Monday, August 31, 2009



From one Punjab da puttar to another; if Singh"s brawn bravado was limited to B-grade flicks, Dharmendra brought it into the mainstream hero"s repertoire with his shirtless swagger in Phool Aur Patthar (1966). The film"s famous scene of a drunken shirtless Dharmendra hovering over a sleep feigning Meena Kumari in restrained anticipation ranks amongst the all time top sexually charged scenes in Hindi cinema.

As regards his brawn impact, it"s best summed by dream girl Hema Malini"s oft quoted first reaction on seeing Dharmendra, “I had never seen a more handsome man in my life before." The son of the soil"s rugged brawn appeal lay in his naturally sculpted body, not any artificially customised gym trained six packs. Indeed, they don"t make it like him anymore.Showstoppers: Haqeeqat, Phool Aur Patthar, Sholay, Dharam Veer, Razia Sultan

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sanskrit the Language of the Masses - Yes!

Sanskrit can become the language of the masses in rural areas
By Shreesh Deopujari from The Organiser, September 6, 2009

The overall development of the villages throughout the country should be a major issue because the majority of the population of the country lives in the rural areas. Majority of the great personalities engaged in rural development activities like Shri Anna Hazare, Shri Nanaji Deshmukh, Shri Surendra Singh Chauhan, made samskars as the basis of their activities. The samskars are imparted by singing devotional songs i.g. bhajans or putting forth Ramayana as an ideal source of inspiration or praying Bharat Mata collectively.

One more medium of imbibing virtues like sense of duty, integrity, devotion, faith, etc. is Sanskrit language. By speaking consistently in devvani (God’s language) the so-called downtrodden or the depressed class of the society also feels elevated. They not only feel confident but also develop samskars, which is the very base of any developmental activity. Therefore, Sanskrit Sambhashan is one of the prominent aspects of rural development, the work being undertaken by swayamsevaks across the country.

There are a number of villages in the country where all daily activities of life are conducted only in Sanskrit. The prominent villages in this group are Muttoor and Hosahalli in Karnataka and Jhiri and Mohad in Madhya Pradesh where Sanskrit has truly become language of the masses. More than 95 per cent the people of Muttoor and hundred per cent people in Jhiri speak Sanskrit. Muttoor (Karnataka) Apart from Muttoor, Hosahalli and Jhiri; Mohad and Baghuwar in Madhya Pradesh and Ganoda under Banswara district of Rajasthan are also the villages where Sanskrit is spoken by majority of the villagers.

Not only for asking well-being of each other but even while ploughing the fields, talking on telephone, purchasing goods from the grocer’s shop, getting the hair cut at barber’s shop, preparing food in kitchen, etc. people freely speak Sanskrit. The containers having spices and other things in the kitchen too contain the names in Sanskrit. Nobody in these villages thinks what will happen by learning Sanskrit.

Whether it will help in getting a job or not. It is our language and we have to learn it is the only feeling amongst them. Muttoor, the village of about 2,000 inhabitants, is located about 8 km south of Shimoga. The Tunga river flows gently on one side of the village. Its fame as the Sanskrit Gram has spread far and wide. Sanskrit is the spoken language of over 95 per cent of the people here. Soft and dulcet, a conversation sounds like a Vedic recital.

Though it is a journey, which began about 500 years ago, Sanskrit has been modified as per the modern needs here by Samskrit Bharati. As one enters the village he is greeted with bhavatha nam kim? (What is your name?), coffee va chaayam kim ichchhathi bhavan? (What will you have, coffee or tea?). The pronunciation of Hari Om instead of ‘hello’ and katham asti instead of ‘how are you?’ are common here. Everybody-men, women, children, literate or illiterate-freely speaks Sanskrit. Even the Muslim families speak Sanskrit without hesitation and as comfortably as is spoken by the Hindus. Their children are found in the streets reciting Sanskrit shlokas.

Even while fighting and playing cricket in the grounds children freely speak Sanskrit. When one walks down a few places from the school where one touches the ratha veethi (car street) and graffiti on the walls what grabs the attention is: Maarge swachchataya virajate, grame sujanaha virajante (Cleanliness is as important for a road as good people are for the village). Other slogans like ‘keep the temple premises clean’, ‘keep the river clean’ and ‘trees are the nation’s wealth’ are also written in Sanskrit and painted on walls reflecting ancient values. There are families who have written on their doors-‘You can speak in Sanskrit in this house.’ This is basically to tell the visitors that in case they are fluent in the language they can talk to them in Sanskrit.

Study of the language here begins from Montessori level, where kids are taught rhymes and told stories in Sanskrit-even Chandamama and comics printed in Sanskrit are available here. While the language is a compulsory subject in schools, teachers and even students talk to each other in it. Muttoor is not a cloistered hermitage shy of the outside world. Many of its youngsters have moved to cities in search of greener pastures in pursuit of higher education.

Some are teaching Sanskrit in universities across the State and more than 150 youngmen and women are in the field of IT as software engineers. Many foreign students also visit the village to learn Sanskrit and stay with them in true guru-shishya tradition. For more than 25 years now the village has been in the forefront of a movement to keep spoken Sanskrit alive. And one can notice the difference the minute one steps into the village. According to Shri MB Srinidhi, Dakshin Karnataka secretary of Samskrit Bharati, the seed for change was sown in 1982 when Samskrit Bharati organised a 10-day Sanskrit Sambhashan camp to teach the villagers spoken Sanskrit and people in this primarily agricultural society eagerly took part in the camp. In the local Sharada Vilasa High School, Sanskrit is compulsory till class VIII to X.

So, the present generation too has learnt to speak it. Mothers teach children Sanskrit at home. The credit for this silent revolution surfacing the country to popularising Sanskrit goes to Samskrit Bharati. Thousands of its activists are burning the midnight oil to move forward this movement. It is not necessary for a person to be literate for learning Sanskrit. Undoubtedly, a literate person can pick up the language easily, but an illiterate person too can learn it. There are thousands of people who were earlier fully illiterate but now speak fluently in Sanskrit.

One such example was seen in Baoli village under Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh where a 50-year-old Shri Jaiprakash speaks fluent Sanskrit. Shri Jaiprakash has never been to school but he learnt Sanskrit only in four camps of Samskrit Bharati organised in Delhi, Haridwar, Meerut and Baraut. Now he teaches Sanskrit to his fellow villagers. All his family members too speak Sanskrit. Jhiri, Mohad and Baghuwar (Madhya Pradesh) Jhiri comes under Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh. Total population of the village is 976 and all the people including small children, women, elder people, school-going children, literate and illiterate speak fluently in Sanskrit. Samskrit Bharati had started conducting Samskrit Sambhashan camps in the village in 2002 through an activist Vimla Tewari. She had come here only for one year. But in that one year she developed so much interest of the villagers to the divine language that everybody in the village turned to learn Sanskrit. Now all the villagers love Vimla as their own daughter.

Former RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri KS Sudarshan visited this village. He was so much impressed with the command of the villagers over Sanskrit that he, while touring the village, touched the feet of elderly women at four places and sought their blessings. The morning of the people in this village begins with Namo Namah and ends with the greetings of Shubhratri. Shri Sudarshan honoured Vimla Tewari for her outstanding performance in propagating Sanskrit in the village.

The Sanskrit Sambhashan classes in Jhiri are conducted both in the morning and evening. Impressed with the noble command of the villagers on the divine language the people of some adjoining villages like Moondala and Susahedih also come to Jhiri to learn Sanskrit. Anyone who visits this village is thrilled seeing all people speaking fluently in the God’s language. The total population of Mohad is about 4,000. But more than 1,000 people speak Sanskrit.

Samskrit Bharati organised six sambhashan vargas in the village resulting in not only the small children but even the old women speaking Sanskrit fluently. Pratibha Chauhan is just seventh pass but can speak Sanskrit freely. Now she has taught Sanskrit to all her family members. The village Panchayat takes special steps to popularise Sanskrit in Mohad.

Even Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Muslim families speak Sanskrit without hesitation. Similar picture can be seen in Baghuwar village, which is near Mohad. In Jhiri, the farmers while ploughing their field even order their oxen in Sanskrit and the oxen too follow those instructions. Ganoda (Rajasthan) Ganoda is a village under Banswada district of Rajasthan where a large number of people speak Sanskrit. In this Vanvasi-dominated village, Sanskrit is slowly becoming a way of life.

Slogans in Sanskrit make the village walls, the language spoken in practically every house and every school-going child rattling off a few sentences. "Almost everyone can speak or understand Sanskrit in this village," says Naresh Doshi. About ten years ago Ganoda was like any other village of Rajasthan but now it has special place. Now all the Sanskrit-speaking people in this village have resolved to make Sanskrit the second language of the Wagdi-speaking population. "My mother cannot speak Sanskrit very well but everyone else manages.

Now I have attended a few Sambhashan Vargas and we are slowly trying to teach others," says 14-years-old Dharmesh Joshi. The ultimate aim of the people here is to make Ganoda a unique and model Sanskrit village. Their punch line is "don’t say hello, say Hari Om." Due to the Sanskrit language caste discrimination between the so-called lower and upper castes has reduced. Those who speak the language can hold his head high in the society. The oneness of the society leads to the development of the village. Jayatu Sanskritam.

(The writer is Akhil Bharatiya Prakalp Pramukh of Samskrit Bharati.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vijender Singh is the best!

Printed from Times of India
Vijender becomes world No. 2

TIMESOFINDIA.COM 20 August 2009, 05:01pm IST

NEW DELHI: Vijender Singh who won the Bronze Medal at the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 has achieved the second ranking in the World in 75kg with a tally of 1700 points, announced International Boxing Association (AIBA).
Correa Bayeux Emilio of Cuba with an aggregate of 2500 points is ranked one. Blanco Parro Alfonso of Venezuela with a tally of 1300 points is ranked third while Artayev Bakhtiyar of Kazakhstan is ranked four with a tally of 1250 points.
In the 48kg, Thokchom Nanao Singh has been ranked fifth with a tally of 1400 pts while Olympic champion Zou Shiming of China is ranked one with 2500 points.
In the 51kg, Suranjoy Singh has been ranked fourteenth with a total of 800 points, while Jitender Kumar has been ranked 13th with a total 837.5 points.
In the 57kg Akhil Kumar has been ranked ninth with a total of 1050 points, while his compatriot Jai Bhagwan is ranked 25th with 700 points.
In the 64kg, Manoj Kumar is ranked 2nd with 400 points while in the same weight category Balwinder Beniwal is ranked 57th with 362.5 points.
In the 69kg category Dilbag Singh is ranked 28th with 550 points while in the 81 kgs, Dinesh Kumar is ranked Joint sixth with 1050 pts.
In the 91 kgs Manpreet Singh is 35th with 450 pts while in the + 91kg Parveen Kumar and Paramjit Samota are 37th and 40th respectively.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Manoj Kumar on Independence Day

Printed from Times of India
I saw Nehru hoist tricolour: Manoj Kumar

RITU VERMA, TNN 13 August 2009, 12:00am IST

'Bharat' Kumar's cult movies like Purab Aur Paschim, Kranti, Shaheed, Upkaar are still considered a yardstick for patriotic cinema in Bollywood

Manoj KumarFondly called Bharat Kumar, veteran actor Manoj Kumar is one of the first faces that flashes in our minds when we think of patriotic films. His cult movies like Purab Aur Paschim, Kranti, Shaheed, Upkaar are still considered the yardstick of patriotic cinema in Bollywood.
My countrymen are so gracious, they liked my work, my character in Upkaar and I was made Bharat Kumar from Manoj. I rejoice in all the love and respect I have received from my audience. To maintain the dignity of this name I have also worked very hard and sacrificed a lot, at various steps of my life, says Manoj Kumar. When asked to pick his favorite character from all his onscreen patriotic avataars, he replied,
"The feel of patriotism might be the common factor in my onscreen avatars, yet they were all very different from each other. All the characters had different circumstances and faced different challenges, just like two different individuals. I can't really compare them, all my characters are very close to my heart."
The legendary actor is disappointed that patriotic films like Rang De Basanti and Chak De India are rare to come by. He says, I think, by and large, society is moving away from patriotism. There is an old saying, Jab raja bana vyapari, toh praja bani bhikhari. It applies pretty well in today's scenario.
Today's youth has no icons, no role models to follow. They really need leaders who can inspire them. Unfortunately, these days politicians are only in the news for scams and arguments in Parliament. He adds, In the recent past we witnessed a movie named Mangal Pandey. The subject of the movie was slightly shallow and hence it failed at the box office. Still, through the movie, people got to know that someone like Mangal Pandey also existed. Rang De Basanti struck bull's eye and became really popular. I think the first advantage of the movie was its title, which came from the famous song, Mera Rang De Basanti Chola. Though the first half of the movie was a little confused, yet it did very well and youngsters praised it. There are very few filmmakers who take up patriotic subjects, but I really think if given a good treatment, people will surely appreciate such cinema in today's times too. These days everyone is eager to make films that match international standards. I believe if we can really concentrate on national cinema, it would automatically be at par with international films.
When we asked the yesteryear actor about whom he thinks can portray patriotic roles with ease from today's Bollywood biggies, it was only one name that came to his mind. Aamir Khan is definitely the best suited actor for such roles. I really liked him in Taare Zameen Par and Rang De Basanti. In our times be it Raj Kapoor, Dharmendra, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand or Manoj Kumar, each of us had our own area of expertise and catered to different genres of cinema. But these days all actors seem to be doing similar roles.
Today, they have no individuality. Therefore, I'll suggest they become a part of respectable and meaningful cinema.
The veteran actor shared his memories of the first Independence Day of India. “Though every Independence Day is memorable, I can't forget the day when Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, raised the flag of independent India in Delhi. I remember going to the Red Fort with my father. I was a fortunate young boy who could witness that historic moment, which is still framed in my mind.
The cult hero concludes with a powerful Independence Day message, I wish this Independence Day brings joy and prosperity to our country.
Only saying Jai Hind thrice with the Prime Minister does not make a country of patriots. In many ways, we are moving forward, but there remains so much to be done. I wish everyone does their own bit. I pray to God to be kind to our country and bless us with good monsoon and good crops.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where is the Farmer in Bollywood? Where is my Manoj?

From Times of India

Rooting out the farmer in Indian cinema
Insiya Amir, TNN 9 August 2009, 12:22am IST

India has come a long way from Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's 1965 slogan ˜Jai Jawan Jai Kisaanâ. That was a time of war and food scarcity; both soldier and farmer were icons of patriotism and hard work.

Two years after the catchy slogan, Manoj Kumar, at Shastri's request, had the kisaan star as hero of his movie Upkaar. It could not happen today. The farmer is no longer idolized as hero of the Indian growth story. In a faithful reflection of reality, the kisaan has disappeared from the Bollywood plot as well. Manoj Kumar made box office history when he crooned Mere desh ki dharti in Upkaar. But today's movies are singing a videshi tune. I am sure there are hundreds of stories beyond the Gateway in Mumbai, the Golden Bridge of San Francisco and Oxford Street in London. But who is interested in those?asks film critic Anupama Chopra. The NRI movie is a trend that began with Aditya Chopra's Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and established itself with Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. “Movies now are all about being cool and urbane. It is what the fabled NRI wants and it's what the new Indian in the multiplex wants, explains Chopra.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons why the farmer has disappeared from screens is the rise of the multiplexes. Director Ram Gopal Verma probably got it right when he said that he no longer needed to worry about UP and Bihar. Gone are the days when the struggles of Mother India captivated audiences across the country.

Instead, Priyanka Chopra's travails in Fashion get the box office cash tills ringing. Trade analyst Komal Nahata affirms, The farmer is out as the chunk of box-office earnings comes from cities. Manoj Kumar, the original farmer, has a different take on the issue. He says that today's directors are interested in telling their own stories, derived from lives lived in the fast lane.

To make a film about farmers you have to go out and see what their lives are like. This generation seems confined to watching DVDs in tall apartment buildings, says the veteran actor. Kumar insists the spotlight will be on farmers once again. When you see aerial shots of New York, it is a feast for the eyes. But when you see lush mustard fields, it is a feast for the soul. Farmers are the soul of the country, he asserts. But the numbers don't stack up for Kumar's argument.

A 2006 National Sample Survey Organization study found that 40% of India's farmers want a different job. Roughly 80,000 farmers with landholdings and landless labourers alike are thought to be moving to the cities every year. Studies show that by 2020, 70% of Tamil Nadu's farmers, 65% of those in Punjab and nearly 55% of UP's farmers will move to urban centers. Meanwhile, agriculture's share of India' GDP has steadily declined from 46% in 1960 to 20% today, even though 70% of the population is still engaged in the sector.

Sociologist Shiv Viswanathan says it's no wonder that the farmer has been written off. He says, The kisaan has become an object in the experiment of biotechnology, and that too without any sense of modernity. If only agriculture in India was more modern, the farmer wouldn't look so out of place and out of breath.

The farmer is having as much trouble in reel life too. By and large, movies with rural settings have sunk without a trace, not least last year's Summer of 2007, which dealt with farmer suicides. And Bollywood's newest offering, Kisaan, is getting no media attention. Filmmaker Shyam Benegal says rural India is ignored on the silver screen. Indian cinema has become aspirational. It is thriving on people who want their movies to be about the same consumerist lifestyle they are leading, or want to lead, says the director whose Ankur and other films are still remembered for their portrayal of rural life. Dealing with rural India needs a certain social engagement.

Mainstream (Bollywood) is not intrigued by that. But Benegal says all is not lost. Younger filmmakers are making movies about the realities of rural India. (But) these are documentaries, he says. The chances are that someone will notice and Bollywood will once again write scripts about Bharat.

Manoj Kumar remains hopeful: All things in life are cyclical. We will go back to our roots. And the farmer will have his day in the sun again.