Rekha: how can we describe her??

On the eve of New year I saw on the Star Plus Channel that Rekha ji was honoured with LifeTime Achievement award at StarScreenAward Function held some time back.


Amazingly She danced at her old song with full vigour. (at this age) She was full of grace.


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Just saw a tweet about Rekha ji honoured with lifetime achievement award at a function named #SansuiColorsStardustAwards. it was presented by the Javed Akhtar ji and Shabana Azmi ji. How one can describe Rekha ji and her journey in films. She started as a novice and at very young age. Given the circumstances of family she had to act in films. it is heartening and sad that young teen was not given any option, she had to sacrifice all her freedom for employment.


As we know through media She had a troubled childhood. Now days media and internet has given opportunity to a seeker of information. But her immediate family must have struggled to survive in this harsh world.   She groomed herself and became a star on her own, she created a style. If i can say so she is evergreen glittering star.

She blossomed into a matured artists as evident from few of her films. Khoobsoorat, Umrao Jaan, Utsav to name few.

She created magic on screen. The other star which i liked before Umrao Jaan was Meena Kumari ji. I am a confirmed fan of Smt Meena Kumari ji. In childhood i epitomized her.

Her portrayal of emotions was superb on screen. Whenever she cried on screen i felt same and whenever she felt angry anguish or she felt pain, i also felt the same pain, such was the connection with her onscreen persona. She was a star bigger than the screen. She immortalized the roles she played/acted in films.images-49

But when i saw Umrao Jaan i was totally mesmerized by the sheer color, dazzling costumes, immortal music and more over the seriousness by which Rekha ji enacted the role on screen. Many times she herself had confirmed that it was UmraoJaan that discovered Rekha. Rekha and UmraoJaan became synonymous to each other. It was brilliance of Shri Muzafar Ali, the Raja of Kotwara that brilliance of Rekha ji came out so well on screen as Umrao Jaan. The film story, editing, music played the key role. And story itself was from my city Lucknow thus i became fan of the film as well.

It is really a mystery that how she has groomed herself from her first film to the present day.

in these years many opportunities came to her.

She carried her charm despite of UPs and Downs in life.


download-7download-8Each of these frames speak in volume about her skills of emoting. For that she got the award for UMRAO JAAN.



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4 then this film Utsav happened and for me no other star could have been more suited for this role other than Rekha ji.


in spite of good music well researched this film’s music could not spell magic as Umrao Jaan did. Though the songs bela mahka ri mahka dil kyo bahka and others were superb songs. But still i feel more music with dhrupad elements for dance could have been shown in this film as somehow this film centered around a courtesan. a dancer.09rekha6download-13download-14download-16download-17


NAVODIT 2016 at Port Blair, Andaman Nicobar Islands

Art has always fascinated me, particularly the dance. Now a days it is clubbed with performing arts. Do performing arts include dance, playing musical instruments, singing, plays-theatre etc? What about painting, writing, decorating home?

When I started appreciating arts at young age, I came to know few artists who were famous at national level; it was only due to the Doordarshan. That was the only channel and it was synonymous of TELEVISION. I saw Smt Swapna Sundari, Chitra Viswesaran, Alarmel valli, followed by Malvika Sarrukai, Prerna Shrimali, Veroniqa Azan, Shobha Naidu, Vanisri Rao, Charu Mathur, Malbika Sarkar etc they were called Young artist back then. Few were famous even more than few elder artists.

However young artists were always encouraged to show their talents at various stages, Yuva kalakar, Yuva Mahotsav, Sharadotsav etc.

Suddenly I saw a tweet of Ministry of art and culture stating that there will be a function at Port Blair named as NOVODIT. The department of Art and Culture Andaman Nicobar Administration is organizing in association with East Zone Cultural Centre on 25 November 2016.

I am a so called “art enthusiast” and I am very well known among few people and ill famous as a dancer.

Despite of well known in circle, I was not invited to the function. I mean I did not receive any invitation card. I don’t know whether there was any invitation card printed or not? But previous experience tells that I usually do not get invitation card. In some functions I had to plead with few officials shamelessly for an invitation card. Most of programs usually held free for public. But being in Government we often feel that if I get an official invitation then my social status seems to be enhanced.

img_9861But till 6 pm I could hold back myself, as the clock proceeded further I lost all resistance. After dropping my son for tuition class I just ran towards the venue, it was late though.

As I entered the auditorium with thumping heart I found Hon’ble Lt Governor of A & N Islands was addressing the gathering. Thus I felt some relief, and thought I am not that much late.

I was waiting for magic to happen. There was an  announcement that program will start with a song of folk singer from Bihar. Mr Dharmendra Kumar came to stage

Dharmendra Kumar from Bihar

He is a young artist from Bihar. He started singing folk Songs of Bihar. Then he sang a Purvi, poorvi? accompanied by musicians. These musicians hailed from Port Blair itself.

Sound was good with broad spectrum of octave, but somewhere it sounded that he lacked, what we call as   “Swar ki pakad” the mastery on swaras. But if he practices with a good guru, teacher then he can improve his art. img_9865

Priya Talukdar with her father

Another star of attraction was this girl named Miss Priyanka Talukdar. Her father Shri Talukdar has been teaching music in Port Blair for the last many years. I had met him back in 1998 when i was in Educatimg_9867ion Department. He worked as part time teacher then. But his efforts to teach students has bored fruits now after 20 years. The girl which we saw 18 years back is now performing on stage it was a good feeling.

She (Priyanka) sang a Tarana also. She rendered it in a simple way. But there is lot of scope for improvement. She has to get specialised training from some Guru at Mainland to hon her skills. her. Her स्वर  swar rendering is good.

Next was an item as they called it, the folk song of Bengal, but it was a Baul geeti, Baul songs by Dhanonjay Dhibar. He had a good powerful voice. But somehow he has to get into the true feeling of character of a Baul while singing.

He tried but as he himself said he was not able to dance as space was not enough in front of the stage.

As we know  Baul songs are soul touching experience. To feel, to touch that feeling we can not resist dancing on those Baul musical beats coming out of the ektara- one string instrument. I loved the songs of Partha Das. I had a HMV cassette of his Baul Singing.


But in present times singers use electronic guitars and other electrical instruments. Dhananjoy also used an electronic instrument

Next was the Bharatnatyam item. As they announced the word “item” it sounded as a tailored item. It was Bharatnatyam by Sumita Roy.

Many senior artists often complain that few modern parents come and ask to teach “items’ to their wards. That sounds awkward to senior gurus. Now a days it is fashion to present an item on stage, instead of Dance.

Coming to the present function this item was a “thillana’ as was announced. Thillana is same as Tarana in Hindustani. We perform Tarana in Kathak similarly thillana is performed in Bharatnatyam. But the present item was little bit confusing, as it was little slow in temper. Usually what I have seen in Thillana it happens to be most energetic item in whole dance program, or it should be portrayed such. But those crisp beats, gaps all were missing. I mean as far as the image which I had of thillana, this item was not upto mark to that image. But the “adavus” poses mudras were quite fine. Thus she seemed to be a serious student. Movements of eyes, head, hands were all quite good.


Next came a surprising dance program. I am sure not many in audiences must have heard the name of Gaudiya Nritya.  Years back I saw the Satria dance, on Doordarshan, which took shape in Shatras or Chatras,  the ashrams in rural Assam.

But Gaudiya Nritya even i have not heard before, may be say 2000? But due to efforts of few dancers from Bengal Gaudiya is now developing into a full fledged dance.

Often it so happens that we have many rituals and keep on doing since ages but do not know the significance of these rituals. I am connecting to the origination of such dances. So at various religious occasions in rural India people perform dance and sing songs, but keeping all this as just ritual things. And we know in India many dances are associated with the Temple rituals. Even #Kathak was performed by the Kathakars- loose meaning is story teller,  in temples. The subject of these stories were mythological. As it is believed the dance as we know Kathak Kathakali Kuchipudi are all evolved from Temple dances. Thus very recently this dance the Gaudiya also have been researched and being presented as classical dance of Bengal.  Present dance was performed by the Satabdee Banerjee.

Next was the Kathak dance performance by Debjaya Sarkar. I had been s student of Kathak since 1975 in class IV, when one teacher came to teach dance at our school in Kanpur. Debjaya shown her caliber in the tatkar and layakari ang as we say in Kathak. She has got training and taken it seriously that reflected in her dance. but still as we all know that abhinaya aspect takes lots of time to be perfected. And experience also teach lots of things as we grow up performing programs.  I felt she must have learnt someone who is from Delhi or from Kathak Kendra, as she perfrmed some tukras which belonged to the school of Lucknow gharana and more particularly of Pt Birju Maharaj ji. But now days students learn many things from many teachers thus we cant claim that student belongs to a particular style of dance? whatever they perform is what they are taught?

Next came a very nice and serious performance by Sayani Chakraborty. She perfromed lots of adavus and javalis with abhinaya. I dont know but the music was little bit seriuos type for the audience. Those who know something about Bharatnatyam could have appreciated her performance better. I feel in such type of programms, dance with energetic music could have done justification.

Next was a nice performance of Kuchipudi by the Students of Gauri Shankara classical dance academy, Port Blair. The dance performed by the artists was very good being very young still they shown good potential.






 there was very much appreciation for these young budding artists from Port Blair.

There was this camera from Doordarshan. I tried to peep in to see how they are recording? and captured this screen.


this frame came while adjusting my camera and in between clicking the button.img_9976


The director, Shri OM Prakash Bharati, of EZCC East Zone Cultural Centre prposed the vote of thanks.


In end, the Chief Secretary, A & N Administration presented the certificates to all the participants



Programme ended with hope to see such events in future also at Port Blair. As such programs are rarely seen in this remote part of India. Due to its remoteness from Mainland this part remains untouched from the experiences, experiments, innovations etc going on in the filed of Performing arts in Mainland India. Thus such programs with more frequency are needed at such remote place like Andaman Nicobar Islands.

Burgad- Banyan tree pooja? why? Vat Savitri?

बरगद  बरगदाही  वटपूजा Every year my mother used to keep fast on this day that falls in JUNE? this day is dedicated to  Burgad  which is called as vat in Sanskrit. in some parts of India  it is called Vat Savitri Vrat वट् सवित्रि व्रत all married women keep fast and do not take even water till they perform the pooja of Banyan Tree. savitri  This date or तिथि tithi falls in JUNE every years or few days earlier but one thing i found amazing is that,  it is always near to the #World Environment Day. When whole world celebrates the world environment day and on the other hand we don’t remember the Vat Savitri pooja day with same fervor as i found people mentioning world environment day on social media with a # hashtag? WHY?


I know this pooja has been there in our society since ages. I mean this is performed in India since many centuries. But how come it falls near the day on world environment day? I really don’t know? Why they have kept this day in June as World Environment Day?

बरगद (Bargad) the Banyan tree as world knows, is a symbol of longevity. It never dies.  This tree stands forever, often it lasts more than many generations of human. That’s why it is revered as the someone who Divine and lives forever. Thus all women seek blessings from banyan tree for longevity of their husbands and then sons. And only Banyan tree is competent to give such a boon? since itself lives many hundreds of year!!

Great Banyan Tree, Kolkata

Here comes the gender discrimination? Mothers seek for others and even for yet to come generation? Yes. Women swallow the bud of shoot or branches. it symbolises as the boon for a better healthy SON? I mean the next generation also is being protected by Mothers(to be). Then another symbol is that mothers or women (married) seek blessings for their life and seek that they live as a “suhagan” सुहागन- a married woman all her life. Silently they seek blessings to die being a married woman. That has connotation of the social stigma attached to the Widow women in the society?

they should remain married till their death? this is the extreme sacrifice of women and mothers.

Mothers wake up early before anyone in family wakes up. Specially Husbands and Sons. Daughters usually help their mothers and follow her.

Mothers prepare themselves so that they take up this ritual being or remaining as “PIOUS”. it is like penance more than anything else for our mothers. They have to fulfill the duties of households also. Mother & Father in-laws, Husband, Brother & sister in-laws, Sons & daughters in that order of priority in any usual family.   Mothers prepare food, clean houses, etc. Lucky are those mothers who get help from others and those who leave aside these for time being and perform pooja.

Poori पूरी , 12 balls of wheat flour are cooked and few other sweets. Specially the Gram  or some call it as black gram (chick pea) soaked in water or boiled are used. They go to any Banyan tree nearby  in their locality . There they perform pooja. Seek blessings from the presiding deity of that day the Banyan Tree,  who is evergreen tree that means she lives for infinity? They swallow the tender shoot apex of the tree.

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Bright fruit & shoot

Actually these are not edible as listed in the link (Banyan Tree click and read) see that shoot apex is not edible even then women swallow it? without complaining. that is the height of sacrifice of mothers, who do it for blessings of a good SON? who will support his mother in her old age?

Savitri is known all over India as a Goddess like figure.

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Savitri- Satyavan- debating with Yamraj

It has continued for centuries from generations to generations. Whether anyone is educated or uneducated, but they must be knowing about Savitri.  She has brought back her dead husband from the clutches of Yamraj the God of Death. Not many got this chance. She was a brave lady. with her determination, courage, wit, wisdom, persistence debated with the God of Death and then with her wisdom made god of death to return her Husband. It is a very famous story commonly known to all the households, who celebrate this day.

Banyan Tree has been an important part of our village life since centuries. It is needless to emphasise it. But in context of the present times when young generation is forgetting everything which is Indian then it is very important to repeat whatever we know? In age of #social media and when the #hashtag has become a method of making any statement, reading writing our old traditional stories is becoming meaningless? is it?  I had written earlier that we have been totally cut off from our roots, as we do not know our own language Sanskrit? Sanskrit a language, Sanskritee, sanskritaah and also History untold, re-told, historians revisiting their works  All or most of our treasure was written in Sanskrit. For the past 500 years or so we have been detached from our language Sanskrit. Do you know how many children feel happy while reading Sanskrit in their school. They think it as a burden? But Why? Why this perception has crept up in their mind? I largely put ourselves (Parents) at fault? but then they are also not to be blamed. In schools also the apathy is noticed towards learning of Sanskrit?

Tanna Island

The villages used to have a small hermit of trees nearby. What I am saying is that Earlier there was large green cover around villages and all other places. When population started increasing, that resulted in need of land. Most natural and easy way was to cut forest cover? Still there was small patch of forest left untouched in most of the villages. By tradition and belief they were considered Sacred. These small hermit of trees housed many varieties of trees and in return it housed flora and fauna.

Banyan tree like that of Peepal, Neem were always considered as sacred. Now scientifically we know that Peepal tree exhale Oxygen 24 hours? Thus if there are Peepal Trees that means morebanyan2 oxygen around us.  Most of the banyan4village weekly markets were held in some kind of hermit of trees. Most often big Banyan trees and encircling trees/shrubs offered best place to assemble.  I have seen many temples  who have these sacred trees in their vicinity.   images (53)

I have always liked the Banyan Tree which was there in the central place in our IIT Kanpur campus. Every one in IIT knew about that grand Banyan Tree. It was a big tree spread over a large area. Earlier two or three school buses used to stand under it. Students from Armapur and other parts of Kanpur city came by these buses to attend KV IITK. In free period we sometimes used to go to this tree. It housedownload (15)d many ant holes. I have almost learnt many biology lessons under it? strange? But true. It provided shelter to Squirrels, many types of birds, small insects. Few bird Nests were there. worms larvae etc all we could see there. As time changed this big tree together with its encircling patch of ground was enclosed by wire fence.

In many villages still there are few Banyan trees left. I have heard that people out of superstition do not keep Banyan, Peepal trees near to their residences? Why?  But it was true that earlier people thought these trees as sacred.

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Banyan roots as a tool of happiness
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Bright fruit & shoot





I have not read this book by R K Narayan yet?  this picture below right indicates that it is nice place to hold gurukul classes or Dance class or performance? as I dream it must have been there in Kalashetra, as dreamed by Smt Rukmini Devi Arundale in Adyar, Chennai? download (16)download (17)download (18)

There in Adyar also a big Banyan Tree was there, it was  of several years old?

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What has happened to Indian Sahitya?

Did you know that Bankim Chandra Chaterji wrote “Rajmohan’s wife” in English published in 1864?
With advent of English and English writers on the scene of Indian literary world with the awards such as Booker’s, there has been considerable increase in the number of Best Sellers, that too in English and in India and by Indian Writers. That is the point where trigger of Indian Literature scene has been catapulted. Today there was one hastag #1yearofSOI on twitter trailing or trending. I thought what has happened to our own Indian rich heritage of Sahitya?
Many years back I was waiting with lot of enthusiasm for a telecast on Doordarshan of award ceremony of Smt Mahadevi Verma ji. Iron Lady Mrs Margret Thatcher and Smt Indira Gandhi were there to give away the award. It was most contrasting and most amazing moment in my life. An English PM was there to felicitate a Hindi Writer and that too an Indian. It was in 1982? After that I have searched the photograph of that event I was not able to see it on internet? There were MoortiDevi, Jnanpith awards in all Indian languages, I think English was also included in it. Since that’s why Nayantara Sahgel and Anita Desai got awards for their works in English in India?
With the wining of awards by Arundhati Roy scene changed. Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kiran Desai also made news. Even as English writers I knew Nayantara Sahgel, Smt Anita Desai. But before that RK Narayan and MulkRaj Anand (purple or untouchable??) and also Ruskin Bond I knew.
Later Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathhi, Patnaik, Ira, few other are now Best Sellers?
But I was amazed that the works on SHIVA (and trilogy ?), RAM, Mahabharata, SATI, etc are the topics of best sellers, that too written in English.
Has our rich heritage of literature SAHITYA got set back? Kalidas, Jaidev, PremChand, Dwedi ji, Dinkar, Nirala, Mallikarjun, Renu, Nagar. I admired Krishna Sobti, Shivani ji, qurtulin Hyder, Ismat chugtai (though I read les of her works) Many more… do they have to be written in English to be known? Something has happened to our own languages and Sahitya?
It has to be thought while preparing the EDUCATION POLICY?

AdiBimb- a festival of Tribal dance, music & theatre

AdiBimb- this was a new name for me. I had never heard it. An ad in the Daily Telegram the daily news paper of Andaman Nicobar Islands told me that a program by this name is organised by National School of Drama, New Delhi. I would not have taken note of it, But the the name Ratan Thiyam caught my eye. I started reading the Ad from top to bottom. I read Each and every line, word by word. Such is the importance Shri Ratan Thiyam ji has in my mental space.

Years back when i heard about National School of Drama, few names used to come in front of eye. Nagpal, Tendulkar, Bavkar, Joshi, Kulkarni, Sunila Pradhan, Mohan Agase, L etc they were the actors usually i saw on TV. Then there were Habib Tanvir, Girish Karnad, Leela Naidu, Arundhati Nag, Ranjit kapoor, when Sangeet Natak Akademi gave award to Ratan Thiyam ji i saw it on Black &white doordarshan.

He was Director of National School of drama also. then almost he went to Manipur. Just like a rishi goes to Himayala for tapsaya. he went to Manipur.  There he established an academy i think. Later when this Jawaharlal Nehru Academy of Manipur dance was established and i saw a dance ballet based on the story of Manipur deer- loktak ?on doordarshan. Later i came to know that Ratan Thiyam ji has revolutionized the Theatre as such and not only the Manipuri theatre. He has utilized all the Manipuri arts in theatre. I also feel all these arts have deep relations within. Be it a performing arts, visual arts, etc names can be many. But at core all are depending on each other. Thus when a production or a project is presented then all the arts, Visual- light, sound, background, set designing props that comes under stage crafts, Music, Dance and drama, Traditional martial arts which Ratan Thiyam ji has used, Weaving-Textile-Fabric arts while preparing for costumes, make up, then comes the language-it is also very important in portraying the characters, if the language and dialogues are not chosen for a character then the identity, power-potential of certain characters dilutes.  In all these aspects Ratan JI have mastery. He has vision of his own.


Kathin hai dagar panghat ki- the Kawwali & sufism- As i see it

When i heard Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat ki sung by Respected Shri Habib Painter shaheb, i was spell bound. Instantly i watched whole episode telecasted from Lucknow Doordarshan. Though it was a black&whihabibte TV but the sounds made it full of colors. The anchor i saw in many programs. With his peculiar style he used to introduce and request featured artist to show few elements of arts.

That was the form of kawwali i grew up with listening. (i could never spell “qawwali” What is harm? any way?), But fact is that it is linked with Qaul,(kaul) कौल the utterance of the word for almighty or to speak. And one who utters or sings is referred to as qawwal, and what he sings is called qawwali? or kawwali for me. so simple, isn’t it. God has created all simple things.

I don’t remember, when i heard the word sufi for the first time. It must be in some textbook of History i think. Later in life as i grew up the word became much more bigger. But in Hardoi, traveling with my Nani ji i knew the words- peer baba, mazar, dargah, Tazia, jind peer, chaader, haj, aughad, even before i entered school in first class. There was a Sarai सरॉय, where i used to play whole day.

As the maturity increases, a child grows and becomes adult. Then he becomes a VOTER. Then a child becomes a part of neighbourhood, that pushes him further into a society. But in between, somewhere, nowadays, usually he grows up and wears a GARB, that is not original. While growing and transition from Neighbourhood to society, something called community creeps into his mind. This may be due to the influence of Family, relatives, or when as a grown up he mixes with other clan members outside that neighbourhood. Sometimes the neighbourhood of child itself forces the child to wear a GARb before his entrance into the Society. That time lots of Behavioural changes creep-in through mental space.

But i came from a mutli-cultural neighbourhood, that was IIT Kanpur campus. In 1973 i entered that walled campus of a prime institution of India. Which was established with the objective to promote industrial growth in the region -Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. Kanpur was already a CITY/town during British times-“Cawnpore”. It was a big military base also. It will be exaggeration if i say that it was a seat of first struggle of freedom or first war of independence. Manu- who is better known as Rani Laxmi Bai, Tantya Tope, Peshwa ji NanaSaheb, Azimullah, not to forget Azeezan Bai (Ajeejan Bai), all were there, the place was Bithoor and Nawabganj. I have a connection with Bithoor. One of my ancestor lived at the Maharaj Ghat in Bithoor. He became a sanyasi and later one of his son became priest of a temple at Maharaj Ghat, Why that Ghat was named as Maharaj Ghat, because that was built by the Peshwa who was known as Raja or Maharaj in Bithoor.

I spent childhood days in Hardoi, Unnao, Kanpur and Lucknow.  I got to see many things i.e peer, dargah, mazaar Tazia etc. Kawwali was also one such thing. But it was at IIT Kanpur campus itself that i saw a kawwali, at the Karamchari Sangathan Program(between1974 to 79). It was a duet, sawal jawab type between a female and male qawwal. Later as the night progressed it grew into heated exchanges.  The Male singer had to plead for his freedom and asked to let him go. I mean it was not a happy ending qawwali.

At KV IIT Kanpur our Principal Mr DS Bajpai always encouraged lot of cultural programs. Kawwalis were also held in school. As I grew, Later I saw these in Films. Bhoopali or Shakeela Bano of Bhopal was famous for film kawwalis. Kawwalis are known only to city dwellers today due to the films. i had seen a new wave during early 1990s, that time many tourism centric programs started featuring Kawwalis and gazal. Delhi tourism was one which i saw. They had a program at Qutub Minar complex. there it was regular item. There was a bus service from Coffee house of Canuaght place also to go to the Qutub Festival.

I do ask myself, whether the kawwali is sung in Iran, tooran, etc, etc faras(as it is known here)? I have not seen nor listened nor anybody told me. no TV channel shown.

Thus point is that whether Kawwali is of Indian origin. Quite possible the present form is of Indian origin. When invaders came to India, quite a few ruled and settled here in land of India, which they used to call as Hindustan, hind etc.     With them many people also migrated to this land. Few saints and highly educated people also came. When they came they saw for themselves the simplicity of our culture and traditions. Many saintly people understood the path of wisdom in culture of India. They settled here and adopted many traditions of India. Sufi in present form is one such tradition and rather it is a result of transition, i think so.

The “Sufi movement” not the sufi itself i am referring to, therefore was the result of the Hindu influence on Islam. Or shall i call it as Indian Sufi. This movement influenced both the Muslims and Hindus and thus, provided a common platform for the two. Though the Sufis were devout Muslims, but they differed from orthodox. While former believed in inner purity, the latter believed in external conduct. The union of the human soul with God through love and devotion was the essence of the teachings of the Sufi Saints. The method of their realizing God was the renunciation of the World and Worldly pleasures. They lived a secluded life. More often similar to Indian sadhus who wander around after renouncing all worldly attachments.

later while searching through google i learnt that, They were called Sufis as they wore garments of Wool (suf). Thus the name ‘Sufi’ is derived from the word Suf. They consider love to be the only means of reaching God.

The Sufis did not attach importance to ritual things. That is why they were misunderstood by orthodox muslims.  Same thing happened in Indian tradition also. Many saints Meera, Raidaas, Kabir, Guru Nanak all said discard all this showing off & worldly things. they all stressed on the inner purity and KARMA, do your duty. Sufi saints did not dis-regarded Singing and dancing but realised these as methods of inducing a state of ecstasy which brought one nearer to realisation of God. There were some leading Sufi saints like Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti, Salim Chisti we heard from AKbar’s Story, Hazarat Nizam-ud-din Auliya, Haaji Ali in Mumbai , Ajmer Sheriff – khwaja Gareeb Nawaj etc etc.

Since Sufi saints adopted the local traditions and local people found these sufi saint as one among them, within their villages and society.  thus Sufism got widespread in India. It also influenced many people in India. But I know that we as a villagers never grew “doubtfull” about sufis. One of the reasons i found that sufi lived in front of eyes of villagers We villagers were always in search of peace of mind and found the mystic around sufi and simplicity of their life style quite magnetic. all this was due to the inherent character of our villagers, who believed in the simplicity, high moral and righteous karma. there was a mystic element also which influenced the simple people. who thought Almighty in any form (sagun or nirgun) nirakar or akar is there and will help us.

If we talk about impact of sufi, then The impact of Sufism was that the common people got enchanted by the simple ascetic lifestyle of the saints. Their humanism and unique nature pleased them. People of all creeds, caste, and religion, be educated or financially sound all were drawn towards them.

It neutralized the Hindu-Muslim tension in society. Their belief in equality led them to protest against caste domination, consumption of alcohol, gambling & untouchability.  Sufi khankas became pillars of moral life.

I am always in praise of those great sufi saints. I totally forgot myself when I stepped in the Haaji Ali dargah in Mumbai. It has a great place in my subconscious. My parents were praying everywhere for a child. They also went to Haaji Ali. during childhood listening elder’s talk i got attached somewhere to such things. I went to Haaji Ali and the moment i heard those dholak and the voices singing in front of Haji ali ji, i was transformed and thought as if i have come to a different planet. Till the time you spent at the dargah you feel out of world. where nothing else matters the singer- the seeker and the almighty, no one else is there. There was  one famous song “Haji Ali” in FIZA Hindi film.?? I keep on listening it.

I went to Ajmer sheriff also, I tied threads in the jaali at Salim Chisti ji ki dargah seeking his blessing. It was told that don’t tell anybody else what you are asking Just tie that thread praying/asking silently. we went to Tajmahal, Imambara at Lucknow, chota and bara, Rumi darwaja??

I don’t remember how many times i have heard Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat k. But that was the supreme example of our own sufi kawwali. it has message for social integration. Habib Painter was a great performer. I read somewhere that he was actually working as painter initially but someone brought him towards singing.    Since whatever he sang was directly related to our language and our culture. That thing is must for any art to survive. Thus kawwali has survived all through centuries because it adapted to the local language and culture traditions.

Khusro1 I also found that the famous songs Chaap tilak sab cheeni re mose naina milayike….

and bahut kathin hai dagar panghat ki, both were created by a great scholar named as Amir Khusro- a name which is immortal in our indian tradition. See how great things he has created in the Braj Bhasa


There were few more artists whom i heard. Prabha Bharti was one. prabhaShe sang kawwali, but now i think she did not get the support from high-ups or the media. There was no visual media back then. But very often she must have felt forced to sing Maula Ali, maula Ali etc. Back then i thought why she sang Ali pra2ali etc. Actually she sang in Sanskrit also, if i remember correctly. She has peculiar movement of hands and she had different kind of eyes. I saw her on Doordarshan many times. Black and white. Doordarshan must be having recordings.

There were some film songs as well. Most poetic and romantic was in Mughal-E Azam. download (1) this was examplimages (1)e of subtle, romantic kawwali and download (2)one can say sufiana bhakti element was also, and rivalry inside of palaces is also reflected in it. As i dance on a song “Thade Rahiyo Banke yaar re” from Pakeezah, but it has the bhakti ras into it. Think as Radha or Gopi calls for Krishna and says “wait lord I am coming, let me do the decoration Shringar etc, let me be in a good shape and sight so that when i come in front of you, i must be appropriately dressed” etc etc.

there are many example of high powered kawwalis in films. Shakeela Bano is great name without which there cannot be any narrative of filmi kawwalis.

images (59) download (20) download (19)

Ab aajkal, nowdays i am seeing people are dancing on something called “Sufi Kathak”?? what that means?? Manjari Ji is famous for dance on this.

Does’t matter jab tak BHARAt hai tab tak Kawwali rahegi jinda.

ha3hab2 habib



Immortals- Can you name them?

In school days we used to read about Guru Rabindra Nath Tagore, one of the greatest luminaries of our land. Almost everywhere he has left his indelible mark. Earlier when there was no option for us to know what is happening in other part of India or world, we used to read books, news papers, or often who belonged to little well to do family used to listen RADIO, transistor. If they were little more wealthy they used to listen TAPE RECORDER.

In our school- KV IIT Kanpur there was a TV placed in library, Mrs Banerjee was the librarian. On the cricket test match days we used to get chance to see it. for whole day it kept working, telecasting the cricket match. one day i got to see Runa Laila. She sang her famous song. I heard the word “Bondhu re” these words remained in my memory. From then on i became a fan of Runa Laila. Dama dum mast kalandar etc She sang it all, Rabindra Geeti, Nuzrul geeti or Lalan fakir and all. Her’s was a powerful and soul-full voice that time.

Later DOORDARSHAN came in our life, Though Black and white but it did brought COLORS to our life.  We got to see many programs on the Birthday celebration of Guru RabindraNath Tagore and on his aniversary. I remember once there was a LIVE program from Kolkata. That day i heard my fav artists the Mohar di and Suchitra Mitra.  Mohar di was a name given to her, but she was Kanika Bandopadhyay. That was also not her original name. Kanika name was given to her by Guru himself. He called her Kanika. her original name was Anima(if i am correct?) 220px-Kanika_Banerjee_-_from_Commons   download (9)   I was lucky to hear Smt Kanika ji, popularly known as Mohar Di, and you know she was known as Ashram Kanya, the sound of this word tells a story andownload (10)d meaning attached to this word. She was truly a ashram kanya for people in Shanti Niketan. Shanti niketan was a true ashram. Guru himself had taught her, guided her. She was the luckiest. She was the most respected name in Rabindra Sangeet.

years later I bought few cassettes of Rabindra Sangeet. Her voice was superb.  On TV i saw Smt Suchitra Mitra singing Tagore songs, Rabindra Sangeet. She had a full throat voice much powerfull. How to compare these leading voices, 220px-Suchitra_Mitrait is not proper for me or us to compare. I am nowhere and nobody to say anything on their Sadhana. Yes, they were the people who took their art with  great devotion, they had devotion for their Guru and our rich culture traditions. Thus they are and will always remain in our memory. Suchitra Mitra was made Sheriff of Kolkata….

Then i bough a cassette “Aaj ke (or ei) Aanando o Sandhya” sung by both the stars, Kanika Bandopadhyaya and Suchitra Mitra. The unbelievable happened when two of the powerful voices sang together. When you listen to that song, it spells magic on you. The Taal beats the tempo is so powerful it takes over my body. Since i am a dancer thus i cannot stop myself from dancing on this song.  Though i am unable to understand Most of the words. Since it is in bengali.

I had Bengali word in me since childhood. I came to know that my mother had a subject as third language in her school and that was Bengali. Thus i have this bengali connection in me, i think from previous birth. Then at IIT Kanpur campus, there were many factions of Bengali Gaan. I came to know Mrs Snigdha, Mrs Chaterjee, Mrs Mukherjee, Mrs Chakraverty and all participated in musical programs in a big way. Later in life I also got chance to participate in Dance Ballet of Guru Rabindra Nath. I had seen Chitrangda, Shyama, Chandalika and many more. I got chance to act as Kotal (the Kotwal) in shyama and “Attana”.which is pronounced as “atano” literally meaning “without a body” that is “Kama” Kamraj. what a true word in Bengali they have for “Kam”. i liked the song “Mohini maya elo…” there are many more.





Mera inko sat sat naman