Journal : Dec 19, 2011 : 2.30 AM

From what I’ve been told, you’d conclude that I am an intellectual, philosophical… of fine, rather fine, sensibilities… deep, and even spiritual. I cannot take exception to any of those conclusions except that it’s not true, as I am. Not the whole truth.

 

I am, perhaps, joy… without a cause or reason.

 

Much is constantly projected about purpose… of this life, this world.

I find that the universe does not have one.

And we are never without purpose, as there are.

 

Absolute freedom from all purpose, I believe, coincides with our unity with the universe.

 

* * *

 

Delhi is cool at 8 degrees C, also the dew point. It is calm, without any wind. At 2.30 a.m. the night is half lit, with a 40% moon. And foggy, with humidity over 95% and visibility less than 50 metres. I had to light up the ‘ bidi ‘ stick twice.

 

Matters might heat up during the day, when the Govt will move the Food Security Bill despite reservations expressed by its own allies.

 

Also, Anna arrives.

 

Nothing remarkable otherwise. The intellectual poverty shows. Critical thinking is scarce. Dilip Padgaonkar rallies forth, in a TOI edit, for FDI in multi – brand retail. The Govt harps cluelessly on inflation fears. The Reserve Bank knows much of the solution lies in fiscal domain but will wait and watch. The Planning Commission will of course never disband itself. The Prime Minister has arrived after right noises made in Moscow. The UP election atmosphere continues to be charged with the lowest common speech. Most debates in media are loud, but charged with nothing. Some of the best discussions can be heard on Govt – sponsored ” Parliament ” TV channels.

 

* * *

 

Suhana, the one – year old baby of the maid, is down with severe cold. Earlier in the day, holding her to my chest, I could feel the wheeze. She smiled but weakly and showed little appetite. Even the mother, Baby, had wracking cough. So we told her off, lovingly, excusing her for the day. Get well, Suhana.

 

* * *

Did you know that the song Babul Mora, Naiyhar Chooto Jaey – a thumri, immortalised in K L Sehgal’s voice – was penned and composed by Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh ? A poignant rendering, with the heart – breaking occasion in background… the eve of banishment from his first love, Awadh, to Metia Burz near Calcutta, a 1000 km away.

 

A little more on Wajid Ali Shah’s connection to another immortal classic, Mohe Panghat Pe Nandlal Chhed Gayo Re, in Mughal – e – Azam attributed to Roshmila Mukherjee, and published in Filmfare 1994. Madhubala is unforgettable as Anarkali and her portrayal of Radha in the act continues to mesmerise movie lovers.

 

Surprisingly, the song was almost edited out. “ It’s bakwas… it’ll ruin the film,” thundered noted director Vijay Bhatt after the recording. “ Why show Akbar celebrating Lord Krishna’s birth ?”
Music director Naushad argued that with Jodhabai in the Mughal court, it wasn’t all that illogical. After discussions with the panel of script writers, a line was incorporated in the scene when Anarkali is being introduced to Prince Salim… a courtier was made to say “ Aaj Krishna janmashtami hai aur Radha ke liye Anarkali theek rahegi. ” The song went on to become the piece – de – resistance.
K Asif wanted the best choreographer for the song. Naushad suggested Lachchu Maharaj. And the great Kathak exponent burst into tears, the minute he heard the song. Asif was baffled. “ Why is he crying,” he asked Naushad. “ Tell him to start dancing. ”
Naushad took the dancer aside and asked him why he was weeping. Lachchu Maharaj confided that his father, Alkaji Bindadin, had been Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s court dancer. And “ mohe panghat pe nandalal, ” with the Nawab playing Krishna, was his favourite composition. “ Hearing the number after all these years, I was overwhelmed. It reminded me of baba ”.
It took Lachchu Maharaj five days to choreograph the number. His Radha, played by Madhubala, was lovely… but she was no classical dancer. So the camera would zoom in on the actress for close – ups and one of Lachhu Maharaj’s boys doubled up in the long shots.

 

Another piece of little known history… on every one of those five days, there was an important visitor from across the border on the sets – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the first civilian President of Pakistan who signed the Simla Pact after defeat in 1971 war against India and was later executed by President Zia ul Haq in 1979. He would drive down from Worli to Mohan Studio and spend the day in rapt attention, watching the song being picturised.

 

* * *

 

I’ve been meaning to write a few words about Jethro Tull, the classy ” mavericks ” on the music scene while I was coming of age.

I have also been meaning to write a few words about that great Hindi screen tragedienne queen, Meena Kumari, for the fullness in tragic emptiness her  life symbolised.

 

Both would have to wait… but it’s ‘ coming soon.’  I promise.

 

 

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