Category Archives: Reviews

The Kashmir Files: A heart-wrenching tale of the sordid saga

This is not a movie, it is a revolution, it is a revelation, it is an expression and it is an emotion!

Circa 1990, January 19: That dark night of Indian history when Kashmiri Pandits were asked to leave their homes unaware, in a most brutal manner, history is the witness of. Kashmir has always been a hotbed of terrorism, which I recollect since my childhood. I recollect – famous Kashmir Issues activist – Sushil Pandit joined my class in KV, Tagore Garden. He looked true blue Kashmiri but had a distinctively intense expression on his face, like today. I asked him once during lunchtime, where are you from? Your father got transferred to Delhi? He replied, “I am from Kashmir and no, we had to leave our homes in Kashmir overnight to take refuge here.” I was quite surprised at that…how can one leave their homes in breathtakingly beautiful Kashmir – Jannat on earth. But as a little girl, it was all beyond my comprehension.

My interest in Kashmir grew when a friend, who lived in the colony – a beautiful Kashmiri girl narrated to me the story of Kashmir…

Probably, it was all simmering underneath to lead to the incident of January 19, 1990, which is the mainstay of the movie: The Kashmir Files. Surprisingly no one talked about it, wrote about it, thought about it and felt about it, hiding all the brutal facts under the carpet. As I lived in Delhi, I came in contact with another friend from Kashmir, Gautam Jalali, who narrated to me the incident, this was 1990. I was moved to tears…such a beautiful state…such beautiful people…subjected to this fate.

I always wanted to go to Kashmir for my honeymoon like shown in movies then…but that was not to be!!

Cut to The Kashmir Files, I am yet to see the euphoria, frenzy, reactions, national pride, tears surrounding any movie…and I am a movie buff. There was an unnerved silence in the hall, everybody was watching in rapt attention, some sobbing, while some in deep thoughts. I have been following all talks/ press meets/ discussions around the film by Vivek Rajan Agnihotri (Director) and made up my mind to watch it.

The hero of the film is its research done on the subject, there is hardly any misplaced fact. Till now, Bollywood has been presenting Kashmir and terrorism in a different light. Vivek is brave enough to bring and present facts surrounding the genocide, which was marked as exodus till now. Not surprised to note that, it is the biggest genocide in the history of mankind. Five lakh Kashmiris were displaced in a night, but not before subjecting to loot, extortion, rape, murder…whatnot.

The acting of the entire cast: Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Pallavi Joshi, Darshan Kumar, Bhasha … everyone is class apart. While you empathise with Pushkar Pandit, you detest Bitta and want to shake Radhika Menon, why make Krishna Pandit a mohra?  I loved the song “Hum dekhenge…” The last speech by Darshan Kumar aka Krishna Pandit is an eye-opener. It was quite a revelation for me to know that the name Kashmir descended from Rishi Kashyap. The character of Anupam Kher as Pushkar Pandit moves you to tears, he was not acting, he lived the pain, the trauma of Kashmiri Pandits who wrote 6000 letters to the Government then to do away with Article 370. It took so many years to become a reality as it faced umpteen resistance from all quarters.

Indeed, it is a very brave attempt by Vivek Agnihotri to put a challenge before Bollywood in the form of this sordid saga, a true story, presented most honestly which garnered such rave reviews and passionate viewership, the world over. The film is a HIT. The reactions are worth noticing, absolute contrast – some are silent, some are violent!

Indians will not forget, the courts which opened at midnight for dreaded terrorists could not open the files of Kashmiri Pandits, even in the last so many years. I Hope, it is done now and our brethren get #righttojustice.

This is not a movie, it is a revolution, it is a revelation, it is an expression, it is an emotion!

Must watch to know the truth behind the Kashmiri Pandit genocide of the 1990s.

Watch the trailer here, to be in sync with the film:

Mother Teresa Memorial Award 2021 for Subhajit Mukherjee, Mumbai’s “GREEN MAN” 

Subhajit Mukherjee, the noted & decorated environmentalist from Mumbai has the distinguished honour of planting over 60,000 trees. The recognition comes in the wake of his exceptionally insightful efforts to amplify and protect the green cover in and around Mumbai. He is also known as Jal Rakshak for the leading innovations done by him in the field of rainwater harvesting.

Mr Subhajit Mukherjee receiving the Mother Teresa Memorial Award 2021 from Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra

His passion and concern for the environment made him leave his lucrative HR career and opt for working for the environment.

He received the award along with environmentalist Padma Shree Ms Tulsi Gowda and 17-year-old change-maker Aadya Joshi at the hands of Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra Bhagat Singh Koshyari on 13th December 2021 at Raj Bhawan, Mumbai, India.

With Padma Shree Tulsi Gowda Ji

Ms. Tulsi Gowda has been awarded for her astounding and inspirational contribution towards the conservation of trees and her prodigious traditional knowledge of the same.

Ms. Aadya Joshi, a young dynamic girl who is also the recipient of the Children’s Climate Prize 2020 and is the pioneer and founder of The Right Green initiative, an initiative that spreads awareness by educating children and municipal authorities about using native plants to create bio-diversity rich ecosystems in urban environments.

Paani Foundation has received this award for its impeccable and extraordinary mission to create a drought-free Maharashtra, which is ecologically as well as economically prosperous.

Harmony Foundation, which instituted Mother Teresa Memorial Award was founded by Dr. Abraham Mathai, Former Vice-Chairman – Minorities Commission. The Harmony Foundation’s objective is to promote communal harmony and work towards the benefit of all the communities without any discrimination as to religion, caste, creed, gender or region.

Mr Mathai with His Holiness Dalai Lama Ji

Speaking on this year’s award, Dr Mathai says, “Each year, the Harmony Foundation identifies a theme for the Mother Teresa Memorial Awards and the Harmony International Conference that aligns with the need of the hour affecting humanity worldwide. This year we embark on the Awards’ 17th year of felicitating selfless individuals and organizations who work relentlessly in the realm of Environmental Sustainability.”

Speaking on the occasion, Subhajit Mukherjee said, “ I am truly humbled on receiving this rare honour alongside Padma Shree Ms. Tulsi Gowda Ji from Hon’ble Governor of Maharashtra. I have always believed that a sustainable environment is monumental for the survival of entire humanity and I have been contributing towards that in whichever way possible. My message today is Each one, Plant one!”

As responsible human beings, we need to notice that while humanity marches ahead in all spheres of what it terms progress, we forget our responsibility to its own future. After all, we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Unsustainable developmental practices have exerted traumatic pressure on the ecosystem and damaged it beyond repair.

The Harmony Foundation has proudly acknowledged the diversity of individuals from various walks of life, from students to corporates, who are no less than the warrior-visionaries of our times.

This year, it has honoured those who have dared to challenge themselves and make a change.

Reminiscing UMRAO JAAN ADA

Umrao Jaan, the famed courtesan of the pre-independence era was brought to life by Urdu writer Mirza Haadi Ruswa in his book – Umrao Jaan Ada.

The film Umrao Jaan is based on the same book. Directed by ace director Muzaffar Ali, gracefully and emotionally brought alive on the screen by inimitable Rekha, timeless music of iconic Khayyam and voice of legendary Asha Ji, the film was a game-changer of sorts.

Rekha with her powerful expressions, emotions, poise and grace floored the entire nation as Umrao Jaan. Her costumes, jewellery and the entire look became the talk of the town (read: Nation). Probably, people had not seen any courtesan drama in such a light which was so vivid, poignant, dramatic and still close to life (Pakeezah being an exception). Such was the power of the character of Umrao Jaan enacted by Rekha that we were made to believe that Rekha is only Umrao Jaan. What to say of the city closest to my heart – Lucknow as a backdrop, where most of the action unfolds.

Rekha Ji received huge accolades for her portrayal of the eponymous character and she bagged National Award for her performance.

The story goes that in the year 1840, a girl named Amiran is kidnapped from her family in Faizabad and sold to Khanum Jaan, the madam of a brothel in Lucknow who teaches young courtesans. Renamed Umrao Jaan, Amiran turns into a cultured woman trained to captivate men of wealth and taste with a melodious voice and dancing histrionics.

I vividly remember watching this movie with my mother as it was a holiday for me and not for my papa, so we could slip in for a movie easily. I told my mom that a new auditorium like theatre has opened in Pragati Maidan (New Delhi), let’s check that out. A self-confessed movie buff, mom readily agreed and we set out for our destination. We lived close to Pragati Maidan then.

The theatre did not feature in newspapers so we could not check which movie was running. On reaching there, we found out it was Umrao Jaan with Rekha’s big poster in the façade with silence looming large all over. I was quite disappointed as the subject did not interest me, but decided to watch…

…Voila! what an experience it turned out to be. An ‘Art Film’ in the truest sense of the term, it had a beautiful setting of pre-independence era, subtle & nuanced acting, poise, charm and grace of Umrao Jaan and incredible music of Khayyam. All the mujras were classical dance forms with classical musical notes. It turned out to be a treat for music lovers like us. What to say of Shayari of Shehryaar Saab…incredible…every word, every expression packed a punch!

It is a story of a young girl from a middle-class Muslim family whose circumstances forced her to become a courtesan. How she evolved while traversing various emotions of love, longing, betrayal and loss, ultimately succumbing to a life of destitution and prostitution.

The last scene needs a special mention where she goes to perform a mujra right in front of her house and she recognizes her mother. When she knocks on the door…the flow of emotions was just too much. I bitterly cried in this scene. Mother accepts her but her brother disowns her as she is no longer her daughter Amiran but a famous courtesan Umrao Jaan. It was one of those rare films where I had cried…

Those were the times when courtesans had a special place in the society as it was believed that they took forward the cultural legacy through their knowledge and rendition of classical music and dance.

Times have changed, social milieus have changed…I can’t say for the better or worst. Where these cultural couriers of their kind have vanished?

I am in a Kanjiveram (look-alike) saree which is Rekha Ji’s favourite and rendering one of the most iconic songs from the film – Yeh kya jagah hai doston…

The post honours the theme of the month (December) given by The Sari Club – #UmraoJaan #RekhainKanjiveram #Rekha

Jaipur set to host India’s first World Health and Wellness Fest-21

Dates: December 17-19, 2021

Venue: Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur

The World Health and Wellness Fest-21 majorly aims at advancing health and wellness. The event embraces the concept of expansion of holistic living, spiritual comfort and an unruffled way of life.

A highly impressive line-up of speakers at the World Health & Wellness Festival to witness HH Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni, Ms. BK Shivani, Mr. Annu Kapoor, Ms. Padmini Kolhapure and Dr Mickey Mehta.   

Clarks Amer, Jaipur

Most keenly awaited festival by the health, fitness and wellness enthusiasts of the country to highlight the future of healthcare and financial situations post-COVID.  The festival will run on-ground from 17th – 19th December 2021 and the virtual sessions will go live simultaneously. It would be a one-of-its-kind hybrid event that will motivate one and all to start the new year in a healthy way.

The first list of illustrious speakers has been unveiled by the co-founders: Pt. Mukesh Bharadwaj, Mr. Nareshant Sharma and Mr. Mukesh Mishra, WHWF recently.   

The Key Speakers include:

  • HH Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni, Founder Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti, Social Reformer & Spiritual Leader. Acharya Muni is a versatile thinker, writer, poet and social reformer and has been continuously making efforts in national character building, yoga meditation teacher and a spiritual guide & mentor.
  • BK Shivani, is a World-renowned spiritual speaker, practitioner, and teacher of Rajayoga Meditation which is taught at the Brahma Kumaris centres worldwide.
  • Annu Kapoor is a versatile Indian actor, singer, director, radio jockey and television presenter who has appeared in over a hundred films, as well as television series. 
  • Padmini Kolhapure is a veteran actor and singer, who has acted in several hit films.  
  • Dr Mickey Mehta, Global Leading Holistic Health Guru & Life Coach to billionaires, top Bollywood superstars and Supermodels.
  • Netrapal Singh, CEO, Aditya Birla housing finance is a veteran of the mortgage industry.
  • Mr. Anil Singhvi, Managing Editor, Zee Business & Well-Known financial Expert.
  • Dr. Vincent, World famous Consultant General/Hepatobiliary and Pancreas Surgeon, Royal College of Surgeons, England.
  • Dr Pramod Tripathi, Founder, Freedom From Diabetes, is known to be a pioneer of Diabetes Reversal in India
  • Ms Shabnam Siddiqui, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact Network India, specializes in developing and executing strategic intervention.

Apart from the above-mentioned dignitaries Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living and Sadguru, Founder, Isha Foundation have also been invited for this first-ever truly hybrid wellness extravaganza.

Mr Mukesh Mishra

“The idea behind WHWF revolves around the synergistic collection of constructive and compatible elements, which aim to encourage the core values of health and wellness that encompasses the multidimensional aspects of life”, announced Mr. Mukesh Mishra, Co-founder, World Health and Wellness Festival.

The Festival organised at Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur will have additional facilities to accommodate footfalls, besides following COVID 19 safety protocols as per government guidelines. The iconic event will present a series of breakout sessions featuring speakers and panellists from various countries, as well as key marketers and partners around the world including Ministers and senior-level guests from more than 20 countries.

Pt. Mukesh Bharadwaj

Pt. Mukesh Bharadwaj, co-founder shared, “Happiness and success are the two most important aspects of our lives, and it can be achieved only if all the four elements – physical, mental, social and spiritual are taken care of and kept in balance. WHWF would be catering to all four key extents.”

Mr Nareshant Sharma

Mr Nareshant Sharma, Co-Founder “We are sure that this event will be a grand and dynamic amalgamation of diverse ideas. We have curated the top investors, industry experts, and brand leaders & healers to explore how wellness and wellbeing may be harnessed to live longer, better lives.”

WHWF is a manifesto that shall exhibit numerous products, services and concepts to assist all on the path of comprehensive contentment.

The organizers have a background of the Jaipur Marathon, which was recognized by the World Book of Records. It is the only marathon in India where more than 15 world records were made in various categories since its inception. More than 1 lac runners participate in the Marathon every year.

WHWF is a manifesto that shall exhibit numerous products, services and concepts to assist all on the path of comprehensive contentment.

The HealthSpan Show, which will take place at the crossroads of two huge trends- longevity and wellness will bring together investors, industry experts, and brand leaders to explore how wellness and wellbeing may be harnessed to live longer, better life and the role that corporations, healthcare institutions and consumers may play in a global health change.

The inaugural, in-person & online event will run through December 17-18-19, 2021. The event will present a series of breakout sessions featuring speakers and panellists from various countries, as well as key marketers and partners around the world including Ministers and senior-level guests from more than 20 countries.

For further details, write to:

PAHAADI – THE STORYTELLER, launched with Panache!

‘Pahaadi-The Storyteller’ is an anthology curated by Sanjeev Kotnala of Intradia World, was launched in an online event on 9th November 2021- the Uttarakhand day. The book is a culmination of the Short Story writing competition for writers with roots in Uttarakhand. It aims at finding and encouraging talent in Uttarakhand. It was an honour to be on the Jury panel of this prestigious anthology and be a moderator for the launch event. It was an impressive lineup of writers and jury members who shared their amazing experiences about participation and judging the stories.

Writers from as close as Mumbai and as far as New Jersey shared their experiences. The excitement was palpable about the names of the writers who were featured and of course the winners who have made it to the top three. The selected writers featured in the book get a Goody bag from Bhuli Design Studio by Tanya Kotnala and one copy.

The winners: Sagar Patwal, Manoj Phondani and Vartika Baral won 3N / 4D stay for two at Cottage Nirvana -Mukhteshwar, a wellness spa and resort. 

Anthology curation is not new to Sanjeev Kotnala; earlier, he has two anthologies on life impact stories. ‘Life reloaded’; life impact stories by professionals across the different fields. And ‘Reflections’; again, life impact stories by the 1987 batch of IIM Ahmedabad. Earlier Sanjeev has also published ‘Chimera of Lansdowne’, a novel with a hint of paranormal, based at Lansdowne- Uttarakhand. He is currently working on his next book – a romantic story, ‘Enchanting Neeli’ to be released in 2022.  

‘Pahaadi-The Storyteller’ showcases 17 short stories (Fiction) by 15 writers. The stories revolve around happening, culture and life in and around Uttarakhand. The contest and the book are in memory and tribute to Sanjeev Kotnala’s father, Late Shri Ram Ballabh Kotnala, and his love for Uttarakhand. 

The first year of the contest PAHAADI, saw more than 58 stories by 35 writers. The youngest writer is 6-year-old, and the oldest is 92 years of age. The entries came from different parts of the country, including Dehradun, Haldwani, Delhi, Mumbai, Kota, Bagheshwar, Nanital, New Jersy and Singapore. It was primarily promoted on social media platforms and amplified with word-of-mouth buzz.

At least three jury panel members evaluated and scored every story. The panel itself is of people with roots or high interest in Uttarakhand. 

The jury panel. Aditya Amar, President of One conscious Society, working on Women Empowerment in the Kumaon region. Prof. Alok Saklani of Swai Rama Himalaya University. Apurva Kala; Author of many books including ‘Love…Life…Kumbh’ and ‘Alchemist of East’ to name a few. Prof. Dwarika Prasad Uniyal, Pro-VC. Rahul Kotiyal: Winner of Ram Nath Goenka Award and Red Ink Award. Bienu Varma Vaghela, blogger & author – Life: An Existential Cocktail, Tanya Kotnala, a well-known designer and owner of Bhuli Design Studio and Sanjeev Kotnala.

The winning stories feature in ‘Pahaadi -The Storytellers’ published with Penman publishing. The book is available on Amazon and Flipkart. Further details of Pahaadi at  and of the contest for 2022 at

अंतस की खुरचन: संवेदनशील कविताओं का संकलन

  • शीर्षक: अंतस की खुरचन
  • लेखक: यतीश कुमार
  • विधा: हिंदी कवितायेँ
  • पृष्ठ: १९०
  • प्रकाशक: राधाकृष्ण प्रकाशन
  • प्रस्तावना: अष्टभुजा शुक्ल
  • समीक्षा: बीनू वर्मा वाघेला

“अंतस की खुरचन” संकलन है, आज के दौर की ऐसी कविताओं का, जिन्होंने मुझे निःशब्द कर दिया है.

सोचने पर विवश कर दिया है, कहाँ से शुरू करूँ?

पुस्तक दो खंडो में है: देशराग और आस पास और साझा धागा जिसमे करीब ९६ कवितायेँ पिरोयी गयी हैं. लेखक / कवि हालाँकि  रेलवे सेवा के प्रशासनिक अधिकारी हैं और वर्तमान में ब्रैथवेट एंड कंपनी लिमिटेड के प्रभारी हैं, पर उनका साहित्य से नाता बहुत पुराना और सृजनात्मक है, जोकि एक दुर्लभ समन्वय है.

बिहार के मुंगेर से आने वाले यतीश कुमार जी की साहित्य जगत में रचनात्मक उपस्तिथि रही है. वह इन दिनों कोलकाता की साहित्यिक संस्था नीलाम्बर  के अध्यक्ष हैं, और अपने संस्मरण और कविताएं, जोकि नया ज्ञानोदय, हंस, अहा! ज़िन्दगी, सन्मार्ग और प्रभात खबर में प्रकाशित होती रही हैं, के लिए प्रसिद्ध हैं.

“अंतस की खुरचन” उनका पहला कविता संग्रह है पर कविताओँ में बहुत ही संजीदगी और संवेदनशीलता है, जोकि उन्हें जाने माने कवियों की श्रेणी में लाती है. ज़िन्दगी और उसके बाद की ज़िन्दगी पर, उनके द्वारा उकेरे गए शब्द आपको सोचने पर मजबूर कर देंगे. उन्होंने ज़िन्दगी के हर पहलु को खूब जिया है, वर्णित किया है और शब्दों में पिरोया है.

यहाँ मैं अष्टभुजा शुक्ल जी द्वारा प्रेषित प्रस्तावना पर विशेष ध्यान आकर्षित करना चाहूंगी, जिसको पढ़ना आपके लिए बहुत ही आवश्यक है, कवि के मन को जानने के लिए और उसके मर्म को समझने के लिए. बहुत ही सुन्दर प्रस्तावना जो हिंदी साहित्य जगत के कई पन्ने पलटती है और आपको कवि की बल्कि पुस्तक की दुनिया में प्रवेश करने की लिए प्रेरित करती हैं.

सभी कविताओँ के शीर्षक बहुत ही आकर्षक हैं और बहुत से ऐसे हैं जो आपको अचंभित कर जाते हैं जैसे की उनकी कुछ कविताएं. एक और चीज़ जिसने मुझे आकर्षित किया वह है उनका २-३-४-५- ६ पंक्तियों में सहजता से पिरोया गया काव्य. यह दर्षाता हैं कि कविताओँ की संरचना उन्मुक्त मन से की गयी है, बिना किसी लय, पद्य या गद्य की बाधा को मानते हुए. 

कविताओँ में गावों की सरज़मी है, शहरों की पृष्ठभूमि है, रंग हैं, कालिमा है, जीवन है, मृत्यु है, उलझन है, सुलझन है, माँ हैं, पिता हैं, पत्नी है, पुत्री है, मौन है, शोर है, दबाव है, ख़ुशी है और ग़म है. ज़िन्दगी को उन्होंने बहुत ही बारीकी से देखा और समझा है, और उससे भी बढ़कर बहुत ही सुन्दर शब्दों में पिरोया है.

हर कविता बहुत कुछ कहती है …

  • जीवन शेष लाशों की क़तार है
  • एक धागा आगे का हट रहा है
  • दूसरा पीछे जुड़ रहा है
  • पंक्ति ख़त्म ही नहीं हो पा रही!

इस संकलन में जीवन के कड़ुवे सच हैं, तो रुमानियत भी हैं.

किसी ने सच ही कहा हैं, रुमानियत कविता का पहला पायदान हैं, और लेखक इस पायदान पे खूबसूरती से खड़े हैं.

  • समय की असमय लहरों के बीच
  • तुम्हारी मुस्कान वह अकाट्य शकुन हैं
  • जिसकी बस एक नज़र
  • सारे बेइरादे  बुहार देती हैं

पहला खंड १३६ पेज तक चलता हैं उसके बाद दूसरा खंड शुरू होता हैं. दोनों खंडो में अलग अलग आगाज़ हैं, अंदाज़ हैं और अलफ़ाज़ हैं.

अगर आप कविता प्रेमी हैं या ज़िन्दगी के फलसफे को समझना चाहते हैं तो “अंतस की खुरचन” में आपके लिए बहुत कुछ हैं.

यतीश कुमार एक युवा कवि हैं, पर उनकी कवितायेँ अनुभवियों को भी उतना ही छूती और झकझोरती हैं, जितना युवाओं को.

  • उन्ही दीवारों से से लिपटकर
  • सिर को टिकाये हौले मुस्कुराती
  • रूप बदल बदल कर
  • रु-ब-रु हो रही हैं ज़िन्दगी

अपने माता पिता के साथ का बहुत ही जीवंत चित्रण हैं जो हम कभी समझ नहीं पाते. माँ अपने में अनेकों दुःख समेटे हैं और पिता ज़िम्मेदारियाँ, यही मूल हैं, इस अनमोल रिश्ते का.

आप जब पुस्तक पढ़ना शुरू करेंगे तो छोड़ना मुश्किल होगा, इसलिए समय निकाल कर पढ़िए, पर ये एक बार में समझ आने वाली कविता नहीं हैं, बार बार पढ़िए और आत्मसात कीजिये.

पुस्तक अमेज़न से मंगाई जा सकती हैं.

मैं इसे पढ़ने का पुर ज़ोर समर्थन करती हूँ, विशेषकर युवाओं द्वारा.

निकलिए मोबाइल, टैब और लैपटॉप की दुनिया से बाहर और पढ़िए – अंतस की खुरचन

यतीश, शुक्रिया! हमें वापस अपनी दुनिया में लाने के लिए…

Bienu Varma Vaghela, Author-Life: An Existential Cocktail

#BannaBanni #UPWeddings

Banna Banni are traditional wedding songs sung as a part of the marriage ceremonies in Hindi heartland, UP. Marriages are relatively more elaborate in UP, as celebrations start few days before the wedding, with the Banna Banni evenings by ladies of the family, friends and neighbours. The singing is accompanied by Dholak and maybe harmonium, sometimes, which is mostly sung as a chorus by ladies.

The lyrics are traditional which are inherited by generations and nobody knows who has formally written them. Our grandmothers sang, who learnt from their grandmothers and passed on to the next generation without any significant effort. The seamless transmission of this artform needed no technology.  

Banna Bannis are a way of telling the girl what her marital home would be like, how she has to adapt to that family and live happily ever after with her husband and her new family members. But these are not preachings or teachings, these are teasers that are sung in a particular style so that girls and boys get the message, what would be their life like after marriage.

Mostly, Banna Bannis lyrics are hilarious where in-laws are teased in a lighter vein. Ladies sing these beautiful & meaningful lyrics in their sweet voice joined by other ladies, where not a single sur is out of sync. Dholak never missed a beat! That was the beauty, which meant so much for every family. So much so, that bride and grooms were addressed as Banna Banni during this period and not by their names.    

Starting with “Dholak-ki-thaap” these would end with beautiful dance moves by ladies of the family. Starting every day around 9 PM, these will continue past midnight. All ladies dressed in their jewellery and finery will come prepared and bring along their diary, which they refer to while singing. When one particular group is singing, another group gets prepared for the next. So, there is no gap, it is a constant churning of geets one after another. It is also a great occasion to meet and greet and enjoy with the bride’s or groom’s family members. Piping hot tea, samosas, chips and jalebis add to the fun, particularly in winter marriages. All ladies were handed over a packet of elaichi moti choor laddoos while leaving. 

I remember, banna bannis were an integral part of marriages in UP and as children, we enjoyed these evenings very much. These are not just banna bannis but cultural carriers and part of our heritage, which were passed over from one generation to another.

But with changing times, DJ and Bollywood style ‘Sangeet Ceremonies’ have taken over marriage ceremonies and banna banni nights are losing ground. The young generation of UP wala’s living in Mumbai wouldn’t even know what banna banni is all about. I recently heard some great banna banni’s on renowned folk singer Malini Awasthi Ji’s son’s marriage, which was covered live on FB and I enjoyed these very much.

The onus is on our generation to preserve this dying folk art form and pass it on to our generation so that they are aware of India’s culture of music and dance. I owe my love for this folk art of music to my Suman Bua, who sand banna bannis so melodiously in all our marriages… her sweet voice, great stamina and emotional rendition, made all the marriages in the family truly special. Love you bua for this…

(Unfortunately, she left us too soon). 

Are we languishing?

Oh! You are also not aware of what is languishing?

Never mind! I also came across this term recently – during the second round of lockdown, precisely.

Life teaches things in its unique way, that’s why it is said that ‘You never stop learning.’

Last year (March 2020) when the first lockdown was imposed amidst the thick & fast spread of the Coronavirus, we were shocked, surprised, apprehensive, whether any such thing is possible? There were many questions: Will people stay home 24×7? Will children not go to school? Will husbands or us will not go to offices? Will local trains stop? Will flights suspend? Will malls, theatres, hotels, restaurants etc. remain closed? Impossible!

But it was made possible…we stayed put and voila! in what style and spirit. We thrived online; the internet became our lives’ saviour. Everything swiftly moved Online in no time, mobile became the go-to gadget for everything. We started experimenting with our hobbies as we saved huge travel time and costs. Music & Cookery apps ruled the roost, where we presented ourselves as great singers and even greater chefs. Zoom meetings, Online classes became the norm. As we were getting used to this life, restrictions eased and life looked crawling to normal. Alas, it was so short-lived!

Come March 2021, we were back to square one, the virus was even more ferocious than its first avatar. The situation became scarier. This time young and old passed away in equal measure due to Covid, numbers were constantly moving northwards. I think there is no family which has not faced any casualty. The Mahabharat over Vaccination followed by shortage of Oxygen cylinders and hospitals charging obscene sums provided some great fodder to news channels. They were on a Corona overdrive as if nothing else mattered (in a way true).

In the meantime, media was agog, beds were full, hospitals were stretched, so much so even crematoriums were scarce. What horrible, pathetic and depressing scenario emerged? Oxygen, which I knew till now, we received from plants, became the rarest of the rare commodity. Everybody was gasping for breath. There was positivity galore about Covid and negativity galore about recovery.

This time, our first lockdown’s lifestyle did not excite us…a depression started seeping in. We felt so lost and so uncertain about the future…death looked like the only reality. We got scared of planning the future, self-doubting our own life! The loss of loved ones filled our hearts with regret particularly when we watched them going in want of ambulance, beds, hospitals, Oxygen or medical aid. Life looked impossible.

Now, the excitement of 2021 is waning, with nearly six months down, things are not looking up, the way they should have been. We are still standing in the dark tunnel, unable to figure out what the next morning would bring. We are still not able to move and mingle freely even after vaccination.

All this and more has taken a toll on our mental health. It isn’t boredom, it isn’t depression per se, we are feeling unhappy and uncertain, aimless. We are in a state which is termed languishing – swinging between stagnation and emptiness. This is the predominant emotion of 2021.

Is there a remedy for this alter ego of depression?

Yes, just feel the flow, enjoy the flow, remain calm and composed. Send positive vibes, shun negativity.

I know, it is easier said than done but doable!

Do it! Do it!! Like my fitness trainer says,

 And we: We Just Do it!

  • Author: Life – An Existential Cocktail

Alvida – Laxman Ji of “Raam Laxman” musical duo!

Noted music composer, Laxman of Raam Laxman fame passed away in the early hours of May 22, 2021, in Nagpur, India. He was 78. He died due to a heart attack. Vijay Patil better known as Raam Laxman, was an Indian composer, pianist, musician and accordionist.

His death brought back memories of the great chartbusters composed by him in the 80s like Maine Pyaar Kiya and Patthar ke Phool.

His evergreen chartbusters:

  1. Gunche lage hain kehne (Film: Taraana)
  2. Kabootar Ja Ja Ja (Film: Maine Pyaar Kiya)
  3. Didi tera devar diwana (Film: Hum Aapke Hain Kaun)
  4. Kabhi to Chaliya lagta hai (Film: Patthar ke Phool)
  5. Sun beliya (Film: 100 days)

He was most famous for his work with Rajshri Productions of Hindi films. He composed music for their hit films like Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Hum Saath Saath Hain.

Proficient in the piano and accordion, he started his career in an orchestra. He got his first Hindi film offer, “Agent Vinod” (1977), with another musician Ram and took on the name Laxman. Ram passed away soon after signing the film, but Vijay Patil continued using the Raam Laxman moniker as a mark of respect to his departed colleague. As a duo, Ram – Laxman had created many hit songs in Marathi films as well.

Raam Laxman composed music for many Rajshri Production movies. He delivered the biggest hit of his career and of that year with “Maine Pyar Kiya” (1989) with chartbusters like “Dil Deewana”, “Kabootar Ja Ja Ja” and “Mere Rang Mein Rangne Wali”, which became very popular and won him his first, and only, Filmfare Award.

Raam Laxman followed up “Maine Pyar Kiya” with two other successes in Rajshri films – “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun” (1994) and “Hum Saath Saath Hain” (2000).

His music was based on the basics of the orchestra and took the legacy of Laxmikant – Pyaarelal forward. Melody, even in foot-tapping numbers was a special feature of their music. The use of traditional Indian Instruments along with a typical orchestra, set up made their songs popular.Born and brought up in Nagpur, he came to Mumbai to become a music composer with his friend Surender Raam Kadam, Patil made a team that was given the sobriquet “Raam Laxman.”

Even after the death of Raam (Kadam), soon after the pair bagged their first film “Agent Vinod” Laxman (Vijay Patil) continued to provide music to more than 75 films in Hindi, Marathi and Bhojpuri as Raam Laxman. Rajshri Films music in Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Hum Saath Saath Hain bagged them several awards.

Rich tribute has been paid by Industry’s music doyen – Lata Mangeshkar Ji.