Friday, January 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


MDU teachers’ union fears favouritism
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, January 24
The Maharshi Dayanand University Teachers’ Association (MDUTA) has appealed to the Governor, who is the Chancellor of the university, to intervene to prevent favouritism in the matter of giving benefits to teachers under the career advancement scheme.

In a letter faxed to the Chancellor today, Mr Vazir Nehra and Mr Himmat Singh Ratnoo, president and secretary, respectively, of the association alleged that the university administration had made inordinate delay in the matter of providing senior scale, selection grade etc. to the university teachers under the career advancement scheme.

The association also charged the university authorities with discriminating against certain teachers by misinterpreting the decisions regarding the merit promotion scheme (MPS) taken at the meeting of the Executive Council few years back. The MDUTA leaders alleged that the discriminatory policies of the university administration had demoralised the university teachers and affected their teaching adversely.

They apprehended that the university administration could also bestow undue favour to its ‘best liked’ persons at the 156th meeting of the EC of the university scheduled to be held on January 31.

Quoting item number 33 in the agenda of the meeting, they alleged it was a well-planned move of the university authorities to continue its discriminatory policies in the matter of promotion of teachers. The MDUTA demanded the withdrawal of the said item from the agenda and formulation of a transparent and uniform policy for promotion of the teachers.


The Shah clan makes an art of story-telling
Rana A Siddiqui

IN the world of cinema, flaunting skimpy outfits and showing melodrama that is just short of scenes, making you cry or smile, can a simple narration of a story has any significance? Maybe yes. That is what has happened. A well-known family of three theater personalities has proved it.

The trio, Naseeruddin Shah, wife Ratna Pathak Shah and daughter Hiba Shah experimented recently with the famous and the earliest of the Urdu feminist writer Ismat Chugtai’s three stroies, viz, Gharwali, Chhui Muee and Mughal Baccha, directed by Naseer himself at Abhimanch Auditorium, National School of Drama.

The programme was one of the series of performances organized by Spic Macay, a non-profit group active in promoting Indian classical music and theater among the youth.

The stories presented were a tribute to its author from the artists’ family. These were the works that shocked the writer’s contemporaries for their aura of provocative bodies and sensible approach towards women of her time, roughly in the early 19th century. All three stories had one theme in common, woman.

Gharwali, narrated by the actor, was a story of a lady, Lajo, a stunning beauty, accessible to one and all, her efficient management of home and other affairs and her habit to spoil for a fight with at the drop of a hat.

Naseer, attired in typical Muslim outfit of old-fashioned kurta, pyjamas and topi played an unmarried, aging, lonely and petty shopkeeper Mirza who brings this lady home for household chores.

Lajo meaning shame, brings a lot of changes in Mirza’s life and home by her management skills. Mirza, tired of Lajo’s accessibility to others, tamper tantrums and an ever-enhancing desire for a female company, marries her, only to divorce later.

But unable to forget his wife, Mirza brings her back only after getting assurance from a maulana that marriage with an ‘illegal’ child (Lajo) is always considered null and void. Hence, if a marriage is not valid, how can a divorce be?

Based on the saying that too many cooks spoil the broth, "Chui Muee" (meaning touch-me-not), narrated by Hiba Shah portrayed a woman, whose too much care by her in-laws, leads to her miscarriage for three consecutive years. While another lady, with no one by her side, gives birth to a baby in a moving train just in front of the third-time pregnant ‘chui muee’ woman. The shock of witnessing a delivery leads to "chui muee’s" third miscarriage.

The third story, Mughal Baccha, that received maximum applaud, was narrated and enacted by Ratna Pathak Shah. It is a story of an obstinate man of royal inheritance, though devoid of any riches in the wake of Partition and extravagance. He spoils the life of his young, innocent bride due to an inflated ego. The newly-wed girl of 12 summers, who marries this ‘mughal baccha’ of 18 years of age, never gets to see her husband, for he considers ‘raising the veil of a bride’ an insult to his royal act. As a result, the groom never gets to his bride till his death.

Only on his death-bed, he relents. But it is too late now. Before she manages to lift her veil, half, with tired and trembling hands, the man succumbs to his disease. The old bride takes it in her stride, stoically.

While Naseer with his apt portrayal of a tense and nervous Mirza, evokes maximum laughter, Ratna Pathak, despite forgetting dialogues twice, manages to steal the show.

Hiba, for whom it was her first stage appearance after a course in NSD, seems promising because of her chaste Urdu and dialogue delivery like her parents. The music composer Vishal Bhardwaj and lights by Inayat Sami and Michael Nazareth, extend the much-desired ambiance for the tragi-comedies.

Produced by Jairaj Patil and art direction by Salim Arif and Ratna, the play tries to bring forth the prolific Ismat Chugtai for those who are still not aware of her prolific writing skills.

A welcome deviation from the much-repeated plays by different theatrical groups. A point that the swelling crowd and the jam-packed auditorium proved.


A cornucopia of artistic talent offers a visual treat

Angad Sodhi, from Mayo College, Ajmer, presented one of his paintings to External Affairs Minister Jaswant Sigh, at the IHC.

THE last week of the year 2001 saw a spate of activities in the realm of art. There was ‘Bengal Art, Past and Present’ at Visual Art Gallery with a host of artists from West Bengal participating in it. Contemporary West Bengal was sought to be portrayed through widows with shaven heads; Durga, the goddess of power and energy; domestic affairs through love, care and the degeneration in values. A visual treat, the exhibition was an enriching journey to the world of West Bengal today.

In another artistic show, Art Today came up with a thematic exhibition of 12 zodiac signs, painted by artists of repute who titled their paintings accordingly, Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and so on.

Even in the company of famous names like M. F. Hussain, Jatin Das and Paresh Maithy; a veteran painter, Paramjit Singh, though not as well known, stole the show with his ‘Pisces’.

What drew maximum attention were the works of young artists from Mayo College, Ajmer, at the India Habitat Centre. Sponsored by Mayo Heritage Society, it was an exhibition of paintings, crafts and photographs.

Scanning the entire art gallery in one go did not help. There were countless varieties of artistic items provoking wider glance. Divided into two sections, preparatory and senior, the gallery had countless attractions. Paintings portraying landscapes, murals, the life in Mayo, human figures, on the spot paintings—most of them on water and poster colour, were pulsating with life for the aura of their bright colours and unusual shades of mixes.

‘Glimpses of Mayo,’ a collection of seven paintings, done in seven days by young Angad Sodhi, a student of class X1I, turned out to be a major crowd- puller. Mayo and its pristine beauty in water colours allured even the External Affairs Minister Jaswant Sigh, who was presented with a Sodhi painting. For Sodhi, who wants to be a lawyer, painting is just a hobby he would like to take recourse to, when he needs solace.

Another attraction was the wire works and soft sandstone items. Soft aluminum wire, uniquely molded in the form of a man skating and sitting on a chair, woman knitting a sweater were, unfortunately, ‘not for sale.’

The factory waste of soft black sand was something that attracted the school vice-principal, Mrs Dipika Hazra, and her curator husband’s attention. With their guidance, the students made countless decorative pieces of art, specifically huge abstracts that few exhibitions had done so far.

Then, various figures on terra cota, stained glasses, and countless wall hangings of bright colours and mirror work in shell made the visitors dig deep into their pockets.

The boys’ section boasted of tie and dye fabrics, miniature and abstract paintings. “I find girls are better than we in art and craft. The boys are more inclined towards sports-related activities which are reflected in our works,” said Vaibhab Raghunanadan of class IX, whose miniature paintings saw many admirers. The exhibition had been on for only two days, and a major crowd-puller, particularly for its negligibly priced (Rs 25 to 1,000) utility items.

The art world also witnessed another child artist, Mehar Soni, a nine-year old student of Modern School, Vasant Vihar. Perhaps, the youngest Indian abstract painter without a formal art education, her work came to light at the IHC as part of ‘The Expression of Mother and Child,’ a group exhibition with her 40-year-old artist mother, Sarab Soni, hailing from Ludhiana.

Sarab, who had many solo and group exhibitions in India and the UK, this time came out with her untitled abstracts in vibrant colours of red, blue and yellow, after an overwhelming success of her exhibition, Co-relation, last year.

Sarab’s works speak of thick notes in spectacular mix of various bright shades, done in experimental sizes of various canvases: rectangle, door-like and picture frame. If you ask a lay man, he may not be able to relate himself to an abstract painting. He might be even unwilling to spare a wider glance to a `not so telling’ form of art. But Sarab’s abstract works do not plead attention— it captures the same. Her intelligent use of vibrant colours, make even the dullest painting look lively, as she leaves enough breathing space amongst a medley of luminous shades.

Mehar Soni’s work seems to be a contrast from her mother, though she draws inspiration from her.

Mehar’s 12 exhibited works, showed tremendous understanding of design, colour scheme and imagination. “I am surprised at the maturity of her mind at this tender age. Her colour scheme, her distinct ideas, and her brush strokes are very mature, a rare at her age,” said Dipto Bandhopahyaya, the curator at IHC. Mehar’s lines are frail and flowing. Her paintings amalgamate well with the bright or dull shades which envelop them. Most of her paintings show planned strokes which they are not. “She just paints, without giving slightest impression of a pensive mood. Even if I try to tell her which colour to use, she refuses to buy my idea and yet, comes out better,” says the proud mother. The child not only surprises but even inspires her mother with her innovative ideas.

The mother, however, feebly complained to her child, “Don’t give me a run for my money…” But the kid stole the show, undaunted. 

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