Chandigarh, Friday, September 25, 1998
melas in Shimla
Peepats mega serial
Her tool to reshape society
Handicraft melas in
IT is a season of handicraft melas in Shimla these days, what with the Gram Shree Mela in the Ladies park in the heart of the town and an exhibition-cum-sale of handicrafts of Jammu and Kashmir at the Ashoka Hotel on the Jakhu Road.
While the Gram Shree Mela is on a large scale with the participation of rural handicrafts of about 18 states and a few district rural development agencies, the other one is a smaller one with a couple of artisans from the border village of Sherpur in the Kathua district of Jammu displaying their products.
The Gram Shree mela has been organised by the Council for Advancement of Peoples Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), through INDCARE, which is a non-governmental organisation.
Dulu Ram, a bamboo craftsman from Kamrup district of Assam, who has set up a stall in the mela, says such melas have come as a boon for him.They have not only given an exposure to his handicrafts, but also helped him earn a decent livelihood.
He is a regular participant at such melas. He sold bamboo products worth about Rs 35,000 at Manali sometime ago in a fair which was also organised by CAPART. He had never achieved such high sales while sitting at home in Assam.
Sukh Lal of Faridabad has a stall of terracotta's. He says the mela has helped him introduce the product directly in the urban market. The traders pay just a pittance while lifting his produce from his village.
Mrs Reeva Sood, Executive Director of INDCARE, says the basic aim of organising such melas is to promote the products manufactured by the rural artisans.
CAPART, which functions under the charge of the Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment of the central government, works towards the improvement of the quality of life in rural areas through several poverty alleviation programmes.
A major initiative in this direction is the creation of Gram Shree Melas which are being organised in metros, cities and large towns. This marketing outlet provides an opportunity to rural producers to sell their products directly in the urban market, to interact with the buyers so as to understand latters taste, preference and choice and upgrade the producers marketing skills.
The first Gram Shree Mela was organised at Bhopal in September 1989. On an average nine melas have been held annually from 1989 to 1996. There has been a quantum jump from 1997 onwards when 21 melas were organised and 24 held during 1997-98.
CAPART provides travel, stay and one way freight for participating in voluntary organisations.
It has plans to upgrade the quality of products made by rural producers. The National Institute of Design at Ahmedabad is being involved in achieving these objectives.
This is the third Gram Shree Mela organised by INDCARE in Himachal Pradesh.
While finished products have been displayed in most of the stalls in the mela, village women can be seen embroidering namdas and bed sheets in the other exhibition of Jammu products.
These artisans have come all the way from Sherpur village which is hardly 3 km from the Indo-Pakistan border in the Hiranagar area of Kathua district.
Ravindra Peepat, who directed at least two National Award-winning movies, Chann Pardesi and Kachehri (both in Punjabi), feels that the crisis through which the film industry is currently passing may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The financial crunch would drastically cut the number of movies Bollywood produces every year. This would automatically lead to an improvement in quality, both in terms of the content of films and histrionics.
Ravindra was here a few days ago to finalise the plans for a 104-episode mega TV serial. He will direct the serial. He has also written its story and script. To be produced by Sidharth Sharma, the serial, Na Jaiyo Pardes, will be sponsored by the Piccadily group.
Ravindra says the serial will be the story of those who leave the country for greener pastures by selling their land and houses. Abroad they realise how hard life is. However, the focus of the serial will be on those who are left behind the lonely parents and the ever-waiting wife. Ravindra will try to bring out the trauma these people undergo.
The cast has been finalised. Bhagyashree of Maine Pyar Kiya fame will be in the female lead.
Ravindra who is no stranger to Chandigarh, says in the first leg to the shooting, about 30 actors will participate. Out of them 25 will be drawn from the local theatre scene. He has already signed Rakesh Bedi, Raghubir Yadav, Avtar Gill, Pankaj Beri, Abhinav Chaturvedi, Ram Mohan, Kamal Tiwari and his wife, Dolly, Jiwan Bhardwaj, Vijay Tandon and, of course, Mehar Mittal.
Ravindra, who did his MA in English from Panjab University in 1972 before he learnt film direction at the Film and TV Institute of India, Pune, plans to shoot the first schedule in and around City Beautiful. The shooting is likely to start immediately after Divali. He is currently scouting for locations. He also plans to take his cast to a number of Gulf countries and England the countries which have a large concentration of Indians.
Joining Raj Kapoor in 1975 as an assistant, he rose to become the chief assistant to the greatest showman of the Indian silver screen. Besides the two earlier-mentioned movies, he directed a few more successful movies like Long da Lishkara (Punjabi), Lawa with Dimple Kapadia and Rajiv Kapoor, Waris starring Smita Patil and Raj Babbar, Lal Dupatta Mal Mal ka for Gulshan Kumar, Aao Pyar Karein for K.C. Bokadia and Hum to Chale Pardes. He also directed a Bhagyashree-starrer movie, Qaid Mein Hai Bulbul, which sank without a trace.
He had his first brush with TV when he directed 10 episodes of Honi-Anhoni, a precursor of the current crop of supernatural serials on the idiot-box. Ravindras first TV venture was a big success with viewers of Doordarshan. He also directed Vansh, the first and so far the last TV serial produced by the Raj Kapoor camp, which was telecast on Metro.
Her tool to
She had been living the life of an ordinary woman. Her creativity, a prisoner to the daily drudgery of household chores and trappings of a domestic life, had gone into hibernation. For 17 years the chrysalis remained dormant, subconsciously weaving the rainbow inside its cocoon. But a chance exhibition broke open the shell, and a splatter of colours emerged like a butterfly fluttering its wings and splashed on to canvases. And Chand Bhatia, the artist, was reborn.
Chand did her postgraduation in fine arts in 1976 from DAV College, Dehra Dun, and soon gave up painting in favour of marital bliss.
In 1993, her old alma mater, Government College for Women, Ludhiana, was holding its golden jubilee celebrations. Chand, with a group of artists, was also invited to display her paintings at an exhibition held to commemorate the occasion.
Tongue-in-cheek she comments on that catalyst exhibition: I saw that most of my fellow artists were still painting what I had left 17 years ago. So I decided to start again. And my paintings were appreciated.
The praise helped in clearing the dust off her brushes. But Chand alludes her success to the constant encouragement from her husband, Dr R.C. Bhatia, who, she says, reversed the adage, Behind every successful man, there is a woman.
Women and nature are her two favourite topics. Being a woman herself, she feels deeply for the problems and social evils a woman has to face. The brush is her tool to reshape society into a better place for women to live.
Chand belongs to the school of painters which perceive a painting as different from a photograph. She says in the past few decades, artists have inclined to become painters by using the photo technique. But she agrees in toto with her guru, Mr Ranvir Saxena, the then Head of the Department of Drawing and Painting, DAV College, Dehra Dun, who believes that there is a difference between a painter and an artist. From an artists creation, another artist should be able to make out what number of brushes and strokes have been used.
Chand says her endeavour has always been to pursue drawing and painting as an act of expression in the conventional style.
Her paintings carry her individual style, far different from the photo-finish look she disagrees with. She feels a painting bears the expression of its creator, while a photo-finish painting merely records the details of an event like a photograph.
Apart from her favourite topics her ouvere includes a wide variety of themes, including pollution, each one teach one, stark realities of a modern life and torments faced by a contemporary man. Her canvases are a mirror to our times.
She uses different techniques to give life to her ideas. Her paintings are a mixture of forms presenting a balanced whole, showing a complete cohesion of her ideas. Many of her nature paintings present a three-dimensional look.
Most of her canvases bear a surrealistic quality, reflecting the struggles of a modern subconscious.
But woman remains her favourite. Her painting Creation is a salutation to the woman equating her with the ultimate creator.
IN our own benighted days of strife and divisions; it is good sometimes to retreat into the past and feel its texture.
While working on an essay on Mughal painting recently, I was struck by the fact of how often, and with what sympathy, the painters of the Imperial ateliers rendered encounters between kings and ascetics, even specific encounters between their own royal masters and men of God. When one sees this from the Akbari period, it comes as no great surprise, for such was the nature of that emperor. But it is what one sees from the succeeding reign that comes as a surprise.
Jahangir is not seen by most of us in the same light as his father. His many personal failings and his political vacillations apart and his great aestheticism notwithstanding one does not associate with him an inwardly turned nature, a true inclination towards leading what is well described as an examined life. And yet there are extraordinary paintings from his reign in which one sees him in the company of holy men, in which one does not get the feeling that these were made only for projecting an image which found favour with the Muslim clergy.
Among the best known of the works from his reign is the allegorical painting by Bichitr which shows the emperor, seated on a magnificent hour-glass throne, while several men powerful men wait upon him , eager to receive his attention: the king of England, James I, stands at the side, well below the throne; so does a heavily turbaned man who is seen sometimes as the Sultan of Turkey.
But the emperors attention, not even his gaze, is directed towards these men of the world: he stretches his long arm, on the other hand, to hand over a book to a simple Shaikh, a holy man in the Islamic tradition, as a mark of respect and favour. The image is completed by the addition to the painting of some verses in Persian which speak of his being a true padshah, both in surat and maani in an outward appearance and inward feeling. It is an affecting work, sumptuous in execution but, more than that, reaching out well beyond its surface.
Jahangir was given to unpredictable conduct sometimes, even to sudden acts of bigotry. But what I find irresistible in his autobiography, the celebrated Tuzuk, are passages where he speaks, as if articulating his innermost thoughts, of his responses to holy men. There are two such passages which I wish to cite here, and both of them, interestingly, relate to his encounters with Hindu ascetics.
The first of these took place close to home, in the region of Pindori in Gurdaspur district where an important Vaishnava establishment is located. The followers of this gaddi of Bhagwanji, the founder, and his chief disciple, Narayanji, in fact speak repeatedly of the emperors visit to the place, thus establishing both its antiquity and its sanctity.
Here, according to the Vaishnavas version, the emperor saw Narayanji perform a miracle. The emperors version is somewhat different, and one should hear it in his own words. He was at that time travelling through these parts. At this time, he says, it was reported to me that there was a sannyasi Moti (mauni, one under a vow of silence, is what he meant) in the neighbourhood who had entirely gained control over himself. I ordered them to bring him so what I might ascertain the real state of affairs.
They call Hindu devotees sarb basi; by usage the word has become sannyasi (renouncing everything). There are many degrees among them, (one of which) ... is the Moti (mauni) order. They put themselves in the figure of a cross and surrender themselves.
For instance, they never speak. If for 10 days and nights they stand in one place, they do not move their feet forwards or backwards, in fact, make no movement at all, and remain like fossils. When he came into my presence I examined him, and found a wonderful state of persistence.
Jahangirs putting the sannyasi evidently Narayanji to rigorous test of his powers follows. But onemust turn to the other passage which is truly moving. He speaks in it of Jadrup Gosain, a Hindu ascetic, who used to live at Ujjain and from there moved later to Mathura.
On Monday, the 12th, the emperor writes in his 14th year, my desire to see the Gosain Jadrup again increased, and hastening to his hut, without ceremony, I enjoyed his society.
Sublime words were spoken between us. God Almighty has granted him an unusual grace, a lofty understanding, an exalted nature, and sharp intellectual powers, with a God-given knowledge and a heart free from the attachments of the world, so that, putting behind his back the world and all that is in it, he sits content in the corner of solitude and without wants.
He has chosen of worldly goods half a gaz of old cotton, like a womans veil, and a piece of earthenware from which to drink water, and in winter and summer and the rainy season lives naked with his head and feet bare. He has made a hole in which he can turn round with a hundred difficulties and tortures, with a passage such that a suckling would hardly be put through it.
An exquisite painting showing the emperor visiting Gosain Jadrup is in the Musee Guimet in Paris.
A sage answers
Jahangirs account of Jadrup concludes with a poem in Persian:
Luqman had a narrow
hut/Like the hollow of a flute or the bosom of a harp/A
rake put the question to him/What is this house
two feet and a span?/Hotly and with tears
the sage replied:/Ample for him who has to
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