I have always been a great fan of writings of Khushwant Singh. That’s because his style of writing made reading an interesting affair, an engrossing episode. In fact, I did not subscribe to his ideological leanings but, nevertheless, I always found enough time to have a look at his write-ups. In literary circles, he was known for bringing forth history of Sikhs. It was a voluminous affair and he did that with perfection. Besides that novels like Train to Pakistan substantiated his fame as a writer.
I remember well that I had habit of reading novels in college days but slow reading never allowed me to finish the novels in one go. Being student of English Literature my bond with English novels deepened with each passing moment in those years. One of my classmates, who loved to buy novels in his limited pocket money, bought this novel but kept it a secret, knowing well that if by chance I came to know about the whole thing, the novel would soon become a history for him. Unfortunately, all things hidden secretly are spotted easily by me. I carried this novel to my home, much against his desire, but I returned this novel to him just after few days. It came as a huge surprise for him since I was infamous for keeping novels for months at my home. I told him that this novel was written in such a lucid way that it made reading a pleasant affair.
Train to Pakistan records tragic events related with Partition of India. It was a complex theme of which I had become aware of through TV serials like Tamas. And so I was not interested in reading again anything related with same theme but once I started reading this novel not for a moment I found reading becoming a dull task. It was written in such a soul-stirring manner that you were left with no other alternative other than to read from start to finish, devoid of long breaks! That explains as to why he emerged as such a popular writer among all the class of people. His writings were devoid of flamboyant and bombastic expressions. He wrote in simple English- something that you also notice when you are reading works of R K Narayan- which attracted even those readers having aversion for anything written in English!
Nowadays I meet many readers who complain that reading has become such a difficult task because modern day writers, especially award-winners, have given way to complex phrases, weird expressions, and meandering sentence constructions which more often than not leave them confused and irritated. However, this was not the case with Khushwant Singh. His column “With Malice towards One and All” which featured in English dailies and “Na Kahu Se Dosti Na Kahu Se Bair” which found space in Hindi newspapers broke all records of popularity. The anecdotes, and daily dose of humour which marked these columns served as life-line for many readers besides ensuring a respectable circulation.
Now having turned writer myself, I feel grateful to writers like Khushwant Singh, R K Narayan and Ruskin Bond, who taught me the art of writing simple English. I mean they taught me how to narrate serious episodes in easy language without compromising with seriousness inherent in them! I would not remember Khushwant Singh as a writer who dealt with women, wine, kisses and sex in his writings, but I would always remember him as a writer who made it easy for me to write simple English in an age when writing has got wedded to complexities!
The Indian democracy is said to be governed by the will of people. It’s not the entire truth. In reality, it’s governed by chosen contradictions. They make us sad, frustrated and gloomy. This time I would not enter into any sort of complicated analysis. Just presenting two news items side-by-side. That would be suffice to make Indians realize that not all is well with this country. The first news item is related with Saheed Capt. Amit Bhardwaj’s birth anniversary. The second news item is related with murder of a Deputy Superintendent of police, Zia ul Haq in Deoria, in Uttar Pradesh.
By means of contrast I wish to know are our soldiers sacrificing their lives for such rulers who appear to be no better than murderers? And secondly, do our citizens, which include judges and bureaucrats too, have no other option other than to live under shadow of such criminals posing as rulers? Anyway, RIP Kargil Saheed Capt. Amit Bhardwaj/Zia ul Haq. We shall always remain indebted to your glorious sacrifice. And for such rulers, it’s better that they get punished instead of making an attempt to define their worth.
Now the mother of all questions: If that’s the fate of high ranked police officials, how can the judiciary expect a common man to act as whistle blower? Any answers?
Capt. Amit Bhardwaj was leading the reinforcement column of 35 men when they were ambushed en route by Pakistani soldiers armed with light & medium weaponry. With the help of Havildar Rajbir Singh, he decided to divert the attention of the enemy & ordered his Second-in-Command to get the men out of the battle area. The two gallant men were killed, the others survived, though all were wounded. Capt. Bharadwaj saved nearly 30 of his men and killed more than 10 infiltrators, though he himself was hit twice fighting till the last breath. His body lay in deep valley of Himalayas, till it was retrieved on July 13, 1999. The bodies of Captain Bhardwaj and Havildar Singh 57 days later.
“I demand that the Chief Minister come here and resolve this issue. I demand Raja Bhaiya be subject to a police investigation, and the CBI should also intervene. If the CM does not come here I will not bury my husband. He will have to come or I will commit suicide…….He was under a lot of pressure. He was constantly being threatened and didn’t want to stay here. If justice is not served then I will go to Akhilesh Yadav’s house and kill myself,” ( Wife of murdered police officer)
And who is Raja Bhaiyya? A ruling Minister in UP’s present government against whom 48 criminal cases are pending.
“But this is not the first time that Raja Bhaiya is finding himself under scrutiny for death of a policeman. In 2007, DSP Ram Shiromani Pandey, the investigating officer in the POTA case against Raja Bhaiya, died in a road accident on the eve of his approaching the Allahabad high court seeking action against him. Questions were raised, but nothing could be proven and Raja Bhaiya remained as powerful as ever.”
The passing away of Rajesh Khanna makes all sensitive souls very sad. He should have lived for some more years on this planet. In India, they say people used to live for more than 100 years in ancient times. The people are dying at a very young age nowadays. We have been witnessing the passing away of creative souls at frequent intervals since last year- Jagjit Singh, Shahryar, Ravi, Shri Lal Shukla, Shammi Kapoor, Hanuman of modern times Dara Singh and now Rajesh Khanna. It appears that heaven badly needs creative artists to entertain its own residents, and thus, be it a singer, writer or actor, all are slowly getting placed in heaven one by one. Anyway, the death of Rajesh Khanna makes me realize that death is really the great leveler. It leaves none. It cares a damn for stature.
Rajesh Khanna provided death a new meaning in his timeless classic movie “Anand”. The movie highlighted the theme that death is an insignificant drama. However, today when he has passed away, it’s pretty hard to keep emotions in check. The Hindi movie landscape’s first superstar has now become a sweet memory as the presence now gets limited to magazines, books and movies. I really don’t know what are the elements involved in the making of a superstar but I am aware of the fact that his charishma in 70s left both young and old spellbound. Male newborns got named Rajesh, a new hair style came into existence and the frenziness found in every woman’s heart attained new height. The arrival of angry young man Amitabh Bachchan soon eclipsed the magic of Rajesh Khanna, but by then Rajesh Khanna image has attained some sort of immortality.
The early phase of all great actors had been a roller coaster ride. Rajesh Khanna proved to be no exception. The leading actresses of those days refused to work with him and well known directors failed to take note of him. His early movies did not create a desired effect. When Shakti Samanta narrated him the story of Aradhana, he noticed that Rajesh Khanna did not seem to be much impressed. After all, it was a female oriented movie, in which the hero died during the middle of the movie. It was no less a herculean task for Shakit Da to make Rajesh Khanna see light at the end of the tunnel. However, very few can predict the course of destiny. The movie, which in eyes of Rajesh Khanna, offered no better prospects not only proved to be a milestone in history of Indian movies but also gave Hindi movie world its first superstar. That’s the only logic which governs Bollywood- success appears like appearance of cascade in barren land. It defies all established rules. A female oriented movie gave Indian movie landscape its first male superstar!
Interestingly, the other dominant trend which defines Bollywood is that superstars rarely know real acting or, for that matter, are rarely offered roles that involve some real shades of acting. That’s so evident if one has witnessed acting skills of present “Khan Brigade”. They develop some lovable styles but they rarely come to act. The only superstar that can act a bit, Amitabh Bachchan, too feels that he never got an opportunity to reveal interesting shades of acting. All the time he remained engaged in “dhishum dhishum” (fight scenes)! Anyway, destiny smiled on Rajesh Khanna once again when he got opportunity to show his acting skills in some movies having substantial plots. It’s really curious coincidence that it was Hrishikesh Mukherjee, known for his simplistic take on serious issues, who came to provide both Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan some good opportunities to strike a bonhomie with various shades of acting. In fact, they both came to work together under his direction in Anand and Namak Haraam. Anand turned out to be a huge success. In fact, the character played by Amitabh, Babu Moshay, became a household name. The plot of Anand revolved around the philosophy found in the Upanishads that there is no such thing as death. Death is not an end but a new beginning. In other words, it taught the art of living, reminding us that laughter is the best medicine. After all, we rarely come to live life in a proper way. The movie made it clear that death is final drama, which paves the way for soul’s fresh journey with new set of cloth in form of a new body! Rajesh Khanna depicted this art of living in an unforgettable way.
However, let’s not forget the role which Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, R D Burman, Salil Choudhary, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Anand Bakshi, Laxmikant Pyarelaal, Hemant Kumar, Sahir and Khaiyyam played in shaping the course of success for Rajesh Khanna. It’s an undisputed fact that Kishore Kumar played the most significant role in making Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan careers attain starry heights. It’s also a proven fact that both of them lost their star appeal, when Kishore Kumar stopped singing for them in last stage of his singing career, due to health reasons. The romanticism demonstrated by Rajesh Khanna and machoism exhibited by Amitabh were heavily dependent on voice of Kishore Kumar! His voice acted as most suitable medium for them, which earlier provided new heights to Dev Anand. I am sure had Kishore been missing, Rajesh Khann would have failed to locate “Mere sapno ki Rani“. Tanuja would have maintained safe distance from Rajesh Khanna had Kishore not turned out to be “Dil ke Chain“. This song “Ye Jo Public Hai Ye Sab Jaanti Hai” became the most popular idiom to make a remark on the shady affairs in the world of politics and business. Another song from the same movie Roti “Gore Range Pe Na Itna Gumaan Kar” transcended generations to influence the fate of every fair skinned Indian girl.
May his soul rest in peace. The people who have moved ahead in this eternal journey, never travel backwards. They simply live inside our heart and minds as sweet memories. This line which forms the part of song picturized on him expresses this sentiment so well: “Kuch Log Jo Ek Roj Bichud Jaate Hai Wo Hazaro Ke Aane Se Milte Nahi“. Anand never dies. He always manages to be back on earth’s playground to play the game of life with a new face.That realization is bound to make one smile even as the eyes remained moist with tears. It makes reunion with Rajesh Khanna-a good soul-a great possibility. By the way, let’s not forget Rajesh Khanna’s words said to Pushpa In Amar Prem: ” Pushpa, I hate tears”.
1. Mere Naina Saawan Bhado ( Mehbooba )
2. Kuch To Log Kahenge (Amar Prem)
3. Zindagi Pyar Ka Geet Hai (Souten)
4. Hazaar Rahe Mud Ke Dekhi (Thodi Se Bewafai)
5. Vada Tera Vada (Dushman)
6.Sajna Saath Nibhana (Doli)
7. Pyaar Deewana Hota Hai (Kati Patang)
8. Ye Reshmi Zulfein (Do Raastein)
9. Jeevan Se Bhari Teri Aankhein (Safar)
10. Zubaan Pe Dard Bhari Daastan( Maryaada)
11. Wo Shaam Kuch Ajeeb Thi (Khamoshi)
12. Yun Hi Tum Mujhse Baat Karti Ho (Sachha Jhootha)
13. Mere Dil Me Aaaj Kya Hai (Daag)
14. Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaayein (Anand)
15. Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana (Andaaz)
A lot depends on how the song is picturized. I love this song not only for beautiful verses by Majrooh Sultanpuri, excellent composition by R D Burman, terrific singing by Kishore Kumar, but also for its mesmeric picturization. Absolutely stunning romantic song picturized in a perfect setting. A meaningful one as well. The verses are not only talking about romance in some absurd way like “Tum mujhko chand laake do” (get the moon for me) but they are having a take on it in a balanced way. The movie was full of typical Bollywood elements ( and that’s why I don’t like this movie) but the songs stand apart.