One Year Of Blogging

Today is March 30, 2010 and I am posting my 96th blog. One year back on March 29, 2009 and almost around this time in the night, I started my blog space :

I must admit that it was a hesitant start. I had lots of doubts about myself and about the new medium, I was venturing into.  Then I was computer illiterate and definitely not a net savvy person. I was initiated into it and wrote my first blog for Kreating Charakters website – “ Putting Pen To Paper ”. It was few days before March 29. But that was it. I never pursued it further. But on March 2009, suddenly I felt an urge to write and I wrote and posted a new blog on my above mentioned blog space. Gradually I started writing and posting blogs regularly and religiously.

As I started writing regularly, I found to my amazement that I have so many topics to write on and then I divided my blogs in 09 Categories. They are :

1 – 1…………………………………………………………..02 ===Postings
2 – Films…………………………………………………….36 =====”
3 – Memoirs………………………………………………..09 =====”
4 – Miscellaneous…………………………………………05 =====”
5 – Neighbours-China……………………………………03 =====”
6 – Neighbours-Nepal……………………………………04 =====”
7 – Neighbours-Sri Lanka………………………………03 =====”
8 – Politics…………………………………………………36 =====”
9 – Social Issues………………………………………….04 =====”

Till date, in all the categories, I have posted 95 blogs. This is my 96th blog. It means I wrote and posted 08 blogs per month or 02 blogs per week.

In the first month ( March 2009 ), I got only 09 hits. Scenario completely changed after a year in March 2010. In this month, till today I have got 523 hits. From 09 hits a month to 523 hits a month ! What a sea change, what a journey ! In total I have 2809 hits. The average comes to 08 hits per day. But there were some special days also, when I got too many hits. On November 19, 2009 there were 60 hits. On March 19, 2010 there were 42 , on March 24 there were 40 and on March 27, two days before anniversary there were 61 hits on my blog. On March 28, a day earlier the anniversary, I had 44 hits. Not very discouraging figures. But there is scope to improve. It has to improve.

In the year I had some unexpected VIP visitors too. People from L. K. Advani’s office, Narendra Modi’s office and Telugu Superstar Nagarjuna’s office visited my blog space. Eminent film directors like Shekhar Kapur and Mahesh Bhatt too found time to visit it. My student Vivek Oberoi visited it and so many others students also hit it regularly. Yesterday I had Taslima Nasreen as a visitor. I am happy she visited my blog on the 1st anniversary. It’s like icing on the cake.

It has been a successful endeavour. I hope this fascinating obsession will continue unabated in the coming year too. Amen !!

I celebrated the anniversary with my family at a quiet dinner at a new eatery KHAU GALLI in Andheri , Mumbai.


A Drop Of Tear For Taslima Nasreen Too !

Yesterday I read a tweet on my twitter account by Taslima Nasreen, whom I follow. She wrote , “  If India turns its back on me, I have nowhere to go. No country or home to return to.” You can easily fathom the pain and melancholic state of her mind. A lonely woman, driven out of her own country by her own people and fanatic, dogmatic and fundamentalist clergy, took shelter in India. Here again she is hounded by religious orthodoxy, though our constitution proclaims that we are a secular nation. She made Kolkata her home, but fundamentalist elements attacked her and forced her to leave Kolkata. Congress government at centre, instead of giving her protection, advised her to leave the city and settle elsewhere. Even her Visa is not permanent. It is periodically renewed. You can understand Taslima Nasreens mental pressure and agony. She was physically assaulted in a programme in Bengaluru. Congress government, which is so eager to see Narendra Mody behind bars, maintained its stoic silence in this case.

Media, the torch bearer of democracy, the vanguard of freedom of expression and the protector and votary of secularism, remained passive onlooker. For the record they made some noises, but more or less it was a half-hearted and lackadaisical effort. Leaders of Media, who are so vehement and vociferous for the justice of Muslims of Gujarat, keep a mysterious silence in case of Taslima Nasreen. They are baying and crying for Narendra Modis blood, but attackers and tormentors of this lonely, hapless lady are roaming around without fear of retribution. Media maintains a Dhritarashtra-like attitude. Why two different yardsticks are used and followed for M. F. Husain and Taslima Nasreen ? As per media’s perception, M. F. Husain has all the rights against Hindu fundamentalism, but Taslima Nasreen has none against Muslim fundamentalism. Why this differential treatment ? Will I ever get an answer ?

Whenever I think about Taslima Nasreen, I cry. Away from her home and hearth for no fault of hers, away from the city of her liking and choice, she is hounded persistently and continuously with vehemence and vengeance and the all-powerful government of India, the secular Indian National Congress and the righteous, megalomaniac media maintain their stoic silence. Why M. F. Husain has all the sympathy and Taslima Nasreen has none ? Why Narendra Modi should face the trial and attackers of Taslima Nasreen should not ? Sometimes I feel that Hindu organisations like RSS and VHP are right . It is not secularism, it is simply appeasement of a religious minority.

I never had any faith in Congress. I have lost faith in media as for as this case is concerned. Can thinking and conscientious people of India and true secular intellectuals of our nation will ever shed even a drop of tear for Taslima Nasreen ? I do and shall keep on doing this unless she is given protection, her tormentors are put behind bars and she is given permanent visa and eventually the citizenship of India.


50 Years Of FTII, Pune : No Paean , No Requiem

The Film & Television Institute of India , Pune completes 50th year recently. It was established in 1960 in the erstwhile Prabhat Studio. Legendary V. Shantaram made some of his earlier films there. They have become part of our heritage. “ Duniya Na Mane ”, “ Padosi ” and “ Adami ” were those immortal films, which were made here.

Since its inception, FTII served its purpose fabulously. Artistes like : Asrani, Amrish Puri, Danny Denzongpa, Jaya Bachchan Mukesh Khanna, Mithun Chakraborty, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Paintal, Rakesh Bedi, Rehana Sultan, Raza Murad, Satish Kaushik, Shatrughan Sinha, Shabana Azmi, Tom Alter and Vijay Arora are its alumni.

Directors like : Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mani Kaul, Shaji N Karun, Girish Kasarvalli, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Mahesh Bhatt, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shyam Benegal, Shekhar Kapur, David Dhavan, Sriram Raghavan, Santosh Sivan, Rajkumar Hirani, Prakash Jha, Kundan Shah and Govind Nihalani are the past students of this illustrious institute.

Many technicians like Resul Pookutti are also ex students of this premier institute. The list is endless. It was first of its kind in Asia and was one of the best in the world. It fell to bad days after Roshan Taneja took leave. He left FTII and started his own institute in Mumbai and thus a very glorious chapter was ended. Acting classes were discontinued there.

Acting classes were again resumed 2/3 years back with Mr. Paintal at the helm. Till date 2 ex students got work in films. One gentleman was introduced by Mr. Subhash Ghai in “ Black And White ”. All the critics described him as “ one expression wonder ”. He was panned by everyone and simply vanished from the scene. The other student did a blink and miss role in “ 3 Idiots ”. He is yet to start his journey. I fail to understand the present pathetic condition of this premier institution.

According to my view, the ad hock nature of management is responsible for this downward slide. Trainers are selected randomly and they behave as if they are autonomous entities. They don’t train the aspirants. They simply try to prove that they are superior than others. They run their part as per their whims and fancies. The orientation is lost and none of the students are cajoled or oriented towards a career in films. Devoid of any guidance, students simply drift and end their wafting journey in some bottomless pit. I am sorry for this decline. Ex FTII alumni will try to pan me for my views but at this golden jubilee year I don’t feel like singing paeans for this institute. May be I have to sing a requiem very soon, if the decline is not checked.


Amitabh Bachchan & Untouchables Of Congress

Amitabh Bachchan attended inaugural function of the 2nd carriageway of Bandra-Worli Sea Link as a special guest and tremors of a political earthquake were felt at the corridors of power in Mumbai ? I fail to understand the cacophony of the sycophants of Congress that ensued the innocuous incident. MPCC president Krupa Shankar Singh sought an explanation from the Chief Minister. Other Congress leaders joined the chorus. Rattled by the high voltage drama, the Chief Minister now says that he was unaware of the list of guests and had he knew about Mr. Bachchan’s presence, he might have skipped the function altogether. It is astonishing that a chief Minister is unaware of the guest list of a function, where he is going as a chief guest. But more than that, I fail to understand the hullabaloo. Is Mr. Bachchan, a persona-non-grata ? Is he a criminal ? Is he anti-national ? No , but sycophants started a vicious campaign .

Congress has long list of untouchables and a protracted history of untouchability. Subhash Chandra Bose was the first untouchable. He fought and won election of the president of Indian National Congress at Tripuri in 1939, against the wishes of Mahatma Gandhi and defeated his nominee Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayaa . Irked by the defeat of his protegé, Mahatma Gandhi declared that Pattabhi’s defeat is his own defeat. Sensing his mood, sycophants swung into action and all the members of the Congress Working Committee, nominated by Bose, resigned. Though earlier Neta ji was unanimously elected President of the Haripura Congress in 1938. But sycophants could not tolerate the fact that he opposed and fought against the wishes of Mahatma Gandhi and won the presidential election in Tripuri Congress in 1939 defeating Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayaa. Faced with this unprecedented non-cooperation, Neta ji resigned and formed The Forward Block. Slowly and very steadily his name was obliterated from the pantheon of the Congress.

Dr.  Bhimrao Ambedkar, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia and Purushottam Das Tandon were some other untouchables, who were shown the door by The Congress, when they dared to challenge the ruling oligarchy. Though not removed from the party but Sardar Patel and P. V. Narasimha Rao , were subjected to almost the same obliteration process. Their contribution was never recognised by the party they served.

The cardinal sin of the above mentioned leaders were that they were seen potential challengers of Gandhi- Nehru dynasty. Is this nation a fiefdom of Nehru- Gandhi family ? Are we perennially indebted to this one family ? Leaders like Rajiv Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi pale into insignificance, compared to Subhash Chandra Bose, Dr. Ambedkar and Sardar Patel. Yet the sycophants got them removed from the party or belittled their contribution in order to please their deity of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

So the hullabaloo is understandable in this case. Amitabh Bachchan did the cardinal sin of leaving the ruling deity and trying to tread his own path. How could he dare to sever the link from the Nehru-Gandh family and still survive ? Sycophants were unable to tolerate this and are unwilling to forgive Mr. Bachchan. So they question his presence at a government function. They forget that there is a difference between government’s function and Congress Party’s function. They forget that we Indians are not perennially indebted to Nehru-Gandhi family and every one has right to live in this country and follow the path of his liking and choice, even if one doesn’t believe in the Nehru-Gandhi family.

But who cares ? Sycophants run supreme in the Congress and their dictate will prevail. A petrified Ashok Chavan excused himself from a literary function, where Mr. Bachchan would be going to be present. I fail to understand , what kind of democracy is this?

Can I hope to get an answer ?


Kanu Sanyal : Death Of A Man – Death Of A Revolution

Now this is blasphemy of another kind. From Narendra Modi to Kanu Sanyal; from a RSS full-timer to the Naxalite ideologue and one of the founders of Communist Party of India ( Marxist-Leninist ) – it’s a full circle. For some it may seem bizarre, for some it is hara-kiri of the worst kind, but this is me. Though I am not a follower of Communist or Naxalite ideology, but my ideological differences are not going to prevent me from paying respect and tribute to the departed soul, who was a leading luminary of the naxalite movement during my student days. Though he belonged to the other spectrum of the political firmament, I respect him for the tenacity of his views and the honesty and simplicity, which were his hallmarks.

Yesterday I read few postings on my Twitter account regarding death of Kanu Sanyal. I was shocked to know that he committed suicide. He was suffering from cancer, and was unable to bear the excruciating pain at the age of 82. So, he ended his life. When I went through the morning papers today and saw his photographs, a gentle breeze of memory caressed me and left me alone on the island of my thoughts and I was transported to the year 1969, my adolescent days in Allahabad. He was the hero of some of my friends, who used to lionize him. My friend and NCP’s national spokesperson D. P. Tripathi was one of them. Kanu da, along with Charu Mazumdar and Jungle Santhal, started India’s first radical Left movement at Naxalbari and spearheaded it from 1667 to 1973.

Let me dwell on the history of Naxalite movement. On May 25, 1967 farmers of Naxalbari attacked the landlord of the village. Many of them were killed in police firing. At that time Kanu Sanyal was the member of the Darjeeling district committee of the CPM. He severely criticised his communist government for firing and was summarily expelled by the party for supporting the movement. On April 22, 1969 he, along with Charu Mazumdar, formed Communist Party of India ( Marxist-Leninist ), an euphemism for Naxalite movement. According to some other members of CPI( M-L ) he and not Charu Mazumdar, was the man who started Naxalite movement in 1967 in Naxalbari, a small village in the northern part of West Bengal. He kept himself in the background and allowed Charu Mazumdar to hog the limelight. But eventually he expressed his doubt about some of the policies of Charu Mazumdar, like individual killing. In the later years he criticised Maoist guerrillas and their techniques of extortions.

The Naxalite movement faded slowly. Charu Mazumdar died in 1972 in police custody. Jungle Santhal was imprisoned and after his release after a decade, became alcoholic and died in 1981. Only surviving member of that ultra left movement was Kanu Sanyal. He was imprisoned for 7 years by the government of Andhra Pradesh. After his release, he slowly faded into oblivion and started living a retired life in Hathigada village in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district. His hut was made of mud with tin roof. He used to sleep on the mud floor. He had few plastic chairs and a cot for the guests. His party used to foot all the medical bills and paid for his day-to-day frugal expenses. He led a spartan life till the very end.

After his death the customary obituary columns started coming in daily papers. When I saw his one room hut, made of mud and having tin roof, in the morning papers, I was moved to tears. Photograph of an ageing and frail Kanu Sanyal sitting on a plastic chair in front of his humble dwelling in his native village traumatized me to no end. Here was a man, who once upon a time shook the ruling oligarchy of their deep slumbers, who had capacity to galvanised millions of people at any given time, was sitting all alone in his village looking helplessly in the void. Minister of state in MEA, Mr. Shashi Tharoor tweeted that ” his life was a failure , changed nothing ” . It means, he was a failed ideologue. Yes, he failed. Because at the time of his death he had no palatial bungalows, no heavenly farm houses, no swiss accounts and no investments in companies and no stakes in the IPL , definitely he failed. Compared to the Congress leaders, he did fail.

Farewell Kanu da !!

Though you lived a life full of pain, poverty and misery, though unable to bear pain you ended your life, but still you lived a life worth living. There won’t be any one like you because they don’t make anyone like you any more. I don’t believe in your ideology but I do believe that people like you are needed and you shall always be considered and recognised as a fragrant flower in the colourful garden of this holy land. Life was cruel, history will be no less cruel to you. Shashi Tharoor’s tweet is a grim reminder.


In Defence Of Narendra Modi

These days defending Narendra Modi is blasphemous. The title of this blog would seem offensive to some one and repulsive to others. Some would hate me till eternity for writing this blog and few would think that I am out of my senses. But I am not. I am not saying that communal riots are good or they are justified. No one can condone violence. In fact Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee himself said that Gujarat carnage is a blot on the face of our government. Shri Lal Krishna Advani also condemned the violence. But the fact of the matter is, that Gujarat riots are a reality and no one can deny that. But none in the BJP ever said anything in the favour of it or condoned it.

But vehemence of the media, which gave graphic details of the carnage at the time it was going on and still pursues it relentlessly, astonished me. They are refusing to let it die its natural death. I fail to understand why they are so hell-bent on keeping this festering wound open ? It’s a painful memory and a sad chapter in the history of our country and it is in the interest of this country that it should be allowed to die its natural death. I fail to understand media’s extra interest in the Gujarat riots.

If they say and feel that they are fighting for the justice, then why were they silent when the prime accuse of the genocide of the Sikhs, Mr. Sajjan Kumar simply vanished to avoid arrest and Delhi police was unable to locate him, though he has Z plus security. In spite of the grave nature of the incident, media coverage was almost negligible. Some feeble protests, some routine sound bytes here and there and that’s it. He resurfaced after few days but no one even asked him anything. All the culprits of the genocide of Sikhs are still roaming scot-free and with impunity. Another accuse of Sikh genocide Mr. Jagdish Tytler was appointed in charge of a crucial state like Bihar by the Congress president Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. Bihar goes to polls later this year. This incident I am mentioning to illustrate my point. Genocide of Sikhs happened in the national capital and Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister. He sheepishly and shamelessly defended this genocide by saying, “ ek bada ped girta hai to dharti hilti hai”. Media has forgotten it altogether and hails Rajiv as the harbinger of change.

Let me make it further clear. I am not saying that cases against Narendra Modi should be withdrawn. I am not saying that SIT should be disbanded. I am not saying that Narendra Modi is above the law of the land. But I am asking a simple question ; who has the power to persecute him ? Who will deliver justice, Honourable Supreme Court or the media ? In this case relentless media trial is creating a disturbing scenario. Media is declaring him guilty and desperately trying to prove him guilty without any kind of legal sanction. Media has no authority to pronounce judgement. In a clear case of one-upmanship, media is weakening their own case and they are giving strength to Narendra Modi, without intending the same. They had to eat crow, when they announced that Modi had been summoned by the SIT. The fact of the matter is that Modi was just served a notice, which in the eyes of law is not binding. Then media unilaterally declared that Modi has been asked to appear before the SIT on March 21. The fact of the matter is that Modi was not asked by SIT to appear on March 21. Moreover in their eagerness to nail Modi they forgot that March 21 is Sunday and the SIT office is closed and officers are out of the town. They had to eat crow because of their over-eagerness. They had egg on their faces because of unusual haste. They just want to hang Narendra Modi, before the judgement of the court. We have fairly competent judiciary. In this scenario Supreme Court is monitoring the cases. So why media is so desperate to pronounce the judgement ?

I am sorry ! In Narendra Modi’s case media is wrong. Narendra Modi had categorically said that I am a law-abiding citizen and I shall abide by the order of the court. If I am summoned, I will do what law requires me to do. And he is an elected Chief Minister of a state. He is not a fugitive. So let the court decide his fate. The judgement will be and should be pronounced in a court of law and not in the studios of the news channels. I am sad to see media personnel with eggs on their faces. They simply goofed up and now shamelessly trying to put blame somewhere else.

This is my defence of Modi. Media should refrain from pronouncing judgement and awarding sentence to an elected Chief Minister. Courts are competent and they are doing their duties. People of Gujarat have already given their judgement thrice. Now let courts decide.


Ode – 1 : To Dibakar Banerjee

I write open letters to my students, when they accomplish something exceptional in their respective fields. But what about people whom I don’t know. Writing an open letter to them would be unethical, preposterous and foolish. I decided last night that instead of a letter, I should write an Ode to them. It would be befitting to their stature and genius. My first ode is to Dibakar Banerjee, as his new film released this Friday.

Basically I love traditional cinema. I grew up on the films of Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan and Guru Dutt. Much later, I started liking films of Yash Chopra, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai and Sooraj Barjatya. My knowledge and sense of cinema grew as I grew older. But still it was very traditional and conservative.

Post Yash Chopra Hindi Cinema boasts of names like Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Ashutosh Gowarikar and Rakesh Omprakash Mehra. I enjoyed their films; art and craft both. I thought that this is the zenith of Hindi films. But I was proven wrong by some avant-garde film makers, who cropped up in recent years. Their film making style is totally different and they shook my belief and foundation on which I had built my edifice. I was forced to acknowledge their genius and appreciate their work.

Anurag Kashyap, Anurag Basu, Raj Kumar Hirani, Shimit Amin, Shri Ram Raghvan, Madhur Bhandarkar and Dibakar Banerjee are some of the avant-garde film makers and brightest stars of the new,  brave Hindi Cinema. Since Dibakar Banerjee’s film LSD ( Love, Sex aur Dhokha ) got released last Friday, it is pertinent to write my first ode to him.

He is three films old – “ Khosla Ka Ghosla ”, “ Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye and “ Love , Sex Aur Dhokha ”. He belongs to Delhi and spent his formative years there. He worked as a copy-writer in an advertising agency and learnt film making from Pradip Sarkar. He is a tabla player and amateur painter also. He came and settled in Mumbai in 2003. His first film “ Khosla Ka Ghosla ”, which he made on a shoe-string budget in 2006, was a finest chronicle of modern Delhi society. After the release and success of the film he was held as a new Hrishikesh Mukherjee. But he chose to tread a new path and in 2008 made Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye ”. Both the films got National Awards.

His latest, Love , Sex Aur Dhokha is a completely different film. It has three different stories interwoven into one. This kind of film making started in Hollywood with “ Crash ” and later on fortified by “ Babel ”. In India also Anurag Basu made “ Life In A Metro ” following the same format. “ LSD ” follows the same pattern. But it differs in style. Hand held camera, dim and realistic lighting and realistic atmosphere makes it a different film. Shekhar Kapur , India’s only genuine export to Hollywood, says, “It is one of the most innovative films to come out of india “. Few years back, it would have been difficult to make or even conceive this kind of film. But now it is fast becoming a norm. Still it is brave to try something so different and so unconventional. It needs guts and courage to tread such a slippery path. And Dibakar Banerjee had  tried to tread that path and achieved the impossible.

Hats off to this avant-garde film maker. As a connoisseur, I salute this genius called Dibakar Banerjee.



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