Archive for the ‘INDO PAK CULTURE’ Category

Artist understands no Boundaries: Pak’s Arif Lohar..By Rashmi Talwar


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

ARIF LOHAR / 'RISING KASHMIR '

ARIF LOHAR / ‘RISING KASHMIR ‘

Artist understands no Boundaries: Pak’s Arif Lohar
By Rashmi Talwar

Pakistan’s folk musical great Arif Lohar’s soft eyes and childish tongue poking is just a tip of his rustic moorings. It gives no glimpse of his immense talent that comes alive just as he takes on the stage, not only as a singer, but as a class performer. His entry in Coke Studio as a folk singer of Pakistan with his ishtyle of ‘Jugni’ catapulted him to the world stage. This one folk music score, endeared him across seven seas, yet his repertory of music has several gems that he unfolds during his performances. Casual and in jet black he arrives, opens his jacket to reveal his richly embellished black kurta, takes off his black ‘turley walli paag’-turban, to unleash his black locks, sings so full throated that his jaw quivers with the loud throw and at the end of it closes all glitter, returns to his original roots, as if the tamasha box has been closed tightly shut. With his rustic humor, innocence and wayward village pranks, and mast chimta he entices, he revolts and establishes his moment in the cosmos with an upbeat energy and holds the audience enthralled and swinging, winning hearts of the elite and the foot-soldier alike found RASHMI TALWAR about Pak’s folk marvel during a recent musical extravaganza ‘Amrit de Sur’ in Amritsar.

ARIF LOHAR'S UNIQUE STYLE OF THROW

ARIF LOHAR’S UNIQUE STYLE OF THROW

Q: Your favorite musical instrument?

Ans: I am the son of Alam Lohar a revered folk singer and I inherited the ‘Chimta’ or tongs from him. Since then the Chimta is my ‘Ishq’ –my Love, and my bread earner and my father is my ‘Zewar’ – my jewel. I have no other wealth worth anything other than my mother’s blessings, my mother-tongue my father’s musical inheritance.

Q: Were you a good student and what were some of the best moments in life?

Ans: (With a coy smile) I was a nalayak – a poor student. And as you know a good son is overlooked but a nalayak one is watched with a hawk’s eye. So I was watched closely by my mother and father besides elders in the family as to what I did. Irrespective of my zilch academic prowess, I took to music like a duck to water from my father and that became my destined path. Whether I sing for a crowd of 25,000 in New York or 100 people in a village, all these are my best moments. Other than that was being awarded the Pride of Performance award by the President of Pakistan in 2005. I grew up amongst folk instruments and flavors of folk rustic singing. Not only did my bearings give me the sound quality so typical of our tribe-kabila it also gave me a taste of earth and soil that held the fragrance of my village Achh in Pakistan.

Q: Where do you get the humor streak in your dialect, gestures and actions?

Ans: Humor is in our blood. As an entertainer, humor comes as part of the Punjabi package. If a performer is unable to involve the audience then he has failed. I love live performances just as my father did and now my son Ali Lohar whom we lovingly call ‘Laddoo Lohar’ who started performing with me from the age of 3 ½ years. “Assi lok geet tey sufi vich bhijey hoye hain. Chimtey tey hor saaz jiven algoza, ek Tara, tumba, dhol hee saadi zindagi hai” (We are soaked in folk and Sufi music. The chimta (tongs) Algoza, Ek Tara (one string) Dhol are our life).

Q: Your style of ‘throw’ is unique and unbeatable?

Ans: ‘Phenkna’- or ‘throw’ is of two types. Throw amongst musicians is the quality of voice, like how loud or far it reaches and Phenkna in the modern world also means ‘bragging’ or ‘false boastings’ (he pokes his tongue). The first one is for me as my voice has a mass throw that I needn’t use a loudspeaker during village gatherings. But what you are talking about is the action-of-throw, as if throwing a dice isn’t it? No I didn’t learn it in a bowling alley to hit nine pins (smiles sheepishly) but this is part of our folk culture and I picked it during my days in street theater and this became my signature style.

Q: Which song brought you into the limelight on the world stage?

Ans: Of course Pakistanis all over the world in more than 50 countries, enjoy folk and Sufi fare that Lohars have presented but it is the ‘Jugni’ created by me in Pakistani Ishtyle that brought me world wide recognition. ‘Jugni’ was also used in Indian film ‘Cocktail’ but was first aired by Coke studio. On the internet site ‘youtube’ the Jugni video went viral with hundreds of hits per day and then came the Bollywood film Cocktail. Following this was the hit Indian film title song of ‘Bhaag Milkha bhaag’ which had an Indo-Pak flavor as it dealt with the burnish of Partition of 1947.

Q: What is your take on hot and cold relations between India and Pakistan? Does it affect artists?

Ans: An artist’s mind is boundless. He understands no boundaries; He has no climate (smiles). His climate is created with his stage and his audience. ‘Fankar layi hawa waken ussda chimta atey tumbi hey, tey Pani Wargey uhde sunnan walley Ne. Eh Hawa-Pani da jor nal uhh rujhiya rehnda hai . Ussda ki lena-dena siyasiyat atey siyasdaan nal’ (For an artist his air is his musical instruments and water is his audience. With this combination of air and water he remains satisfied and replenished. What does an artist have to do with anything political)?

Yes, it affects artists as paths are blocked but just as you cannot block air and water so can’t you block music, more so in modern times, where music wafts through cyber space. Music is unstoppable and will play unhindered. If you have an ear for it, it will be heard in the mundane things of daily life. Music has served only to bond people and so have other arts like dance, theater, poetry. Every time something untoward happens between the two countries, I feel pained.

Q: How did the new Jugni came alive? Were you not scared that it would get a beating from the original, traditional Jugni?

I was not ready to accept that I should only follow and continue my father’s legacy in folk music. I wanted to create something of my own, my own brand -If only one can become a ‘fakir’- lost beggar, that one can become attain the stature of a real ‘fankar’- artist. If I was to follow only what has already been played then what have I added to the music world. Fired with this passion I composed the new Jugni. It became a turning point and it was like- in an ocean of music I filled my own special color. Jugni in Punjab is a mythical figure of a woman who is a rebel while I made the Pakistani Jugni as someone who is a blessing of the Almighty.

I have made my own little world, according to my likes and dislikes, I live in my world where I don’t ever give up, I keep searching. Even while sleeping I remain awake. When alone at night my mind is charged with a fire inside to do something extraordinary. And then I feel the Almighty lays his benevolent hand on such a person. Duniya ke thaperaian toh sikhyan ( I learnt from the slaps from this world) … my mother’s face is visible to me smiling and that urges me on . Her beauteous face is like a Prasad or blessed offering that I partake in blessing before I go and perform on stage.

Q: It is well known that you were a street actor before taking to singing full time. Which do you like more?
I did street plays mostly comical in the entire countryside of our Punjab called nukkar nataks and nautanki. Besides that I used to be mast singing into nights. Village folk used to bring some food that they would eat through the night while listening to me and would go to feed their cattle early morning from this mehfil and I remember it was my guru Master Ismile of theater who taught me the nitty-gritty of theater and catching the audience’s attention. I use those rustic knick-knacks liberally in my performances.
The recognition, the money, the accolades were of no consequence. To please my audience was my goal. My mother told me you have to search your own path and then I shall be proud of you. So I took the fakiri path and sang in trucks and even in village trolleys. People hardly paid and then I started to include antics of theater which turned the tide and established me as a singer-performer along with my father.

Acting added to my performances and then I acted in more than 40 Pakistani films. Syed Noor’s film Jugni (film) was the highest grossing Pakistani film of 2012 with three of my songs. 150 albums and more than 3000 songs have been recorded, mostly in the Punjabi language and I still feel charged to do more.

Q: As a child which was your favorite song? Share something about your childhood

Ans: “Kookla chapaki jumey raat ayi hai, Jera agey pichey dekhe uhdi shamaat ayi hai” was my favourite which was typical Punjabi sung in Punjabs of both India and Pakistan.

Q: Your favorite numbers other than jugni?

Ans: ‘Ankhon toh bhul hoyi, pyar kar beethey hain’ and ‘Ek phul motiye da mar ke jagah soniye!’ both are my own creations.

Q: How do you describe yourself?

Ans: I am a mauji, a faqir as my mother wanted me to be. Yet I follow asool-discipline. My life is tough and rough and I can take the rough and tumble with a pinch of salt.

Q: Who is your favorite singer?

Ans: My Favorite singer is India’s nightingale Lata Mangeshkar Ji. On the Pakistani side other than my father’s melody, I love Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh, Atif Aslam, and Reshma. I identify with them.

Culture caught in the Indo-Pak crossfire …By Rashmi Talwar www.sify.com


Madeeha Gauhar

Madeeha Gauhar


Culture caught in the Indo-Pak crossfire

By Rashmi Talwar

Culture, sports and soft exchanges become the first casualty, of any aberration between touchy neighbours- India and Pakistan. Peace is so fragile, like a delicate porcelain cup and a mere fingerprint on its exterior results in smudges of rancor, heated exchanges and petulant stands.

Recent dastardly incident of beheading of an Indian soldier and mutilation of another, counter killing of Pakistani soldier, in early January this year, became the proverbial fingerprint and did exactly that.

Following the recent Indo-Pak standoff, many initiatives and itineraries went haywire.

Permissions were roller-coastered and blood pressure on both sides shot up. Few hapless ones were caught in the crossfire and could hardly be consoled.

One such was Madeeha Gauhar Director of Ajoka Theatre, Pakistan.

Madeeha, along with her team of 20 theater artists and another Karachi based group -National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) invited by National School of Drama (NSD) was scheduled to present plays commemorating the 100th birth anniversary of noted Indo Pak writer Saadat Hassan Manto, in Delhi. But the shows of both plays were abruptly cancelled by NSD . This was attributed to instructions by government during the ongoing acrimony between the two countries, following the recent LoC incident.

A perturbed Madeeha revealed to Sify.Com, on her way back to Pakistan – “On the scheduled date of January 16, merely two hours before our performance, we were told that we would not be permitted to perform our play ‘Kon hai ye Gustakh’ based on Manto’s life. Another Pakistani Play ‘Mantorama’ by NAPA led by Zia Mohuddin, was similarly cancelled.”

As Madeeha complained of an “indecent exit” wherein their theater troupe was bundled into a bus and were not given any lunch, she also confided that she subsequently met Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid, who himself is a playwright of ‘-Sons of Babar’.

She stated, that when she queried the minister- “How could India treat its guests in this manner by canceling performances , the house was fully sold out and booked for both Pakistani plays and artists were left high and dry.”

To which, she claimed, Khurshid answered that “Union Government issued no instructions to suspend the Pak performances.”

Madeeha said she confronted the NSD Director Anuradha Kapoor on this, who said there were specific government instructions behind this cancellation.

Anuradha, when contacted by Sify.com retorted back that the chairperson of NSD got written instructions from the Delhi government to cancel the Pak performances on safety and public peace issues.

She further added that NSD being a government run organization has to conform to government instructions and guidelines.

Moreover, she said, cancellation of the two plays was a bigger loss to NSD, who had financed the entire tour of the two plays from Pakistan and gave full payment and continued hospitality to those from Pakistan, till they stayed in Delhi. Alternately, NSD, had to face the proverbial music from the audience, who were angry and had to be refunded for their tickets. She admitted that the Jaipur leg of the theater performance was also similarly cancelled.

Anuradha further defended, “Madeeha has been invited by NSD for last so many years, how could she not understand that any untoward happening could have serious consequences. Would Pakistan dump Indian artists to face a hostile audience if the plan was vice-versa?” she asked

Later, however a theater group led by Arvind Gaur `arranged two performances of Madeeha’s play on a single day at Akshara Theater, Delhi and another at Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Delhi, that ended late at 1.00am on January 18th.

Even though Madeeha and Anuradha – both noted theater personalities are at logger heads over the cancellation of the Pak plays, they admit they see a big leap ahead in soft overtures of diplomacy on cultural and sports front, that could wipe away the short-lived distrust amongst the two nations

Theater was not the only casualty of the Indo Pak hostility, suspension of cross LoC trade and LoC bus between both sides of Kashmir too brought anxious moments to traders and visitors on both sides of Jammu& Kashmir. India too fell in the game of ‘tit-for-tat’ and unceremoniously turned back Pakistani hockey players from crossing over to India.

To top it all, a unique initiative involving spot visa on arrival for 65-year olds to visit each other’s country with as many as five destinations, too took a beating.

The initiative was scheduled to come into force on January 14. Ironically, the same morning saw its inauguration and suspension in quick succession.

However, veteran Indian journalist Chanchal Manohar Singh inadvertently created history on this morning to become the first to cross the Indo- Pak border under the senior citizen’s spot visa scheme.

Chanchal, speaking from Lahore to Sify.com said things were very normal in Pakistan and he has faced no harassment. He pointed out that had some similar performances been scheduled in Pakistan by Indians then the situation could have been different.
Despite these hot and cold moods, customary sweets were exchanged between BSF and Pak Rangers marking the celebration of India’s 64th Republic day, this 26th January which has become sort of a litmus test to gauge the temperatures on both sides. Also the arrival of 15 Pak women entrepreneurs under WCCI (Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in India yesterday and resumption of trade and bus service on LoC seems like a move forward.

Peace is fragile and can be fractured by the slightest of incidents goaded by media hype; such is the heightened sentiment between both distrusting neighbors- India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile senior citizens who were elated over the spot-visa scheme once again wait, somewhat more anxiously, this time, holding the fragile porcelain cup and hoping that it would not get smudged this time around.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN http://WWW.SIFY.COM
http://www.sify.com/news/culture-caught-in-the-indo-pak-crossfire-news-columns-nccefzefbhd.html

Jammu’s ‘Youngistan’ Enthralls Amritsar….. By Rashmi Talwar


Play: Do Kodi Ka Khel

Play: Do Kodi Ka Khel


THEATER REVIEW

THEATER REVIEW

Jammu’s ‘Youngistan’ Enthralls Amritsar

By Rashmi Talwar
Jammu & Kashmir’s young and only woman director-actor Ifra Kak’s maiden production ‘Do Kodi Ka Khel’ lays bare the convoluted world of corruption. An adaptation by Jammu’s Amateur Theatre Group, the production is based upon Bertolt Brecht’s famous play “Three Penny Opera” with its Hindustani adaptation by Parimal Dutta.
At the “10th National Theatre Festival” at Punjab Naatshala, in Amritsar, commemorating “100 Birth Anniversary of Saadat Hassan Manto” this year, this ‘youngistan’ production played by 15 young boys and girls from militancy infested and remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir, synergize the play, whose plot revolves around a beggar bunch and a dacoit’s gang both of which flourish ‘unabashedly’ under the protective patronage of the local police.
The actors are playing archetypes from popular culture. The leader of the beggars- Narhari Poddar, is a jumpy character, full of ideas to change the failing beggar business and convert his gang into a fake freedom fighters bunch, only to find that his vivacious wife, high on drugs, is unconcerned about their only daughter Phoolan Rani, who goes on to marry a promiscuous dacoit Bhayanak Singh.
What follows is rigmarole of changing colors of the police in a series of comic situations made brighter by the character of Police Inspector -Patti Pandey, played by Pankaj Sharma. Overall, Pandey is symbolically and reality-wise, the best framed character of the production. Wearing a cervical neck collar, his lopsided gait and mannerisms are interesting to watch.
The play was brilliantly executed, using the ‘epic’ style of theatre wherein an actor comes out of its character and jumps back into it. “At specific moments the acting crosses over into a parody of melodrama”, contends its director. The high energy levels, clarity of thought, simple narrative, using rhyming dialogues adds to the thrill of unfolding events and puts them in definite focus, leaving an impactful, thought-provoking message in its conclusion.
Bits of humour add spice to the goings-on in the play. The character of Narhari Poddar, played by a reed-thin actor Sourav Sharma, adds much fun to the streaks of comic relief with his break-dance routine and pelvic thrusts on music and songs of Bollywood.
His drugged wife Manmohini played by Delight William is sheer delight to watch as her mood swings of highs and lows catches one off-guard with her edgy slip of tongue . Ayaan Ali, as Bhayanak Singh dacoit, with his gang is impressive, not in the conventional vision of a ‘daaku’ but as flippy character who often speaks to the audience about their silence, their mute acceptance of corruption just as a daily domestic chore and arouses them not to remain mere spectators. Ifra, the director of the performance also an actor playing the character of Phoolan as a precocious child, is a bundle of laughter, lively with her childish antics and logic. The acting was deliberately loud and exaggerated, giving glimpses of ‘Bhand Pather’- the traditional folk theatre of Jammu & Kashmir.

The costumes and hairstyle of characters appeared to have got much attention from costume designer Delight, Shaheen and makeup artist Manoj Dhamir.

While the set was simple with merely two-three props of a table-chair and a death noose, the lighting was used brilliantly. Other than some gaps, when the stage was left empty, the production was endearing and smooth. Overall, it was an endearing performance of a timeless play that will be remembered by the audiences of Amritsar for a long time.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON DEC-19,2012
URL:http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/jammus-youngistan-enthrals-amritsar-38474.aspx

Story of India Pakistan bonding


By RASHMI TALWAR

I thank all who have taken the trouble to comment or like this post.IN fACEBOOK.. believe me it is close to my heart …..

Although, every year, I share photos of a tenderly, tended garden in Amritsar in March when in full bloom ….there is also a little story I would like to share with the heterogeneous mix of my friends …..
In one of the pixs, next to the green lamppost is a ‘innocent’ looking palm spreading more horizontally than vertically. When I requested my friends in Lahore, Pakistan, about carrying a little sapling to my Desh, a night before leaving, they promptly uprooted the palm breaking the pot, soldiered some soil of Pakistan, wetted it with water and wrapped in a polythene bag. On our arrival in India on the Samjhauta Express, my husband got talking to some who were similarly waiting. As the luggage started arriving, one of them pointed it out to my husband …”Dekho loki bootey vi Lahore to le ke aa rahe ne.” My husband knew it could only be me. Sheepishly, the man skipped away; when he saw it was the wife of the man he was talking to, who was carrying the ‘Green’ bounty.
Over there in Lahore, people asked me “India mein aisa Palm nahi milta kia ?” and back home I was queried on the same “India mein aisa palm nahi milta kia, jo app Lahore se utha layi ho?”. They did not know, that it was not the palm but the living, growing memento that I had got to bond me forever with the overwhelming “Realization of Peace between people of India and Pakistan” catering to my love for the Living, Growth, Nature, Progress and Smiles.
This was not the first time, and hopefully wouldn’t be the last .
On a visit to Nepal a quarter of a century back, I had similarly brought a Bamboo bush which turns Greenest of Greens, in the hottest of summers when all others look scorched from the burning sun.
Also, from countries having strict quarantine rules, come rocks, stones and pebbles, often to the chagrin of our friends, who laugh and point out “..Sare pathar bhar ke le ayin hain , weight tey zaida hone hi si..” I found a new way to lessen the weight, and carried them in my travelling belt. When I explained to officials of Custom and Immi that I was a “stupid” stone collector and it was not a ‘hijacking tool’ . I was just lucky, they believed me and let me off, often smilingly, while my dear and near ones continued to laugh incessantly, even to this day.
This ‘queer buzz’ in me again manifested itself on a different occasion . I got a call from Pakistan …Apka article Tribune mein parke , humey Indian high commission ne visa de diya hai …abb humey humare dost se milva do”..The call was from Raja Mohammed Ali, a childhood friend of Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, from village Gah (birthplace of PM), Pakistan……”Yeh sunn na tha, aur hum chal pare, unko milvane ke liye. Aisa kaho bachpan ke dost ki kahani ” Krishan- Sudama ” vali thi, lekin humko kia, humko bas karma tha …yeh .
…waise hi jese Dr Hardeep Singh aur Mrs Hapreet Kaur ke khoye hue bête Giandeep @Richie ke peche hum chal diye….

Raja ji aur Mohna ji (PM was called Mohna by his classmates) ki unnkahi kismet thi . “Ji” “mulakat hui Raja ji aur Mohna ki, aur sare Jahan ne dekha …Aur India se …..Jate, Jate Raja ji ko 2 Cassia (golden Shower) ke bootey diye ..aur woh idhar ke logon ke kahil ho gaye.
These two cassia saplings were out of three, one of which is planted behind the statue in the pix and will hopefully flower this year. However, the two are already flowering in the Pakistani village Gah bringing pleasure and smiles, since last year. ..my only wish is as my father in law (GRHS) said to me ….”Dont look back , move forward, there is no time better than now …”

U r free to share this post if u like ….Be with me on finding Giandeep….I know we will find him …..Godbless Amritsar

‘Magic’ or ‘Idiot’ box ? DOORDARSHAN v/s PTV


By Rashmi Talwar

Chaudhary Hashmat Khan in PTV soap telecast from Lahore
The”50th anniversary of DD” in 2009 really amazed me! Was DD (Delhi Doordarshan) born before our generation in the 60s emerged? I recall the first encounter in late 60s when neighboring tiny-tot friends grandly held court about TV meaning –’Tele-Vijon’ –a ‘magic box’ that popped up movies, cartoons, songs and what-not.
Word spread like an animated wild fire about the fairies. Every Lil-one wanted sunflowers waiting for the feathered beauties to deliver the ‘enchanting box.
But Things moved fast and before we knew it our father got the 1st TV in the entire neighbourhood in 1969. A ‘pie’ company one, almost like a mini almirah with a fattest bottom that refused to sit on the ordinary and had to be provided with a luxury spread. An aerial installed and everyone stared starry-eyed as pictures and sounds emerged. Although coined much later the jingle of Onida TV commercial “Neighbor’s envy Owner’s Pride” aptly fitted the state of affairs.
Before JD (Jalandhar Doordarshan)entered our homes and lives, it was the neighboring PTV that dominated the silver screen in the border areas of Amritsar, Punjab and high reaches of Himachal Pradesh. We often used to envy the Lahori Pakistanis and their American fare on TV, delectable cartoons ‘Popeye the sailor’ and glued-to-seats soap operas “Time Tunnel”, “Bewitched”, “Star Trek” , “Lost in space”, “Six million dollar man” , “Bionic woman” , “Lucy show” , “CHIPS (California highway petrol)”,”Planet of the Apes” ,”Different Strokes”. The visually mutilated lip-locks in foreign soaps (conservative PTV!) actually helped in watching TV with parents and elders. That (soberity !) amazingly still holds true for some border farmers who stall any attempt by their young, to subscribe to cable or dish TV and religiously watch PTV and JD till date.
The recall, virtually put me in a childhood reverie when games like marbles, guli danda, hide and seek, seven plates, staapu or football would see a disappearing act, by the dot of time for a serial. By then almost everyone had a TV Set after the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
During the ’71 war, PTV was used in ample measure to spew venom at India. Soon after the war, the Indian government woke up to the harrowing reality of influence of negative publicity and a swift damage control exercise came in the form of JD channels that entered our homes in the border areas, with the first movie “Pakeeza” then “Mugle-E-Azam” and rocked the boat for PTV.
But then merely “two” energy pills hardly weaned away the audience from PTV which in contrast presented aesthetically beautiful weave of its own soaps “Ankahi”, “Tanhaiyaan”, “Uncle Urfi” immensely popular “Waaris” story of dominating Pakistani tribal War-lords; or the laughter riot of “Sona Chandi”, “fifty fifty” and even the shining Toyota to be won in quiz programme “Nilam Ghar” by Tariq Aziz besides the ghazals of Noor Jahan, Abida Parveen, Gulam Ali, Mehandi Hasan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Mussarat Naseer’s wedding songs “mathey te chamkan val..”,Mallika Phukraj and her beautiful talented daughter Tara Sayeed.
No longer were we the poor country cousins of our Delhi counterparts because we enjoyed a choice of 2 Channels while they sufficed with only DD. Slowly JD picked up with “Chitrahaars” and “movies” followed by the first serial “Buniyaad” and subsequently “Hum Log”. Although we enjoyed them but frankly they were no match for the classy and slick productions of PTV.
But then 78 weeks of “Ramayan” in 1986 followed by “Mahabharat” in 1988 were unprecedented addictions that finally won the war for DD against PTV. PTV pittered out after private Indian channels followed CNN and BBC into Indian homes, rechristening the ‘magic’ box as the “idiot box”.

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