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Telly and the 90s nostalgia

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By Sreyashi Mazumdar

Picture credit: huffpost.com
Picture credit: huffpost.com

Empty alleys, scorching sun, and people thronging before the televisions sets with a conch’s blow marked the beginning of Mahabharat’s episode number 62. Well, one might get befuddled as to what does the aforementioned portrayal hint at; however, let me clear the air. If you are a 90s kid and your Sundays started off with BR Chopra’s Mahabharat when the clock ticked 12, you might get an inkling of what I intend to talk of.

Indian television might have taken a gargantuan leap within a span of 20 odd years. However on reminiscing those days when the newly-found colored television sets would have knocked at our doors, and cult daily soaps like Mahabharat, Ramayan, Shaktiman and Mowgli exuded balminess and fondness.

Picture credit: learningandcreativity.com
Picture credit: learningandcreativity.com

Shaktiman was one of the most popular Indian superheroes, captivating every toddler’s mind. The blaring golden star right at the centre of the marooned costume and the makeshift eddying of the superhero were not only the most jaw-dropping excerpts of the entire series but also two of the most emulated expressions. “At that age, it was an insight into a superhero’s world. He was my role model. There was this constant excitement to watch it because it was about an alternative human and not a normal human being and though it is mocked widely, it is a reminder of my childhood days,” shared Ishani Roy, with a broad smile and a glow that gradually surfaced on her face.

Jungle jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai..
chaddhi pehen ke phool khila hai phool khila hai…

Picture credit: wikia.nocookie.net
Picture credit: wikia.nocookie.net

A lanky little boy with a tattered underwear and unkempt hair loitering around a humongous stretch of forest with lions and bears and a bewitching tune in the background precisely limns the episodes of the Jungle Book. “My father used to address me as Mowgli because of the hair cut I had. Jungle Book was like a ritual for me. I made sure that I tuned in to Mowgli every Sunday after a toothsome breakfast. I used to gleefully croon away to the title track…I do it even now at times,” recollected Tulika Mazumdar, a 21-year-old undergraduate from MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore.

Picture credit: feminiya.com
Picture credit: feminiya.com

Paging through the long lost memories of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and BR Chopra’s Mahabharat, one might get erratic flashes of actors like Arun Govil and Gajendra Chahuhan. They donned gaudy attires and their faces fleshed out overt expressions. Indian television was still in it’s nascent stage with epics like Mahabharata, Ramayana or even Krishna for that matter kicking off a furore across the country. Climatic wars, larger than life sets and resounding dialogues were some of the most common elements typical of these epic dramas, establishing the archetypes of Indian television in a way. “Our entire family used to take to one huge sofa and gawk at the television set without any distractions hindering us,” said Nupur Chatterjee, a computer engineer from Bangalore.

Though these series have exhausted their shelf lives, they continue to amuse us till this date, leaving behind a soothing stint of recollection.

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Welcome the new Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Anupam Kher

Actor Kabir Bedi said Anupam “would do wonders” in his new role

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ftii
Veteran actor Anupam Kher. Wikimedia

Pune, October 11, 2017 : Anupam Kher, an actor with a repertoire of over 500 movies including international projects, was named Chairman of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune. The film industry hailed the move.

Official sources confirmed Anupam’s appointment. He will succeed the controversial Gajendra Chauhan, whose appointment had triggered student protests.

Anupam’s wife Kirron Kher, an actress and BJP MP from Chandigarh, told Times NOW: “I’m very happy. Of course, it’s a challenging job for anybody. It’s not going to be an easy job. These chairmanships are crown of thorns. Here, people do get against you, but I am sure Anupam will be able to take them along because he is an extremely talented person.”

Anupam, who began his acting career with “Saaransh” in 1984, also has his own acting institute Actor Prepares.

Kirron said Anupam was the right choice to head the FTII, which provides training in acting, direction and other technical aspects of film making in a country which is one of the largest producers of movies.

ALSO READ Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune to Screen Films Made by its Alumni from August 5

“My husband is a very fine actor. He has been in the film industry for so many years. He is very capable of (being FTII head).

“He has been teaching acting for so long. He is the only person who earlier headed CBFC, then National School of Drama and now has been appointed Chairman of FTII.

“So, I am a very proud wife today. I would like to thank the government and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry,” she said.

Asked what she meant by ‘crown of thorns’, she said: “I meant the CBFC, not FTII.”

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar tweeted: “Heartiest congratulations to Anupam Kher for being appointed as the Chairman of FTII.”

Filmmaker Pritish Nandy called it an “excellent change” at FTII. “Finally, the government is listening to us.”

Actor Kabir Bedi said Anupam “would do wonders” in his new role. (IANS)

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Hafeez Jalandhari: The Man behind Pakistan’s National Anthem also Wrote Urdu Poem-Krishn Kanhaiya to Praise the Hindu God Krishna

Decoding Hafeez Jalandhari's 'Krishn Kanhaiya'

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Hafeez Jalandhari wrote Krishn Kanhaiya, praising Hindu God Krishna
Hafeez Jalandhari wrote Krishn Kanhaiya, praising Hindu God Krishna. Pixabay
  • Hafeez Jalandhari weaved a poem that has a political and devotional angle to it
  • Hinduism uses sight as a way to connect with the almighty
  • The poet doesn’t refer to Krishna as a God but he says that Krishna represents glory and majesty of God

New Delhi, August 31, 2017: This year, Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day coincided with Hindu Festival Janmashtami (a festival to celebrate Krishna’s birth). Both were on 14th August. The famous Urdu poet Hafeez Jalandhari wrote the Qaumi Taranah, Pakistan’s national anthem. But not many people know that the same poet penned Krishn Kanhaiya, a unique Urdu poem beautifully describes the greatness of the Hindu Deity.

The idea of a Muslim poet in today’s time writing on a Hindu God raises all sorts of reactions (some of which are negative) coming from different ethnic groups in South Asia: suspicion, anger, surprise, joy or mere curiosity.

There is much more nuance to the poem Krishn Kanhaiya than what the reader thinks on its first reading. This is not just a devotional poem. Jalandhari had a political bend of mind be it him as a thinker or a writer. So, even this poem of his is not an ordinary one, it talks about Krishna’s grand persona, Hindu idol worship, what makes him different, his righteousness, describing the role he played in a Hindu epic Mahabharata.

He weaved a poem that has a political and devotional angle to it. The hidden meaning of it, when compared with Qaumi Taranah, is that it tells about the cultural politics of South Asia- in the 20th Century and has relevance today.

Decoding the poem:

Idol Worship

In the first line of the poem, the poet says “O, onlooker”- he might be saying this as he’s talking about a Hindu God and Hinduism gives importance to seeing a God, they believe in Idol worshipping, Hindu Gods have a form, a face. Thus, Hinduism uses sight as a way to connect with the almighty. The poet wants the readers to have mental darshan of Lord Krishna by saying, onlookers. Jalandhari wants the readers to have a mental image of Krishna in their minds.

Krishna is a form of light

The opening lines of the poem are a bit abstract and don’t talk of Krishna; in further lines, the poet asks whether Krishna is a reality or a representation. He refers to him as a “form of light” and then asks is he fire or light. Referring to Krishna as light might indicate to Islamic scholars who said that “Krishna was a righteous prophet sent to the people of the subcontinent.”

Jalandhari finally gives a description of Krishna that we are more familiar with- him being a “flute player” and a “cowherd of Gokul.” The poet doesn’t refer to Krishna as a God but he says that Krishna represents glory and majesty of God.

In the tenth stanza, the poet says that – “Inside the temple / the sculptor of beauty himself / entered and became the idol”. He is talking about Idol Worship done by Hindus who pray to their God in a temple, having a belief that the deity resides in the temple in the idol itself.

ALSO READ: Hindu Temple in Aldenham (UK) Hosts Global Visitors for Largest ‘Hare-Krishna’ celebrations in the world

Krishna Leela

Then we get a glimpse of ‘Krishna Leela’ as the poet talks of Krishna’s playing and dancing around with gopis (cowherd girls), on Yamuna river bank that he describes as a “rare happenings”. He is youthful and charming, to set the tone of the scene, phrases like “intoxicated winds” and “waves of love” are used that there was something heavenly in the atmosphere.

The sound of Krishna’s flute is described as “neither intoxication nor wine / it’s something beyond.”  Such phrases transport the readers into Braj (Krishna spent his childhood and adolescence years here) and they get blissfully lost in the divine sound of Krishna’s flute.

Cheer-Haran of Draupadi and Krishna being her savior

The poem from here takes a serious transition into a serious mood. Here the poet talks of a famous Cheer-Haran (disrobing) scene from Mahabharata as the five Pandavas have lost their kingdom and Draupadi in the dice game. Draupadi is dragged into the court by Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava, she prays to Krishna to help her.

It is said that Lord Krishna came to her rescue and due to God’s grace, her sari turned into a never ending piece of cloth as when the Kauravas tried pulling it off, more fabric draped her body and saved her dignity.

With this scene, Jalandhari begins to bring a political angle to the poem as Draupadi says, “These beloved princes (her husbands), have all become cowards!” It seems that Jalandhari is accusing India’s rulers, monarchs who behaved like cowards at the time of British Rule.

Some even argue that the poet is referring to all Indians who worked under British Rule as cowards. The poet uses the phrase “the light of India” for Krishna, this seems more of a political symbolism.

Preparations for the Mahabharata war

In the next scene, the poet takes us to the preparations for the great Mahabharata war, where he writes worryingly, “Duryodhana seems victorious.” Duryodhana (eldest kaurava) symbolizes British Rule over India which continued for a pretty long time, like the Mahabharata war.

The irony is that Kaurava army was much larger in number than Pandavas whereas Britishers were very less in number than Indians. But with Krishna’s arrival on the battlefield (from Pandavas side) and how he preached Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, changes the anxiety and sorrow to much-needed enthusiasm: “the divine decree has been pronounced, the sword has been swung!”

This Krishna is very different from the young playful one which the poet has described earlier. Here, he symbolizes great strength and power: on his “face shines a bright gaze” also his “virtues burn enemies.”  He is so powerful that when he is angry, he can shower lightning. Thus, this Krishna can easily be an icon used for anti-colonial nationalism.

ALSO READ: If you are a Devotee of Lord Krishna, these 10 Lesser Known Facts Will Surprise You!

Relating Mahabharata with British Rule

After this, Jalandhari paints a picture of India suffering under colonial rule, using Vrindavan as a symbol for India. He says that once the joyful Yamuna is now silent, the waves are weak now. The gardens which were earlier beautiful are now ruined and the gopis symbolizing people of India are feeling helpless without their Krishna, their savior.

So, Jalandhari makes a personal plea to Krishna: “Oh king of India, come just once more.” He begs Krishna to return to Mathura (Mathura symbolizes India) and become the King again: “If you come, glory will come, if you come, life will come” With his plea to Krishna asking him to liberate India from British rule, Jalandhari ends his nazm.

If we compare Krishn Kanhaiya to Jalandhari’s more famous work (Pakistan’s National Anthem), we can learn a lot about the cultural politics which has influenced South Asia over the 20th century and continues to do so even today.


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If you are a Devotee of Lord Krishna, these 10 Lesser Known Facts Will Surprise You!

Here are 10 interesting facts about Lord Krishna that many people don't know

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Lord Krishna
Radha Krishna Painting. Pixabay

New Delhi, August 15, 2017: Lord Krishna is unquestionably the most honorary character in the Hindu mythology. He was one of the most charming Gods who was also the 8th avatar of Vishnu. Krishna was not only a mischievous butter thief but was also the charioteer guide of Arjun in Mahabharat who played a remarkable role by helping the warrior to find the right path in the battle.

10 interesting facts about Lord Krishna that people are unaware of-

1. Krishna had 108 names

2. He had 16,108 wives. Startling, isn’t it?

3. The most misconceived notion we have concerning the color of Krishna. The color of Krishna’s skin was dark but not blue as we see on screen

4. He resurrected his Guru Sandipani Muni’s dead son back to life

5. He acted as the war cry for the Pandavas in Kurukshetra during Mahabharata

ALSO READ: Krishna Janmashtami 2017- Hindus in India and Abroad Gear Up to Celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna 

6. He was linked to the Pandavas in Mahabharata

7. The matter is subject of discussion that whether Radha, Krishna’s companion, was cited at all in ancient scriptures

8. The relationship of Radha-Krishna was used to condone premarital sex in modernized India

9. Wonder what led to Krishna’s death? Queen Gandhari cursed Krishna after witnessing the massive toll in Mahabharata which eventually led to his death and the destruction of his dynasty

10. The death of Krishna was the result of numerous curses and his own act of adharma against Sugreev’s brother, Bali in Ramayana


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.