C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


English publishers prefer narrative non-fiction
Nirupama Dutt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
While English publishers in India are on the look out for new writers of fiction, the past few years have also seen the rise of narrative non-fiction. These were the views expressed by Ravi Singh, Executive Editor, Penguin India, in an interview here today. Ravi was visiting the city this weekend to make contact with a few writers who are working on commissioned books.

“The three books of narrative non-fiction books by Penguin India that have done particularly well are ‘Forget Kathmandu’ by Manjushri Thappa, ‘Goa: A Daughter’s Story’ by Maria Couto and ‘Being Indian’ by Pavan Verma, “ said Ravi. He added that Suketu Mehta’s ‘Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found’ had, of course, proved to be an international bestseller. Ravi elaborated that while these books used the skills involved in telling a story and telling it well yet there was no compromise with the facts.

While dismissing the hyperbolic statements about the boom in publishing, Ravi said, ‘What we are seeing today is a natural growth in the publishing industry. What is true is that predictions on the ‘death of the book’ have proved false. The book is not only alive but it is thriving.” Speaking about the new directions that Penguin India was taking, Ravi said while Penguin was doing fiction as of old, it had now started making forays into different areas and publishing many kinds of books, including travel, adventure and memoirs.

The Penguin editor felt that the experience of moving into Indian languages had turned out to be a very fruitful one as they were selling books in large numbers. Having started with Hindi, Penguin was now adding titles in Marathi and Malyalam.

“It is wonderful to see a book selling as much as 80, 000 copies in the Indian languages whereas 5,000 is the usual good figure for books in English. I am very happy to note that poetry has many takers in Indian languages contrary to that in English. We are planning to bring out anthologies of poetry in Indian languages and are also planning to publish some individual poets.”

Ravi whose family comes from Palampur in Himachal Pradesh said they were looking toward North India for books as very little had come into English by way of fiction and non-fiction from these parts. After the success of Amritsar-based Rupa Bajwa’s ‘The Sari Shop’, Peguin India will be launching at the end of the year city-based Neel Kamal Puri’s yet unnamed novel. When asked whether was Penguin India was facing competition from other foreign publishers who were setting shop in the country, Ravi said, “So far the only other trade publishers were Oxford University Press and Macmillan’s and they have been more into academic publishing. Now with Random Books planning to set up their offices here, there will be competition but it is welcome. It always pays to have more players in the field.”



Rafi fans weave magic
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 31
A leading cultural organisation Yaadgar-e-Rafi Society paid tributes to versatile singer Mohammed Rafi at a grand musical evening, today at the Tagore Theatre on his 25th death anniversary.

Speaking at the function the guest of honour, Mr HK Dua , the Editor-in-Chief of the Tribune group of newspapers, also the media sponsors, observed that the spirit and enthusiasm perceptible among the participants and listeners who remained glued to their seats for a marathon spell of over five hours’ melody, was a veritable testimony to the fact that the music created by Mohammad Rafi had no parallel.

The organising secretary, Mr BD Sharma, and Mr RD Kalia, said that out of the 400 singers who participated in several rounds of screening, 31 vied for the final laurels today with over 40 renditions immortalised by duets of Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar. The finalists belonging to different professions shared a common bond of love for Rafi and his songs.

Displaying great control of swar, laya and taal, the child prodigies registered an edge over their senior compatriots bringing alive emotions.

Kanak Joshi at 13 was too young to conceptualise the theme of ‘Tumne kisi ki jaan ko jaate huye dekha hai…’ But with Rafi-like innocence he spelt magic.

The overall presentation by artistes was close to perfection the proud winners in respective categories were — (male seniors) Romesh Goel (Jalandhar), Chander Kant (Gurdaspur), and Harpreet Singh (Chandigarh).

Winners in (female seniors) included Himani (Ludhiana), Mrigakshi (Saharanpur), and Sarmishtha Bannerjee (Chandigarh).

In the (junior category ) the winners were Vinod Malik (Chandigarh), Kartik (Chandigarh), Kanak Joshi (Shimla) and Lakshya Kapoor (Amritsar) consolation. Priyanka Sharma (Panchkula), Ishita Sethi (Kapurthala), Supriya Sharma (Chandigarh), and Rupali Chhabra (Amritsar) consolation were the winners in the female junior category. The awards were presented by Mr H.K. Dua.

Hemant Contractor Chief General Manager, SBI, inaugurated the programme. The chief guest Mr Chander Mohan, Deputy Chief Minister, Haryana, lauded the efforts of the society and announced financial grant to the society.



Tributes paid to Munshi Prem Chand
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 31
Litterateurs of the city paid tributes to the legendary author Munshi Prem Chand on his 125th birth anniversary at a largely attended seminar on the DAV College campus yesterday.

They highlighted the contribution of Prem Chand to the Hindi literature and opined that his writings had an all-time contemporary relevance as he had depicted the soul of Indian traditions and culture through his creations.

Dr Virender Mehdiratta chaired the seminar while it was convened by Dr Chander Trikha, former director, Haryana Sahitya and Sanskrit Academy.

Dr Yash Gulati, Dr Subhash Rastogi, Dr Jagmohan Chopra, Dr Madhav Kaushik, Dr Shashi Prabha, Radheshyam Sharma, former Editor, Dainik Tribune, Arun Aditya, Dr Nirmal Dutt participated in deliberations of the seminar. Scholars rued that though the 125th anniversary of Prem Chand was being celebrated at the national level, none of the government institutions or academies had cared to remember the writer.



Master sketcher from Pak smitten by Indian charm
Wants to sketch Indian dignitaries
Aditi Tandon

From Pakistan to Panchkula, Saeed Ahmad Anjam’s journey has been one of fascination and realisation.

Back in his nondescript hometown of Mailsi in Multan, Anjam could have barely imagined the intensity of Indian charms which hold enough inspiration for every artist in the world.

Now that he has an official chance to put borders behind him and see “real India” for himself, he is confronted by a deep urge of capturing the cultural landscape of India, and of casting its ravishing beauty in aesthetic moulds.

But his wish stands hindered on several counts, the first being his visa which disallows movement beyond Panchkula.

“We only have a visa for Panchkula where our friend’s daughter just got married. We can’t even travel to Chandigarh. As an artist interested in cultural races and communities, I feel very stifled. I wish the governments do something to relax the visa regime. Such stringency serves no purpose, expect creating chasms between hearts,” rued Anjam.

An avid painter and a master-sketcher, Anjam is a celebrated artist back home, celebrated enough to be officially approached to sketch the portrait of Bill Clinton when the latter came on a Pakistan visit. Anjam created the portrait which made it to the White House walls. And later he sketched for many British dignitaries as well.

Well regarded for the finesse and precision of his pen and pencil strokes, Anjam is not formally trained in the art of sketching. No wonder his style is genuinely liberated and strikingly refreshing. “I have had training only in oil paintings. S.K. Jehangir was kind enough to teach me how to wield oils and brush on the canvas. But my no-holds-barred style could not follow the training religiously.

I evolved my own style, which is humane in every sense of the word. I paint people, landscapes and moments in history,” tells Anjam, who is staying in Panchkula with his friend O.P. Narang.

Interestingly, Narang has reserved a small space of his house for the exhibition of Anjam’s works. “Had I not done so, Anjam would never have got an outlet in India. He is here with a message of love and affection and I really wish he gets the permission to sketch some Indian dignitaries.”

But that seems a far cry, at least for now, when the guests cannot even legally enter Chandigarh. But Anjam has mighty hopes from the future.

“I want to be as much acceptable to Indians as I am to other people in the world. Impressed with my art of pencil sketching, the American Biography Association recently gave me a gold medal. That became possible only because I was able to share my art with them. I wish to strike art collaborations in India but I wonder of there are any takers here,” he said, ending his conversation on a reflective note. TNS



Meher Mittal set to stage a comeback

Meher Mittal, the king of Punjabi comedy, is at it again.

After a break of three years, the favourite character actor of Punjabi cinema is back to play the lead role in a new video film called “Lungi Bau”.

To be shot in September, the film is being created for markets across the globe, especially in England, Belgium, France and England.

In Chandigarh to sign the film today, Mittal spoke about his fascination for the genre of comedy, ruing that India did not pose enough challenge for comedians.

“There are hardly any writers who can do justice to the idiom. On the surface, comedy appears like something easy and flowing, but deep down it is a tough job that drains an actor’s energy. Unfortunately, neither in Punjabi nor in Hindi cinema have the comedians got their due,” he said, adding that he lost a chance to work in Manmohan Singh’s film “Asan nu Maan Watnan Da”. “I was abroad when he was shooting here. I could not come,” said Mittal.

But Mittal has somehow managed to keep his spirits alive by accepting roles he thinks are well suited for his personality. In the bargain, he has rejected many “frivolous” offers”. “I work by intuition. I have my own yardsticks to judge a role.

There have been times when I have pointblank refused to be paired with young girls. Accepting such roles amounts to inviting flak from fans who love you in a certain image. I am very image conscious. That’s why I take few offers,” Mittal said.

A video version of the latest film will be released soon after the shooting wraps up. Being directed by Tejinder Sachdeva, who earlier did some religious films, “Lungi Bau” is a light-hearted comedy, with no slapstick element to it. TNS


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