June    2023

Home / Search

' Bollywood ' - 2852 Result(s)

  • “Swarajya Janani Jeeja Mata” – The woman behind Shivaji’s success

    Anupama Nair As a woman, freedom and empowerment of women is a topic close to my heart. I remember Rousseau’s famous statement during the French Revolution, “man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains”. But for men a lot changed but what has not changed is for women. So, we can correctly say “women are born free, but she is everywhere in chains”. Even in the 21st century there is not much change anywhere in the world. She is a victim of domestic violence, rape and many horrors. The US has the most cases of domestic violence in the world. To add to misery, religions play a huge part in their condition. Nineteenth of February is celebrated as Shivaji Jayanti or the birth of Chhatrapati Shivaji who is one of Bharat Ma’s greatest son. So, I thought let me write about her. Jeeja Mata was born on 12th January 1598. I can safely say it was Jeeja Mata who made the Hindu Hridaya Samrat Shivaji so great. It is rightly said “behind every successful man is a great mother who nurtures a great life” and the life of Shivaji is a testimony to this fact.   Jeeja Mata is also known as Rajmata Jeeja Bai, mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha kingdom and the protector of our Bharat Ma as well as his Dharma Hinduism. “She was the guide who shaped his mind from his early years. She was the embodiment of self-respect -- the great mother who suffered in silence and became a source of inspiration to her heroic son”.   The true importance of a mother in any individual’s life can be judged from the fact that while on one hand, she is the first guru to her child, on the other hand, the very heaven sleeping on her lap, listen to her lullabies, eating food served by her, and lastly touching her holy feet. Jeeja Mata was such a combination -- mother and brave woman. She was not only his friend, and guide but also a great source of inspiration. She never lost courage and patience in case of difficulties and adversities. She imparted moral values and ideals to her son. As a result, her son grew up to be a great protector of the Hindu society and came to be known as Hindu Hridaya Samrat Shivaji Maharaj.   She was born in a village named Sindkher to Lakhuji Jadhav and Mahalasabai Jadhav . Her father belonged to Deulgaon, near Sindkhed, in the present-day Buldhana district of Maharashtra. He was equally brave and ambitious and proud of his lineage as his daughter. She was the only daughter of Lakhuji Jadhav, and as per the customs prevalent in those days, she was married at an early age to Shahaji Bhonsle, who was the son of Maloji Bhosle of Verul village. She was only eight years old and her husband was hardly twelve years old and, she remained with her parents for several years before joining her husband.   She had eight children (six daughters and two sons), unfortunately, all the daughters died in infancy and only the two sons, Shambaji and Shivaji reached adulthood.  Shahaji was granted Jagir of Bengaluru and as per the terms of the treaty was forced to move to Bengaluru. While Shivaji and Jijabai were at Bengaluru, Shahaji provided excellent education to Shivaji. However, Jeeja Bai along with young Shivaji and a few chosen associates soon shifted to Pune. In those days, a large part of Maharashtra was under the rule of Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar and Adil Shah of Bijapur and these two rulers were in a constant fight with each other to prove their dominance over the parts of Maharashtra. Along with these rulers, the Portuguese, the British, the Dutch, and the French, constantly tried to prove their dominance over Maharashtra. Due to all these factors, there was instability and insecurity in Maharashtra and needless to say the condition of the common man was miserable.   There were many great Sardars who belonged to the Maratha clan, but they worked either for the Adil Shah or Nizam Shah. Jeeja Bai was not happy that her husband and her father were serving under the Muslim rulers. She always had a vision for an independent kingdom. Nijam Shah deceitfully murdered her father Lakhuji Jadhav and his sons in his royal court. This incident had a deep impact on Jijabai. She was a very pious and intelligent woman with a great vision for an independent kingdom.  Shivaji grew up and began his fight for freedom. At the young age of sixteen, he captured the fort of Thorangadh. Shivaji would not take any important decision without consulting his mother. Jeeja Bai is widely credited with raising Shivaji in a manner that led to his future greatness.   She inspired Shivaji by telling stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Right from his childhood, she would tell Shivaji about the lives of Sri Ram, Maruti, and Sri Krishna to make him pious and patriotic. No wonder, he believed in the saying “Janani janma bhumishcha swargadapi gariyasi”. Right from his childhood, she sowed the seeds of devotion to Bharat Ma. “She instilled in him many values like courage, modesty, truthfulness, fearlessness. She inspired him to the establishment of Hindu Swaraj”. In Shivaji’s spotless character and courage, her contribution is enormous. It was through the efforts of his mother that Shivaji became an ideal administrator and ruler.   Even to Shivaji companions, she was a source of inspiration, and she treated them as affectionately as she did her own son. A glimpse of this was seen in the Bollywood blockbuster Tanaji. “She felt very sad like a mother when brave Maratha soldiers, after fighting heroically, fell one after another sacrificing their lives for their country”. After hearing the news of  her elder son and husband’s death, she was very upset and unfortunately  died soon after the coronation of Shivaji on June 17, 1674, in Pachad. Shivaji was heartbroken by her death, as she was not only a mother, but also a source of his inspiration. Jeeja Bai lived through life without any assistance, and the moment she stepped into the Bhonsle household, “she absorbed and adapted to their customs and traditions. She had cemented a concrete resolution in life – to cultivate Shivaji into an exemplary king, one who would abide by the ideals of Swaraj and Swadharma, whose subjects would have sufficient to survive on and in whose kingdom, the woman would be treated with due honor and respect”. She realized this cherished dream through her great son. If only in today’s world we had such mothers!

  • Brave hearts of Indo-Pak War 1971

      Anupama Nair India has always given birth to many brave sons and daughters who sacrificed their lives for their mother land. Be it Rana Pratap, Shivaji Maharaj or Rani Laxmi Bai, the list is never ending. Even after Independence many brave sons and daughters gave their lives for us. “The Indian Army has been filled with spine-chilling tales of valor, indomitable spirit in the face of adversity, and unparalleled devotion towards our motherland”. It is said brave hearts are not born with any special power, they are ordinary people like us, but  they possess indomitable spirit and bravery when the situation demands. So is the tale of our brave Indian army soldiers who have proved it time and again after Independence. Today, I am going to talk about some officers whose ‘tale of valor’ inspired us over the years. It is a known fact that the braves of the Indian Army sacrifice their own lives during any war so that the entire country can sleep in peace. The stories of their bravery, courage, and passion are larger than life stories. Their bravery will not only just make us proud but also their sacrifices will leave our eyes a little moist. Today I am going to talk about the famous Indo-Pak War of 1971 and the brave hearts who ensured India won the war. The Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 began on December 3 and lasted for 13 days, after which Pakistan was humiliated and surrendered to India and Bangladesh. “The Indian Army brought the Pakistani Army to its knees, took 93,000 war prisoners and gave Independence to 75 million people of Bangladesh”, stated a media report. It was also considered to be the largest military surrender after the Second World War. Unfortunately, around 3,800 soldiers lost their lives in the war to end the genocide Pakistan committed against the Bengali population of East Pakistan. The war started after Pakistan launched airstrikes on 11 Indian airbases. It was perhaps the first time in which all three Indian forces – army, airforce and navy fought together. India quickly responded to movements of the Pakistan Army in the west and captured around 15,010  KM of its territory. The war ended after the chief of Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi and its 93,000 troops surrendered to the joint forces of the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini of Bangladesh. General Niazi signed the ‘Instrument of Surrender’ on December 16, 1971, in Dhaka, and East Pakistan became Bangladesh. “For Pakistan, the war was a complete and humiliating defeat, a psychological setback that came from a defeat at the hands of rival India. Pakistan lost half its population and a significant portion of its economy, and suffered setbacks to its geopolitical role in South Asia”. The Battle of Longewala (4–7 December 1971) was one of the first major action in the western sector during the War of 1971, fought between the forces of Pakistan  and the Indian defenders at the border post of Longewala, in the Thar Desert .The battle was fought between 120 Indian soldiers accompanied by 4 Hunter fighter aircrafts and 2000-3000 Pakistani soldiers accompanied by 30-40 tanks. The reinforced battalion of the Indian Army's 23rd Battalion, Punjab Regiment, led by the brave Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, was left with the choice of either attempting to hold out until reinforced, or fleeing on foot from a Pakistani force. Fleeing was never an option for any brave Indian officer, so Chandpuri ensured that all his assets were deployed, and made the most use of his strong defensive position, as well as weaknesses created by errors of the Pakistani Army. The battle of Longewala witnessed heavy Pakistani losses and only few Indian casualties. The Battle of Longewala was depicted in the 1997 Bollywood film Border, directed by J.P. Dutta and starred Sunny Deol as Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, Jackie Shroff as Wing Commander M.S. Bawa, Sunil Shetty as Assistant Commandant Bhairon Singh (BSF), and Akshaye Khanna as 2nd Lieutanant Dharam Veer Bhan.  The movie exaggerated the casualties of Indian soldiers for dramatic purposes. This was not the case in the real incident as Indian forces had defended a position on a height that commanded the area, and were able to defend it effectively due to tactical mistakes made by the Pakistani commanders. The year 2021 is the golden jubilee year of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war. The Government has planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its victory as a ‘Golden Victory Year’ or ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’. A number of events were held as an effort to recognize and honor the bravery and sacrifices made by our gallant soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces in the 1971 war and also to rejoice as well as celebrate the occasion throughout the country with full enthusiasm. It sure is a great tribute to our great soldiers. Now I am going to talk above the brave hearts of the war. Lance Naik Albert Ekka (27 December 1942 – 3 December 1971) was a soldier in the Indian Army. He was martyred in action in the Battle of Gangasagar, during the 1971 War. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra. Nirmal Jeet Sekhon, (17 July 1945 – 14 December 1971) was an officer of the Indian Air Force. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, in recognition of his lone defense of the Sri Nagar Air Base against the Pakistani Airforce air raid during the War. He is the only recipient of the Indian Air Force to be honored with the PVC. Singh's remains as well as the location of the crash site of his aircraft are still unknown. Rameshwar Nath Kao was a brave RAW officer, whose team was called ‘Kao-boys’, and is popularly known as the ‘architect of Bangladesh’ for his role in the 1971 war. While the war was a military victory and the credit goes to the Army, Air Force and the Navy, Kao was the one working behind the scenes and under whose leadership, the RAW actively helped Mukti Bahini, the Bangladesh forces, to triumph over West Pakistan.   Major General Ian Cardozo is a name tantamount with the 1971 War. He was a young Major with the 4/5 Gorkha Rifles when the war broke out. His battalion’s second-in-command was killed in action and Cardozo was ordered to replace him. Cardozo, was fondly called  ‘cartoos  sahab’ by his Gorkha regiment who took part in the Indian Army’s first heliborne operation. Towards the end of the war, Cardozo stepped on a mine and his leg was badly injured. Due to non-availability of morphine and absence of medics, his leg could not be amputated surgically. Faced with the threat of the gangrene spreading in his body, Cardozo used his own ‘kukri’ to amputate his own leg. Later, a Pakistani military doctor captured by the Indian forces operated on him. He eventually became the first war-disabled officer of the Indian Army to command a battalion and a brigade.  

  • Mallika e tarannum-- the legend lives on

      Anupama Nair When I think of Music, I always think of my favorite writer Shakespeare and his quotes “If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die”. I will take you on a journey of the Hindi film music and then talk about the Noor of Indian music Noor Jehan. Hindi film music has a long history and still decide the fate of a movie. The film music from the beginning till the 1990s had poetic lyrics and melodious music. However, with the arrival of the millennium, the music lost its touch. No poetic lyrics or melodious music exist, very rarely in film like Parinita, but mostly do not exist anymore. It pains my heart to see this fall. Hope the yesteryears come back, at least for music.   The first film in Hindi with recorded music was in the move “Alam Ara” made in 1931, and the first song had the lyrics “De khuda ke naam per”. In the 1940s they are many songs which after 80 years are still popular. Some of those songs are “Akhiyan Milake (Ratan), Jawan hai Muhabbat (Anmol Ghadi), and Awaz de Kahan hai (Anmol Ghadi). The songs sung by Suraiya and Noor Jehan are still super hits.   Noor Jehan was a famous Indian singer and actress who worked both in India and Pakistan. She had a highly versatile personality, and could sing in several languages including Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Sindhi, and had recorded over 10,000 songs in her career. She was born into a Muslim family with a rich musical tradition, in British India, and she was exposed to the world of show biz at a young age. She began singing at the age of five and received early training in classical singing from Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. He introduced her to the stage and before long she had blossomed into a talented and confident stage performer.   She developed an interest in acting along with singing and made her initial film appearances as a child actor. The famous theatre owner Diwan Sardari Lal took her to Calcutta in the early 1930s and her entire family moved to Calcutta in hope of developing the film careers of  Noor Jehan and her older sisters, Eiden Bai and Haider Bandi. Mukhtar Begum, who was a famous actress encouraged the sisters to join film companies and recommended them to various producers she knew. She also recommended them to her husband, Agha Hashar Kashmiri, who owned a maidan theatre or a tented theatre to accommodate large audiences. It was here that she received the stage name, Baby Noor Jehan. Her sisters were offered jobs with one of the Seth Sukh Karnani companies, Indira Movietone and they went on to be known as the Punjab Mail.   In 1935, she acted in a Punjabi movie called ‘Pind di Kuri’ in which Noor Jehan acted along with her sisters and sang the Punjabi song “Langh aja patan chanaan da o yaar”, which was her earliest hit. She then acted in a film called ‘Missar Ka Sitara’ by the same company and sang in it. Jehan also played the child role of Heer in the film Heer-Sayyal in 1937.  All these Punjabi movies were made in Calcutta. After a few years in Calcutta, Jehan returned to Lahore in 1938. In 1939, renowned music director Ghulam Haider composed songs for her, which led to her early popularity, and he thus became her early gurus. In 1942, she had her first Hindi hit Khandaan opposite Pran. It was her first role as an adult, and the film was a major success. The success of Khandaan encouraged her to move to Bombay – the center of Bollywood, with the director Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi. She shared singing with Shanta Apte in Duhai  released in 1943. She married Rizvi later the same year. Badi Ma released in 1945 is a social drama film based in the time of Second World War. It was produced and directed by Master Vinayak. The film starred Noor Jehan, Ishwarlal, Yakub, Sitara and Girish. It could be called a vintage film as it had Lata didi and Asha Bhosle acting alongside Noor Jehan. Then came the great blockbuster of all times – Anmol Ghadi with Surendra and Suraiya. This movie is my all-time favorite and I do not know how many times I saw this movie. The film was a musical hit and still remembered for its music by Naushad, with many super hits like “Aawaaz De Kahaan Hai”, “Jawaan Hai Mohabbat Haseen Hai Zamana” and “Mere Bachpan Ke Saathi Mujhe Bhool Na Jaana”. The film also featured playback singer, Mohammed Rafi's first super hit, “Tera Khilauna Toota Balak”, and became the highest-grossing film at the Indian box office in 1946.   Jugnu released in 1947, directed by Shaukat Hussain Rizvi was the highest grossing film of 1947. The film starred Dilip Kumar, Noor Jehan, and Ghulam Mohammad. The famous playback singer Mohammed Rafi also had a cameo appearance. This film was the first major hit for Dilip Kumar, who went on to become the Kohinoor of Bollywood. Another hit movie was Mirza Sahiban released in 1947.The movie was directed by K. Amarnath, starring Noor Jehan and Trilok Kapoor in the lead roles,  based on the folktale of ‘Mirza Sahiban’ and was the fourth highest grossing Indian film of 1947.   From 1945 to 1947 Noor Jehan was one of the biggest film actresses of Bollywood. In 1947, with the partition of India, we lost our Noor of the film industry. She along with her husband moved to Karachi. She later came to India in 1982. She passed away in 2000 after a heart attack and when I heard the news left a void in my heart.   The famous musician C. Ramachandra said “A political agreement divided the kingdom of two queens. In 1951, the heir and the empress met each other in the middle of the road. When the political surgeons of the subcontinent amputated Pakistan from India, they underestimated its cultural consequences. Art, cinema, and literature of the subcontinent found itself disembodied. The decision of Noor Jehan to move to Pakistan hurt many of her fans – especially a young one girl called Lata Mangeshkar in particular”.   But even though distances separated them, the two singers have always claimed love for each other's talents. An incident that reflects the connection between the two occurred in 1951. In the words of C Ramachandra “travelling through Amritsar for a recording, Lata Mangeshkar was seized by a desire to meet her former idol, Noor Jehan. Noor Jehan resided in Lahore, a couple of hours on the other side of the border. Immediately, calls were made to Noor Jehan. Both singers spoke for hours over the phone, sharing tales, gossip, even songs, before the decision to meet was made. Since both singers could not cross the border, the meeting was set up in that desolate place armies call ‘No Man's Land’. It seems apt that two legendary artists could only meet in a place that no country or government had claim over. Noor Jehan ji came running and the two embraced each other like long lost friends. Both were weeping. We who were witness to this divine meeting were overwhelmed and could not stop the tears. Even soldiers on both sides of the border were weeping. After some time, they sat chatting. We had food. They had brought sweets from Lahore and us from India. Noor Jehan’s husband was also there. I shall never forget this scene in my life. A great testimony to the fact that music can break any barrier. After few hours, we returned with wet eyes but with a divine and unique experience indeed”, he said in his biography. Later in 1982, Noor Jehan visited Bombay for a concert. Lata Mangeshkar performed in her honor, winning the praise of Noor Jehan. We cannot comment whether Lata Mangeshkar would have been so successful if Noor Jehan had decided to stay back in India. But we cannot doubt the respect the two ‘queens of melody’ had for each other. Noor Jehan was truly Mallika-e-tarannum and would remain my favorite forever.

  • A Love Story that withstood ‘Untold Horrors’

      Anupama Nair Nearly 74 years ago, in 1947 began a tale of blood bath, where nearly a million Sikhs, Hindus, and others lost their lives, when they were forced to leave their homeland and move to India. All this happened due to the over-ambition of three men whom I do not want to name here. I am sure even they would have wept to see the blood bath. Did they do anything to prevent it? No would be the answer. They were only witnesses to the millions being killed around them in the border states of Punjab, Bengal and Sind. From time immemorial we were one – history, civilization, culture, tradition, lifestyle all one. When I opened the history books in my childhood, this is the story it conveyed. It narrated a tale about  the “Hominid activity being excavated in the Indian subcontinent and that goes back to over 250,000 years, and how proud we are, to know we are “one of the oldest inhabited regions on the planet”. It taught me to be proud of the Indus Valley Civilization – the world’s first urban civilization, then Takshila University where foreigners came to study (nearly 3500 years ago), then about the great king Puroshattam (Porus), and lastly how my country got the name India from the river Sindhu or Indus. My young heart used to swell with pride when I used to imagine these events. Lahore and Karachi were always ours. However, as you wake up after every dream I too woke up when I saw a serial ‘Buniyad’ and then learnt the bitter truth that Harrapa, Mohenjadaro, Takshila no longer belonged to India, but another country called Pakistan – born on 14th August 1947. I saw the horrors of Partition in a movie called Tamas and in the serial Buniyad. The sights I saw pained a young heart. How could my great country be divided in two and the division cause the death of many innocent lives? I still have not got any answer and I know for sure I never will. Is there anyone who can answer the questions? I was reminded of the horrors of Partition, when our great PM tweeted “ August 14 will be remembered as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day in memory of people’s struggles and sacrifices during that period”. Mr. Modi recollected, “Partition’s pains can never be forgotten. Millions of our sisters and brothers were displaced and many lost their lives due to mindless hate and violence. In memory of the struggles and sacrifices of our people, 14th August will be observed as Partition Horrors Remembrance Day”. He felt that , “May the Partition Horrors Remembrance Day keep reminding us of the need to remove the poison of social divisions, disharmony and further strengthen the spirit of oneness, social harmony and human empowerment.” However, the question is can those million families who were forced to leave their land, assets, relatives, in Lahore, Karachi, Dhaka and Rawalpindi, and were forced to live in refugee camps in Amritsar, Delhi, Bombay or Calcutta ever forget the horrors of Partition? We need to realize that in our journey to be a superpower we need to move ahead of the Partition horrors. I am now going to write about the story, Dadu (who left this world a few days before his hundredth birthday) told me. Read on… The year was 1921 and the place was Lyallpur. A boy was born to Deen Dayal Singh and Meera Bai. They named the boy Raj. Lyallpur became famous within 10 years as ‘Shaheed-e-azam Bhagat Singh’s village’ as he was born there. In 1921, India was still ruled by the British. Raj as a young boy was fond of History and English Literature. He studied in an English boarding school in Shimla. When he completed his Matriculation at the age of 17, he returned to Lahore as a proper ‘brown Sahib’. As a young boy he dreamt of  studying Law in England, and so he was enrolled for B.A. in History in National College (started by Lala Lajpat Rai). He at the time, used to think highly about the British and thought greatly about their rule in India. He was well versed in the history of British India. Near Anarkali Bazar in Lahore, there lived a family whose members, were nationalists unlike Raj’s family. To Ramcharan and Shanti Sharma, a daughter was born in 1925, whom they had named Veera Wali after the goddess Durga. Her grandfather, Gurcharan Sharma was killed in Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919. Her paternal uncle Ram Narayan, was a classmate of Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev in National College and he joined the HRA. He was unfortunately, shot dead by the British Police. Her parents and grandmother Rani told her stories of Prithvi Raj Chauhan, Rana Sangha, Rana Pratap, Shivaji Raje, Mangal Pandey and Rani Lakshmi Bai. So, she grew up with love for her motherland and wanted to fight for the Independence of her country. Their first meeting was like any Bollywood movie “hate at first sight”. She was unimpressed by his English ways and they had many fights about it. She gave him a book about Indian History and reminded him about the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and others before him. Raj realized that British came to India only to loot India and not for our benefit. He now began to feel a great pride in the great culture, civilization and culture of India. Soon love blossomed between Veera and Raj. Their families were first skeptical but eventually gave their blessing for their marriage. They had made a promise only to get married when India was free from British Imperialism. That was the time of the Second World War, and Raj saw how Indians were unwillingly forced to join the British. Many Indian soldiers were killed in the battles in Europe. There was Emergency like situation in India. Then one day, from thousands of miles apart he heard the voice of a man telling his countrymen –“Give me blood. I will give you Freedom”. The words stirred patriotism in him and he like Veera decided to join the Freedom Movement. In 1945, the War was over and the wartime emergencies were removed. Life was slowly returning to normal. Raj had completed his Masters and he had earlier wanted to study for Law in England, but his love for Veera made him change his mind. He decided to study in India. Veera was now studying for her Masters in history and she wanted to be a teacher. Lahore at this time was bursting with political activity during Independence struggle. Raj and Veera joined the movement and they were filled with hope of  ‘dawn of freedom’. The year was 1947. They never realized that it was the last year they would spend in Lahore. They celebrated Basant Panchami, Maha Shivratri, Holi and Janmashtami hardly realizing it would be last time they would be celebrated in their beloved city for the last time. “Partition – the division of British India into the two separate states of India and Pakistan on August 14--15, 1947, was the ‘last-minute’ mechanism by which the British were able to secure agreement over how Independence would take place”. It was the result of their two hundred years of Divide and Rule policy. Raj and Veera along with other residents of Lahore celebrated Independence Day. People were dancing on the streets on a very rainy day in Lahore. They never realized Lahore was part of Pakistan and soon they would have to leave their beloved city forever. Raj and Veera soon heard the news, that broke their heart. They were asked to leave their beloved Lahore. They decided to leave for Amritsar with their family. Now a tale of horror unfolded. They began their journey with a heavy heart. “We lost ancestral lands, roots and possessions that mattered most”. Partition caused one of the great ‘convulsions of history’ said Dadu and Dadi as they recalled the events as if it happened yesterday and not 74 years ago. “Moreover, the violence, destruction and human rights abuses that occurred on a vast scale destroyed from the outset the relationship between the two neighboring countries”, was the comment from people who migrated.  Dadu said, “the events occurring in the period of the partition in 1947 are now 74 years old. Most of the adults who lived through this are no longer alive and only few remain today”. He said the younger generation will never understand, even his own children who were born after 1950. “We had experienced a number of traumatic events, ranging from witnessing killings, betrayal by next door neighbors, fleeing their homes under threat of murder, starvation and destitution. Humanity stooped so low that neighbors turned against each other. They were the same who attended wedding ceremonies , funerals and religious festivities in each other’s families, but now didn't hesitate to set ablaze the same house where they had visited in the past as a family member”. “Then started a massive exodus from Pakistan. However, the greatest tragedy was the fracas that took place throughout the population exchange. At the stroke of midnight on August 14, 1947 two new nations India and Pakistan were born but the partition came at a heavy cost of raging violence”, stated Dadi with tears in her eyes. She continued, “there was mass migration from Pakistan hit by never-ending bloodshed and heavy destruction of properties around us. We were desperate to cross the border from Lahore before we were killed”.  “Cities with railway stations like Lahore and Rawalpindi, witnessed distressing scenes with platforms and trains scattered with bodies. People waiting to catch a train to Amritsar or Delhi were killed. We left the station and decided to leave by road. People were running around with whatever they had -- knives, swords, guns, etc. Thousands of people from our village lost their lives and my brother was shot by a crowd, and sadly he died after reaching Amritsar”. Though very young I can still recall the sight of torched houses and blood covered bodies”. “Somehow, we crossed the border and reached a refugee camp in Amritsar. The life in the camp was very difficult. We lost only one member, my brother and the loss still pains me as I recall how he was killed. The only happy event I can recall is our marriage on February 26, 1948 as we had made a promise to marry only after India was independent. We never wanted our children to ask why were still slaves and what was slavery”, recalled Dadi with emotions in her voice. Slowly by slowly life became normal. Dadu (Raj) started his law practice and Dadi (Veera) became a teacher. My friend’s dad was born in 1950, and they had two more children. They became adjusted to their lives in New Delhi. Soon, they bought a new house and slowly forgot the tragedy of partition. However, love for Lahore, and a desire to see the city again  was still in Dadu’s and Dadi’s heart. New Delhi was a city, which had a huge population of people who came from Pakistan. By the 70’s their children had grown up and had good careers and a family life. My friend’s dad who was working in a bank was transferred to Mumbai, and they became a Mumbaikar at heart. The family has been living here for more than forty years. Dadu and Dadi said “ we recall the horrors of partition when we see movies like Tamas, or Gadar Ek Prem Katha. However, for us it was real life. We thank God for giving us a good life, mainly a loving family and new loving neighbors”. Hearing Dadu, I started thing of Tara Singh and Sakina in the movie and their love story. Dadu had told me once, “putar, though I lived here most of my life, I would like to see Lahore once more and my ashes immersed there”. Unfortunately, his wish could not be fulfilled as he died in April this year, a few days before he hit a century. Dadu, I know you are blessing me to write more such stories and I will do that. You will always remain a source of inspiration to me. (This article is dedicated to my great country – undivided India, the many millions who lost their lives in the horrors of Partition, my source of inspiration, my late Dadu and Dadi and their beloved Lahore).  

  • “Budelkhand Kesri”: Raja Chhatrasal a great Warrior King

      Anupama Nair Our great Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the Amrit Mahotsav or celebration of  India’s 75th year of Independence. We will be celebrating this event till 2022. I am going to write a feature on all those great men and women who fought against foreign invasion not just against the British. Today, I am going to write about the “Bundelkhand Kesari” – Raja Chhatrasal, who is unknown to us a great warrior who fought the cruel Mughals, but well known to us as the father of Mastani, after the Bollywood Movie, “Baji Rao Mastani”, became a super hit. It is really unfortunate we forget his greatness. Budelkhand Kesri, Maharaja Chhatrasal  was a warrior who chose to turn against the “cruelest and a man who killed millions for his sport”, Aurangzeb and seek to establish his  own kingdom in Bundelkhand. He was born in Kachar Kachnai on the 4th of May in 1649, to Champat Rai and Lal Kunwar. His father had raised “the banner for freedom” a generation earlier but was killed in battle with the Mughals but only after killing the favorite of the emperor, Abu Fazal. Chhatrasal also raised the banner of revolt against the Mughals in Bundelkhand at a young age of 22, with only an army of 5 horsemen and 25 swordsmen. During the first ten years of his revolt, he conquered a large tract of land between Chitrakoot and Panna on the east and Gwalior on the west. His domains stretched from Kalpi in the north to Sagar, Garah Kota and Damoh in the south. Chhatrasal was a disciple of Pran Nathji and accepted him as his guru and accepted Pranami Dharma.  It was Swami Pran Nathji who told Raja Chhatrasal Bundela, regarding Diamond mines of  Panna  and  thus  strengthen  his  financial position.  He also persuaded Chhatrasal to make Panna his capital and arranged his coronation there. When Aurangzeb introduced Jaziya, the freedom loving people of Bundelkhand refused to pay and fight for freedom. As a result, deadly struggle which eventually spread over nearly fifty years, ensued with wave after wave of Mughal and Pathan attacks over the land. The atrocities of the Mughals against the innocent people of my country, only deepened the intensity of the people of Bundelkhand, to fight for freedom and vengeance of the killing of their own. People who came to collect Jaziya were killed to send a message that they will not pay the tax. Aurangzeb himself led a huge expedition to Bundelkhand to capture them, but was forced to retreat without achieving any lasting success, leaving behind trails of horror and destruction, but still failing to subdue Chhatrasal and the Bundelas. With great happiness I would like to tell you, from then onwards the Maratha attacks began to shake and almost caused the disintegration of the Mughals and, after the death of Aurangzeb, the Bundelas steadily began to gain ground over their adversaries. The cream of the Mughal generals were sent one after the other to subdue the Bundelas but all their campaigns ended up in failure. Chhatrasal, who was always inspired by the Hindu Hriday Samrat Shivaji’s call of Swaraj and Swadharm wanted to meet him. Shivaji was already the most celebrated and heroic Hindu figure of his times, who had faced the Mughals on equal terms and whose exploits and achievements, courage and idealism had won for him respect throughout India. Chhatrasal offered to serve Shivaji in latter’s war against Aurangzeb. But Shivaji suggested to him to start hostilities against Aurangzeb in Bundelkhand where he would gain many adherents. “Illustrious Chief! Conquer and subdue your foes. Recover and rule your native land …”. In the second phase of his struggle between 1681 and 1707, Chhatrasal suffered a few reverses. Chhatrasal was able to defeat the Mughals until he was attacked by Muhammad Khan Bangash on December 1728. Chhatrasal was 79 years old when he led his army against Bangash, after a severe battle Chhatrasal was defeated and was forced to retreat to his fort at Jaitpur. The Mughals besieged him and conquered most of his territories. Chhatrasal made several attempts to ask the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire, Baji Rao I for help. However, the Peshwa was busy in another war and could not help Chhatrasal until March 1729. Chhatrasal send a letter to Baji Rao which said “know you Bajirao! That I am in the same plight in which the famous elephant was when caught by a crocodile. My valiant race is on the point of extinction. Come and save my honor”. Peshwa Baji Rao, who had never lost a war, personally led his army towards Bundelkhand and attacked several Mughal outposts, and their supplies were completely cut off by the swift cavalry of the Peshwa. Bangash who was surprised by the sudden involvement of the Marathas, sent several letters to the Mughal emperor for aid, however upon being denied any help he started negotiations with Chhatrasal and Bajirao. Bangash was allowed to retreat on the condition that he would never return, or show aggression towards Bundelkhand. Chhatrasal rewarded the Peshwa with large tracts of lands and diamond mines in Bundelkhand which helped the Marathas to gain access in Central and Northern India. It is well known that the king’s daughter Mastani fell in love with Baji Rao and became his second wife. Their love story inspired many folklores, ballads, films etc. The most popular was the film Baji Rao Mastani, starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. Before his death, Chhatrasal bestowed Mahoba and the surrounding areas to his son-in-law in return for Baji Rao's assistance against the Mughals. Chhatrasal, also gave an army of 5,000 men under the service of the Peshwa in Pune. Chhatrasal also paid Rs. 12 lakh as a tribute to the Maratha Emperor so as to establish a long-term relationship with Royal family of Satara. When he died in 1731, at the age of 81, the Mughal rule from Bundelkhand was wiped off completely. Chhatrasal was an inspiration to successive generations of Hindus and an apt lesson to us “freedom is not something that can ever be taken for granted and can be preserved only by endless and continuous caution”.  It shows us that the endless waves of cruelty and barbarity unleashed on us by Invaders however, failed to destroy or subdue our innate love for freedom and dharma. What a great warrior he was to defeat the invaders. We must never forget such great men.

  • Show More

FFC stands for ?