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Showing posts from October, 2007

A meeting with Allama Iqbal

In Hindustan Times dated 13th October - 2007, Grand Old man Khushwant Singh , in his weekly column “ With Malice Towards One and All… ” wonders about religious belief of men like APJ Abdul Kalam, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib and Sir Mohammad Iqbal, regarding Heaven and Hell, in a piece titled Dreaming of Paradise. A line by Iqbal surprises the prolific columnist. Khushwant Singh writes: What came as a surprise to me was poet Sir Mohammad Iqbal: He was a devout Muslim and never questioned Islamic beliefs. How do you explain these lines? “Koi ab tak na yeh samjha keh insaan, kahaan jaata hai, aata hai kaha say?” ( No one has yet understood where man goes to after he dies and from where he comes). Will some knowledgeable reader please enlighten me? No, I can’t enlightening him about these lines. But, his questioning reminded me of my little tryst with Iqbal in a little room of a shanty basti at the outer periphery of a big city. Some years ago in Nagpur, a friend of mine invited

Mao’s Marginal Notes to: Friedrich Paulsen's A System of Ethics

“I am the universe, life is death and death is life, the present is the past and the future, the past and the future are the present, small is big, the yang is the yin, up is down, dirty is clean, male is female, and thick is thin” Note made by young Mao in the margins of a copy of Fredrich Paulsen’s System of Ethics. Patrick French writes in his book Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land Patrick French gives the source as: Stuart r. Schram (ed.) Mao’s Road to Power, Revolutionary Writings 1912 – 1949: Volume 1 — The Pre-Marxist Period, 1912 – 1920, New York 1992 What is the source of Mao's marginal note to Friedrich Paulsen, A System of Ethics ? Looking for the actual source of the note attributed to Mao when he was a 24-year-old young student, here is what I found: Yang Changji , Mao’s high school teacher and future father-in-law, was versed in Kant, Rousseau, and Spencer. Professor Yang held a faculty position at Peking University. Yang Changji is

India-China, a Temple and Tibet

Built on the banks of the Yamuna River, adjacent to the proposed Commonwealth Games village, the Akshardham Temple of Noida is famous for its laser show, musical fountains and also for being a suitable hang out place for lovelorn couples who are always running out of meeting places (a situation very unique to lovers in India). The Lord of the temple house is Bhagwan Swaminarayan, a god that not all its visitors know about of, or whose teachings they might religiously follow. He must be one among approximately (on last count) 330 million gods of Hinduism . Nevertheless, the temple is a huge draw among tourists and the locals, a fact evident from it’s ever jam packed parking. In summers, bare footed people burn their feet on its graphite and marble floor, just to marvel at the 141 feet house of god. None of this is surprising. The thing that is really surprising is: Communist, Godless/godless and “religion is poison” preaching People's Republic of China has invited the Swa

"Freedom" by Jayanta Mahapatra

At times, as I watch, it seems as though my country’s body floats down somewhere on the river. Left alone, I grow into a half-disembodied bamboo, its lower part sunk into itself on the bank. Here, old widows and dying men cherish their freedom, bowing time after time in obstinate prayers. While children scream with this desire for freedom to transform the world without even laying hands on it. In my blindness, at times I fear I’d wander back to either of them. In order for me not to lose face, it is necessary for me to be alone. Not to meet the woman and her child in that remote village in the hills who never had even a little rice for their one daily meal these fifty years. And not to see the uncaught, bloodied light of sunsets cling to the tall white columns of Parliament House. In the new temple man has built nearby, the priest is the one who knows freedom, while God hides in the dark like an alien. And each day I keep looki

Pakeezah: Making of a Classic

After the failure of the film Daeera (1953) , Pakeezah as an idea took root in Kamal Amrohi’s mind. The concept was irretrievably fixated with his love for his wife. He hoped to create a film, which would be worthy of her as an actress, and worthy of the love he felt for her as a women. By 1960 Amrohi had written the script. In 1961 when the camera was set in motion following had been signed: Joseph Wirsching as Cinematographer( the German cameraman of Amrohi’s first big success Mahal made in 1949 with Madhubala and Ashok Kumar ), Gulam Mohammad as Music Director, Ashok Kumar as Hero ( later among others like Rajendra Kumar, Sunil Dutt and the final choice Raj Kumar, Dharmendra was also shot listed, but his relation with Meena Kumari created problems), Meena Kumari as the Heroine, and a handful of Urdu writers as Lyricists. Of all the artists, the speediest was Mr. Ghulam Mohammed, the music director . But, the going for the movie wasn't smooth. The film was started at

Dev Anand: The Oldman Who Kept Keeps On Driving

I have to confess that Dev Anand was the first oldie star whose movies I truly enjoyed watching. As, I grew older and Dev Anand grew into “evergreen” oldman, his newer movies grew unbearable. Many years ago, I read an essay by film critic Maithili Rao . This is what she had to say about Dev Anand: After the early straight dramatic roles, Dev Anand’s debonair narcissism degenerated into the Noddy land of toothy smiles and a body balanced at an acute, gravity – defying angle. It’s true at times he is indefensible (aren’t we all), and at times he needs no defense. Either you accept him, or you don’t. Where is the need for an 84/85 old filmmaker to defend his movies(altleast he knows that the minds of remake directors are bankrupt), choice of actress (people forget that Tabu got her first big break with him) and even personal life? (I am saying this after reading the review of his book  Romancing With Life: An Autobiography in Hindustan Times dated 30th September, 2007 ) I hav