Obeisance

On the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima, I have composed a few lines to pay deference to all those from I have received knowledge and guidance. The composition reads as under:

We are born with a belief

Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh form a holy trinity;

But the Guru enjoys a position as important if not more

By his comparison to trinity, we give him divinity.

As goes the another saying,

I bow before Guru ahead of the God ;

For had my Guru not shown me the path,

How would ever I would have realised the God?

And if such is the place of Guru in our scriptures,

I rather be a student perpetually than be a Guru

Bow today in front of all those who taught me

And thank those who have placed me on the high pedestal of a Guru!

A very happy Guru Purnima to all my Gurus and to my friends and well wishers who have placed me on such a pedestal of which I am not worthy of.

Pi

Received an interesting WhatsApp post from my friend Sunil Babbar informing that rational number 22/7 is greater than pi. Further search on the net reveals that if using the systematic method the value of pi works out to 3.1459 then it’s value is indeed less than 22/7, which approximately works out to 3.142857. But this is trivia. More importantly we write 22nd July as 22/7 that’s also value of pi. All our life we have used formulas for calculating circumference and area of circle as 2pir and pir square! But for me, it holds a special significance as it’s my work anniversary day. It was on 22/7 of the year 1985 that I joined State Bank as a probationary officer. Not that my professional life was tasty like a cream pie all along, nevertheless it would continue to be an important day in my life and I continue to cherish the memories.

Net surfing has further revealed that while 22/7 and symbol pi could be a figment of imagination, there’s actually a world pi day celebrated each year on 14th March, based on its numerical value 314!

One thing leads to another! Thanks to Mr Babbar for sharing this interesting post that rekindled my childhood memories ( area and circumference of circle), my youth age memories ( work anniversary) and my old age learning that actually there’s a pi day celebrated in the world!

Could life be so cruel?

I came across the above picture in social media and started crying inconsolably. It stirred my core. This purportedly is a Japanese boy who is in queue to cremate his infant brother whose body is tied on his back. The infant has died in an assault during the World War 2.

While it’s a sad depiction of human misery and plight, what probably brought tears to my eyes is it’s correlation to the recent happenings. We came across similar scenes some 80 years after world war 2 with the nears and dears of the Covid victims waiting at crematoriums to perform the last rites of their beloved. And I have come across families that have witnessed multiple deaths with no adult left in the immediate family to perform the last rites. In fact, like the picture above, I came across a heart rending picture of Orissa, where a 6 year’s old girl was trying to take care of her infant brother, as the children had both their parents dead. I understand that mercifully some NGO took charge of the lives of these children.

We are all lost in our day to day struggle for better life, little realising the uncertainty and fragility of this life. Those of us who are lucky to have the kindness bestowed upon us by life, should not close our eyes to the harsh reality of the life being unkind to many so that we collectively work for upliftment of the entire fraternity .

Days gone by

As the age catches up, nostalgia becomes a predominant feeling. One frequently tends to get nostalgic about even very mundane and trivial things that have really no bearing on today’s reality.

The other day, while going through the plight of the film industry, especially theatres and multiplexes, I became nostalgic about how watching movie in a theatre used to be a big event. For a big movie like Trishul, Deewar, Amar Akbar Anthony releasing on Friday, booking plans would open on Monday morning with film buffs queuing outside the booking counters by 8 AM. I distinctly remember, to watch Sholay, my dad had to take a few hours off from his office to buy the tickets and by that time the movie was well into its 3rd month of release. I don’t think this generation would ever experience that orgy associated with watching movie on a big screen with deft advanced planning.

And what about queuing up for the opening any booking of an awaited event – DDA or MHADA flats, Reliance IPO, admission forms of a sought after college, Bajaj Chetak scooter, last date of deposition of electricity bill et al! Not a cherished event but nostalgic nonetheless.

Denizens of any city always lament about the good old days that their city had seen and this is especially true of eating joints where we had our best meals in our hey days. While Mumbaikars miss Purohit’s Thali, Samovar cafe and those good old Parsi- Iranian joints, Delhiites seem it hard to get over Madras Hotel ! Kolkata’s Indian coffee house is still surviving at the College Street though only the God knows for how long?

Ambassador, Fiat, Bajaj Chetak, Vijai Super, Delite biscuit, Jai soap, Dalima and J.B Mangharam biscuits are some of the brands of my childhood that couldn’t survive!

Philosophically, we all try to make ourselves understand that in this world change is the only constant and we should adapt to change to succeed in life. However, to my mind, nostalgia is an involuntary feeling that repeatedly comes to remind you of the days gone by.

Original King saves the junior

The recent news of Aamir Khan and his second wife Kiran Rao’s decision to separate amicably went viral on social media. I really can’t understand that notwithstanding public’s to interest in the lives of their favourite stars, why a personal decision and that too on amicable terms should be trolled so viciously? Someone called it 15 years itch ( incidentally his first marriage to Reena Datta also lasted 15 years), while others called him fully RTO compliant, junking the old vehicle ( read wife) after 15 years. A few others went to give it a completely unnecessary colour of religion.

Why he divorced his first and second wives and whether he will now marry Fatima Sana Shaikh are the matters that are very very personal and intimate to Aamir and his partners and why people like us sitting at a distance without having any clarity on reason for his separation should not only become judgmental but troll him so very unkindly?

Some people also pulled out a few earlier episodes of his famous TV show Satyadev Jayate in which the talked about married life and harmony! It’s the same set who are trolling Saurav Ganguly who is advertising Fortune oil for its heart friendly properties but who had to undergo heart procedure recently for insertion of stents ! We all know that stars and models have their personal lives that could be absolutely split from professional lives!

However, the original Khan, the original King of Bollywood, the thespian, Dilip Kumar, whom all Bollywood stars, including Khans, Kumars and others have deliberately or unknowingly emulated, came to the rescue of the junior Khan even in his death. His death plunged not only the Bollywood but the whole nation into such a deep sorrow that no other news mattered and in the process Aamir escaped further trolling.

While it’s easy to criticise and troll a person for his or her intemperance, religion bigotry or other such needlessly imposed attributes, I think the grace and respect with which Aamir has treated his first family and all the amicability around his divorce from Kiran are clear proof of his maturity, conduct and persona.

The nation requires our collective endeavours for progress and unity. Let’s channelise our energies constructively rather than wasting time and energy in poking out noses in personal lives of others.

Common heritage

Expectedly, Pakistani newspapers gave utmost prominence to the news of Dilip Kumar’s death and it formed the headline of most of the well known dailies. A country that had the privilege of housing the thespian’s birthplace, Peshawar, honoured him with the highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz and loved his work as much as we loved here, ought to have treated his demise as a big event.

As very succinctly put in a couplet by redoubtable port Anwar Shaoor, who writes a topical couplet every day in Urdu Jung, grieving the thespian’s demise, it read:

تھے کب سے دلیپ کمار بیمار

کوچ آخر کر گیے وو

سنسار مین سو برس کا جیون

بھرپور گُزار گیے وو

थे कब से दिलीप कुमार बीमार

कूच कर गए वह

संसार में सौ बरस का जीवन

भरपूर गुज़ार गए वह!!

Loose translation of the above:

Dilip Kumar suffered for long

And bade adieu at last

Lived in this world for almost a century

A life that was celebratory till the last!

More importantly, the loss of Dilip Kumar is not a simple loss of an actor par excellence. It’s the loss of that common heritage that the two neighbours share but which is increasingly becoming rare. Raj Kapoor also came from Peshawar. OP Nayyar was from Lahore and these icons were the reminders of that shared heritage of these two countries which were one till 1947.

The above aspect becomes especially relevant when the new generation on both sides of the border engages in some very acrimonious exchange on social media, in spite of the two countries having a common heritage.

This is the third in the series of blogs that I dedicate to the thespian. Justice couldn’t have been done to such a towering personality in one blog. His life was so rich that one can write pages and pages on it, but for the time being, I will end this series with this last blog on the great actor, loved by generations and emulated by every actor worth his or her salt! As very graciously put by Megastar Amitabh Bachchan- “ whenever the history of Indian Cinema will be written , it shall always be ‘before Dilip Kumar, and after Dilip Kumar’ ..

Dilip might be dead but Salim, Devdas, Gopi, Ram, Shyam, Jugnu, Ganga and so many other characters lived by Dilip will always remain alive!

Eulogy to the thespian

Read two beautiful couplets that summed up the legend that Dilip Kumar was :

The first one celebrates Dilip Kumar, the evergreen romantic, who is seen expressing his feelings to that eternal beauty Madhubala in a scene from all time classic Mughal-e-Azam. It reads:

کوئی آیت ایسی مل جائے میں ورد کروں تو مل جائے
کروں جو تجھ سے بے رخی اک اہ پہ میرا دم نکل جائے

______________________

कोई आयात ऐसी मिल जाऐ
में विर्द करुं तुं मिल जाऐ __

करूं तुझसे बे_रुखी एक आह
पर मेरा दम निकल जाऐ ..!!

Aayat is verse from holy Quran and vird is recitation. Berukhi is callousness, avoidance. So the above is loosely translatable as:

When I recite holy scriptures

You are my only ask;

If I ever avoid you

Let that be my day to be last!

Leave apart onscreen chemistry between Dilip and Madhubala, more so in the roles of Salim and Anarkali, the two were madly in love with each other in real life and if destiny was to be kinder, we would have had a made for each other couple that’s seldom seen. But in this matter, thespian’s tragedy King image overruled his romantic King image. And this is not to take anything away from Saira Banu, whose love for her “ Sahab” was pristine and who took his great care till he breathed his last. With Kamini Kaushal he had the first serious fling and as he revealed in an interview, Asma was his mistake. Rest of his so called affairs could be publicity gimmicks but did not seem to be very serious.

The second one aptly describes the actor par excellence, the best ever, and reads:

दफ़्न करने से पहले, जरा नब्ज जाँच लेना,
उम्दा अदाकार था, कहीं किरदार में न हो… 💐💐

Before you bury him

Don’t fail to read his pulse

A thespian was he

Could be into his role like no one else!

He literally lived his characters. When he failed in love, you empathised, when he met with a tragedy, you cried with him and you laughed with him and danced with him. Such was his power and connect. He died so many times on screen and it all looked so real that when the actual death came knocking at his door, it was natural for his fans to presume him to be acting, waiting for him to get up and play his next role!

There will be superstars and megastars. There will be natural actors and method actors. There will be talent not seen hitherto , but Dilip Kumars come once in centuries and we all should consider ourselves lucky to be born in a century that had the thespian illuminating it with his sheer presence.

Bollywood’s biggest icon bids adieu

Today morning the ultimate truth called death took the thespian Dilip Khan in its embrace. He was keeping an indifferent health for several years and was in and out of hospital frequently. But he fought and for this some credit should also go to his wife, actress Saira Banu, who stood like a rock behind him, taking great care.

His demise is no ordinary event. Sobriquets such as “ End of an Era”, “ the greatest Indian artist ever” etc will not be adequate to describe the loss. He was a national treasure – a national monument. His loss is simply mountainous, an unbridgeable chasm!

In his long career that started with his first movie Jwar Bhata released in 1944 and that spanned almost 6 decades till his last release in 1998, he acted in only 65 movies, which comes to an average of 1 movie per year. And in that sense, he was the first true Khan of the Bollywood- Shahrukh being highly inspired by the thespian’s school of acting, Aamir bring selective like him and Salman trying to reach the height of popularity that Dilip Sahab attained.

To my mind, Ram aur Shyam, a trend setter that immortalised the lost and found theme was the last of the movies reaffirming his superstar status. With several other stars taking centre stage and Rajesh Khanna’s era about to start, Dilip’s magic started waning. Gopi, Dastan, Bairaag, Sagina were some of the movies that readily come to my mind that he did in his later years. Though these were good and thespian acted with his usual aplomb, the old magic was amiss. Then he took a break and came back to set the silver screen and box office on fire in his new avatar- a character actor par excellence. Starting with Kranti, Vidhata, Shakti, Mashaal, Karma, Saudagar – it’s a stuff that embellished the thespian’s profile to a category that one can only aspire but may not be able to reach!

Born Mohammed Yusuf Khan in Peshawar in undivided India, the man developed his own school of acting that mesmerised viewers etching his lasting memories in their hearts. Highly honoured and awarded, his name and fame reached beyond Indian contours. While India honoured him with Padma Vibhushan and Dada Sahab Phalke awards, Pakistan bestowed its highest civilian honour, “ Nishan-e-Imtiaz”. His and Raj Kapoor’s paternal houses in Peshawar are proposed to be converted into Museums by Pakistani government. This will be a great tribute to the doyens of film industry, the breed of actors that’s fast vanishing.

Like any screen icon , the thespian’s personal life was colourful and controversial. Though he found a stable and lasting partner in Saira whom he married in 1966, before her, he had Kamini Kaushal, Madhubala and Vyjantimala in his life. He also married Asma and made her his second wife for a brief period, but ultimately Saira’s love prevailed.

He will remain the doyen, the thespian, the biggest star of Bollywood and continued to be emulated by generation of actors to come.

Rest in peace Mughal-e-Azam or more befittingly Azam-e-Hind, for he was not only Bollywood’s but nation’s pride.

26/11

26/11 continues to rankle our worst memories, when our beautiful and lively city was attacked by a band of heavily armed terrorists from across the border, who wreaked havoc by spraying bullets and lobbying grenades at the hapless, innocent and hardworking people of this city. What started as firing at Leopold Cafe, soon spread to famous restaurants locations such as CST station, Cama Hospital, Marine Drive and two of the most iconic hotels not only of this city but of our country- the Oberoi and the Taj Mahal Palace.

I didn’t know that great valour and presence of mind shown by the staff of the Taj had in fact been taught as case study at Harvard university, and came to know about it only the other day when a friend sent me a Ted talk video on the subject.

The speaker, a faculty member of Harvard university explains this case study and this video leaves the audience in the midst of a plethora of emotions – heart rending at the trauma faced by 500 in house guests , 600 visiting guests and 500 staff, gut wrenching misdeeds of the abominable terrorists, pride at the presence of mind and valour shown by Taj staff and above all amazement at the management lessons learnt out of this unforgettable tragedy!

While the Tata group is respected world over for their philanthropy and employee friendly policies and practices, the management lessons are real eye openers:

(1) the young apprentices and starters are mostly undergraduates, who are generally recruited from smaller towns such as Tiruchirappalli, Nashik and not from Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai;

(2) while recruiting the grades of the candidates are not seen but the emphasis is given on their attitudes. Teachers are talked to so that the students who are obedient, cooperative, empathetic and positive in their outlook are identified in preference to class toppers and A graders

(3) these staff are encouraged to be guest ambassadors and not brand ambassadors. Any positive note by a guest for a particular employee is taken note of and rewarded within 24 hours through recognition instead of through annual Diwali bonuses!

And such is the impact of the above that on the doomsday even the lowest ranked employee- telephone operator, waiter, cleaner, guard et al formed a human shield around the guests and protected them instead of escaping ! And mind you these were youngsters in early 20s for whom escaping the crisis should have been a natural priority! At the end these heavenly armed mad dogs on a death mission could kill only around 50 people, half of them being Taj staff!

As it is, any reference to 26/11 evokes the saddest memories, but I recommend viewers to check out this TedX video on YouTube by Rohit Deshpande. It will give goosebumps alright – the greater lesson being what the practical management lessons are all about!

Receiving and giving

Came across a beautiful message yesterday on the importance of giving and unity. A preacher asks the congregation about the secret of longevity of the giant redwood trees, the tallest trees on the earth that have survived flurry of storms, blizzards , snow, heat and yet have survived for hundred of years? Someone from the congregation attributes it to the depth of their roots! Preacher explains that in fact their roots are quite shallow; these trees expand their roots horizontally beneath the surface so as to form strong interlocking bonds with the roots of fellow trees. By doing this, they don’t only strengthen themselves but give strength to fellow trees to ! As the preacher finally concludes, this gift of reaching out to others, giving them strength and in the process forming a strong unity is the secret behind these tress longevity, stature, magnificence and uniqueness.

He then goes on to beautifully explain the fine nuance between living and life. He says by giving we receive. By getting things, we make a living. By giving, we make a life. We are only the caretakers of the divine property, but we misunderstand and treat ourselves as owners. We should learn from redwood trees – support each other and give strength to each other. In return, we shall receive longevity, strength and above all happiness. Isn’t it a beautiful thought?