Saturday, July 22, 2017


Today is Mukesh’s birth anniversary. Born Zorawarchand Mukeshchandra Mathur, this day in 1923 at Delhi, the popular playback singer of Hindi cinema is my hot favourite. I am always in a fix, when I ask myself as to which of his songs I like the best - I like most of them for the sonorous quality as well as that peculiar twang which makes Mukesh stand apart from the other singers.Mukesh wanted to become an actor,and did act in movies like Nirdosh and Mela , but without success.As a result he concentrated on singing . Mukesh , though he lent his voice to songs picturised on almost all the top heroes or actors of the time,like Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar,Rajinder Kumar , Rajesh Khanna, Jeetendra, etc. , was in particular, associated with Raj Kapoor. Mukesh , the singer ; Raj Kapoor, the actor; and Shankar- Jaikishan , the music duo - were a unique combination.During my college days when I was an avid listener to Urdu Service of AIR, I used to exchange notes regarding Mukesh’s songs with a friend. His song- Nain ka chain chura kar le gayi – from the movie Chandramukhi has many a time had the effect of a lullaby on me.
The songs sung by him for films like Aag, Awara,Yahudi,Saranga, Andaaz,Sangam Upkar, Kabhi Kabhi , Milan, Bandini, Anari ,Teesari Kasam , Banarsi thug , and many many others are classics and as such unforgettable. I remember, I won a small bet for the song Dil jalta hai to jalne de – from the movie Pehli Nazar as many others would think that the song was sung by K.L. Saigal , another immortal singer.His song – Jeena yahan marna yahan, is ke siwa jana kahan from the movie Mera Naam Joker became very popular.His duet with Lata Mangeshkar- Kabhi Kabhi Mere dil mein khayal aata hai- sung for the movie ‘Kabhi Kabhi’ is still the heart throb of many . However, another song from Kabhi Kabhi- Main pal do pal ka shayar Hoon - proved prophetic as Mukesh died in Detroit, USA , where he had gone along with Lata Mangeshkar for a concert in 1976 , the year the film was released.
Our sincere tributes to the legendary singer !

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Today is Rajesh Khanna’s death anniversary.
No larger than life persona was he made to portray , no superhuman feats was he made to perform; he was just made to play the role of the man next door , not invincible but vulnerable ,given to emotions and weaknesses like you and me , with whom one could easily identify.That was Rajesh Khanna. In fact this ordinariness made him extraordinary , endeared him to all and made him a superstar.
In late seventies, he along with other crew members had come to Shimla to shoot for film ‘Kudrat’- a Chetan Anand movie. On a holiday, probably a Sunday, I rushed to Chhota Shimla, to a place where shooting was going on . It was a shoot for a scene from dance-chorus number- Sawan Nahin Bhadon Nahin- with Rajesh Khanna and Priya Rajwansh in the lead . Priya wore a red dress with makeup to match and Rajesh Khanna, in a combination suit with spotted yellow tie was his usual smartest self . Aruna Irani in Kameez salwar looked like a typical Punjabi Bebe , Dimple Khanna , all grace was also there.
Both Priya Rajwansh and Rajesh Khanna are no more.
Making his debut in 1966 with Ahkri Khat , Rajesh Khanna gave hit after hit for many years reaching the pinnacle of popularity and stardom . His films like Aradhana, Aap ki Kasam ,Amar Prem , Do Raaste,Anand,Kati Patang, Bawarchi, Namak Haram, Haathi Mere Saathi, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Dushman became super hits. In fact in ‘Anand ‘ both Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan shared the screen space and the limelight. Many of his films went on to become Platinum , Gold and Silver Jubilee hits. 

He paired well with all the popular heroines of the time i.e. Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz, Asha Parekh, Zeenat Aman, Tanuja and Hema Malini and the movies were well received by the audiences. However he never got to work with Vaijyanti Mala, who had this regret as Rajesh Khanna according to her had perhaps arrived too late on the scene.
Rajesh Khanna acted in more than 150 films including short films.He produced three movies and co-produced four . The songs picturized on him became instant hits and won fame even for the playback singers. He was an elected Member of Lok Sabha for a term.
A recipient of Padma Bhushan, he was officially recognized as the first superstar of Hindi Cinema.
Unfortunately , the name , fame and popularity that he earned for himself was much more than he could handle and he died a loner and a recluse.
Our humble tributes to the legend !


Today is the first death anniversary of Mubarak Begum , a very talented but less talked about & discussed Bollywood playback singer who also sang Ghazals and Na’at. She started her singing career by giving recitals on All India Radio . Her playback singing started in films in 1949 with the film ‘AIye’ . Nashad, the film composer- not Naushad , the celebrity composer - gave her the first break . She was most active in the ‘50s and ‘60s and in all gave play back in more than a hundred films, most of which are now in oblivion. She was a talented singer, but did not have the networking skills or perhaps did not care much for the material and financial aspect. A kind hearted woman ,who was ever ready to help others , she did not save any money and was driven to financial difficulties during her last years .

 Of all people Salman Khan , the actor helped her financially the most followed by Lata Mangeshkar. She had a peculiar voice with unmatched clarity of diction and perfect pronunciation . Apart from songs- solos and duets-, she gave her voice to Qawwalis in films also.
The following is a random sample of her singing capabilities and versatility-
"Mujh ko Apne Gale Lagalo, Aye Mere Hamrahi",
"Kabhi Tanhaayon Mein Yun, Hamari Yaad Aayegi",
"Neend Ud Jaaye Teri, Chain se Sone Wale"
"Woh na aayenge palat kar",
"Hum haal-e-dil sunayenghe, sunyay ke na sunyay"
"Wada humse kiya, dil kisi ko diya"
"Be-murawwat bewafa begana-e dil aap hain",
"Ae dil bataa hum kahan aa gaye" (Khooni Khazana, 1965)
"Kuchh Ajnabi se aap hain"
"Ayji ayji yaad rakhna sanam"
"Shama Gul Karke Na Jao Yun"
"Sanwariya teri yaad men ro ro marenge hum"
"Humein Dum Daike, Sautan Ghar Jana"
"Yeh moonh aur masoor ki daal" with Shard:”
She died of illness this day last year aged 80.
Our humble tributes to the talented singer !

Monday, July 17, 2017


Today is the 25th death anniversary of Kanan Devi, the popular Actress and Singer of Hindi and Bengali Cinema of the bygone era. Forced to work at a very young age due to indigent circumstances, hers is a fine example of a rags-to riches story. She worked as a child artist in silent movies and debuted at the age of ten when she worked in a film ‘Jaidev’. The next year she appeared in the film ‘Shankaracharya”. Initiated in Bengali cinema,she worked in many Bengali films. In fact her journey with talkies started with Bengali Cinema. Later she worked with big names of Cinema like K.L.Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, , Ashok Kumar and Pahari Sanyal. She acted in Hindi films - Vidyapati, Street Singer,Sapera ,Lagan, Parichay, Jawaab and some others.
She started singing under the tutelage of Rai Chand Boral , who coached her in singing Hindi songs and also taught her the nuances of Western Music.Her duets with K.L.Saigal became very popular She learnt classical music from Ustad Alla Rakha and Rabindra Sangeet from Anadi Dastidar. Her hindi song- Duniya ye Duniya Toofan Mail- became a rage of the times. She turned to producing films in 1949 and made films mainly on the stories of Sharatchandra Chattopadhyay , the doyen of Bengali Literature.
She was a recipient of Padma Shri in 1968 and Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1978.

Our humble tributes !

Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov is one of the most read and celebrated short story writers of the nineteenth century. His stories are set in the pre-revolution period in Russia and mainly focus on poverty, misery, unemployment , displacement and a climate of insecurity and uncertainty prevailing at the time.
He has written in a simple language and style and even complex matters are dealt with in an easy informal way.
Of late I have revisited two of his famous stories.
His story 'Misery' that also carries the title ' Grief ' in some of the collections is a timeless story.The subtitle 'To Whom Shall I Tell my Grief ' itself sets the theme.The story is about an old emaciated sledge driver Iona Potapov , who has lost his only son less than a week before succumbing to a fever and he is burdened with grief , loneliness and helplessness.In the beginning there is also mention of his little mare that pulls the sledge.This shows that the mare has some special place in the story.One snowy winter evening he is looking for passengers for his sledge . A young military officer comes and asks to be taken to some place. Thinking that the person is a potential listener, Iona Potapov in order to share his grief tries to make mention of his son's death but the officer is only interested in reaching his destination and asks him to drive the sledge fast.
At last the destination is reached and the officer departs after making the payment.
Next come three wayward young persons who board the sledge, but young revellers as they are, they too are not interested in his sad story.
After this a fellow cab driver whom he comes across proves equally insensitive.
At night, when there is time to retire for the day, in order to unburden himself, he talks to his mare and finding it a patient listener, tells about his son Kuzma Ionitch, his name being mentioned only once in the story. Iona asks the mare what it would it have felt if it had a colt and lost it.
The story is a scathing comment on human insensitivity.
The other story ' Lady With The  Dog ' is of a different tenor and is about a banker Dmitri Dmiritch Gomov who is a banker & a philanderer and a woman Anna Sergueyevna. Both are married persons . They have a chance meeting at Yalta and fall into a liaison.Soon they part company and go to their respective places.Gomov who has had a series of affairs , finds for the first time that he is in love with Anna. Not able to resist his impulse, he goes to Moscow where Anna lives and not finding her at her residence, locates and meets her at a theatre where a play The Geisha' is being staged. They have a furtive brief meeting at the interval when Anna's husband has gone out for smoking. Gomov leaves only after having a promise of meeting from Anna.
After some days, they meet at the appointed place and time and carry on with the affair. Both being married persons have their families behind and thus are destined to meet stealthily.
They haven't lost hope for the future and story ends irresolutely leaving the reader to imagine and guess !

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday musings:

A somewhat reluctant entrant to the Revenue Department /Service , having once already given up the idea to join as Excise and Taxation Inspector even after receiving the appointment letter and also not to appear for the interview after qualifying the written examination of Income Tax Inspector, it dawned upon me that perhaps all government departments having public dealing had one misgiving or the other . There are good and bad elements everywhere and one can prove one self to be a class apart much against the common perception. On joining Government service, I heard many a joke bandied about Patwaris, the backbone of Revenue Department. This class of revenue officials has over the ages, earned some notoriety, for accepting bribe.

On this analogy , an official of some other department once shared an anecdote with me albeit with a touch of humour.
A villager approached a Patwari for some land related work and as per the prevailing practice, gave him a ten rupee note.The Patwari put it inside his headgear-a turban which most of the people used to wear at that time.
Next day another person came and gave the Patwari a twenty rupee note for the similar work and the Patwari put the note inside his headgear. The genesis of bribe is the tendency of the people to gain advantage over the others so this tendency was at work here also.
After some days when the first party came to the Patwari to enquire and remind about his work, the Patwari found himself caught in a fix. Not looking at the person, he kept foraging into his papers and documents. When the person did not budge and insisted on his work being done, the Patwari, enraged and touched to the quick raised his hand and touching the side where he had put twenty rupee note had this to say , " Main Ki karaan, itthe dooni aag lagi hoyi e !"

Aruna Asaf Ali

Today is the birth anniversary of Aruna Asaf Ali, a patriot and a freedom activist.Born Aruna Ganguly this day in 1909 at Kalka to a renowned Bengali Brahmo family, she was educated in elite institutions.A rebel of sorts, in 1928, she married Asaf Ali, a barrister and an independence activist, much older in age. Obviously, there was fierce opposition from her family, and an Uncle who had brought her up reportedly performed her 'shraaddh' presuming her dead.

After marriage she joined the Indian National Congress. She actively participated in the Salt Satyagraha and other independence activities and courted arrest. Actively into the Quit India Movement of 1942, she is remembered for hoisting the Indian National flag in Bombay.After marriage she joined the Indian National Congress. She actively participated in the Salt Satyagraha and other independence activities and courted arrest. Actively into the Quit India Movement of 1942, she is remembered for hoisting the Indian National flag in Bombay.
Post Independence, she joined the Socialist Party and later left it to join the Communist Party of India and also visited Moscow.Her husband Asaf Ali died in 1953.Active in politics , she became the first elected Mayor of Delhi in 1958. She also started a publishing house which she left after a few years.She re-joined the Congress in 1964, though was not in active politics.

She remained a President of the All India Democratic Women's Association.
Blessed with a long life, she died on July 29, 1996 .
She was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1997 posthumously.
Our humble tributes to the Grand Old Lady of the Indian Freedom Movement !