Norodom Sihanouk : Maverick Prince of Cambodia

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           OCTOBER 17 , 2012           00.30 A.M.

I know that the name Norodom Sihanouk does not ring a familiar bell . Ask so – called Acting Trainers of Mumbai and they will start scratching their heads . Or for that matter ask any Acting Trainers of Bollywood and they will show ignorance . It is one thing to run an Acting School in Mumbai and it is totally another thing to have knowledge of world affairs .

People of my generation , who are not only Acting Trainer , or have just an Acting School in India , know him very well . In spite of being king of  Cambodia , he was known as Prince Norodom Sihanouk . He was a friend of India .

Norodom Sihanouk [ 31 October 1922 – 15 October 2012 ]  was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until 2004. He was the effective ruler of Cambodia from 1953 until 1970. After his second abdication in 2004, he was known as The King-Father of Cambodia , a position in which he retained many of his former responsibilities as constitutional monarch.

King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia

King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossamak, Sihanouk held so many positions since 1941 that the Guinness Book of World Records identifies him as the politician who has served the world’s greatest variety of political offices.These included two terms as king, two as sovereign prince, one as president, two as prime minister, as well as numerous positions as leader of various governments-in-exile. He served as puppet head of state for the Khmer Rouge government in 1975–1976.

English: Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia v...

Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia visiting Communist Romania in 1972 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When his maternal grandfather, King Sisowath Monivong, died on 23 April 1941, the Crown Council selected Prince Sihanouk as King of Cambodia. At that time, colonial Cambodia was part of French Indochina. His coronation took place in September 1941. In March 1945, the Empire of Japan deposed the French colonial administration and took control of French Indochina. Under pressure from the Japanese, Sihanouk proclaimed Cambodia’s independence. Unlike the Vietnamese Emperor Bảo Đại, Sihanouk was careful not to compromise himself too much in collaboration with Japan. The Japanese imposed Son Ngoc Thanh as foreign minister then, in August, as prime minister of Cambodia. After Japan’s surrender, the French gradually retook control of French Indochina: Son Ngoc Thanh was arrested in October 1945, while Sihanouk, considered by the French a valuable ally in the chaotic Indochinese situation, retained his throne.

After World War II and into the early 1950s, King Sihanouk’s aspirations became much more nationalistic and he began demanding independence from the French colonists and their complete departure from Indochina. This echoed the sentiments of the other fledgling nations of French Indochina: the State of Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and the Kingdom of Laos. He went into exile in Thailand in May 1953 because of threats on his life by the French and only returned when independence was granted on 9 November 1953. Whilst independent, Cambodia retained an alliance with the French Union, until the end of the First Indochina War and the subsequent official end of French Indochina. On 2 March 1955, Sihanouk abdicated in favor of his father, established the Sangkum and took the post of Prime Minister a few months later, after having obtained an overwhelming victory in the parliamentary elections on September 1955.

Following his father’s death in 1960, Sihanouk won general election as head of state, but received the title of Prince rather than King. In 1963, he made a change in the constitution that made him head of state for life.

On 18 March 1970, while Sihanouk was out of the country travelling, Prime Minister Lon Nol convened the National Assembly which voted to depose Sihanouk as head of state and gave Lon Nol Emergency powers. Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak, Sihanouk’s cousin who had been passed over by the French government in 1941, retained his post as Deputy Prime Minister. The new Khmer Republic was immediately recognized by the United States.

After he was deposed, Sihanouk fled to Beijing, formed the National United Front of Kampuchea and began to support the Khmer Rouge in their struggle to overthrow the Lon Nol government in Phnom Penh. He initiated the Royal Government of the National Union of Kampuchea, which included Khmer Rouge leaders. After Sihanouk showed his support for the Khmer Rouge by visiting them in the field, their ranks swelled from 6,000 to 50,000 fighters. Many of the new recruits for the Khmer Rouge were apolitical peasants who fought in support of the King, not for communism, of which they had a little understanding. King Sihanouk would later argue (1979) that the monarchy being abolished, he was only fighting for his country’s independence, “even if [his] country had to be Communist.” During Lon Nol’s regime, Sihanouk mostly lived in exile in North Korea .

When the Khmer Republic fell to the Khmer Rouge in April 1975, Prince Sihanouk became the symbolic head of state of the new régime while Pol Pot remained in power. Sihanouk, who had imagined living like a retired country gentleman and perhaps being ‘a public relations man for [his] country was to spend the next few years virtually as a hostage of the Khmer Rouge. The next year, on 4 April 1976, the Khmer Rouge forced Sihanouk out of office again and into political retirement. During the Vietnamese invasion, he was sent to New York to speak against Vietnam before The United Nations. After his speech, he sought refuge in China and in North Korea.

The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in December 1978 ousted the Khmer Rouge. While welcoming the ousting of the Khmer Rouge government, he remained firmly opposed to the Vietnamese-installed Heng Samrin government of People’s Republic of Kampuchea. Although claiming to be wary of the Khmer Rouge , Sihanouk again joined forces with them in order to provide a united front against the Vietnamese occupation. In 1982, he moved completely into opposition of the Vietnam-supported government, becoming President of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), which consisted of his own Armée Nationale Sihanoukiste (ANS), Son Sann’s Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLF), and the Khmer Rouge. The Vietnamese withdrew in 1989, leaving behind a pro-Vietnamese government under ex-Khmer Rouge cadre Hun Sen to run the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK).

Peace negotiations between the CGDK and the PRK commenced shortly thereafter and continued until 1991 when all sides agreed to a comprehensive settlement which they signed in Paris. Prince Sihanouk returned once more to Cambodia on 14 November 1991 after thirteen years in exile.

In 1993, Sihanouk once again became King of Cambodia. During the restoration, however, he suffered from ill-health and traveled repeatedly to Beijing for medical treatment.

His Majesty King Sihanouk went into self-imposed exile in January 2004, taking up residence in Pyongyang, North Korea and later in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. Citing reasons of ill-health, he announced his abdication from the throne on 7 October 2004.

The Throne Council met on 14 October and appointed H.R.H. Prince Norodom Sihamoni, one of Sihanouk’s sons, as the new King. The elderly Sihanouk was then proclaimed as His Majesty The King Father of Cambodia .

Sihanouk died after a heart attack in Beijing, China on 15 October 2012, aged 89.

Image of King Norodom Sihanouk at Siem Reap-An...

Image of King Norodom Sihanouk at Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isn’t it a maze ? Isn’t his life story too complicated ? I am witness to all these happening and used to follow the happenings of Cambodia and her Prince Norodom Sihanouk avidly . I had forgotten him but news of his death brought back old memories of the maverick prince of Cambodia .

I have quoted extensively from Wikipedia because to untangle his life story is not easy , though I know most of the incidents .



Sad End of Varsha Bhosle

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           OCTOBER 10, 2012           00.45 A.M.

On Monday October 08 , while I was going through the tweets of some of the eminent people , whom I follow , I suddenly noticed that many people are paying tribute to Varsha Bhosle . I knew that Varsha Bhosle is the name of legendary singer Asha Bhosle’s daughter , but it didn’t occur to me that this Varsha Bhosle is the same person .

English: Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar

Lata Mangeshkar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Indian singer Asha Bhosle

Asha Bhosle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though I am a die-hard Lata Mangeshkar fan but I do respect Asha Bhosle immensely . It is sad that at this age she has to face this kind of tragedy . In her tumultuous career and eventful life , she faced many challenges and she faced them bravely . But a tragedy of this magnitude is unimaginable .

I am extremely fortunate that I had opportunity to have telephonic conversation with legendary Lata Mangeshkar once . I am honoured that I had visited Lata Mangeshkar’s apartment at Prabhu Kunj once . I am yet to meet Asha Tai . But I can say that I know Varsha Bhosle . I know her through her writings. I loved her column on internet . When , during pre – social media boom , she started writing her column on a portal called , she got huge fan following . I was one of the followers . Though she wrote for print media also but her internet column was beyond words .

She wrote columns for the web portal, Rediff, during 1997 – 2003; columns for The Sunday Observer during 1994 – 1998; and for Gentleman magazine in 1993. She also wrote a little for the Times of India and for Rakshak – The Protector police magazine .

Before writing columns , she worked as a playback singer in Hindi and Marathi movies, and appeared in concerts with her mother. She sang for a Dev Anand filmLootmaar ” [ 1980 ] .

Varsha ji finished school from Hill Grange High School, on Pedder Road, Mumbai, in 1974, with an ISC. She studied Political Science at Elphinstone College, which is affiliated with Bombay University in Mumbai.

She lived in Mumbai with her mother, Asha Bhosle. She had married a sports writer and public relations professional Hemant Kenkre but the couple divorced in 1998. On September 9, 2008, she attempted suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills, after which she was admitted to Mumbai‘s Jaslok hospital. Later, on October 8, 2012, 56-year-old Varsha committed suicide at her residence in Mumbai. She shot herself in the head at her Prabhu Kunj residence in Mumbai.

Almost all the readers of her columns are her life-long fans . She had her own distinct style . She was honest . She was blunt . She was iconoclast . But she always admired and respected her critics . It never took more than a moment to accept her mistakes . And she always accepted it with dignity and without ill – will .

It is extremely sad that such a gifted writer left us too soon . I always wanted to meet her . But now it wont be possible ever .

Rest In Peace Varsha ji . You shall always be with us through your written words .

[ I have quoted few things from Wikipedia . I express my indebtedness .]



Vidur’s Telly Tales – 9 : Bigg Boss Connection [ B ]

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           OCTOBER 09, 2012           01.45 A.M.

Bigg Boss – Season 6 started on October 07, 2012 on Colors . When Bigg Boss – Season 5 started , I immediately posted my first blog about my Bigg Boss connection on October 04, 2011 . I have mentioned in that blog that barring Season – 5 , which has only one student Mahek Chahal , all the other seasons had two students of mine as participants . Here is the list , which I had posted at that time :

Bigg Boss – Season – 1 : Amit Sadh / Ragini Shetty

Bigg Boss – Season – 2 : Monica Bedi / Zulfi Syed

Bigg Boss – Season – 3 : Aditi Govitrikar / Shamita Shetty

Bigg Boss – Season – 4 : Ashmit Patel / Samir Soni

Bigg Boss – Season – 5 : Mahek Chahal

But later on Amar Upadhyay joined the inmates of Season – 5 and this Season too had two students .

I was eagerly waiting for Season – 6 to start and when I watched the opening episode , I was overjoyed that this Season – 6 also has two students . They are Niketan Madhok and Karishma Kotak . Now the revised list is :

Bigg Boss – Season – 1 : Amit Sadh / Ragini Shetty

Bigg Boss – Season – 2 : Monica Bedi / Zulfi Syed

Bigg Boss – Season – 3 : Aditi Govitrikar / Shamita Shetty

Bigg Boss – Season – 4 : Ashmit Patel / Samir Soni

Bigg Boss – Season – 5 : Mahek Chahal / Amar Upadhyay

Bigg Boss – Season – 6 : Niketan Madhok / Karishma Kotak

I thought , isn’t it uncanny ? Isn’t it something special ? Isn’t it unique ? Bigg Boss is hugely popular . It is eagerly awaited . All the participants become household name . And here I can say with utmost satisfaction that I have 2 students per episode . In total 12 students in 6 seasons .

Any Acting Trainer would wish that his students should be in the house . Every Acting Trainer of Mumbai and all the Acting Trainers of India dream for this kind of publicity , which is rare . Some Acting Trainers of Mumbai even make false claims . Luckily ,  as an Acting Trainer of  Bollywood , I got this on platter .

Among all the Famous Acting Classes in Mumbai or reputed Film Institutes of Mumbai , my institute Vidur’s Kreating Charakters is fortunate enough to have such a track record .

A wannabe Acting Trainer of India and few unscrupulous , shady Bollywood Acting Trainers have greeted me with cuss words on the facebook . They sent me message on the facebook so that no one else could read it . This only shows their utmost frustration . Famous Acting Class can’t be run by frustrated people . It is like meditation . You have to slog . You have to work tirelessly , relentlessly and without showing fatigue .

But anyway , it is time to rejoice . It is time to sit down and take stock of the situation . It is very satisfying moment , a humbling experience . I thank almighty for giving me such opportunities and honour .

I am thankful to all my students for making me proud .




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