Thursday, March 26, 2009

Film with music by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt making waves in international festival circuit

A scene from Empty Street

Rajendra Bora

JAIPUR. A film with music by Indian classical music wizard Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is making waves at international film festival circuit.

The movie ‘Empty Streets’, about life in limbo, a meaningless purgatory devoid of cause and effect suspended in a vacuous space between heaven and hell, uses musical score of Pt. Bhatt, winner of highest international music award Grammy, to heighten the sense of void.

Pt. Bhatt scored the music for the film sitting in Jaipur using net. The film director Paul Booth would send scene script with exact timing of the shots besides rough cuts and Pt. Bhatt would sit on keyboard to compose the background score at his residence in Bapu Nagar. After composing the musical piece he would record the score at his studio in Malviya Nagar.

He himself played the Mohan Veena and the key board for the recording. The recorded stuff, exactly matching timing of the each scene would be sent to the director in New York via the net.

It has been a extraordinary experience, says Pt. Bhatt.

“There had been complete understanding between the director and me about the requirement of the offbeat film about a soldier who returns from war and loses himself more and more each night that passes and I created the music to express most brutal expression of existentialism that evokes psychological costs”, he said.

It is not the first time that Pt. Bhatt has worked for Hollywood films. Besides the most acclaimed movie “Dead Man Walking”, he contributed musical score for “Two Days in the Valley” and “Meet the Fokers” too.

Oscar winning wizard A.R.Rehman used Pt. Bhatt’s renderings in Amir Khan’s “Lagaan” besides “Saathiya” and Tamil hit “Iruver”. He scored background music for Jagmohan Mundara’s critically acclaimed “Bawandar”, based on the real life story of Bhanwari Devi, a Rajasthani village woman who was gang raped for fighting for women’s cause.

However, scoring music for films is a past time for Pt. Bhatt who remains busy giving performances of classical Indian music round the year. He was recently conferred with ‘Munnu Guru Award’ in Kanpur. The earlier recipients of the award are flutist Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, santoor player Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma and classical singer Girija Devi.

(The story appeared in Hindustan Times - Jaipur Live - on March 23, 2009)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rise of Ambedkarite Movement in Rajasthan

Rajendra Bora

JAIPUR. When BSP, headed by Mayawati, is gaining greater political strength in subsequent elections thanks to reverence by millions of Dalits for Ambedkar Prof. Shyam Lal, former Vice-Chancellor of Rajasthan University, Jaipur and Jai Narain Vyas Universty, Jodhpur has come out with a new study on the movement spearheaded by the maker of Indian Constitution. In the exciting and timely study with painstaking research Prof. Shyam Lal, a noted sociologist who is currently serving as Vice- Chancellor of Patna University in Bihar, has profusely documented the history of what he calls Ambedkarite Movement in Rajasthan.

Since the phenomenon cannot be seen in Rajasthan specific vision only, a general overview of Ambedkar’s efforts in awakening socio-political consciousness among Dalits has also been presented in the study that has been published in Prof. Shyam Lal’s latest book.

Dalit assertion, liberation and emancipation are the themes that have come to centre stage lately. There have been tones of literature, including academic work and analyses, available on the situation of Dalits and their plight. Several social and political analysts have tried to analyse the cause of the pitiable situation in which untouchable castes remained from time immemorial. Several authors and analysits have tried to look at the problem from their respective world view. Marxists see the deplorable situation as a class problem instead of caste problem. Some see the emancipation of Dalits via grabbing political power. There have been reform movements from both within and without untouchable masses.

The book highlights the growth of first the reform movement from within the Dalit communities and then political efforts for their emancipation. He has traced different reform movements from the pre-British period to the British rule and to the present day after the Independence, all culminating into Ambedkarite Movement and rising consciousness for Dalit-Identity.

The book is virtually an ocean of information, collected painstakingly and judiciously by doing much legwork by the author. And it is very timely too.

Prof. Shyamlal has been able to meet, interact and discuss with minor and major players of the Dalit movement and record not only facts but also their views and perceptions about the situation of the communities in different periods. Here the author holds advantageous position as he belongs to the same community with whom he had been talking. Dalits, literate or illiterate, readily opened up before him to express themselves. For any outsider it would have been very difficult to gain confidence of the introvert and meek people whose story one wanted to tell.

Prof. Shyamlal has earned a reputation of being an eminent sociologist and the present work is an ample proof of his scholarly facet. In this book he has not treaded on hearsays or false ideas. Authenticity of his documentation and narration is the hallmark of the book. As a true social scientist he explores the reasons for the limitation of the Ambedkar movement too.

His scholarly work is in fact a ground work for others to research the subject further.

(The review appeared in Jaipur Live supplement of Hindustan Times on March 18,2009)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kochar: a multifaceted man

Rajendra Bora

JAIPUR. With the passing away of K. L. Kochar on Tuesday a multifaceted personality has gone into history. Every one called him ‘Kochar Saheb’. He represented the generation who valued personal relationship more than anything else. He knew how to win friends without imposing his will on others, the trait which ranks him one of the finest press advisors of any public figure in the country. He served doyen of Rajasthan politics Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as his press advisor thrice – twice during his chief ministrial tenure as once when Shekhawat occupied Vice-President’s office.

Kochar conducted his duty as press advisor with dignity never making effort to sell a story to media by allurement or pressure. He knew what media person wanted more than anything else was ‘news’ and he was always there to help anyone get exclusive stories without interfering in the angle the concerned media person was taking. That is why his chamber was always remained crowded with journalists. As Press Advisor he demarcated his limits. Since he was serving as a government official in that capacity he confined himself only with the official functioning of his boss and never dabbled in party politics of his master. Shekhawat too did not expect him to do his political press briefings. There was a unique untold understanding between Shekhawat and Kochar which only grew stronger with time. Shekhawat was at his bedside when Kochar breated his last.

Before joining as Press Advisor to the Chief Minister in August 1991 Kochar served extraordinarily as a bureaucrat leaving his indelible mark. Born on June 1 in 1931 in Bikaner did his higher education in Kolkata and was selected in Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS) in 1956. He served all the chief ministers since Mohan Lal Sukhadia till Shekhawat with distinction.

Kochar was a multi faceted personality. He was fine administrator, a committed socialist, a writer and a poet. Fifties of the last century was the period when the youth of the country were bubbling with socialistic fervor. Young Kochar was no exception. In Kolkata he met firebrand socialist Ram Manohar Lohiya which only helped him in strengthening his convictions. Lohiya too was so impressed by the boy that he prompted him to write regularly. And writing became his hobby. Brij Bhushan Sharma of ‘Seema Sandesh’ recalls that when his father Kamal Nayan Sharma launched his weekly paper in 1951 dashahra day in Ganganagar Kochar Saheb wrote its first editorial.

Kochar was promoted to Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1977 and was made Collector of Tonk. During his first assignment of heading a district as IAS he showed his brilliance by taking up the cause of conserving literary treasure of Arabic, Persian and Urdu from 5th century of Hijra onward at the Arabic and Persian Research centre. The journey of an indiscreet centre to a major internationally known study centre was made possible by Kochar’s early efforts. He was see that every journalist visiting Tonk must visit the Sunehri Koti (Golden Bungalow) having stunningly rich ornamental interiors where the Persian institute was then located and write something on the rich heritage.

Bagru town, that achieved international fame by its product ‘Bagru Print’ owes its glory to Kochar who as Managing Director of Rajasthan Small Scale Industries Corporation (RAJSICO) made the skill of textile printing of local artisans into a lucrative commercial proposition. In association with Sitaram Jhalani, a scribe and the then Sarpanch of Bagru Panchayat and later first Chairman of Bagru Municipality, Kochar’s helped in making a commercial turnaround of Cheepa community of textile printers and also of the town.
His PR skill was noticed when he was appointed as Director, Public Relations. After his retirement in 1989 as a member of Revenue Board he was picked up by the then Chief Minister Shekhawat as his Press Advisor with status of a secretary in the Government in 1991. When Shekhawat returned as chief minister in 1993 he again opted for Kochar. The former bureaucrat was the natural choice of Shekhawat as Press Advisor in Vice-President’s office in Delhi when he was elected to the august office in 2002.

When not assisting Shekhawat in his official capacity Kochar persued other interests like working as a visiting fellow in Institute of Development Study (IDS), Jaipur. He worked for ‘Hunger Project’ too in IDS and also as a coordinator for the IDS project for improving entrepreneurial skills of agriculturists in Bikaner district.

During this period he wrote an authentic history of making of democratic Rajasthan – From Feudalism to Democracy. He also wrote extensively on the debates in Rajasthan Assembly for gaining constitutional status for Rajasthani language. He spilled out his sensitive heart in verse too writing poetry.

Men and officers like Kochar have now become a rare breed. He will always be remembered as a good human being and an efficient officer.

(The obit appeared on page one of Hindustan Times -Jaipur Live- on March 13,2009)

Jaipur bids adieu to a fine legislator Giridharilal Bhargava

Rajendra Bora

JAIPUR. In the passing away of Giridhari Lal Bhargava the capital city of Jaipur has lost one of its finest sons. He was such a public figure and people’s representative that others would envy. A simpleton with no big personal ambitions but keeping service to the people at his heart was his strength which saw him winning electoral battles one after other till his death. It is no small thing that the BJP opted to field him for the Lok Sabha for the eighth time in a row.

He truly lived up to the slogan his party workers coined decades back for electioneering “Jis Ka Na Koi Poochhe Haal Uske Sang Giridhali Lal”. He knew his constituency and its people like back of his palm. He was “Bhai Saheb” for all. He was most approachable. Any one could walk up to him at any hour of the day and night with his problem. Such an affectionate bonding with the people of the city made him what he was. Only with this affectionate bonding with the people of the city he took on successfully the former Maharaja Bhawani Singh at the hustings and kept on increasing his margin of victory in Parliamentary polls.

Many mistook his simplicity as his gimmick but he was personally convinced about what he was doing like visiting every one in his constituency in hour of need or in the joy. In wedding seasons he would make it sure that he visited every function and shower his blessings on the couples. By the time he reached the last on his list the ceremony would have been in its final phase or almost completed. But every one face would brighten as soon as he reached the venue. Every year he would collect un collected ashes of deceased from the local cremation grounds and go to Haridwar to immerse them in holy river of Ganges.

His affectionate connection with the electors of his parliamentary constituency is only one facet of his personality. Unfortunately this was the only face of Bhargava media loved to depict and interpret. The fact that he was a fine and assertive legislator media never bothered to tell. A legislator is in fact a law maker and Bhargava lived up to that role too. We saw him as a member of Rajasthan Assembly for four terms before he moved to Lok Sabha . He was the only legislator who would participate in the debates on every bill taken up in the house. It was no simple participation talking superficial things to register one name in the debates but he would always come prepared after discussing all angles and aspects of the legislation being discussed. He would not shy talking to others, mostly experts, to arm himself with facts and figures before standing up in the house to discuss the legislative business in the house. He was never seen creating any unruly scenes in the legislature and spoke in dignified but assertive manner. That is why every presiding officer of the legislature liked him and never refused him time.

Bhargava kept his legislative acumen in Lok Sabha too. The house proceedings would show his true participation in debates for getting benefits for Jaipur. He enjoyed the same reputation with the presiding officers in Lok Sabha and had no difficulty in getting a slice of time to speak inn the house. He would never defy the chair and would always get support from the presiding officer even during the most heated moments.

He was a textbook example of a good legislator. Every year he would call the press and present before media persons accounts of his spending from MP Local Area Development Fund. Whenever he was telling about the works in his constituency for which he provided funds his eyes would sparkle. The emergency unit of the SMS Hospital would not have its present face had it not been Bhargava’s efforts and initial funding. The Pink City Press Club too got lion’s share from his MPLED fund to uplift its building grandeur.
As a text book politician he rose from the grassroots from a member of local Municipality to the Parliament but remained a child like simple human being. Many would envy him. A young member of Rajasthan Assembly from one of the constituencies in the capital city once said Bhargava Saheb had made our lives miserable. He has set a standard of interaction with the public which is very difficult for us to achieve and people view our performance from Bhargava Saheb’s standard.

Many would wonder why that fellow could never get any public office. He would have died long back if he had accepted one. He was happy with his role as a servant of his people as a legislator. He was always reluctant to accept any office which he sincerely believed would take him away from his peoples.
Only once he accepted in 1977 to become Chairman of Jaipur Urban Improvement Trust (UIT), which was later converted into Jaipur Development Authority (JDA). He accepted the office under great pressure from the then Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and from the doyen of Hindi journalism in Rajasthan Karpur Chand Kulish. As Chairman of UIT he conceived Vidhyadhar Nagar scheme and also to make Maansarovar as the asia’s biggest residential colony but his fear of taking up of public office proved correct as he, who had won the assembly seat in 1972 Indira Gandhi wave, lost in 1980 just after assuming public office. Thereafter, he refrained from accepting any public office and remained a common man.

Bhargava will not be physically with the people of Jaipur now but he would remain in their hearts. When ever his story will be told the listeners would get wet eyes.

(The obit appeared on page one of Hindustan Times -Jaipur Live- on March 10,2009)