Thursday, October 17, 2013

तरंग: दीप्‍ती नवल की कविता “Smita and I”

तरंग: दीप्‍ती नवल की कविता “Smita and I”
Yunus bhai, saubhagya kahoon ya durbhagya ki maine bhi Smita ko aise hi airport ki bhag-daud ke beech dekha tha. Hum ek hi flight se Delhi se Shrinagar ja rahe the, isliye donon taraf ke baggage claim counter par mile. Deepti samaan-dharma theen, so unse baat kar sakeen. Main.... Patna me lecturer thi, sankoch ke karan kuchh kah nahin saki. Usi varsh Smita chali gayeen aur mujhe aaj tak pachhtava hai ki maine ek bar unka hath chhoo kar kyon nahin kaha ki aap mujhe bahut acchi lagti hain.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Eksmo signs deal with Purple Turtle

Purple Turtle which is licensed by Aadarsh Pvt. Ltd is a Kids Luxury brand that publishes NCERT approved Preschool, Nursery, School books and many other activity and puzzle books. Purple Turtle is also a preschool, which provides personalized education and care towards a child. Purple Turtle believes that children are capable and innovative and believes that books play a major role in developing a child brain which leads to over all development of the child.

Russian publication house “Eksmo”, which is a leading book publisher in Russia and one of the largest in Europe, which controls about 20% of Russian book market have singed Purple Turtle to publish Purple Turtle Books in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Purple Turtle being recognized by all as “A Kids Luxury Brand”, through Eksmo now they would be seen overseas.

N. K. Krishnanand, National Sales Manager, Purple Turtle, said,” We are very happy to say that Eksmo being a top publication house in Russia, have singed us to be their publication house for books in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. This has made our hard work and contribution in education field a success. We promise to bring greater education and learning facility to all the children of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.”

He added, “Purple Turtle through their consistence devotion in education sector have now made in large by attracting Eksmo to choose them as their publication agency in Russia and other parts. We are very happy to hold the licensor ship of Purple Turtle; it has brought pride to us.”

Purple turtle is a cute character which helps a child to grow and learn in a fun manner. It a name that is friendlier in both the genders and also a favorite among children and parents as Purple Turtle is exactly what makes a child interested in reading and learning. This has made Eksmo to choose Purple Turtle as their publishing house.

Eksmo is the exclusive Russian partner of Disney, Inc. in publishing educational books. Eksmo works in all segments of the books like school textbooks, children's literature, domestic and foreign fiction.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sharat Chandra : The Messiah Of The Oppressed

“In the dead of night Gafur set out , holding his daughter by the hand. He had nobody to call his own in the village. He had nothing to say to anybody. Crossing the yard he stopped and crying loudly. “Allah”, he said raising his hand and face towards the dark, starry sky, “punish me as much as you can- but remember, Mahesh died in thirst. Not a tinniest bit of land was left for him to graze. Pray, never forgive those, who denied Mahesh the grass to eat, water to drink, which you provided for all on this earth.”

Those were the heydays of Zeminder’s, second and third decade of twentieth century. The author of this story revolving around a landless peasant Gafur and his bull, “Mahesh”, is Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, the most popular novelist in Bengal. His novels have been translated in almost all other Indian languages and were equally popular. Many films based on his novels were termed as super hit films in Bangla, Hindi and other languages. The films ‘Devdas’ and ‘Dev D’ released recently are prime example of his appeal to the masses for generations. There lies the paradox. Devdas was the scion of a prosperous Zamindar family of Bengal and the novel was about his tragic love story. The same writer writes about a Muslim landless peasant and his bull ‘Mahesh” and it was selected as UNESCO heritage literature.

Sharat Chandra spent his childhood and the best part of his youth in dire poverty, living a vagabond’s life in search of livelihood. His childhood was spent in his maternal uncle’s family at Bhagalpur in Bihar due to abject poverty. In his youth he worked as a manual labor and later as a petty clerk to sustain himself. The life he saw was smitten with hunger, famine and death; so were the novels and short stories he wrote, which depicted the realities of life in rural Bengal and not the sophisticated urban life of the educated middle class. For him the creator and the universe had no meaning because even the moon looks like half-burnt bread for the hungry. Characters like Satish in his novels Charitraheen, Ramesh in Pallisamaj and Sabyasachi in Pather Dabi were rebels, more of a rebel than a hero, who defied the religious strictures, social norms and stood against the landlords, their cronies and the priests, who exploited the poor peasants to live a life of opulence. Without any political overtone Sharat Chandra was able to weave mass uprising, agrarian movements and message of social reform in his novels and short stories.

Sharat Chandra was very fond of Charles Dickens and was definitely influenced by his style of narration and social awareness. He excelled over all great story tellers of his time because of his intimate knowledge of life of the people from the lowest strata of life- the peasants, the snake charmers, the courtesans, prostitutes etc. Gafoor in his short story ‘Mahesh’ was a muslim landless peasant and Mahesh was his bull. He used to feed the animal even when he himself had to remain in empty stomach for days together. But he was driven to the wall because of the relentless demand of the landlord and the priests to fill their coffers. One day, in a momentary rage he hit the bull hard and the famished bull died. Gafoor left his house and the village and went to the city with his daughter to work as a laborer in a Jute mill.

Mritunjay in the story ‘Bilasi’ was a snake-charmer, who had left his middle class family and opted for this profession out of love for Bilasi. He died while trying to catch a cobra ignoring Bilasi’s warnings. After his death Bilasi had nothing to live for. So at the end she also commits suicide. We find another character of snake charmer in his autobiographical novel ‘Srikanta’. ‘Annada Didi’ had left her family and honor to live with her characterless, drug addict husband, who had never accepted her as his wife. He also died while playing with a poisonous snake in a drunken state. Annada spent her rest of life alone carrying the memory of her so called husband.

In ‘Abhagir Swarga’ the mother Abhaghi is a lower caste woman, whose only dream was that after her death she should be cremated with full rituals like the high-caste Hindus. She dies in penury and his son went further into the debt trap to fulfill his mother’s last wish.

Sharat Chandra was acknowledged as a writer with profound sympathy for women and deep ‘understanding of the whole gamut of the women’s inner life, be it as a mother, sister, wife or the beloved, thereby often fighting through her the fight of the modern woman for recognition as a free individual and personality in her own right.’ There are many instances in his writings, where he was seen more as a revolutionary than a social reformer, which forced the British rulers to proscribe his novel ‘Pather Dabi’ as sedition.

To pay tribute to the great writer, reformer and humanist Sharat Chandra one should ask an honest question, whether the exploitation, the suffering of the silent majority in British India, he depicted in his writings could be eradicated seventy years after independence, and if not, why. The answer is obviously ‘no’ and there lies his relevance for the posterity.

The Talking points on Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay in All India Radio 
- Amar Mudi

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Arun Prakash Jha (1948 - 2012)

Death is a great equalizer. Or perhaps not.
For the first time in the many years of my living, I saw my dad shedding a tear for a dear friend lost into anonymity forever perhaps. His friendship for the last 30 years or so with ‘Jha uncle’ was something he didn’t discuss very often. But it remained, especially spoken of when he would talk about his days of struggle in Delhi. How they did masters in Mass Communications together both in their mid fifties with the gusto of three 20 year olds. Sometimes, every now and then he would mention how the man single handedly made a ‘rags to riches story’ for himself. ‘Riches’, not in the way you would want the story to be, his life was rich, in ways only an artist would want it to be. Arun Prakash ji, or Jha uncle as we remember him, was a man of strong convictions. Someone who lost his father very early in his life, he struggled, educated himself, wrote and retired as quite a well known hindi writer in the last 30 years. He was also the editor of “Samkaleen Bhartiya Sahitya”, the hindi version of “Modern Indian Literature” a bimonthly magazine with poetry and literature from Indian poets and writers across the country.
He established himself as a writer with a strong sense of roots to the Indian setting. With surrealistic approach to the pains and struggles in India, he wrote both about the urban and the rural India. Whether it be the controversial ‘Abhisamragya’ based on the slums of Delhi, or ‘Bhaiyya Express’ based in the riot and terrorism struck Punjab, he made his mark, not wanting fame or fortune, but for the pure pleasure of writing. I am not claiming to have read all his work, but some of his work that I have read leaves a mark, just like his life did on my father’s.  

He wrote:

"Arun Prakash wrote a few short stories and only three novels. But he was noticed by avid readers, critics as someone who ushered in the beautiful people of Biha, their simplicity, love of life. The day I read Bhaia Express I felt this is the best story on Punjab and terrorism ever written. Then I read his story Bisham Rag. The maid servant living in a jhuggi came alive with her passionate love, and immense mental strength.So were his other stories: Jal Prantar, Gaj Puran etc. I translated two of his short stories into Bangla and the response I received was mind boggling.
He was my friend for 25 years. But even today I don't understand how he gathered the strength to defy his own pain, sufferings and bring out the positive side of life amidst penury, deprivation and exploitation.
Arun Prakash, eminent writer in Hindi and editor of Samakaleen Bharatiya Sahitya passed away on 18th June, 2011." 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Delhi OMG - Vinod Nair (whats wrong with Flipkart)

'Delhi OMG' is a classic case of "Don't judge a book by it's cover". Especially... back cover...

It looks interesting, the cover is jazzy, the back notes look tempting... they look positively funny.
And then you open the book to start reading. You start to think that you may be missing the humour, or the humour is yet to walk in the book... or maybe even  cynicism. But trust me all I managed to read in the first 50 pages were rants. Rants about how 'Delhi' is all that the world and most bloggers like me have been complaining about on their personal blogs. How it is a city with more pompousness than the erstwhile kings of lucknow, how the people are hypocrites, women are promiscuous, bribery, cheats, et al. It is a book of rants. 

The first 50 pages pass, but please dont expect a miracle... I was left wondering, how come Flipkart gave it such rave reviews... What have those guys been eating? Really. Or are they all people who never really read but picked up this book cause it looked like SMSese?

Sorry Mr Nair, your book does get a reaction... OMG!!! WHY DID I EVER PICK IT UP?

I really feel sorry for my friend who got me the book thinking this would be interesting... He picked it with all good intentions. But sometimes the best intent cannot get good books off the shelves.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Love stories and guilt- Mills and Boon

I am guilty of reading Mills & Boon, totally guilty, and I probably should be hanged for it if it were a crime. Intellectual minds in the society have shunned me, and those who haven’t, haven’t only because so far I have not mentioned my taste in trash romances.

They are the gooey, sticky, mushy story of ‘girl meets guys-hates him-loves him-marries him’ and there are no other plots. They have no intellectual substance and are probably the reason why there are so many women looking for passionate love stories that can never go wrong and end up disillusioned and depressed. In essence there seems to be no particular reason for anyone to pick up these pocket books to read. This century old paperback editions have been around for a reason....
The Love stories that never change
And like all the heroines of M&B say at the end, I do. Not without good reason. One, they are light and small, hence easy to carry. You can put them in your bag, and even in a pocket that is big enough. Secondly you can leave them unfinished for months together and you won’t miss it. You can even pick up a completely different one and find you don’t really need to begin it again. They were easy to hide behind school books even in a classroom. They are dirt cheap, you don’t mind if they get stolen and/or borrowed and lost unlike good literature. Bottom line, they make you believe in love. What with all the breakups and divorce rates all sky rocketing, it maybe a very needed dose of good, warm feelings when the heroine in all 200 books is told how much she is loved by the man who is ready to sacrifice the world for her. Plus it gives me the added advantage of reading about all the Australian outbacks, and the English countryside, Newzealand coral reefs, and the great plains of America without having to pay the cost of visiting each and everyone of them.

Obviously all the ladies in the books are extremely good looking and may give a negative body image to most of us, but keep a strong head on your shoulders and you will find a prince charming despite what you look like. Faith is all it takes.

Lastly in my defense, haven’t we all loved all the Hugh Grants and the Sandra Bullocks for their rom-com movies for the same reasons? They are not possible but, we all watch them. And love them. And quote them. So what if I like reading the same 2 and a half hour mush on a book that costs 20 bucks on the street? And as far as story lines and plots go, I, being a delhiite have grown up watching DDLJ, KKHH, HAHK ‘Far fetched’ is a phrase that I don’t think the entire universe can beat Bollywood at churning that out 365 movies a year.