Tuesday, April 30, 2019


        ( Brothers ..Balraj and Bhisham Sahni)
              ( Balraj Sahni, Sahir Ludhinavi, Upendra Nath Ashq and Mrs. Ashq.. Photo source..Bhumika Diwedi   ,Hindi writer  from Ashq family )                 



Before he died in 1973, Balraj Sahni ( 1913–1973) told his doctor , 

“I have had a wonderful life and also received abundance of love. I have no regrets. I thank my countrymen and salute them……………………… Yes one regret I do have that I could not visit Kashmir quite frequently after shifting to Bombay . I could not enjoy its magical seasons due to my engagements in Bombay ”
When Balraj Sahni ( Yudhishtra sahni Real Name ) was told of his selection in a kashmir related movie ( a 1972 Bollywood biographical drama film “Shayar-e-Kashmir Mehjoor “), he was more than Happy. He played the role of Poet Mehjoor's father in that movie.

This talented actor had spent his childhood and youth in Kashmir often staying in the family's Villa in Srinagar city during summers . 

Born in a strict Arya Samaji family of Rawalpindi , Balraj Sahni was a gifted writer , Film Actor and a longtime associate of IPTA in the country . His roles in movies like Hum Log, Footpath, Do Bigha Zameen, Aulaad, Jawab, Hira Moti, Garam Kot, Kathputli, Pardesi, Seema, Raahi, Devar Bhabi, Anuradha, Parineeta, Chhoti Behan, Anpadh, Kabuliwala, Haqiqat, Sangharsh, Ek Phool Do Maali, Neel Kamal, Bhabi , Waqt, Do Raste, Hanste Zakham, Duniya, Chhoti Bahu, Humraaz, Pavittar Paapi, Garam Hawa and Mere Humsafa and many more have been widely appreciated and noticed. 

After the completion of his studies, he became a cloth merchant, and lent a helping hand to his father in extending his family business. A few months later, he went to Shanti Niketan at Calcutta and served there as a teacher for two years. Then he shifted to Mahatma Gandhi’s Sewa Gram Ashram, and after having a brief stay there, he joined the BBC London’s Hindi service.At BBC, he made friends with a talented actress Marie Seton . Marie introduced him to many cinema actors . That developed his interest in Films and Theatre .

Excerpts from Balraj Sahni’s Convocation Address at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1972:

“I’d like to tell you about an incident which took place in my college days and which I have never been able to forget. It has left a permanent impression on my mind.
I was going by bus from Rawalpindi to Kashmir with my family to enjoy the summer vacation. Half-way through we were halted because a big chunk of the road had been swept away by a landslide caused by rain the previous night. We joined the long queues of buses and cars on either side of the landside. Impatiently we waited for the road to clear. It was a difficulty job for the P.W.D. and it took some days before they could cut a passage through. During all this time the passengers and the drivers of vehicles made a difficult situation even more difficult by their impatience and constant demonstration. Even the villagers nearby got fed up with the high-handed behaviour of the city-walas.
One morning the overseer declared the road open. The green- flag was waved to the drivers. But we saw a strange sight. No driver was willing to be the first to cross. They just stood and stared at each other from either side. No doubt the road was a make-shift one and even dangerous. A mountain on one side, and a deep gorge and the river below. Both were forbidding. The overseer had made a careful inspection and had opened the road with a full sense of responsibility. But nobody was prepared to trust his judgment, although these very people had, till yesterday, accused him and his department of laziness and incompetence. Half an hour passed by in dumb silence. Nobody moved. Suddenly we saw a small green sports car approaching. An Englishman was driving it; sitting all by himself. He was a bit surprised to see so many parked vehicles and the crowd there. I was rather conspicuous, wearing my smart jacket and trousers. “What’s happened?” he asked me.
I told him the whole story. He laughed loudly, blew the horn and went straight ahead, crossing the dangerous portion without the least hesitation.
And now the pendulum swung the other way. Every body was so eager to cross that they got into each other’s way and created a new-confusion for some time. The noise of hundreds of engines and hundreds of horns was unbearable.
That day I saw with my own eyes the difference in attitudes between a man brought up in a free country and a man brought up in an enslaved one. A free man has the power to think, decide, and act for himself. But the slave loses that power. He always borrows his thinking from others, wavers in his decisions, and more often than not only takes the trodden path.
I learnt a lesson from this incident, which has been valuable to me. I made it a test for my own life. In the course of my life, whenever I have been able to make my own crucial decisions, I have been happy. I have felt the breath ‘of freedom on my face. I have called myself a free man. My spirit has soared high and I have enjoyed life because I have felt there is meaning to life ”

Excerpts from Autobiography of late Balraj sahni:

" After spending a few days at Rawalpindi, we went to Kashmir for a holiday. We had a villa in Srinagar. One day we had an unexpected visitor, Chetan Anand, who of course stopped with us. He had come all that far to ask me and Dammo ( Wife Damayanti )to play the leads in his Neecha Nagar, the spade work of which had been completed. By way of our fees, he was prepared to pay us 20,000 rupees. This figure was beyond our wildest imagination. Or was he perhaps pulling our leg?
From Srinagar I had written to Hazari Prasad Dwivedi-who was the head of the Hindi Bhavan at Shantiniketan-offering to go back to my old post there and he had replied to say that I would be welcome. Both Dammo and I were, in fact, eager to return to Shantiniketan and renew contact with our friends and colleagues there. But now suddenly it was as if a new vista had opened up before us! "


"One evening during a stroll along the Jhelum embankment( Bandh ), Chetan Anand told me the story of Neecha Nagar. Although the style of his narration left me unimpressed, I found the story gripping enough. In fact, I was reminded of those down-to-earth stories of Gorky and the stark realism of the Russian films. Indeed, some of the scenes Chetan described so graphically that they haunted my imagination several days thereafter. No doubt, it was a bold step that Chetan was contemplating, but to assist him in this venture could not be considered as wrong by any means!
Chetan went to Gulmarg to write the dialogues of the film, and a few days later the film took a definite shape.
By 20th December, we had to reach Poona, where the film was to be shot at the Navyug Studio. W.Z. Ahmed, that redoubtable film maker, was the producer of the film, while Chetan himself was .going to direct it.
Chetan returned to Bombay by July end. Before he left, we informed him of our acceptance of his offer, although we had not divulged this secret of ours to our near ones.
During that sojourn in Kashmir, I managed to combine business with pleasure. I procured the pre¬ceding four years' files of the Hindi periodical 'Hans' -which was then edited by Munshi Premchand's son Sripat Rai-and read them in between the treks through the valley, but of the countless articles I then read, I found two profoundly moving. One was Antim Abhilasha, the Hindi version of Bijen Bhattacharya's one-act play Zabanbandi, which drew a vivid picture of the travails of the country folk who flee their villages for Calcutta in the wake of the Great Bengal Famine. The other was Krishan Chander's great novel, Annadata."


"My doctor had advised me to spend some days in Kashmir. Though the situation there was tense, it was nevertheless free from any communal strife. Maharaja Hari Singh was ruling the state with an iron hand. Sheikh Abdullah, Sadiq, D. P. Dhar and several other leading personalities were behind the bars and the people were very much agitated. Many state officials were secretly in¬citing the people to revolt. Even the police were siding with these officials! An unforgettable episode during that Kashmir sojourn was a chance meeting I had at a secret joint with the great poet of Kashmir's Mazdoors, Abdul satar 'Aasi'. To earn a living, he was working as a weaver's assistant!
Since I had come from Bombay, where the Central Office of the Communist Party was, the Srinagar comrades used to treat me with deference, which was out of all proportion. I, on my part, would also try to live up to it, although I was no match for them in political sagacity. Thanks to the atmosphere in my home and my education at the Government College, Lahore, I had become an introvert; I had got into the habit of closing my eyes to the events that were happening around me, no matter how momentous they were! Even Marxism could not provide me with a means to get rid of it. I always get nonplussed whenever I find myself in a different situation."

Let us not forget the most generous, rebellious , affectionate and a responsible family man. He died on 13th April 1973 that happened to be the festival day known as Baisakhi.

And not many amongst us know that late Som Nath Butt ( Artist ) was a friend of Balraj. Balraj loved his paintings . Balraj remained close to many leaders or journalists or Artists of Kashmir .Some names that come to my mind are GM Sadiq , D P Dhar , Pran Kishore ( Radio Kashmir ) and journalist Sati Sahni

( Avtar Mota )

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Monday, April 29, 2019


             (Bruno Catalano Born 1960)


   “Les Voyageurs  "  or 'The Voyagers '  by french Sculptor   Bruno Catalano...

My interpretation of this master piece goes like this...

" This sculpture is also the story of an exile. A brief case with bare belongings . A sea of insecurity surrounds him. This vast sea is  clearly visible from missing vital parts of his body  . For  onlookers it looks as if , this man has No heart ,No soul.

 Isn't this  emptiness of the soul  felt by people who leave their homes and hearths under threats of physical elmination, Religious Intolerance , War , supression ,genocide or simply to escape starvation ?

Such faces possess Limbs  to stand erect or  to exist physically. Alas !   Quite often, you experience  the soul engulfing  emptiness in alien lands..

This is one among ten bronze statues put on display at waterfront  Marseilles, France.This one in particular is called  “Le Grand Van Gogh"

Is this the  price  that an exile pays for becoming a  so called 'World Citizen ' ?

And in an alien land, every exile finds himself misfit for joys and sorrows.

I conclude with "clothes"  a mini poem written by the exiled  kurdish poet Sherko Bekas:


Bekas used to say,

“Each joy I wear
Its sleeves are either
Too short or too long,
Too loose or too tight
On me.
And each sorrow I wear
Fits as if it were made for me
Wherever I am.”"

(Avtar Mota)

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During my recent visit to Rishikeh ,found this unique fruit sold at  many roadside  fruit shops. I was recommended this fruit by a street  vendor and a foreign tourist.

The vendor :
" Sir , This is Ramphal. Jungle fruit only found in Rishikesh. Very tasty. Have a little with salt and pepper. Have it with sugar. Your choice.This fruit was eaten by Sri Ram when he came to Rishikeh."

 Sanchez , a foreign tourist  told me:

" This fruit belongs to Cactus family. It is available in Mexico and so many other countries in the world.. It is also known as  Prickly Pear. It is used for making Jams . It has medicinal value in lowering blood sugar apart from acting as a useful  antioxidant. This fruit is rich source of so many vital  minerals for our body including magnesium and iron. We consume it in many ways. Have it. It is good "

And  who is a  SAINT ? Swami ji said:

"Sant janan ki jagat mein
Pratham yehi pehchaan..
Aap amaani hai Rahe
Dhe Auran  ko maan.....

Sant jagat mein so sukhi
"Mein " "Meray"  ka tyaag..
Prem prem har pal Pad kar
Raakhe dhrid Anuraag...

Daih Gaih ki sudh nahin
Toot gayi jag preet
Prem prem gaavat phire
Prem bhare ras geet..

Pag dharte hi chal padde
Surati nahin ikk thour
Chahun dhis preetam hi dikhe
dekhat na kachhu aur.."

No littering in Rishikesh . Ganga Ghats look cleaner. Chotiwala's vegetarian Thaali was good.

(Avtar Mota)

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Friday, April 26, 2019




'Tche Ross Gham Tchyon chhum Hamdham Ye Chhaa kam ...
Ye Gham Zakhman me chhum Marham Ye Chhaa kam
Ba Kyaah Karra Vasl kis Shihlis Sharaabas
Firaqitch dagh Ta dil barham Ye chha Kam "

( Moti lal Saqi )

In english i would say .....

 ' My Love !  You May  not be around, 
 I have the aches you granted  me ,
What more wealth do I need now ?
This pain  ,
A balm to my Wounds ,
What more wealth do I need now ?
For me ,
Useless are the  cupfuls of  our  Union’s  comforting   wine ,
The aches of separation and this vagrant Heart , 
Let this be enough ,
What more wealth do I need now ? "

( Avtar Mota )

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Friday, April 19, 2019




5th December proved important in his life. He was born and died on this day and date. Hailing from village Gurah Slathia (Near Vijaypur Jammu), a village that produced Stalwart Modern Dogri Poet Kehri Singh Madhukar, Vidya Ratan did his graduation in Geology from Jammu. A childhood interest in Sculpture and Painting drove him to MS University Baroda where he did another graduation in fine Arts. His teacher at Baroda was Sankho Chaudhury the renowned sculptor of the country .

He inspired and trained so many students at Institute of Music And Fine Arts Jammu . He was also posted at Srinagar where so many students received training from him . He Served as H.O.D Department of Sculptor In Institute Of Music & Fine Arts,Jammu.

Late Gobind Kaur , a talented sculptor of the state was his student. So is the noted Sculptor Ravinder Jamwal. 

So many awards. So many prizes. More than 200 sculptures on display at various Museums and Galleries in India and abroad or with private collectors. In india, these are prominently displayed at National Art Gallery Of Modern Art, Lalit Kala Academy New Delhi and Government Museum Chandhigarh.

An imposing 18 Feet Sculpture of Baba Jitto Near katra(Vaishno Devi) has been done by him .
Apart from being a member of General Council of Lalit Kala Academy ,he was a member of so many committees and groups working for the development of Art in our state and the country.
His support to Sansar Chand Baru in setting up of Dogra Art Gallery is monumental. 

Vidya Ratan loved Kashmir. He painted some exceptionally beautiful Kashmir landscapes . He admired Bansi Parimu's Art who happened to be his close friend. When Vidya Ratan died , Parimu wrote an emotional tribute to the great Artist and sculptor that was published by Kashmir Times in 1990 .And in 1991 , Parimu followed him to his heavenly abode. Both died young. Both had so much to do.

His book in Dogri titled 'Sanbhal uss kaley di' (Preserving our past) is the only book of it's kind in Dogri.

To his friends, Vidya Ratan would often sing Kehri Singh Madhukar's dogri song that conveys intense need of companionship in life.

' Keep visiting. Keep meeting. These breaths are unreliable. This life is not to be taken for granted. We nourish hopes. We have desires. '

"Aoundhe jandhe raina,
mildhey gildhey raina
Iney sahain da ke parbhasa jindey
Asain laggi de raini hai asha jindey
Aoundhe jande raina,
mildhey gildey raina"

(Avtar Mota)

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019



To the above photo, I add my short story 'Curd Lassi 1983 ' ..Subtle Humour.

(CURD LASSI 1983 )

"Pandit Ji ... Why have you troubled yourself by coming all the way to this place for casting your vote?

" I felt like casting my vote this time. It is a real pleasure to exercise this right granted by Constitution  ."

"Which party you feel like voting?"

Sarvanand looked around and saw that everybody in the gathering belonged to National Conference Cadre. He saw Gh Nabi Tailor Master,  Ismail Gujri the milk seller, Rahim Naavid the Barber and Habib Ganai the Butcher looking expectantly for his reply. Everybody knew that Pandits in Kashmir would vote for Congress party in that particular election. Sarvanand had also come with that purpose. But then looking at the situation, Sarvanand had to say something different.

" We have one mission here. Alla-Baen or  Plough election symbol must win.  Who can forget  role of National Conference and its leader Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah?  Sher i Kashmir ka kya Irshaad , Hindu Muslim Sikh Ittehaad or  Nothing other than Hindu,Muslim and Sikh unity has been Sheikh Mohd Abdullah's  Slogan . " said Sarvanand.

"Pandit Ji that is good. Don't worry. We have done the same. Your vote has been cast. Please tell your neighbor Dina Nath Ji not to trouble himself by coming to this polling booth. His vote has also been cast. O Ismaala (Ismail ),  Give curd Lassi to Pandit Ji. He looks exhausted."

And Ismail Gujri brought a glass freshly made  Curd lassi for Sarvanad.

Gulping the Curd Lassi, Sarvanad felt relieved. Such a good Lassi he had always wanted to have at his son's house. In his heart, he cursed   Nirmala,  his daughter in law who always offered him sheer water. And at night, she would tactfully  avoid serving him curd  with one line :
" Doctors say curd is not good for health if consumed at night."
Before returning from the polling station, Sarvanand shook hands with everybody and said:

" May God bless you all. When are the Parliament elections? Shall polling be held at this place only at that time ."

At that point of time, Turning to Ismail Gujri, Gh Nabi Tailor Master said:

' O Ismaala ! Churn more curd for the Lassi, We expect about 50 to 60 Pandit Jis like Sarvanand. "

(Avtar Mota)

Lassi is churned curd or yogurt. It is always diluted with water. It is a popular household drink in India. You may add sugar or salt depending on what suits your taste.
In Kashmir, Lassi is believed to remove” Fires “ ( Naar ) that Kashmiris believe to be raging within once they consume spicy dishes in a feast. Quite often, one would see a Curd seller churning a glass of Lassi for a customer who wanted to douse the" fires within" .

“ I have fires raging within or something is rubbing my digestive tract in the wrong way. Just Give me Curd lassi ".

This is a common dialogue heard after a Kashmiri ( Both Pandit or Muslim ) enjoys a heavy spicy feast .

It has been scientifically established that curd promotes sleep. So have Lassi at all times. Don't go by the age-old belief that ' Curd is not good if consumed at night or with dinner'.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019



A Portrait of Poet Ali Sardar Jafri  and  A Season of Promises from every side...(Elections)

So wrote Poet Ali Sardar Jafri  .....

"Khwaab daulat ke gareebi ko dikhane-waale,
Aasmaanon pe Mahal Apnaa banaane-waale,
Inn khilonon se na behlegi tabiyat meri,
Itani Aasaan nahin aey   dost Mohabbat meri.

(Ali Sardar jafri)

("You , who built this grand   palace touching  the sky up above  ,
Show not these dreams of affluence to my  Poverty,
These promises,
Like old toys .
Don't recreate me any more.
O friend ,
My friendship is not so easily won ..")

( Avtar Mota)

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Monday, April 8, 2019



 ( THE JUDGEMENT..Oil on Canvas by Bhushen Kaul)

( Semi Impressionistic KASHMIR LANDSCAPE by Bhushen Kaul )
(MEMOIRS OF A SCRIBE by Bhushen Kaul)
( PARADISE LOST  by Bhushen Kaul)

                 ( Above Painting of Bhushen Kaul  sent by  Delhi based Artist Vijay Kaul  )

 BHUSHEN  KAUL .....(Born 1948 )

  • Born at Sopore kashmir , Bhushen kaul belongs to a family that produced writers like   Hriday kaul Bharti and  Umesh Kaul . Both happen to be his real brothers. His sister was also into Theatre and Drama and so was Ajit the youngest actively involved with Applied Arts. From Sopore ,the family moved to Srinagar ,a city that gave them a new home   till 1990.

He  studied Art and did post-graduation   from reputed MS  University Baroda . So many  Exhibitions  . So many solos . His work has been  exhibited his work in Bangladesh,Turkey, Cuba ,USA and many more countries. He exhibited it at Mumbai, Delhi Kolkata , Chennai and many more cities in India. I believe last exhibition he did at Jammu in 2015.
 There is  hardly  any Art Critic or connoisseur of Art in the country who has not appreciated , written or commented on his work. A  friend ,pho philosop and guide to so many. A role model for his students at Institute of Music And Fine Arts where he served for many years.

 Noted Sculptor  Padamshri Rajendra Tiku  told me :

" He is a real Guru and master . His paintings bear stamp of his  individual style. His sketch work is fantastic. I had the closest association with him and  thank god it remains so to this day. I will tell you an anecdote. Possibly in September 1973, when he was my teacher, he made some drawings on my sketchbook. He had not signed them. A few years ago when he came to Jammu, he visited my house and i brought the sketchbook for his signatures. He took no time to sign his   work. Sometime later, i went to  a reputed framer's shop   in  Delhi to get all those sketches framed.  The framer, who happens to be an Art  connoisseur ,  was highly impressed by these sketches. Looking at them , he told me :
' Who has done these sketches? I have seen and framed sketches in  thousands  but not seen something like this. Can i keep them for one day? I will put them on my wall for one day and keep looking at them. '  I allowed him to look at these sketches for three days.  That is Bushen Koul

Besides being a learned and profound Artist, Bhushen ji (as we call him) has been a strong and eternal 'Pillar' of systematic Art Academics in state of J&K.Having been a direct student of luminaries like N.S.Bendre, K.G.Subramanayan,Jyoti Bhatt,and Prof Parimoo,he very  earnestly introduced at the Institute of Fine.Arts Srinagar , an academic system on pedagogical structure of the Faculty of fine Arts  M.S University of Baroda.Needless to say that a number of his students including me got highly benefited with the same.All of us here owe 'un-returnable' to Bhushen ji.    "



 Noted Columnist and Writer Ravinder kaul  adds:

 " He's an amazing painter. Many years ago the Institute of Music and Fine Arts teachers and students had put up an exhibition cum sale of their works at the Abhinav Theatre Complex in Jammu. It was a stupendous success (why it was never repeated despite being a grand success the first time around remains a mystery that defies logic and rationale). I bought quite a few works of art in the exhibition which were being sold at amazingly low prices.
After a month or so, as I was returning from Europe and had a stopover at Istanbul airport, I met Rajendra Tiku , who was returning from Israel after attending a Camp there. I told him that the only regret I'll have in life is that I could not buy the works of Bhushen Kaul  and Rajendar Tiku in the exhibition as these had already been sold out by the time I reached the venue. I'm a great admirer of the creative genius of both these artists." 

Sometime in 2009  ,  he  exhibited his work in Delhi .Commenting on his work , Statesman Newspaper  wrote :

" The sensitive artist has laid threadbare the heart lacerating experience of the tragedy that struck Kashmir------ Bhushen’s birth place. That he raises no accusing finger on anyone  makes it more unbearable Bhushen has been able to bring the widest scope to his personal predicament, privation, misery by raising it to the level of universal loss and therefore tragedy of immense magnitude. This as is well known, happens to poetic souls in all art forms. To disburden himself of a personal tragedy he had to understand and internalize its basic structure to handle it properly poetically. He had to internalize colour to colour it with the true content and quality of tragedy that had struck him so as to pour itself out in detached forms in order to secure them from petty particularization, lugubrious sentiment, maudlin emotion. What required was the constant application of severe controls on blending, choice and handling of colours. To have been able to open out his soul in such wonderful manner is a great tribute to him .

The sensitive artist has laid threadbare the heart lacerating experience of the tragedy that struck Kashmir------ Bhushen’s birth place. That he raises no accusing finger on any makes it more unbearable."

And Times of India wrote:

" The most rewarding show in the town is that of Bhushen Koul. What catches your eye at first instance is the spontaneous interaction of glowing colours on his canvases. They are pleasing and lively without being sentimental. Also these colours are Bhushen's own, they carry no hangover of any other, tried and tested palette. "

And it was Artist Bhushen Koul who saw talent in Zargar Zahoor  Delhi based noted Painter from valley   and advised him to go  to Baroda for proper training.

About his Art he says:

 “Experience enlivened and observed – that is my art .I reconstruct inexplicably exuberant feelings and look at them with pensive wonderment."

For sometime ,i would see him  quite often in Talab Tillo area of Jammu city .  Did he live there ? Cant say but he would be seen around Bharat Nagar or  street No. 7.
I am told that after the unfortunate  death of  his wife , he has moved to Jaipur to live with his son  . From Jaipur , he keeps travelling to Mumbai where his another son stays. His children are well settled . Does he paint now? I don't know .

 Whatever be the case , he is the most talented Artist around .So many State and National awards .A father figure who is least bothered about awards and publicity. And his work commands  respect and good  price in the world of Art  collectors and connoisseurs.

Like Naadim's  poetry that carries  hidden  Music, Bhushen's canvases convey abundance of romance in colors. Never ever have i found his colors  Gaudy.

Will we ever  recognise our own icons?

(Avtar Mota)
For photographs of five  Bhushen kaul  paintings , my sincere thanks to my friend Ravinder Kaul. Thanks to Padamshri Rajendra Tiku for some  other inputs.

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