Chandigarh, Friday, April 11, 1999
  Grand dame of Indian cinema
By Nonika Singh
IN this land of traditions and superstitious beliefs, a huge red bindi adorning the forehead of a woman who lost her husband several summers ago does seem incongruous if not blasphemous.

Progressive to the core
By Kavita Bhargava
HE smiled his life away! Even his last moment of crossing over from the panorama of life to the unknown realm of death was a smooth, soft whimper, say his children.

Kangra clay art
By D.C. Sharma
Kangra clay art is unique. It is peculiar not only in the matter of clay mould but also in the contrast of colours it carries.

Jagjit sings Gulzar



Grand dame of Indian cinema
By Nonika Singh

IN this land of traditions and superstitious beliefs, a huge red bindi adorning the forehead of a woman who lost her husband several summers ago does seem incongruous if not blasphemous. But then this matronly silver-haired mother figure with warmth emanating from every pore is no ordinary mortal. The woman in the spotlight is none other than the grand dame of Indian cinema — Dina Pathak — who has essayed a wide variety of roles in about 200 odd films.

Though only recently this immensely gifted actress appeared in Chandrachur-Karisma-starrer "Silsila Hai Pyar Ka", audiences are probably still reeling under the histrionic impact of her previous performances. For who can forget the stern disciplinarian matriarch of the household in "Khoobsurat", the hilarious double role of "Golmaal" in which she stands as the perfect foil to thespian late Utpal Dutt.

In City Beautiful chatting animatedly, the red bindi she did wear white for a while is inconsequential to the spirited lady who had defied tradition from the word go. She recalls with glee how as a child she refused to enroll in "Laadli Bibi" a school meant exclusively for purdah-clad girls and instead prevailed upon her parents to send her to a boys’ school!

Later, she gravitated towards students activism. Consequently, she was rusticated a number of times and has the proud "privilege" of studying in virtually all colleges of Bombay. But then those were the heady days of renaissance when patriotism coincided with a fierce pride in one’s own culture and language.

Inexorably drawn into the theatre movement as a founder member of the IPTA (Indian Progressive Theatre Movement), she rubbed shoulders with Balraj Sahni, Mulk Raj Anand, Achla Sachdev et al. Besides, she played lead parts in folklore tales, including that of Sheni in "Vijan Sheni", a love story on the lines of Laila Majnu. Hailing from Bhavnagar in Gujarat, Dina Gandhi, her maiden name, wrote, directed and produced a Lok Bhavai. In Ahmedabad, she was closely associated with Natya Vidya Mandir which lived and breathed theatre.

Today, she no more acts on the stage, but the tie hasn’t been cut asunder. The link remains through lectures and other activities, but more significant through her children, especially daughter Ratna Pathak and her more famous other half Naseeruddin Shah.

So how does it feel to be ma-in-law of one of the finest actors of this century?

A smile spreads across her face. With unconcealed pride she beams, "Initially, I had misconceived notions about Naseer that he was an island unto himself, rather eccentric. But today I can say without an iota of exaggeration that he is as good a human being as an actor." Of course, she, that is, the actress in her is a trifle dismayed with the way the career graph of her daughter — Ratna and Supriya — has shaped up for only she knows the pinnacle their untapped potential could have touched.

Her own filmi journey which began in 1965 with "Us Ki Kahani" — the film failed to make waves but won her Bengal Journalists Association Award — has been more than satisfactory. Best of films — "Koshish", "Mirch Masala", "Mohan Joshi Haazir Ho" — a la creme of directors — Gulzar, Basu Chatterji, Ketan Mehta — and a string of awards have come her way. Sure the potpourri also includes several "not quite there" performances.

She reasons, "I firmly believe that a woman must earn her living. Since films were my bread and butter, I just couldn’t play hoity-toity and had to accept whatever was offered to me." Besides, she feels that character actors, even as versatile as her, are only as important as props. Seriously, she reveals that character artistes are invariably shortchanged, their power-packed performances sacrificed at the altar of editing table to appease heroes and heroines.

Even otherwise, she agrees that Bollywood is not exactly a safe haven and the casting couch is not a figment of imagination. But this harsh realisation didn’t deter from allowing her daughters to enter the tinsel town. Still Supriya, she success of "Bazaar" not withstanding, couldn’t quite cope with the murky ways of the filmi duniya and settled down in the snug comfort of marital bliss.

Her mother, however, never thought of nor would consider quitting. In fact, Dina is looking forward to the release of her forthcoming movies, namely "Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya" and "Pyar Koi Khel Nahin".

An out-and-out gregarious human being who thrives on interaction with people, she says she has never been bored, not even one single movement in her life. Well, Dinaji nor have we, the audiences, been with you. Watching you mist-eyed of doubling up with unadulterated mirth, your exuberance has been more than infectious.


Progressive to the core
By Kavita Bhargava

HE smiled his life away! Even his last moment of crossing over from the panorama of life to the unknown realm of death was a smooth, soft whimper, say his children.

Mohinder Raina, a renowned poet, writer and journalist, breathed his last recently creating a void in the literary circles of Jammu and Kashmir which can never be filled. A man who would make his presence felt anywhere had bountiful charms — poetic, philosophical, friendly and a full of lust for life. Born in Kashmir, Raina spent most of his early childhood in the remote areas of the state which are now under Pak occupation. He did his graduation from SP College, Srinagar, and moved to Lahore for his post-graduation in Persian.He was still young and in college only when he made a strong impact in the literary circles and earned recognition.

Life in its varied forms was the main theme of his writings. Human sufferings and desire was his dominant subject, but he could not avoid philosophising these feelings:

Waqt sakin hai, ise rum se taaluuk hi kya,
Sirf hum hain jo guzar jaate hain, kho jaate hain...

Raina was progressive to the core in literary, political, social and even spiritual and religious realms. Being one of the founder members of a cultural forum. "Anjukan-e-Tarraqi Pasand Musanfeen", along with Dinanath Nadim, Reham Rahi, Noor Mohammed Roshan, Somnath Zutshi and others, he was among those ardent progressive writers whose minds and hearts were eager to see the rise of the sun of a brilliant tomorrow for a socialistic society during the pre and post-Independence era and who like Faiz Ahmed Faiz found their hearts bleeding on the dawn of Independence.

His passions, perseverance and dynamism in various activities during 1947 and the early 1950s were a great satisfaction to him and his contemporaries, and a strong inspiration for younger folks.

The committed pioneers of the cultural forum and others toured from village to village to inspire peasants and workers against exploitation through their dramas which were a deviation from the traditional Parsi theatre.

With simple presentations and popular dialect and style, these proved to be a great motivation. Dramas like "Chor Bazar" and "Dollar Sahib" became great hits which were enacted with simple and makeshift stage. These proved to be a pioneering work towards the awakening of people to socialism.

Another energetic associate of these pioneers of socialism was Sheila Bhatia who joined their activities for working towards this goal. These people acted as actors, music composers, costume and backstage artistes and scriptwriters themselves.

Literary figures and intellectuals like Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Kamal Ahmed Siddique, Rahi Masoom Raza, Ali Ahmed Surror, Sardar Jaffri, Krishan Chander, Gulam Mohammad Sadiq, D.P. Dhar, Sahir Ludhianavi were his close associates whose hard work and literary flair through the medium of street theatre, mushairas and close group interaction in the whole state in the early 1950s proved the life blood of the struggle for freedom. It is quite evident in the poetry of Raina of that period:

Mana ki musallat raat abhi
purhoul andhere chaye hain
Jo noor-e-sahar ki khaliq hai,
us shokh kiran ki baat karein...

Raina also worked as a journalist.He worked for Hamdard and also in Khidmat as joint editor. He propagated the cause of his ideals through these. He also worked in the Constituent and Legislative Assembly and Council, but remained associated with journalism and literary world. He continued writing poetry and prose, small booklets for children, features and other documentary programmes on culture and also participating in mushairas and radio programmes. In the later years of his life he did not participate much in mushairas, but his literary works became more philosophical. His themes became pregnant with social, personal and spiritual content:

Main jheel ban ke sahiloin mein qaid raha hoon
Dariya hoon aise qaid sada seh nahin sakta
Deewarein khadi ho gayi to makan hua
Deewarein phir se tod di to la makan hua...

After retirement from government service, he worked for newspapers like Sach, a cooperative bulletin with the Information Ministry, Government of India, and other papers. But his greatest involvement was in poetry and study of philosophy. He kept himself fit by yogic exercises and would also suggest this therapy to all of his associates for the fitness of the body and the mind.

The most interesting fact of Raina’s life was that he had predicted the date of his death much in advance and which all of his family members and some close associates knew well. He was a great astrologer but did not make it his profession.

But philosophy and meditation did not appeal to him as much as bhakti. Spiritualism was not a theoretical love affair for him, but became a serious pursuit of life. From an atheist of the early 1940s, he became a spiritual man.

During his last days, he would spend most of his time in meditation and spiritual study which gave him a radiance and confidence. He was cool, quiet and poised and resisted any move to lend him any physical support despite his extreme physical weakness. He tried to remain moving till the last moment of his life.

Raina loved his children extremely and provided them guidance and support and enough inspiration and motivation to ripen their ability and talent. A family of writers, musicians, singers, painters and theatre artistes, they belong to a class of intellectuals in the true sense. He is survived by five sons Tej (professor), Bhuvesh (painter and sculptor), Chander Shekhar (NSD product), Kasheminder (poet and actor) and Pankaj (vocalist). His daughter Prerna Jailkhani is a vocalist.

He loved his wife greatly and got enough cooperation from her in every sphere of life. But he lost her young and that too on the day of their daughter Prerna’s marriage. With the wife dead in the hospital and would-be son-in-law in the house — indeed a very challenging phase of life which he faced boldly. The bridegroom was attended to first and after their send-off, he went to the hospital. Everything was done with poise and absolute dignity, though his heart was bleeding inside.

His eldest son, Professor Tej, remembers that even in the worst phases of his life he was reassuring, poised and preserverant and ever-smiling. "I am sure that no one can recollect having seen him with a pulled face and dampened spirits", says Tej. In spite of hardships in life, that area a part of an ordinary middle-class family, Raina with a strong conviction of honesty and sincerity and lack of desire for material gains, lived his life with smiles, not hollow but vibrant, radiant and inducing.Top


Kangra clay art
By D.C. Sharma

Kangra clay art is unique. It is peculiar not only in the matter of clay mould but also in the contrast of colours it carries.

Fine quality clay is used for the purpose. After crushing it well, the clay is sieved thrice before a fine paste is prepared with the help of filtered lukewarm water. A cake of such a paste formed is then set on the potter’s wheel for preparing Kangra pottery and clay dolls.

Kangra clay dolls are more attractive than Kangra pottery. The dolls are used in the region for almost all rituals. Even before the days of the Mahabharata, such dolls were got prepared by the Pandavas. They being worshippers of Mother Kali preferred black-coloured dolls. But after the Mahabharata, the tradition of multi-coloured Kangra clay dolls was started.

The present Kangra clay dolls are full of unique contrasting colours and attractive patterns. The prayer beads and crowns the dolls wear represent the religious psyche of the hill folk. Their red-coloured robes are made to bear designs as if these have been embroidered in silk and wool.


Jagjit sings Gulzar

MARASIM (Sony; Rs 65): It is rarely that a Jagjit Singh album has a Hindi name. But rendering Gulzar’s poetry is one of those rare times. To be sure, they worked together earlier also on the serial "Mirza Ghalib". They weaved magic then as well but it was not quite as overpowering as it is in this album.

The most remarkable part is that before each ghazal, Gulzar himself reads out a sher and that makes each of them memorable. "Marasim" means relations and their relation has indeed produced ghazals of a high order. The common thread that runs through them all (eight) is a deep sense of melancholy. The imagery is superb. The first ghazal itself gives an indication of the things to come:

Haath chhooten bhi to rishtey nahin chhoda karte
Waqt ki shaakh se lamhe nahin toda karte …
Before you are through with wah-wah, in comes the next:
Ek purana mausam lauta, yaad bhari purvayee bhi
Aisa to kam hota hai, wo bhi hon tanhai bhi...

This goes on and on till you are soaked to the full. Mind you, it is not all romantic poetry. Among the most accomplished are the lines rendered by Gulzar about "sarhad par chali hai goli".

This is the first ghazal album from Sony Music. It took the duo six years to compile this album. Recording quality is excellent. The video based on the lead track, Shaam se aankh mein nami si hai …, has been directed by none other than Meghana Gulzar, with photography by Manmohan Singh.

MANN (Tips): Papa Shravan has almost been done in after the murder charge slapped on partner Nadeem. Now it is the turn of Shravan’s sons Sanjeev and Darshan to wield the baton. And they have done it with considerable finesse in this film. Nearly all songs are romantic and melodious, although hardly anyone of them can be called outstanding. The stamp of Shravan is unmistakable. The young composers only say that it is because they do show their "creations" to papa dearest.

This cassette is remarkable in that Udit Narayan features in each and every one of the eight songs. He has one solo, Nasha yeh pyar ka nasha hai…, and seven duets to his credit. Among the female singers, Anuradha Paudwal has three, Alka Yagnik two and Hema Sardesai and Kavita Krishnamurthy one song each. Khushiyan aur gham sahati hai… (Anuradha Paudwal, Udit Narayan) is one notch above the rest.

HOWZZAT (Magnasound): Cricket is in the air, or at least was till the crushing defeats India has suffered recently. While quite a few albums have come in the market devoted exclusively to the World Cup and cricket, this one is only a compilation of sport related songs from various albums. So the only exclusive one here is the title song sung by Daler Mehndi, Remo, Sonu Nigam and Stylebhai.

Khel khiladi khel… is from Shweta Shetty’s album "Deewane to Deewane Hain;" Yeh din hamara hai… from the album "Jaana Hai Bollywood" by Models; and Phatte chak deyange… has been culled from Daler Mehndi’s "Colgate — Reason to Smile." Four others, Jugni… (sung by Bhupi), Kismat… (Sonu Nigam), Ali more angana (Shubha Mudgal) and Maya ya… (Remo) have nothing to do with sports at all.

NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL MUSIC (Virgin Records): This is the fifth volume of the series brought out by Virgin Records, EMI and Polygram. The track list includes When you are gone… by Bryan Adams , Goodbye … by Spice Girls, Every time … by Janet Kackson, From this moment on… by Shania Twain, Wish I could fly… by Roxette, A little bit more… by 911 and No regrets… by Robbie Williams. Top

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