|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, May 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
Kaifi Azmi’s disenchantment showed in his songs
comes to Shillong
An impassioned practitioner of art
AS a former Principal of the Chandigarh College of Architecture, Dr S.S. Bhatti contributed significantly to the introduction and development of such subjects as art in architecture and architectural journalism. As a teacher of architecture, he succeeded in transmitting creative versatility that he regards to be "a view and way of life". As an impassioned practitioner of art, Dr Bhatti combines the visions of theory, the insights of research, and the communication skills of pedagogy into a signal act of artistic creation. He has been painting the sacred and the profane, the sublime and the absurd, and nature and its hapless children since the age of 5. He has done about 2,000 sketches, drawings, paintings, prints, graphic/applied designs, murals, paper-cuts, book-titles, badges, and sculptures, including major theme paintings, for Sunday Reading of The Tribune. He has also to his credit an equal number of on-the-spot sketches, drawings, and graphics of India’s historical monuments which he did for his students on educational tours as well as classroom teaching aids. His excellence as a water colour painter is matched only by his mixed-media paintings. His work covers a wide range of themes and their variations. The subject matter varies from landscape (which is his forte), religion and mythology, to abstraction, symbolism, metaphysics etc. Depending on the special requirements of the theme of each painting, he so changes each material and tools as to express it in visual images as aptly and evocatively as possible. He says, "Since my artistic goal is to ‘express emotion’ — rather than ‘evoke emotion’ — inventiveness in technique i.e. the craft of art is as important as the variation of visual metaphor i.e. the creativity of art. To make ‘emotion’ live perennially through my work, I inject the metaphysical and the spiritual substance of my perception into whatever I paint, draw, print, and sculpt."
Unlike many other artists, who shy away from explaining their creations to inquisitive viewers, Bhatti is all too willing to share the details of his act of creation. When asked what he thinks of creativity, he says, "Creativity is a perennial adventure into the realm of the human spirit. Its major components are art and craft, representing sensibility and design, and skill and dexterity, respectively. The two are interdependent in an indispensable way. Art without craft can remain only in the area of aesthetic appreciation. Craft without art often ends up a juggler’s show of skill for its own sake."
Dr Bhatti’s exploratory excellence in varied fields imparts eloquence and authenticity) to his art, which draws the viewer into experiencing the act of creation itself. His versatility prevents his art from becoming either "branded" or "dated" as artistic creation. The kind of freedom he enjoys comes from the fact that "I am not a career artist, that is, I do not live by selling my art. But I am a professional (not an amateur) artist in the true sense of the word." He has been taking part in art exhibitions since the age of 12. In fact, he won his first "highly commended" certificate among senior artists in an all-India exhibition organised by the Indian Academy of Fine Arts, Amritsar, when he was barely 14 years of age ! He has also held several solo shows of his works, which are represented in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; the Govt Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh; the Panjab University Fine Arts Museum, to mention only a few. His art is characterised by variety and technical virtuosity.
Several awards and honours have been won by this distinguished artist whose contribution to fine arts is the pride of the City Beautiful. The National Academy of Literature, Arts, and Sciences, Italy, has appointed Dr Bhatti the Academical Official Knight — the highest title conferred on him for the merits he has attained in the artistic sphere. AIFACS (All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society, New Delhi) has honoured him as "Veteran Artist" for his contribution to art.
His entry appears in the prestigious "Who’s Who in International Art", an international biographical art dictionary, published and distributed in Switzerland, edition 1996-97. He has also been featured in Korean Design Journal, Special Number on India, along with the country’s topmost architects, artists, and graphic designers. The editorial comment on his entry says it all: "Prophetic world of works holding a wide-ranging sense of appreciation."
Dr Bhatti has been called by various titles to portray his creative versatility. An eminent art administrator-cum-educationist prefers the more familiar title for Dr Bhatti as Chandigarh’s Leonardo da Vinci. Over 400 of his reviews as the official art critic of The Tribune for two decades created widespread awareness in this region which produced several artists of national and international distinction in the process of promotion and development of art here.
As a poet of consequence, Dr Bhatti imparts his poetic sensibility to his paintings.
Dr Bhatti’s eminence rests on a
distinguished aesthetic view and artistic way of life which constantly
draw their sap from his "sight, insight, and excite" — the
building blocks of his poetic sensibility.
AS if the horrors of Gujarat were not enough, we had the terrible savagery of the Jammu killings of women and little children on their way to school. In fact, in one news bulletin, we had little else besides killings from every part of the world, including a school student running amok with guns and killing his teachers and fellow students in a foreign country.
And when it seemed that the mind could not take in any more violence, there came a tale of Indian and, indeed, universal gallantry in a most pleasurable and unexpected context. The agony subsided somewhat as we watched with disbelief the amazing bravery of Anil Kumble, whom a Pakistani cricketer once described, although with affection (and before he had taken all their 10 wickets to equal a world record) as: "Such a mild fellow, he would make a very good son-in-law." Well, the mild fellow went defiantly on to the field at Barbados against the anxious appeals of his colleagues. In fact, he took them by surprise and hardly gave them time to appeal, broken jaw heavily bandaged, with team medic standing by near the boundary line, and he took Lara’s wicket to add to his glory. It restored one’s faith in India and Indian cricketers. And it had come on the heels of very special Laxman and 20-year-old wicket-keeper Ratra, viewers holding their breath as he made his century after some nervous stumbles, to retrieve India from one of those dismaying collapses by Tendulkar and other star heroes at Barbados.
It is precisely in situations such as these, that the power of television comes home to us. With the time difference, no newspaper could give us the results of the day’s play from the West Indies next morning (in fact, Kumble’s photos with the bandaged face came to us two days later), radio cannot really show us the heavily bandaged face of Kumble forbidden to smile or speak and his triumphant leap in the air after dismissing Lara, his colleagues carefully avoiding embracing him so as to spare his jaw, and the entire Indian dressing room standing on its feet in anticipation and later in ecstasy as Hero No. 1 Kumble got his wicket before he got into his plane for the surgery at home after perhaps the most glorious day in his cricketing life. For that moment of ecstasy, perhaps even Gujarat got a respite in our minds and for that we must be thankful. Thank you Kumble.
The train accident again raises the question of the media exercising discretion in emergency situations. I found it very worrying that one channel, as far as I remember Zee News, carried the names of those killed in the accident. It is normal practice, at least in wartime or with other defence services casualties, not to announce the names of casualties until the next of kin have been informed, although announcements of deaths in air crashes come rather earlier but not too early for relatives to get a shock. They now also have counsellors lined up at airports in Western countries to provide comfort and help to the bereaved. I felt that in the case of the UP rail accident, the names were listed far too early on TV screens. Also, the speed at which emergency telephone numbers in different cities were run on the screens was far too fast. I am a pretty quick reader but could not complete even one number, however hard I tried. TV channels please note, because telephone numbers are all that relatives and friends can turn to, and if they are undecipherable, there is little point in showing them. In fact, it would be better if they were verbally repeated at dictation speed to ensure they serve their purpose.
Editors’ Guild, in its report on Gujarat, had noted that no
newspaper had started a Gujarat Relief Fund this time, as it did at
the time of the earthquake. One is glad to note that two national
dailies at least have since started relief funds. One can make the
same criticism about the TV channels, unless I have missed something.
I hope they, too, will catch up as soon as possible, or name reliable
non-government agencies (since government agencies are slow and at
times not trusted) to whom one can send contributions in cash or in
kind for humanitarian relief.
Kaifi Azmi’s disenchantment showed in his songs
Ye duniyaa, ye mehfil, mere kaam ki nahin..., laments the poet, about the world around him. And though unafraid to speak his mind, he warns: Ya dil ki suno duniya waalo, ya mujhko abhi chup rehne do, main ghum ko khushi kaise keh doon, jo kehte hai unko kehno do....
Bollywood has lost two of its foremost lyricists this year. And if Anand Bakshi who passed away on March 30 wrote about the toils and truisms of everyday life, Kaifi Azmi who died earlier this week at the age of 82 was the inveterate critic and commentator on the way the world had changed and social mores had fallen: Waqt ne kiyaa, kyaa haseen sitam, tum rahe na tum, hum rahe na hum....
Kaifi had actually become a recluse from society a long time ago, clearly unhappy with the world around him. For the man who had written in an autobiographical write-up that he was "born in an enslaved India, became old in independent India and would die in the socialist India", the turmoil that has shaken the country over the past several decades clearly became a painful scar. Perhaps that was why he wrote: Aaj socha to aansoo bhar aaye, muddatein ho gayee muskuraaye... in a film that ironically carried the title "Hanste Zakhm".
To the layman, Kaifi’s lyrics appear to be a reflection of his own psyche, reflected in the manner in which, he preferred to withdraw from society. But Kar chaley hum fida, jaano tan saathiyo, ab tumhare hawaale watan saathiyo... — words he wrote about four decades ago for Chetan Anand’s film "Haqeeqat" — must have rung untrue to Kaifi today. For he was most upset with the situation around him.
No wonder then, that this sensitive poet expressed his anguish so deeply following the situation in the country following the events of December 6, 1992, in Ayodhya. Noting in his poem "Doosra Banwas" that "6 December ko Sriram ne socha hoga/itne deewane kahanse mere ghar mein aaye", he goes on to write that Lord Ram must have been very disgruntled. Ram yeh kehte huye apne dware se uthe/Rajdhani ki fiza aayi nahin raas mujhe/6 December ko mila doosra banwas mujhe....
The poet must have looked back with nostalgia: Dekhi zamane ki yaari, bihchdhe sabhi baari baari..., much like Guru Dutt for whose "Kagaz ke phool" Kaifi Azmi wrote this lyric. And yet, he preferred to keep his pain to himself: Koi kaise yeh bataaye ke woh tanha kyun hai.... or Dil ghum se jal raha hai jale, par dhuaan na ho... Perhaps, the song he wrote for Mahesh Bhatt’s "Arth" summed up his own attitude: Tum itna jo muskuraa rahe ho, kyaa gham hai jisko chhupa rahe ho....
Interestingly, this pain showed in the song with which he made his debut as a lyricist with Shaid Latif’s "Buzdil" in 1948: Rote rote guzar gayi raat re/Aayi yaad teri har baat re....
His anguish was also reflected in his writing the script for M.S. Sathyu’s "Garam Hawa" or agreeing to act in Saeed Mirza’s film "Naseem", the first in the backdrop of Partition, and the second in the backdrop of the riots in the early ’90s in Mumbai. His poetry was a cry against injustice, oppression and communalism. "Aurat," "Makaan," "Bahroopni," and "Doosra Banwas" are amongst his most notable works in poetry.
Bharatnatyam comes to Shillong
THE Meghalaya capital, Shillong, which reverberates with mostly Western music, is gearing up to witness Bharatnatyam to be performed by fresh graduate dancers from the renowned Rukmini Devi Institute of Fine Arts, Chennai.
The show to be presented later this month by six young artistes, including a male dancer, will portray various aspects of the South Indian dance form, its rhythmic beauty and subtle meaning.
The group, led by Arundhati Singha, a dancer from the North-East, had undergone years of training and tutelage under renowned gurus of the acclaimed Temple of Fine Arts, popularly known as Kalakshetra.
The students are the products of the
legacy and vision of the legendary Rukmini Devi Arundale, who made
tremendous effort to bring Bharatnatyam out of South India for the world
at large to experience its beauty. Arundhati had been learning the art
for the past eight years at Kalakshetra after several years of learning
dance at Guwahati under Indira P.P. Bora, also an exponent of the art in
the country. UNI