Sunday, November 29, 2009

50 Glorious Years of Doordarshan - IV

 Bharat Ek Khoj/Discovery of India

The Masterpiece Serial of Doordarshan and Benegal

Let me start this post about one of the best DD serial, with its title song, which impressed everyone, when it was telecast in 1980:

This is a better audio track of the above song:

Bhrat ek khoj - The title is so apt for this serial which was telecast in Door Darshan in the eightees. The story was based on the book written by our first Prime Minister, Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru and the 53 episodes' series was directed by our veteran director, Shyam Benegal.

Like we watched 'Hum Log' and 'Buniyaad', we watched this serial also, with full attention. I think it was telecast on Sunday mornings. Later on, we have seen repeat telecast also. The title song was very impressive and is a simple version of verses of Rigveda. The verse begins like this and Wikipedia has given the English meaning, which is very simple to follow:

'Srushtee se pehle sat nahin thaa,

asat bhi nahin, Antariksh bhi nahin,

aakaash bhi nahin thaa

chhipaa thaa kyaa kahaan,

kisne dekhaa thaa, us pal to agam,

atal jal bhi kahaan thaa


The serial covered 5000 years of history of India, from the Indus Valley Civilization to our Independence in 1947, which included Vedic period and the writings of the Vedas, beginning of the caste system, the period of Chanakya and the invasion of Alexander, Ashoka, Kalidasa, the formation and survival of the Delhi Sultanate (the Slave dynasty and ahead), Mughals, Marathas, British East India Company, the first war of Independence of 1857, Quit India Movement and many others.

The deep throated voices of Roshan Seth (the story teller, who acted as Nehru in Richard Attenborough's Gandhi ) and Om Puri (the narrator in the background) gave class to the serial. Though describing 5000 years of rich and varied history of such a large sub-continent in 53 episodes seems impossible, Shyam Benegal had done an excellent job at giving an insight into the history of ancient and modern India through fabulous storytelling and direction. This is one of his masterpiece work, I am sure.

I remember criticizing Salim Ghouse acting in this serial as Rama and Krishna (we are used to Arun Govil and Nitish Bhardwaj in those roles!), but his voice gave the characters life and Benegal was right in selecting them for these roles. Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Om Puri, Neena Gupta, Anjan Srivastava and many other familiar actors, played different roles in different episodes. I read in the credits that a Salim Arif was the costume designer...the costumes of the artistes were very simple, but good - this serial was done with a low budget. Much importance was not given to the war scenes etc. but given to the happenings of the period.

When we watched this serial, we never felt like watching a documentary. Benegal did not dramatize the stories much, still, it was engrossing. All of us were watching the serial and my sons were able to follow our history better in this way than through books, I felt, at that time. Now, let me give you some scenes of the serial, which I think, is interesting. You can notice Benegal using the local folklore and folk singers/artists in most of the episodes, with their version of the story, which was applicable to that episodes.

Sample of Roshan Seth and Om Puri's voice:

Bharath Mata ki Jai: Nehru talks about Bharat mata, to the villagers...very interesting:

Ramayan episode starts with folk song:

Mahabharat scene starts with the famous Maharashtrian folk story-teller. Mahabharata's Geethopadesha scene:

This is the ending track of Bharat Ek Khoj

I can keep on writing at least one more post about this serial! This one is quite a long post! All of us enjoyed watching this beautiful serial and I would be happy if you watch it, when it is re-telecast again in some channel and know more about our own Indian history!  I assure you, you will not be a bit bored!

I came across this video, while looking for the title track of this serial. If you are interested, have a look:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Feeding Crows - Superstitious?!

Now, when did I start feeding the crows (Kaakkaa)?  I think when we were in Bangalore, I started feeding them chapaathis to just entertain my small kids!
My grandma and mother used to feed the crows with rice and dhal as soon as the morning pooja was over at home.  My grandma used to serve us only after feeding the crows and if we were hungry, we used join her to call them 'kaa kaa kaa' in chorus.  I wonder if they came to eat after hearing our shouts!  Most of us, Indians believe that our ancestors come to us in the form of crows!  So, on the day of the death anniversary - Shraadhdha - of our ancestors, we are particular to offer rice with vada and the myth is - if the crow takes rice facing east or west or north (Kuber's corner-more money!) it is good for us!

In Chennai, in our first house, I used to throw pieces of chapaathis to the crows through the kitchen window!  They used to wait on the post of the chain fence, dive and catch the pieces in the air!  It was fun!  Otherwise, they were taking piece by piece from my hand, peeping their heads inside the window!  They never liked rice!
Later on, we shifted to our new house and the next door neighbour used to tell me that the crows would follow me to the new house too! Here, the crows like rice with lot of curd!  From 8.30 to 8.45 am, they start giving me sounds, to remind me that they are waiting! As soon as they see my head at the backyard, some 10 to 15 crows surround the place, on the fence or on the trees and wait for me to place the rice on the washing stone (we have kept a stone for washing clothes at the backyard).  One fearless crow sits on the edge of the stone itself, waiting for me to leave!  Then, all of them start pecking the rice in twos and threes...sometimes fights will be there.  Some carry lot of rice in their beaks and fly away to feed their babies! You can see them coming down to eat in the above photograph! The food is nearly over here!  I have seen one crow with just one leg, many times... I don't see it now.  I liked the next photo contented look in their pose! And they love to eat/drink the curd which stays at the bottom of the rice.  They turn their necks on the side, put their beaks beneath the rice and suck!  Most of the crows have gray necks and some have black necks, which are a bit bigger in size.  The black necks terrorize the gray necks and eat all the rice sometimes!  After they leave, I mix some more rice and offer to the gray necks!

Some of the crows are waiting for their turn here:

Then the squirrel who waits till the crows fly off, comes down, to finish off the remaining rice! We have got lots of squirrels - small and big - playing at our backyard!  Till some 2-3 years back, they were nesting in our bathroom ventilator, in between the small glasses and netlon.   They used to bite and tear the netlon and the babies often fell inside our rooms.  I had to put them back into their nests!  Now, we have put steel mesh!  They have got lots of options for nesting in our area!

I have noticed that more than the crows, the squirrels love bread slices!  Sometimes they hold one whole slice in their mouths and run away!  Here, this squirrel is relishing a piece of bread! It is sitting on the cover slab of our well!

Sometimes, I have seen a bit big sized sparrows coming and eating the rice and the crows just wait for them to leave!

Then this bird, Asian Koel, female, comes and eats the remains of the rice.  She is always scared of any movements in the surroundings.  It was very difficult to take photograph of her. Took the pictures on two days:

This bird is her boyfriend! I didn't know the name of the bird.  My friend Radha wrote here that this is called Aisan Koel.  He also is a member of the curd eating gang in our house! I added this here today since this picture should also be here in this post (16.4.83)!

Just want to add that I am not superstitious but love and enjoy pampering animals and birds!

More posts on this subject:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Anjali Tendulkar - The Woman Behind The Man (Legend), Sachin Tendulkar

'I don't eat. I don't answer phones. I don't even move when Sachin is batting.'

Wife Anjali Tendulkar is Sachin's lifeline; he depends on her for almost everything.

These were the headlines for the interview with Anjali Tendulkar in the Times Of India today morning. We watch Tendulkar in the TV playing (cricket) matches after matches, travelling throughout the world, in advertisements, in interviews....I was just wondering when he will adjust time to spend with his wife and two beautiful kids. When I read the interview, I was able to feel how much Anjali had supported Sachin through the years.

She is the best wife who loves him and stays in the background to take care of the family, so that Sachin can concentrate in his passion, cricket.

Now, some excerpts of the interview from TOI:

How easy or difficult is it to be Mrs Sachin Tendulkar? How do you cope with the pressures?

ANJALI: For me, it's very easy because I've known Sachin for 19 years now. I understand him so well. So whether I am his girlfriend or his wife, it's the same thing, just an extension of that bond. I don't find it very difficult and I'm used to it. Maybe, it's also because I've not known any other person in my life except Sachin. Of course, there are many challenges and difficulties to being his wife but the whole family, including my children, has learnt to deal with it.

Any regrets at all on the home front?

ANJALI: The only regret, even though we've learnt to cope with it, is that he's not at home most of the time. I think even Sachin has realised this, now that the kids are growing up fast. Sara is 12 and Arjun is 10. We sometimes wonder where all the years have gone. Since he used to be away most of the time when they were growing up, now he tries to come home as much as possible. If a match gets over early, he'll come home, stay overnight and then leave again in the morning. Though he's trying his best to spend more time with the family, sometimes he's not at home for birthdays, special occasions or even for the kids' annual day at school. It matters a lot to the kids.

Have you ever grown tired of waiting for Sachin to return from a tour?

ANJALI: It's always been like that. These days, whenever he goes on a long tour, we usually try and plan a short holiday with the kids. Maybe during the school vacation or something. There's no other option for us.

Don't you regret the fact that Sachin's fame prevents him from being a normal father?

ANJALI: It's been like this from the beginning, so you accept it. It's part of life even for our children. They know their father cannot do certain things. So we take the trouble once every year and go somewhere where he can be a normal father. Like in London, he takes Arjun to the park to play. Even there people recognise him, but they don't mob him and give him his space.

Please go back in time to when you met Sachin for the first time...

ANJALI: (Laughs) We've not really told many people this. I first met him at the Mumbai airport when he returned from his first tour of England in 1990, after scoring his maiden Test ton. In fact, when I first saw him at the airport, I didn't even know who he was. It was purely by accident! I was there to pick up my mother and Sachin was arriving with the Indian team. That's where we saw each other for the first time... we had a courtship of five years and got married in 1995. We had got engaged a year before that in 1994 and that was in New Zealand.

Do you believe in destiny?

ANJALI: Yes, it is destiny and I believe in that.

You could have been a very successful doctor...

ANJALI: I loved medicine and a lot of people often ask me if I'm wasting my education. I don't think so. Though I loved every moment of my studying days and my days at the government hospital, it then came to a stage when I realised that I could not be married to Sachin and also have a full-time career. It wasn't possible because he depends on me for almost everything. It was my decision. I thought I should be at home with him and make everything perfect for him.

In his childhood, brother Ajit did everything for Sachin, sacrificing his own interests. I thought I should do the same. Besides, mine would not have been a 9 to 5 job. I'm a paediatrician, so if there's a patient calling me or someone admitted at odd hours, I have to make myself available. With Sachin not around and me with two kids at home, it wouldn't have been possible. I took a decision and I have never, ever regretted it.

Have you ever driven the Ferrari?

ANJALI: When Sachin got his Ferrari home I asked him to show me how to change its gears because they are near the steering and move with the fingers. To my surprise, he said, 'You don't need to drive my Ferrari.' In fact, I needed to know because at times we need to move it when he's not around. It actually happened once and we couldn't move it. I've been longing to drive his Ferrari.

Have you and Sachin ever thought about what life is going to be like after cricket, or how long he intends to play?

ANJALI: People often tell us that we ought to start thinking about what he's going to do after cricket. But I feel that when you are playing, you need to focus 100%. You cannot even think of what you'll do after cricket. So I always tell Sachin not to think about it. I tell him, 'It doesn't matter, surely you'll find something to do, you have lots of interests.'

Also, maybe we can just take some time off and travel the world and then look ahead. I always insist that he should not worry about the future. At the same time, he will be at a total loss because his whole life has been cricket.

Hats off to Anjali Tendulkar! Really, Sachin is lucky to have her in his life!

Sachin's family at Madame Tussauds:

Family photo courtesy:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A BIG SQUAT To Take A Stand On Sanitation


Jack Sim, Founder, WTO, plans to get people to squat together in public places to raise awareness about sanitation.

The 52 year old former businessman says, "WTO is an advocacy group. We don't actually build toilets. We partner with organizations across the world and share knowledge and experience".

He says many people have TVs and mobile phones but no toilets. "It's about prioritising sanitation; 40% of the world has no access to proper toilets. Sanitation is about making people aware of the relationship between hygiene and health," he says.

WTO which has over 200 partners worldwide, 42 of which are in India is one of the few organisations that focuses only on sanitation and toilets instead of water. "Everyone clubs water and sanitation, and 95% of the funds go towards water projects. But good sanitation is the first step towards clean water," he says.

Toilets weren't really top of the pot for Sim, who ran a number of businesses from the age of 25. "When I turned 40, I realised that I had 13,000 more days to live the average Singaporean lives to 80 and wanted to do something useful," he says. Sim started reading and "realised that the toilet is really neglected". So he started "the other WTO" in 2001 to disseminate serious facts with a sense of humour. The logo is a toilet seat shaped like a heart.

"I thought the best way to break the toilet taboo was to use lots of puns." But the name, which everyone thinks is "really bad at first" sticks in people's minds. "That's because every mother has told her child not to talk about the toilet. It's not polite'. And here we are talking about the loo quite freely," says Sim, who is often called Toilet Man.
And it's not just about getting toilets installed. "You have to keep them clean too. So Sim has started the World Toilet College in Singapore that provides training in toilet maintenance and design. "I'm hoping we can open one in India too to train toilet cleaners like technicians."

This year, for World Toilet Day, WTO is planning a Big Squat. "We're getting people all over the world to squat together in public places and take a picture. It's a fun way to get the message across and make people laugh," he says. World Toilet Day, according to him, provides the legitimacy for people to talk about toilets openly. "Toilets are like sex, everyone wants to discuss it, but is waiting for someone else to break the taboo."
TIMES has an article about Jack Sim and Rose George, who are involved in this project.
In a city like Chennai, where the climate is hot nearly 10 months of the year, I see men urinating on the roadside all the time. When women can control and go home and relieve themselves, why can't men do so, I don't know. So, first of all people should be fined heavily for doing this crime (yes, it is crime) on the spot. I have seen them doing this on the wall of the public toilets! In Srirangam, I saw them urinating on the compound wall of the temple even though every street surrounding the temple had toilets, which were clean, but pay toilets! The whole area was stinking. Like Sim, we need somebody to teach people to use toilets to relieve themselves instead of doing it in public without shame (even after the mothers teach them not to talk about toilets/not to show their private parts in public!). Will education help to change this attitude about polluting the environment, but I see even educated people do this...So, our city will have very minimum people who will participate in this 'BIG SQUAT' sincerely!

Edited to add (12.11.09): Useful link - Sanitation updates 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Firaaq - Nandita Das's, Well Directed, Debut Movie

Firaaq - The Separation

Firaaq is actor Nandita Das's debut movie (she has done it like a pro, though) and will be remembered as a well-made movie, on the aftermath of Gujarat riots.

This movie was with me for the past one month at least.  I was just postponing to watch the serious movie.  Whenever I think about Govind Nihalani's 'Tamas' and Kamal's Tamil movie, 'Mahanadhi', I get upset and had decided never to watch very serious movies again.  But like I reluctantly watched 'Parzania' I watched this also.  And cursed myself when I saw the opening scene of the movie...but because of the impact of the scene, I wanted to watch the whole movie.

The story/stories,  is about the lives of people, who were affected badly,  immediately after the Gujarat riots in 2002.   Nandita does not show any direct violence in the film, but the emotional side of some people who try to come to terms with what had happened and go on with their lives.

After the first disturbing scene in which our Tamil veteran actor Naasser had acted, the movie continues...Naseeruddin Shah, is an old classical singer, who still believes that everything is at peace out there and nothing has changed.  Raghuvir Yadav is a person serving him for years but he hasn't  got the guts to tell Naseer about the brutal killings. My favourite ghazal singer, Jagjit Singh has given voice for Naseer's humming song, which is very melodious and is the only song in the movie.  He rarely goes out of the house and wonders why no one is attending the 'bhaitaks' nowadays.  We know about Naseer, but Raghuvir yadav, who is a superb actor,  is not lucky enough to get good roles.

Then comes the story of a Muslim family who returns to their home only to find it burnt by rioters. The woman, Muneer (Shahana Goswami) and her Hindu friend and neighbour,  used to earn money, by going to the local weddings and applying mehandi in the bride's and other women guests' hands and legs.  Now, Muneer goes to a wedding with her friend and the friend places her own bindi on Muneer's forehead to avoid any mis-happenings.

Sameer (Sanjay Suri) and Anu (Tisca Chopra) act as   a mixed marriage couple who has to deal with their fears and decision to leave Gujarat for Delhi after their shop was attacked by the rioters.  The scene where Sameer, who is an educated person, changes his Muslim surname to his wife's Hindu surname out of sheer fear/weakness, depicts the reality of the situation at that time, in Gujarat.

A child gets lost in the big town, roaming around helplessly after all his family members are killed. The story of this child also gets connected with Deepti Naval who is guilty of being a coward and watching her own family (Paresh Rawal is the husband), which gloats and uses the situation to their advantage. She brings the Muslim child home and tells him not to tell his original name 'Mohsin', but Mohan,  if the family asks for it.  The conversation scenes between Deepti and the child are the most emotional ones in the movie which prove the immense talent Nandita Das has got.

Nandita has very correctly understood how women have a more humane streak towards people,  regardless of whatever faith/creed they are from. 

Then the story of a group of Muslim men,  all flustered and planning for revenge, which fizzles out in the end with the death of one, in a weird way.  The murderous nature, which is hidden behind ordinary people is visible in this scene.

Just one or two scenes show how the people of both faiths were living together happily, before the riots and how slowly some changes and doubts erupted in the friendship between them.

This is not a normal bollywood film with twists and turns and a positive or negative ending. Though I felt at times like watching a documentary movie because of the incompleteness of some incidents, this movie makes us think about our own nature, when faced with this type of situation.

This boy as Mohsin, has acted very well, in the movie.  The sadness in his eyes hurts us.  I just wonder what will happen to children like him, who are orphaned because of the unnecessary riots in the name of religion in our country or elsewhere in the world.   Will they ever be able to lead a normal life like us, or will they become the future terrorists to harm the whole world and themselves, like it is happening now, in Pakistan?

Edited to add(10.11.09):  The characters speak (Paresh Rawal's family) a lot of Gujarathi.  It was difficult for me to follow!

Photo courtesy 

Boy Photo courtesy

Thursday, November 5, 2009

50 Glorious Years of Doordarshan - III


Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi

Golden days of Doordarshan

Yeh Jo hai Zindagi!  I can still remember the days this serial was telecast...every Friday at 8.30 pm.  We were living in a colony and the roads of the colony were deserted on these days. Hosur (Tamilnadu) where we lived, was an industrial area and people from all parts of our country were living in our colony...I had very good Maharashtrian, Bengali, Gujarathi friends over there.  These people felt as if they were in their own hometown while watching this Hindi serial.   Chennai Kendra had not yet reached there and so Tamilians also became addicts of this serial.  The theatres were empty on these days!  If we were out of our home and came back running, we could hear the title song of the serial, blaring from each and every house in the colony! And then the laughter sounds will start...every member of the family, young or old, were laughing heartily!  My neighbour was a doctor, but his clinic was empty, mostly, during this time and he too was happily watching this serial!  

This serial was the first of its kind - comedy serial - by Doordarshan, which was aired in 1984. Shafi Inamdar(Ranjit) and Swaroop Sampath, former Miss India, 1979(Renu and she was really beautiful!) played as a couple and Rakesh Bedi (Raja) was Renu's brother.  Most of the episodes were single episodes and some stories stretched to two episodes, I think.   Satish Shah (the famous comedian in the later years) became very famous in this serial, who played different roles (speaking different languages of different regions of our country) in every episode.   Vijay Kashyap and Shulbha Arya played as their Bengali neighbours.  Some of the dialogues became very famous like:

"Yeh kya ho raha hai"  Tikku Talsanya uses this line, dragging each and every word. 

"Aa ha ha, what a relief"  "30 Years Ka Experience hai"  Satish Shaw made these lines famous!

Wikipedia says,  "Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that video stores in London would await periodically for the copy of the serial’s tape. Even the box-office openings in cinemas were affected due to the airing of the show. After a couple of successful seasons, the show took a hiatus (due to the departure of Shafi [2], one of the primary characters, from the show) and returned for a second innings with some additional cast."

All viewers of this serial felt very sad when the news of Shafi Inamdar's demise came in the papers.    The serial was written by comedy writer Sharad Joshi and directed by S. S. Oberoi and Raman Kumar.  The title song sung by our Kishore Kumar...was our favourite song!

Now, let me show you one episode of the serial from our treasure trove 'you tube'!  If you like it, you can watch more over there.  Now we are exposed to hundreds of comedy serials and may not enjoy like we enjoyed in those days, but we watched it with the whole family, which is very important and which we don't seem to do, now.

Edited to add (6.11.09): I came across this anecdote about Swaroop Sampath!  She is actor Paresh Rawal's wife and has got two grown up sons now and acts in plays with her husband! She also teaches acting to disabled children. Swaroop has obtained a Ph.D. in Education[4] from University of Worcester in England. She is also a teacher’s trainer now traveling across India to conduct workshops for teachers who engage themselves in imparting this knowledge for the benefit of children.[5] She was selected by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to head an educational program for children. [6]


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