|E D I T O R I A L
P A G E
Sunday, July 25, 1999
Office a virtual super ministry
students trained for employment
SHAHEED was one of Dilip Kumars early films which portrayed him in the lead role of a martyr. Son of a DIG, the hero turned into a revolutionary during the British Raj and was hanged. The song of the movie Watan ke naujawaan, watan ki rah per shaheed ho became a hit. Dilips father, Ghulam Sarvar Khan, had not known that his son had become a film actor. A close friend of Sarvar Khan once casually told him: Your son has started doing good work.
Taken aback, Dilips father said: Has he begun offering namaz? Oh, no, said the friend, he is acting in film. An orthodox Muslim, Sarvar Khan, a five-time namazi, was no lover of films and he never visited a cinema hall but his friend persuaded him to see Shaheed. The old man sat through the movie spell-bound and started crying when he saw his son being hanged on the charge of treason against the Raj and his body taken in procession by freedom fighters.
The film over, Sarvar Khan scolded his son and asked him not to play a tragic role of this type. The film, released in the early fifties, proved to be a turning point in young Yusuf Khans (Dilip Kumars original name) career and established his credentials in the public mind as a patriot.
The icon of a martyr continued when, at the height of his popularity in fifties, he offered his services to Jawaharlal Nehru who used it to popularise many causes. In the 1962 war with China, Dilip Kumar raised funds for the jawans and in the 1965 clash with Pakistan, the patriot in him was again aroused and he channelised his energy and popularity for the welfare of the soldiers.
Dilip Kumar campaigned actively for Krishna Menon against Acharya J.B.Kripalani in the prestigious Lok Sabha poll for the Bombay North-East seat in 1962. Nehru had, in fact, written a letter to Dilip Kumar asking him to campaign for Menon and at Dilips bidding, the entire film industry turned up in his (Menons) support. It was during the campaign Dilip Kumar had a glimpse of his would-be bete noire, Bal Thackeray, who was at that time busy laying the foundations of the Shiv Sena.
They did not bear any ill-will against each other. Thackeray, a cartoonist, was little known then while Dilip Kumar was a household name. They met even after elections but there was no hostility. As a matter of fact, Thackerays wife, the late Meena Tai, evinced great interest in the film industry and was a fan of Dilip and Nargis. The Shiv Sena supremo took cudgels against the matinee idol during the Bombay riots in 1992, questioning his patriotism and sainiks called him a Pakistani agent. Dilip Kumars fault was that he tried to rehabilitate the hapless victims of the riots.
Thackeray again picked on Dilip Kumar on the issue of Deepa Mehtas controversial film Fire. Yusufbhai did not find anything objectionable in the film nor did he consider it obscene. What followed was, in fact, more obscene. A band of Shiv Sena goons stripped down to their underwear in front of his house. Thackerays charge was that Dilip Kumar masterminded the pro-Fire campaign since the actor was the only one from the film world who came in support of Deepa Mehta when she was facing the Senas onslaught.
As if this was not enough, seeking to derive political mileage out of the Kargil conflict, the Shiv Sena dictator demanded that Dilip Kumar should return the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Pakistans highest civilian honour conferred on him last year. Dilips close friends advised him not to join issue with Thackeray but, the fighter he is, the film legend crossed sword with the Sena supremo. Sources close to Dilip Kumar say he visited Pakistan and accepted the award with the consent of the Prime Minister. He also carried a message of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif. When the Prime Minister undertook the well-publicised bus ride to Lahore, he specially invited Dilip Kumar to accompany him. Convalescing from the heart bypass surgery, Dilip expressed his inability to travel to Lahore.
This was, perhaps, the reason that Dilip Kumar rushed to Delhi to seek the Prime Ministers advice. Mr Vajpayee, too, came out in support of the thespian and saw no reason for doubting his patriotism. You are an old citizen of India and it is wrong on part of the Shiv Sena to raise doubts about your loyalty to the country, the Prime Minister told him. So far as the award was concerned, he left it to the thespian to decide whether he wanted to keep or return it.
The hero of Shaheed is not moving out of Bombay, his home for 65 years as he had threatened during the peak of controversy over the award.
Born in pre-partition Peshawar, Yusuf Khan came to Bombay when he was very young. His father, was a merchant of dry fruits and areas of his operations were, besides Peshawar, the fruit growing towns of Baluchistan and Afghanistan. Bombay had a thriving dry fruit market and Sarvar Khan procured dry fruits from the mandis of the North-West Frontier Province and sold them in the metropolis. He finally made Bombay his headquarters and shifted his establishment there.
Yusuf Khan was introduced to the film industry by the legendary actress, Devika Rani, who saw the talent in the young man. Jwar Bhata (tides) was the first film in which he got a minor role and after that there was no looking back.
How Yusuf Khan became Dilip Kumar is a mystery. According to one version the new name was given to him by Devika Rani. Some film critics say a Hindu name in films those days had more acceptability and, therefore, Yusuf became Dilip. Many of his fans did not know for years that by religion he is a Muslim. In his various roles too he would sing bhajans in temples and accept prasada offered by poojari. This act of Dilip evoked wrath of orthodox Mullahs.
Dilip developed Leftist leanings quite early in his film career and his best friends came from the Communist movement. When the CPI split and the hardliners formed the CPM, he was very upset. He made a film Sagina Mahto in which he attacked the hardliners for dividing the movement. Sagina Mahto, a tribal working in coal mines, revolted against the modus operandi of marxists.
Earlier, another film Footpath, too was inspired by the Leftist movement. It was directed by Zia Sarhadi, a card holding member of the Communist Party. Dilip Kumar played the role of a reporter who exposes the Capitalist ideology.
WITH the Lok Sabha dissolved and the hassles of coalition politics no more there, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has been flexing his muscles like never before. The Prime Ministers Office has become a virtual super ministry taking all kinds of decisions at a time when the country is in the election mode.
The latest decision by the Prime Minister is the clearance of the telecom package that enables cash-starved private cellular operators to shift from the licence system to a revenue sharing one. The package, however, generated much controversy with the President, Mr K.R.Narayanan, questioning the governments move.
The docile and ever accommodating gesture from the PMO was missing this time with Mr Vajpayee personally defending the move in a letter to the President. Brooking no delay, the PMO swung into action last week and hurriedly despatched letters to the cellular operators giving them the option to shift to the new revenue sharing system before August 1.
Defending the action, a source in the PMO said it was wrong to attribute motives to the Prime Minister. His line of defence was that in the absence of a Cabinet Minister in the Communications Ministry, it was the Prime Minister who headed the department. In such a scenario it was wrong to say that the PMO was taking undue interest in the department.
But the fact remains that there was a Cabinet Minister, Mr Jagmohan, who was holding the portfolio till recently. He was apparently shifted out because of his tough stand against the private operators. He was insisting that they first clear their licence fee dues. This fact is, however, not mentioned in the PMO circles.
Way back in 1990, an Indian delegation visited Namibia to attend the birth of an independent nation in southern Africa. The delegation comprised Mr K.R. Narayanan, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr Indrajit Gupta and Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet.
Namibia, which had taken decades of freedom struggle against South Africa, proved to be very lucky to those who went to attend the birthday bash.
While Mr Narayanan became the President, Mr Vajpayee the Prime Minister, and Mr Gupta the Union Home Minister, Mr Surjeet has yet to occupy an important government position.
Mr Surjeet, though he became the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has been indeed a king maker, remarked a scribe.
An eye-opener of a visit
For Indias leading one-day opener and most dependable batsman Sachin Tendulkar a visit to the Base Hospital in Delhi to meet the jawans wounded in the Kargil operations came as an eye-opener.
The young batting maestro decided to do his bit by calling on the brave jawans having come to Delhi to take part in an exhibition soccer match between the film stars and cricket stars.
While the soldiers appreciated the gesture of Indias leading cricketer calling on them to inquire about their condition, some of them also gave vent to their feelings, specially playing cricket with Pakistan.
Going around the ward, he was moved by the sight of soldiers. While some carried serious injuries, others had the limbs amputated but still yearned to fight the enemy.
At one point of time, a heavily-bandaged soldier beckoned Tendulkar and when he came close spoke in a steely voice that the Indian cricketers should not play with the Pakistanis for their treachery in the high fields of Kargil.
The merger between a faction of the Janata Dal, the Samata Party and the Lok Shakti not only annoyed the Karnataka state unit of the BJP but also took the central leaders by surprise as none of them had an inkling of the move. As it turned out to be, Defence Minister George Fernandes, who was the brain behind the move, had the blessings of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. It was the Prime Minister who had extended his full support to the merger move as it would only strengthen his moderate line over the hardliners in the party.
Disturbed over the development, a leader commented that Mr Vajpayee was now an ally of the BJP in the National Democratic Alliance.
The new Finance Secretary, Mr P.G.Mankad, is a true bureaucrat. A man of few words, the 1964 batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre believes in the dictum that a bureaucrat should remain anonymous. On the day he took over the prestigious post in North Block there was a flurry of activity in the media with several cameramen rushing to capture the important occasion. Mr Mankad, however, politely dismissed the suggestion and refused to get himself photographed. The print media too had to be satisfied with a press release about his taking over the new post. Is the Finance Ministry ushering in the iron curtain days in the North Block?
Ideology takes a blow
The coming together of socialists the Janata Dal, Lok Shakti and the Samata Party has left a group of mediapersons disillusioned. The group of journalists, who rose to prominence during the days of V.P.Singh, have been keeping the banner of the socialists flying and they never miss an occasion to criticise the Bharatiya Janata Party. But with indications coming that the new group will contest under the leadership of Mr Vajpayee, the scribes are naturally stumped. While some of them describe the move to dirty and petty politics, the never-say-die optimists are reading positive signals in the move.
A Sharad Yadav
sympathiser and senior scribe when asked about the new
developments said the emergence of a united Janata Dal
was a good omen. As the biggest block in the ruling
coalition (he was hopeful that all the Janata Dal
candidates will win) the party will decide the future of
the next government. Janata Dal days are back again, is
what he felt.
NEW session of my most rapid & up-to-date courses in Pitmans Shorthand, typewriting and book-keeping, etc, begins now. Shorthand between 80 and 100 words per minute guaranteed to be taught within 4 to 6 months.
Passed and plucked students who wish to earn decent salaries or more than a graduate should take advantage and join AT ONCE. For outstation students, hostel fee Rs 5 per month including electric light per seat. Typewriters, their accessories and spare parts for sale. Repairs to all makes of typewriters a speciality.
Students having learnt
shorthand, and typewriting, etc., privately can be tested
and granted diplomas on payment of Rs 10 per subject.
Apply for prospectus with one anna stamp by name of Mr
N.R. Coupour, M.P.F. (London), Principal, Pitman College
of Commerce, Narizabad Road, Lucknow.
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