Chandigarh, Friday, December 25, 1998
Flute players quest for fame
Expressions of a woman
proves his mettle
CARRYING the cross of youth and inexperience the tag of newcomer trailing him for over a decade, he found the doors of Bollywood slammed shut in his face. A lesser mortal would have perhaps quit. But not Manoj Punj. Today with Shaheed-e-Mohabbat (Boota Singh) his confidence in his directorial prowess stands vindicated. While at Calcutta Festival, the film opened to rave reviews and full house, its selection in the Indian panorama to be screened at International Film Festival in January 1999, has put him in the august company of eminent directors like Shyam Benegal, Ram Gopal Varma, Santosh Sivan and others.
But then this 29-year-old director who was in Chandigarh only recently for the press preview of his directorial debut, reveals, Though I embarked into the world of arc-lights via the art of histrionics, even when I play-acted several parts as a student of Khalsa College, Chandigarh, I knew instinctively that acting was not my muse.
Wielding the directorial baton was no cakewalk especially since he was hemmed in by self-drawn Lakshman rekhas. His refusal to work as an assistant for one. But he rationalises. An assistant in India is no better than a clerk. Sure you might learn through direct close interface and acute observation alone. But again there is an inherent risk of being cast in the same mould.
So patiently he bidded for his time. In between came a number of musical video (directorial assignments) for pop icons like Gurdas Mann, Sardool Sikander et al. Manoj admits unabashedly that none of them, however, really made an impact.
Invasion from the skies could have translated into manna from heaven. Alas, his foray onto the small screen, a teledrama Kaala Paani based on Suraj Sanims adaptation of The Count of Monte Christo, too proved to be a humbling experience. Face to face with the colossal egos of stars he had to ultimately replace lead character with Gurdas Mann. While Kaala Paani found no takers, association with Mann forged an inseparable bond. When the singer decided to pay a celluloid tribute to his motherland, the mantel of director rested on Manojs all-too-willing shoulders.
Handling a complex love-tale between a 40-year-old man and a sweet 16 belle, set in the agonising years of riots and Partition was a daunting task. Other obstacles rolled by in the shape of limited time span the film was shot in 32 days flat and monetary constraints. So what if this was the most expensive Punjabi film ever made, no budget is ever enough for a director. Then he had to pander to local actors, tone down their theatrical mannerisms without hurting their sensibilities for many of the senior artists, Manoj was the kid who grew up in their backyard.
While the critics have hailed Shaheed-e-Mohabbat as a milestone, a refreshing break from the not so glorious past of Punjabi cinema, Manoj himself says, For me a film is a film to be judged independently not by virtue of its language or region. Though the real acid test of the movie how many points it picks up on audience appreciation scale still awaits, Manoj is already looking into the future. This time he is determined to test the national waters. No more Punjabi adventurism, unless the Punjab Government changes its apathetic stance.
Already a nebulous idea hovering around the travails of a spastic child is brewing. Yet another intertwining of destinies of Indian and Paki nationals against the contemporary backdrop too is on the cards.
Besides a proposal for
an ambitious television series with an independent
producer of international repute might just swing in his
favour. What, where, with whom, Manojs lips are
sealed. Tryst with elusive world of stardom, he knows
only too well, is an extremely dicey rendezvous.
players quest for fame
LILTING notes Aa laut ke aaja mere meet... flowing from a flute prick your ears while walking in the Sector 17 piazza corridors of Chandigarh.
The flute player is 42-year-old Jagdish Kumar, JK to his friends and passers-by. This living legend has been a part of the sector for decades. He plays on the flute and sells flutes to eke out his living.
He began his career at the age of 10. He comes from a small village in Hisar district. Flute has been in the family. His father, Ram Sarup, had many disciples, including JK and his brother Balbir Kumar. Ram Sarup used to enthrall passers-by in the Sector 22 market.
Learning flute, however, was not JKs forte. But circumstances willed otherwise making him develop a taste and an interest in the flute.
Most of the time JK is surrounded by people. At times foreigners are also seen standing nearby as he plays the flute. But he is not happy with all this. He remembers his days of yore when he used to accompany his father to the market. At that time a crowd of 50 to 60 persons assembled and appreciated the kala. But today there are few who will acclaim such work and rest will pass by casually.
He begins his live show with a song Aasman pe hai Khuda, aur zameen pe hum... a kind of lament against the Almighty. But does not seem to suffer from any inferiority complex nor is he plagued by self-pity. An artiste has a long way to go, both in terms of recognition and money. To emphasise this point he quotes a line from another song: Maana apni jeb se fakir hain, phir bhi yaro dil ke amir hain... .
Name any old song and he will play it. He likes songs from Raj Kapoors films the most.
JK has also diversified his flute business. He has introduced two cassettes 60 minute each in which he has played 20 old Hindi songs. The first cassette titled, Evergreen Melody has songs like Chhu lene do nazuk hoton ko..., Ramaiya wasta vaiya... and Jo vada kiya wo... . The second one Pukarta Chala Hun Main has songs like Panchhi banu udti phiroon..., Yeh raat bheegi bheegi... etc.
These two cassettes are more for publicity than for any gains, says JK. He sells 150 to 200 cassettes every month. On Divali, nearly 300 cassettes are sold from the Sector 17 shop-window.
of a woman
IN 1993 Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi organised an exhibition entitled Unexplored Creative Talent in which the works of art produced by unknown and not-so-known artists of Chandigarh were put on display at Government Museum and Art Gallery for a week.
Navpreet Kaur was one of the invitees to the exhibition. Within a short span of five years she has explored her creative talent and registered her artistic expressions through the medium of pottery and painting. She has displayed her works of art and craft at prestigious fairs, festivals and exhibitions in India and abroad.
Her studio in Sector 44 always displays her paintings and pottery. The drawing room gallery provides an ideal ambience for the small-sized paintings and pottery.
Her oils prominently figures the woman. An image which, according to the artist, has developed in her naturally. Being a woman herself she understands better the inner tension and turmoil that a woman has to undergo in the society.
The main emphasis is on the eloquence of facial features. These faces sometimes throw questions at the onlooker. In the mindscape of the society how does a woman in her loneliness find her self confined to doors, windows or walls of the houses. The message is clear and crisp.
At times she is waiting for the life partner or else engaged philosophically in a dialogue with the drooping branches of a tree or with the so fresh flowers in the bouquet probably to understand the mysteries of life and nature. The paintings are small in format and reminds one of the great traditions of our Indian miniature painting. Red, yellow, blue and green are the colours mostly used by the artist in consonance with the different states and situations, feelings and emotions, ideas and thoughts, tones and textures.
Terracotta pottery being a three-dimensional art has its own characteristics and challenges in comparison to painting. Navpreet understands the nature of each pot well and imparts it a distinct artistic touch and aesthetic elegance.
The range of techniques used is amazing. This has given her pottery an inventive tone which is quite different from the one done in abundance all around today. And to achieve this she has used a variety of materials such as acids, metal ore and powders, lacker, oils and adhesives etc. All this have been used quite imaginatively and skilfully without affecting the terracotta form and its fragrance.
There are pots which take us to the antiquity of our culture, but there are some which reflect modern sensibility. The distinguished feature of her painting and pottery is that they have affordable price-tags which is contrary to the present trend.
This not-so-known artist once, today her background sheet tells us that she has participated in the annual art exhibition of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi, annual art exhibition of Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi, The Solids Third Biennale of Indian Drawing, NZCCs Kalagram Rashtriya Utsav, Surajkund Crafts Mela, Delhi, and Punjab Art Heritage Fair, Jalandhar.
She has five solo shows
of her pottery, including the one organised at Saint
Julien Crafts Centre, Shrewsbury (UK) in 1997. Her
pottery is in the collection of National Institute of
Fashion Technology, Mohali, and Punjab School Education
Board and many private collectors in India, the United
Kingdom, France, the USA, Canada, Germany and South
A long way to go
ARIA (Milestone; Rs 65): Aria is the name of a new group comprising Arasha, Arpana, Ishaan and Reshab. Arasha has a grounding in both Indian and Western music. She has had the credit of being a heroine in Alyque Padamsee plays. Reshab is trained in Indian music and is also a dancer. He has been a member of the Hema Malini troupe. Ishaan has been taking part in musical serials. Arpana is a disciple of Kalyanji-Anandji. Naturally, when they form a group, they take one letter from each of their names. The word that emerges, Aria, we are told, is also a Greek word, meaning melody, air, strain, tune. So, it serves two purposes. The music they produce is hummable, but not very original. In fact, one cannot help remembering A.R. Rehman while listening to their cassette.
Even otherwise, there is not the expected effortlessness in their album. At times, it seems a conscious effort is being made to fit the words into the tune.
There are eight songs in all. Most of these are duets. The names of individual singers are not given; so it is not possible to know who has sung what. For instance, Jal jayega hoga dhuan is by the two girls. One of them makes a vain attempt to sound like Shweta Shetty. At the same time, the other has sung in a competent manner. So, it is not possible to praise/castigate the right person.
Music is by Pritam Chakraborty and lyrics by Amitabh Varma.
|SANSKAR (Magnasound; Rs 60):
Anup Jalota has challenge at hand. After dabbling in film
music, TV compering and pop singing, Sonu Nigam has now
decided to sing bhajans. And my word, he has not done a
bad job of it at all.
His voice is serene and soothing in all the eight bhajans, music (Ravi Pawar) is good and the overall impact good. Particularly good are Hari mere ghar ko and Teri sharan mein
What is remarkable is that Sonu Nigam has also written one of the bhajans, Soja, sapnon mein kho ja .
The writers of the other ones are Ajay Jhingran and Pt Kiran Mishra.
MUJHE APNA BANALO (Venus): Altaf Raja has a strong and committed clientele among hair cutting saloons and tailoring shops which will be the envy of any top singer. This cassette is specifically directed towards them. Lyrics are consistently low-brow; so is the music. The very many shers that he has incorporated also fall in the same category.
The lyrics of Abdul
Hamid Calcuttavi, Jamil Mujahid, Abbas Dana, Zaheer Alam
and Bhairav Arun are of the zakhm malham mein doob jaate
hain type, meaning thereby that they are ideal for
gracing the rear of the trucks. Raja has moulded his
voice also similarly. In Kitni baar din bhar mein
he has pronounced singaar as
singhaar repeatedly. Thank heavens he
hasnt uttered the word sanghaar.
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