Jasmine Revolution in Burma [ Myanmar ]

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JANUARY 21, 2012           01.00 A.M.

2011 will be known in the world history as the year of Jasmine Revolutions . It started with Tunisia .The despotic ruler of Tunisia , Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to quit his post after 24 years of tyrannical rule .

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia

Egypt was the second nation to be engulfed by the Jasmine Revolution . After having an iron grip on Egypt for 30 long years , Hosni Mubarak was thrown out of power by the rampaging masses .

Hosni Mubarak of Egypt

Soon the revolution reached at the door – step of Muammar al – Gaddafi . After fierce resistance of few months , Gaddafi was thrown out of power and was subsequently killed . His despotic and tyrannical rule lasted for 42 long years .

Muammar al - Gaddafi of Libya

Soon after Libya , Jasmine Revolution reached at the doors of other despotic rulers of Syria , Yemen and China . Syria’s Bashar al – Assad is currently facing the brunt of the masses . 10 years of Bashar al – Assad and 30 years of his father Hafez al – Assad‘s rule is now deeply resented .

Bashar al - Assad of Syria

Yemen is another country , ruled by a totalitarian ruler , Ali Abdullah Saleh. His 21 year – old rule is going to end soon . Jasmine Revolution is furiously knocking at his door .

Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen

At present China is trying to control the Jasmine Revolution . But the question remains , will she be able to check the marching footsteps of the disgruntled masses ?

It is very surprising that in the last quarter of 2011 , Burma [ Also Known as Myanmar ] got rid of  the military rule of 49 years , but the world is slow to react to the new reality . Many in India don’t know much about our eastern neighbour .

Than Shwe , The Military Ruler of Burma

To know about Burma , we should look at the map of British Indian Empire . Map of British India is very interesting . In comprises present day India , Pakistan , Bangladesh , Burma [ Present Day Myanmar ] and Ceylon [ Present Day Sri Lanka ] . People know that West Pakistan [ Now Pakistan ] and East Pakistan [ Now Bangladesh ] were part of India before 1947 . But today’s generation do not know that Burma [ Now Myanmar ] , and Ceylon [ Now Sri Lanka ] , were also part of British Indian Empire .

English: Map of the British Indian Empire from...

IMap of British Indian Empire

1864 Johnson's Map of India (Hindostan or Brit...

Map of British India

At the time of Independence of India in 1947 , British rulers divided the Indian Empire into 4 free and sovereign states . India , Pakistan , Burma and Ceylon became 4 independent states .

Britain's holdings on the Indian subcontinent ...

Proposed Divisions of British Indian Empire

India and Pakistan became two independent states in 1947 . Burma became independent on January 04 , 1948 . Burma is the 40th largest country in the world and 2nd largest country in South East Asia . Burma is also the 24th most populous country in the world .

Political Map of Burma

Locator map showing India and Burma

Location Map Showing India & Burma

After independence in 1948 , Burma was a democratic country for 14 years but unfortunately , on March 02 , 1962 military ousted civilian rulers in a coup . Military junta ruled Burma till 2011 . Then junta was dissolved and a civilian government was installed again .

The 14 states and regions of Burma

14 Provinces of Burma

During it’s 49 year rule military junta changed many things in Burma . The name of country was changed to Myanmar . Though it is not recognised by the world community and the majority population of Burma . Name of the capital Rangoon was also changed to Yangon . Later on capital was shifted to Naypyidaw in Mandalay province .

Aung San Suu Kyi

After 15 years of detention , Burma’s pro – democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released on November 13 , 2010 . In October 2011 many political prisoners were freed and trade unions were legalised . Jasmine revolution seems to be booming in Burma and the country is on the verge of democratic rule .

I have a childhood fascination for Burma . My maternal grand-uncle and maternal grand-aunt lived in Rangoon , Burma during 2nd World War . They used to tell many thrilling stories about Burma . Their stay in Rangoon was also full of very interesting anecdotes . Whenever I used to visit their place along with my mother , I used to sit with them and used to hear their stories of Burma . Now I know that many stories were fabricated but they kindled my fascination about Rangoon and Burma and my childhood fascination still continues .

When I started my studies , I read about Bahadur Shah Zafar and about his imprisonment and his subsequent death in Rangoon . Then I read about Lokmanya Tilak’s infamous jail term and 6 years [ 1908 – 1914 ] that he spent in Mandalay jail . My relationship with Burma was fortified in my mind .

A Hindi film song of ” Patanga ” [ 1949 ] also helped to build up the Burmese fascination . The song MERE PIYA GAYE RANGOON ; WAHAN SE KIYA HAI TELEPHONE , TUMHARI YAAD SATATI HAI …….. still reverbarates in the corridors of my sub – conscious . I haven’t seen this Shyam , Nigar Sultana , Yakub , Gope and Cuckoo starrer , which was directed by H. S. Rawail . But whenever I used to hear C. Ramchandra’s immortal song , specially its lines ; TUM BURMA KI GALIYON ME HO , AUR PHIROON MAIN DEHRADUN ………. TUMHARI YAD SATATI HAI …… I used to feel that I am also roaming in the lanes and by – lanes of Rangoon and Burma .

Another Hindi film ” Burmah Road ” [ 1962 ] again inflamed my imagination about Burma . This Ashok Kumar and Kumkum starrer film was forgettable but a song DAGHABAZ HO , BANKE PIYA KAHO NA , DAGHABAZ HO ……. is still fresh in my memory . Lata Mangeshkar’s voice made this song immortal and Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics were set to tune by Chitragupta .

Since the country is on the road to democracy , I hope to visit Burma one day and would love to roam around in the lanes and by – lanes of Rangoon . May be this will happen soon , may be very soon .or may be in far distant future . I would love to visit Burma , visit Rangoon and would love to meet Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi .

Long live Aung San Suu Kyi !!!

Aung San Suu Kyi







100 Years of Ashok Kumar : First Super – Star of Hindi Films

Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 10 , 2011           03.00 P.M.

It is centenary year of Ashok Kumar , the first real Super – Star of Hindi cinema . He made his debut in 1936 , just after 5 years of the release of ‘ Alam Ara ” [ 1931 ] , the first talkie of Hindi cinema .

Kumudlal Kunjilal Ganguli alias Ashok Kumar

October 13 , 1911       –      December 10 , 2001

Born as Kumudlal Kunjilal Ganguli in Bhagalpur city of the then Bengal Presidency [ Now Bihar ] , Ashok Kumar spent his early life in Khandwa , Madhya Pradesh , where his father was a practicing advocate . He was educated at The Presidency College of Calcutta [ Now Kolkata ] . His two younger brothers ; Anoop Kumar and Kishore Kumar were also singer actors .

The Ganguly brothers - Anoop Kumar, Ashok Kuma...

Three Ganguli Brothers with Their Mother

After graduation , he came to Mumbai [ Then Bombay ] and started working as lab assistant in Bombay Talkies , where his brother – in – law Sashadhar Mukherjee was working with the owner Mr. Himanshu Rai . He , accidentally , started his acting career in 1936 with the Bombay Talkies film ; ” Jeevan Naiya ” . As the story goes , the original hero Najam Ul Hassan eloped with Devika Rani , the heroine of the film and wife of Himanshu Rai . indignant Himanshu Rai was furious and dismissed Najam Ul Hassan from Bombay Talkies . One day he saw Ashok Kumar and decided to make him the new hero of ” Jeevan Naiya ” [ 1936 ] . Another film , ” Achhut Kanya ” , which also came in the same year , was super hit and with this success Ashok Kumar was catapulted to super – stardom .

English: Scene from the 1936 film Achhut Kanya

Ashok Kumar & Devika Rani in Achhut Kanya

English: A still from the 1936 Hindi film Achh...

Another Photo of Achhut Kanya - Song Main Ban Ki Chidiya ....

After ” Achhut Kanya ” [ 1936 ] , Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani were paired again in hit films like ” Izzat ” [ 1937 ] , ” Savitri ” [ 1937 ] and ” Nirmala ” [ 1938 ] .

Later on he was paired with Leela Chitnis in super hits like ; ” Kangan ” [ 1939 ] , ” Bandhan ” [ 1940 ] and ” Jhoola ” [ 1941 ] .

He played Hindi cinema ‘s first anti – hero role in ” Kismat ” [ 1943 ] , which ran for 3 continuous years in the Roxy cinema of Calcutta . [ Now Kolkata ] . This record was broken by ” Sholay ” [ 1975 ] , which ran in Minerva of Mumbai for 5 years .

Before ” Kismat ” [ 1943 ] , he sang all his songs in films , as was the norm and churned out some outstanding numbers . I have a cassette of the songs sung by him in his earlier films . Years later , he again sang in ” Aashirvad ” [ 1968 ] . His song ” Railgaadi …..chhuk , chhuk , chhuk ……… railgaadi “ was a rage and is considered  the first Rap song of Hindi cinema .

After ” Mahal ” [ 1949 ] , he left Bombay Talkies and started his career as freelance artiste .

He started playing character roles from late 60s . Even as a character artiste , he churned out many marvellous films with some stellar performances .

” Aankhon Me Tum Ho ” [ 1997 ] was his last film . Thus , from ” Jeevan Naiya ” [ 1936 ] to ” Aankhon Me Tum Ho ” [ 1997 ] , he had a career span of 61 years as an actor . This is unparalleled in the motion picture history . It was a record , which got eclipsed recently . Dev Anand , who died on December 04 , 2011 , had career span of 65 years as an actor . In his 61 year-long acting career , Ashok Kumar acted in 301 films .

With the advent of television , he whole – heartedly accepted the new medium and in fact was the first major cine – artiste , who appeared in serials . First he anchored ” Hum Log “ and then did title roles in TV serials like ; ” Bahadur Shah Zafar ” and ” Bheem Bhawani ”  His last TV serial was Hrishikesh Mukherjee directed ” Ujale Ki Ore “ . I also did a very insignificant role in it and can say that I have shared screen space with Evergreen , iconic and gigantic super star , Padma Bhushan Ashok Kumar , who was affectionately called , by one and all , Dadamoni , meaning elder brother .

He , apart from acting in 301 films , produced 4 films . They are ; ” Mahal ” [ 1949 ] , ” The Fiancee ” [ 1953 ] , ” Kalpana ” [ 1960 ] and ” Lal Chunariyaa ” [ 1983 ] .

He even directed ” Eight Days ” [ 1946 ] but due to some reasons refused to take credit . He is not billed as a director in the credits .

He also contributed in music department of 4 films . They are ; ” Aashirwad ” [ 1968 ] , ” Kangan ” [ 1971 ] , ” Khubsoorat ” [ 1980 ] and ” Shaukeen ” [ 1982 ] .

In ” Krorepati ” [ 1961 ] and ” Guddi ” [ 1971 ] , he is billed as guest artiste and played himself . It means , he did not play any character but played super – star Ashok Kumar .

Apart from acting , his other passions were painting and Homoeopathy . He was a practicing homeopath . In 1950s , he also became owner of iconic Bombay Talkies , when Devika Rani sold her share and left the studio . He was a linguist and apart from English , Hindi and his mother tongue Bengali , was fluent in Marathi and French . In his film ” Gumrah ” [  1963 ] , he even used French in dialogues .

Devika Rani

Devika Rani

A career span of 61 years , 301 films in Hindi , Bengali and Marathi , various ads and corporate films and half a dozen TV serials , apart from numerous film songs to his credit , this gigantic , iconic Super – star of Hindi films died on December 10 , 2001 in his Chembur residence . He was 90 years old at the time of his death .
Logo of Bombay Talkies

Logo of Bombay Talkies

First film of Ashok Kumar , which I watched was ” Bahu Beti ” . I was in school and went to watch this Joy Mukherjee and Mala Sinha starrer . Ashok Kumar , who was not the hero of the film , was there prominently on the poster and his name came  first in the billing . I got curious . How come an actor , who is playing father in the film , got the top billing ? My cousins , my maternal uncle and some more knowledgeable friends told me about Ashok Kumar and I started watching his films and started following his career .

Initially I was a fan of Dilip Kumar .  I am still a fan but slowly I started veering towards Ashok Kumar and Dev Anand . When I came to Mumbai to pursue career in films I watched Ashok Kumar and Dev Anand from close quarters . I found them humane , warm and without any trappings of a star . I wanted to be close to my icons and these two stars ; Ashok Kumar and Dev Anand permit you to be there in their world . So I became a huge fan of Ashok Kumar and will remain till my death .

This is centenary year of Ashok Kumar . It is sad and appalling that nothing was done to commemorate the occasion . There was just one article in Times of India . Congress government at centre is more interested to preserve the legacy of Nehru – Gandhi family . They have no time for Ashok Kumar . But alas ! Hindi film industry too forgot its first Super Star . MAMI Film Festival also forgot to give him honour in his centenary year .

His contribution is enormous .He ushered in natural style of acting and freed Hindi cinema from the clutches of theatrical style of dialogue delivery . He experimented a lot and did variety of roles . But life is such …………

I am a small man and I have no reach . Still I wanted to write a blog about Ashok Kumar . Through my blog , which is not widely read , I wish to remember Dadamoni Ashok Kumar and paying my unflinching respect to the first real super star of not only Hindi cinema but of Indian films .

Adieu Dadamoni ! You shall always be remembered by a fan like me and your incredible body of work will always be there to enthrall the connoisseurs of world cinema .










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