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Month: October, 2012

POV: Movie Review

When I joined Bachelors in Mass Media, in our second year, Understanding Cinema as a subject was something I had never heard about. We learned a lot in the subject as we watched various movies and understood the art behind them. One of my favorites was Kurosawa’s Rashomon. The plain reason behind this was the theme of the movie, it questioned the subjectivity of truth and how we as different individuals see it. What I liked more about the movie was that it criticized the human nature because we pick and choose the part of an event to suit our personality, being judgmental about the rest.


Kurosawa’s Rashomon

The movie when described in a nut shell is about human nature and the subjectivity of human nature towards truth. It is based during the time when Japan was in a administrative crisis and there was hardly any policing. There was plague, bandits, floods crop failure all during the same time. The movie opens at the ruins of Rashomon, a ruined infrastructure. It is raining heavily and a man (commoner) runs towards the building to take shelter and there he meets these two men. The story is between three men, a priest, woodcutter and a commoner. The priest and the woodcutter have witnessed a common incident and share the incident with the commoner to get think that they both could be missing out on something that the commoner would be able to point out, different perspective into the entire event. The commoner is very keen in knowing about the incident. The woodcutter builds up on the commoner’s anticipation and tell him that he hasn’t heard anything as grave as this. The story then goes about a samurai who was found dead by the woodcutter, his wife who has been raped by the bandit Tojamaru.  The story revolves around each of them (the dead samurai, his wife and the bandit) giving their description of the truth.

All the first versions of the story are made by the three principal participants, each showcasing completely different emotions, thought processes, and different visual effects in relation with their psychology. Tojamaru being a bandit displays himself as a masculine animal who doesn’t find anything wrong in forcing himself on a woman. He describes the woman in a very exotic manner and puts her across as very fierce and explains that this further enticed him to have her. He asserts his masculinity and kisses her for a time she does revolt but then is swept away by his passion and finally gives in. the woman then demands both the men to fight in her honor Tojamaru then describes that the samurai fought ‘very well’. This displays the stereotypical presentation of masculinity and its theoretical characteristics.

 The woman on the other hand displays the entire event from a very feminine stereotypical side. She presents herself as utterly feeble and helpless, the complete opposite of Tojamaru’s description. She defends herself by saying that she had no other option other than give herself to the hands of a savage animal (Tojamaru). She focuses more on her husband and less on the bandit. She describes how his husband gave her the look of rejection and a cold stare of disapproval.  She succumbs to the guilt and faints. When she regains consciousness she finds her husband and is terrified so flees from there in her grief.


The third version is by the dead husband in which he showcases that the story is about two men and the woman is just a mere part of it. He presents her as worthless and of no use to either of them. The husband proclaims that he did not die in a combat with the bandit but killed himself in his own honor. Unlike the previous two he tells the incident in a way describing about honor and self righteousness. He depicts the characteristics of a true samurai. He in a way stereotypes honor and self virtue.

Surprisingly the woodcutter reveals the last version as he was a witness to the actual event. He breaks all the connotations of the earlier version and describes the three participants were actually smaller then what they represented themselves. He describes both the men as cowards and scared of fighting. The woman was insistent on the fact that both the men should fight for her, making her a shrew.  Their fight is more about saving themselves from swords not to assert and kill the other until one the samurai loses his weapon and falls getting killed.

One may feel that this is the true version the audience and the listener should believe in but as soon as soon as the woodcutter completes his version all three men hear the sound of a baby crying. The woodcutter picks up the baby to keep him calm but the commoner tries to steal the clothes from the baby. In order to stop this, the woodcutter takes out the missing dagger and warns the commoner. The commoner gets the whole irony of the situation and laughs at the woodcutter for being a liar himself. The priest who was a witness to the whole evening looses all his hope in humanity. The woodcutter then asks for the baby but the priest so shaken refuses. Then the woodcutter explains that he already has six children and one more won’t make much of a difference. Hearing this, the priest apologies for losing faith and the woodcutter apologies for being self-fish.


 Kurushava has used the technique of framing (narrative framing) and framing-within-framing (core narrative). Kurushava since the time he had been making movies, has used weather as very important element in presenting the scenes and emotions related to the movie. Here in the movies in the opening sequence he uses heavy rain to show the turmoil and the unsettledness in the story. The opening shot he takes a long shot of the ruins and then takes up a close-up of the gate on which Rashomon is written. The framing narrative is the building up of the story by the woodcutter as he increases the anticipation of the commoner by telling him that this is the worst he has ever seen, here the commoner is surrogate for the viewer. All that the woodcutter tells him about his journey in the forest and his discovery is just a build up for the proceeding story. Kurushava has covered this scene with pan shots and photographic shots to give the viewer the best of the location. As the woodcutter finds the various objects which lead him to the body, the speed of the camera increases and the shot span decrease making the whole sequence all the more faster.

The core narrative starts when the three participants of the movie begin with their own versions of the story. The three begin with their versions and the camera is placed in place of the ‘judge’. It is the eye level, kept at eye level and here it plays the surrogate for the audience. The camera work for the bandit’s story is both fast and furious in the tracking as it tries to keep up with the bandit. The tracking shots are fast and pans are very swift. The fight scene is also extremely furious and brings out the bandits stereotypical masculinity. Kurushava has used light also as an element in the movies as when the bandit describes that the woman had fallen for him, both he and the women are shown in the brighter light but the husband is shown in the darker light at backdrop of the scene. In the woman’s version there is maximum zoom-ins on her face to show her helplessness and depicting her personality as the feeble feminine. She is shown in the natural glow of light while the bandit is hardly represented in her version. The main camera work which happens in her version is when she describes her husband’s cold stares and the camera moves between him and her. A very steady camera but the music used is very pulsating with fast beats. When she takes out the dagger and moves towards her husband, the camera doesn’t play the crucial role but music does. In the husband’s version, unlike the camera work used for the previous versions, there are long shots and lot of light. The camera is steady and still and brings out self-introspection of the samurai. The self importance of the samurai and his honor are presented very subtle. On the other hand his transformation (from the dead to the living) has abrupt and jerky camera shots. The viciousness and the anger in the husband can be seen in the close-ups of the character. In the end when the woodcutter takes the baby with him, there is a sign of hope and faith. In order to present it, the rain has stopped and Kurushava brings out a clear sky. The closing sequence is a zoom out of the rashomon gate just like the opening sequence.

The entire focus of the movie is on the metaphysical reality of the incident i.e how we as human know the facts but modulate them according to our convienence and there is no actual coverage on the reality of the incident. Kurushava brought human psychology into the theme. The focus of the entire movie is the way humans perceive themselves and the actual reality of their nature.



Why I Love Clichés

It was a normal November evening, humid and hot, almost 10’0 clock as I walked to the exit of the office building I was sure I had missed the last bus for station had left and so I looked around and found that none of the government facilities of transportation(read taxi) were available. I walked down the alley, wondering when the rain gods are going to shower their blessings as the humidity became unbearable. Well I am not that a great believer of God but during that very minute it started pouring, pouring like cats and dogs. It was within seconds that I was drenched from head to toe, using this as an excuse I remembered my mother telling me that you should be always careful of what you ask for; one may not know when the lords might be listening. Now was exactly when I understood what she meant by that. Cursing the rain and appreciating the waterproofing of my bag, I reached the common bus stand of the area. I inquired about the next bus to Civil Lines; it was due in another thirty minutes.
I took shelter under the bus stop. Like all writers have a habit to brood over issues, I thought about myself, a 28 year old young man, in a city like Mumbai working at a publication house and all he has in his life are books. The idea didn’t sound that great. I think so much of thinking was happening because of the pouring rain. May be it was because after a long time I could hear my own voice in the chaos around me. Rain, a man and his life. Sounds like a cliché. Well clichés became clichés because we love them so much. As I pondered into my own dreams, I didn’t notice a young couple coming and taking shelter just like me. They weren’t really drenched, may be they listened to their mother more often than I did. The girl looked like a post-graduate or something and the guy had to be a year or older than me. It looked like a complete book written scene, a dark and stormy night. The alley lit by just a dim street light. Perfect setting for a murder by a stranger. My editor keeps on telling me to apply my work into my life. I guess it really has started happening.
If I were to really apply my work to my life in the present surroundings, I would go ahead with few of my favorites. If this where to be a scene by Mario Puzo, like a typical Godfather scene. The man could be from the Corleone family and the woman would be his wife. She would be dressed in a typical long skirt with stockings and a wail. Her aura would be of a good wife, a woman who believes that her husband commands her life and her sacrifices where nothing in front of his but she would be a woman equally strong. The man would look like a walking bull, wearing a nice tailored suit depicting the Italian touch to it. A man of power, authority and command, someone who believed in himself. As a black limousine pulls in the alley the man looks at his wife, smiles and she gives out a sigh of relief. They both know that life has given them another chance. They have escaped death yet again. They both in a hurry like breaking the silence before the storm, get into the car and as the car gears to move, there is a loud screeching of tires and another black car pulls in. Gunshots are fired from the following car. The air boomed with the noises of speeding cars, gunshots and yell from both the cars equally. Both cars leave the alley in a fraction of seconds. Leaving the alley like nothing really happened in there. The whole scene gives a feeling that the mafia world in the 1950’s was aloof of all the rules and regulations of the administrative system.

Or if this where to be a scene from PG Wodehouse, the man could be Barty Wooster dressed in a neat pair of trouser and fiddling with his bowtie. The woman could be his fiancée breaking up with him telling him, “This will not work. I will cherish these moments with you but you can act quite like a blockhead. Well you are a block head.” Being the usual Wodehouse story, Barty in his 1920’s English would appropriately reply by saying, “Right ho then. If you are ought to give a heave-ho, pip-pip,Toodloo.” Then he would hail transportation for her and bend to open the car door for her. Make sure that she is seated comfortably and give the address to the driver telling him to drop her carefully. The alley would have been bright and it for sure would have been day time.

As I was day dreaming into the whole idea of a Wodehouse, I saw a very faint view of a tattoo on the girl’s hand. And then I wondered to myself what if this had been a scene from a Dan Brown, then I can totally imagine myself being a nosy parker and listening to their conversation. The girl would have had an unusual pattern tattooed over her hand and the man would be inquiring her about it. They would have been dressed like they are right now. Just if the scene were to be made a little more Dan brown-ish then the guy would be more dressed in tweed coat and would have been unaware about his good looks. The tattoo would have been at a very random place like in the inner wrist or on her ring finger. Then she would have told him about the story behind the encryption, taking a promise of never mentioning it to anyone as it was a secret to be protected by life, the secret organization had spent years and years in keeping the secret safe and if it comes out it’ ll destroy every existing belief, faith and tradition. Taking the clue from there the man would try to find out more about the girl’s murdered father and realize that he has very little time to save the world. Well not bad, it does sound like a stereotypical scene from the author. Living by my book world isn’t that difficult after all.

I was always told in my childhood that the job which you choose should have the requirement of your basic traits. Like for an astronaut should have the basic sense of physics and math, like a teacher should have the ability to be patient beyond belief, imagination is something I now realized is so important. But that isn’t the reason why I chose to be a writer; I was always a curious kid.

As I was growing up my mother told me that I had to look for a job in which curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Following my basic trait, I went up to the couple and thought I’ll break into a conversation to kill my curiosity and know who they really are. The couple gave me a warm welcoming smile. I went up to and introduced myself.
“Hi, the rain is really bad”.
The man got up shook my hand and said, yes it is.
They weren’t from Mumbai, that I was sure. The woman introduced herself as Nandini and the man as Raghav. They told me that they were theater actors and had come from Bangalore. I chuckled to myself that this is the irony, the people I was putting in so many situations where used to the idea of wearing different masks in reality. They were into street plays and had come to perform and conduct workshops about the art in Mumbai. As we started talking I came to know that they were a couple engaged. They had been in this profession for a quite some time. Observing them individually I realized that both did apply their personality to the work they did. They were versatile and very expressive. I realized what my boss had meant by applying my work in life.
In all the conversation I came to know that Nandini was a professional classical dancer and Raghav had been studding in the National Institute of Drama in Delhi. They seemed to quite an intelligent pair and highly dedicated to their work.
Raghav said, “We are performing at the Sophia Bhabha Hall this weekend. Why don’t you come and see us? To which Nandini added, “We’ll feel good to at least see one recognizable face in the crowd”. I smiled and told them that I would surely try. We shared good pleasantries about work and the cities.
By now the rain had stopped and the taxis came into clear view. They hailed a cab, exchanged e-mail ids and left. All by my own now I was thinking about the evening, the dark and stormy alley dint look so dark and stormy. The idea of being a 28 year old young man, in Mumbai working at a publication house with books all around him didn’t sound bad at all. I was just meant for this job. Delighted by my sudden discovery I saw the bus pulling in. I got onto it, and realized why I loved clichés.

Discovering BOMBAY, Discovering Journalism

Shruti Parmar discovers a little more of Bombay as two distinguished journalists-share their experiences

I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing two Journalists as part of  being a Mass Media student at Sophias’, both who have recently retired from full time Journalism. Firstly I spoke to Ms. Sunaina who has been a Broadcast Reporter for about 16 years with Doordarshan in Mumbai and secondly Mr. Bernard Imhasly, a Swiss national, who has been South Asia  Correspondent for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper and based in India   for more than 17 years. I was fortunate to be able to share in their knowledge, for even as they are completely different, in the true spirit of Mumbai and Journalism, I received a holistic perspective from both of them.

Both Journalists have a strong affinity for the city of Mumbai or Bombay as Mr. Imhasly preferred to refer to it as, because that is what it was to him. He said that like a person respects his history and the name his parents have given him, so is ‘Bombay’ reminiscent of the Portuguese and other influences, its history that must be respected.

(Note: I shall refer to the city as Bombay in this article.)

Both Ms. Sunaina and Mr. Imhasly agreed that Bombay has changed immensely. Ms. Sunaina wonders if it is the time constraints and growing technology has made it a less caring city. Mr. Imhasly on the other hand opines that the city has moved from its characteristic of being a port city, one that is welcoming and open to different things especially people. The city for him has become less cosmopolitan and more politicised.

From the varied experience that the two Journalists have had covering issues of National and International significance, they both spoke too us about the Bombay Riots of 1992-1993. Mr. Imhasly told us about being in Ayodhya at the time of the demolition and coming  to Bombay to cover the Riots. He talks about standing in the balcony of the Shiv Sena supremo’s bunglow as the city was burning, only to find the man sipping beer, completely relaxed and happy at the work of his boys. The city lost all that it had stood for in those Riots. While recounting the work of starting the Mohalla Committees by Inspector Julio Ribeiro being crucial to mending the city’s diverse fabric, Ms. Sunaina told of how she saw a caring aspect of the city in a middle aged woman distributing vada pavs to the over-worked policemen, very courageously during that tense time.

One learns a lot of lessons in having had a career like Ms. Sunaina and Mr. Imhasly. Mr. Imhasly told us that facts are sacrosanct and that we have a greater responsibility towards them as the time pressure increases in modern journalism. He told us that as a reporter our duty is to fight clichés – iconoclast  i.e. to break pre conceived images and attitudes, to understand where stereotypical behaviour come from (poor civic sense of Indians due to the high division of labour, our circle of responsibility has shrunk). To not become part of the story, but have a physical and time distance from it, to be a clear observer (unlike the 26/11 coverage). He also said that if one is not careful, one can become quite cynical in this  profession, as one routinely sees misery, violence, cunning and dishonesty – one can lose faith in human nature. However the human dignity that one gets to see may also develop a certain compassion within us that would balance the repetitive view of most situations.

Ms. Sunaina, asked us to stay away from armchair journalism; to go , see, feel and understand the situation, differentiate it from a non situation, transport the readers or the audience to the location/ situation and therefore, to tell a good story. When we asked Ma’am if Journalism is a worthy profession she summed it all up in one shrug, “Heck! It’s the only way to live!”

Communalism in the financial capital of India, and guess what…? Through newspapers

Wikipedia defines Communalism in South Asia as an attempt to promote religious stereotypes between groups of people, identified as different communities and to stimulate violence between those groups.

India, a country with people belonging to multiple religions, living in various regions of the nation, defines communalism in two categories. Modern India suffers not only from conflicts based on religious communities but also between people belonging from the same religion but from different regions and states. Political parties with manifestos based on religious grounds, plays a vibrant role in invigorating, suppressing and motivating Communalism.

Communal violence has been appearing frequently in the history of India. ‘History repeats itself’, can be used as a phrase for communal violence in India. Whether it has been partition of India, Gujrat riots, 1992-93 riots, Babri Masjid violence, and assassination of Indira Gandhi, ethnic cleansing of north Indians from Maharashtra, issue of Mumbai as capital between Gujrat and Maharashtra, India has seen both types of communal tension for years now.

Media means medium. A medium through which message can be spread across a large number of people. Unlike America, newspapers still occupies a major part of mass media in India. Regional newspapers in India reach to all those people who don’t even watch television. These newspapers have played an important role in achieving independence from British and have highlighted various issues, which were not taken into consideration by the mainstream media.  Therefore, it holds a great amount of respect among majority of its region. It has been seen that owners of these newspapers comes from political background, which restricts the ethics of journalism and makes the news biased.

Saamna is a Marathi/ Hindi language newspaper owned by the Shiv Sena, a right-wing Hindu party in Maharashtra, India. The Chief Editor is Bal Thackeray. The Executive editor is Sanjay Raut. Saamna is also considered as Shiv Sena’s mouth piece as it spreads party’s agenda on a larger scale.

Saamna has been a controversial newspaper for its editorials, published during Bombay 1992-93 riots. Due to its ownership, its agenda becomes very problematic because it does not just carry biased reportage against the minority community but also against north Indians who comprises people from both majority and minority communities. Therefore, in a way their agendas keep on changing on the basis of their political stand during a particular situation.

These are some of the editorial headlines published in 1993 against the Muslim Community, which clearly depicts newspapers biases.

“Burning Pyres”, January 11, 1993

“They Were Turned Into Lambs”, editorial, Saamna, January 14, 1993

“Behrampada Reverberates to a Maha Aarti”, report, Saamna, January 21, 1993

 “Hindu Pride Must Be Upheld: The Country and Hindu Dharma Must Triumph”, editorial, Saamna, January 23, 1993

“Keep the Nation Alive”, editorial, Saamna, January 9, 1993

Today in 2012, the newspaper seems to follow a particular pattern while addressing any news element related to this community. Recently there was an article in the Saamna Marathi, Mumbai edition about an attack on American consulate in Libya. The headline of the article was, ‘Dharmadh muslimanch hallyatt americi raajdootsah chaar thaar’. First rule while referring to communal conflict based on religion is to not name the communities. Whereas Saamna clearly mentions it. They could have written ‘Libiyans’ instead of ‘Muslims’ or secondly they could  have said that ‘attack on American consulate in Libya’.

They refer to Muslims as Pakistanis on various occasions. They make subtle statements in which they directly or indirectly make offensive comments.

They also have very biased/negative reportage against Pakistan. Anyone who does anything related to Pakistan becomes the target of Saamna.

Moving on to the other category of communalism as mentioned earlier, Saamna seems to have problems with people coming from other states in Maharashtra for work, especially with people coming from Bihar and UP. In one of its article, published in Saamna Marathi, Mumbai edition, carried a headline saying, ‘7 Biharina Kurla yethhe shastrasathayasahe atak’. The article focuses on the word Bihari. The piece was trying to indicate that all criminals are from Bihar. The article could have simply stated in the headline that ‘seven people have been arrested with illegal weapons’ and later in the story it could have talked about the place they come from.

On regular basis, one can find instances of these biases in the newspaper. And its connect with the past editorials. Headlines are very offensive.

Is media the fourth pillar of democracy? What is the role of media in democracy?

India has been facing communal violence since ages. Media has set certain principles of reporting communal issues. As per the rule facts should be sacred, reporting should be comment free, have both sides of story, facts should be rechecked and the most important of all is never name the communities involved. One cannot ignore the fact that these are not enough when reporting any sensitive issues but yet useful. Reporters are asked to follow some guidelines, which include looking for background details, not perpetuating stereotypes, to find residents where both the communities live together and most important of all is to find stories where both the communities have been found supporting each other.

After referring to Saamna, one can clearly say that media has not been following these rules. And media does not act as the fourth pillar of democracy. It would be wrong to judge all the newspapers and news channels based on one newspaper but it is unavoidable that media is not successful in adopting these rules and the consequences are the continuous communal violence in the country. Media, which caters to a larger audience should not forget the basic journalistic ethics and should not get blindly influenced by the agendas of political parties. In case of Saamna, it becomes a little problematic; because it is owned and edited by the chief of a political party who has hardcore agendas but media is supposed to be a watchdog in democracy not a pet dog. Media is owned and dominated by its corporate connections but one cannot forget that communal conflict is a matter of concern not only for the government and the people involved but also for the entire nation and the world because its violence destroys everything and it is a matter of national concern in terms of security.

Tribute can never be late


Millions loved him

Millions admired him
He gave
Juvenile a new look
And romance a new face
That Rajesh Khanna joins
destiny’s ultimate pace

His amiable smile and bright eyes
had assured us a hero never dies

Though you have gone
but a great job you’ve done
those who were dejected and at variance
you show them floral beauty and fragrance

Be it a matter of three hours only but
it bolstered many who were lonely…

I hope
You will come again among us
With a new face and on newer dusk..! 

   Bharat Mehru

Dialogues, which created treasured moments…

Babumoshai, zindagi aur maut uparwale ke haath hai jahanpanah. Usse na toh aap badal sakte hain na main. Hum sab toh rangmanch ki kathputhliyan hain jinki dor uparwale ki ungliyon main bandhi hain. Kab, kaun, kaise uthega yeh koi nahi bata sakta hai. Ha, ha, ha.’

‘Zindagi Badi Honi Chahiye, Lambi Nahi Babu Moshai’


Maine tumse kitni baar kaha hai Pushpa, mujhse yeh aansoo nahi dekhe jaate. I hate tears.’

He gave a new meaning to expressions…


Rodney Dangerfield, an actor once said, “Acting deals with very delicate emotions. It is not putting up a mask. Each time an actor acts, he does not hide; he exposes himself.”

His expressions secretly depict his life story, which is said and narrated a number of times but  yet not understood.

To understand the charm of Rajesh Khanna, was something totally out my reach but it was the year 2003, when Karan Johar’s film ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ was on its way to release. This was the first time when I heard about ‘Anand’, Rajesh Khanna’s epic film. In an interview, Karan Johar was asked, whether he has taken the script of his film from ‘Anand’. To this, he answered “it would be a privilege to call my film, remake of ‘Anand’, but I don’t think I have even touched the eminence of Kaka’s film”. This was the time when my curiosity to know about the actor started with the notion that how can an actor be more awesome than Shahrukh Khan!

With the coming of audio films, era of silent films came to an end. Dialogues here played a significant role and became the key to success for these films. Writers often try their level best to write powerful/ effective dialogues but one cannot forget that an actor is the one who makes these dialogues classic. Rajesh Khanna, the first superstar of India was among those who changed the face of Bollywood cinema with his influential dialogues and his trademark expressions.

According to Readers Pick of Rediff Movies, ‘Wolf-whistle moments are made of dialogues especially when conveyed by a proud, unwavering Rajesh Khanna. With his head slightly tilted, nodding on cue, smiling or sombre and a voice that felt like a mix of velvet, mint and silver, Rajesh Khanna produced some of the most effective lines of his career.’

Today when he is not among us, the only thing that can give a glimpse of Rajesh Khanna, is his movies and a critical observation also allow you to see his characteristics. ‘Anand’, a movie that, created a hallmark in his career also gives you a slight hint of Rajesh Khanna’s background. Here in this movie, he is an orphanage, victim of partition (lost his parents) which is very similar to his own story.

Jatin Arora (earlier name) was the man who could bring his audience into his character’s world.  His birth is a bit controversial because it is not clear enough where was he born. It is assumed by Indians that he was born in Amritsar but according to his followers in Pakistan who gathered near a house in the sleepy town of Burewala near Faisalabad, paying tributes to the departed actor at a place where they say he was born in 1942 in December. (Mentioned in an article, ‘Pakistan town says Rajesh Khanna was born there’, Times of India, dated July, 20, 2012) He was adopted and raised by his foster parents – Chunni Lal Khanna and his wife Leela Wati Khanna after his father migrated to the holy city, Amritsar. This detail of migration puts weight on the succeeding aspect. His foster parents were the relatives of his biological parents. There is no detail of his biological parents, what led to the adoption? These are the questions, which remains unanswered about his life. However, it gives a hint about his personality. Can this be the reason behind his ability to bring so much of emotions in his acting?

According to an article of Ndtv movies ‘In birthplace Amritsar, relatives remember Rajesh Khanna’, foster brother of RK said here, “He used to love to play cricket when he lived here. He was a simple boy when he lived here and led a simple life even after achieving so much”.

The word migration seems to be constant when it comes to Kaka’s life. His foster parents migrated to Saraswati Niwasin Thakurdwar near Girgaon, Mumbai. He studied at Sebastian’s Goan High School, Hill Grange High School and passed out in 1959. Later he went to Wadia College of Pune for two years for his bachelors but ended up in KC College. Every individual is born with some talent and it starts flourishing when given an opportunity. Khanna progressively started giving attention in theatre and did a lot of stage and theatre plays in his school and  during college days and won many prizes in competitions.

Before joining the film industry, his uncle changed his name from Jatin to Rajesh, love and affection from his friends and relatives gave him the title, ‘Kaka’. In an article of Times of India, ‘Rajesh Khanna’s lesser known facts’, July 18, 2012, an interesting point comes out, which says that ‘his foster father initially didn’t approve of his foray into films.’

He was a rare and yet strange newcomer who used to go to theatre and studios in his MG Sports car. The most normal way of looking at this aspect is, he came from a strong financial background but there is another psychology behind using sports car. According to personality theories, people who are fond of sports cars are risk takers and showy.

People like Rajesh Khanna really sets examples for how talent hunts are efficient in finding talents. His path towards bollywood was visible when he won the All India Talent Contest organised by Filmfare and United Producers, and acted in Chetan Anand’s Aakhri Khat the very next year.

Most of the big stars of bollywood could not do very well in their initial period for example Amitabh Bachchan, Shammi Kapoor, Shahrukh Khan etc. Likewise Kaka’s actual stardom started after his romantic film ‘Aradhana’.

To understand a movie actor, it becomes very important to have an overview of his or her movies. In a way, it defines their view of the world. Like in case of present day leading stars, Aamir and Salman do completely different genre of films. Rajesh Khanna did 163 feature films of which in 128 films, he  played the role of lead protagonist and he appeared in 17 short films. Films that an actor does act as an image in front of the public. It is entirely on an actor to choose the kind of movies he or she wants to do, based on their comfort zone, where they want to be and this is the reason why one becomes a superstar and others do not.

When you look at his movies, specially the continuous 15 hits that he gave, starting from ‘Ittefak’, where he his playing the role of Dilip Roy, a painter ,who is being tried for murdering his wife.

Moving towards ‘Aradhana’, here he had played the role of an air force officer. Smart, Handsome, Dashing, good-looking guy. In other words a “Man in uniform” is considered the most elegant, well mannered and chivalrous.

In ‘Kati Patang’, he is the one who falls in love with a woman who is seen as an imposter in the society but Rajesh Khanna falls in love with her.

‘Sachha Jhutha’ is a film where Rajesh Khanna is an innocent villager but gets into trouble because he looks very similar to a crook.

‘Anand’ is the movie that can force anyone to fall in love with Kaka. Here he is a man who doesn’t have any family, lover left him, got married and saddest of all is he is suffering from incurable cancer but despite all this he is full of life and values the importance of it. He is very helpful and caring but one cannot run away from the destiny and he ultimately dies.

Bollywood is known for making animal affectionate movies and when Rajesh Khanna featured in ‘Hathhi Mere Sathhi’, he became the favourite of children.

Similarly when you look at ‘Amar Prem’ and ‘Bawarchi’ and so many others one can feel a very positive vibrant. However bollywood follows a similar pattern and entirely focuses on entertainment. Rajesh Khanna chose to do movies that focused on breaking the cultural norm of bollywood and yet entertained. (Like falling in love with a servant, falling for a women who is seen as imposter etc)

The way he brought romance on screen, the chemistry that he built with his co-actors is rarely seen in any films even today. It was so natural that millions of girls went crazy for him. This ability does not just come within an actor just for the sake of it; it comes from personal life experience to some extent. Love was not just a major part of his life but it was an unstable part that was never stable and even after his death, his love life is surrounded by controversies.

‘Anju Mahendru – Why She Broke in to Tears for Rajesh Khanna’, an article on, talks about Kaka’s very first affair with Anju Mahendru, and says, ‘Rajesh Khanna dated actress Anju Mahendru for around seven years. They broke up in 1972 since, apparently, Mahendru wasn’t ready for marriage. Anju Mahendru, who broke in to tears while Kaka was cremated. There are rumors that when Kaka died his hand was in Anju Mahendru’s hands. However, have you given it a thought why Anju was so concerned about Kaka? It’s because she was his old lady love. Rajesh Khanna and Anju Mahendru were in relationship for 7 long years, but, they were not able to convert this long courtship into a lifelong relationship. The reason behind this, as the sources say was the bold and open nature of Anju Mahendru. Rajesh wanted to marry Anju but she did not. The differences resulted in conflicts. In the mean time, his closeness to Dimple increased.’

An article in, ‘10 lesser known facts about Dimple Kapadia, Rajesh Khanna’s marriage’, says that ‘Rajesh Khanna met Dimple Kapadia when she just had a break up with Rishi Kapoor. She was single at that time and was Rajesh Khanna’s huge fan. Rajesh Khanna married Dimple, who was 15 years younger to him, at her father Chunnibhai Kapadia’s family bungalow in Juhu, in March 1973. Dimple was fondly called Dimpy by Rajesh Khanna and Dimple used to call him Kaka. Rajesh Khanna and Dimple lived separately but they never got divorced.’  Rajesh Khanna once said, “I still love my wife”.

Thirteen days after Kaka’s death, Dimple Kapadia came for his funeral. (‘Rajesh Khanna’s death’s thirteenth day, Dimple makes it’, article in In addition, another point that comes out about this affair is that Rajesh Khanna did not include Dimple in his will.

Mid Day in its article ‘Rajesh Khanna and his women’, dated July 19, 2012,  Tina Munim entered his life soon after he and dimple were separated. Though she was half his age both did several movies together and their on-screen chemistry proved to be successful. This made them come close and soon they were romantically involved. Unlike other couples, they never tried to hide their relation. They rather announced that they were so much in love with each other to the extent that they even shared a toothbrush., in its article, ‘Why Tina Munium left Rajesh Khanna’, doubtfully mentions that Tina wanted to marry Rajesh Khanna but as he could not get divorce from his wife, Tina left him.

The last controversial affair of Rajesh Khanna with Anita Advani is still under the court of facts.

The most common angle one will take while looking at this facet of Kaka, is in a negative way but one cannot ignore the fact that none of his relations lasted till the end. None of his lovers stayed with him till his last breathe infact   they all abandoned him.

Continuous affairs, states one thing very clearly, that he did not want to stay alone in life. His loneliness brought several people close to him.

The way he enacted his songs gave rhythm to romance.

“An actor must interpret life, and in order to do so must be willing to accept all the experiences life has to offer. In fact, he must seek out more of life than life puts at his feet.”
By James Dean

His personal life had a great role in influencing his professional career. His competence in romance was not something he had adopted from anyone. This depicts importance of love in his journey of life. He presented what he had so strong within himself.

He created magical chemistry with numerous actress.  Mumtaz and Rajesh Khanna gave eight hits and mended history in bollywood. Actress like Sharmila Tagore, Asha Parekh, Zeenat Aman were behind his success as a romantic actor in 70’s.

Singers are the soul mates of actors specially when it comes to bollywood. Super hits songs not only bring stardom to an actor but also reflect his or her ability to feel the essence of words written in the song. A new wave of expressions was introduced by Kaka not only through his acting but also the way he presented emotions filled in the words of songs.

Duty of an actor is to act. How does he or she enact that it makes them so outstanding? The extent to which an actor is capable of depicting reality determines his or her quality of acting.

An article of, based on Rajesh Khanna life by a columnist states that, ‘Khanna found his own status challenged even as he gave 15 big hits in a row. While still 31, he told Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the maker of ‘Namak Haram’, the Indian version of Richard Burton-Peter O’Toole star-studded Becket: “My time is up. Amitabh is the superstar of tomorrow.”  It was a rare moment of modesty.’

Directors generally portrayed him as a middle-class hero. They always projected him with melodical and fictional aspiration. His relation with his crewmembers on set was not very likeable. His attitude was a major problem. They did not appreciate his sycophantic allies a lot. Continuous change in behaviour, coming late to work and ego clashes with other stars became one of the most prominent obstacles that came in his way.

Rajesh khanna through his this charm won the hearts of many. At the end of the day, one cannot forget that films are forms of entertainment. One single face in bollywood cannot survive for long. The super stardom of Rajesh Khanna was inconsistent. It did not last for long.

Awards and actors are related to each other as if an actor is not appreciated for his act through awards then he is not considered as an impactful one. This tragedy is evident when comes to Kaka, as he was never recommended for any national awards for any film nor for any of his public work.

His stardom as a romantic hero came down with the introduction of Rishi Kapoor. Within the short span of two years (1976-1978), four films of his were able to make it to box office but the rest 9 films flopped surprisingly but the critics valued his performances and the film’s music and hence his flourishing run at the box office was broken.

One of the reasons for his downfall is also considered fall of his good person image. His marriage with Dimple Kapadia was often seen as an outrageous decision or one can also interpret  as a spontaneous decision.

He later came up with many movies, which brought stardom back to him, but not that one which he had seen earlier. His latter movies include  AmardeepPhir Wohi RaatBandish, Thodi si BewafaiiDardKudratDhanwanAshanti (1982 film), AvtaarAgar Tum Na HoteSoutenJaanwarAsha JyotiAwaazNaya Kadam, Hum DonoBabuAaj Ka M.L.A. Ram AvtarShatru, Insaaf Main KaroongaAnokhdid Rishta,NazranaAngaareyAdhikar (1986),AmritAwam (film) (from 1979–1991). These sort of films did not woo the audience like the way it did earlier mainly because of same plot , same  ideology behind films. Time was passing and the style of bollywood was changing. An actor can only survive those changes when he or she change themselves along with change and adapt the varieties it brings with itself.

Risk is something on which all our actions depends. Rajesh Khanna came back with Amardeep and then again started giving many critically acclaimed and commercially successful films starting from 1979 till 1991. Balaji wanted to set up himself in Hindi film industry as a producer and thereby wanted to remake his Tamil film Sivaji Ganeshan starrer Dheepam in Hindi. At a time when Khanna’s films were not working at the box office, Khanna got this film out of the blue and went on to become a big hit. In the 80’s his films opposite Tina Munim, Hema Malini, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil and Poonam Dhillon were big hits.

India as a country is very political in approach. Rajesh Khanna, once a leading actor of the nation joined politics. In the same article of News Straits Times, it is mentioned that, “he was Congress star support against Bachchan, who had fallen out with then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Khanna was fielded in the 1991 parliamentary election against opposition stalwart L.K. Advani. Women thronged to vote Khanna. After a big shock, Advani won by a paltry 1,589 votes. Khanna later defeated fellow actor Shatrughan Sinha. But he contributed little to Parliament beyond his “charming presence.”

Rajesh Khanna was modern like Devanand. But he couldn’t use his modernity in politics.

Acting is a profession, which involves life longing controversies and never ending contradictory statements. Rajesh Khanna was not aloof from this and as recent update on him states doubtful facts about him. An actor cannot stay a super star forever but Rajesh Khanna will always remain the first ever superstar of India. He fought his battle till the time he could. It was the era that changed, choice of people shifted. He did movies, which he could do as an actor. When Amitabh Bachan emerged as an angry man, Kaka didn’t accept the proposal made by Hrishikesh Mukherji because he knew he wouldn’t make up to Amitabh Bachan’s level and one can understand this is how a film industry works. (An article of, based on Rajesh Khanna life by a columnist states that, Khanna found his own status challenged even as he gave 15 big hits in a row. While still 31, he told Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the maker of Namak Haram, the Indian version of Richard Burton-Peter O’Toole star-studded Becket: “My time is up. Amitabh is the superstar of tomorrow.”  It was a rare moment of modesty.)

A single actor cannot play various types of role because all of them are not his cup of tea. In addition, for how long audience will admire a single genre of films. Everyone needs variety. Rajesh Khanna was an actor of 70s who showed people what was appreciated by people at that point of time. With time audiences also change, they are not the same one.

History of films states that films were to allow people to move away from their daily life that were so full of tragedies, tension, and grief. Rajesh Khanna was an actor and his prime duty was to entertain his audience, which he did to the fullest.

He had a mysterious and controversial personal life. Impact of which can be seen in his professional career too. Stability was never seen in his entire life. On July, 18, 2012, Rajesh Khanna said, “time ho gaya, pack up”, these last words reveals a lot about his personality. Films were an eminent part of his life because it was a medium for him to send a message across us. Ups and downs of his life may portray him in grey shade but it did influence him and gave him the talent for which he was admired that most: his emotion filled expressions, ability to deliver dialogues which made those moments classic and the amazing on screen chemistry.

‘Zindagi Badi Honi Chahiye, Lambi Nahi Babu Moshai’, one of the most famous dialogue of Rajesh Khanna now can be used to describe his own life. He died at the age of 69 on 18th July, 2012. His weak, pale body had already given up hopes. Liver infection became the cause of his sudden death. Kaka would have never thought that his dialogues and the plot of his films will be used to describe his own tale. Films are like the mirror of society. His film,‘Anand’ shares some similarities with Kaka’s own life story. Anand(character) died because of cancer in the film but left the world with many reasons to live life happily and likewise Rajesh Khanna left the world with so much to learn from him. He made his life big, big enough to be learned from.

“I don’t want to die before dying,” he said in Safar. Mahendar Ved in one his column quoted Rajesh Khanna and added, “that lonely grit sustained through personal and professional fluctuations. He has departed, like the era he represented. Nostalgia remains.”

Today when I think about, how someone can be more awesome than SRK, then I feel stupid of myself because I know it is not about being awesome or great, it’s about how one depicts different things in different manner.

Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaye, Sanjh Ki Dulhan Badan Churaya, Chup Ke Se Aaye, Mere Khayalo Ke Aagan Mein, Koi Sapno Ke Dip Jalaya.

I know life is ending; bride like beautiful death is approaching, slowly.

I want someone to bring a hope in my life also, which can allow me to live more. No one wants to die but one cannot ignore death, the ultimate truth of life.

Unnati Maharudra


Of Idiocy and Idiosyncrasy.

In the after-math of what happened on October 7, after the West Indian team broke into an impromptu dance after winning the Twenty20 World Cup finals against Sri Lanka. Didn’t it remind us of a style of dance which recently got viral? Here it is.

I am never the kind of person who keeps herself updated about the recent video which has got viral, or the most trending event/ personality or even an idea. I am always one of those who gets this information last. Either through friends, newspapers or sometimes through bulk SMSes sent by cellular companies, making an offer to facilitate downloading the videos.

That day, while I was in class and doodling in my notebook, I wondered why I should be the last one to know about yet another video which just got viral. The thought wasn’t random, of course, and I kid you not it was indeed triggered by the Psy-Gangnam style video which has now crossed over 400 million views on YouTube.

PSY doing Gangnam style

A video going viral on YouTube isn’t a new phenomenon. One must have heard about Kolaveri Di and Rebecca Black’s Friday. And even Justin Bieber who made a fortune after being picked up from YouTube. But this Psy Gangnam had created a maniacal trend amongst all my hostel- mates. And I wondered why. Back in my college hostel, the song was even played and danced on dandiya night and would be surely performed even on college’s annual day. Yet, I hadn’t known of it until a batch-mate of mine forced me to watch it.

 Unusual yet funny steps, a portly man reiterating Oppa Gangnam Style, and K-pop song lyrics which made no sense to me, were some of the stark characteristics which stood out. I watched only half of it. Not quite intrigued by the video, I did not seem to amuse my friends who already were intensely captivated by Psy’s moves. And suddenly, I was abandoned from the group who did gangnam style on every opportune moment of joy they could fetch.

 It had indeed got viral!

 Today, I accidentally happened to poke Google and tap the keys to write Gangnam Style. To my amazement, I stumbled upon articles written in the Guardian, The Economic Times which talked about Psy-Gangnam style. Adding to this was the video in which Psy (the Korean rapper) teaches Britney Spears the Gangnam style on Ellen DeGeneres Show. That was the end. I could no longer curb myself from not viewing what people were going crazy about.

 So, yes I did watch it.

 It is a K-pop song with a portly Korean rapper singing in comical English. Even if I couldn’t fathom the lyrics (which I later did when I browsed the English translation), the ridiculously catchy element in the video is its Americanisation. Even if one is not familiar with Korean slang, it doesn’t take an Einstein’s mind to understand the backdrop. It is not only a blend of Korean culture but there is a deep undercurrent which runs through Western viewers. And of course, Indians who would more or less find it analogous.

 The lyrics are pointless. Till the end, I find it difficult to understand what the purpose of the song is. It makes sudden references to women who eat in shady places privately only to be able to afford a mocha at a high end café. Now here is what it does. It picks up an idea and drops it in a nanosecond and gradually moves on to the next one. And does what? Nothing at all.

 The only entertainment value I would attribute to the video, are its ridiculously hilarious yet easy-to-catch dance steps. And the amount of times Psy must have reiterated ‘Heey seksy lady’ and ‘Oppa Gangnam style’ which made me laugh uproariously.

 I kid you not, but you’ll soon begin to find memes shared on Facebook and Twitter on Gangnam style. It may further have you see a flash mob or two, in Gangnam style. Did I forget to mention Gangnam style tees which would be sold on every street in Bombay? And you never know, it may emerge as a contemporary dance style as well.

After all, it is the world of idiocy and idiosyncrasy.

Niharika Pandit

History Lesson

I was never a science or mathematics person. All near and dear ones would unanimously agree to this.
I was more on the history and politics side of education. I could somehow always understand and make sense of various things which happened in history and what were the results of those repercussions. It is very pulsating like every new thing you get to know about is a part of the larger puzzle. The new pieces of information to me look like the first time as kid I saw candy floss, pink, sweet, bubble like and very inviting.
Truth being told we live in a society which has completes belief in science and accounts. It really doesn’t care about the candy floss; what we are taught is about how the mechanics of the candy floss machine works and how much will it cost. You have uncle and aunts and family friends who ask you, “Why would you take arts in your high school board examination? You can do a BA in college, it is the same thing right?” At that very moment you’re counting backwards in your head from one to ten and in some cases from hundred to one. In the larger picture personally I am not very fond of the education system but then well that’s how our society believes we will remain sane.
We have brilliant examples of how history is created which we in general seem to forget. It is in those moments, which get together to define or create the moment of the era, which defines a new beginning and an end to the previous one. It is a circle which goes around. This is what should be explained to the critics of history. One of the examples would be of the trio famously known as Lal, Bal and Pal i.e Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, they were the propagators of the radical approach towards India’s freedom. In 1905 they led the Swadeshi movement and during the Bengal partition mobilized Indians and carried demonstration strikes to oppose the British government’s decision.
In the year 1881 the history of Mumbai changed the moment the Marathi weekly ‘Kesari’ came into print. Mumbai for the first time saw what a single man could do. Mumbai started celebrating ‘samuhik ganapati visarjan’ a tradition followed till date.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the editor of ‘Maratha’ while Agarkar, his very close friend was the editor of The Kesari. With due course of time the difference in their ideologies grew and Agarkar quit the editor’s job from Kesari. Tilak’s main motive behind starting Kesari and Maratha was to provide information to readers as well as them educate them. He wanted to use his paper make the Indians self reliant and to be aware about their rights. Tilak firmly believed in the institution of education and thought of it as a tool to drive off the British government. Later on one of the most important contributions made by these papers was create a unity among the Indian readers during the Swadeshi Movement. In Tikal’s words he explained about the nature of ‘Kesari’ as – “‘Kesari will fearlessly and impartially discuss all problems. The increasing mentality of appeasing the British is not in the interest of this country. The articles published in ‘Kesari’ will be apt for its name ‘Kesari (lion)’ ”.
The paper had a Sanskrit verse printed near the editorial, the translation of the verse meant a warning to an intoxicated elephant to not enter the forest as the lion in the forest was used to destroying huge rocks thinking of them as elephants. The meaning of the Marathi word Kesari is ‘a lion’ and the addressed and warned the intoxicated elephant not to go in the forest, for there was a lion used to tearing the huge rocks mistaking them for elephants.
This would not have been possible if Tilak through his newspaper had not created a belief in his readers. His personality and ideology came across in his papers. As an editor he believed that his paper was meant for the greater good of the society and there would be no compromise on this ideal. . He used it as a platform to discuss various issues like government policies, politics, education and social issues Time and time again he had to go through various difficulties for pursuing ‘fearless journalism’.
Tilak and Agarkar were one of the first journalists against whom and deformation case was filed by Shri Barwe. This case is known as the ‘Kolhapur Kesari Episode’. Shri Barwe was the manager of the Diwaan of Kolhapur. An article published in the Kesari alleged that the Maharaja was being conspired against and his being stated as ‘mad’ was a conspiracy on the British government behalf. Tilak and Agarkar lost the case and were given a sentence of 4 months. It was only after the sentence that Tilak felt that he should become active in politics.
He put forth rational thoughts in his editorials. In the 1897 famine, he wrote in his articles about the ‘Famine Relief Code’ which forced the British government to take action and help the people. Tilak also appealed the masses to stand up for their rights. He also criticised intellectuals like Namdhar Gokhale who believed in following the British charter as ground rule for the anti government movements. Tilak objected by saying that since the government was foreign there was no need to follow their charter; India would need its own charter.
After the assassination of Mr. Rand in 1897, the government in order to bring the culprits into light became atrocious. The police authorities used ruthless repression in order to strike terror in the hearts of the people. Young men were rounded up and put in prison without notice. There were no trials and rights were suspended. Tilak agreed that the culprits should be brought to the court in his articles but he also mentioned on how the government had been insensitive to the people during the trying times of the plague. In his articles, he wrote fearlessly that the government had itself called for this sort of unrest. He further mentioned that though he did not support the violence but these young men are not left with any choice, he was quoted ‘men would be forced to pick up arms’. Rationality was the core frame of Tilak’s ideas and belief.
Tilak in his defense argued in the Court for 21 hours against the charges of treason filed against him. He clarified that the newspapers have a right to form public opinion and it is the duty of a newspaper to bring to the notice of the Government the nature of powers created in the political life of a country. The speech given by Tilak in the High Court was not an intellectual exercise to protect self but it showed his extra-ordinary qualities like his rationality in thinking, deep study of law, his love for the nation and his readiness to go through any punishment for his principles. All those who heard him pleading his case, experienced his nobility. As the judges declared him ‘guilty’, Judge Davar asked Tilak whether he wanted to say something. Tilak was quoted , “I am not an offender or guilty let the jury decide anything. There is a supreme power than this Court which controls worldly matters. It could be God’s wish that I get punishment so as to boost the mission that I have undertaken.”
Tilak as an editor was an inspiring figure to all those who worked under him and even to those who got influenced by his work. He became a public figure and took pride in the Indian culture. He wanted people to have aspirations and make the government aware of its short comings. He was a strong supporter of the freedom of press and in its power to influence and motivate people to believe for their own betterment. His editorials revolved around social awakening.
His was the generation which demanded to be heard in their country by their people. The moment ‘kesari’ came to print to every moment of his struggle, he kept creating history and this is the reason why the news media/print media is still strong in India because people did connect to the papers they read. Tilak believed in giving candy floss and not in how much money or how it was going to be made.


Raja Ram Mohan Roy

“He is the Father of modern India”- S. Radhakrishna

“Do to others as you would be done by” -Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1774-1833)

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born in Radhanagar, Hoogly, Bengal on 14th August 1774 and died on 27 September 1833 at the age of 61.He was an Indian religious, social and educational reformer. He denounced the practice of Sati and child marriage calling it barbaric. He along with Dwarkanath Tagore and other Bengalis formed the Brahmo Samaj : a socio-religious reform movement at that time. Prior to that he also opened a college known as the Presidency College in 1828 .He published the Sambad Kaumudi (1821) a weekly newspaper and a Persian newspaper Miratul-Ul- Akhbar (1822). He knew English, Bengali, Persian, Arabic, Greek and Latin.
The Bengal Renaissance is said to have been started with Ram Mohan and ended with Rabindranath Tagore. Reformers during this period started questioning the existing Hindu practices and superstitions. Two of the major reasons which led to the Bengal Renaissance was the formation of communities, organisations and societies. Second was the growth of publications and journals. Ideas of Nationalism were spread by the elite to the masses.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born to an upper caste Brahman family. He was sent to Patna for learning Arabic and Persian which was the language of administration. He went to Tibet to learn Buddhism and then to Banaras to learn Sanskrit. He wrote his first book in Persian, Arabic called Vedanta Grantha .He translated the Vedanta into Bengali and English in 1815 when we returned back to Calcutta. He was also the first writer of prose in Bengali, he wrote the grammar of the Bengali language. Apart from knowing a plethora of languages he also knew Hebrew, studied Jainism with the help of Jain scholars and learned Sufism from Muslim scholars in Banaras. He questioned Hindu customs and traditional practices which include the practice of Sati.
The first instance when the thought of abolishing such a practice entered his mind was when he saw his elder brother’s wife willingly immolating herself on her husband’s pyre. He saw the agony on her charred face, heard her screams and saw her body ablaze. In that very instance he decided to eradicate such a practice from the Hindu religion.
He started a weekly publication called the Sambad Kaumudi. It was started in 1821, in the first half of the 19th century and was published in English and Bengali. Sambad Kaumudi was a pro-Reformist publication. It ran for 33 years.It was ceased in 1836. It regularly ran editorials denouncing the practice of sati and calling the practice barbaric and un-Hindu. Ram Mohan in the newspapers prospectus published an appeal to its readers which said, “the support and patronage of all who feel themselves interested in the moral and intellectual improvement of our countrymen”.
In a book tilted British Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: The Dynamics of Indian Modernization, 1773-1835 By David Kopf it states that, “Rammohun’s Sambad Kaumudi (Mirror of the News) represented his views both in the presentation of news items and in editorials”.
Role and contribution in the Newspaper Sambad Kaumudi:
• The Sambad Kaumudi regularly ran editorials denouncing the practice of Sati.
• The Kaumudi often reflected the sentiments of the missionaries on all issues regarding the “native improvement”.
• The editorials in Kaumudi usually talked about “new educational schemes” and calling for public support of existing ones.
• Caste prejudices and religious excesses were constantly attacked.
• The Kaumudi strongly upheld Indian needs and aspirations.
• In 1817, he wrote a tract on the ‘abolition of sati’.
• On March 24,1822, in an editorial possibly written by Rammohun, the Kaumudi called for the “Indianisation of the Higher Ranks of civil service”
• It also ran articles concerning with the brutality inflicted by the Europeans on the Indians.
• As Rammohun was opposed to the worship of idolatry form of worship some of his editorials also talked about the monotheism.
He also founded and edited a weekly called Miratul-Ul-Akbar in Persian. He wrote an article about how women should get equal property rights as men in their families.
In 1823 a regulation was passed by the Chief Secretary John Adam which required pre-censoring of all journals and weekly. He shut down his weekly in protest of this law.
Ram Mohan Roy’s contribution as a Journalist and Social Reformer:
• Rammohun published his first journal Brahmmunical Magazine (1821) which was a bilingual. The articles expressed the purpose of defending his concept of monotheistic Hinduism against the contrary views of the Serampore missionaries.
• In 1818 Rammohun started publishing articles opposing Sati. In his words:
“In times of want the wife works like a slave
In times of affluence the husband takes another wife
And enjoys wordly pleasures
Very often the wife is beaten up,
Discarded,accused of disloyalty
All because the husband feels that he has the right to do so”
• In 1825 the Parliament passed an East India Jury Bill that only allowed Christians to serve on grand juries. Rammohun wrote articles about this discrimination in Sambad Kaumudi.
His ‘Gaudiya Vyakaran’ in Bengali is rated highly among his writings in prose.
• He started the Hindu College now called the Presidency College in Calcutta to impart education in Science and Technology. Subjects like English, Science, Mathematics were taught. It was formed to impart practical knowledge to the people. The tutions were free of cost.
• He founded the Bramho Samaj in 1828. It was a social reform movement aimed at curtailing the myths and miracles surrounding Hindu idol worship. He believed in monotheism and thus the group preached the existence of a single god.

A look into the book, The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

Book Cover of the Hungry Tide

It feels great to read a book which you never intended to, or even didn’t even have the slightest clue that it existed. The Hungry Tide proved to be a gripping read twisting through the lives of Piyali Dutt, a cetologist , and Kanai Dutt, a successful translator leading an emerging company in New Delhi. Both having different reasons to visit the islands of Sundarban, eventually ended up having an exchange of words with Kanai inviting Piyali to visit Lusibari.

On completing her PhD in marine mammals from the United Sates, Piyali had come to the mystique waters of the Sundarbans to conduct research on the Irrawaddy Dolphins. Regarded as a foreigner in her native land usually spurned back memories of what her father used to tell her about the tide country. In the secret book of her mind she sometimes turned the pages of her parents marriage’s disintegration, her mother’s shouts, she being diagnosed with cancer and finally the withdrawal of her presence forever.

On the first day of her mission to study the dolphins  an unlikely event in the middle of an island proved to be a blessing in disguise as she met Fokir, a local fisherman. He was uneducated and village like, not knowing or recognising the sounds of the English language. But with him Piyali sensed a feeling of safety and hence began her journey.

Kanai Dutt on the other hand prided himself to be able to fluently converse in eight languages and having set up a thriving business as a translator in New Delhi. His aunt,Nilima,  had called him to visit her in Lusibari,   as her husband Nirmal had a diary for Kanai to read which he had written before his death. Nilima was a woman of substance who built a hospital out of scratch in Lusibari. Nirmal on the other hand was the headmaster of the only school in Lusibari. Nilima being realistic while Nirmal being a dreamer, she being a contemporary while he being a revolutionary, a pragmatist and an idealist, woman and man.

When refuges came to settle in an adjoining village of Morichjhapi, an internal conflict brew between the settlers and the government as the village was demarcated as forest reserve by the government. Nirmal chanced to visit the village and met Kusum, a young girl brought to the hospital by Horen when she was small, whom he shared sympathies with. She explained to him the harsh conditions of the village and the attitude of the government towards them. They treated the refuges as being on the lowest rung of species whose existence didn’t matter.

What drew Nirmal as an insect to the village was when Kusum told him about how the people would resist the government and if need be die, but would not leave this place which came to be known as home for them settlers. The idea of revolution was soo deeply rooted in his mind that letting go of such a cause made Nirmal a body without a soul, a tree without its roots, a poem without a rhyme and a mind without a brain.

Nirmal not a believer of religious stories nor a worshipper of myth spread this knowledge reasonably. Kanai on his first visit to Lusibari , when he was not more than ten, was also told the same values. But soon he met Kusum who was also fairly his age and it was she who showed him the undiscovered world of religion and faith. The stories of Bon Bibi and Shah Jongoli. Bon Bibi is considered as the epitome of justice and she could be called upon when in need.  When Kanai returns as an adult man he reminisces those moments of revelations. Those instances of his life which were still embedded in his memory. When Nilima handed over Kanai the remains of Nirmal in the form of a book Kanai set to reading it. The entire book written in the span of a night explained how Nirmal associated with the people of Morichghapi and his innate desire to be part of the revolution.

When Piya returns to Lusibari with Fokir and meets Kanai, he develops a fond liking for her. Piya inquired for the arrangement of a bigger boat for her project which was still underway. Horen who owned one offered to take her along with Fokir. In the meantime Piya and Fokir developed a sense of understanding based purely on understanding and feelings. Language did not a pose any hindrance, only circumstances did. Kanai offered to be the interpreter for Fokir and Piya and hence joined the entourage.

Hence started their journey in the tide country. The book describes the nature at its best.It is an avalanche of emotions as it describes the ruthless nature of storms and cyclons, fear of the mightly tiger and crocodile, and the journey of different people from different walks of life.

The book is an amalgamation of the west and the east, of culture, of languages, of the sand with water, of words and feelings.


Trekking All The Way!

During the Monsoons, ‘Monsoon Trek’ is something everyone must try especially the ones who love adventure. One such place in Mumbai apt for Trekking is Tungareshwar (Vasai west). This place is known for its scenery, Tungareshwar Temple and the amazing waterfall. From South Mumbai it would take one about three hours to reach, while the trek may go a little beyond an hour depending on the pace. There are two paths to reach the destination the road path or the stream path.

CAUTION: The stream path includes slippery rocks, must wear good footwear. (But it also adds on to the fun)

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The Stream Path and the slippery stones that can make you one hell of a ‘Humpty- Dumpty’


The Road Path- for those who would want to reach the waterfall a little faster ( and safely)

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While on you way to the destination point- The waterfall- you will see many animals like Cows, Goats, Dogs, etc. and insects such as the one above which is known as ‘The Khujli Keeda’ in Hindi, Palm size Spiders, Dragonflies, Grasshopers and many more, which obviously we decided to run away from.

Also you may see many localites fishing and small crabs running on the rocks.



You will come across a small waterfall as you find you way to the top point and the second one is the final one that Tungareshwar is famous for.

While coming back down, the road path is a better option. Also, check out the Tungareshwar Temple which has a lot of monkeys and the local eatery joint outside it.

Alice Peter

Sophia College for Women

Photo Courtesy: Suzanne Mark and Charmaine Fernandes