During 1980s I saw Doordarshan. Earlier I got chance to see Doordarshan only on few days at one house at IITK campus who owned a TV. All children used to gathered at their window to watch TV programs. In those days we only knew few programs, Such as Films, chitrahaar etc. Later we came to know about phool khile hain gulshan gulshan, Antakshri etc but most of these programs which became famous were based on films. I am not talking about the people who owned TV. Those people might be knowing lot of TV programmes. But people like me who did not own TV came to know tv programmes only due to either the owner told us or we got to know from other sources i.e. childhood friend or gossip in the class. I doubt if anybody in class v or vi student might have been reading any magazines. If some did read magazines, those were rich might have subscribed to children magazines- Lotpot, Champak, Parag, Chandamama, gudiya etc.
I got to read some of pages from magazines like Dharmayug, Hindustan etc. Parag, Lotpot and champak came later in my life. My father was in Indian Navy and got posting in Bombay n lonavala. Being in Bombay they got exposure to magazines. Thus they might have started reading those magazines. But how I came to know about those magazines? is due to their habit of collecting pages. Thus the pages collected during 1965-67 etc came to our hand in 1976 onwards, when we siblings started reading all the printed alphabets. Thus began my reading of various printed material housed in our home, collected by my Parents during their stay in Bombay and other places.
Our collection included Dharmayug, Hindustan(a magazine not the news paper), Kadambani, Illustrated weekly, LIFE magazine, etc to name few, There were lot of cuttings from old news papers. One was a very good English dictionary. This was the main source of information and attraction for me. This dictionary had many pictures in it. Thus pictures had always attracted me, and those pictures contained various information. Type of horse carriages used in Europe, the types of leather straps used in tying the horse etc. My father brought a record player prior to 1982 I had it at our home, it was of SANYO brand. Few LP record I purchased. I had a long record of “The Sound of Music” I think it was a movie. Actualy when I started attending PPN Degree college at Kanpur. For the first time in my life I got freedom to travel alone, while studying in BSc. Near to college was Parade ground and on it was a great bazzar, it had everything. I saw the old clothing of police and military. During winter woolen clothings were sold. Next to it was a market of old LP records and related accessories. I used to go to that market to collect LP records or old songs. I thus got few LP- the tawa as it were known in Hindi. It was similar to tawa in looks on which chapattis are cooked. There were 33 rpm and 72 rpm etc. I got pakeezah, a LP named Akhiri Mujra and Mehfil e mujra. These records which I bought had song of dances of films.
I also bought few of Ballets, Tango, Salsa steps, without knowing ABCD of these dances. But when TV came to my home in 1982 everything changed for me. I got to know about a different world, that was hidden till 1982 to me. First song was on Immortal melodies and singers. Famous Singer Noorjahan had come to India from Pakistan. When somebody asked her about this coming to India, She said I always had asked Allah that pl give me one chance to atleast meet this person before I die- that person was Dilip kumar. He was with her that time both of them were very close friends. She was beeming with happiness and whole of her saree was glitering. On my TV screen she was a glitering star. Even though we had a Black and white TV but those moments which I witnessed were full of colors. Full of emotions and I could feel those emotions those were the true emotions and not acting. There were Famous singer Rajkumari, Naushad ji and many more. Through reading magazines and watching TV, that outside world became known to me. Thus I became conscious of word ART and MUSIC. After that whenever the chitrahaar and films came on TV I was fixed to one place for hours, but contrary to others I used to observe nuances of arts, The costumes, The set designing, The dance steps, choreography. When films started. the titles used to start, I used to read who is dance director, who is assistant dance director, who is Art director, set designer etc,
By the time TV came to my home I was already famous as a “dancer” boy in my school and in IIT Kanpur campus. I was actually an UNTOUCHABLE. Whole class mates were mocking and making fun of me. I grew up ignoring those jokes, comments, racist remarks, Unpleasant remarks, demeaning remarks, Not only from my classmates but from their young sisters and brother, from their mothers and often from fathers.
One of the Professor at IIT Kanpur was very famous for attending the music programs but when there was some topic of her daughter dancing with me or sharing stage with me. That foreign return professor who was teaching at IIT Kanpur denied and told his wife that not to let their daughter dance on stage. This very same professor welcomed a boy of a middle class family to their home, whom they did not considered upto their class before, I mean he never considered that middle class family upto their class before but when this boy secured good marks in some examination they immediately dreamt that he would be a good suitor for their daughter. That daughter was not very much studious as far as I know. That daughter was much younger to me they were (both boy and girl) born in front of me. I mean I had seen them growing since their first year of life. I shifted to IIT Kanpur campus in the year 1973 or so (if I correctly remember).
Often when my classmate boys ignored me, they did not let me play with them, or not let me join their group. Those days were very pain full for me. girls were left to talk to me I then got a chance to communicate with my peers. I started playing with those girls. they allowed me to play with them. What games girls play??
Thus when I was permitted to play with girls, obviously I had to play those games which girls played. What is harm in that?. But there also I was not spared. I was bombarded with comments that he is a girl and plays with girls. Funny boys!!!. First they did not let me in their group activities they hid lot of secrets from me and when I was permitted to play with girls then they started abusing me ? what is the law of land? Thus in class VI & VII in old campus school building I played langdi with girls in free periods. I am gratefull to Sunita, Lily, Savita, Ragini, Rajni, Anita and Anita2, to name few girls who let me play with them. I still cherish those friendship beyond anything. Since in those tormenting times I was given space and time to breath like a free spirit, even though they did on second thought. But I am quite happy that they let me play with them without any inhibition.
In this group there was also two three groups as was within boys. The race and caste system was inborn. At IIT Kanpur campus I felt the difference of class, the poor and rich. But at IIT Kanpur campus there was FACULTY and STAFF feeling always. As children do, it is their normal habit to boast off among their peers. But the subject or the object to boast off was quite interesting. Few boys and girls were engrossed with idea of their supremacy over us – the middle class families, what they had more was the knowledge of English. Often the professors were called as foreign returned. They spent few years in America or outside India. Few boys boasted off about their green cards etc things.
Very few class mates did invite me to their birthdays. But I invited everybody to my birthday. One of my classmates remembered and told in front of his colleagues that I invited all the girls and only him (a boy) to his birthday. This statement was a big surprise to me. I thought ok if he is saying so when he is 49 years old then I must accept his statement. But I am sure he was exaggerating it. I did invite few of my friends. Naturally when I used to play with more girls I will invite more girls than boys, what is new in it?
One day I went to Lily’s house for I think it was birthday. There on tape record I heard a song which was from the film shikari, dil tumko diya itni naaz se naina lad gaye bhole bhale….. The moment I heard the song, the beats and taal whole music took over me. And inside of me somewhere I could not resist myself from dancing on the song.
So powerfull music it has. The song had Ragini and Helen ji. Both danced superbly. Helen ji did a superb job. She matched each and every step to the Ragini Ji. Ragini ji was a trained and a famous dancer. She was a renowned Bharatnatyam dancer, she was one of the TRIO the famous Travancore sisters. They were well known faces in the dance field. But in this song Helen ji danced better than Ragini ji. Helen ji was not much trained but she is a born talent. I don’t know whether she received any award from Govt of India?. It is awkward that the much famous dancer of her time did not receive any award for recognition of her art/ Talent. Few hero and heroines of films of recent times have been decorated with the awards like Padma shri. she must get PADMA BHUSAN. But the society is such grappled with the fear psychosis about dance, the stigma is still there. Stigma attached to the dance is still there. She must receive sangeet natak award or Padma bhusan for her contribution to the dance in films.
Whatever dance she did it was of a class. She was never looked or favoured vulgarity on the screen. Whatever getup was given to her by the producer and film director she wore it and she performed with first grade. She was the only one who could it. No one is near to her in film industry who could perform like her. Without any flaw?? Her’s was a flaw-less performance. There should be DADA SAHEB PHALKE award for the contribution in film dance segment. I think Helen Ji deserves it….all the heroines must be taken into confidence and all the living heroines must be asked to vote for saying yes or no for giving any award to Helen ji, and let us see what the result come. I don’t know why Karan Johar and Faraha Khan do not ask anyone in film industry this question whenever they host any programme?
There was another film which captivated me and my attention. It was KALPANA, not the kalpana made by Shri Uday Shankar, but it was a Hindi film a bollywood movie. Full of music and dance. There were Stalwart of BharatNatyam, the duo of sisters, TRIO the Travancore Sisters.
Padmini ji and Ragini ji. Both danced to full limits, but i doubt since in this film there were directed by the dance director, choreographer.
Both the dancer wanted to please the god through their dance. Dance became puja for GOd. For hours i used dance at roof of our house at TYPE TWO, IIT Kanpur campus. All the neigbours were thinking me as a mad. few thought i had sex change.
As One uncle said there will be problem for your papa, if you do this. he would have to search a MAN for you for marriage?. or he also said who will marry you, there will be problem for your marriage. This uncle was my neighbor and that too I think hailed from Lucknow Kanpur area, where the NAUCTH had been famous from centuries. either in form of Nautanki or the tawaif dances.
He was most polite MAN in my neighbourhood, He died in front of me. irony was I was to witness his death.
He became very sick, i think there was some kidney problem. He was taken to Delhi. Owing to habit and nature of my father, i was forced to visit this uncle at Delhi, I dont remember but we had gone to Delhi for some work, thus once we were in Delhi, it was but natural that being a neighbour my FATHER found it as a duty, we had to visit this uncle. Thus in hospital we used to visit him. He was on dialysis. When we visited him, aunty might have thought that he is not neat and clean [i mean when visitor arrive mostly people try to make up their home to show off]. Aunty said will you stand and change your cloths. we did not know what instruction doctors had given to them or not. He had a heart stroke also that time. there was a tablet in his mouth. I came to know that in such cases they put a tablet in mouth???. Aunty took him towards the bathroom for changing the payjama. after few seconds aunty screamed loudly from inside the toilet. I think uncle must have collapsed but she must have tried to pull him up, but since his body became heavy she could NOT hold him up thus she screamed and called for my papa. My papa rushed towards toilet, and he brought uncle in his arms lifting towards the bed. Uncle had died the moment he was taken to bathroom. If he had a heart stroke What was need to change his payjama at that very moment. Next time his son was admitted in a hospital. But somewhere I still feel the trauma with I which I had gone through during the childhood. It has resulted in my stunt growth. also the UNTOUCHABILITY somewhere protected me from becoming polluted- young mind was saved from going hay……..
But now when I have reached 47 years of my life- I still feel VOID of that close friendship- I have few class mates but I still deep inside of me cannot say that they -my classmates- like me or not??? whether they consider me as a BOY or they consider me a HUMAN Being or not? Always a query keeps coming up in back of my mind… Why my classmates do not consider me as a human being and why they did not behaved with me NORMALY…. what was abnormal in me- If I loved to dance what was their problem- I was socially targeted. Whenever and where ever I used to go or walk I observed some curious eyes following and who ever met me always hinted or commented about my dancing abilities—– SO much so when I was in BSc while going to the bus stop at BANYAN tree in IITK Campus on the way few classmates sang the song – “Tauba eh matwali chaal” or some will sing “naatch meri bulbul paisa milega” I mean all sort of comments I heard in morning while going to attend my college. Some time I used to feel that why I should go in front of them these silly boys…but I could do nothing since only one bus goes to Kanpur city from IITK at 9.30 AM by which I could go to my college. But God knows when we all will DIE.