASVAMIN”   . Many Historian have identified the location of the temple  somewhere near Present day Graveyard known as Malla-khaah ( Srinagar city ) .

So many Vaishnava sculptures were preserved in SPS Musueum lal Mandi Srinagar . It appears that Vaisnavism had swept Kashmir valley and many traditions carried over till date have been due to its abiding influence.

So many incarnations of Vishnu have been sculpted in ancient or Medieval Kashmir . you can see Visnu as Vaikuntha Chaturmurti , Lakshmi Narayana, Hari -hara, Hari-Hara Pitamaha, Vasudeva – Lakshmi, Varaha, Narsimha , Kapila etc. etc. Vaikuntha Chaturmurti or Vaikuntha Vishnu or four-headed Vishnu image is typical to kashmir and found abundantly in ancient and Medieval sculptures of Kashmir.

According to Prof M L Kaul Noted scholar and writer ;

" The Vaishnavite thought equally co-existed with the Buddhist and Shaivite thought-ways. The appellation of Kashmir as 'Sharda-desh' (land of Sharda) establishes the Vaishnavite faith having come to Kashmir to leave its impression not only on the thinking elite, but on the general mass of people at grass-root level. Nilamat Puran as a Vaishnavite work declares Kashmir as the seat of Cakrin (Vishnu). Kashmir had its own share of Panchratra followers, who propagated and shaped the specifics of the creed only to mould the thought-structure of other religions. The interpenetration of Buddhism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism has been the product of the most tolerant cultural ethos obtaining in Kashmir. There existed mutual commerce of ideas and beliefs among the three religions, each borrowing the concepts from the other and investing them with new nuances as necessitated by its conceptual frame. The triad of Brahma as creator, Vishnu as preserver and Shiva as destroyer were not conceptually jealous of one another. They were transcendental, but also immanent involved in the weal and welfare of mankind at large. The syncretic images of the Triad explored from various sites in Kashmir sufficiently pinpoint and highlight the tolerant ethos of the Kashrnirian Hindus, who at no point of time in their history engaged themselves in sectarian battles generating and unleashing the forces of hatred, ill-will and religious bigotry"


Kashmiris  worshipped Vishnu from the Trinity of Brahma ( Creator) , Vishnu ( preservor) And Mahesha ( destroyer) during  ancient and Medieval periods. Vaishnavism was finally not patronized by Sahi Rajput Kings of Kashmir who were by and large shaivites. 

The Vaishnava trait of preservation of creation formed a dominant trait of Kashmiri society during ancient and Medieval periods. These traits could be feeding birds, planting trees, feeding animals and not killing a snakes .



Kashmir’s Vaishnavism was  distinct and unique . The names of some Lakes , Places and Peaks in kashmir establish the overriding presence of vaisnavism in ancient and medieval Kashmir .And let me add that the source of River Veshav that falls through Aharbal fall and finally joins Vitasta or Jhelum near Sangam Bridge in Bijbihara was known as Vishnu Padh . Vishensar lake in Sonamarg area was known as Vishnu - Sar.

 Like Buddhism and shaivism , vaishnavism also received full support from
kashmirian society of that period.

( Autar Mota )




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Sunday, July 16, 2017

"PRAN NATH BHAT" AN UNKNOWN ARTIST FROM KASHMIR


                                                                              
                 
                                       


NAIDYAR BRIDGE RAINAWARI ....A water Colour by Pran Nath Bhat..

This water colour decorates the Lobby wall of my house. Bought for Rs700/- from Pran Nath Bhat in 1995 .Pran Nath Bhat , an unknown Artist who is no more now. 

I came across Pran Nath in Purkhoo tented accommodation (for Kashmiri Migrants). He was illiterate, unable to express himself , extremely poor and survived only on Government Relief and Ration . He smoked Beedis .

" Late S. N Bhat  (Artist) was my uncle. I am from Badiyaar area from the Butt clan. I was a runner with Dwarka And Co Chemists Budshaw Chowk Srinagar. I have no money for paper ,colours and Brushes. I want to paint.I also knew Mohan Raina Artist. He would give me Some financial support apart from some paper and colours .I have not performed Kaah Nethar ceremony of my new born Children. What to do? I am a worthless man."

This is what he told me outside his tent in 1995 . I was working as Manager Of our Bank's Dumana branch.

And then We gave him a loan of 5000 rupees . 

After about a week I again visited Purkhoo camp of Kashmiri Migrants and met the leaders of the camp . A leader , Dwarka Nath by name came closer to me and started shouting:

" When has your  Bank started financing *Kaah Nethar ceremony? We will tell Lone sahib ( The then Relief Commissioner who was helpful to Kashmiri Migrants.) to take action against all."

I came to know that Pran Nath had bought water colours , brushes and Drawing paper for about 2000 rupees and spent the rest amount on Kaah-Nethar ceremony of his children. The leaders who complained to me had also enjoyed a sumptuous meal with fish cooked in Kashmiri style inside his Tent.To me, Pran Nath admitted everything and also revealed having bought a saree for his wife for Kaah Nethar out of the loan amount .

After about 10 days, Pran Nath came to the Bank with a bundle of about 15 Kashmir sceneries done in water colour .The first that was shown to me was Rainawari's Naidyar Bridge.

"How much for this?"

" This is all yours. Nothing sir.

I thought for a moment and then told him;

" I am paying 700 rupees. But this money will go in our Loan account. "

Maj Gen. Wahi Retired ( He lived at Barnai during those days) a respected customer of the Bank was also in my chamber that moment . He looked at these water colours and decided to buy  two  . Pran Nath was more than happy. I paid Pran Nath 400 rupees and the rest of the money was deposited in his loan account. I asked him to keep 5 water colors with me. Next day my Boss Mr RIS Sidhu( retired as Chief General Manager of the Bank) visited the Branch for inspection . He was a lover of fine Arts and an honest and upright officer .He bought one that had Dal Lake and shikara . Remaining four were bought by my relations and the Money so collected was deposited in his loan account. Within period of about two or three months, Entire loan amount with interest was repaid under this arrangement .Later , every fortnight , Pran Nath would come with 5 water colours that I passed on to my friends and relations for Rs 600 or 700 per water colour. Once the loan was adjusted, the sale proceeds were  be deposited in his savings Bank account.

I introduced him to some schools( To be employed as Drawing Teacher ) but because of his language and total lack of communication skill , he could not adjust himself beyond one month at any place .He spoke only kashmiri .A sample of his lingo:

"Iss ko tapaali . Ye zudd mondu Hai. Yeh Drawing Nahin hechhegaa"

" Hum Ayaalbaar Hai . Tankhaah waqtuss pyathh deitaa. Teel Tomul khatam."

" Idhar Jammu Garma Traeth , Naar , Dumm ta Gumma. Hum Mar gayaa . Hamaara Kashmir Fizaa"

After my transfer from Dumana , I lost contact with him. In 2004 , I headed Rehari Chowk branch and one day he appeared all of a sudden. He came with 5 water colors and wanted them to be sold for 5000 rupees . I directed him to meet some good customers and he got what he wanted. I also gathered that he was educating his children and had also got addicted to liquor.

At Rehari Chowk office, I believe I also requested Maj Gen Goverdhan Singh Jamwal Retired (PVSM)to help him out in sale of his water colours. I also requested Dr Dara Singh's brother ( who owned a Petrol Pump ) to buy his Water colors. Mrs Gayatri Jamwal ( Daughter of Capt Dewan Singh Ex.ADC to Maharaja Hari sigh) was also requested to help him out. She was a VIP Customer of that branch and spoke fluent Kashmiri.

And then one day I came to know that Pran Nath had breathed his last due to some incurable liver disease.I felt very bad . 

Ramesh kumar Butt , My colleague and son of late S N Butt( well known Artist ) confirmed later that Pran Nath was from their Clan. He also confirmed many other things that Pran Nath had conveyed to me.Everything that Pran Nath had spoken to me turned to be true on cross checking.

The painting hanging in my Lobby brings forth so many interesting anecdotes about this simple ,poor and shy man .

Peace be to his soul.

(Autar Mota)

PS

*Kaah-Nethar is the purification ceremony after Child birth. It was performed on the eleventh day after delivery when the mother left the confinement room. A Homa / havan was performed and the child was given a name. Prior to this, " Shran Sunder" or the post delivery bath ceremony was also performed. On Kaah Nethar day, relations were invited for a sumptuous meal.New clothes were also given to the mother of the child. Many Kashmiri Pandits still perform Kaah- Nethar ceremony that used to be performed without fail in every household .

In HINDU SAMASKARAS kaah Nethar is know├▒ as Jatakarma or Birth Ceremony.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

BIRJU MAHARAJ ; A LIVING LEGEND IN KATHAK DANCE


                                                                             



PANDIT BIRJU MAHARAJ( Born 1938 )... RENOWNED KATHAK DANCER ...


PANDIT JI SAYS


" There is music (and hence rhythm) in man, in birds, in animals and in all living things. It is just a matter of listening to it. When somebody is tired he walks in vilambit or slow rhythm, whereas in order to catch a bus or train one has to walk in dhrut or fast pace. Speed or gati is rhythm. The walk of the winds is also Nad or sound. The sway of trees or rolling of waves creates Nad or svara or sound. Music surrounds us in every aspect of life. I am sure a time will come when everybody shall turn again to classical music and dance, in order to bring some peace and spirituality into his/ her life.”


‘An artist's best teacher is nature. My only advice to young dancers is to watch and observe nature, which is a perfect symphony. Watch a tree and its branches; watch the winds whistle, the clouds rumble, the lightning dance through the skies. Why do you need to go anywhere, when nature is here."


“ Dance is a complete art. Sur, taal, bhav and laya, an in-depth knowledge of all these aspects is vital, even if one is weak. Without these, your education is incomplete. Laya is especially important; a dancer must be perfect in his laya to bring the necessary grace and synchronization in his dance. Without it, dance is not possible.”



He is Brij Mohan Mishra or Birju Maharaj of Lucknow kathak Gharaana .He is the Grandson of Kalka Maharaj who along with his brother Bindadin Maharaj was a jewel in the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh. His father Achhan Maharaj was again a world renowned Kathak dancer. Birju Maharaj is a nephew of Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj. So Dance flows in his Blood.

He has performed in almost all the countries of the globe. He is a wonderful singer with a strong grip over, Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and Ghazals.

Birju Maharaj has spread his art in every way possible, even through films and television.

( Autar Mota )


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POET JIGAR MORADABADI AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF "PHONY" AND" MONOTONOUS" LIFE



                                                                                     



URDU POET  JIGAR MORADABADI ..( 1890-1960 )

The philosophy of phony and monotonous life as Poet Jigar Moradabadi understands it

Jigar’s verses are nearer to the poetry of Meer, Momin and Dagh . His poetry is full of  with intense emotionalism. By nature, Jigar adored  beauty. When he died in 1960, it looked  as  if  a  strong pillar of modern Urdu Ghazal had collapsed.  He was a strong  link  between past with the present.

“Koyee mast hai koyee tishna-Lub To Kisi Ke haath Mein Jaam hai ,
Magar Iss ko Koyee karegaa Kyaa ? Yeh to Maiqadey Ka Nizaam hai ….
Kabhi Roshini Kabhi Teeragi Yehi Roz o Shab Ka Nizaam hai
Yehi Zindagi hai to zindagi Tujhey Door Hi se salaam hai…”

( Jigar Moradabadi )

My explanation and English rendering would be …


" Someone is inebriated and lost in his own world ,
Someone is struck by acute craving to acquire ,
And Someone displays a filled glass in his hands .
What can one do to these strange happenings around him ?
So , Understand it,
This is the rule of the Tavern ….


Sometimes Bright light ,
Sometimes Darkness all around ,
Is this existence ?
Is this the world of My days and Nights?
If this is what life has to put forth ,
Then “O Life , My salute to you ,
Be away” .

( Autar Mota )


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REMEMBERING BOLLYWOOD'S CHARACTER ACTOR "DAVID ABRAHAM "


                                                                      
                                                                        
                                                              ( David with Nehru )


                                                           ( David with Satyajit Ray )
                                                                             

                                          ( With actor  Amol Palekar )

CHARACTER ACTOR DAVID ABRAHAM ( 1909-1981)..

“ To Aap Hain film BOOT POLISH ke John Chacha . Array aap to Gazab ke Compere Bhi hain. Aagay se Koyee Bhi Function ho , Aap hi Compere Kiya karein”
                                                         Or
“ So you are John uncle of BOOT POLISH movie. O You are a fantastic compere . Henceforth , you should only compere all such functions “

That is what Nehru told film Actor David when he heard his Voice while he was managing the dais at a function.

In An Interview David has Said :

" I have rubbed shoulders with a galaxy of talent, both men and women. As colleagues and co-artists they have been wonderful. God bless them and may they thrive and strive to put India on the map of the film world.When I think back upon my own career, I remember Cardinal Wolsey’s cry of anguish and could find occasion to echo it in my own words:
“Had I served myself as diligently as I have served the Indian film producers I wouldn’t have found myself broke in this my old age.”
Let me assure you, however, that despite the disillusionment and the disappointments, I still love my profession and believe with every actor, stage and screen, that “There is no business like show business.”


David Abraham Cheulkar was born in 1909 in Thane, a city in Maharashtra. He was the youngest child of Abraham and Dinah Chewoolkar, members of India’s  Marathi speaking Jewish( Bene Israel) community .He was a qualified Lawyer .

Some Notable films done by him are Panna; Kismet (This film had a record that it played for three years continuously at a theatre in Calcutta), Draupadi, Nal- Damayanti, Apna Ghar, Shehnai, Boot Polish,  Chupke Chupke , Rahi, Shehar Aur Sapna, Mahatma (in Marathi) ,Himalaya Ki Godh Mein, Abhimaan , Amar Deep, samaajh ko Badal Daalo , Ek phool do mali, Baton Baton Mein, Hathi meray sathi, Dus Nambri, Satyam Shivam Sundaram , Nanak Naam Jahaaz Hai and many more .

His close friends included Prithvi Singh, Jairaj, Naimpally, K.N. Singh, Mubarak, Amol Palekar and famous Photographer Dattu Koparde.


His involvement with sport led him to be an active member in leading clubs in Bombay such as Cricket Club of India (CCI) and the Bombay Gym-khana and The National Sports Club with facilities in Bombay and New Delhi.

In every Meeting relating to sports he would say;

“Please take away politics from sport, and introduce sporting values in politics”

He migrated to Canada in 1979 to live with his Nephew and niece . He made a movie in Canada called “Love in Canada”. He also acted in a play in Hamilton about the Holocaust. He also made a documentary called “Bridges” for the Film Board of Canada.

David suffered a massive stroke and died in Toronto  ( Canada ) on Saturday, January 2, 1982. He is buried in Hamilton in the Beth Jacob Synagogue Cemetery.

( Autar Mota )

.

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