Chandigarh, Friday, April 2, 1999
 

Nafisa, a multi-talented VJ
By Jyoti Mahajan
YOU bemusedly shake your head and realise that there is more to Nafisa Joseph than her beautiful flashing brown eyes or her dazzling smile that never fails to captivate. There is a style and sensitivity to the 20-year-old that completely besots you, capturing your heart and mind.

Man behind Indipop stars
By Sarbjit Singh
WHO is the king-maker of Indipop? Undoubtedly, the man is Jawahar Wattal, the Delhi-based music director. Of course, artistes who perform on the stage and regale the audience do count.

‘Chipko gods’ of Jammu
By Suraj Saraf
IT’s indeed, an intriguing sight. A large number of similar sculptures lie in high relief on stone slabs, each about 120 cm high and about 90 cm broad, placed in a small forest clearing, locally known as Bani (which in local parlance would signify a mini jungle) on a mountain slope high above the well-known Salal dam on the Chenab, about 140 km north of the capital city of Jammu.

Once a comedian, always a comedian
HIS ambition in life is to make a really funny film, a la Charlie Chaplin or Laurel & Hardy, but the much-loved screen comedian-director Satish Kaushik is a slightly sad man today for “Bollywood’s failure to recognise my real potential.”

Audioscan by ASC: The rise of Jaspinder
Kuch Kuch Dil Mein (Venus De- luxe; Rs.55): How times change! Jaspinder Narula had been on the fringe of the music scene for donkey’s years, but was never taken too seriously. In came “Pyar to Hona He Tha...” and she has suddenly become red-hot property. That award-winning number plus her other recent offerings have underlined the fact that she is equally adept at Western as well as folk songs (remember Ek Punjaban dil chura ke le gayee...?).

Punjabi singers in Bollywood
THIS refers to Arvind Katyal’s write-up “Punjabi singers come of age” (March 12). The writer, while referring to the recent achievements of Sukhwinder Singh and Jaspinder Narula, states that “playback singers of Punjab never had it so good”. He further observes that there was a time when Punjabi music and singers used to have a back seat, be it in Hindi films or society.

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Nafisa, a multi-talented VJ
By Jyoti Mahajan

YOU bemusedly shake your head and realise that there is more to Nafisa Joseph than her beautiful flashing brown eyes or her dazzling smile that never fails to captivate. There is a style and sensitivity to the 20-year-old that completely besots you, capturing your heart and mind.

Yes, she is the popular, vivacious and attractive MTV veejay, Nafisa Joseph (Femina Miss India-Universe 1997) who was recently in Shimla along with co-host Nikhil Chinapa to shoot for the famous MTV show “Chill Out” at the picturesque environs in Parwanoo and Barog.

During a chit-chat with the writer at the sprawling Shilon Resorts, Nafisa said she immensely enjoyed working for MTV channel as it gave the VJs great freedom to conduct the programmes and also encouraged direct interaction with the VJ and the producer.

The tall and lissom former beauty queen was highly excited about this show “Chill Out” which features celebrities and upcoming artistes. “We recently interviewed upcoming Punjabi singer Jasbir Jassi who has captivated the hearts of youngsters with his song, Dil le gai kuri Gujrat di... Equally thrilling was our recent trip to Nepal where we shot for this programme”, she added.

Nafisa presently hosts “MTV House Full”, a Hindi movies tailor show twice a day which showcases the latest soundtracks and video clips from films. “True Lies” is a three-minute news bulletin with a difference in which the viewer is told about happenings and news with a twist of satire.

This versatile and multi-talented VJ has a passion for music. She is also a fabulous singer and has awards to prove it. Her “honey tone” baritone also made her a leading member of the school choir at Bishop Cotton School in Bangalore. “I like soft music and ghazals, but not heavy metal”, she candidly said. Besides, Nafisa has also learnt how to strum the guitar and play the piano. The old cliche “some people have it all” really holds true in the case of Nafisa, for this enchanting VJ is also a proficient artist and loves to draw.

When asked who is her favourite live performer, pat replied Nafisa: “Daler Mehandi, who sings live and does not play tape”.

Nafisa felt she came into this world to leave a mark, to be different, to create history. Leaving behind an athletic past complete with scraped knees at the young age of 18, she reached out and touched the sky when she clinched the Miss India 1997 title. This pinnacle did not prove to be the summit for this fiery Arian beauty because she went on to capture a piece of the universe when she was crowned the first runners-up in the Miss Universe beauty pageant in 1997.

What prompted the dusky beauty to enter the Miss India contest? Nafisa said: “It was more out of curiosity which made me participate in Femina Miss India Contest 1997. Since I had been modelling from the age of 13, I was always confident of winning the pageant”.

Hot on the heels of these successes, the chance to be an MTV VJ came her way and Nafisa knew that she had arrived. She did not hesitate as this was her chance to reach out to the people of her age, touch their lives and make a difference. Her overwhelming spontaneity and exuberance were mainly responsible for her increasing popularity as a VJ. When asked how being Miss India benefited her career, Nafisa said: “Experience helps you build your confidence and Miss India did the same to me.”

Asked if she was interested in joining films, Nafisa replied: “Right now I have no intention of joining the film industry. But presently I have got offers to act in two TV serials and am shooting their pilots. While in one serial I am playing a wild character, in the other I am playing an orthodox Muslim girl”..

She further revealed that her fiancÚ Samir Malhotra (famous model who does the Maruti Esteem advertisement) provided her a lot of encouragement in her endeavours and would be soon shooting with her at Goa for her TV serial in which he is playing the main lead. Besides, Samir is also writing an English script for Shekhar Kapoor’s forthcoming film, she added.

Replying to a question if she was satisfied with her work, Nafisa said: “I don’t think anyone is satisfied. I think the day one is satisfied there is no charm in life. I will take life as it comes because there is a lot to think”. She does not want to emulate any body and would like to be known by her own name.

An original water baby, Nafisa loves the sea and swimming, her idea of heaven being the feel of sand scrunching beneath her feet and the sound of waves hitting the shore. A die-hard romantic, Nafisa is an avid reader of mushy romances and loves watching sentimental movies, crying unbashedly, with a tissue box ready, next to pop corn or ‘pudeena’ chips.Top

 

Man behind Indipop stars
By Sarbjit Singh

WHO is the king-maker of Indipop? Undoubtedly, the man is Jawahar Wattal, the Delhi-based music director.

Of course, artistes who perform on the stage and regale the audience do count. But voice is secondary to rhythm and tune in this era of music. Music is all important. It creates an atmosphere for the success or failure of a stage show. It creates a thrill which makes the audience swing and go ecstatic.

B.Sc (Hons) and MBA from Delhi University, Jawahar is the person who made Daler Mehndi, Bhupinder Bhupi and Hans Raj Hans household names.

Jawahar got him self trained in classical and instrumental Western music and by the age of 21, he had already composed and sung a number of jingles and performed for various professional recording outfits.

He made news when he composed in-flight music for the Indian Airlines. It was a fusion of Indian classical music and Western jazz. Immediately after that he got to do an immunisation campaign for UNICEF in 14 Indian languages.

Jawahar set up his own 24-track digitalised recording studio in 1987. But his big break came in 1994 when he was appointed artistes and repertoire manager of a leading music company. He has done albums for Daler Mehndi and at the same time for Pt Ravi Shankar. The difference in the styles of Mehndi and Panditji are an indicator of his range.

In the past four years, he has produced nearly 50 albums under the Magnasound/Archies banner. Many of these were instant hits. To name a few are Bolo ta ra ra..., Dardi Rab Rab..., Ho jayegi balle-balle... which installed Daler Mehndi as the king of Indi-pop.

His latest album Jhanjar which he has brought out along with Surinder Sodhi is heading for a platinum disc. In Jhanjar Jawahar has lent his musical skills to the first the title track second, third and last numbers.

When asked his position vis a vis music directors of the film industry, Jawhar says, “I don’t believe in comparisons. I am contributing my bit to the Indian music and making waves on the world music scene”.

Bhupi’s Jogiya khalli balli... was a creation of Jawahar. With this single album, Bhupi became a celebrity in the country. Jawahar has composed music for Baba Sehgal’s Dilruba..., Kaushal’s Toofani taxiwala..., Bobby Cash’s Yeh pyar hai..., Ruk ja baby..., Shweta Shetty’s Deewane to deewane hain..., and Ali Haider’s Mahi oh mahi..., his forthcoming projects include albums with Sanjeevni of “Kareeb” fame, Bobby Cash, Alka Yagnik, Ram Shankar and king of ghazals Jagjit Singh and Ataullah Khan.

He is of the view that music has been there for centuries. But the visual media and technological revolution in the field of recording has made all the difference, says Jawahar when asked what made Indi-pop a rage in the country and even abroad.Top

 

Chipko gods’ of Jammu
By Suraj Saraf

IT’s indeed, an intriguing sight. A large number of similar sculptures lie in high relief on stone slabs, each about 120 cm high and about 90 cm broad, placed in a small forest clearing, locally known as Bani (which in local parlance would signify a mini jungle) on a mountain slope high above the well-known Salal dam on the Chenab, about 140 km north of the capital city of Jammu.

What is surprising is that almost each of the sculptures comprising a male and a female lies under a tree.

The Bani is a 30 ft by 50 ft forest clearing and reached by a flight of 180 steps. There are 112 idols on stone slabs and about a dozen carved on tree trunks, each about 3 m high. There’s a small temple in the middle of the Bani having a spiral with corrugated tin sheets. According to local residents, previously the temple was wooden, but when the wooden cover rotted it was replaced by tin sheets. Inside the very narrow cell are eight stone slabs with idols and on the outside three carved tree trunks.

Although the sculptures are not large, they have been carved skilfully and animatedly exuding great physical energy (hence known as Bhim devtas), through unusually powerful expressive modelling which befits their purpose to frighten away anyone daring to chop the protected tree. To stress this feature, the figures carry decapitated skulls hanging by the tuft in one hand and a lancet in the other, which sometime resemble trishuls.

The occurrence of this phenomenon in this backward area marks quite a few forgotten hoary Indian traditions. Not infrequently it so happens that some important traditions, long given up in the central places, are discovered continuing in some remote pockets. So these Banis, along with their stone and tree-trunk sculptures, call for a closer study to highlight those traditions that are so tellingly relevant today.

It is interesting to note here that the Banis were considered sacred groves and none dared cut a tree in it or the large forest area around for fear that if anyone did so, some calamity would befall him. If someone required timber from there, he approached the priest of the Bani deity who after considering the genuineness of the request sought the permission of the deity by performing prescribed rituals and only then allowed the supplicant to meet his timber need, to the minimum, from the jungle.

The discovery of such Banis, with their large number of sculptures in each, in recent decades in a vast mountainous area in mid-north of Jammu region, had attracted the attention of several people interested in environment as also lithic art and the link between the two.

There’s no doubt that these Banis or sacred groves recall the ancient ritual of tree worship which was certainly much more ancient than the idol worship. History does reveal the existence of Devaranya (holy forests) and Chaityavrikshas (sacred trees) in ancient times.

At Salal Bani the image was first carved on the tree trunk itself (there are 11 such tree trunk idols in the Salal Bani) which, of course, had much rotted and eroded over the centuries. Later, to give the idols more permanent life, stone images were resorted to (there are 120 of them) under or nearby trees. Still, however, there was no temple. At some unknown stage a small platform was set up in the middle of the Bani and some must have thought of using it as an altar. So some stone and tree-trunk images were transferred on the altar and to give it still more tangible form, someone constructed a wooden temple over the altar. But over the time as wood decayed, and not long ago the temple was covered with tin sheets.

Interestingly, however, the objects of worship inside the temple remain the stone and wooden idols originally merely placed on the altar.

As these unique Bani idols lie under trees frightening and warding off any would be hewers of timber, they can aptly be termed as the “chipko gods” of Jammu.Top

 

Once a comedian, always a comedian

HIS ambition in life is to make a really funny film, a la Charlie Chaplin or Laurel & Hardy, but the much-loved screen comedian-director Satish Kaushik is a slightly sad man today for “Bollywood’s failure to recognise my real potential.”

“In our industry, once you get into a slot, you are stuck,” rues Kaushik who first shot to fame as “Calendar” the lovable cook in Shekhar Kapur’s superhit fantasy “Mr India”.

“Once a comedian, always a comedian — you get only funny roles — though I want to do different roles.... I can play very good character roles,” says Kaushik, an alumni of the National School of Drama.

To overcome this dearth of variety roles, the man, whose roly-poly visage is quite a popular sight in Hindi films, says he tries to give a characteristic twist to each role he plays, striving to make it unique.

“I change my speech pattern, my garb, my body language... drawing inspiration from the characters I have seen in real life,” says Kaushik, pointing out his initial roles in films like Shyam Benegal’s “Mandi” and “Susman” and Kundan Shah’s “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron” could not attract much attention.

In “Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan”, he spoke the Jama Masjid lingo, in Deewana Mastana’s role of the funny don Pappu Pager, in Mumbaiya, and in Pahari in his new directorial venture “Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain” (HADMRH).

But one role he cherishes, along with that of “Calendar” is the South Indian sidekick of Govinda in David Dhawan’s “Saajan Chale Sasural”.

“For the character of Muthuswamy, I drew inspiration from Mehmood’s great dance teacher role in the evergreen ‘Padosan’, a role which inspired me greatly to become an actor even as a child.

“I could not perform even 10 per cent of what he did. Despite that, I won the Filmfare Award for the role,” says Kaushik, whose first two directorial ventures “Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja” and “Prem”, both produced by his friend Anil Kapoor’s brother, Boney Kapoor, were monumental flops.

He is, however, quite satisfied with the way the recently released “HADMRH” starring Anil Kapoor is faring. “The directors have to believe in my potential.”

Talk about direction, and he will veer towards his dream. “I want to make an out-and-out comedy film, something on the level of Chaplin or Laurel & Hardy... a real funny film of international standards. It will happen soon.”

“Some people tell me why not make a film on the ‘Top Ten’ characters... Well, it could be one idea,” ponders Kaushik whose comical portrayal as a foolish duo with Pankaj Kapoor in the countdown show on Zee TV network became more popular than the songs itself.

Kaushik, however, rates his comic pairing on television with Pankaj Kapoor for the tellyshow as best.

He also considers it a “very good” sign that small-budget films with innovative treatment, such as “Satya” and “Hyderabad Blues” have achieved commercial success in recent times.

“It is a good sign that the trend of cinema is changing in India. Directors like me can now also think of making such films with interesting subjects and a small budget — but they will of course not be with stars as that will push up the budget,” says Kaushik ascribing the success to a fresh twist to a commercial theme.

Particularly impressed with 1998’s surprise blockbuster “Satya” which drew packed houses despite a mostly-unknown cast, he terms it an “Indian Godfather”, expressing his desire to work with its director Ram Gopal Varma whose handling of characters he finds “brilliant”. “I also like to work with directors David Dhawan, Shekhar Kapur, Suraj Barjatiya and Subhash Ghai, though Ghai has not cast me lately in his films and Barjatiya is yet to,” says the product of Delhi’s Kirorimal College.

However, right now Kaushik is more busy with his own directorial ventures — one Anil Kapoor-starrer being produced by Boney Kapoor, another “comedy” with Govinda and one more starring Rakesh Roshan’s son Hrithik.

Feel-good family entertainers with “clean comedy” have made a successful comeback in Bollywood.

“Even in ‘HADMRH’, people have appreciated the reflection of traditional culture, and the comedy among Johny Lever, Rakesh Bedi and myself has found favour with the viewers as it is inspired by day-to-day situations,” denying that the long name for “HADMRH” was to cash on the recent success of several such long-titled films, Kaushik says.

“The name is just a poetic line saying ‘I live in your heart’ instead of the conventional ‘You live in my heart’.”

But how would he like to be remembered at the end of the road — as a better director or a better actor?

“Acting comes naturally to me, and even as a child I had decided that my vocation in life will be acting. It has been God’s grace that I have been successful in my chosen career. Direction is more challenging, gives more respect and opportunities.

“But I want to become a complete professional, a good producer-director with my own empire, studios etc.”

Someone like Raj Kapoor?

“Yes, why not? He is a great inspiration along with Subhash Ghai,” says Kaushik. — PTITop

 

Audioscan by ASC
The rise of Jaspinder

Kuch Kuch Dil Mein (Venus De- luxe; Rs.55): How times change! Jaspinder Narula had been on the fringe of the music scene for donkey’s years, but was never taken too seriously. In came “Pyar to Hona He Tha...” and she has suddenly become red-hot property. That award-winning number plus her other recent offerings have underlined the fact that she is equally adept at Western as well as folk songs (remember Ek Punjaban dil chura ke le gayee...?).

Enthused, she has cut this private album which is a bouquet of nine songs comprising widely different strains. Listen to it once and you know which song is the winner. Yes, it is Hai na..., which should have claims to the kind of success that Baat ban jaye... (Nazia Hassan) had many many years ago. Her voice, Yashwant Budhwani’s lyrics and Kennith-Sanjeev’s music have all gelled beautifully here to make it a song to remember.

The other songs may not be in the same league but are hummable nevertheless. Tanha re Tanha... (lyrics: Sanjay Masoom), Munda tu hai Punjabi sona... (lyrics Dev Kohli, music Micky Narula), Lad gayee akhiyan... (lyrics Mumtaaz Nikhat) and Ladki pataka hoon main... (Dev Kohli) may all get good mileage to Jaspinder.

Dance India (Times Music, Rs. 55): Give the film industry a winning horse and it will flog it till the animal drops dead. This wisecrack is proving equally true in the cast of music industry as well.

Most of the songs in this cassette are based on Punjabi tunes which have only been given Hindi lyrics.

All of them have been written, composed and sung by Vikrant. As the name suggests, it is meant for the dance floor and the beats are decidedly robust. Chamm chamm... Sun jane jana..., Hat jao.... and Let us dance... are some of the songs which may move up the popularity charts.

Anari No. 1 (Tips): A Govinda film is guaranteed to belong to the “chalu” genre, and so is its music. Here each and everyone of the eight songs is zany where music as well as lyrics go haywire. If you can get into the right spirit, it is even possible to enjoy the innovative lunacy.

The craziest are the two songs done by Jaspinder Narula and Abhijeet. One of them is “fried” something like this: Main hoon ladki kunwari, tu kunwara ladka, tujhe pyar ka laga doon main pata ke tadka.... In the second Narula seems to be in competition with Abhijeet to go full throated: Main Laila Laila chillaoonga kurta phaar ke, Main Manjoo Majnoo chillaoongee kurta phaar ke.... Le aaya hoon car yaar bangla bhi hai taiyaar... gives a chance to Preeti Uttam to sing with Kumar Sanu.

Lest there is any confusion, Bol Hari bol Hari... is not a bhajan sung by Amit Kumari, Pradeep Suri and chorus but, another spoof.Top

 

Punjabi singers in Bollywood

THIS refers to Arvind Katyal’s write-up “Punjabi singers come of age” (March 12). The writer, while referring to the recent achievements of Sukhwinder Singh and Jaspinder Narula, states that “playback singers of Punjab never had it so good”. He further observes that there was a time when Punjabi music and singers used to have a back seat, be it in Hindi films or society.

The statements are, indeed, quite surprising. The fact is that Punjabi singers have always been very successful in Bollywood. Who can forget the contribution of Suraiya, Noorjahan, Zohra Bai Ambalawali, K. L. Saigal, Mohammad Rafi, Mahendra Kapoor and Shamshad Begum to the Hindi film music? There have also been singers like Surendranath, Jagjit Kaur, Narinder Chanchal, Jaspal Singh and Jagjit Singh who, too, have enriched the Hindi film music with their sweet voices even if they failed to achieve as much success as did the aforesaid men and women.

SURENDRA MIGLANI
Kaithal
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