Aashiq to kisi ka naam nahin Kuch ishq kisi ki jaat nahin Gar jeet gaye to kya kehana Haare to baazi maat nahin An excerpt from Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s verse adapted in Muzaffar Ali’s film ‘Anjuman’. Sung by Khaiyyam and his wife Jagjit Kaur.
To know him, to absorb his world, to internalise his thoughts or to appreciate the sheer purity with which he portrays existential angst, you have to first unlearn everything you have parroted so far. For in Muzaffar Ali’s world, music echoes to a mystical note all day, a need to connect becomes life and a desire to express its need. And life’s paradoxes are brushed aside in a Sufiana kalam.
His life’s trajectory defies all boundaries that compartmentalise creativity. An ad guru, filmmaker, a noble who never let go his roots, a writer, artist, product designer, couturier and music aficionado. To best define the man one would have to refer back to Meer Taqi Meer’s couplet that Muzaffar used in his much celebrated film Umrao Jaan: Nazuki uske lab ki kya kahiye Pankhuri ik Gulab si hai He walked into the world of advertising in the 1960s working with Air India and other domestic brands of that era.
Hailing from the historic jaagir of Kotwara in Awadh, he had that world always tucked away in his head. A realm he went back to every time he made a film. Be it Gaman where he portrays the plight of the migrant, way back in the 1970s. A thought that was way before its time. The picture of a petrified Farooq Sheikh in the song: Seene mein Jalan, ankhon mein toofan sa kyon hai, penned by Shariyar, reflects still in the myriad images one sees in the news today of poor migrants walking their way back home.
Sadly, this angst still remains, this divide even deeper. He bemoans, “The fabric of rural India is severely exploited. The farmers are not given the due for their land or their labour. Working on one acre of land he simply earns 30 to 40 thousand annually. How is he to run his family in that? Small traders sell them everything, toothpaste, talcum powder.
When all they need is a neem ka datun. They are made to believe that is life and they rush to the city in search of a dream.” The craftsperson is as misused. A pattern Muzaffar and his wife Meera tried to break by starting their NGO Dwar Pe Rozi (Livelihood at your doorstep). A craftbased NGO it gives out work to chikankari kaarigars to create fine embroideries in the comfort of their home. It literally is bringing alive his movie Anjuman that captured the rot of craft and the exploitation of women craftsmen.
Today he dreams of once again reviving the idiom of working from home and remaining in the village in a big way. “I feel these days spent at home have taught us the real value of life. Most of us will feel the need to go towards hand-made, support our craft and its creators.” Which is where he sees the label Kotwara going. Driven by MeeraMuzaffar and their incredibly talented daughter Sama, Kotwara amplifies the craft of Awadh in a lyrical, classic style.
And in these tough times Muzaffar foresees, “More and more people will find an innovative way to go online, curb costs and give great value for money to customers.” As he puts it, “Things simply said, designs that have roots could never go wrong.” While going online for couture works, his artistic mind is not convinced that online is the way to go for festivals.
“How do you create that inspiration when people are so distracted and easily hit upon too many mindless things?” He goes back into time to reminisce how it was an inner calling that drove him to create India’s most respected platform for Sufi music: Jahan-e-Khusrau. A festival that integrates “many different tones and tenors that still say the same thing”. It was while shooting for Zooni in Kashmir that he was moved by the depth of Sufiana kalam. “It was a voice that was suppressed. Yet it quietly thrived in the Khanqah and shrines across the world. Sufi poets and their words were vibrating in different parts of the world. Some spoken in the love of the God and some as an opposition to existing ways of the world. But they all found their way back to the same source.”
He met then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit and she asked him to create something that celebrates Delhi which was now the city of his residence. “I expressed the need to create a platform that could celebrate the world of Amir Khusrau, the Sufi saint of Delhi in all its glory.” She gave him the carta blanche and hence was born a festival that the world awaits with abated breath. “This festival was only possible in the city of Delhi. Jahan e Khusrau gave him a new realm: That of a music composer. No matter who the performer, he/she would be moulded like clay to Muzaffar’s sensibility.
For weeks he would work with Abida Parveen, “choosing a new poetry, integrating instruments in it, composing the song and in the end what emerged was totally unique”. An artist who became the synonym of the festival, her absence was felt as a hurt, a tug at the heart. But the creator that Muzaffar is, he turned inwards and found great talent within India: Many in Punjab. “That state is known for its Sufi saints: Waris Shah, Bulleh Shah, Heer-Ranjha.
There is an inborn sense of rhythm in the voices of its people.” Except he laughs, “they either run to Bollywood. Or break into a rap!” But at his festival they slow down, imbibe, unlearn and sing something they never sung before. As he admits, “As a director, I worked with the best composer, with Asha ji but the need for this festival is to go beyond Bollywoodisation of Sufism.”
With Covid-19 continuing to devastate us for at least a few years and large festivals a thing of the past, how does he see the new path? He admits that at this point his mind is in deep thought to find a path that remains pure, unhindered and not distracted. “And if that path is online festivals, so be it.”
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India’s Hero Mangal Pandey
Mangal Pandey, born on July 19, 1827 (Akbarpur) and died on April 8, 1857 (Barrackpore), was an Indian solider who is known for the Sepoy mutiny, or popularly known as the First War of Independence of 1857.
Mangal Pandey was born into a Brahmin family of landowners in Faizabad, which is now in Uttar Pradesh in northern India. According to the sources, he was enrolled in the British East India Company’s army in 1859. He was a part of the 6th Company of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry, which dominantly had Brahmin Sepoys.
He was deployed at the Barrackpore Garrison when a new Enfield riffle was introduced in India, which required the solders to bite off the ends of the greased cartridges to load them. A hearsay surfaced among the Sepoys about the greased cartridges being lubricated with either cow or pig lard, which was not liked the Hindus nor the Muslims.
This was assumed to be a deliberate attempt by the Britishers to hurt the religious sentiments of the Indians, eventually leading to a revolt.Mangal Pandey on March 29, 1857, provoked his fellow soldiers to attack the Britishers and also assaulted two British officers. He attempted to shoot himself after being restrained and was arrested. After a trial, he was sentenced to death and was hanged on April 8th, 1857. He was hanged 10 days prior to the scheduled date, which was April 18, because the Britishers feared a large-scale revolt. After his execution, an uprising was observed in May in Meerut opposing the use of the Enfield rifle.
July 19 is observed as Mangal Pandey Jayanti and the government of India in 1984 issued a commemorative postage stamp of his portrait.
BJP MAKES BIG GAINS IN HYDERABAD, TRS FALLS SHORT OF MAJORITY
Hyderabad: The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi is facing a saffron roadblock in its endeavour to wrest the 150-member municipal body in Hyderabad. The TRS emerged as the single largest party in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections winning 55 seats, but it was the BJP that showed a remarkable performance by winning 48 seats.
The strong performance by BJP came on the heels of its victory last month in Dubbak assembly seat. The party had wrested the seat from the ruling TRS.
The GHMC results have been declared on 149 of 150 seats with result in Neredmet division held.
Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM won 44 seats and Congress two seats.
BJP leaders hailed the party’s strong performance in the elections.
Party chief J.P. Nadda said the “historic result” for BJP in Hyderabad GHMC elections shows people’s unequivocal support towards PM Narendra Modi’s development and governance model.
The newly elected corporators and 52 ex-officio members elect the Mayor. Since TRS has majority ex-officio members, it required 65 corporators to have its Mayor. The party may now have to negotiate power sharing agreement with the AIMIM if the latter doesn’t extend unconditional support. In 2009, when GHMC polls had thrown a similar verdict, the Congress had shared power with the MIM, leaving the post of Mayor to MIM for two years.
The post of Mayor this time has been reserved for woman.
The results have come as a huge shock to the TRS, which had bagged 99 seats in the 2016 polls. The BJP, which had secured only four seats in the previous elections, saw a big jump in its numbers to emerge as the second largest party, a position which MIM was enjoying.
The saffron party made big gains as it fought the polls this time with all the might at its disposal with top Central leaders and Union ministers campaigning for its candidates.
The police in Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda have imposed a ban on victory rallies for the next 48 hours. Out of the total 74.67 lakh voters, 46.55 per cent had cast their votes in 149 divisions on Tuesday. There were 1,925 postal ballots.
Polling in one division was stopped due to discrepancy in ballot paper and re-poll was held on Thursday.
Union ministers Amit Shah, Prakash Javadekar and Smriti Irani, BJP president Nadda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath campaigned for the BJP.
The campaign saw no holds barred attack by political opponents, while remarks by some leaders created controversies. The promise by the BJP leaders to change the name of Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar if the party is voted to power also sparked a row.
WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Covid vaccine will be launched in a few weeks: PM Modi in all-party meet
The virtual meeting discusses the current Covid-19 scenario in the country; Prime Minister
Narendra Modi urges political parties to keep the masses aware and protect them from
rumours surrounding mass vaccination exercise
NEW DELHI: In an all-party meet on Friday to discuss the Covid-19 situation in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the vaccine is expected to be available “in the coming weeks”. During the virtual meeting, PM Modi and floor leaders of all parties discussed the present situation of the pandemic in the country. Notably, this was the second allparty meeting called by the Centre to discuss the matter since the outbreak of the pandemic. Addressing the meeting, Modi said that Indian scientists are very confident of succeeding in their endeavour of making a Covid vaccine. “The world is keeping a watch on the cheapest and safe vaccine,” he said. About 12 leaders from prominent political parties, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad (representing the Congress), Sudip Bandyopadhyay (Trinamool Congress) and Sharad Pawar of the NCP, attended the virtual meeting. Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary also attended the meet. Apart from PM Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan were present. Parliamentary Affairs Ministers Pralhad Joshi and Ministers of State in the same ministry, Arjun Ram Meghwal and V. Muraleedharan, also reached out to floor leaders for the meeting. PM Modi further stated, “India is one of the few countries where the testing and recovery rates are very high and the mortality rate is very low. Compared to developed countries, India has fought against Covid well and managed to save a lot of lives.” “From the time of fear and apprehensions in the months of February and March, when India reported its first Covid cases, to this atmosphere of ‘hope and confidence’ in December, India has come a long way,” he added.
A National Expert Group, that includes technical experts and officials of both the Central and state governments, has been constituted to shoulder the responsibility of the campaign related to the vaccine. The National Expert Group will take decisions collectively as per national and regional requirements. “Experts believe that the wait for a coronavirus vaccine will not be long, and it may be ready in a few weeks,” said PM Modi.
The PM also reportedly asked the representatives of various parties to send their suggestions in writing. “Public health will be the top priority as far as Covid-19 vaccine pricing is concerned, and states will be fully involved,” he said. Lok Sabha floor leader T.R. Baalu was the only one among the 13 Opposition and NDA allies who raised the issue of the ongoing farmers’ agitation at the end of the speech. However, Prahalad Joshi interrupted him and told him to stick to the topic. As per sources, the DMK leader retorted with, “For the last 10 days the farmers have been on the road and should not be ignored”. The two had a heated exchange, and according to sources, Baalu’s microphone was muted in the meeting ahead.
In his speech, PM Modi also urged political parties to keep the masses aware and protect them from rumours which are often spread whenever there is a mass vaccination exercise. “We must make sure that rumours are not spread during the vaccination, rumours that are anti-national and anti-human,” he said.
The Prime Minister further thanked the leaders of all parties for their valuable contribution in the fight against Covid, adding, “Jan Andolan and Jan Bhagidari with support of all political parties is the key for the success of India’s vaccination effort.” Along with this, Modi again appealed to citizens to be constantly alert and not let their guard down against the virus.
Weaving a fabric of compassion
Covid-19 has hit Varanasi’s famous handwoven sector hard. But as Amrit Shah, owner of the wellknown label Shanti Banaras, says tough times demand tough measures laced with kindness.
Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” —Author Mark Twain, on Varanasi
The Assi Ghats of Varanasi are lyrical, mystical and mythical. As you tide across them in a hand-rowed boat, all you see are magnificent havelis and ashrams built by erstwhile maharajas, rich merchants and the landed aristocracy for their old and ailing to live in and look for eternal peace. Many of the leading Indian families lived in these homes and, whilst there looked for the finer things of life to fill their home with.
The women of the household began working closely with the local silk weavers to create masterpieces for their own use and to gift to their loved ones. Voila were born the kin khwabs, the brocades, the tanchois and the gold weaves. In short, a legacy we all know today as a Banarasi weave which became part of the Indian heritage fable. No trousseau was complete without an addition of a tanchoi or a brocade from Varanasi.
It was only in recent times that many brands emerged from this ancient town, making Banarasi silk a member of the haute couture club. The Daily Guardian catches up with one such brand, Shanti Banaras, which is two-generation old and has crafted masterpieces for many renowned brands before it flagged off its own well-orchestrated label, Shanti Banaras.
Led by Amrit Shah, Shanti Banaras adopts entire villages of weavers and employs them to work on designs that they create. And it is in these Covid times that both Amrit and his studio have shown exemplary patronage by nurturing their weavers, feeding their families and not cancelling a single order.
While talking about the plight of hand-made luxury post-Covid, Shah fears it will take a severe beating and be last on the priority of spends, especially in the scenario when festivities of all kind stand postponed. Excerpts:
Q. What is the impact of Covid-19 on the domestic market of handwoven textiles?
A. Handwoven textiles are a luxury product and when the times are tough, the consumer may restrict themselves completely or partially in indulging in acquiring such highvalue items. The postponement of weddings and the mentality to spend less on luxury products will take a toll at the handwoven sector.
Q. In the list of luxury items, will the hand-made score at the lowest?
A. Well, there is another school of thought on this topic which says that the consumer that is aware of handlooms shall still continue to invest in it. And based on the historical consumer demographics, handloom customers are usually in the rich strata of the society and may continue to have the spending power. Although there may be certain postponement, but the industry will get back on its feet.
Q. How will it impact the looms of Varanasi?
A. The impact on the looms is drastic due to an immediate slack after the lockdown is over so there may not be any immediate work as the production in hand will have to move first. This may be a hard time to sustain the looms and their artisans. It may also lead to production of lower value and commercial products.
Q. How should the textile Industry move forward post the lockdown?
A. It’s a very icy road post the lockdown and we need to step very carefully. We need to sustain the people working with us and improvise and give something new to the market. The process of business is going to change, there’ll be more planning to consumer tastes with precise production for the precise customer. There’ll have to be greater efforts made to woo the customer back into the right mindset. If at all the levels everyone pushes then only the engine will kick start again.
Q. Will the depression lead to precedence of power looms over hand looms?
A. The weaver might make that shift for making easier money. The buyer might be tempted. But the real connoisseur will still look the pleasure of wearing something woven by hand. That happiness in unparalleled.
Q. How do you think the policymakers/ government can help at this time?
A. There are great efforts that have been put by the government to maintain positivity and help the weavers during the lockdown, but once it opens they rely solely on the companies they have been associated with. I feel that a relief on such companies with taxes and incentives to promote and produce textiles shall help the industry overall. Although thinking practically, this may not be possible for the government as this is a hard time for everyone. So just the positive spirit and to ensure a healthy environment for us to work, rest we shall fight this and get back on our own.
Q. The wedding markets will be at an all-time low post-Covid. How will that affect the textile industry?
A. The weddings have been postponed and those that may continue will have less spending and fewer guests. Since the handloom saree sector majorly depends on events and marriages for the majority of its sale, this may have a scarring effect on the industry. Yet, most of them are postponed till late November, December so in turn the market may lift itself during those times. We have to wait and see if the postponement leads to better results that time.
Q. What is Shanti Banaras doing to support its master weavers?
A. Our organisation is involved with over 1,500 master weavers and process leaders who in turn employ a total of 10,000 people. We have made small payments even during the time of lockdown to our weavers and others who have been calling us for help. We have paid our salaries in full and given positive assurance to all that even in the future we shall work together and overcome, “whatever may come in the future”. Apart from that, we have been distributing rations via our weavers to the poor living in their locality. And to auto-wallas and other people who have been associated with us. Tough times call for tough measures laced with kindness and at the end of the day all that the weaver wants is work and money for raw material and we have ensured both.
5 ways to avoid conflicts at home during lockdown
When China reopened after months of lockdown, the media reported a monumental spike in divorce cases, fuelled by endless bickering at home. Such reports have also come from other parts of the world, including India. As people continue to work from home, it is becoming increasingly clear that fighting during lockdown is not limited to married couples. It affects most people living together, including members of joint families, flat-mates and co-workers, siblings, and unwed partners.
Any student of human psychology is aware that forced sharing of space inevitably leads to disagreements and fights. There are many reasons for discord, such as a mismatch in priorities, the stress of dwindling financial and other resources, lack of experience in dealing with these situations, problems of anger management, among others. This negativity can be avoided by adopting five simple methods to maintain peace at home, during this unprecedented crisis:
TAKE FIVE DEEP BREATHS BEFORE REACTING
Staying calm in a pressure situation is easier said than done, but it is essential to stop fights from escalating. A sound policy is to count to five before reacting aggressively, which allows time for the anger to dissipate, leaving the mind clear to take note of the other person’s perspective. Calmly putting forward one’s view, while respecting that of others’, allows a mutually favourable solution to emerge, without resorting to emotional brickbats and bruises.
KEEP THE CONVERSATION OPEN
The biggest fallout of frequent friction at home is the closure of communication lines between cohabitants. It is crucial to express one’s feelings and to hear the other person’s point of view, if fights are to be avoided. Every party involved should be allowed to have their say and express their feelings. Things that are out in the open are far easier to resolve than when they are constantly bottled up.
ENFORCE A TIME-OUT
At times, it may seem impossible to meet someone half-way in their demands. Even if things seem to be out of hand, the situation can be salvaged by enforcing a time-out. Instead of yelling and making things worse, take a break by engaging in another activity. Time apart from each other puts things in correct perspective, so the problem can be addressed in a calm and practical manner.
FIND SPACE FOR YOURSELF
Spaces seem smaller when shared with others. In many cases, people are used to sharing spaces only for specific hours in the morning and night, as they work during the day. Lockdown has changed this scenario; so, one must create or claim individual space. It could be physical space, such as a corner of the house overlooking a window, or one side of the bed. Ideally, however, it should be space found within oneself. Meditate, follow therapeutic podcasts, read or listen to music — each of these will enable the creation of personal space without actively seeking it.
WRITE IT DOWN
If these tips do not work, turn to the age-old practice of writing one’s feelings down and letting go of them. Pen down each grievance, and encourage the other person to do the same. This will allow a glimpse into their mind, without dealing with the raised voices, ego battles and negative atmosphere that fighting often entails. Writing enables one to assess the situation more clearly, and more willing to compromise.
Do not be afraid to compromise, as it is an essential ingredient for overall happiness in life. Conflicts in relationships are inevitable, but one can control the way one responds to them. Timely intervention, patience and open-mindedness will certainly minimise the effects of conflicts at home. If none of the above measures seem to work, be open to seeking professional help online, or appoint another family member or cohabitant to mediate the conversations.
It is important to mitigate the damage now, in order for relationships to have a fighting chance when things go back to normal. The coronavirus has brought many hardships on everyone, but the breakdown of close and personal relations does not have to be one of them. The writer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles on her successful blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be found on Instagram @nooranandchawla.
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