Today’s Indian and Hindi cinema in particular seems the kind of garbage in and out- Irrelevant data producing irrelevant output. This general perception justifiably springs from the conspicuously lavish supply of extravagant violence and sex that’s become an inseparable part of the films we see today. Nonetheless, if the makers of films are supposed to be held responsible for displaying such content, I feel, the audiences are equally responsible for paying undue attention to such frivolous foolery that is not worthy of even an iota of today’s extremely busy minds that have much serious and deservedly important tasks to dwell upon. My question is “why do we even talk about such content?” The moment we see a sleazy or excessively violent film trailer, why do we not discard it from our vicinity instead of just investing our time writing critical articles, dislodging them or engaging in mass protests against them.
If banning a film could have saved our highly vulnerable youth extremely anxious to watch age restricted videos, we could have successfully been able to divert their concentration towards participating in intellectual activities rather than getting hooked to violate all rules of censorship under the pretext of modernity. Indeed it is the gusto of radicalism that provokes the younger generation of today to watch violence and sex that spoils their mind and deviates them towards unwarranted actions.
If juvenile delinquency is a major concern today, it is not because of only films, it is because of our inability as responsible adults to rationally explain the youth the adequate reason beneath our denial to watch such explicit content on Television. Yes, somewhere down the line we have failed as parents and guardians to make our children understand the detrimental factors of becoming susceptible to the addiction of such films and hence we see the generation today watches all the provocative material.
Imposing the rule of not watching Netflix or OTT platform will not help. The rules are supposed to be broken is the anthem of many such youths that are unregulated on account of the fact that they are misguided. Many a times, the working parents and guardians are too engrossed in their own problems to fathom the necessity of counselling curious minds.
It is not by stringent principles but by a forthright and sensitized counselling that the youth of today can be made to understand the need to focus on the ethically correct and age appropriate matter. Three four days back, I found a very young 8th standard student reading a novel that wasn’t compatible with his age. On asking, he told me that the book was given to him by a girl of his class and on further inquiry it was discerned that the girl had got it from one of her friends who happens to be outside of the academic organization. This means that the child is being persuaded to pursue something that isn’t good for her. She’s influenced and does not even realize that someone has tried to intoxicate her with the wrong thoughts through a very indirect mode of approach.
Apparently, in today’s times, it has become very easy to spoil young minds by implicit method of exposing them to inapt literary and entertainment media. The reason these hypnotise young minds is that these vouch as tempting modes providing access to all that is apparently denied to them. The prohibited content is like a forbidden fruit that appears more irresistible and therefore getting carried away by it is evidently easy. Argument, altercation and stipulating precepts against watching the sensitive content does not make any sense and does not work. It is only a healthy and candid discussion with them that enables them to cultivate the understanding that they are not mature enough to get exposed to mature content.
When we advocate sex education to the youths of today for their safety, it must be ensured that they learn the subject with decency by appropriately highlighting the health hazards involved in the same. Similarly, the jeopardy of inculcating violent traits in nature by watching exorbitant violence needs to be adequately explained. Most importantly, these notions enter into the minds of those that have been honourably initiated into culture and tradition which endorses decency and sobriety.
It is my personal observation as a teacher that unless young people have very strong ethical values taught to them by their parents and guardians, they do not comprehend the benefits of living a sober life. This is true in case of every child because it is a blatant reality that children that do not have a proper guidance in their youth are directed towards delinquent behaviour very frequently. Teaching the worthiness of abstaining from matter that does not complement the age is the indispensable responsibility of the parents and guardians. The centres of education like the schools and colleges may hold on value education classes but the primary teaching of ethics and principles certainly comes from the family; this fact cannot be dispensed with.
We cannot expect a clean society without attempting to clean it. Merely sitting comfortably on our chairs and critiquing a certain realm of enterprise will not help. It is our moral duty to ensure we guide our youth in the right direction rationally without dictating the dos and don’ts to them in an old school fashion. Today’s times I find the dearth of such matured adults that construe the need to focus all their energy and attention towards constructive ways of living life and becoming true mentors for the present day youth. What I find is a bunch of critics that raise a barrage of complaints against violent and sexually explicit content, burn effigies of celebrities or rant continually against them. The moment we mind our own business and not indulge in such foppery to avail media attention, we would make this world indubitably a better and safer place to live in. It is not by ruthlessly protesting and banning films but by educating our youth rightfully that we would ultimately gain immunity against such inappropriate content. It will not affect us anymore and therefore whether it is displayed or not displayed in front of us will make not a tinge of difference. We would not get susceptible to it in any way. This is how we make a garbage free society, not by pouring out our anger against these content creators in a rancorous way.
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The meteoric rise of a Superstar
By Sunil Sarpal
His Bollywood journey started from a bench in a Mumbai park. He left his marketing job in Calcutta to migrate to Mumbai so as to try his luck in acting. In Mumbai, he had to share accommodation with other aspirants.
Once sitting on the bench, he was deeply engrossed in thought process as to how his acting career will take off. He concluded if he keeps on living with these people, he shall not be able to focus on his career and all his endeavour of coming to Mumbai will go waste. He needed a separate accommodation so that he can concentrate seriously on his career.
The movie which took him to stardom was Janjeer. By now you must have guessed that we are talking about Amitabh Bachchan. Thereafter he did so many movies which took him to dizzy heights in Bollywood. Some of them were Deewar, Namak Haram, Sholay, Don, Amar Akbar Anthony so on and so forth. The list is endless.
In movies, Amitabh was paired with so many heroins but his equation with Rekha was unique. Even both of them were rumoured to have been in love with each other.
His image of an angry young man in Janjeer became so popular that he was tagged with that image. All renowned writers and producers started writing script keeping in mind his image of a young angry man. In order to come out of that image, Amitabh did so many different roles. Even he tried his luck in comedy by doing Amar Akbar Anthony and his sense of humour was appreciated by the audience. During those day, whatever Amitabh would put his hands on would invariably turn into Gold.
He became so charismatic that this confidence prompted him to open a company called ABCL. The purpose of opening this company was to make movies. But the company flopped miserably and Amitabh became bankrupt.
At that agonising hour in his life, Dhirubhai Ambani came to his rescue and extended financial help so that he could stand up again in his life.
Amitabh’s fortune changed once again and from being a bankrupt, he emerged as a winner. Acting roles started pouring in thick and fast in his life.
He even earned lot of money thru the television show – Kaun Banega Crorepati – and that show is still going strong with him as the anchor.
In an interview, Salim Khan, the main writer of Deewar and Sholay movies, has opinionated that it is time for Amitabh to wind- up his career in acting. Because, for his age the roles are far and few.
Some of Amitabh’s dialogue which became viral are:
1) Rishte Mein to hum tumare baap lagte hain Naam hai Shahanshah
2) Line wahin se shuru hoti hai jahan hum khade hote hai
3) Khush to bahut hoge tum, jo aaj tak tumari sidian nahi chadha, dekho dekho who aaj tumare aage haath felai khada hai
हरियाणवी संस्कृति का एक नया अध्याय
लेखक – अनिल गोयल
1968 में बनी पहली फिल्म ‘धरती’ से होता हुआ हरियाणवी फिल्म उद्योग ‘चंद्रावल’ (1984) और ‘लाडो बसन्ती’ से होता हुआ आज ‘दादा लखमी चन्द’ तक आ पहुँचा है। इस बीच अश्विनी चौधरी की फिल्म ‘लाडो’ (2000) ने राष्ट्रीय फिल्म पुरस्कार जीता, और इसके चौदह साल बाद राजीव भाटिया की हरियाणवी फिल्म ‘पगड़ी दि आनर’ (2014) ने तो दो-दो राष्ट्रीय फिल्म पुरस्कार प्राप्त किये! ‘दादा लखमी’ क्षेत्रीय फिल्मों की श्रेणी में सर्वश्रेष्ठ फिल्म का राष्ट्रीय पुरस्कार जीत चुकी है। इसने साठ से भी अधिक अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय पुरस्कार जीते हैं। फ्रांस के प्रतिष्ठित कान फिल्म समारोह के फिल्म बाजार में दिखाई जानेवाली ‘दादा लखमी’ सच्चे अर्थों में एक ऐसे सिनेमाई मुहावरे को गढ़ती है, जहाँ से हरियाणवी फिल्मों के लिये अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर के द्वार खुल सकते हैं। हरियाणा की पारम्परिक लोकनाट्य विधा ‘सांग’ इसकी क्षमता रखती है। आमजनों की अपनी सहज भाषा में सहज जीवन के वात्सल्य से लेकर देशभक्ति, इतिहास, दर्शन और पौराणिकता तक का ज्ञान आमजन तक इन सांगों के माध्यम से पहुँचता रहा है।
लोक-परम्परा की इसी कड़ी में, हरियाणा के सूर्यकवि लखमी चन्द के सांग पिछली लगभग एक शताब्दी में हरियाणा के सांस्कृतिक प्रतीक के रूप में स्थापित रहे हैं। उन्हें “हरियाणा का कालिदास” भी कहा जाता है। उनका बचपन बहुत अभावों में बीता! केवल अठारह-उन्नीस वर्ष की आयु में ही लखमी चन्द ने अपने गुरुभाई जैलाल नदीपुर माजरावाले के साथ मिलकर साँग मंचित करने के लिये अपना अलग बेड़ा बनाया। उनकी प्रतिभा ने एक वर्ष के अन्दर ही उनके बेड़े को लोगों के बीच स्थापित कर दिया था। कुल बयालीस वर्ष की आयु तक ही जीवित रहे लखमी चन्द ने लगभग दो दर्जन सांगों की रचना की। शीघ्र ही पण्डित लखमी चन्द ‘साँग-सम्राट’ के रूप में विख्यात हो गये। वे कट्टर अनुशासन-प्रिय व्यक्ति थे। उनके बेड़े में हरियाणा के उत्तम से उत्तम कलाकार भी सम्मिलित होना चाहते थे। उन्होंने साँग की कला को उन ऊँचाईयों तक पहुंचा दिया, जिसका मुकाबला आज तक भी कोई और व्यक्ति नहीं कर पाया है।
इन्हीं सूर्यकवि पण्डित लखमी चन्द पर हरियाणा के अभिनेता-निर्माता-निर्देशक यशपाल शर्मा ने ‘दादा लखमी चन्द’ फिल्म बनाई है. इसमें यशपाल शर्मा, मेघना मालिक, राजेन्द्र गुप्ता, आदि ने मुख्य भूमिकाएँ निभाई हैं। फिल्म में लखमी चन्द के बचपन की भूमिका में योगेश वत्स, और युवावस्था की भूमिका में हितेश शर्मा ने बहुत सशक्त अभिनय किया है। योगेश वत्स ने सुन्दर अभिनय करने के साथ-साथ इस फिल्म में गाने भी गाये हैं, जिसके मधुर गायन ने दर्शकों को बहुत आकर्षित किया. युवा लखमी की भूमिका निभा रहे हितेश का गायन और सांगी की भूमिका करते समय उनका नर्तन और अभिनय दर्शकों को लगातार बाँधे रखता है।
बहुत बार देखा गया है कि कोई अभिनेता-निर्देशक अपने को ही फिल्म के ऊपर हावी हो जाने देता है। लेकिन यशपाल शर्मा ने अपने को इससे बचाये रखा है। प्रारम्भ में कुछ समय को छोड़ कर बाकी की फिल्म में वे परदे से गायब हो जाते हैं।
लखमी के बाल्यकाल और किशोरावस्था की भूमिकाओं में भी अन्य कलाकार नजर आते हैं। लेकिन इन सब के ऊपर, अभिनय के आधार पर इस फिल्म को मेघना मलिक की फिल्म कहा जा सकता है। यशपाल शर्मा ने जिस प्रकार से मेघना मलिक के माध्यम से एक माँ के हृदय की वेदना को उभारा है, वह अतुलनीय है। मेघना की हरियाणवी भाषा में संवादों की अदायगी इतनी प्रभावशाली है, कि उनके बोलते समय पर पिक्चर-हॉल में सन्नाटा पसर जाता है; विशेषकर वह प्रसंग अत्यन्त मार्मिक बन पड़ा, जब तीसरी-चौथी बार लखमी के घर से भाग जाने पर वह थक कर कहती है, ‘इसे जाने दो।।।’ कैसे एक माँ अपने उद्दण्ड बेटे से हार जाती है, और ना चाह कर भी, मजबूरी में उसके घर से चले जाने को स्वीकार कर लेती है!
यह फिल्म यशपाल शर्मा की छः वर्षों की मेहनत का फल है। इसमें रागनी-गायन एकदम ठेठ देसी है, जो सीधा दिल में उतर जाता है। फिल्म की असली जान ही है उसका संगीत, जिसके द्वारा लखमी चन्द के सांग दिखाये गये हैं। एक कवि और सांगी की कहानी सुना कर यह पिक्चर फिल्म-निर्माण के क्षेत्र में एक नई राह दिखा रही है। उत्तम सिंह द्वारा तैयार किया इस फिल्म का उत्तम संगीत भारत की इस फिल्म को ऐमी अवार्ड दिलवाने की क्षमता रखता है।
बहुत समय के बाद परिवार के साथ बैठ कर देख सकने योग्य साफ-सुथरी फिल्म आई है। रवीन्द्र सिंह राजावत और यशपाल शर्मा द्वारा निर्मित इस लघु बजट की हरियाणवी फिल्म में समाज में पारिवारिक मूल्यों को पुनर्स्थापित करने की शक्ति है… इसे देख कर गाँव के सहज, सरल जीवन की ओर को वापसी का विचार मन में आता है। यह बच्चों को भी दिखाने योग्य फिल्म है, ताकि आधुनिकता की दौड़ में अन्धी होती हरियाणवी संस्कृति को पुनर्जीवन मिले। यह फिल्म हरियाणवी फिल्मों को नई ऊँचाइयों तक पहुँचाने का दम रखती है। फिल्म देखते हुए कई बार हॉल में व्याप्त सन्नाटे से दर्शकों के रोंगटे खड़े होने का आभास होता था। इस फिल्म ने हरियाणवी रागिनी और सिनेमा, दोनों को जिन्दा कर दिया। फिल्म के एक-एक दृश्य में हरियाणा के ग्रामीण जीवन और संस्कृति दिखाई देते हैं। जिस प्रकार बाहुबली और आर.आर.आर. जैसी अरबों रूपये के बजट वाली दक्षिण भारतीय/क्षेत्रीय फिल्मों ने भारतीय फिल्म इंडस्ट्री को एक नई दिशा दी, वही काम आज ‘दादा लखमी चन्द’ जैसी एक छोटी सी, कम खर्चे की फिल्म कर रही है।
यह फिल्म पण्डित लखमी चन्द के जीवन का पहला भाग दर्शाती है। बाकी जीवन-चरित जानने के लिये फिल्म के दूसरे भाग की दर्शकों को प्रतीक्षा रहेगी।
Is Ethical teaching to students possible in the modern pragmatic times?
. Teaching is not just a method. It is a principle forming ethical code of conduct that students and teachers are inevitably required to retain in order that education becomes something more than just a curriculum driven enterprise. Today, times have changed and so has the value system being reformed which makes it quite interesting and challenging to balance the rightful morals and the modern alternatives on the part of both students and teachers. To adequately select the kind of valuable precepts to be followed and those to be accurately negated for the higher good of futuristic learning which is far from being simply a matter of ‘obeying the fixed norms set by authorities is indeed an intricate choice to make.
The present day has shown us the theory of relativism which operates on the notions that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are mere perspectives and there isn’t a hard and fast rule behind following or rejecting certain behavioural codes; the academic sector also not being excluded from the same. We know we have many who seem to be confused whether rules are meant to be followed or broken. That’s the tragedy of the modern times that we aren’t able to draw a visible and clear line between the dos and the don’ts in our lives. Consequently, we all try ways and means to adjust ourselves the way we can without being bothered about being essentially – ‘ethically’ correct. There isn’t anyone who could be straightaway blamed for the circumstances that have resulted on account of the modern man’s own lethargy of finding out the adequate distinctions between morally correct and incorrect. All we can do is simply state that the times have changed and so we need to accommodate ourselves with the altering times wherein teachers and students may take certain deviations from the stringent norms of maintaining a conventional –Guru-Shishya, Teacher-disciple relationship. It can be based on camaraderie rather than a pedagogic alliance between the two and the one who teaches and the one who learns both can be on the same platform; each learning from the other. There isn’t any harm of course in accepting this fact for this is the truth of today’s era that encourages equitable learning which rests on the principle of non-discriminatory teaching enterprise wherein the teachers act as mentors and facilitators providing the best of their knowledge and at the same time remain receptive towards accepting the points of view of their mentees.
Apparently, this is healthy and seems oriented towards eradicating orthopraxy wherein the teachers dwell on the notions of stringent dominion and the students hardly get a chance to ask questions or engage in any healthy discussion that could enliven the concept of education as a holistic learning approach. In such an overtly adequate environment, it seems rather inconsequential to demarcate the teachers and the students as seniors and juniors or experienced and novice etc. These terms that are viewed as derogatory by those that regularly endorse teaching as the means of effacing teacher student difference and making the teacher an approachable entity rather than a formidable personality. Nonetheless, as the thin line of difference has been blurred, it now becomes very difficult to justifiably present the requisite of the need to treat teaching as a respectable profession and teacher as the one that deservedly ought to be revered for the contribution that one makes in the field of imparting education. The repercussions of this phenomenon are such that neither the teacher nor the student and not even the parents of the respective students are able to offer an appropriate wisdom on how teachers and students should be when they are in an academic setting. In addition to this there seems absentia of guidelines in the matter of interactions between teacher and student in the external environment outside the school.
It is under the pretext of being ‘modern’ educationists that teachers today at times dismiss the mandate of being ‘obeyed’ irrespective of the child becoming assertive or demanding or even at times irreverent in one’s demeanour. Ignoring under the guise of being receptive towards informal approach of the students in order to make them feel comfortable in one’s presence seems simply an excuse. It is universally acknowledged that a teacher ought to let one’s students understand that a certain code of conduct is supposed to be followed when one chooses to interact with an elderly and experienced mentor. A student often escapes the guilt of being impertinent with the teacher on account of one’s tender age wherein immature language lapse and unregulated mannerisms are labelled as juvenile misdemeanours. A teacher on the other hand is responsible for the mistake a student makes while taking the self-respect of the mentor for granted.
Teaching is just not disseminating the information contained in the books. It is the onus on the teacher of ‘shaping characters’. This process is not only serious but also challenging. Not all the students are open-minded towards the process of ‘ethical guidance’. It therefore becomes inevitable for a teacher to identify the mental readiness of each student towards adopting what we term as ‘good manners’. Moreover, the difficulty is also on account of the fact that the contemporary society is heavily oriented towards promulgating the notions of pragmatism which unfortunately dispense with the requirement of including ethical values and principles of life. It is erroneously proclaimed by many so called modernists that being sensitized towards cultivating humanitarian virtues founded on the principle of emotions is a sign of weakness. Those people that get influenced by such misconceptions become hard hearted and focus only on attaining material success. That pragmatism is the only need of the present day and emotional thinking is a waste of time and energy is the most convenient theory adopted today. This is generally the belief of those that perhaps do not comprehend the rationality of being modest and courteous without which apparently there is no chance of establishing a healthy human society. Since the minds of the children are so impressionistic, they are the ones that get misguided by such wrong concepts and because they do not know the difference between being practical and being insensitive, these two concepts overlap and shape the deformed personality of many as we see them today.
Teachers have an integral role to play in this regard and even parents need to extend their support in the establishment of value education as a priority. Opted by many academic institutions these days, it is indeed beneficial to have a course on righteous conduct that may enable the children understand the worthiness of being ethical in their attitude. Together with the students, today’s teachers also need to undergo a vigorous training on retention of ethical virtues. Ensuring equity in their approach towards students that effaces distinctions of any kind based on either their academic progress report or their social stature is fundamental. Practicing the principles endorsed to the students in one’s own life is another mandate that the teachers indispensably need to follow in order that the students develop respect for them; respect cannot be demanded, it is to be commanded is a well-known adage. Thus, value education is not to be myopically understood as another subject to be taught to the students. It is something that is ought to become a regular habit inculcated in the lives of the teachers first and then through them in the lives of the students in order to have clarity that we all strive hard today to achieve about the goal of the teaching profession.
It is very easy to state that the child is beyond control or discipline is not possible to be imposed as a rule in today’s high-tech secular environment wherein students are smarter and more informed than the teachers as they are exposed to the techno-savvy world. The fact is that corrective measures are the right granted to every teacher and they need to be adopted as the means to bring about the change in the misinformed students that have been wrongly manipulated towards the ideas of liberty and secularism. The goal is achievable and is not something that is too far-fetched or larger than life to be experienced as a reality in our lives. Let us as teachers try our level best to strike a balance between ethical values and modern pragmatic concerns that demand constructive alternatives in the existing traditional systems of education. This balance is the adequate mode of making teaching something more than just a mundane exercise carried out as a professional endeavour offering lucrative benefits. The day when teacher learns to make learning a holistic experience for a student and selflessly impart education retaining ethical values, this world will certainly have better citizens committed towards living a virtuous life. The teacher student relationship will definitely be exemplary of an amicable affinity between a true mentor and a responsible mentee.
For comments if any please send in the box below.
OTT Series: Aranyak on Netflix / Sanjiva Sahay
Aranyak The brand new Hindi webseries on Netflix
▫️ Welcome to the world of murder mystery that has the deceptive appearance of a folklore. This character- नर तेंदुआ- imaginary or real, would hammer your brain across 8 episodes. Since a fresh killing and rape of a girl , the sleepy town of Himachal Pradesh is jolted again. The police station, uncountable natives …complete with an influential politician and a high status business family. The probe begins, so does your journey into a narrative which is thrilling in the beginning and a big disappointment after 3 episodes. Lengthy, tedious and long drawn.
▫️ Casting is almost perfect. Parambrata excels as Angad Mallik, the investigating police officer. Surprisingly, Raveena as the SHO on leave, Kasturi Dogra, manages to get into the character effortlessly. Then we have actors like Ashutosh Rana, Zakir Husain, Meghna Malik among others who try earnestly to lift a dull screenplay. All remain stereotypes with some clichéd, overdramatic dialogues. The hangover of the forgotton era of the ’80s.
▫️ A mixed bag indeed. Average direction and writing, above average performances (better than Candy at least), effective background score. O yes, watch the series on faster speed for the breathtaking and picturesque locations. The climax has been shot in thick snowfall all over and looks phenomenal.
▫️ Nothing less, nothing more.
Girish Karnad – Remembering A Multifaceted Mesmerising Actor, Writer, Director
Girish Karnad’s demise on 10 June 2019 marked the end of an era in Indian Theatre. He was 81 and for the last two years suffering from a respiratory ailment that forced him to carry a portable oxygen cylinder and a thin tube across his nostrils; this however, did not prevent him from attending Gauri Lankesh’s first death anniversary and solidarity meet where the friends and admirers of the courageous journalist murdered by goons of the Hindu Right Wing, had gathered in the name of sanity and humanity.
Karnad’s passing was headline news and even those who did not know that he was one of creators of modern Indian theatre and its most intellectual contributor were aware of his highly influential presence because of his activities in other fields namely the cinema as an actor and director, and on Television, where he is remembered as Swami(Nathan)’s father in the hugely popular Television series Malgudi Days, directed by Shankar Nag, based on R.K. Narayan’s evocative short novel Swami and his Friends set in the fictional small town of Malgudi in the Madras Presidency in British India.
All said and done, his genuine versatility taken into account, he will still be remembered as a playwright who used history and (Hindu) mythology to make often telling connections with the mores of contemporary world and how they reflected the socio-political mood of the times. This is all the more creditable because his plays proved to be consistently popular and their performances well attended not only in Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka but vast stretches of India as well, over forty years or more.
Modern Indian Theatre has not really been a paying proposition except in small pockets of Bengal and Maharashtra, even there the progenitors usually sustained their Theatre activities doing other jobs: Utpal Dutt financed his highly successful Bengali productions with his earnings from commercial Hindi and Bengali films where he was very popular and well paid. On a smaller scale, Ajitesh Bandopadhyay, a charismatic stage actor and producer also used a similar strategy, when for a while he was a sought after character actor in Bengali films but had not resigned from his lectureship at a Kolkata College. How the brilliant, irascible Shambhu Mitra, sustained himself and his theatre Troup, Bahurupi, is anyone’s guess. Mitra, though, appeared in some Bengali films as an actor and as director was considered good enough to be hired by Raj Kapoor to do Jagte Raho in Hindi, and the same in Bengali as Ek Din Ratre. Having said that one may add, that neither Shambhu Mitra nor Ajitesh Bandopadhyay were professional playwrights, Utpal Dutt did write plays but only three namely Manusher Adhikare, Tiner Talvar, and Jalianwala Bagh actually hold up as gripping plays.
Girish Karnad’s case was different, he was a playwright whose plays were translated and staged in many Indian languages, in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali. He was paid a small royalty for the groups that staged them were cash-strapped and their efforts were appreciated by audiences who bought tickets at a very moderate price. Capitalism and its implementation in the financing and the sustaining of the arts, namely the Theatre had not allowed as yet the sale of exorbitantly priced tickets, that has become a norm in metropolitan India in the last decade.
Strange as it may sound, Karnad became a playwright by accident. He wanted to be a poet and write poems in English, win the Nobel Prize for literature; he declared tongue-in-check in a documentary made on him by K.M. Chaitanya for Sangeet Natak Akademi possibly five years ago. He wanted to be with the likes of T.S Eliot, W.H. Auden and others, of course destiny had others plans for him.
He read Mathematics and Statistics for his B.A. at Karnataka Arts College, Dharwad and stood First in the University of Karnataka. This enabled him to proceed to Bombay to pursue a Master degree in Maths and Statistics. It was from there he applied for a Rhodes Scholarship and got it. His father Dr.Raghunath Karnad was not happy with the idea, neither was his mother Krishna bai. His parents were uneasy about their son going off to England (though they would have been proud, in retrospect). They did not know if he would choose to settle down there or marry a white woman!
The result of his parents reservations on his sailing to England (even Rhodes Scholars had to travel by ship in those days) was the writing of the first draft of Yayati, based on an episode from the Mahabharata. The play was written in Karnada, the language of his endeavours in the Theatre. The story of Yayati was of the protagonist being cursed by his teacher Shukracharya for his infidelity. Yayati, then asks one of his sons, Puru, to give him his youth as a sacrifice! Karnad observed in the SNA documentary on him that the idea for the play may have been triggered off by the reactions of his parents just before his journey to England. Yayati’s first draft did not overly impress G.B. Joshi, the publisher- owner of Manohar Granthamala, Dharwad. He told the fledgling playwright that he was moved by the monologue of a dasi (female servant) towards the end of the play! It was polite way of saying try again! A re-write was read by G.B. Joshi and Manoharan, an astute literary man, and the news that Manohar Granthamala shall publish Yayati helped Karnad make-up his mind to come back to India for good.
The Rhodes Scholarship enabled him to read for a PPE (Politics, Philosophy, Economics) Degree at Magdalen College, Oxford. He also became the became the President of the Oxford Students Union, a singular honour for a student. Oxford opened up his horizons and at the same time taught him to focus on his own cultural inheritance. He knew, perhaps because of his training in Mathematics how to clearly and logically.
On return journey to India, by ship he wrote Tuglak, based on his readings on the 13th Century Sultan of Delhi Mohammad Bin Tuglak, also considered by many to be a mad genius who was prevented by his emotional affliction from achieving the social and political harmony he craved. Tuglak, over time became Karnad’s most successful play. Even today, in some corner of India it is being staged in a local language.
The year 1963 saw him back in India and with a job at the Oxford University Press in Madras (now Chennai). He was in the city till 1970 and also became associated with the Madras Players, a group of serious amateurs that did plays in English. Tuglak was staged by them, and shortly after, by Alyque Padamsee in Bombay (Mumbai) also in English. But a translation in Hindustani opened the flood-gates for the play. Ebrahim Alkazi, the Charismatic director of the National School of Drama, in Delhi, staged it at Purana Quila, a dramatic, stark, pre-Mughal fort that gave it both scale and eloquence. The play for no fault of Karnad’s became his calling card over the years-with the uninitiated.
He became a film actor and give a resounding performance as the school master driven mad by the kidnapping of his beautiful wife by the lustful brothers of the local Zamindar. He also gave a fine account of himself in Swami directed by Basu Chatterjee. He appeared as an actor in films and Television, not only because he could test himself in another medium but also to buy the freedom to pursue his activities in the Theatre, namely writing plays.
It has always difficult for playwrights and theatre directors, actors to support themselves financially and pursue their goals with dedication. One was left wondering how Vijay Tendulkar, the famous Marathi playwright manage financially. His plays, even the most successful ones like Ghasiram Kotwal, Sakharam Binder, Khamosh Adalat Jari Heye and Panchi Aesey Aate Hein, would not have brought in substantial royalties as most of the time they were produced by serious amateur groups with limited finances. Tendulkar’s forays into Parallel cinema as a script writer would have brought in steady but modest financial rewards. He did write the scripts for 14 relatively low budget films. Tendulkar managed to support his career as a playwright,y post -1970, as a film script writer.
Karnad, because of his activities in the cinema, and to an extent Television, was able to acquire a certain financial equilibrium to continue with his writing for the theatre. Badal Sarkar, his confrere from Bengal, was the Chief Town Planner of Calcutta. He resigned from this job as it impinged on his activities as a playwright and a theatre producer. He gave up the proscenium theatre for which he had written highly successful plays like Evan Indrajit, Pagla Ghora, Balki Itihas, Hiroshima, Saari Raat. He became an ardent activist of the street theatre, deriving his inspiration from the folk theatre of Eastern India.
Karnad’s making of a playwright was almost an accident. It was when the manuscript of Yayati was vetted with a hawk-eye by Prof. Keertinath Kurtukoti, his exceptionally kind and erudite mentor then living and working in Baroda, he was able to do a rewrite that was acceptable to G.B. Joshi at Manohar Granthamala. It was published in Kannada and caught on quickly. There were stage productions all over Karnataka to begin with, and then all over India.
He observes about his first play: “Oddly enough the play owed its form not to the innumerable mythological play I had been brought up on, and which had partly kept these myths alive for me, but to Western playwrights whom until then I had only read in print. Anouilh (his Antigone particularly) and also Sartre, O’Neill, and the Greeks. That is, at most intense moment of self-expression, while my past had come to my aid with a ready-made narrative within which I could contain and explore my insecurities, there had been no dramatic structure in my own tradition to which I could relate myself.” (Introduction to Three plays, Naga-Mandala, Hayavadana, Tuhlaq, O.U.P. 1994)
Making the theatre his vocation rather a profession was not easy. Karnad had to literally buy his freedom by working as actor in films and Television, directing films and making the most of the Fellowships and Awards that he got. His friend from the Manohar Granthamala days, the truly exceptional translator and fine poet A.K. Ramanujan, had deservedly become a celebrated scholar at the University of Chicago in the US, saw to it that Girish Karnad got the Fulbright Fellowship and wrote Nagamandala and got it produced by the students of the Drama Faculty of the University.
He managed his finances astutely and avoided being called a ‘rebel without claws’! He was certainly not a rebel against the establishment in his formative years. He came from the well-educated Karnataka middle-class, still under the spell of pre-independence idealism. In S.M. Chaitanya’s SNA documentary on him, Karnad says on camera, standing on the steps of an old bungalow in Dharwad that he had lived there as a child with the family when his father was posted in the town, and that Mahatma Gandhi had lived in one of the rooms on the premises! He also adds that he is the present owner of the property.
Dharwad figures prominently in Chaitanya’s documentary for many reason: first, because of G.B. Joshi and Manohar Granthamala, the publishing house that brought modern literature to the Kannada language; second, because it gave Karnad a start and then made him a writer; third, because he came to meet the major literary figures in the language, including Bendre, the great poet who always had an open house, and would happily grant forty five minutes even to an aspiring writer and sent him on his way after his son gave the traditional pinch of sugar.
Dharwad laid the foundation for the young Karnad’s literary future and also gave him, despite his genuine aptitude for Mathematics and Statistics, the confidence to study abroad and become a writer. As a youngster he used to do pretty good sketches of his heroes – the moderns of the English language like T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, and Sean O’Casey, who, incidentally, responded to Karnad’s request for an autographed letter by saying that he (Karnad) ought to become a writer so that others may ask for his autograph!
Dharwad also has the Someshwara temple, which, in popular lore has a connection with antiquity. It was in the tank of this temple that the boy Karnad learnt to swim. It is through this town flows the Shalmali river. He suggested to his wife Saraswati that they name their first born, a daughter, be named Shalmali, rather than Ganga or Jamuna, which were too far away for comfort. Thus the daughter of the Karnad’s was/is named Shalmali Radha.
Karnad’s literary journey had been marked by ups and downs and his quest of finding the right form for the right material been continuous.
His choice of a language for literary expression was curious. Not without a touch of humour. “While preparing for the trip [Oxford], amidst intense emotional turmoil, I found myself writing a play. This took me by surprise, for I had fancied myself as a poet, had written poetry through my teens, and had trained myself to write in English, in preparation for the conquest of West. But here I was writing a play [Yayati] and in Kannada too, the language spoken by a few million people in South India, the language of my childhood. A greater surprise was the theme of the play, for it was taken from ancient Indian mythology from which I had believed myself alienated.” (Author’s Introduction, three plays, Naga-Mandala, Hayavadana, Tuhlaq, O.U.P. 1994)
The choice of such material would not be surprising in retrospect. He had said in the SNA documentary, that his doctor father on his retirement from service in the British Indian Government in 1942-43 was given in a three-year extension and posted to Sirsi, a malaria-ridden settlement in Maharashtra. It was there that he learnt all his “Itihaasa and [tales from the] Puranas” and which stayed with him for life. His exposure to folk theatre was indeed important for his development as a writer.
“In my childhood, in a small town in Karnataka, I was exposed to two theatre forms seemed to represent irreconcilably different worlds. Father took the entire family to see plays staged by troupes of professional actors called natak companies which toured the countryside throughout the year. The plays were staged in semi-permanent structures on proscenium stages, with wings and drop curtains, and were illuminated by petromax lamps.” And then he follows up with the second example: “Once the harvest was over, I went with the servants to sit up nights watching the more traditional Yakshagana performances. The stage, a platform with a back curtain, was erected in the open air and lit by torches.” (Author’s Introduction, three plays, Naga-Mandala, Hayavadana, Tuhlaq, O.U.P. 1994)
He, like Tendulkar and Sarkar, was a product of post-independence modern Indian Theatre that dealt with the social and political problems of the day, each influencing the other. Karnad, in the SNA docu he said he considered Bijon Bhattacharya’s, Nabanna to be the forerunner of modern Indian theatre for it was written as an immediate reaction to Bengal Famine of 1943 in which 3.5 million died. The British responsible for holocaust believed that the figures of the dead were 5 million! There was a bumper harvest that year but the Second World War was on and the Japanese were marching through Burma towards India. All the boats meant for transporting the rice were burnt to impede the possibility of a Japanese invasion, what could be transported to the British army, was done, the rest was left to rot or dumped into the sea or seized by the Marwari black marketers in Calcutta. This digression aside, Nabanna was an epoch- making play. Karnad also criticized Rabindranath Tagore’s plays for being ‘too poetic’ and short on action though he readily admitted that Tagore was a great poet and had influenced important poets across languages in India in his time and a generation later.
The crypto-communist (at least he was one in his youth) Vijay Tendulkar took the Nabanna lesson to heart, and further developed it to his advantage. His important plays are set in contemporary times, and even Ghashiram Kotwal, a period piece about evil doings in public life during the Peshwa period seems like it is talking about India today.
Badal Sarkar, the Civil Engineer from Bengal Engineering College, Shibpur, who also got a Masters in Comparative literature from Jadavpur University in 1992 at age sixty four, began writing about the problems of individuals from an urban middle-class stand point, the classic example being Evam Indrajit, gradually lost faith in the existing socio-political system, including its pseudo-Marxist avatar the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) that ran West Bengal and employed him as Chief Town Planner, a position he surrendered in 1975. He took to street theatre, mainly in small-town and rural Bengal. A new string of plays based on folk theatre forms emerged : to mention a few, Baghala Charit Manas, Dwirath, Ore Bihanga, Manushe Manushe, Janma-Vumi Aaj.
Karnad’s choice of subject to reflect the psychological and socio-political realities of our times is unusual. If Yayati, Hayavadana (based on Thomas Mann’s Transposed heads via Katha Saritsagara) and Nagmandala are set in ancient times, and Tuglaq and The Dream of Tipu Sultan, respectively from early to late medieval times, they do reflect the structure of existing societies and the classes within patriarchy and its values and have a modern ring to them. In each of plays, that number just under a dozen, including the last experimental one, Broken Images, that had an actress interacting with her image on a television screen. He was trying to juxtapose what are considered to be eternal verities with the ethical and moral demands of the contemporary world.
He writes in the introduction to Tale-Danda, set in medieval times that has enormous relevance for our times. ‘’ During the two decades ending in AD 1168, in the city of Kalyan, a man called Basavanna assembled a congregation of poets, mystics, social revolutionaries and philosophers. Together they created an age unmatched in the history of Karnataka for its creativity, courageous questioning and social commitment. Spurning Sanskrit, they talked of God and man in the mother-tongue of the common people. They condemned idolatry and temple worship. Indeed, they rejected anything ‘static’ in favour of the principle of movement and progress in human enterprise. They believed in the equality of sexes and celebrated hard, dedicated work. They opposed the caste system, not just in theory but in practice. This last act brought down upon them the wrath of the orthodox. The movement ended in terror and bloodshed.’’
‘’ Tale -Danda literally means death by beheading (Tale: Head. Danda Punishment).’’
It is difficult to ignore the reverberations these words carry for our times. In the last hundred years or more, there has been a steady erosion of human values: the introduction of mustard gas in World War-I, the dropping of the Atom bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan by the Americans to end World War-II and the holocaust in the same war, that resulted in the most gruesome deaths of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis. After that all morality and ethics in the world (not excluding India) seems to have collapsed- hopefully not for good. Karnad’s play-writing must be appreciated in this perspective both for its artistry and courage.
He was after all an enlightened believer in rationality, in the efficacy of civil behaviour in civil society and a conscientious citizen and artiste. Towards the end when he was barely able to get about, be it to express outrage along with many concerned fellow citizens after the murder of Gauri Lankesh, and other equally heinous happenings. He proudly carried small placards around his neck that said, ‘Not in My Name!’ and on another occasion, ‘I am an Urban Naxal!’ He knew how to protest in a forceful, civilised and peaceful manner.
Girish Karnad was singularly lucky in finding a soul mate like Saraswati Ganapathy, a doctor trained in New York who married him when he was forty two and became his anchor. Together they had two lovely children; the first Shalmali Radha, a daughter, and the second a son, Raghu. The family served on many an occasion as his emotional and moral compass.
He had resigned as director of Film and Television Institute Pune, in 1975 after the imposition of the Emergency by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; when he died there was/is an insidious, certainly more dangerous, undeclared Emergency in place with the BJP in power for yet another term. He had faced both events with grace and courage and practised his vocation in the arts with utmost sincerity.
Ruchi Kishore’s : DIRTY CHAI, a hip hop Bollywood musical
DIRTY CHAI, a hip hop Bollywood musical, is a colorful & crazy dramedy, full of heart!
Chaya Chandrika Gopi, or “Chai” as she likes to be called, is a rebellious Indian-American bride-to-be. Chai’s parents have promised her to a nice Indian boy and the wedding is in ten days. With her back against the wall, not yet ready to give in to this assault on her freedoms, Chai leaves home but unexpectedly falls in love with a charming & mysterious stranger, making a powder keg out of an already complicated situation. Chai finds forbidden love with a fearless American girl, Ronnie, and is trapped between upholding her family’s traditions or following her heart, which goes against everything she’s been taught.
Chai is a messy concoction of two very different cultures, two conflicting identities, and two opposing desires, just like the dirty chai she orders each morning- a perfect brew of espresso and chai (tea).
Her Indian father, Mr. Hardik Gopi, is a traditional Hindu man.
Her White American mother, Mrs. Rani Gopi, converted to Hinduism after falling in love.
Filled with excitement and sarcasm, DIRTY CHAI challenges the walls of formality, fear, and judgment that separate people. Every cause has an effect in this intricately interwoven dramedy about human lives, embracing family, and the chaos of falling in love.
P.S. There will be a wedding so, “chai” not to miss it! o.O
Directed by Adam Marcus Starring Ruchi Kishore as “Chai” Sponsored by Café Cafe Mobile Coffee
As tributes pour in on Surekha Sikri’s demise listen to her Swan Songs
Veteran actor Surekha Sikri passed away this morning, Friday the 16th July 2021, following a cardiac arrest, her agent, Vivek Sidhwani informed. In a statement shared with the media, the agent said the actor had been suffering from complications arising from a second brain stroke. She was with her family and her caregivers who requested privacy at this time.
Surekha Sikri (19 April 1945 – 16 July 2021) was an Indian theatre, film and television actress. A veteran of Hindi theatre, she made her debut in the 1978 political drama film Kissa Kursi Ka and went on to play supporting roles in numerous Hindi and Malayalam films, as well as in Indian soap operas. Sikri has received several awards, including three National Film Awards and a Filmfare Award.
Sikri won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress thrice, for her roles in Tamas (1988), Mammo (1995) and Badhaai Ho (2018). She was awarded the Indian Telly Award for Best Actress in a Negative Role in 2008 for her work in the primetime soap opera Balika Vadhu and won the Indian Telly Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the same show in 2011. In addition, she won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1989 for her contributions towards Hindi theater. Her last release Badhaai Ho (2018) got her immense recognition and appreciation from viewers and critics. She won three awards: the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress, Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film.
As a fitting tribute to the great performer she was we will listen to her mellifluous recitations of Hindi and Urdu Poetry. But before that, here are some of the tributes which poured in on social media and otherwise from her millions of admirers, and eminent people whom she knew, including actors and directors from film, television and theatre.
Ashish Abrol, Income Tax Commisioner, laments: “Surekha Sikri or Surekha di as we called her passed away today morning. I cannot get myself to accept that she is no more. I came to know her in 1985 when she was a faculty member in NSD and came completely under her thrall as she became a mentor, teacher, older sister and a maternal figure for me. Her panache, idiosyncrasies, brilliance as an actor and her erudition… often when her silences taught you more than lectures of so many others. Her love for chaat and the occasional joint… later of course she could not eat much courtesy the intestine problems. She was perhaps the greatest theatre actor ever in modern India; some one who could emote and yet be aware of her own performance as if standing out of her body observing herself perform. More than that she was always overflowing with warmth that traveled to you through her twinkling often mischievous eyes. She was so thrilled when her son Rahul had an exhibition in The Habitat Centre …I was not in touch with her for some time more since her paralysis and with her inability to speak. A triple national award winner; Surekha ji was known to the country at large courtesy her TV and film roles…in Tamas, as Dadisa, in Mammoo but it is her oeuvre in theatre that is stunning; she owned the stage, set it on fire and then doused the flames with her voice and gentleness. RIP Surekha di my mother in another life you live on in your performances and our memories”
“She was one of my personal favourites .. a lovely actress .. will never forget her Nsd work when I was in college in delhi .. god bless her” – Lillet Dubey
“There is a total immersion in life…have deeply admired her work, her persona from the Nsd days, so fully engaged in enjoying everything that came her way intensely” – Amba Sanyal
“Surekha my dear dear friend! We were in the same batch! A consummate actress,very strong woman , determined and brave! ! Never let go of her beliefs and strong options! I shall miss her dearly” – Amal Allana
“Very very sad news. We have lost another great actress. Surekha Sikri left for her heavenly abode. Heartfelt condolences to her family. May God rest her soul in peace” – Satish Anand
“Another great loss to theatre and films. She was a great actor and inspiration to all her juniors at NSD. Will never forget her superb performances. Rest in peace Surekhaji” – Anila Singh Khosla
“Deeply saddened – was always uplifted by her rendering of Faiz’s poem- may she rest in eternal peace” –Salima Hashmi
“Shocking news. She was one of the few who defined theatre for us in our youth. What a great loss for all of us” – Rajiv Bhargav
“Last of the greatest products of NSD..and loved and respected hugely for her talent and principles. Will be sorely missed” – Dolly Thakore
Tail Piece: Surekha Sikri was very fond of poetry. Listen to her reciting poetry by Faiz, Raghuvir Sahay & Sarveshvar
Satish Alekar: Remembering Dilip Kumar
In 1975 to celebrate 100th show of our Theatre Academy, Pune’s original Marathi Production Vijay Tendulkar’s: Ghashiram Kotwal, we invited Dilip Kumar and Shashi Kapoor as the chief guests. Thereafter not many know that Dilip Kumar became our friend. There were many occasions where Jabbar Patel, Anil Joglekar and me were invited to his home on the Pali Hill. Several story ideas were discussed to make film. Story drafts were discussed but never materialised. But we became friends. Dilip Kumar used to speak Marathi fluently. He had seen many popular Marathi Sangeet Natak’s. Sometime at his home he will take out harmonium and sing old Marathi theatre song made popular by Bal Gandharva. Dilip Kumarji and Saira ji used to visit Pune during weekends. They used to stay at famous Turf Club and used to invite Ghashiram actors Gang for a high tea and chat. Above is one photograph of their 1993 visit to Turf Club Pune. Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu seen with ( from left: Satish Ghatpande, Dilip Gokhale, Avinash Limaye, Arvind Thakar, and Suresh Basale) We lost all these three actors over the years.
Sherni: The latest Vidya Balan starrer on Amazon Prime / Sanjiva Sahai
Sherni. The latest movie on Amazon Prime Not as hard hitting as director Amit V. Masurkar’s previous one (Newton), but that hardly takes away the sheen from this true-to-life movie. In the same breath, it’s NOT meant for everyone. Period. If the killing of animals infuriates your being, if ultra slow unfolding of the story fascinates you, if no-frill acting style makes a great connect, do find time to watch it.
This is Aastha Tiku’s very first attempt at story and screenplay. Quite impressive. Dialogues by Yashaswi and Amit appear improvised, sound natural and sharp. Lovely. Benedict and Naren have come up with some extremely restrained musical scores that elevate the sense of mystery in the jungle. And yes, Rakesh Haridas with his available-light shots provide some real-life experience for the viewers.
Vidya Balan, the protagonist, sails through this forest saga with ease and intensity. An ace performance. Vijay Raaz, Sharat Saxena, Brijendra Kala and Neeraj Kabi have lent a good sense of authenticity. Didn’t like Ila Arun at all. Overdone sequences. Okay, what really drew me close to the film was Sampa Mandal as the villager (Jyoti). I guess she was the one playing Phulia (Phoolan Devi) in Sonchiriya. Would love to watch her in different roles: rustic or urban. Superlatively talented. All said, the title should have been Baghin (Tigress), not Sherni (Lioness). Whether what we get visually (tigress and her cubs) or metaphorically (Vidya), बाघिन was apt.