Wednesday, July 31, 2013


PRAN IN KHANDAAN.  (photo credits to NDTV.) 
On 13 July, 2013, a huge crowd gathered at the Shivaji Park Crematorium in Central Mumbai to bid adieu to Pran Sahaab. His last rites were being performed here. 

Pran Kishan Sikand, who was born in Delhi on 12 February, 1920, breathed his last on 12 July, 2013, at the Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai. His body left the Lilavati Hospital in Bandra, a western suburb of Mumbai, at 10.30 am on 13 July, 2013. It reached the crematorium at Shivaji Park half an hour later. 

Pran was an exemplary actor, a thorough professional by his own right and a gentleman in every respect. He had a prolific career spanning 6 decades in the industry.

According to, the famed director, Subhash Ghai, Pran Sahaab had completed his journey gracefully, with dignity, accomplishment and achievements with the best of honours – he received the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2012.

Pran was in control of his craft. He brought different shades to his roles as villain. He made the art of villainy his very own and did carve a niche for himself. His portrayal of Gajendra, the tyrannical brother-in-law to Dilip Kumar’s hero in Ram aur Shyam, catapaulted villainy to the focal point of Indian cinema.

An actor par excellence, Pran was the highest paid actor in Bollywood from 1969 to 1982. During this period he was paid more than the heroes of some of the films he acted in. Pran appeared in every super hit film of the time.

Vyjyanthimala reminisced, Pran Sahaab was multi faceted and very talented. He could sing, dance, do comedy , in fact do anything. Though villainy was his trademark, he never overacted.  He was a matured villain. Pran was courteous and, says Vyjyanthimala, a wonderful person. She says, “ He will always remain one of the biggest icons of the Hindi film industry.''

As Hindi cinema rolled through the 70’s and into the 80’s the definition, the style, the manner and representation of villains went through a gradual metamorphosis. Pran also transformed himself in the process.

Pran was a versatile actor. His performance in Manoj Kumar’s Upkar, Raj Kapur’s Aah, Gulzar’s Parichay and Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer amply prove his acting prowess.

Subhash Ghai recalls, Pran would arrive before the call sheet time during the shoots. He would definitely bring something to the table about the scene he was going to shoot that day. Pran had the ability to accept rejection. He used to take it gracefully in his stride saying “You are the captain of the ship.” Thereafter they would share a good laugh over it. Pran was a delight to work with for every director. He was generous to his producers too.

He was neither ostentatious nor was he ever obtrusive and never let fame dictate his behavior. Ghai remembers, every time he narrated a story, Pran would listen, smile and react as if he was a new comer, begging for a good role. This was in spite of the fact that at the time Pran was a huge star and films were bought and released on his name. “His face was bigger on the posters than Amitabh Bachhan”, says Ghai.

In early 1960, Pran played a real hero to Waheeda Rehman. They were attending a party in Chennai. Some of the revelers got inebriated and tried to misbehave with Waheeda Rehman. Pran, reportedly, came to the starlet’s rescue.

Pran had a great sense of humor. He was well read and had keen interest in Urdu poetry and literature. An avid sports lover, he kept abreast of all sports events. He would often be at the Cooperage to watch soccer matches.       

Kapil Dev, the cricket legend, said – “If I had a son I would have named him Pran.” In 1980, Kapil  had to undergo a knee surgery. He was having problem arranging the money. The Indian Cricket Board was cash strapped those days.  Kapil received an unexpected call from Pran, who told him that he would bear the entire expenses for the surgery. "Don’t worry about anything. Just don’t compromise on your health,” Pran had said. Kapil Dev was touched by that call. Eventually Kapil tided over the impasse with help from the Indian cricket board and his family. But the care and concern for sports expressed by Pran remain etched in Kapil’s heart.

Amitabh Bachhan, in his blog, paid glowing tribute to this legendary actor.  “A gentleman of the finest order, an admirable colleague, a thorough professional, a master of disguise in the characters he played, a delightful companion after office hours and a considerate human” – is how he describes Pran.

In his early days, Pran wanted to become a photographer. He started assisting a professional photographer in Simla. His first film was Dalsukh M Pancholi's Yamla Jat in Punjabi. It happened from an accidental meeting with writer Wali Mahmood Wali in Lahore in 1940. 

When he came to Mumbai, after Partition, Sadat Hussein Manto, the famed litterateur, along with the actor, Shyam helped Pran get a role in Ziddi (1948), a Bombay Talkies film, directed by Shaheed Latif. It starred Dev Anand and Kamini Kaushal. Thereafter Pran did not have to look back.

As the legendary actor moves on to his heavenly abode we have respect and admiration for the villain who had a big heart. Our hearts echo the words of Amitabh Bachhan on Pran -  “we don’t make the likes of them anymore.” 

Friday, July 12, 2013


Krishna counselling Arjuna at Kurukshetra
Focus on the work in hand and not on the result and its outcome.


– do not think about the result or  its outcome just keep on doing your work. Thus spake the Gita or the Bhagwad Gita. To be specific this was what Krishna told the third Pandava – the warrior prince, Arjuna.

The Karma Yoga chapter of the Gita enunciates the principle of work – selfless work. But what does it really mean to say?

If one asks Andy Murray, the reigning Wimbledon and Olympic Champion, to go on training and participating in tennis tournaments without thinking of winning the Grand Slam, shall he adhere to it?

It was the beginning of the epic battle at Kurukshetra between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Arjuna was the Commander-in-chief of the Pandava army. Krishna was Arjuna’s charioteer.

As Arjuna drove into the battle field, he looked at the rank and file of soldiers on both sides. He saw that he was going to fight against his own brothers, friends and revered teachers. He was appalled. He put down his arms and declined to fight.

Responding to Arjuna’s confusion and moral dilemma, Krishna explained his duties as a warrior and a prince and elaborated on a variety of philosophical concepts. He counselled Arjuna. Krishna imparted him wisdom, the path to devotion and the doctrine of selfless action.

The Bhagawad Gita, or simply, the Gita, begins here, at the start of the start of the war at Kurukshetra.  The Gita is a part of the Hindu epic the Mahabharata. It upholds the essence and theological tradition of the Upanishads.

In Karma Yoga, Krishna elucidates how the performance of prescribed duties, but without attachment to results, is the appropriate course of action for Arjuna.

The Karma Yoga upholds the necessity of action. However, this action is to be undertaken without any attachment to the work or desire for results. The Bhagwad Gita terms this “inaction in action and action in action.”

The concept of such detached action is also called “Nishkam Karma” or actions performed without desire. In the following verses, Krishna elaborates on the role actions performed without desire play in attaining freedom from material bondage and transmigration:

“To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits;
 let not the fruits of actions be thy motive;
 neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction.”    

Way back in 2011, when Andy Murray roped in Ivan Lendl as his coach, did he focus on the result or he did so to improve his performance? The day Lendl started coaching Andy Murray was he certain that Andy, his pupil, will become the first British man to win the singles at Wimbledon in 77 years!

They fixed a goal and worked towards it. Day in and day out, training session after training session, they honed their skills, polished their technique, improved upon their fitness and hoped for a positive end.

When one embarks upon a project one has to look at the result. Result is of utmost importance.  The Sales Manager has to deliver sales. He has to increase revenue. Or else both he and the organisation he works for has to face the worst. In order to increase sales he has to work for it. He has to plan for it and execute the plan.

A sale is the outcome of the sales process. Winning or losing the Ashes is the outcome of the cricket series between England and the Aussies.

But one has to work towards it. One has to plan for his goal. One has to follow the plan. One has to execute the plan on field. 

It is like Algebra. If one follows the steps correctly, does not flounder with the digits and is strong in BODMAS the sum has to be correct. One must move step by step. Each step is important. Each step needs focus and extreme concentration. Each step has to be covered meticulously. The result, then, is sure to be favorable.

That is what Krishna said when he spoke to the warrior prince Arjuna about selfless work to focus on the work at hand and not to think about the outcome. If one works towards it, follows one’s steps diligently, without heeding to the result and its outcome, one is bound to succeed in one’s endeavor. 

Monday, July 8, 2013


Rituparno Ghosh died on 30 May, 2013. It was too early for him to call it a day. The sudden demise of Rituparno, of all persons, was a surprise to all and sundry. He had so much more to contribute to the industry as well as to the society. He was primarily the next generation of film makers, a very important one by his own right.

Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Nemai Ghosh, Tapan Sinha were filmmakers of the post independence era. Buddhadev Dasgupta, Utpalendu Chakraborty, Gautam Ghosh were the product of the fiery turbulence that wracked West Bengal and India from the mid 60s to the mid 70s. Aparna Sen, Anjan Dutta, Raja Sen came into film making much later. But they also are the fall out of the volatile ultra left Naxalite movement.

Rituparno started making films in the nineties. Hirer Angti, his first film, based on a story by Shirshendu Mukherji, was released in1992. 

He lived in Kolkata, worked here. He saw Calcutta being transformed to Kolkata. He saw the Metro Rail slowly expand its network to span the length and breadth of the city. While he thought his films and wrote scripts for them, he saw the coming up of multiplexes, the coming into being of malls in and around Kolkata. He saw the upwardly mobile Bengalis leave their ancestral homes and get into condomiums. He observed the mass exodus of Bengalis from the city. 

Rituparno saw the advent of Sector V, the sprouting of the IT hub in the Eastern Metropolis. He felt and observed the facade of the decaying left politics in West Bengal. He also observed the fall of the Soviet Union, Romania, and the continuous struggle of the Serbs, the Bosnians and the Croatians.  These he saw, observed, comprehended, absorbed and assimilated and evolved to become perhaps the most important Indian film maker of the recent times – a milestone by his own right, in the realms of intellect and film making per se.

The subjects he brought into film making, his treatment of them were inevitable. He had to speak about them. Those were the subjects relevant to the then society, the milieu he lived in, the ambience he belonged to. One would not call him bold. One would rather say he followed his compulsion, his commitment to his art, intellect and legacy. All the film makers he inherited and thereby disinherited were trailblazers. Each of them - Ghatak, Ray, Sen – were path breakers. They were forthright. They were bold. Rituparno, by his own admission, was inspired by Ray. He also had another very important influence – Aparna Sen.

Aparna Sen is an institution by her own self. She is a successful actor and has a big fan following. She was immensely successful as a heroine of the Bengali commercial cinema. She was a bankable actor who created a niche for herself. She had been a youth icon. She did theatre with Utpal Dutt. She did professional theatre. She is a journalist of commendable stature. She makes socially relevant films. Rituparno found a mentor, a confidante in her. She was a big influence to the late filmmaker. Rituparno moved ahead with his subjects, his treatment of them and thereby the statement he made on them.

Rituparno was an icon of the LGBT community in India. He cross dressed. He explored transgender lifestyle. He openly confessed his homosexuality. Rituparno was a necessity of the then society. He was bound to happen. As a creator, as a performing artist, as a film maker, he stated what the society made him say. Others hold themselves back thinking about conventions, about being ostracised or it might be so they lack in craftsmanship.

Rituparno was not pretentious. He was a master story teller. He broke conventions but never compromised with aesthetics. He was a cultured craftsman who was in control of his art. The society we live in needs him. He had much to give, such a lot to say. That is why his death is untimely. That is why we all will rue his absence.