Padmavati and Rajput Women – warriors behind the purdah!

While I whole heartedly criticise the vandalism and attacks on the eminent director-producer Mr Sanjay Leela Bhansali, I earnestly hope that the film ‘Padmavati’ does not show the Rajput queen – Rani Padmini in a dishonourable light. 

She is revered as a Veerangana (courageous lady) by not only the Rajput clan but all of India. More than her resplendent, flawless beauty, it was her fierce stance to defend her honour that made Rani Padmini into a legend. Do you remember the lines from the famous song – ‘Aao Bachon Tumhe Dikhayein…’ (Jagriti) –
“Yeh Hai Apna Rajaputana Naj Ise Talavaro Pe, Isane Sara Jivan Kata Barachhee Tir Kataro Pe.

Yeh Pratap Kaa Vatan Pala Hai Aajadee Ke Naaro Pe, Kud Padee Thee Yaha Hajaro Padminiyan  Angaron Mein”

The last line here says it all! Thousands of brave women like Rani Padmini performed Jauhar (mass sacrifice) and jumped into fire to protect their honour from enemies. 


Rajput men have a special place in the history of India and great warriors like Maharana Pratap, Rana Sanga, Prithviraj Chauhan, Veer Kunwar Singh etc have been a part of this clan. But Rajput women were no less. 

Fed on stories of great, courageous leaders since childhood, they upheld honour and valour in the highest regard. True, they observed purdah (veil) but that did not mean they meekly followed male authority. They had immense self respect and pride in lineage and tradition. These women were warriors in thought and spirit from behind the purdah. They were often well educated and would learn all the battlefield skills from the very start. 

Even the commoners were skilled in warfare. These ladies were no damsels in distress, they could cook as well as kill with the same expertise.

The legendary story of Hadi Rani underscores the lofty ideals and pride of a Rajput lady. She cut her head when she felt that her husband was so much enamoured by her beauty that he was reluctant to go to the battlefield.  

According to wikipedia, “When Maharana Raj Singh I (1653–1680) of Mewar called Hadi Rani’s husband to join the battle against Aurangzeb, the Sardar, having married only a few days earlier hesitated about going into battle. Rajput honour being what it is, he had to join the battle regardless of his reservations. He asked his wife Hadi Rani for some memento to take with him to the battlefield.

Thinking that she was an obstacle to his doing his duty for Mewar, she cut off her head and put it on a plate in her dying moments. A servant covered it with a cloth and presented it to her husband. The Sardar, devastated but nevertheless proud, tied the memento around his neck by its hair. He fought bravely, making Aurangzeb’s army flee.” (Source: Wikipedia).


Another rebel of sorts was the devotee Mira bai, who drank poison in the name of her God Krishna but did not compromise with her ideals. Then there were Rani Durgabati, Rani Karnavati, Rani Chanderi who like Rani Padmini refused to submit to enemies and committed Jauhar (mass sacrifice) to defend their honour. They preferred to die rather than be defiled by blood stained hands of intruders. 


These brave women have left hand prints for posterity to remember them. It must have taken unimanigable courage to go through the act but it was better than being brutalized by the enemy.

For Rajput women of yore, committing adultery even in dream, thought, word or under any circumstance was unacceptable. So, they preferred death. This is precislely the reason why Mr Bhansali should tread these lines carefully. 

I am hopeful that Mr Bhansali will do justice to Rani Padmini in his film ‘Padmavati’ so that our kids get a new understanding of the words – Honour, Pride, Valour and Integrity.

After Kangana’s Coffee with Karan….

Seething with anger, Mr Karan Johar sat in a luxurious room post his ‘Koffee with Karan’ episode with the arrogant actress Kangana Ranaut. He had been contradicted and slammed on his own famous chat show by a little actress, who was weaker than him in every way. She had no ‘godfather’ in the Hindi film industry, she was not the daughter of a renowned filmmaker or celebrity, she had far lesser contacts and connections than him, and less wealth in comparison to him.  Although, red faced after being called a ‘movie mafia’, Karan had tried to maintain his composure, making it all light and good humoured but the cracks had shown on the show…

Breaking his reverie, the phone buzzed! It was his favourite actress. “How could she, the shabby thing, speak to you like that Karan.You poor thing, I know you must be really mad….and did you hear her disgusting accent….what’s wrong with her….,” the actress purred. Karan spoke his heart out for the next ten moments. The staff in the next room could make out that the boss was indeed in a very bad humour.

“The down market thing, needs to be taught a lesson….,” another favourite whatsapped him. By this time, the media and twiterrati were having a gala time at the expense of poor Mr Johar. The man had been stumped at his own ‘masala’ show! The media sided with Kangana, who had chided Karan for his nepotism and tendency to act as the owner of Bollywood.


 The Hindi film industry is indeed brimming with actors and actresses with less talent and more contacts. All the top notch actors are sons and daughters of celebrities – Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Shraddha Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Tiger Shroff….to name just a few. Ms Ranaut had won this round of applause.

Mr Johar reacted subtly in his next episode of ‘Koffee with Karan’ with Kapil Sharma. “What would you do if you wake up as Kangana Ranaut?,” he asked the comedian. “I would delete my emails,” Kapil Sharma replied sheepishly. And then both laughed nonsensically, insinuating at Kangana and Hrithik’s affair! But the humour fell flat. 

By this time, more than half of the industry sided with Karan Johar, they needed to be in his good books. Ms Ranaut was always an outsider, a nobody, despite having talent. She had also dared to pick up fights with other prominent goliaths like Roshans and was said to be arrogant and rude. 

Karan struck again! While speaking on the sidelines of an event at the London School of Economics, he hinted that Kangana may not have understood the meaning of the word nepotism, that he was fed up of seeing her play the ‘woman card’ and ‘victim card’ and that if the actress had such a problem with the way  industry worked, she was welcome to leave.


That day, watching Karan’s vengeful speeches, Kangana smiled inwardly! She knew most of the industry people would refuse to work with her now. She had irrepairably damaged her career by being loud and clear but…what made her smile was…atleast she had managed to hit back in some way. She knew that she could be called names and dirty allegations might be made against her but she was here to stay! It was time for her to react again! She straightened her back and strided confidently albeit towards an uncertain future.

(Disclaimer – This is a dramatised version of the ongoing battle between Karan Johar and Kangana Ranaut. It is partly factual and partly fictitious. Images courtesy Google.)

From Mad Man to Mountain Man

Dashrath Manjhi sat viewing the mighty mountains surrounding him. They were the barriers, the hurdles, who had played with the lives of so many of his loved ones.

The mountains arrogantly stood between his village, Gehlaur and the nearest town blocking medical and other facilities. And not long back, the love of his life had slipped from one of these rocky terrains, leaving him alone.

He wanted revenge now! It was his will against the daunting mountains. Angrily, he took out his hammer and chisel and began to hurt the mountains. 

The villagers called him mad. But he just stopped listening. For twenty two years, he single handedly struggled against the mountains. 

Finally, he succeeded in carving a path 9.1 metres (30 ft) wide and 110 metres (360 ft) long through a hill 7.6 metres (25 ft). The distance between his village and the town got reduced from 55km to 15km.

Today, the world knows him as the noble Mountain Man!

(The picture reminded me of the poor labourer Dashrath Manjhi from India, who spent his entire life doing a noble task. His life has inspired many documentaries and films as well as stories.  In August 2015, a Hindi movie Manjhi – The Mountain Man, based on his life got released and was well received.)


(This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Please CLICK HERE for more. Thank you Grant for the image!)

The Pink Panther


Sheila waited nervously in the lobby. Soon, she was to be called in for the interview. Looking down at her plain clothes and worn out sandals, she thought, “Will they even consider me?” The other candidates looked so stylish!

But she was not the only one, who was out of the place at the huge Film Design studio. 

Placed in the middle of life-like paintings of Cherubs, Nymphs and landscapes, was a huge photograph of a pink diamond against a black background. It just did not fit!

Her turn came and the overbearing boss threw a question without even looking up, “I saw you checking out the diamond picture in the lobby. If you were me, what would you name it? 

“The Pink Panther,” Sheila answered.

“Why,” he asked with interest.

“First, because the diamond in the picture is flawed just like it was in the film ‘The Pink Panther’.” 

“And second,” she paused looking around at the posters of Aishwarya. “Your favourite star was in that film.”

Sheila nailed the job!

(This image reminded me of the series of films -‘The Pink Panther’. In the film, a flawed pink diamond is used as major plot device. Famous Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan acted in the movie. Find her picture below from the film ‘The Pink Panther’. She will soon be seen in a new film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’)

(Image courtesy Google)

This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the lovely Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Please CLICK HERE for more. Thank you Jade M Wong for the image!

Madhubala – Fairest of them all…

  Arched eyebrows, classic features, mischievious smile…the Venus of the silver screen was born to captivate the very heart of India! Yes, I am talking about Madhubala, who was and remains the most beautiful actress of Indian film industry.

Her face had an unforgettable charm and expressions were priceless. No wonder, her popularity went beyond borders. She appeared in American magazine Theatre Arts in 1952. The magazine remarked, “The biggest star in the world, and she’s not in Beverly Hills.”

  

The first para says – “The actress with the greatest following, in numbers and devotion, is not to be found in Hollywood, but on the opposite side of the planet – in Bombay, India.” At that time, she was just nineteen. She had joined the film industry at the age of nine and never looked back.

    
Large languishing eyes, full lips and an aquiline nose, the camera couldn’t help loving her. Also, her unique appeal arose from a combination of personality traits – playfulness, sensuosness and innocence. She never looked wanton or cheap in her movies rather dignified and adorable. 

Who can forget her lovely expressions in the following song sequences  – Aaiye Meherbaan, Mohe Panghat Pe, Ik Pardesi Mera Dil Le Gaya? It seemed that she  tantalized the camera with every move. She was truly an actress par excellence.

It was a pity she died young at the age of 36 after going through trying times in personal life owing to break up with the superstar Dilip Kumar. She married the versatile singer actor Kishore Kumar but could not enjoy marital bliss for long as she fell terribly sick due to a heart disease.

  

 Here are some pictures of the timeless beauty, whose face still seems to be attracting fans. She continues to be every artists’s dream portrait and every poet’s muse in India. 

  
 
  
  
  
 
  

  

And I met Shah Rukh Khan…

Great News, my confidantes! A while back I had jealously shared a post about my friend Pratibha’s meeting with the superstar of Indian Film Industry, Shah Rukh Khan and had expressed a desire to meet him myself. Well, perhaps, someone up there heard me and arranged my virtual encounter with him. 

The proof of our meeting is in the video lest anybody should doubt me. I admit I was a little disappointed to see him as a cartoon but it was a great fun experience.  Do have a look:

Let me confide friends! The virtual encounter has been made possible due to the wonderful app called Evertoon, and the voiceover of Shah Rukh Khan is done by my four year old, Adiraj. The other voice is mine, it may sound a little strange to you… I find it weird too!

I and my son enjoyed making and sharing this video. Hope you will like it too. And it was great to meet dear old, Shah Rukh Khan, albeit, virtually. Hope to see him in flesh and blood sometime in the future.

Meanwhile, enjoy my encounter with the dear superstar!

5 Sweetest TV Commercials of My Wonder Years

When we were kids, back in the 80s, Television ads were growing huge in India. The small screen had reached the middle classes and advertisements with strong brand recall were all the rage. In those days, everyone watched everything that came on the Idiot Box with fascination…even programmes meant for farmers (Krishi Darshan) were seen with eyes glued to the screen. TV ads too were watched repeatedly and mimicked at homes. We kids took pride in learning the ad jingles and taglines by heart. Who can forget the jingles of  Washing Powder Nirma, Parle G, Gagan and Humara Bajaj!

As we grew, so did the ads in the 90s. In no time, the commercials turned more stylish, polished and classy. Guy models began to wear leather jackets, jazzy belts and denims while girl models embraced designer clothes and chic hairstyles. Bikes, accessories, cars, music and a westernised lifestyle got promoted in the ads to engage the youngsters.

The 90s boasted some of the best commercials of all times. Can you ever forget ads made for Onida, Maggi, Rasna, Fevicol, Vicco, Breeze, Lux, Dove, Dhara oil, Mango Bite or Amul chocolate?

Often, I watch those ads on YouTube to relive the past. Here are 5 of my favourite and sweetest advertisement of those bygone wonder years. Hope you enjoy reading about them too.


The Pepsi ad – Ahaa! Who can forget the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai mouthing – “Hi! I am Sanjana. Got a Lehar Pepsi” and the stumped expression of a smitten Aamir Khan. I used to stare at Aishwarya and think – Can such beauty exist?

The Cadbury ad – Awww.. The innocent beauty breaks into a loveable jig when her boyfriend hits a six. The shy cricketer is embarrassed as well as on top of the Earth. Her dance with abandon is the high point of this great advertisement. We never missed watching it!

The Dreamflower ad – He looks like a thorough professional until he catches a whiff of her. He leaves his conversation mid-way and bolts to catch one glimpse of the fragrant beauty. He tries lifts and doors but she seems to have disappeared. But one knock at his cabin brightens things for him as she happens to have come looking for him. So very romantic!

Palmolive winter care ad – The close shots of a beautiful girl in an aeroplane is shown and we hear a man’s thoughts –  “The lovely girl is in the plane… the seat next to me is empty. Am I fortunate enough to get the pleasure of her company. She looked at me for a while and then moved on. She is so beautiful but has no make up on.” In the next shot, the girl comes closer and tells him – “I think you are in my seat” . The guy is not shown in this commercial but his voice makes the girl mysterious and alluring. We loved it!

Dhara Cooking oil ad – The word ‘Jalebi’ always reminds me of this ad. A cute little boy runs away from home after being scolded. He sits at a railway station waiting for the train when an old uncle comes near him and says, “I just came to tell you that your mother has made jalebis at home.”.. And the kid says ”JALEBI?” with a twinkle in his eyes and happily returns home. The little boy had done a wonderful job in the ad and it remains one of the most popular ads of all times.

Commercials like these were an intrinsic part of our lives. I wonder where those days have gone. Time flies… but thankfully, today we have technology to capture those wonderful glimpses of the past.

Images courtesy Google