Friday, January 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Life term for attack on IT officer’s wife
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 17
A city court today convicted three accused, Raj Dahiya, Sanjay Singh and Anindo Ghosh, for the murderous attack on the wife of a Deputy Commissioner (Income Tax), Amitabh Shukla, and for killing their domestic servant, Vijay Kumar, on January 21, 1997.

The Additional Sessions Judge, Tis Hazari, Mr M. L. Sahni, sentenced the accused to life imprisonment. The court also slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on Raj Dahiya. The amount of the fine, if recovered, will be paid to the family members of the deceased, Vijay Kumar. Raj Dahiya has further been sentenced to pay a fine of Rs 1,000. The fourth accused, Shailesh Kumar, had been acquitted giving the benefit of doubt, a CBI release said.

The court has imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on Sanjay Singh and this amount, if recovered, will be paid to Mrs Mamta Shukla, wife of the Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax. Besides, a fine of Rs 10, 000 has been imposed on Anindo Ghosh, which will be deposited with the state. Anindo Ghosh was further sentenced for a one-year rigorous imprisonment.

According to the investigation by the CBI officials, a daylight robbery and murder took place at the residence of Mr Amitabh Shukla in Nankupura in 1997. In the incident, his servant was killed while his wife, Mrs Mamta, was injured resulting in the miscarriage of her seven-and-a-half-month-old fetus.

The investigation disclosed that the conspiracy behind the robbery and murder was hatched by Shailesh Kumar, an acquaintance of the family. The accused were educated and belonged to well-placed families. They committed the robbery to make huge money within a night. 


Death of an artist – Ashutosh Upadhaya
Rana A. Siddiqui

A fortnight back, Ashutosh Upadhaya regaled theatre lovers in Delhi with his cameo performance as the vivacious chairman in Ranjit Kapoor’s hilarious political satire, Aik Sansadia Samiti ki Uthak Baithak. When hordes lined outside the Sri Ram Center auditorium to greet this exceptionally talented actor, industrialist and philanthropist, few knew it was the artist’s last act.

For the dawn of New Year saw the demise of this artist, who succumbed to a heart attack.

Born in 1962, Ashutosh inherited his love for performing arts from his father and veteran poet Arjun Upadhaya. His uncle, Pradeep Upadhaya, a pediatrician, helped him sustain that interest. A student of Cambridge School, Updhyaya obtained his degree from Delhi University in economics. After doing his MBA from the Delhi Productivity Council, he plunged into fabric business as a full-time professional. But, his first love, theater, did not take backseat.

In 1982, still in college, Upadhyaya had founded a theater group along with an ad man, Hemant Mishra, and an accomplished actor, Wamiq Abbasi. Collegiate Drama Society, as the group was named, presented its first comedy, ‘Bakri,’ directed by Ashutosh. The play broke all records and won 21 awards in different categories. The runaway success of the play compelled him to do 10 more shows.

Enthused by the overwhelming response, Ashutosh satirized college life in ‘Aaj College Band Rahega,’ another overwhelming success. He enacted the role of the principal of the college, which became a talk of the town.

After this, there was no looking back for Ashutosh. He pioneered the ‘supper theater in Delhi,’ modelled on the Western concept of eating and watching drama simultaneously.

Also, he lifted the theater commercially. In the late 80s, when tickets for a play would sell for a paltry Rs. 20, he hiked the price to Rs. 100. In fact, ‘Aik ghoda chai sawar’, based on an English play ‘Six men and a Horse’, despite the exorbitant rate of the ticket at that time, was a mind-blowing success. In fact, he had to do 100 shows all over India. In the play, he played Pinto, a benchmark in his theatrical life.

The success of the play can be gauged from the fact that some 150 people could not enter the jam-packed Sri Ram Center, even though they had tickets. “When Ashu came to know about this, he stopped the play in the middle, hustled the crowd inside and resumed the play. “Such was his concern for the audience,” recalls Wamiq Abbasi, his close associate and a friend.

The Managing Director of Goodwill International and the owner of Motley Industries, Upadhaya was a man of many parts. He could slap a cop for beating up a rickshaw puller, would pay his servant despite his being out of work on account of illness, dedicate a show to a light man of Sri Ram Center on his death…

Recalls Mr. Ratan Mani, his long-time associate and business partner, “I have never seen a more tolerant man. Some even cheated and robbed him of money, but he would never speak a word against them. I have seen my father and other relatives dying in front of my eyes, but this loss is unbearable.”

Upadhaya always believed in staging plays which were thought-provoking and yet made one laugh. A play should entertain, not bog you down, he believed, and that’s why he rightly named his 15–year old theatre group, ‘The Entertainers.’ The group has to its credit notable plays like Prisoners of Malabar, Court Martial, Kawwa chala hans ki chaal, Chainpur ki daastan, Itihaas chakra and so on – all rib-ticklers, which raised Ashutosh to the zenith of popularity..

A man with a tremendous sense of humor and well versed in politics, Upadhaya’s death has not only left the well-knit group scattered but also put many projects in jeopardy. “I don’t know whom I will ask to enact our Pinto of aik ghoda…, who will now generate offstage humorous ideas that could transform into splendid serials, how the void will be filled….” says a visibly pained Abbasi.

A gem of a man who lived a full life, Ashutosh is survived by his wife (also a theater personality), two small children and aging parents.

Upadhaya’s untimely death has left the entire theater fraternity pining for a friend, philosopher and guide.


Art for a restless mind

One of Seema Ghurayya’s abstract works.
One of Seema Ghurayya’s abstract works.

As you enter ‘Gallery Espace’ at New Friends Colony, you will probably ask the curator: ‘Where are the paintings?’ A trifle taken aback by your query, she will point at Seema Ghurayya’s huge abstract works of art that bedeck the gallery’s wall. Now, it is your turn to be surprised and you will peer closely at the paintings which, at first glance, seemed like plain canvases to you!

Instead, a closer look will reveal a mix of a few light shades – yellow, off-white, gray and blue. These colors subsume the geometrical figures she has etched on the canvas. The light hues deceive you, but only momentarily, as you perceive a blank canvas. “The latest in the contemporary,” as the curator puts it.

Born in Gwalior, 38-year-old Seema’s untitled oils on canvas seem to be a gateway of light, defined in pastel tones, falling from all sides, scattered, yet organized. The lines flow harmoniously, which are sometimes interrupted by her figurative elements that seem to violate against the confines that she usually prisons them in, undaunted.

A winner of several awards all over India, Seema has to her credit a number of solo, collective exhibitions and participations, in Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Japan and Egypt.

Though some find the paintings pale, a few dismiss them as vague and some others consider it a new experiment in abstract, Seema’s works (on view till January 26) elicited an appreciative quote from veteran painter, J. Swaminathan. “Her abstractions resound with the rhythm of a musical scale…There is something precious and chaste in her work…”

Her works are a delight for the connoisseur, but not for those who look for vibrant colors and fables in paintings. Yet they are just right for an elegant interior. Her paintings, serene and cool, will be fine company for a restless mind.

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