Tuesday, September 1, 2020


(Rajan Khosa arrives at the 10th Annual Indian Film Festival Of Los Angeles,, California. April10, 2012.)

 (Gandhi Ji visiting political prisoners lodged in Dum Dum Jail in 1947... A painting by Som Nath Khosa grandfather of Rajan Khosa)
 (Mahatma Shambhunath caves Hampi . Statue of Mahatama Shambhunath   great -grandfather of Rajan Khosa)
                  (Sir David Lean shooting near Fateh Kadal, Srinagar  ,Kashmir)

                  (Transcendence 50x65 in. by Kashmiri Khosa father of Rajan Khosa .)
                                              (Anjali Khosa Kaul's  abstract painting )


“Hum Parvarish e lauh o qalam karte rahenge
Jo dil pe guzarti hai raqam karte rahenge
Ek tarz e taghaful hai so voh un ko mubarak
Ek arz e tamanna hai so hum karte rahenge ”

( Faiz Ahmed Faiz )

( Forever will I nurture pen and paper,
forever express whatever my heart undergoes.
This posture of indifference, let it be their prerogative –
For me, it will always be my desire’s entreaty .)

Some days back, I read in a newspaper that ‘Gattu’,  a 2012 feature film directed and co-written by Rajan Khosa has been declared one among top ten
internationally recognized Indian films along with ‘Aawara’, 1955 and ‘Lagaan’, 2001.  Gattu was premiered at Berlin Film Festival (2012 ), winning a  Special Mention - Best Film, and between the years 2012-13,  this film alone
had received fourteen plus international awards with  many honours following these awards.

Rajan Khosa’s another film ,  Dance of the Wind (1997 )  which was a co-production between six countries, the very first of its kind in India was distributed worldwide winning accolades and awards. The film was  premiered at Venice Film Festival and won major awards (Best Director, Best Actor, Audience Award etc.) at the various festivals including Rotterdam, Chicago, London and Nantes . The film is based on Guru-Shishya Parampara of Indian classical music. Renowned artist B.C. Sanyal, Kapila Vatsayan (scholar of Indian classical dance, art, architecture and art history), Kitu Gidwani and some well-known names acted in this film.

In 2009-10, Rajan created India’s first feature-length multi-media biopic, combining film and holography, on Sadhu Vaswani, the well-know social worker and spiritualist who worked for  upliftment of the mankind. And in 2014-16, he developed a large scale feature film with Disney based on a Satyajit Ray’s  novella.
Rajan has  also several short films to his credit including half-hour film ‘Bodh-Vriksha’ (Wisdom Tree) that deals with the theme of nursing and caring for the  old people. It brought him a National Award and three Oberhausen Awards in 1987.
His latest directorial venture  is a biopic on tribal leader Bhagwan Birsa Munda (2020 ).

Trained at FTII, Pune and Royal College of Arts, London, Rajan  spent his formative years at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. He practiced filmmaking in the UK for fifteen years (1990 to 2005) and finally moved back to India. Presently , he  lives in Mumbai with his wife and son.

But then who is Rajan Khosa? Let us know him.


Khosa is the surname of a sect of Saraswat  Brahmins from Kashmir who trace their roots to Rig-Vedic sage Gautama (Gautam Maharishi). The Gotra of  this sect is  ‘ Swamin  Gautama ’. In Srinagar city, Khosas were living in Rainawari, Habba Kadal, Syed Ali Akbar locality and some more areas of the downtown. 
Ancestors of Rajan Khosa were from Syed Ali Akbar locality, an area close to Fateh Kadal, Srinagar . This locality is close to Sri Raghunath Ji Temple, Kali Temple, Sri Ram Trikha Ashram  , Ziyarat of Shahi Hamdan, all situated on the banks of the river Jhelum. This is the locality where the *European missionaries established the first school  for imparting modern education to Kashmiris. A vibrant locality that used to breathe centuries-old composite culture and peaceful co-existence. In 1983, David Lean selected this area for shooting sequences for his film ‘A Passage to India’.
Rajan’s  great grandfather, Pandit Shambhu Nath Khosa was a well-known saint and a spiritual personality who moved to Hampi caves in Karnataka around 1920s, and did penance renouncing Grihistha ( householder’s life ) until he passed away in 1939. He became famous in that area for healing people with the ashes from his ‘Hawan-Kunda’ or sacred fire . His devotees of local Vaish community donated two hills for his ‘Sadhana’ and discourses. Mahatma Shambhunatha Guhe is a place of pilgrimage today, and people climb the hill to pay respect to his life size black granite sculpture.

Shambhu Nath’s son  Som Nath Khosa, who was left in the care of his mother
in Srinagar, studied Art at Sir Amar Singh Technical Institute, Srinagar  where his teachers included F. H. Andrews and J. C. Mukerjee. Inspired by Mahatama Gandhi’s freedom movement, Som Nath Khosa  started doing realistic paintings depicting Gandhi  Ji on his mission. As a young man, in 1937, he took his would be bride to Hampi caves and got married in the presence of his father. After the partition of the country , he moved to Delhi in 1950 with a desire to paint monumental scenes form Gandhi’s life and exhibit them to masses. As his work became popular , his studio in Delhi was frequented by several dignitaries.  Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri and  Babu Jagjivan Ram supported his mission, and his exhibitions travelled extensively until the end of his life in 1983. Som Nath Khosa’s  paintings are still on display in several Gandhian institutions in India and abroad.

Rajan Khosa’s  father, Kashmiri Khosa is a well-known artist based in Delhi
. Inspired by the family tradition,  he reflects Indian philosophy in his language of modern  art, which won him a ‘National Award’ in 1981 and President of India’s silver plaque in 1974. His paintings are on display in many national and international art galleries, and also in the significant collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lalit Kala Akademi and Sahitya Kala Parishad. A documentary on his life and art was released by Doordarshan in 2003-2004.

Rajan’s sister,  Anjali Khosa Kaul is a sculptor and a painter whose works can be found in the National Gallery of Modern Art , New Delhi and with many private collectors world over. She is a recipient of AIFACS Award and Ministry of Culture fellowship. Ashok Kaul , husband of Anjali Khosa Kaul practices industrial photography and art photography.

Rajan Khosa knows and understands Kashmiri in spite of the fact that he was
born and brought up outside Kashmir. A search for roots brought him to Kashmir where he lived for two years ( between 1988-1990 )  with **Swami Lakshman Joo (renowned Shaiva Scholar) studying Kashmir’s treasured Shaiva-Darshana . During this time , he built strong association with Shaiva scholar ***Dr. Bettina Baumer . At this period of his stay in Kashmir ,   he saw armed militancy arriving in the beautiful valley.  Tragically ,  he also  witnessed his relatives being  forced to flee along with half a million Kashmiri Pandits who were exiled from their homeland .

About his family influence , Rajan Khosa informs this :-

‘Visual language gets embedded in you when you grow up with painters. My father would  show me a painting and then ask me, ‘Why isn’t the composition working?’  ‘What is negative space?’ ‘What is balance?’ ‘What do these colours do?’ As there was this dialogue going on all the time I was taught these things early in life. Painting was therefore always in my blood. It was the first thing I did as a kid. I went to a my father’s studio when I was sixteen or seventeen, learned still life, and was very good at it. It helped me later on when unconsciously I would translate these things into films, drawing frames, for example.’

About resurgent India , Rajan Khosa informs this  :-

‘India is changing as well, and is becoming more Western, but I would also say that mystical values persist. The final goal of life is to surrender to that presence and to constantly reaffirm its value in a material world. It is such an intangible thing and of course intangibility does not have much place in western culture. Only what is verifiable, quantifiable or tangible has a place and is given a value.’

About feeling the Cultural gap while living in the  western society  , Rajan  Khosa informs this :-

“ You can’t really penetrate a culture. You get a very different view of it when you are an outsider. You can admire it, you can love it, you may embrace it, but you will never get to know its nuances. The rituals of any one culture are tied to emotions and feelings. When I was given my Brahmanical thread there was a ceremony for it. I went around and touched the feet of the 200-odd people who were there. You wear this thread and an orange garment. The colour orange signifies the burning of the ego, the sunset … the Upanishadic poems are all about walking into the sunset. It is symbolic of 20,000 different things, which your mother or grandparents had told you about in your folklore. You can never really leave your culture and you can never communicate it.”

 Gattu is a film about a street kid’s ambition to become a kite-flying champion.Made on a tight budget, the movie was shot in and around the streets of Roorkee in the Himalayan foothills. The aerial scenes were taken from a Para glider . The lead character, Gattu, is played by newcomer Mohammad Samad, who was given the role after attending a local workshop held by the production.  In India, Gattu is now free to watch on YouTube channel. 
This is what Gautaman Bhaskaran wrote about Gattu  in the ‘Hindustan Times’ of February 12, 2012:-

“The movie is a fascinating portrayal of India's have-nots and the dreams of children living in want. However, unlike Danny Boyle in his Slumdog Millionaire, Khosa is subtle in his presentation, and chooses to train his camera on smile and optimism. There is no garbage and dirt in Gattu, and the school song that celebrates India is not conveyed as a pun or ridicule. In the end, Samad's Gattu, despite his uncle's unfairness that keeps the boy in the crevices of illiteracy, radiates a kind of joy that one often sees in some of India's gloomiest slums. Using humour, Khosa builds a script which is beautifully balanced, and without the usual clichéd pitfalls.”

This is what Preeti Arora wrote in ‘India Forums ’ on July 20, 2012:-
Khosa's skill as a director is evident in the manner the screenplay unfolds, without preachiness or stilted dialogues, just a few small town folk scraping an existence without giving much thought to the helpless kids who are an integral but irrelevant part of the landscape. The stray dogs, the garbage, the buzzing flies are the reality of Gattu's life, not props engineered by a scheming director who wishes to endear himself to a western audience. The film runs for 82 minutes and the pace doesn't flag even for a single minute. The other children in the film have small insubstantial roles; Gattu carries the film on his slender shoulders alone. Gattu is a must watch for all but most especially cynics who believe 'there is no hope for any of us'. It took Gattu just a little less than two hours to prove" 

 And some of the awards won by Gattu could be listed as under:-

* Special Mention - Best Film; Grand Prix of the Deutsches kinderhifswerk
Berlin International Film Festival 2012.

* Nomination for Best Children’s Film (APSA - Asia Pacific Screen Awards)

* Colors Screen Award for Best Child Artist (India) 2012.

* Audience Choice Award for Best Feature (International Film Festival of Los
Angeles) 2012.

* Honourable Mention of the Jury (International Film Festival of Los Angeles) 2012.

* Citation of Excellence Award (Tel Aviv International Children’s Film Festival - Israel) 2012.

* Bronze Castle Award (Castellinaria Film Festival - Switzerland) 2012.

* Pemio ASPI Award (Castellinaria Film Festival - Switzerland) 2012.

* Audience Award (Seoul International youth Film Festval - South Korea) 2012.

* Diploma of Honour (42nd Roshd Int.Film Festival, Tehran-Iran) 2013.

* Best Performance by a Child Actor (China International Children’s Film Festival) 2013.

* Best Feature Film (New York Indian Film Festival) 2012.

* Best Young Actor (New York Indian Film Festival) 2012.

Driven by the  market and business considerations, a general fall in the quality, themes and standard of our cinema may be true to some extent. The loud music and foot-tapping dance sequences may have also brought some repetitive boredom to serious viewers. But then men like Rajan Khosa are a
real hope. Driven by a passion, these filmmakers have changed the form, content and brought much needed human reality and simplicity in our cinema.

"Nahin hai na-umeed 'Iqbal' apni kisht-e-veeran se,
Zara nam ho to ye mitti bahut zarkhaiz nai Saqi"
( Iqbal )

(Iqbal does l not despair  the present  barrenness of  his  land ,
A little rain and this land  shall bear  grand harvest once again .)

(Avtar Mota)

3        Footnotes.

Founded by Rev J. H, Knowles during the  last quarter if 19th century , Fateh Kadal Mission School was the  first school opened in Kashmir valley to impart modern education  to kashmiris . Before this , Maktabs and Paath-Shalas run by Molvis and Pandits were imparting education in the  Kashmir valley. The Fateh Kadal school was followed by other ‘Mission Schools’ opened by European missionaries  at Rainawari, Nawa-Kadal, Habba-Kadal, Amira-kadal and a high school at Anantnaag in Kashmir .

Swami Lakshman Joo ( 1907-1991 ) was a world  renowned mystic, author  and scholar of Kashmir Shaiv Darshana. His Ashram is located  at Ishber locality on the banks of Dal lake in Srinagar , Kashmir . Swami Ji had many disciples  both within the country and abroad.

Dr  Bettina Sharada Baumer (born 1940 ) is a renowned  Indologist  and one of the foremost expounders of Kashmir  Shaivism . Born at Salzburg in Austria,  she was awarded the ‘Austrian Decoration for Science and Art ‘ by Government of Austria in 2012 and ‘Padma Shri ‘  by Government of India in 2015 .


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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\.

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