Adieu Feroz Khan

img_8024This month was really cruel and sad for Hindi film industry. First we lost legendary film maker Shakti Samanta and now we lost Feroz Khan too.
When Shakti da died I didn’t write anything as he was not known to me personally, though I used to like his films immensely. His grandson Aditya Samanta was my student, so I send my condolences through sms.
But in Feroz Khan’s case, my association with him and his banner F.K.International goes back to several years. Before he started “ Prem Aggan ” to launch his son Fardeen Khan, I was called to train Fardeen. I met Fardeen in the office. He had just finished his studies from U.S.A. and was raring to start his new journey as an actor. I told Feroz saheb that I won’t need more than 2 months to train him but in fact worked for 8/9 months, as the film got delayed.
During this long period, I met him several times. He was always warm and courteous. I was supposed to write the dialogues of the film also and had few meetings with him. But it was not destined. I lost an opportunity to work with the legend.
Then I got the invitation for the muhurat of “ Prem Aggan ”. Only then I realized that it was not for nothing that Feroz Khan was called a stylish film maker. It was a lavish and grand party at Leela Kempinsky. The memory of that party still lingers with me. After that party I couldn’t meet Feroz Khan and after his sad demise I won’t be able to meet him ever. I can write volumes about the films he directed:Apradh, Dharmatma and Qurbani. I can also write about the films he acted in:Oonche Log in 1965,Arzoo in 1965,Aadmi Aur Insan in 1969 and Safar in 1970. but it won’t be proper at this juncture.He was a passionate film maker and a very stylish actor. Person is dead but persona will survive for ever.
Here I would like to write few words about Fardeen also. The way he attended and looked after his ailing father, is admirable. He left several films and lucrative assignments and was with his father throughout his illness. May God give him strength to bear this loss.
Adieu Feroz saheb! You shall always be there in the heart of lovers and connoisseurs of cinema.


Sri Lanka:Fall of L.T.T.E. & Rise of Eilam

2Yesterday I wrote about the unfolding scenario in Sri Lanka. Since the third phase of election is still 4 days ahead, I am taking this opportunity to post another blog about Sri Lanka. The demise of Velupillai Prabhakaran is imminent with no redemption in sight. His control over the Tamil dominated northern and eastern part of Sri Lanka was total once upon a time. Presence of Sri Lankan government was abysmal. Tigers ran a parallel government from Kilinochchi, with it’s own courts, schools and civic administration. Today their kingdom in Kilinochchi lies in shambles. Town has been recaptured by the advancing Sri Lankan army. It is pertinent to remember that L.T.T.E. was able to thwart their attempts to capture the town for 10 long years. Today Kilinochchi is a ghost town and Tigers are confined to a small area near the town of Mullaitivu. Once they held 15,000 sq km of land, now their sway runs only over 10 sq km. The fall of L.T.T.E. is imminent and annihilation of it’s chief is apparent. But the real problem will start after that. Once Prabhakaran is gone and the dreaded Tigers vanquished for ever, the true face of Sinhal chauvinism will resurface again.  

Congress Party always acts in a myopic ways. I can understand their feelings about Tigers and Velupillai Prabhakaran, who ordered Rajiv Gandhi’s killing. They now shun L.T.T.E. completely. Not only that, it is alleged, their government is helping Sri Lankan army in all possible ways. China and Pakistan are also fishing in the troubled waters for their own ulterior motives. My feelings are neither for the Tegers nor for the well-being of Prabhakaran, my feelings are for  Sri Lankan Tamils. Sinhal majority people are enimical towards minority Tamil people. Few liberals in India opine that since we are facing such kind of menace ourselves, we should not sympathize with the Tamil rebels of Sri Lanka.

Let us examine this argument. India now has 31 provinces. B.J.P. govt. created three new states, when the demand was made. Creation of Telangana seems to be imminent. B.J.P. has promised to look into the matter of Gorkhaland, if elected. We do not feel threatend, if a demand is made for a new state. At the time of accesion, when doubts were raised that Kashmir’s culture and Kashmiriat might be endangered with the influx of outsiders, a special provision was made in the constitution and Kashmir is protected by article 370.  Not only that, even tiny Mizoram was also protected by a special constitutional provision at the time of Rajiv, Laldenga agreement. But in Sri Lanka, if Tamilians demanded self rule, they were called traitors. India has 22 constitutionaly recognized languages. But in Sri Lanka they refused to have two official languages. They made Sinhalese compulsory and the only language of Sri Lanka. In their own country, Tamilians were treated like second class citizen. We have a grievance redress system in place. Regular elections are held even in so called disturbed provinces. And even after this if few disgruntled elements want to secede from India, it cannot be compared with Sri Lankan Tamils. They have genuine grievances and Sri Lanka has no grievance redress system.

After Prabhakaran, these hapless Tamils will be at the mercy of their Sinhal masters. India has some responsibility towards them and she should not shirk her responsibility come what may. We cannot and should not view every thing through the prism of Congress. Who knows fall of L.T.T.E. could be the rise of Eilam. 


Sri Lanka:Tamil Tigers & Tamil People

2It’s election time in India and I did not want to comment on anything else. But events of  Sri Lanka forced me to deviate and hence I am posting my blog about the unfolding scene in Sri Lanka and sufferings of our Tamil brethren there. I admit it is a complex issue and Indian public is prejudiced, either in favour of the Tigers, or against the Tigers.

It all started almost two decades ago.  It was a movement for the independence of the northern and eastern territories of  Sri Lanka, dominated by Tamils. We, north Indians, do not understand the sentiments attached to this cause and we do not know and care for the background of this struggle also.

India’s contacts with Lanka or Simhal Dweep, as Sri Lanka used to be called in pre-historic days, started with Bhagwan Ram. Lanka, the golden kingdom of mythical Ravan, was conquered by Ram and Vibhishan was anointed the new ruler. After that she remained subservient to India for a very long time. Then after a long period of hiatus, Ashoka- the- great, sent his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism. Lankans accepted the principles of the Buddhism and even today Buddhism is the official religion of this island nation. During British era Ceylone, as Sri Lanka was called then, was part of India. For tea plantation and several other activities Brtishers brought Tamil labourers to Ceylone and they started settling there . Ceylone never said anything against Tamil people and never ever said that they should not be brought there and cannot settle there. Our Tamil brethren toiled hard and made Ceylone a very  prosperous nation. In those days  Britishers were lording over Simhals and Simhals were lording over Tamils. Before the independence of India, Ceylone was made an independent nation by British with ulterior motives and that to without deciding the fate of our Tamil brethren.

After independence Ceylone tried to move away from India. She was very close to China and Pakistan. Then she started suppressing Tamil people and Tamil language. Ceylone’s name was changed to Sri Lanka and Simhales was made the national language of the nation. Later on it was made  compulsory language for education. Tamils were living like a second class citizen. Buddhism, which preaches compassion, became cruel for these HinduTamils and the monks, who were supposed to be like a laughing, compassionate Buddha, became as bigot as Talibans, and forced the government to be firm with Tamils. Tamils were crushed, their protests marches were banned, cries were unheard . Buddhist monks, who were silent spectators, when Bamian Buddhas were blown to smithereens by Talibans, were very active during those days and helped the government in the humiliation and subjugation of Tamils.

Then struggle for Tamil Illam (Nation) began. L.T.T.E. and several other organisations took shape and they all started freedom movement. There were many Tamil leaders and half a dozen parties fighting for the cause. Velupillai Prabhakaran was just one of them. The movement for Illam is justified and we in India should support this cause.

Now we must understand the problem. To gain supremacy, Velupillai Prabhakaran killed each and every other Tamil leader. He finished every other party and in L.T.T.E. also, supressed all criticism and dissent with ruthless hand. He gained unquestioned supremacy and lordship over Tamil populace. And became a despot. When a naive, new  and inexperienced  Rajiv Gandhi was lured unnecessarily into this conflict by a willy Jayavardane, the then president of Sri Lanka, Prabhakaran, without understanding Rajiv’s motives, decided to kill him. He accomplished his aim with the help of his accomplices without caring about the repercussions. Now he is reaping the harvest.

We, in India, should and cannot forgive Velupillai Prabhakaran. He is a despot and ruthless autocrat and L.T.T.E. of today is a terrorist organization. They should be finished. But we must not forget our Tamil brothren. We are dutybound to help them. I vividly remember the atmosphere of Sri Lanka 25 years ago. Sri Lankan government, the Buddhist monks and majority Simhal population’s feelings toward Tamil minorities were enimical and they are enimical even now . Afer Prabhakaran’s elimination, Sri Lankan government, it’s army, monks and the majority Simhals will turn their fury towars the hapless Tamil populace. We can abandon Prabhakaran and L.T.T.E. but we cannot abandon our tamil brethren.

It is a complex issue and should be understood in it’s totality and with all the complexities. Tamil Tigers and Tamil people are different and should be treated differently.


India’s black money in Switzerland’s white heaven

2This election is turning very interesting by each passing day. BJP’s P.M. in waiting, Advani ji raised the issue of India’s black money, which is  stashed away in the Swiss accounts. And it is not a paltry sum. It is any thing between Rs. 25 lakh crores to Rs. 70 lakh crores. He said that if elected to power, he will do everything to bring this money back to the country. To my surprise, the Congress reacted angrily. They said that BJP is politicising the issue. Then they said, why Advani ji is raising this issue during election times. What were they doing, when they were in power? They also said that Advani ji is fudging the figures.

Let us look at some startling facts . While this issue was raised by Advani ji in India, members of G20 nations met in London and raised the same issue. They are rich countries, but still they felt the need to tackle this problem. Still they felt the need to brought the money, which rightfully belongs to them, to their respective countries. Feeling the heat and buckling under the pressure, Swiss banks came forward to relax the laws of banking secrecy. They are now willing to share the information with the governments, who want the information about their citizen’s accounts. It’s a golden opportunity. We must use this rare opportunity to bring back our money and use it for the betterment of our people and development of our country. Even C.P.I. and C.P.M. , who oppose every move of BJP, are supporting the issue. Janata Dal(U), though an ally of BJP, had already issued a statement in favour. Then why only Congress is in denial mood?  What is troubling them? Is there something fishy? Are there any skeletons in the copboard?

Who knows? Only time will tell. But I want my country’s wealth back.


“Indira is India” : The Syndrome Survives

2I don’t know how many people still remember the slogan,”Indira is India and India is Indira”.  The then Congress president Mr. Deb Kant Barua coined this slogan during emergency. Those were the dark days when the fundamental rights of the people were suspended. Freedom of speech, independence of judiciary and  rights of press were curtailed. All the important leaders were incarcerated. In that endless tunnel of darkness there was no glimmer of hope. So people tolerated this slogan, but when time came,  they gave a fitting answer to the dictators. For a brief period the Congress was consigned to the trashbin of history.

There was a faint hope that the Congress must have learnt the lesson.  But no, it refuses to learn any lesson. In these election, while canvassing for BJP, Modi ji said that Congress is like old lady. Priyanka immediately retorted, “do I look like an old lady”? I wondered, why is she equating herself with the Congress? Modi ji was making a statement about the Congress and not about Priyanka. But suddenly I remembered the history of the party and it’s relation with the Nehru-Gandhi family. They have to equate themselves with the Congress. It’s their habit, their thought, their prerogative. They think, it’s their birth right.

Indira Gandhi and Deb Kant Barua both are dead but the “Indira is India” syndrome still survives.


In Kashmir : A lonely person called “Lone”

2Last year Kashmir created history. In assembly elections, despite boycott calls by the seperatist Hurriyat Conference, people of Kashmir came out and voted in record numbers, 68% precisely. Stunned Hurriyat Conference refused to accept it’s defeat and termed the large voting as people’s wish for good governance and some local issues like bijli, sadak,pani. They claimed that by voting in assembly elections, people of Kashmir didn’t compromise Kashmir’s azadi. The issue is very much on and Indian government must try to find a lasting solution to the vexed problem of Kashmir.

Take their view first that people of  Kashmir participated in assembly elections for the local issue of bijli,sadak,pani. Agreed, they voted for it and it shows that now they are more concerned about their well-being, about their children’s future, rather than the emotive issue of  independence. A new government of National Conference, with the support of Congress, is in saddle. Kashmir got it’s youngest chief minister.  

 Then the election for the 15th Lok Sabha were declared and a prominent seperatist leader Sajjad Lone decided to fight these elections. It is interesting to note that Lone’s sister Shabnam Lone was also a candidate in the last year’s assembly elections. That time Lone had denounced his sister and termed her act as a “great betrayal of the legacy of his father and Shaheed-e-Hurriat”. Shabnam paid no heed and went ahead. Barely after few months Sajjad Lone himself took the plunge, though on record he still maintains that’ it will hurt to take oath under Indian statute’. The fact is that he is the first seperatist leader to contest the elections. UK-educated and 42 year old, Sajjad Lone is a close confidante of moderate Hurriyat faction chief  Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and heads a breakaway faction of the People’s Conference. Lone says that “the turnout prompted me to change the strategy but not the ideology……..I am not seeking power, but I am trying to reorient the stuggle from the street to the institutions”.

A warm welcome Mr. Lone to the national arena. It’s a welcome reorientation. I know, you will always maintain that it is not a victory for Indian democracy. But deep down you also know, it is a victory for Indian democracy indeed.


Quo Vadis Mulayam ?

2Once upon a time there used to be a party in India, Socialist Party. I used to watch them since my childhood. I always wondered about their thoughts and actions. They couldn’t live togather for long and they couldn’t live without one another for long. So, since the days of Late Ram Manohar Lohia, they formed myriads of factions of Socialist Party. Two very prominent factions are coming to my mind: Praja Socialist Party and Samyukta Socialist Party. Would you believe, one faction even expelled Lohiaji for indiscipline. Late Madhu Limaye and Madhu Dandavate were other famous socialists, who were equally mercurial. Only surviving member of that era and group is George Fernandes.

They had peculiar dogmas, obscure theories and strange social behavioural patterns. They were rebel without cause, iconoclasts without reason and fighters without provocation. They were so righteous and bellicose that you cant even reason with them.  One thing I fail to understand was, their rejection of English. They wanted to stop English education and  would have loved to discard everything western. In those olden days, India’s nascent nationalism was too xenophobic. So they survived and prospered. They faded into oblivion , when this xenophobia receded and some prominent and quintessential socialists left this world. George Fernandes is still alive but he is a changed man now.

Then suddenly Mulayam Singh Yadav rose on the nation firmament and proclaimed himself a socialist and formed a new Socialist Party. I thought this new socialist party would be different from its predecessors but all my wishful thinking was in vain. When I read the manifesto of  Socialist Party for this election, a feeling of deja vu cropped up in my mind. The new socialist Mulayam wants to ban English and banish computers. In this era of globalisation and unshackled economy, how on earth can one think that he can do without English and computers? Does he have no educated and modern thinking advisors? Or the whole party is full of  obscurantists and fossilised vestiges of yore. The hypocrisy of this socialist is so pertinent that his own party’s Uttarakhand unit wants 10% seat reservation in prestigeous English medium schools like Wellham and Doon. Moreover, his two sons are foreign educated. Obviously medium of education would have been English. His elder son Akhilesh uses two BlackBerrys. Obviously this burly wrestler of Etawa does not walk his talk. Thank God, we know his thoughts before the elections.


L. K. Advani’s Jinna controversy….nothing controversial about it

2I heard about this issue few years back, when Advaniji was visiting Pakistan and in Karachi, went to pay obeisance to the founder of  Pakistan Qaed -E-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinna. There he described Jinna as true secular leader and the hell broke loose. I  read in papers all kind of comments, by all kind of people. Every one has some suggestions and every one was offering all kind of knowledge to Advaniji, as if he had none .

Let us go to the issue again. Qaed-E-Azam was the sobriquet given to him by Mahatma Gandhi.  No one questions Gandhiji’s patriotism.  Let us examine the issue in the light of Jinna’s utterances. On January 09, 1948 he addressed the nation in following words:

  “……………..I once more want to impress all Muslims that they should fully co-operate with the Government and the officials in protecting their Hindu neighbours against these lawless elements, fifth columnists and the cliques who are responsible for creating these disturbances, and restore trust and confidence among all the communities……………….    Pakistan must be governed through the properly constituted Government and not by cliques, or fifth columnists, or a mob, and the Pakistan Government are going to take the severest possible measures against the offenders, and they shall be dealt with sternaly and ruthlessly.”

Do we need any other proof ? Of course he was the founder of Pakistan. But his dream of Pakistan was totally different from what we see today. On February 1948 in his broadcast talk to the people of U.S.A. , he unfolds his vision of pakistan:

“…………… any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. we have many non-Muslims- Hindus , Christians, and Parsis-but they are all Pakistanis. they will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightfull path in the affairs of Pakistan.”

These are the true thoughts of Jinna, a leader much hated in India. According to me Advaniji only stated the truth. Moreover, he was in Pakistan and as a true Hindu he should have shown courtesy to his host country’s father of the nation, which he did.

He doesn’t need my support at all. I am a small fry but I wanted to express my views on this issue and hence this blog.


A tale of two riots : Delhi & Gujrat

2Few days back, I was watching a very interesting debate on NDTV24/7. Anchored by suave, eloquent and elegant Dr. Pronoy Roy, it had Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni from BJP and Mr. Kapil Sibal from Congress.

During election campaign, that to as crucial as this one for the 15th Lok Sabha, you have to hear leaders of Congress wailing for the victims of Gujrat riots. So as expected Mr. Sibal started his rant about the hapless victims of Gujrat. In response to this, Mr. Kulkarni expressed his feelings about victims of Sikh riots of Delhi. To my shock and disbelief Mr. Sibal changed his track and in a voice full of grief and pain, a la Dilip Kumar, the tragedy king of yesteryear, started pleading that this subject should not be broached again and again, as it vitiates the atmosphere and generates communal hatred and disharmony.

If a mere mention of 1984 riots can reopen the wounds and so we should try to banish it from the public memory, then what about Gujrat riots of 2002? Shouldn’t they also be banished? Why on earth they bring the topic again and again and create a fear psychosis among the muslims. Each and every BJP leader has expressed regret and said that this was an unfortunate incident. A minister in Modi government, Maya Kodnani, has been stripped of her post and currently she is cooling her heels in prison. Several police officers are also behind bars and judicial process is going on unhindered.

At least BJP government didn’t absolve anyone a la Jagdish Tytler.  Mr. Tytler, on the eve of election, was given clean chit by CBI and subsequently got ticket also, along with Sajjan Kumar. They had to bow out of electoral race, thanks to public outcry, is another story. Congress can’t absolve itself from the sin. Still the double speak of Congress is going on.

It is tale of two riots, so different and so diverse.


L.K.Advani v/s Babalog

2This election for the 15th Lok Sabha is unique in many ways. It unfolds very interesting scenario. One side is represented by Shri L. K. Advani, 82 year old leader of BJP. The other side is represented, as claimed by The Congress, by younger lot. As per their theory, it is important that this country should be led by young leaders. For them young is an euphemism for Rahul Gandhi. So it, in all probability, becomes a fight between L. K. Advani and Rahul Gandhi. For tactical reasons Congress is unwilling to accept this fact. But this is the emerging scenario.

During my childhood, spent in the hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh, I often heard a story. In olden days, somewhere a marriage was fixed and a barat was scheduled to go to the brides place. Groom’s side was very adamant for a hefty dowry and brides side had no option but to agree to each and every demands of the groom’s side. But they were a clever lot and to put groom’s side in their place, they put a condition. No elderly person should accompany them in the barat. Groom’s side apparently agreed but, later on they thought that without an elderly person, they won’t be able to handle a tricky situation. So they hid an elder in a box and reached at the brides place. As suspected, they were put to severe and most uncomfortable situations and tricky positions. Unable to deal and cope with the situations, they used to rush to the elderly person in the box and got answers and solutions to everything. Suspecting foul play, brides side accused groom’s side of renegation and told them that there have to be an elderly person with them. Then the elderly person was brought out of the box and was honoured and felicitated by the bride’s side.

I used to hear this story with rapt attention from my bua, chachi and mamas and heard it umpteen times and it remained with me till today. And today, when I see this unequivocal fight between Advani ji and Rahul baba, I smile. Rahul baba and so many babas of his ilk are still in the perambulator of politics and are no match to the sagacity and wisdom of Advani ji. A country as complex and diverse as India, needs a statesman, a visionary, a gigantic and yet a fatherly figure like Advani ji. At this juncture we can ill afford to have babalog as our helmsman and experiment with their child play.



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