Khushwant Singh : The Man In Bulb


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 02, 2014           00.15 A.M.

Khushwant Singh's Iconic Image on Editor's Page of The Illustrated Weekly of India

Khushwant Singh’s Iconic Image on Editor’s Page of The Illustrated Weekly of India

This obituary is a much delayed blog post . I wanted to write it immediately after sad demise of Shri Khushwant Singh ji . He died on March 20, 2014 at the age of 99 . But due to work pressure of my acting institute , I was , unfortunately , not able to do that .

Khushwant Singh : In The Winter of His Life

Khushwant Singh : In The Winter of His Life

I came to know about him in 1969  . In my life , 1967 is a watershed year . I left Deoria , my home town in Uttar Pradesh and landed in Allahabad for higher studies . In the hostel of Government Inter College , Allahabad , I was introduced to new horizons , unknown vistas and leading Indian luminaries .

In 1969 , after completing intermediate , I took admission in Allahabad University . I started living in Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel . There I got to know about Khushwant Singh , who shot into fame because of the unprecedented success of   The Illustrated Weekly of India  . In the reading room of my hostel , for the first time , I had a chance to glance the above mentioned weekly magazine . A bearded Sardar ji sitting in a light bulb with volumes of books , bottles of booze and photos of buxom beauties , attracted my attention . I read his editorial page week after week and became a life – long fan . As I started knowing  him more , my admiration for him grew .

Khushwant Singh I Know

Khushwant Singh , I Know

Just look at the startling facts of his fascinating life :

+  In 1938 he started his professional career as a practising lawyer . He worked at Lahore Court for eight years.

+ In 1947 he entered Indian Foreign Service . He started as Information Officer of the Government of India in Toronto, Canada . He was Press Attaché and Public Officer for the Indian High Commission for four years in London and Ottawa .

+ In 1951 he joined the All India Radio as a journalist .

+ Between 1954 and 1956 he worked in Department of Mass Communication of UNESCO at Paris .

+ From 1956 he turned editor. He had edited Yojana , an Indian government journal ; The Illustrated Weekly of India , a newsweekly ; and two major Indian newspapers , The National Herald and the Hindustan Times . During his tenure, The Illustrated Weekly became India’s pre-eminent newsweekly, with its circulation raising from 65,000 to 400000 .

I still have some old , dog – eared and pale copies of  The Illustrated Weekly of India   in the study of my Deoria house . I felt sad , when I read that one day on 25 July 1978 , a week before he was to retire, the management asked him to leave ” with immediate effect ” . He was the editor of the magazine for 9 years , from 1969 to 1978 precisely . The circulation rose to 4,00,000 from the previous 65,000 . After his departure it plummeted again .

I read that he woke up at 4.00 AM each day to write his columns by hand . His works ranged from political commentary and contemporary satire to translations of Sikh religious texts and Urdu poetry . He also wrote his highly popular column  ” With Malice Towards One and All “ regularly . It was widely syndicated in all the famous news papers .

Collage of Books

Books of Khushwant Singh :

Short story collections

  • The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories. London, Saturn Press, 1950.
  • The Voice of God and Other Stories. Bombay, Jaico, 1957.
  • A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories. New Delhi, Hind, 1967.
  • Black Jasmine. Bombay, Jaico, 1971
  • The Collected Stories. N.p., Ravi Dayal, 1989.
  • The Portrait of a Lady
  • The Strain
  • Success Mantra
  • A Love Affair In London
  • ना काहू से दोस्‍ती ना काहू से बैर

Play

Television Documentary: Third World—Free Press (also presenter; Third Eye series), 1983 (UK).

 

Book - 1

I am his admirer and shall always be that , till I am alive . It is strange that he attracted large number of people , who became life – long fan . Though he was a Gandhi – Nehru sympathiser , still he had my unflinching admiration . Even Shri Lal Krishna Advani is an admirer , whom he vehemently criticized for his role in Ram Janma Bhoomi Movement of Ayodhya .

Shri Lal Krishna Advani - A Lifelong Admirer

Shri Lal Krishna Advani – A Lifelong Admirer

It is strange , as well as unique . I am baffled and amazed .

 

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I offer my condolences to the family and legions of admirers of Khushwant Singh ji.

VIDUR Editing Studio , and VIDUR Club also pray for the departed soul .

May you REST IN PEACE Sir ! I , a believer and idol worshipper , will always miss an unapologetic atheist and crusader iconoclast like you .

 

[ Acknowledgment : I have taken some facts of his life and information about his books from Wikipedia . I have copied the list from Wikipedia and posted it here . Expressing gratitude . ]

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Sunset Boulevard ( 8 ) : ” Lakshmi Talkies : अपना सिनेमा हाल था ये “


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MARCH 17 , 2014           11.40 P.M.

Today when the Hindus , all over the world , are celebrating Holi and rejoicing in festivity , I am sitting in my study in Mumbai and writing this blog about Lakshmi Talkies , Allahabad with tearful eyes . I am struggling for words . I am unable to form sentences . I am full of emotions . Lakshmi Talkies will not ring a familiar bell for several anonymous people or the lovers of cinema . May be some will be familiar of some Lakshmi Talkies of their own cities . But here I am talking about Lakshmi Talkies of Allahabad , Uttar Pradesh .

Few days back I saw the following post on the facebook time line of Shri Neeraj Sri :

अपना सिनेमा हाल था ये …
Lakshmi Talkies - Katara - Allahabad

Lakshmi Talkies – Katara – Allahabad

When I read the post and saw the photograph , I became numb . I was stunned . I was shaken . I was saddened beyond words . I was emotionally disturbed . I spent a sleepless night .

Even now as I am writing the blog , my heart refuses to believe that this is a reality . I was a regular patron of Lakshmi Talkies during my Ganga Nath Jha hostel days . Lakshmi Talkies of Allahabad was a part of my life . Lakshmi Talkies holds a special place for me because Lakshmi Talkies was an integral part of my Allahabad University days . It’s magnificent structure is still fresh in my memory . So when I saw the above picture of a desolate Lakshmi Talkies with moth – eaten walls , broken window panes and barbed wire fencing , I wanted to cry . I wanted to mourn .

I , after passing High School , left my birth place Deoria in 1967 and went to Allahabad for higher studies . Deoria had two cinema halls at that time but being in a small city like Deoria , they were not grand or magnificent , like cinema halls of bigger cities . Allahabad was much bigger city compared to Deoria , so the cinema halls were also huge and opulent . I landed in Allahabad in July 1967 with glitter in my eyes , hope and dreams in my heart for my better future . I , as a 15-year-old small town boy , was fascinated by Allahabad , the city and its atmosphere . Slowly I started getting acquainted with the city of Allahabad . Being a movie buff , I started looking about cinema halls and thus came to know about Lakshmi Talkies at Katara . Lakshmi Talkies management had this strategy of re – releasing old Hindi films . So for me this was a boon because I could now watch all the old classics which I had missed in Deoria .

” Door Ki Awaaz ”  [ 1964 ] , a film directed and produced by Devendra Goel was the first ever film which I watched in Lakshmi Talkies . The Joy Mukherjee , Saira Banu , Pran , Johny Walker and Om Prakash starrer film has some popular Mohammad Rafi gems like , “Ek Musafir Ko Duniya Men Kya Chahiye ……………………….” , ” Husn Se Chand Bhi Sharmaya Hai , Teri Soorat Ne Ghazab Dhaya Hai ……………..” , ” Muqaddar Aazmana Chahta Hoon , Tujhe Apna Banan Chahta Hoon ……………………………. “ , and a lovely duet of Mohammad Rafi with Asha Bhosle ” Haathon Men Haath Hothon Pe Afsane Pyar Ke ……………………” , and the last but not the least , a song sung by Mohammad Rafi , Manna Dey and Asha Bhosle ” Hum Bhi Agar Bachche Hote Nam Hamara Hota Gabloo , Babloo , Khane Ko Milte Laddoo , Aur Duniya Kehti …………….. Happy Birthday To You …………………” . All these lovely songs were tuned by music director Ravi .

The film , the songs and the whole movie going experience is still fresh in my memory even after 47 long , strife – torn and eventful years of my life .

The last film I watched in Lakshmi Talkies was in 1971 . It was a Hemant Kumar produced and Asit Sen directed ” Khamoshi ” [ 1969 ] . During the same year they also opened a skating ring in the western side of the compound . It was a new experience .

I completed graduation in 1971 and left Allahabad and came to Bombay [ now Mumbai ] . One year after I left Mumbai again and came to Allahabad to complete my post graduation . So I was in Allahabad and staying in the same Ganga Nath Jha Hostel again from 1972 to 1974 before finally bidding adieu to Allahabad in 1975 . During this period I did watch couple of films in Lakshmi talkies but I don’t remember them .

But I do remember a concert of Pandit Ravi Shankar with Alla Rakha Khan , which I was fortunate enough to attend . One evening my friend Pramod Vajpayee came running and informed me about the concert . It was in aid of some NGO . So the ticket rates were low . We went , bought the tickets and took our seat in the packed hall . That evening is still fresh in my memory . It was a life – time experience .

And now 40 years later in March 2014 , I read this posting about the closure of Lakshmi Talkies on the facebook time line of Shri Neeraj Sri and the world of my emotional memory crumbled at one go . A part of my life is gone forever . A silent witness of my many lonely evenings is going to be silent very soon .

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I condole the demise of Lakshmi Talkies .

VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to express grief and pain .

Farewell Lakshmi Talkies !

Neeraj Sri has rightly said , ” अपना सिनेमा हाल था ये … ”

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