Vidur’s Film Diary- July 2009

2One more month is gone. Gradually days and months are passing by with alacrity and ferocity. When I contemplated writing film diaries, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I have to write obituary every month. It is sad to know that people, whom once you watched on the silver screen, are leaving this world one by one. It is sad that the idols of your adolescent age have embarked silently on their celestial journey, and sometimes you are not even aware of it. Here I am writing about few people, who left this world in July.

JOGINDER : He died last month, June 14, 2009 precisely. His death was not widely reported in the daily news papers and I was not even aware of it. I read about his sad demise in the IMPPA bulletin of this month, and immediately flood of memories came rushing to my mind. I was studying in the Government Inter College, Allahabad and used to frequent cinema halls along with my friends. We thoroughly enjoyed Joginder’s films. He used to act in the B grade movies, which he produced and directed as well. Some of the films, which I still remember are; “ Daku Aur Jawan ”, “ Pandit Aur Pathan ” and of course his most famous, well remembered one and a massive hit of it’s time “ Bindia Aur Badook ”. I have no qualms in accepting that I used to love his films for sheer entertainment value. I know, intellectuals and connoisseurs will be appalled, but during those days I use to watch all kind of films. There were no limits or choices. In acting, I liked Dilip Kumar the most but I liked Dara Singh and Joginder also. In direction Satyajit Ray was my favourite but I used to like films directed by Dara Singh and Joginder too. I enjoyed “ Bindia Aur Bandook ” and his other films as an actor and a very fond remembrance of joginder was consigned in my memory. Now after his death, he shall always be there in my memory, permanently.

NILU PHULE : On July 12, it was the final and permanent curtain call for Nilu Phule. He was an actor of amazing capabilities. After a very successful stint in theatre, he rose to dizzy heights in films. Saamna, Jaith Re Jaith and Sinhasan, all Marathi films directed by Jabbar Patel, are his extremely famous films. During his long, illustrious career he did 130 Hindi and Marathi films. Hindi film connoisseurs are not very familiar with him, though he acted in couple of Hindi films. Saaransh, Mashaal, Prem Pratigya, Coolie, Woh Saat Din and Naram Garam are notable among them. Those who have seen his play Sakharam Binder, a controversial play written by Vijay Tebdulkar, still vouch for his brilliant performance. Nilu Bhau, as he is fondly called by Marathi film fraternity, is gone to stage some other play in some other unknown world.

BHASKAR CHANDAWARKAR : A very little known name out of his sphere, he gave music for “ Khandahar ”, “ Paroma ” and Amol Palekar directed “ Thoda Sa Roomani Ho Jayen ”, a film starring Nana Patekar. In Marathi he gave music for films like “ Rao Saheb ” and “ MatiMai ”. He won National award and Sangeet Natak Academy award for his brilliance in music. He was also a music teacher in FTII, Pune for several years.

LEELA NAIDU : On Tuesday night July 28, 2009 came the news of death of Leela Naidu. Only last month I mentioned Ismael Merchant and Merchant-Ivory production’s film “ Householder ” in my film diary. Leela Naidu was the leading lady of that film, which also starred Shashi Kapoor. It was the first Hollywood film with Indian stars and Indian music director. So it stayed in my memory. It’s music director Ali Akbar Khan also died last month. I still remember the day, when I saw her on the screen for the first time. I am still finding it difficult to erase the first impression of this actor, whose film I watched decades ago. With her half French half Indian looks, she was very dignified and elegant. She won Miss India title in 1654. It was in 1963, when I saw her for the first time in a film called “ Ye Raste Hain Pyar Ke ”. Because of it’s subject ,it became very controversial, at the time of it’s release. It was certified by the Censor Board with A certificate and I was dying to see it, though I was a minor in 1963. Anyhow I managed to sneak into the cinema hall, Amarjyoti Talkies Deoria, and watched the film. I must admit that more than the content of the film, I was mesmerized by the ethereal beauty of Leela Naidu. The title song, “ Ye Raste Hain Pyar Ke, Chalna Sambhal sambhal Ke ”, filmed on Sunil Dutt and Leela Naidu, still reverberates in my memory. Incidentally that film was produced by Sunil Dutt and it was the maiden production of Ajanta Arts. She also starred in “ Anuradha ” , a film directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee and which won President’s Gold Medal for best film in 1960. After separation from her husband Dom Moraes and his subsequent death she slipped into loneliness. Confined to her Colaba home, she became a recluse and ultimately died at the ripe age of 69.

It is very uncanny and strange that a day after her death, Gayatri Devi, the Rajmata of Jaipur, also died. Incidentally both were listed by VOGUE in the list of the 10 most beautiful women in the world.

F.C.MEHRA : july 29 was the first death anniversary of F. C. Mehra. He came to India from Afghanistan and built a huge film empire here. Eagle Films, his banner, produced many successful films starring Shammi Kapoor. His Minerva theatre, touted as pride of Maharashtra, is witness to many film premieres. I still remember the grand premier of Akshaye Khanna’s debut film“ Himalay Putra”, which was held at Minerva and which I attended. It is sad that after a year of his death Minerva is demolished. I had one more connection with Mr. Mehra. I played a small character in a serial called “ Zaban Sambhal Ke ” , produced by him. He was the producer of “ Quilla ” and he is going to have a dubious distinction of being the producer of, perhaps the last film of legendary Dilip Kumar, if the thespian doesn’t change his mind and acts again.

BIMAL ROY : At last there is another kind of news, the news which is not so  sad. July 12 was the birth centenary of legendary film maker Bimal Roy. I have seen almost all of his films. “ Do Bigha Zameen-1953 ”, “ Yahudi-1954 ”, “ Devdas-1955 ”, “ Sujata-1959 ”, “ Parakh-1960 ” and of course “ Bandini ” and “ Madhumati ”, whose year of release I am failing to remember. My God! All world class masterpieces and all directed by just one man! As famously narrated by Dilip Kumar, Bimal Roy directed films in whispers. Apart from his celluloid masterpieces, he trained many assistant directors, who rose to dizzy heights in Hindi and Bengali film industry. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Nabendu Ghosh, Sudhendu Roy, Ritwik Ghatak, Salil Chowdhury, Kamal Bose, Basu Bhattacharya, Asit Sen and of course Gulzar, all his assistants, who made marks in various departments of film making. Few of today’s generation know that he started as a cinematographer in 1935 with P. C. Barua directed “ Devdas ” starring K. L. Sehgal and Jamuna. He was the first one to insist for subtle and realistic acting, clearly breaking away from the theatrical acting, which was in vogue those days. Bimal Roy died in 1966 and with him an era ended permanently .
JULY RELEASES : The month started with a promising note. “ New York ” is a massive hit. In fact of all the releases of this year, it is the biggest hit of 2009. After this “ Kambakkht Ishq ” recorded bumper opening. Other films “ Shortkut ”, “ Sankat City ” and “ Morning Walk ” were not so successful but all these films have one thing in common. They have one or more than one of my students starring in them. John, Neil and Katrina in “ New York ”, Kareena in “ Kambakkht Ishq ”, Akshaye and a debutant Dipaali Siingh in “ Shortkut ”, Rimi Sen in “ Sankat City ” and Divya Dutta in “ Morning Walk ”, all are trained by me. Today on July 31, when I am posting this blog, “ Love Aaj Kal ” has been released to packed houses. It stars Saif Ali Khan, another student of mine, who is also producer of this flick.

The story doesn’t stop here. There was an article in Times Of India on July 22 about 5 established stars of Bollywood, named “ Bollywood’s Five Muskateers ”. According to that article Amir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Hritik Roshan, Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan are the only box office reliable stars today. According to Komal Nahta Amir and Shahrukh are no. 1 and Hritik is no. 2. As per Amod Mehra, Hritik is 3rd, after Amir and Shahrukh. According to Ashok Ahuja of Percept Picture Company, Amir and Shahrukh are tied at no.1 and Hritik is clearly no.2. In every permutations Hritik is ahead of Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan. He stands there just after Amir and Shahrukh. Needless to add he is my student.

In Hindustan Times of July 25, there was another article about 5 upcoming box office reliable stars. List includes Shahid Kapur, Ranbir Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Imran Khan and Harman Baweja. Here barring Shahid, all the other 4 stars are my students. It gives me immense satisfaction that my students are present everywhere in the industry.

A Kannada film “ Yuva ” got released to packed houses in Karnataka last Month. It stars Kharrtik ( Prajwal Shetty ). He is getting rave reviews for his acting skills in this film. I trained him too years ago.

Towards the end there is a heartening news about the collaboration of Anil Ambani and Steven Spielberg. In Rs. 4000 crore deal Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks studio will make six films a year for global audience. The films made will be globally distributed by Walt Disney, while the rights for India will be with Reliance Big Entertainment. This is a giant step for Indian film industry, which produces more than 1000 films per year. It is more than the combined number of films produced by. U. S. A., Japan and china.

I am signing off with this happy and optimistic news. I shall be back again next month.


Congress & Manmohan Singh : No Sharm for Sharm el-Sheikh

2It happened last week. Dr. Manmohan Singh went to Egypt to participate in the Non Aligned Movement ( NAM ) conference, and as expected, there he signed a joint statement along with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani. The venue Sharm el-sheikh will be so apt, I didn’t know. Literal meaning of sharam in English is shame. And by signing the joint statement Dr. Singh brought shame to the people of India. He and his party should be ashamed of their action, but they are not.

Quite unexpectedly Congress won last Lok Sabha elections and UPA started it’s second innings, which is now known as UPA2. Signing of IndoAmerican nuclear Deal and victory in the 15th Lok Sabha elections, two consecutive achievements swept Dr. Singh out of his feet. Basking in the false glory Dr. Manmohan Singh, aimed high and wished to re-write the history of this subcontinent. Little did he know that even the most naïve Pakistani leader is much smarter than him. He put faith on Gilani and believed him completely. He forgot fate of his two illustrious predecessors. We won the 1965 war. But Lal Bahadur Shastri fell to the charm of Ayub Khan, the then President of Pakistan, and gave away everything, which was won by our armed forces. After achieving what he wanted, Ayub Khan went to his old ways. Second example is of Indira Gandhi. We decisively won 1971 war and Indira Gandhi was a modern day Chanakya, still she was hoodwinked by wily Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Along with thousands of P.O.W. She returned every inch of the land, won by our security forces. Bhutto got what he wanted and in spite of the humiliating defeat, returned to Pakistan from India as a victor. If these two worthy predecessors of Dr. Singh and great politicians of this country failed to fathom the mind of Pakistani leaders, what can we expect from a naïve like Dr. Manmohan Singh?

He agreed to de-link composite dialogues and terrorism. So even if 26/11 is again staged in any city of Indian, we will keep the parlays on. And second, he agreed to have talks with Pakistan on Balochistan. I fail to understand, why the hell should we agree to have talks on Balochistan. India has nothing to do with Balochistan. After independence Amir of Kalat , the then ruler of Balochistan, signed letter of accession with Pakistan and thus it became the 4th and the biggest province of the new born country. It shares it’s boundaries with Iran and Afghanistan. It is sparsely populated and rich in minerals and other natural resources. Pakistan exploits Balochistan’s natural wealth and refuses to share the income with Baloch people. Pakistan’s biggest and most modern all-weather port Gwadar, built with the help and support of China, is situated in Balochistan and here again Pakistan behaved like a colonial power and fraudulently deprived the locals of the benefits of the developments. The unrest was bound to happen and insurgency started in Balochistan. It is very old story and instead of trying to understand the reason, Pakistan simply blames India for the unrest and in order to quell the unrest bombs the villages, cities and civilian populations indiscriminately. Pakistan’s ruling oligarchy refuses to talk to the Baloch tribesmen and they refuse to lay down their arms. India has precious little to do in Balochistan. What ever contacts were made in Pakistan during the regimes of Indira Gandhi and P. V. Narasimha Rao, were unilaterally shut down by I. K. Gujral, the second most utopian and idealistic Prime Minister of India, the other being Jawahar Lal Nehru. So even if RAW wishes, it can’t do anything. In fact Baloch nationalist leaders accuse India of not helping them. It is the common refrain of the leaders of Baloch Awami Party. And here Pakistan is accusing us of helping them, and fanning the unrest.

After Mumbai attack of 26/11, when Pakistan was standing naked in front of the whole universe and after her nefarious designs on Kashmir became talking point in every world capital and every world forum, she desperately needed some point to counter India. She wanted to show the world that India also foments terrorism and in fact is guilty of training Baloch insurgents, so she should also be condemned. Pakistan wants world’s attention on Kashmir, she wants India to be on American radar, so she is trying to make a case. And our gullible Prime Minister has given them the opportunity on a platter. And the Congress is very silently watching it without any shame for the so called joint statement which it’s leader signed in Sharm el-Sheikh.


Death of Humanity on the streets of Patna

2It is extremely busy Sunday today. It was supposed to be. We are shifting our institute to a bigger and better place. Today we are starting repairing work in that premises. Apart from that, today we are starting our “ Only On Sunday Batch ” for working professionals in Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri, Mumbai. Preoccupied, as I was since yesterday, I was not thinking about any other thing. Apart from that, I was not well also. After I wrote my last blog on 19th of July, a deluge of emotions engulfed me. I succumbed to it and fell ill.

But a very disturbing incident, which happened on the evening of 23rd July, shook me completely. A woman from Dumka / Jesidih, Jharkhand, a province of India, was stripped and beaten up by some hooligans in full public view on the busy Exhibition Road in Patna, Bihar. She was screaming for help, looking for succour but nobody came forward. A voyeuristic crowd kept on watching the hapless girl and were enjoying the free show. Female modesty was outraged on the streets of Patna and no one came forward and helped or even protested. It happened in Patna, once known as Pataliputra, capital of prehistoric and ancient India. It happened in Patna, which was once the capital of Ashok the Great and before him, of his grandfather Chandragupta Maurya. It happened in the city, which was once administered by legendary Chanakya the Great, the then Prime Minister of India. It happened in the city, where Selucus Nikator, the chieftain of Alexander, came as a victor and returned as a vanquished, after giving his daughter to Chandragupta Maurya in matrimony and along with her, whole of Afghanistan as dowry. It happened in the city, where mythical Ganga still flows silently, magnificently and calmly. In Indian mythology all the rivers are considered mothers and Ma Ganga is no exception. We believe that she can purge us of all our sins. But I know this sin cannot be purged, cannot be washed away even by Ma Ganga.

We Indians are hypocrites. And this is not a new phenomenon. It runs deep in our psyche. We worship lots of goddesses. We have 51 Shakti Peeths. We proclaim:

Yatra naryastu poojyante
Ramante tatra devatah
( Gods themselves, live in the places, where women are worshiped. )

And this is what we do to women. I was watching the incident on television channels. The anchor was interviewing a social worker of Patna, who was herself a lady. She said that girl in question might be  a prostitute……….
My question is, even if the girl in question is a prostitute, was it proper? Was it appropriate? She didn’t deserve this and this shouldn’t have happened to her. What is more appalling and shameful, the police force reached late, though they were posted nearby but watched the drama silently for half an hour.

Congress, the old, dilapidated and virtually nonexistent party in Bihar, has started a political drama along with Lalu’s Rashtriya Janata Dal. Cries of      “ Sushashan nahi Dushashan Hai; Cheer haran ka sashan Hai” , rattled the streets of Patna. They forgot that one Maya Tyagi was raped in Meerut during Indira Gandhi’s regime and instead of ordering the police to capture the culprits, she advised the victim to forget everything like a bad dream. What an advice from one woman to another??? No doubt, Indira Gandhi was called the only man in her cabinet!!! So at least Congress should stop politicizing the issue. Nitish Kumar, the present Chief Minister, at least suspended guilty cops and transferred many. Main culprit Rakesh Kumar has been arrested and massive hunt is on to nab other culprits.

My anger is not against the government. It is against the police. It is against the society. It is against the people of Patna, which was once kingdom of our country and was once known as Pataliputra.


Mumbai , India

Remembering My Grandfather:He Is Not Just A Portrait On The Wall

01Today is 19th July 2009. For some it might be just another day, for some it might be just another date but for me it is not just a day or date. It is very important day and date in my life. 19 July is deeply etched in my memory. And believe me, it is not sepia toned memory. It is neither hazy nor obfuscated. It is still fresh in my mind. 50 years back, precisely on July 19, 1959, I lost my grandfather, Kunj Bihari Chaturvedi. Normally grandchildren are always very close to their grandparents, and so was I. My grandmother Uma Devi died before my birth. So I have no fond memories of her of any kind. My grandfather was only elderly person in the family and during my infancy and early childhood, I used to cling to him. I used to play with him a lot.

queens-collegeHe was an enigmatic person. Born approximately in 1875, he was third son of his uneducated parents. He left his native village Sonbarsa, and first joined George Islamia College, Gorakhpur and later on went to Queens College, Varanasi and did his post graduation in Mathematics, approximately in 1895. He was only graduate in whole of Deoria, then a tehsil in Gorakhpur district, U.P. Since he was the only graduate in whole of Deoria, he was the only eligible voter for graduate constituency of U.P. Assembly and candidates used to come to Deoria to seek his vote, just one vote. And during elections, Election Commission used to send an officer to Deoria, so that my grandfather can cast his vote, just one vote. During British era, he briefly served as Inspector of Schools but later on, when he saw that his less educated elder brother Ram Swaroop Chaturvedi is unable to manage vast family estate, he quit his job, and started managing the movable and immovable ancestral property. His second brother Jay Gopal Chaturvedi, being in government service as Post Master, was never available for any family job and moreover, he died young.

12204 = 1 - 4x6While managing family property my grandfather felt that knowledge of law is necessary. He took admission in LL.B. and became a lawyer. He was secretary of Deoria Municipal Board in1930. I still have a photo of the foundation stone of Deoria Municipal Board building, which bears his name. I am posting that photo in this blog. It is worth mentioning that 37 years later, precisely in 1967, his son and my father became Chairman of same Municipal Board, Deoria. This grand building of Municipal Board Deoria bears silent testimony of that historic event.

12205 = 1 - 4x6


Another little known facet of his life was that he was very fond of animals and used to rear cows with great care. He used to take his cows to annual Pashu Melas of Deoria and always got first prize. Once he got thousands of white mice at our home and used to take personal care of them. Whole Sonbarsa village used to call him “ Musahava baba ” [ mice baba ] with fondness.

A paralytic stroke, approximately in 1958, incapacitated him partially. Little did I realize then that I would lose him very soon. I was just 6 years old and was too small to understand all these things. But today I know, realize and understand that he became extremely fond of me after his illness. I particularly remember one evening, a humid and warm summer evening, when I was playing in the drawing room of my Deoria mansion. It used to be my grandfather’s living room then. He was sleeping and I was playing in the same room. In those days kids used to just scream, shout and jump in the name of playing, and I was doing precisely the same. Little did I realize that my ailing grandfather needs some rest and peace. He woke up and called me fondly. I went and sat near him. He was silent and was looking at me intently. I was clueless and didn’t know what was going on in his mind. Even today I could feel the eerie silence of that half lit room, I could vividly remember that gloomy evening. All the doors and windows of the room were open. Sun was setting in the west and it’s red rays were filling the room and playing with the darkness, trying to overpower it. Suddenly I saw tears rolling down my grandfather’s cheeks and he spoke to me in Bhojpuri—Ab ham bahut din jeeyab na. Ka jaane kab chal jaib. Tohake log hostel bheje chahat ba. Bujhat ba ab bhent na hoi—(I wont live long and I don’t know when I will leave this world. They are planning to send you to a hostel. It seems, I wont be able to meet you again.) That time I did not understand any thing. I was unable to understand his feelings. I played  along with him for some time and then left. Luckily, the plan to send me to a hostel was differed and I did not go anywhere. One year after this incident , I woke up one morning and saw my mother and my aunt crying. Feeling strange but without sensing any trouble, I came to the ground floor of my house to play along with my grandfather and saw that there are many people assembled in his room. They were putting him on a stretcher. Then they started taking his frail and unconscious body out of his room and it was put in a vehicle . Then I was told that he is very sick and is being taken to Varanasi for treatment. He was unconscious, so I could not talk to him. I stood silently near the vehicle and was watching him. All the females of the family were standing in a veranda (uttar ka asora) and were crying profusely. My father was standing silently and was watching his father being put in the vehicle along with the stretcher. Our driver Shivapoojan started the vehicle and my father sat in it .  They drove past the gate of my Deoria mansion. I came inside the compound and the huge and massive iron gate was shut. I got busy in my asinine, kiddish world, thinking that my grandfather will be back soon. Little did I know that my unconscious grandfather is not going to return again. He could not see me, he could not even see the mansion, which bears his father’s name ( KRISHNA ) along with his own name ( KUNJ ) . KRISHNA KUNJ still exists and silently reminds me about the good old days, when everyone was alive and it was full of people. It reminds me about my grandfather because he supervised it’s construction and was always busy in maintaining it. He was being driven out of it and he  could not even see it. He died and was cremated in Varanasi. He was laid to rest in the same city, where he once went to study.

03The incident, I mentioned above, happened in 1958, one year before his death. That time I did not understand the helplessness of my grandfather. Today, when I myself stand on the threshold of becoming a grandfather, I can fully understand his feeling, his emotions and his helplessness.He knew that any decision about my future will be taken by my parents and no one will listen to him, or seek his permission. Tears were rolling down his cheeks because he knew his limitations and could sense his helplessness. Today I am ashamed that I could not understand his feelings. I feel guilty that I could not reciprocate his love. I was 6 years old and had my own world. And in that kiddish world of mine, there was no place for an ailing, incapacitated and helpless old man. I forgot that I used to play Tabla on his bald pate and instead of getting angry, he used to enjoy it. He lived a frugal life and bequeathed a large empire for me and my brothers. But when he wanted to hear some reassuring words from my mouth, I kept quiet. Today I want to say so many words but he is not there to listen me.

Today I am 56 years old and I am the only surviving link between my late grandfather and my younger family members. All the family members and relatives, who knew him intimately, are dead. Only two people are alive; my elder cousin Buchchan bhai, and Shri Ramesh Chandra Dubey, a close family friend. I didn’t call them. Instead I called my brothers and informed them about his 50th death anniversary, hoping that at least they would try to remember their grandfather. I know, my brothers were too young then, one 5 years old and another 3 years old, to remember him. And my sisters were not even born. So for them he is just a figure. For my sons, nephews and nieces, he will be just a portrait, a lifeless, fading portrait . So I am the only surviving link between him and my family. After me this link will be snapped. One day I will also become a portrait on the wall, a lifeless and fading portrait. That lies in future. But today, when I am writing this blog, I want to say that as long as I am alive , for me,  my grandfather will never be just a portrait. 50 years ago he was a living being and as long as I am alive he shall always be a living being. Sorry BABA, I was a tiny kid and could not reciprocate your feelings and love then.  Today 50 years have passed. I am sitting in Mumbai, 1700 km. away from Deoria and everything that happened there is still fresh in my mind. 50 years can not diminish or obfuscate your memory. I still remember your toothless chuckle and I sorely miss you.img_8024


China’s Festering Wound-1:Xinjiang;Part-2

  • 2 Today I am reverting to Xinjiang again. Within a week, East Turkestan, renamed earlier as Sinkiang and now Xinjiang by China, erupted in protest against Chinese government and the so called People’s. Liberation Army. In today’s news papers there is a photo of an elderly Uighur Muslim woman standing alone in front of a garrison of Chinese paramilitary forces and protesting in Urumqi, capital of East Turkestan ( Xinjiang). This anonymous old lady is standing with the help of crutches. Need we say anything else about the anger of the Uighur Muslim minority of Turkish origin against the Chinese occupying forces and the tyranny of central government of Peoples Republic of China.
  • East Turkestan ( Xinjiang ) is rich in oil and minerals. Her boundary touches India, Pakistan and Cental Asian Islamic Republics. Because of her strategic geographical situation and because of being a mineral rich region, China always wanted to control this Islamic nation, though culturally both are poles apart. Han Chinese majority is very different from the minority Uighur Muslims of Turkish origin. But China annexed the region and imposed her monolithic Han culture on them. Uighur Muslims can’t go freely to mosques, they can’t offer mandatory five prayers a day, they can’t fast during holy month of Ramzan. And yet as per Chinese government, this province along with Tibet, is an autonomous region. Wow, what an autonomy!!!

    The trouble started when two Uighur Muslims workers were killed in Guangdong by Han Chinese workers. This may be the immediate provocation for the uprising in volatile East Turkestan ( Xinjiang ), but anger against Han Chinese was simmering since decades. China controls all her autonomous regions tightly. This time also after riots, Twitter is blocked, mobile and internet services have been cut off and only official verson is allowed on the state control T.V. China blames western powers for the unrest, blissfully forgetting that her policy of allowing Han Chinese to settle in the occupied provinces and thus changing the demographic nature of that particular region permanently, is the root cause of this pent up anger.

    Like Dalai Lama in Tibet, China has found a scapegoat in East Turkestan also. She is 56 years old and exiled Rebiya Kadeer, head of ” World Uighur Congress “. As per official Chinese version, W.U.C. is a seperatist force aided and helped by western forces. According to them apart from ” World Uighur Congress “, there are two other groups inciting violence. They are “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” and “Turkestan Islamic Movement”.
    Chinese government is blaming everyone for the unrest. They say that E.T.I.M. and T.I.M. are terrorist organizations and are affiliated to Al Qaeda. Who knows the truth. May be they are, may be they are not. China lectures us on Kashmir. They always support Pakistani version. They forget that we hold regular free and fair elections in Kashmir. We don’t impose monolithic Hindu culture on them. We have article 370 of the constitution to safeguard their ethnic peculiarities and regional aspirations.

    It is high time. China should stop playing with fire. Memory of one unarmed man, known as TANK MAN, standing in front of tanks during TIANANMEN square massacre of June 1989, is still fresh in the memory of general public. Now again an unarmed and aged Uighur woman on crutches, standing in front of the posse of paramilitary forces in Urumqi, is too poignant to be forgotten. These are the symbolic protests by two unarmed human beings, standing in front of the might of a nation, that to as brutal as China, is too important a lesson to be forgotten.

    In October 2009, China is planning to celebrate 60th anniversary of the Communist rule. Who knows, what is in store for her on that occasion? May be like Russia, another monolithic communist country, China is waiting for implosion. If two unarmed individuals can stand up fearlessly, what will happen if the whole populace will rise in protest?


    Whither Nepal?

    1. 2Yesterday I read a very sad and disturbing news about Nepal. Ever since monarchy was abolished there and Nepal became a secular country, nothing is going right for her.

    When the first ever communist government took charge, they started dismantling almost everything Indian, or even remotely connected with India. The very first step that communist Prime Minister Prachand took, is to abolish learning of Sanskrit. This ancient language of Hindus, this fountainhead of all the sacred scriptures and one of the still surviving prehistoric languages, is now banished from the curricula.

    Then Prachand, against all advices, removed Head Priest of revered Pashupati Nath temple, who are traditionally brahmins of south Indian origins and replaced them with priests of Nepali origins. The whole country erupted in spontaneous protest and there were no pooja in the temple. The Supreme Court, The President all were against it but Prachand went ahead. It is because of the people that he was forced to rescind his order.

    Then Prachand tried to replace Army Chief, who as per his assumptions was pro Indian. That he burnt his fingers and the President of Nepal refused to play his tunes, is another story. Eventually he resigned and blamed India for the fiasco. After few days of turmoil, another prime minister took reigns of the country.

    Thanks to people like Prachand and our neighbours like China, anti India feelings run deep in Nepal. Yesterday I came across a very sad news. Education Minister of Nepal, while speaking in a public function, was heckled by people. His only crime or sin was the language he was speaking in. The minister, Ramchandra Prasad Kushwaha, President of Terai Madhes Democratic Party was speaking in a function, which was organized to inaugurate an Indo-Nepalese educational joint venture. Moreover, he belongs to Terai region, which is basically Hindi speaking region of Nepal. The irony is, previous speaker spoke in English in the same function, and no one objected. But if a basically Hindi speaking person speaks Hindi, they object. Why?

    Anti Hindi and anti India feelings keep on erupting again and again and run deep in Nepali psyche. Last year when, Vice President Parmanand Jha took oath of office in Hindi, there were fierce protests for days. When the President wore dhoti, there were angry and wild demonstrations.

    India and Nepal are neighbours and there are few historical and geographical limitations, which we can’t ignore. We can’t redraw our boundaries or rewrite our history. So let us accept it and live in peace and harmony.


    China’s Festering Wounds-1:Xinjiang

    2I must admit in the beginning that I am not enamoured by so called super power status of China. I am not going to write copious volumes about her doubtful economic progress. There is a valid reason for my doubt or disbelief. China is not a democracy. She does not believe in free society. And she never encourages or permits free discussions. Chinese government simply dishes out statistics of it’s choice and forces the world to believe it. And the world almost acquiesces and agrees in awe.

    China proclaims that she has domestic stability and there is no dissent. All the ethnic minorities are living in perfect harmony with the Han majority. The myth propounded by China was exposed during the Beijing Olympics last year. The volatile TIBET, their so called autonomous region, revolted against Chinese rule. There were worldwide protests by exiled Tibetans and Chinese claims of unity and ethnic harmony was thoroughly exposed. For Tibetan unrest, China blamed everyone but herself. But about TIBET I will write later.

    Today I am writing about XINJIANG, another so called autonomous region of China. During last year’s Beijing Olympic, precisely four days before the inauguration ceremony, 2 UIGHURS were sentenced to death for killing 17 policemen in KASHGAR. Here again China blamed everyone except herself. Chinese government said that REBIYA KADEER, head of WORLD UIGHUR CONGRESS, is the main force behind the unrest. Sometimes they say that main force behind all these activities is EAST TURKESTAN ISLAMIC MOVEMENT.  Let us go through the facts. On Sunday evening ethnic riots erupted in XINJIANG. As per government sources 140 people died and 800 got wounded. After Tibetan uprising and protests on the streets of LHASA, this is the worst riot in China’s recent history. I am not counting TIEN UN MEN SQUARE massacre here because that is class apart.

    TIBET and XINJIANG, why these two autonomous provinces of China are so restive? The truth lies in the hegemonic aspirations of China. XINJIANG, known in earlier history as EAST TURKESTAN, is rich in oil and is the Muslim majority area.It is native place of 8 million Turkish speaking UIGHUR muslim minority. They complain that Chinese government muzzles their religious feelings and tries to control every aspect of their lives. The fact is, HAN majority Chinese are settling in XINJIANG in large number and UIGHURS are becoming a minority in their own land. How can anyone tolerate this?

    Ethnic minorities are rising in revolt. You can muzzle people for sometime but you can not muzzle or control everybody forever. Very soon this so called emerging world power will succumb to her wounds.


    Vidur’s Film Diary-June 2009

    2I am starting my June film diary with a sad note.So many big luminaries, whose contribution enriched our industry, left us for their last journey. They were hugely successful and they have left indelible imprints on the sand dunes of time.

    ISMAIL MERCHANT comes to my mind first.He died four years ago, and May 25th was his death anniversary. I vividly remember him, when I met him for the first and I didn’t know then, for the last time. I was training his sister’s son and was very curious to know about Ismail Merchant. While studying in Allahabad, I went to watch ” HOUSEHOLDER “ and I was amazed that a film could be made and released worldwide with an Indian starcast and moreover an Indian could produce a film in HOLLYWOOD. One day his nephew told me that his mama has come from L.A. and if I wish ,I could meet him. I sprinted to his apartment, which was in the same building. I was ushered in and there he was sitting on a couch. He welcomed me in chaste Urdu and frankly speaking, I got shock of my life.I never expected that the first genuine Indian export to Hollywood would be knowing Urdu or any Indian language. He was very articulate and sophisticated. I am still in awe. Though, busy with the pre-production work of his forthcoming film, ” THE WHITE COUNTESS “ , he was kind enough to give me enough time. We chatted for an hour and then I took his leave. Little did I realize that this is going to be the first and last meeting with him. He went to shanghai for the filming of his film ‘” THE WHITE COUNTESS ” . I finished training of his nephew and  after that one day I got the news of his demise. MERCHANT IVORY PRODUCTIONS is lifeless without it’s soul.  I shall always cherish his memory and shall always be thankful to God that I could meet the legend once. I still possess the script of ” THE WHITE COUNTESS “. It is priceless for me now.

    IRFAN HABEEB is another giant, who left us last month. During my ALLAHABAD UNIVERSITY days, I read his play “AGARA BAZAR “. Later on I heard about his theatre group and his various experiments with the medium. I came to know about his CHHATISGARHI plays also, but I could never meet him. When I shifted base to Mumbai I got a chance to meet him. PRITHVI THEATRE was organizing a retrospective of his plays. I went to watch his play  ” ZEHREELI HAWA “ and to tell the truth,I was awestruck. At the curtain call the legend himself came on the stage and I could watch him in flesh and blood. He was so simple and yet a gigantic figure. Much was written about him after his death but one fact was missing everywhere, that he worked in Subhas Ghai’s ” BLACK AND WHITE “ and that is his last screen appearance. Al Vida HABEEB SAHEB, it was my luck to meet you once . It’s memory will always be there.

    PRAKASH MEHRA is too prominent a figure to be missed. Every aspect of his life is well chronicled, so there is nothing for me to say. Everyone knows how and when he changed AMITABH BACHCHAN’S life. In 1968,  I was studying in ALLAHABAD UNIVERSITY, when I watched a film called ” HASEENA MAAN JAYEGI “. It had Shashi Kapoor in double role. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and forgot about the debutant director. ” HAATH KI SAFAI ” and ” MELA ” were some other memorable films, which I watched without caring to know about the dirctor. It all changed when a film called ” ZANJEER ” was released in 1973.  His son was my student for a brief period and he went to U.S.A. without completing the training. So I lost touch. In December 2008 I saw Prakash ji in ” The Club “. He was frail and he could barely walk. I was saddened to see Prakash ji, walking with help of his personal assistant and that to with great difficulty. I still shudder at the cruelty of life. With his demise an era ends.

    USTAD ALI AKBAR KHAN is another titan, who left us for his heavenly abode last month. Among all the above mentioned people, he is is the only one , whom I could not meet in person. But as a connoisseur of Indian Classical Music, I  could say that I know him through his work. He gave music for  ” HOUSEHOLDER” , a film which I have mentioned in this blog only. A ” MERCHANT IVORY PRODUCTIONS ” film, which I watched in Allahabad. He gave music for CHETAN ANAND’S  first film       ” AANDHIYAN “, SATYAJIT RAY’S  film ” DEVI “ and BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI’S  film ” LITTLE BUDDHA “. What a terrific profile and what a terrible loss indeed.

    PADMA awards were conferred on various film personalities this year too. Yesteryear’s songstress SHAMSHAD BEGAM was honoured with PADMA BHUSHAN, and actors AISHWARYA RAI BACHCHAN, AKSHAY KUMAR and singer KUMAR SANU were honoured with PADMA SHRI. Congratulations !

    TOCHI RAINNA and TOSHI SABRI, these two innocuous names created a history of sorts in May, but I forgot to mention this case in my May Diary. It is too bizarre to be missed , so I am writing about this now. William Shakespeare said, what’s in a name? In this case problem lies in the name only. TOCHI RAINNA sang hugely popular O Pardesi song in Dev D and he was standing on the threshold of a certain stardom. At the same time TOSHI SABRI, another singer whose voice is similar to TOCHI, surfaced on the horizon and sang an equally popular number Maahi in the film  ” Raaz 2 “. The problem erupted when TOSHI SABRI was wrongly given credit for  the songs of TOCHI RAINNA in a website. Subsequently all the event organizers started contacting TOSHI SABRI for the live shows and musical events. Over 50 events intended for TOCHI, eventually went to TOSHI and poor TOCHI RAINNA suffered in silence and finally landed up in a hospital. TOCHI’S mother died of cancer last year and his brother is suffering from TB. Poor TOCHI RAINNA !

    Finally, it seems happy days are back for the film industry. Strike ended and though ”  Kal Kisne Dekha ”  and ” Paying Guest ” tanked, Yash Raj Films ” NEW YORK “ brought cheers to everyone’s faces. It opened to good response and almost 90 % occupancy. ” KAMBAKKHT ISHQ “ also opened to bumper opening ever, bringing cheers everywhere.

    For the connoisseurs of music,  legendary composer MADAN MOHAN’S unused and unheard compositions were released by Yash Raj Music. In ” VEER ZAARA “ his tunes were used by the same banner and now they are coming with 15 songs composed by the late maestro in an album titled  “TERE BAGAIR “. A rare bonanza for the connoisseurs.

    I started this month’s diary with a sad note. I have no options but I am ending it also  with a sad and distressing note. SHINEY AHUJA is currently in prison. He was never a shinning example for his behaviour, but being jailed for raping his maid is not tolerable. The law of the land should be allowed to take it’s own course. If proven guilty, he should be punished. He brought disrespect to the industry. I was approached by MR. SUDHIR MISHRA to train him for ‘ KHOYA KHOYA CHAND”. I went to meet him in his, now infamous, flat. We both can not agree on a suitable time. That time I felt as if I am being deprived of an opportunity, now I feel I was saved. Thank God !



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