Vidur’s Travel Diary – 5 : Puducherry

CHENNAI – TAMILNADU – INDIA         NOVEMBER 30 , 2011            01.00 A.M.

After finishing Darshanam and Abhishekam yesterday , me and my wife proceeded for Chennai from Vaitheeswaramkoil in the morning . We reached Puduchery at noon and decided to visit few important places . If one is passing through Puducherry , is it possible to just escape the city and proceed further ?

In 1969 when I went to Allahabad for higher studies , one day me and my friend went to Universal Book Store to buy ” Savitri ” and ” Life Divine ” , books written by Maharshi Aurobindo . I couldn’t buy the books because of paucity of funds but my friend bought those books . He used to narrate few important things from those books and my admiration and respect for Maharshi Aurobindo grew . Unfortunately I was unable to visit Puducherry , which was known as Pondicherry at that time . So when I passed through Puduchery on November 25th , I decided to visit it thoroughly while returning from Vaitheeswarankoil .

Main road of Puducherry is adorned by beautiful gates . In my knowledge the only other city in India adorned with gates is Jaipur . But these gates are very different . They carry distinct French style .

Gate of Puducherry City

After this gate , the most important thing in Puducherry is Sri Aurubindo Ashram . Ashram is closed from 2.00 t0 4.00 . I am sorry that I reached there at 1.45 and spent only 15 minutes there . I could visit the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and Sri Maa and I am happy that I could pay my obeisance there . Photography is not allowed inside , so I could not click photos of Samadhi .

With My Wife at Aurubindo Ashram Gate

My Wife at Sri Aurubindo Ashram

The promenade of Puducherry is something to be seen to be believed . It is different from Marina Beach Chennai and Juhu Beach , Mumbai . It’s old name was Rue Du Rampart and now it is called Beach Road .

Beach Road - Puducherry

Beach Road - Puducherry , Another View

My Wife at Beach Road - Boat House Chunambur in the Background

Very close to Sri Aurobindo Ashram is Vinayak Temple , most famous temple of Puducherry .

With My Wife at Vinayak Temple Gate

After Vinayak Temple we again returned to Beach Road . At one end there is a magnificient Gandhi statue .

Mahatma Gandhi Statue at Beach Road

Pondicherry , apart from Sri Aurubindo , also belongs to Subramanya Bharthi , a great modern Tamil poet . His house was declared a national memorial. I went to visit it but it is sad that it has been closed two years ago . Millions are spent on the memorials of Gandhi – Nehru family but it is appalling that a national poet of the stature of Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathiyar a.k.a. Subramanya Bharathi is so neglected . Totally disappointed and crest – fallen , I returned from his so – called memorial

House of Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathiyar

There is another worthwhile monument near Puducherry . It is called Auruville . It is 12 km. from the main town .Auroville is a global village conceptualised by Sri Maa . It was raining heavily and we were wet , so the picture is not very clear .

With my Wife at Matru Mandir - Auroville

With visit to Auroville , my Puducherry visit ended . I returned to Chennai . While sitting in the room of Hotel Golden Tower , while I am writing this blog , I am thinking about Puducherry . It is very different from other Indian cities . Have you seen such kind of lanes and by – lanes anywhere in India ?

A Lane of Puducherry

Or do you think such kind of structure for a Church is prevalent anywhere in India ?

A Church of Puducherry

Puducherry was a French Colony and was known as Pondicherry then  . After India’s independence , French government decided to hand over this colony to Indian government and on November 01 , 1954 Pondicherry came under India’s rule and was made a Union Territory on November 01 , 1956 . At the time of transfer of power French government insisted that the distinct French character if this town should be maintained . It is heartening that this pledge is maintained by our government and Puducherry remains unique and distinct .

As usual when I am about to finish the blog , I am contemplating about my next visit and as usual words of Hindi poet Agyeya come to my with a teasing reminder :

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]
But in case of Pondicherry , I know that I would be visiting the town soon . After Deoria , my place of birth and after Mumbai , my place of work , if I have to settle in any other city ever , it would be Puducherry .



Vidur’s Travel Diary – 4 : Vaitheeswarankoil

VAITHEESWARANKOIL    –   NAGAPATTINAM   –   TAMILNADU          NOVEMBER 29 , 2011            00.45 A.M.

I know that most of my readers and friends have not heard about Vaitheeswarankoil . I was also unaware of its existence . It is a small town in Nagapattinam district of Tamilnadu . It is 285 km. from Chennai and 125 km. from Puducherry . Numerous buses and taxis plying on an exceptionally well – maintained Chennai Puducherry highway can drop you there .

Main Road of Vaitheeswarankoil

It is famous for Nadi Shastras . It is said and believed that sage Agastya is the originator of this shastra . According to Hindu mythology , Agastya is the first sage , who crossed mighty Vindhyas and came to South India . He made his Ashram in Puducherry , previously known as Pondicherry . In olden and pre – historic days , Pondicherry was known as Vedapuri . Sage Agastya is credited for many things in South Indian folklore ; like Tamil language , grammar and this Nadi Shastra .

Today while I am writing this blog , I remember a shloka about Sage Agastya , which I used to recite during my childhood days :

अतापी भक्षितो येन ; वतापी च निपातितः
समुद्रः शोषितो येन ; मे अगस्त्य प्रसीदतु

Today many followers of Sage Agastya are settled in Vaitheeswarankoil , a small town near Puducherry and follow his principles of Astrology , which is called Nadi Shastra . These sooth – sayers check your ancestry and tell about your past , present and future .

According to their predictions and recommendaions , I came for Nava Graha Darshanam and some Archanam . Of all the 9 Nava Graha temples , 7 are situated in Nagapattinam district , 1 is in Thanjavur district and 1 is in Karaikal part of Puducherry .

I started with Budha [ Mercury ] temple . It is in the Thiruvenkadu village of Nagapattinam district .

Budha Temple

After Budha [ Mercury ] we visited Ketu temple situated in a village called Keezha Perumpallam of Nagapattinam district .

Ketu Temple

After Ketu , it was the turn of Shani [ Saturn ] temple . This temple is not in Tamilnadu , but it is in the Thirunallar village of the Karaikal part of Puducherry . And is famous not only in South India but whole of the world .

Shani Temple

After Shani [ Saturn ] it was now turn of Rahu temple . It is situated in the Thirunageswaram village of Nagapattinam district of Tamilnadu .

Rahu Temple

Guru [ Jupiter ] temple was the next destination . It is situated in the Alangudi village of Nagapattinam district . By the time we reached the temple , it was night . And after this temple , we ended our first day’s  Darshanam .

Guru Temple

Next day that is on November 27 , 2011 we started our pilgrimage again . We first went for Chandra [ Moon ] temple , which is situated in the Thingalur village of Thanjavur district .

Chandra Temple

After Chandra { Moon ] temple , we went for Surya [ Sun ] temple , which is situated in Suriyanarkoil village of Nagapattinam district .

Surya Temple

Second day’s last visit was for Shukra [ Venus ] temple . It is situated in the Kanchanur village of Nagapattinam district . Since it was too dark , I could not click a clear picture . Our second day’s pilgrimage ended here .

On November 28 , 2011 we went for the last Nava Graha darshanam . Mangal [ Mars ] temple is situated in Vaitheeswarankoil town , where we are staying . We did Mangal darshanam and Sahasrashankhabhishekam .

Mangal Temple

In between we visited numerous temples ; some very new like this Vitthal – Rukmini temple ;

Vitthal - Rukmini Temple

While some are more than one century old like this Shiva temple where people remarry their spouses , when they are 60 , 80 or 100 years old . It is situated in Thirukkadaiyur village of Nagapattinam district .

Shiva Temple

With darshanam and abhishekam on November 28 , 2011 , I concluded my pilgrimage to Vaitheeswarakoil . It is very remote place . though my astrologer has advised me to come back again in 2018 , but with advancing age  and less strength , I don’t know it would be possible or not . Though , sitting in my room of Subam Lodge , I am promising myself that I will visit this place again . And again Agyeya’s lines haunt me . This time in the real sense .

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “




Vidur’s Travel Diary – 3 : Chennai

VAITHEESWARANKOIL  –  NAGAPATTINAM  –  TAMIL NADU          NOVEMBER  28 , 2011              00 .30 A.M.

I was at Tirupati on November 21 , 22 and 23rd . On 24th November I took Garudeshwar Express from Tirupati and  reached Chennai in the morning . Train reached Chennai Central station . I must admit that Chennai Central station is well-kept and well maintained building .

Chennai Central Station

After checking in Hotel Golden Tower on Periyar road , I immediately booked a cab and went for Chennai sight-seeing  . Though I had visited this city almost 6 years back but that time I was not able to see much as it was Sunday and Chennai was Closed .

First my driver took me to Government Museum . It is a sprawling British era building stablished in 1851 . It is the oldest museum of India .and is well-kept . It has three different sections .

At Chennai Museum Main Gate

Chennai Museum - Exterior

After spending more than 1 hour in the museum , I went to Snake Park . Though park is not related to the snakes in any way and I  don’t like the idea also but the place is named as Snake Park , so I had no option . I am not very fond of reptiles also but still went there . Apart from snakes , it also has crocodile section.

Chennai Snake Park - Crocodile Section

Chennai Snake Park - Exterior

From Snake Park , it was turn of a very different building . During British era it was called Ice Building . Ruling British gentry used to keep ice in the building and used to serve it during the evening to those Englishmen , who came for revelry . Now this building is called Vivekanand House .

Ice House / Vivekanand House

From Ice House we went to Fort St. George , the Vidhan Sabha of Tamilnadu Government . On the way we saw Nappier Bridge , which one has to cross while going to Fort St. George . It was built-in 1869 by Governor Nappier across Cooum river .

Nappier Bridge

After crossing Nappier Bridge , we reached Fort St. George , the administrative headquarters of Tamilnadu government . The Flag Mast , which stands in front of the main building is the tallest in the country . Foundation of the Fort was laid in 1640 . Before that Chennai used to be just two villages ; Madraspattinam and Chennaipattinam . East India Company bought some land from the king of Chandragiri and started building the fort . It took 15 years to be completed and was declared open in 1654 .

Fort St. George in the Background

Fort St. George compound has two very important buildings ; St. Mary Church and the Museum . St Mary Church was stablished in 1680 and is the first church of India .

St. Mary Church - Fort St. George

Fort museum was stablished in 1948 .

Fort St. George Museum

Another British Era structure , situated in between Fort St George and the Museum , is a canopy .

The Canopy

Can any description of Chennai be complete without Marina Beach ? Mile of sand and sky blue , azure sea is beyond words . You have to see the spectacle to believe it .

At Marina Beach with my Wife

We all know about the Samadhis of national leaders in Delhi on the banks of Yamuna river . In Chennai also there are two Samadhis on Marina beach . First Memorial belongs to C. N. Annadurai , the first non – Congress Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and also the first leader of Dravidian party to form a majority government in India . He was also the founder of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam [ DMK ] .

Annadurai Memorial at Marina Beach

Another Memorial belongs to MGR , the founder of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam [ AIADMK ] . He , along with Sivaji Ganesan , was the top most Tamil film star . He broke away from the parent party DMK and in 1972 formed AIADMK and subsequently became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu . He was Chief Minister for two consecutive terms ; 1977 – 1982 and 1982 – 1987 and was the first actor in India to become the Chief Minister of a state .

MGR Memorial at Marina Beach

But journey of Chennai cannot be complete without visiting Adyar river . We north Indians don’t know about this huge river but Adyar flows magnificently and silently in Chennai . Along with Cooum river , Adyar  trifurcates the Chennai city .

Adyar River

After spending just one day in Chennai , I proceeded for Vaitheeswarankoil in Nagapattinam district on November 25th . I will again return to Chennai on November 29th. Chennai is not a remote place that I cannot come here again . I might visit it soon . But who knows ? I might not get another chance ! So I remember a poem of Hindi poet Sachchitanand Hiranand Vatsyayan ” Agyeya ” and finish my travelogue of Chennai .

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “



Vidur’s Travel Diary – 2 : Tirupati

CHENNAI – TAMIL NADU – INDIA            NOVEMBER 25 , 2011              07.00 A.M.

First of all I must express regret that I am writing my Travel Diary after a long time . My last Travel Diary was about my Udaipur visit in October 10 , 2010 . After that I did visit few places but could not write anything . On November 20 , 2011 , when I started my journey to Tirupati for pilgrimage and vacation , I thought that it is right time to start writing Travel Diaries again . With my wife and son , I started my journey for Tirupati from Mumbai on November 20th and reached Renigunta on 21st afternoon . I stared clicking photographs and tried to post blog from Tirupati but insufficient network coverage failed my attempts every time . I resigned to my fate and gave up .

On November 24th , when I reached Chennai , I decided to complete and post my blog about Tirupati visit . Sitting in my room in Hotel Golden Tower , I am remembering things about Tirupati visit and writing this blog .

Tirupati is a small town in Andhra Pradesh . It is just 4 hours drive away from Chennai . It has nothing except the world-famous Balaji temple . Though it is not known to many that the famous temple is not in Tirupati town but at Tirumala Hills .One can reach Tirupati by air and train . It has two stations ; Renigunta and Tirupati .

Tirupati Raiway Station

There are several hotels for spartan or luxurious stay. And then you can hire a cab for Tirumala Hills . Buses are also available in plenty .

I took a cab from my hotel and started my journey on 22nd November , early morning . A giant idol of Shri Garud ji welcomes devotees at the gate of Tirumala Hills . After that climb to the hills starts .

Idol of Shri Garud Ji

When you climb the hill after crossing the idol of Shri Garud ji , you drive through lush green and verdant forest . Watching sunrise while driving is always pleasure .

Sun Rises at Tirumala Hills

Sun Rises at Tirumala Hills

Crossing lush green forest through zig – zag and extremely well maintained road , one reaches Tirumala .

Road to Tirumala

And suddenly the grand , heavenly gate of the temple appears in front of your eyes . Idols of Jay and Vijay , the mythical gate – keepers of Vaikunth , stand here also and gret you .

Gate of Tirupati Balaji Temple ; Jay & Vijay stand as Guard

And after crossing the gate one reaches the temple , which stands tall and magnificent .

With My Wife : Shri Balaji Temple in the Background

Since cameras are not allowed in the campus , I could not click photos inside the temple . After visiting the deity , I stood near the queue – gate and clicked one more and last photo .

Pathway to the Gate , Where Queue Starts

I drove back to Tirupati and to my horror found that I forgot the Mannat , for which I came . It was regarding my dead mother . So next day < that is on November 23 , 2011 , I again went for second Darshanam and completed the Mannat .

I have visited Tirupati 4 times , but only on this visit I went for Darshanam second time . So it comes to 4 visits to the town and 5 Darshanams . On November 24 , when I started for Chennai , I looked back at the town and decided that I would be visiting the shrine soon . Suddenly few lines of famous Hindi poet Agyeya occurred to my mind :

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “

Aah Shammi Kapoor ……….” Tum Sa Nahi Dekha ” !!

Shammi Kapoor
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA          NOVEMBER 16 , 2011          08.15 P.M.

When I got the news of Shammi Kapoor‘s sad demise on August 14 , 2011 at the age of 79 , flood of memories engulfed me and inundated me completely . Though , initially , I was not a huge fan of Shammi Kapoor , but later on , as I watched his films and understood his importance in Hindi films , I succumbed to his charm completely.

That golden era  of Hindi films belonged to film industry’s towering triumvirate ; Dilip Kumar , Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor . Like other youngsters of my age , I was very much enamoured by the trio . So naturally for me , Shammi Kapoor was nowhere in the picture . While in school and college , I was intrigued by the fact that whenever any new film of Shammi Kapoor used to hit the cinema halls, class – rooms wore deserted look and seeing the empty class , our irritated teachers used to say few nasty words for Shammi Kapoor because majority of the boys had no quam in bunking the class for the first day , first show of a Shammi Kapoor film . I got intrigued and decided to uncover the persona and unravel the mystique of Shammi Kapoor , the dancing star , the rebel star . I started watching his films and to my amazement , realized that Hindi Cinema doesn’t belong to the above mentioned triumvirate alone but it consists of the quartet ; Dilip Kumar , Dev Anand , Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor . Without these four one cannot even think of Hindi cinema .

I took this picture when he paid a visit last ...

Dilip Kumar

With Dev Anand in His Office

With Dev Anand in His Office

In those days of my asinine childhood and carefree adolescence , Dilip Kumar symbolized romance and pain of the Nehru era , while Raj Kapoor was the face of Nehruvian socialism . Dev Anand represented urbane and educated youth of this nascent nation . Shammi Kapoor was unique because he gave face and voice to the aspirations of the emerging middle class youth . His first hit ” Tum Sa Nahin Dekha “ came in 1957 . It was the year of second general election also . First general election was held in 1952 .  So after testing democracy for five years , youth of India were bubbling with enthusiasm and ” I don’t give a damn ” kind of attitude . Their aspirations , their liking for good clothes and better life – style was palpable and Shammi Kapoor Saheb represented these feelings to the fullest . And naturally he became icon of the liberated youth of the nascent , new and emerging democratic India .It is not for nothing that he is called Rebel Star and Dancing Star of Hindi films .

So obviously , when I heard the news of his demise , an era ended for me . One more chapter of my growing years was lost completely .  I wanted to write the obituary  immediately but I thought that best moment to pay my last respect would be on the occasion of the release of his last film ” Rockstar “ . Ranbir Kapoor starrer ” Rockstar “ got released on November 11 , 2011 and it created history . It became legendary Shammi Kapoor‘s last film. It signals the end of one of the most glorious chapters of Hindi Cinema . It brings curtain down on the memories of legendary Shammi Kapoor . One more icon of my childhood left the world finally and ” Rockstar “  is the cruel reminder of that fact . The journey , which started with ” Jeevan Jyoti ” [ 1953] , ended with ” Rockstar ” [ 2011 ] . It is 58 years long , gigantic and glorious reel journey .

Shammi Kapoor in Teesri Manzil

Shammi Kapoor in Teesri Manzil

Shamsher Raj Kapoor , better known as Shammi Kapoor started his career with ” Jeeva Jyoti ”  [ 1953 ] , a film directed by Mahesh Kaul , who incidentally , years later gave break to Hema Malini inSapno Ka Saudagar ”  , who incidentally was his last romantic lead in ” Andaz ” [ 1971 ]. Chand Usmani was Shammi Kapoor’s first heroine in ” Jeevan Jyoti ” .

” Rail Ka Dibba ” [ 1953 ] , ” Laila Majnu ” [ 1953 ] , ” Shama Parwana ” [ 1954 ]  ,  ” Chor Bazar ” [ 1954 ] , ” Miss Coca Cola ” [ 1955 ] , ” Daku ” [ 1955 ] , ” Mem Sahib ” [ 1956 ] , ” Rangeen Ratein ” [ 1956 ] , ” Mirza Sahiban ” [ 1957 ] , ” Mujrim ” [ 1958 ]  and ” Char Dil Char Rahen ” [ 1959 ]  “ came in quick succession and most of them bombed miserably .

Teesri Manzil

Shammi Kapoor in Teesri Manzil

Very few hits and 18 flops later, Shammi Kapoor became a major star with ” Tumsa Nahi Dekha ” [ 1957 ] , ” Dil Deka Dekho ” [ 1958 ] and ” Ujala ” [ 1959 ] . After this there were blitzkrieg of hugely successful films like ; “College Girl ” [1960 ] , ” Singapore ” [ 1960 ] , ” Boyfriend ” [ 1960 ] , ” Junglee ” [ 1961 ] , ” Dil Tera Diwana ” [ 1962 ] , ” Professor ” [ 1962 ] , ” China Town ” [ 1962 ] , ” Bluff Master ” [ 1963 ] , ” Rajkumar ” [ 1963 ] , ” Kashmir Ki Kali ” [ 1964 ] , ” Janwar ” [ 1965 ] , ” Teesri Manzil ” [ 1966 ] , ” Budtameez ” [ 1966 ] , ” An Evening In Paris ” [ 1967 ] , ” Laat Saheb ” [ 1967 ] , ” Brahmchari ” [ 1968 ] , ” Prince ” [ 1968 ]  , ” Tum Se Accha Kaun Hai ” [ 1969 ] , ” Sachchai ” [ 1969 ] , ” Pagla Kahin Ka ” [ 1970 ] , ” Andaz ” [ 1971 ] , ” Jawan Mohabbat ” [ 1971 ] , and ” Jaane Anjane ” [ 1971 ] . After last mentioned film , he stopped playing romantic lead .

Shammi Kapoor in Kashmir Ki Kaali

Shammi Kapoor in Kashmir Ki Kaali

There after he started playing character roles and created some major milestones as well , ” Zameer ” [ 1974 ] , ” Manoranjan ” [ 1974 ] , ” Bundal Baaz ” [ 1976 ] , ” Parvarish ” [ 1977 ] , ” Shalimar “[ 1978 ] , ” Meera “[ 1989 ] , ” Rocky “[ 1981 ] , “Naseeb “[ 1981 ] , “Prem Rog “[ 1981 ] , ” Vishaata “[ 1982 ] , “Desh Premi “[ 1982 ] , “Hero “[ 1982 ] , ” Betab “[ 1983 ] and finally ” Rockstar “[ 2011 ] .

Among the above mentioned films ; ” Manoranjan ” [ 1974 ] and ” Bundal Baaz ” [ 1976 ] were his directorial ventures .

I consider myself fortunate that of the quartet of Dilip Kumar , Dev Anand , Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor , I Could meet all the three barring Raj Kapoor . In early 90s I had written a serial ” Mitti Ke Diye “ and along with my director , went to Shammi Kapoor Saheb‘s Malabar Hills apartment to narrate the story to him . We reached his Blue Heaven apartment in the morning and were ushered into his room . He was working on his computer . He greeted us warmly , told us to sit down and ordered tea for us .I narrated the story in trembling voice and to my utter shock and dismay he liked the story and agreed to work in the serial immediately .

The serial was not made because of my bad luck . But I still remember his towering personality , his booming voice and benign smile . He made me feel important , though he had achieved gigantic successes and I was a struggling nonentity . After some years I again bumped into him at the marriage reception of grand – daughter of legendary singer Mukesh . After that I could not meet or see him . I followed him on twitter , though . And then came the news of his illness and the death .

I feel blessed to meet you sir . I imbibed your spirit , your love and zest for life . I got your blessings and I know that it will guide me in the slippery world of film industry . Farewell sir ! I will definitely meet you in heaven to learn cinema from you . Till then , rest in peace sir !

There shall never , ever be another Shammi Kapoor .



You Too Left Us Bhupen Da ……. !!!


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA          NOVEMBER  09, 2011           03 .45 P.M.

Today in the morning Bhupen Da’s mortal remains were consigned to flames . I was watching live telecast of Bhupen Hazarika’s cremation from Guwahati , I was choked with emotions . When his footprints were taken and were shown to grieving millions , I too , sitting in the hall of my apartment , paid my obeisance . Bard of North – East is gone . Ballade singer of mighty Brahmaputra is silenced forever . The greatest icon of Assam is no longer with us .

Guwahati was supposed to bid farewell to Bhupen Hazarika on Tuesday . But his funeral was differed by one more day , so that unending stream of people  could pay respect to the departed icon . More than 1 million turned to the Judges Field , where his body was kept in glass casket , to pay respect . There were three km. long serpentine queues of grieving people , willing to stand for hours , for the last darshan of the most famous Indian of Assam . Shops and other business establishments were closed as mark of respect for Bhupen Da . Since buses and other modes of transport were not plying on roads of Guwahati  ,  people walked several km. to reach Judges Field for the last glimpse of Bhupen Da .

All the roads of Guwahati were full of grieving people since Monday morning. His hearse took seven hours to cover 30 km . distance before it could reach his ancestral home from Guwahati airport .

Bhupen Da died on November 05 , 2011 , at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital , Mumbai due to Pneumonia and multiple organ failure. He was 85 years old at the time of his death . His mortal remains were flown to Guwahati on Monday and cremation took place today . Government of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have declared State mourning and closure of offices for the day . Assam government decided to cremate him with full state honours .

Born on September 08 , 1926 in Sadiya , Assam ,  Bhupen Da sang his first song , ”  BISHVO BIJOY NOJAWAN …………..  ” in Jyoti Prasad Agarwala’s film ” Indramalati ” , at the age of 12 in 1939 . He also acted in the film and thus made his debut as a child actor at the age of 12 years .

After completing his intermediate from Cotton College , Assam in 1942 , he went to Benaras Hindu University for Graduation and Post – Graduation . In 1949 , he moved to New York for his PhD and got his degree in 1952 .

While in New York , Bhupen Da became close friends with Afro – American singer and civil rights activist Paul Robesan . Bhupen Da was greatly influenced by Black Pride movement of Robeson and Robeson’s song ” Ole Man River ” made lasting impression on him . And years later Bhupen Da created his own ode to river Ganga ; ” BISTIRNO PARORE ”  in Assamese and ” O GANGA BEHTI HO KYON ”  in Hindi .

In 1956 Bhupen Da moved to Mumbai to work in IPTA [ Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association ] and worked with Balraj Sahni and other Communist comrades.

He produced , directed , gave music and sung for numerous Assamese films like ;Era Bator Sur ” [ 1956 ] , ” Mahut Bandhu Re ” [ 1958 ] , ” Shakuntala ” [ 1960 ] , ” Pratishwani ” [ 1964 ] , ” Ka Swariti ” [ 1964 ] , ” Loti Ghoti ” [ 1967 ] , and ” Chick Mick Bijuli ” [ 1971 ] . For ” Shakuntala ” , ” Pratidhwani ” and ” Lotighoti ” , he won National Award also for music .

He directed a colour Documentary, ” For Whom The Sun Shines ” [ 1974 ] on Tribal Folk Music and Dance of Arunachal Pradesh . He also produced , directed and composed music for ” Mera Dharam Meri Maa ” [ 1977 ] , first Hindi colour feature film of Arunachal Pradesh .

He produced and composed music for critically acclaimed Hindi feature film ;  ” Ek Pal ” [ 1986 ] ,  Later on he composed music for films like ; ” Rudali ” [ 1993 ] , ” Darmiyan ” [ 1997 ] , ” Saaz ” [ 1998 ] , ” Gaja Gamini ” [ 2000 ]  , ” Daman ” [ 2001 ] and ” Kyon ” [ 2003 ] .

During his earlier years , he edited two magazines in Assamese ; ” Amar Pratinidhi ” and  ”  Pratidhwani  ”  .

He was member of Legislative Council of Assam [ MLC ] from 1967 to 1972 and President of Sangeet Natak Academy from 1999 to 2004. He even contested Lok Sabha election on BJP ticket in 2004 .

He got Padma Shree in 1977 , Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1993 , Padma Bhushan in 2003 and Asom Ratna in 2009 .He was awarded Muktijoddha Padak , Highest Civilian Award of Bangladesh , posthumously in 2011 .

His last song was for the film ” Gandhi To Hitler ” [ 2011 ]  , where he sang ” Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye …… ” .

I am extremely fortunate that I met him once . In early 90s , I went to meet Ms. Kalpana Lajmi for some work in her under – production film . There I saw a man , who was looking very similar to Bhupen Da . I said , ” Sir , aap Bhupen Da jaise dikhte hain . ” To my utter shock and amazement that man smiled and said , ” Beta , Main Bhupen Da hi hoon . ” He kept on smiling and looked at me very tenderly . I was petrified . I stood up immediately and prostrated in front of him and touched his feet . I apologized profusely . He simply said , ” koi baat nahin . ”  Any other person in his place would have felt offended . But Bhupen Da was kindness personified . I consider myself fortunate that I got his blessings .

He wrote and sang more than 1000 songs . Of all his songs , I like ” SAMAY O DHEERE CHALO … DOOB GAYI RAH KEE NAO …. DOOR HAI PEE KA GAON ” ,  ” DIL HUM HUM KARE ……… ” , ” DOLA RE DOLA ……. ” , ” MANUSH MANUSHER JANYE ….. ” , ” AAMI EK JAJABOR …… ”  and his immortal ode to river Ganga ” O GANGA BEHTI HO KYON ……… ” and its Bengali and Assamese versions ” BISTEERNO DUPARE ……. ” .

You have to listen to his Immortal ode to Ganga to know the impact it created throughout Assam and entire North East region . I am giving below the lyrics :

विस्तार है अपार, प्रजा दोनो पार, करे हाहाकार, निःशब्द सदा, ओ गंगा तुम, ओ गंगा तुम          ओ गंगा… बहती हो क्यूँ ..

  • नैतिकता नष्ट हुई, मानवता भ्रष्ट हुई, निर्लज्ज भाव से बहती हो क्यूँ. . . .

    इतिहास की पुकार, करे हुंकार, ओ गंगा की धार, निर्बल जन को सबल संग्रामी, समग्रगामी. . बनाती नही हो क्यूँ. . . .

    विस्तार है अपार, प्रजा दोनो पार, करे हाहाकार, निःशब्द सदा, ओ गंगा तुम, ओ गंगा तुम. .. ओ गंगा… बहती हो क्यूँ . ..

  • अनपढ़ जन अक्षरहीन अनगिन जन खाद्यविहीन निद्रवीन देख मौन हो क्यूँ ?

    व्यक्ति रहित व्यक्ति केन्द्रित सकल समाज व्यक्तित्व रहित निष्प्राण समाज को छोडती न क्यूँ ?

    रुतस्विनी क्यूँ न रही ? तुम निश्चय चितन नहीं प्राणों में प्रेरणा प्रेरती न क्यूँ ?

    उन्मद अवनी कुरुक्षेत्र बनी गंगे जननी नव भारत में भीष्म रूपी सूत समरजयी जनती नहीं

  • Bhupen Hazarika
  • Much is said about his leftist leanings . If a person is writing odes to Mother Ganga and bemoaning about fate of current India and clamours for the rebirth of a warrior like Bhishma Pitamah , can he be called a leftist ? Bhupen Da was a true nationalist and Communists simply tried to appropriate his legacy but failed . During Chinese attack on India in 1962 , he sang KATO JAWANOR MRITYU HOL …… ( so many soldiers have died ) and bemoaned about shatrur poshuttwo ( barbarity of enemy ) . Can he be called a communist ? No way !
  • Even ULFA [ United Liberation Front of Asom ] tried to appropriate him . Bhupen Da sang during Quit India movement ” AGNIJUGOR FIRINGOTI MOI……… ” ( I am a spark in the age of fire … ) . and later on SURYODAY JODI LAKKHYA  AMAR , SURYASTOR PINEY DHABOMAN KIYO ……… ( if sunrise is what we seek , then why are we reacting towards sunset ) . Can he be called ULFA sympathiser because rising sun is ULFA symbol ? Then , rising sun is the symbol of Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam also . Does it mean that Bhupen Da was a DMK sympathiser or card – holder ? Utter nonsense .

  • In June my wife was admitted in ICU of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. Bhupen Da was in the adjacent room. That was the last I saw him .

Farewell Bhupen Da ! Your mortal remains are gone but through your songs and music , you shall always be with us . There shall never be another Bhpen Hazarika ever .

Immortality at Madame Tussauds

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA         NOVEMBER 03 , 2011           10.40 P.M

Last week as I was scrolling through my Twitter timeline ,    ,I got the news that Kareena Kapoor‘s wax statue was unveiled at Madame Tussauds Wax Studio , Blackpool . Before Kareena Kapoor ,  Hritik Roshan‘s wax statue was also unveiled at the Madame Tussauds studio . It is a rare honour. Till today only six Hindi film artistes have been immortalized at Madame Tussauds . They are Amitabh Bachchan , Aishwarya Rai , Shah Rukh Khan , Salman Khan , Hritik Roshan and now Kareena Kapoor . Out of these 06 dignitaries , last 02 are my students .

Tussaud was a French national . Her mother worked as a housekeeper for Dr. Philippe Curtius in Switzerland , who skilled in wax modelling. Tussaud learnt art of making wax statues from Dr. Philippe Curtius . She made her first wax statue in 1777. Voltaire was the first person to be immortalized in wax . Rousseau and Benjamin Franklin were other famous people , who followed Voltaire. She went to London in 1802 and could not return to France because of the Franco – British War . Finally in 1835 she settled down in Baker Street , London and opened a museum , now known as Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

Wax Museum of Madame Tussauds, London

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum , London

In that very museum Kareena Kapoor and Hritik Roshana‘s wax statues were unveiled . Destiny some times plays very strange games . In 2000 , Hritik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor were signed to play romantic leads in ” Kaho Naa…………..Pyaar Hai ” . I was assigned to train them for the movie . But destiny willed otherwise. While training was going on , another announcement about another new – comer star – son was made .The film in question was ” Refugee “ and the debutant was Abhishek Bachchan . Kareena was very keen to do ” Refugee “ . Since she could not debut in two movies simultaneously , she opted for ” Refugee “ . Though she was under contract but sensing her eagerness to do ” Refugee  ” , Mr. Rakesh Roshan freed her and signed Amisha Patel for ” Kaho Naa ………. Pyaar Hai  “ . Film was released on January 14 , 2000 and created history . ” Refugee “ was also released same year on June 30 , 2000 .

Hritik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor were not destined to debut together . Though , later on , they did a couple of films together but barring ” Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham “ they could not give memorable films. But , destiny brought them together again and this time in wax avatar . What various film – maker could not achieve , Madama Tussauds studio accomplished and now these two hottest box office stars of Hindi cinema are perennially paired together in wax.

Indian actress Kareena Kapoor

Kareena Kapoor

I am happy for them . They are my students and when they are being honoured in such manner , I am thrilled . I am too small a man to dream of being ever at Madame Tussauds . But I feel my presence at Madame Tussauds through the wax statues of Kareena Kapoor and Hritik Roshan .

And the fact of the matter is that it is just the beginning of their journey and they have many more miles to go .






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