Jul 10th

Some news to share ...

By Paddy

Sorry dear RML friends. I am unable to be here due to intense preoccupation at present and may be for another month or two, with Amaravati poetic Prism 2017 which is taking all my time through the day and night as well. Amidst all this, perhaps an odl submission of mine has just saw the light of the day. Do check it out HERE

 

 

Jun 30th

An Enexpected, Pleasant Surprise!!!

By Paddy

Truly a pleasant surprise to see my poem translated into Arabic by the Palestinian Scholar, poet and writer Nizar Sartawi and published in a newpaper there!!! Click HERE

 Palestinian translator, columnist, essayist and poet Nizar Sartawi is a member of the Jordanian Writers Association, General Union of Arab Writers, and Asian-African Writers Union. He is also a Board Member of both the Poetry Posse in the U.S. and Axlepin Publishing in the Philippines. He writes in both Arabic and English. He has authored more than twenty books of poetry and poetry translation. He has been anthologized in numerous books in Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, the U.S. India, and the Philippines. His poetry has also been published in both print and online magazines and newspapers in different parts of the world. He has participated in poetry readings and festivals in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Kosovo, and Palestine.

https://www.alfikre.com/articles.php?id=37187

 

Jun 13th

Who Cares ... ?

By Paddy

It is said that
Man lives on hope
And dies in despair…
But frankly I don’t care
Whether I live on hope
Or die in despair!

Hope and despair
Two sides of expectation
Play games with one’s life
Each comes with
its own share of strife 

When the end comes calling
Does it really care

Whether you lived on hope
Or are dying in despair?

 

 

May 25th

'Life Matters' - Poems by Usha Sridhar - A Review

By Paddy

 

Dear RML friends,

Very happy to share that our friend Dr. Usha Sridhar's (Ush here) poetry collection 'Life Matters' has just been published.

Usha bestowed upon me the honour of writing a Foreword for this book. I have great pleasure in reproducing my Foreword from this book, that also serves as a mini review of this engaging poetry collection. So, here goes!

Foreword 

Ask anyone, “What matters the most?” and the most likely answer would be, “Life matters!” And when a poetry book is dedicated to the very life matters that impact our life, then it can be nothing else but be engaging, interesting and enlightening. These and many more are the qualities of engagement that Dr. Usha Sridhar’s maiden poetry collection ‘Life Matters’ bristles with. 

‘Life Matters’ is not a poetry book one can breeze through. It is a book that needs to be savoured bit by bit and absorbed. After all, life matters the most, doesn’t it? And so, the life matters that ‘Life Matters’ speaks of need to be taken seriously and read with focused attention as the book is at once thought provoking and deals with everyday matters that we encounter in our daily life. 

My dreams on you I will not force.
Since your dreams you do endorse
You’ll be better able to enforce;
And steer the dream always on course
To achieve it on your own accord.  
In return, I implore earnestly
Please don’t stop dreaming
Strive till you achieve it, ultimately.

                                            (Page 26 – Mother’s Wish – Dream) 

This is an excerpt from the very first poem of ‘Life Matters’, that speaks of a mother’s aspiration for her daughter, something she herself could not do – dream – dream and achieve! The next poem In Shackles poignantly discusses the gender bias that prevails in our society. 

This book of poems has been divided into eight segments – ‘Women’, ‘Slices of Life’, ‘Self Driven’, ‘Working Ways’,‘Metro’, ‘Life’s Surprises’, ‘Nature’s Gift’ and ‘Some Broader Issues’. Each of these segments has poems that befit the title of the segment – poems that make one sit up, take notice and ponder over each poem with the seriousness it deserves. Indeed, the poems in each segment totally compliment the title of the book ‘Life Matters’.   

There is something for everyone in this book as it evokes a variety of emotions like love, laughter, anger, courage, sorrow, surprise, fear, disgust and peace. Some individuals like to lead an uncomplicated and a peaceful life and dislike flirting with controversies as is brought out in two poems A Simple Soul and Cross the Bridge. Some are ambitious and aggressive in attempting their life’s ambitions; you have a kaleidoscope of poems that capture this emotion. Some are lucky to get there by self driven actions as brought out in the ‘Self Driven’ section, and for many women it’s a battle that they have been waging from time immemorial to be counted in society.   We find lighter moments in the book as brought out in Sleepless Night and A Different Kind of Fever. 

In her Preface, the Poet Dr. Usha Sridhar says: “I titled my book as ‘Life Matters’.  Like any concerned citizen, I have been reflecting on and debating about how we view life and what it means to us. We are all fascinated by the diversity of life; its peculiarities and the uncertainties in dealing with it.  Life pans out differently for people; for some it is spent smoothly, while for a few it is filled with tribulations. A person’s character is defined by how he or she faces life’s challenges and deals with a myriad of issues. Uncertainties of life are our only constant companion; it is full of surprises; some pleasant and some not.” 

The thoughts expressed by her as above, shine through her poems whether it be on the life and choices of ‘Women’, or ‘Slices of Life’ that offer a lot of food for thought (with a poem also titled Food for Thought!), or the importance of being ‘Self-Driven’ to achieve one’s goals in life told through interesting poem-stories with a particularly touching and inspiring one titled From Father to Daughter. We are blessed with the nature’s endowment, and I was happy to see a section devoted to it as seen in Weaving Magic through The Vibrant Marigold and Singularity in Plurality. The section on ‘Working Ways’ discusses the life and tribulations of working people and this theme courses through Writer’s Block to an The Elusive Domestic Help. Some part of the book is devoted to a ‘Life in a Metro’ and technology trend- with the latest craze Whatsapp, aptly titled Venture out with Whatsapp. For the serious reader we find poems in ‘Some Broader Issues’ like Literate to being Cultured and Apathy a Cruel Joke holding a mirror to the life and times and the environment we live in, raising pertinent issues. 

My association with Dr. Usha Sridhar began when she started contributing her short stories and poems on my literary networking forum www.ratemyliterature.com. Her narrative skills in her short stories and her wordplay in her poems were both amazing and invariably held attention. Above all, whatever she wrote had on offer a slice of life and an underlying learning. 

Another facet of Dr. Usha Sridhar’s writing style that caught my attention was her straight forward, no-nonsense, plain-speak approach that probably came from her training as an economic researcher, trainer and corporate professional. What she had to convey, she did with an economy of words and deep conviction that invariably touched a chord and set one thinking – whether it be her short stories or her poems! And this, truly set her apart and is much in evidence in ‘Life Matters’. 

In ‘Life Matters’, her narrative skills come to the fore without much ado, frills or trimmings. She

makes her point with adequate reasoning and logic that are undeniable and leave no scope for unnecessary conjectures. Sample this from the poem A Doctor’s Call (Pages 117): 

A doctor’s bounden duty: 
Patients are not just another commodity
He should not resort to tricks, dirty
J
ust to line his pocket and his kitty. 
Handling cases with sincerity
Treating patients with sagacity
Should be his only top priority. 

As a hard-hitting yet gentle reminder of the Hippocratic Oath to the medical fraternity and to emphasize her points, Usha has used “A doctor’s bounden duty:” as a refrain at the beginning of each stanza in the poem, and then spells out what’s expected from the medical profession. 

Clarity of thoughts, logical presentation of ideas and empathetic approach to issues are the most outstanding features of this poetry collection. This compact book has excellent and apt illustrations accompanying the poems which set a mood and context for the verses. It is bound to have a captive readership with several nods of approval for the simple, direct yet reasoned approach in which the poems have been presented.  

I wish Dr. Usha Sridhar’s well-conceived and sensitively-penned ‘Life Matters’ a far and wide readership, that it truly deserves. Here’s wishing her many more poetry and short story collections in future.

 

 Book Information

Name of the Book

Life Matters

No. of Pages

226

Name of the Author

Dr. Usha Sridhar

ISBN

978-93-5207-541-6

Price

Rs. 495/- USD 25/-

Publisher
Authors Press
Q-2A, Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi 110 016. India

Poet’s Mail Id

ushasridhar1158@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

May 14th

Mother's Day Musings ...

By Paddy

LONG DISTANCE MOTHER’S DAY….!

What some sons do…. 

He calls her up every Mother's Day
And always has this to say:

“Mamma, you're simply great!
'Cos you'll again so patiently wait
For my call, till the next Mom’s Day!”

What some mothers feel…. 

Thank God for Archies’ and  Mother’s Day,
That perhaps make him call me up and say:

“Mamma, I love you and thank you,
And I know, you are one of the few,
With whom I’ll always have my way!”

 

MOTHER’S DAY

Only when I became one,
Blessed with a lovely son,

Did I come to know,
How much to you I owe,
Dear Amma, thanks a ton! 

In this world there’s no other,
Like you, oh my dear mother!

Always there for me,
You gave me energy,
In good and rough weather. 

Do we need a Mother's Day
To bring on the urge to say:

Ma, I love you n thank you,
'Cos, you are one of the few,
With whom I always have my way?!

(I dedicate this poem to my late mother Smt. Seetabai Iyengar, a woman of substance – for me, ever an inspiration because of the way she conducted herself and the way she nurtured me with the values that I hold dear and strongly to this date)

 

May 11th

Independence and Freedom

By Paddy

 
Image Courtesy: Pinterest.com

Right to express freely in thought, word and deed,
Is such a great independence and blessing indeed!

With every right come obligations and responsibility,
That need to be understood and followed scrupulously. 

Freedom of thought - doesn’t mean letting our thoughts run amuck.
Freedom of word – doesn’t mean letting our words flow unstuck.

Freedom of deed – doesn’t mean acting and behaving as we please.
Freedom and Independence - don’t mean for all, from all, a release!

May 3rd

Who Am I? - A Sonnet

By Paddy

 
 Image Courtesy : Sayquotable.com

No line am I likely to toe.
To none do I anything owe.

My much-holed boat I row.
My string less violin I bow. 

Stung by the thorn on the stem of the rose,
I adjust my broken spectacles on my nose.

I grope in the dark without a torch,
I let the heat my shoeless feet scorch. 

The endless efforts to manage without things,
Continue despite the discomforts and the stings.

I have lost count of what I need and what I don’t,
Of all that bothers me and what I’d do but won’t. 

Sword less duels I seem to fight.
Wordless poetry I seem to write.

Apr 29th

Authors’ Lounge – Paddy In Conversation with Jawaid Danish - DAASTAN E HAYAT

By Paddy

 

                 

 

Jawaid Danish is a renowned theatre personality and poet from Toronto, Canada where he has been living for over three decades. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Rang Manch, that promotes Indian theatre in Canada. He also organises the annual Hindustani Drama Festival, that showcases the varied and rich heritage of Indian theatre. All the leading theatre personalities from India, have been a part of this annual event.

A recipient of several prestigious awards, Jawaid Danish is also a much-celebrated author of 12 books in Urdu, that include a rich repertoire of his works - plays, travelogues, fiction, translations, poems etc. Credited with the revival of the ancient story telling format Dastangoi in the West, he has added new dimensions and his own perspectives to this unique genre

Jawaid Danish is currently in India visiting various places and presenting his Daastan Hijraton ki (Epic of Migration) in the Dastangoi format, besides participating in literary events. To Dastangoi, often a narration of episodes from epics, fairy tales or fantasies, Jawaid Danish has given a contemporary touch by speaking of migration – its pains, pressures and pleasures! 

My own association with Jawaid Danish began when I was compiling poems for ‘Amaravati Poetic Prism 2016’ the International Multilingual Poetry Anthology published by the Cultural Centre of Viayawada & Amaravati (CCVA). When I requested him for his Urdu poem, Jawaid not only readily sent me his poem but also shared a recording of the poem in his rich baritone that also had the accompaniment of a singer who beautifully added a soulful musical dimension to his Urdu poem ‘Chehrey’. When this recording was played at the International Multilingual Poets’ Meet at Vijayawada on 13 November, 2016, it received a standing ovation and a spontaneous request for an encore. Such is the magic of Jawaid’s poetry and presentation! 

You all may also recall that a few days back, I had posted a piece on RML titled ‘Daastan Hijraton ki – A Unique Dastangoi Presentation by Jawaid Danish’

(http://www.ratemyliterature.com/magazine/read/daastan-hijraton-ki--a-unique-Dastangoi-presentation-by-jawaid-danish_10309.html)

As I watched his spell-binding Daastan Hijraton ki on two consecutive days, a sudden idea stuck me as to why not invite him to our own Authors' Lounge?

Come, let’s interact with this world-famous theatre personality and poet Jawaid Danish and find out all about him through an Authors’ Lounge tête-à-tête!

1. Hi Jawaid Danish ji! Greetings from RML and a warm welcome to the Authors’ Lounge! Many thanks for so readily consenting to grace our Authors’ Lounge despite your busy schedule in India. Let me begin this interaction by asking you to share your early years with us. 

Hi Paddy and the Comerades of RML, Greetings and Adaab. This Sher/couplet for you all: 

YEH KON KAH RAHA HAI KE MANZIL QAREEB HAI
KOI CHALEY WAHEEN SE CHALEY THE JAHAN SE HUM!

I was born with a silver spoon, a real brat and a spoiled 5th child, with four older sisters above me and two younger sisters and a brother after me. I was well-fed and a real fat kid. My father was the Chief Mobilising Officer at the West Bengal Fire services, Kolkata. My schooling throughout was in a convent school, and then, I attended Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) for my BA-English (Hons.) and an incomplete M.A. due to the sudden death of my father at the age of 49. I was only 21 then and suddenly, everything changed in my life. Initially, a very happy-go-lucky guy, and a comedian on school stage. Time and circumstances turned me into a serious person, with comedy and laughter gone from my life! 


2.  Wah! Great couplet! And ah, the sudden twists and turns of life and what they can do to a person!!! From Kolkata to AMU to Toronto, is quite a leap of hope and faith, and perhaps ambition too! Please do share some interesting details of this journey.


I got popularity in my higher secondary years as a Yuva Vani (All India Radio) casual artist, and comic roles on Kolkata stage. I wrote my first skit in grade 10, "Love in Moon", and the second full lengthy play "Samaj ka Zahr" influenced by the Left Front activities in Bengal at that time. I was also a half decent singer, and sang romantic songs and Ghazals at Mushairas.  During my graduation, my theatre director and mentor Gurudas Bhatacharya asked me to choose between Singing and Acting or Theatre.  Guru asked me, “Why are you so desperate for singing?” and I said, the girls clap and I get lot of attention, He said, “I’ll train you in voice modulation, and you will get claps and cheers from their mothers too.” And then, I never looked back, never again attempted to sing, and adopted Theatre forever. 


I was always fascinated by traveling around the world, saved money by doing tuitions from grade eight, but during the illness of my father, every penny vanished.  I never thought I will leave my home to support my family, doing two shift jobs, commercials and jingles for Radio and T.V., and weekend tuitions, but all this was not enough to support a family of 6 members. Yet I never stopped dreaming about Paris. When an exporter friend and a local newspaper partially sponsored me for travelling to Europe and North America, my dream became a reality. In 1979, I flew to Paris and other European destinations and then to America. My Travelogue ‘AWAARGI’ got published every Sunday morning and it was an instant hit. Till then, Safarnama (Travelouge) in Urdu was very rare and I think I was the first youth, who not only travelled but also wrote an award-winning travelogue in Urdu. There were other senior Urdu writers’ contributions, but they were basically of religious nature and not about a vagabond’s wanderlust like ‘AWAARGI’. 
I convinced my mother, that I will be better off in America, and will also support the family better from there.  At the end of 1979, I left India and landed in New York with only 25 dollars in my pocket, and persuaded for a cash job in a news stand the same evening, just 5 hours after landing in New York. I stayed in New Yok for three years, doing T.V. Commercials, waiting tables at Indian restaurants and helping Chinese hawkers to sell their ware on the sidewalks of Broadway.


In 1980 I was invited for a Kavi Sammelan
and Mushaira at Toronto and soon, I headed for Canada and left New York. The same old routine drilling and grilling of immigration was repeated, but soon, I got control of the situation and never looked back. Now, it is almost 35 years, I am a Canadian citizen, with a frequent flyer card to come to India.

 

3. Ah, what an interesting and awe-inspiring journey of a self-made man! When did you start writing? And what and who inspired you to commence writing? Also, what keeps you motivated to continue writing?

 
As I confessed earlier, the beautiful university girls, their moms and Gurudas Bhattacharya inspired me to write. In the early eighties, there was no Indian Theatre as such in Toronto.  The Urduwalas were happy with monthly Mushairas or poetic gathering. Hindi folks were busy with semi Classical music, dance and Bollywood numbers.  First, I started looking for Indian actors, and concentrated on writing.  I discovered the problems and pleasures of immigrant issues. I am proud to be an Urdu Playwright, but lucky enough to get translated in English, Hindi, Bengali and Swedish. I never had any complex about being an ethnic writer, as I chose to write in Urdu but communicate in English.


The trials and tribulations of immigrant families in Canada is my recurring theme, but I have addressed a wide range of topics - AIDS, Cancer, Euthanasia and Honour Killings, Autistic & Special Kids, Rape, Transgender Settlements, Arranged Marriages, Single Mothers, and satires. These contemporary subjects appeal to the myriad cultures of Canadian mosaic and are appreciated in print as well as on stage. I am honoured and recognized, as an M.Phil has been  done on my diasporic plays at Delhi University and another M.Phil on my Travelogues at Ranchi University. 

In 2007 a 13-episode serial was produced by OMNI T.V adapted from my Book ‘Hijrat ke Tamashey’, with re-runs in 2009-2010-2011 and 2014. One of my controversial plays “BARA SHAYER CHOTA AADMI” was produced, as the first Urdu Tele Film in Canada with local Canadian talents, with House full shows in Toronto. 

I strongly believe that in this Age of Chaos and Confusion, Theatre is a great source of comfort and Healing. Rangmanch-Canada truly does represent Theatre for Peace, Purpose and Passion. Well, all this and above all, the adrenaline rush provided to me by the love of people around me who constantly encourage and appreciate me, and my own passion motivates and keeps me going always to embark on new theatrical endeavours and ventures! 

4. What a rich repertoire of your works you have shared with us! M.Phil. studies on your plays and travelogues in Indian Universities! Truly impressive! Please do share something about the various books and plays that you have authored and published. And also about the many-many prestigious awards conferred on you. 

MY BOOKS & PLAYS AT A GLANCE:

1. Prometheus: A Collection of my Radio plays - translated from Bengali and English  
2.  Awaargi : Travelogue of Europe and America
3. Kale Jismon ki Riyazat : African Anthology with Dr. Khalid Sohail 
- translations of plays, poems and fiction
4. Mazeed Awargi : Travelogue of Japan, Hong Kong and Bangkok
5.  Virsa : Global Folk tales with Khalid Sohail 

6. Hijrat Ke Tamashey : A Collection of my Plays on the life of immigrants in the West
7. Aik aur Awargi : Translation of Mazeed Awaargi in Hindi 
8. Bhopa : Translation of my select plays in Bengali 
9. Aik Baap ki Aulaad : Translations of Palestinian and Isreali Literature in Urdu  with Dr. Khalid Sohail 

10. Inqilaab e Zanj : Translation of Global Revolutionary Plays
11.Chalees Baba Aik Chor : Collection of plays on immigrant experiences in the West 
12. Jawaid Danish Number : Published by Tarkash Quarterly - Kolkata

FORTHCOMING: 

13. Ya Ishq : Saga of Love, A Novella.
14. Main Sab Kuch Bhool Jana Chaahta Hun 
: Diasporic Drama Collection.

AWARDS: 

2016 The Presigious Ghalib Award – New Delhi, India.
2016 Sadaf International Award for Drama – Doha, Qatar.
2016 Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Literary Award - Toronto, Canada
2015 AFMI Award of Excellence - Toronto, Canada.
2014 Life Time Achievement Award for Urdu Theatre in the West-Kolkata, India. 
2010 The Civic Arts Award – Pickering, Canada. 
2012 South Asian Theatre Festival Award - New Jersey, USA.
2008 South Asian Theatre Festival Award, New Jersey, USA.
2007 Shiromani Sahitya Award - Lucknow, India.
2007 South Asian Theatre Festival Award - New Jersey, USA. 
2006 West Bengal Urdu Academy Award - Kolkata, India. 
1999 Writer of The Year Award - Toronto, Canada.
1989 West Bengal Urdu Academy Award - Kolkata, India.
1985 New York Drama Festival Award – New York, USA. 
1984 U.P. Urdu Academy Award – Lucknow, India.
1983 New York Drama Festival Award – Bhartiya Bhasha Parishad - New York.USA.  

5. Wow! What an impressive array of books, awards and recognition for your work!! Best wishes for your forthcoming books and wish you many more awards in the coming days! Please tell us more about your well-known theatre group Rangmanch, Canada and its activities. 

Thank you, Paddy, for your good wishes! It took me ten long years to formally establish a theatre group. In 1996, a non-profit registered theatrical group, RANGMNCH-CANADA started staging serious Urdu plays in Toronto.  Soon I realized that a platform is needed to bring the community together. In 2000, We organized the first Hindustani Drama Festival, show casing the rich heritage of Theatre, with multilingual drama presentations. For the first time in North America, this one-of-a-kind Drama Festival was introduced, where English-Urdu-Hindi-Tamil-Malyalam-Telgu-Cannada-Gujrati-Punjabi-Marathi and even Sanskrit Plays were produced and presented on the same stage and same evening. It broke the language barriers and seamlessly bridged the gap in the multilingual Indian community. Rangmanch-Canada also periodically organizes Theatre Workshops, Round Table discussions, Seminars and Play Readings. Rangmanch-Canada is not just a theatrical group, it is also an institution to train and guide new writers and artists and to promote the performing arts and Indian Drama in and around Toronto, with the ultimate vision to take theatre productions to other Literary and drama festivals outside of Canada.

6. Again, so impressive and amazing – the way you have initiated and trail-blazed a theatre movement in Canada, showcasing Indian plays!!! You are widely credited with reviving the Dastangoi format of story-telling in the West with all its glory, fanfare and finery. Please share some details about this especially as to what inspired you to revive this genre?

As you know, Dastangoi is the Lost Art of Story-telling of the 16th Century. It has been revived in India lately, and is in full swing. Lots of young, enthusiastic story tellers are in the field, especially in Delhi. Dastan is pure fantasy, but some experiments were done to add new tales, but those in India, are mostly political, satirical or romantic.  I got inspired and thought of reviving this great art form with my recurring theme of Migration. I wrote the script, which is mostly from my plays, with some good selection of Urdu poems. But when I presented this task to my actors, they were hesitant, because of the chaste Urdu narration and five vibrant characters of Indian immigrant community of Canada, together with their natural and characteristic dialects and expressions, popularly known as Boli Tholi.  Everybody loved it, but no one was ready for this challenge. For close to 25 years, I had seriously dedicated myself to writing and direction of plays.  My colleagues and students challenged me to grace the stage in this ripe age.  I was not sure, but took the challenge of taking the risk.  By the grace of Almighty, it was an instant hit. Basically, it was something new, something close to the heart of every immigrant. Thus, my Dastan Hijraton Ki has created history wherever I presented it! 

For the last five weeks I am on road, extensively travelling with never ending requests for my performance of Dastangoi.  In these five weeks, I have covered 12 cities, could not cover Bhopal, Mumbai and Kashmir, may be next time…. Dastan for me is the mother of all art forms. I have juxtaposed Dastan’s narration with all of Drama’s action - something new, never tried before. I am proud of my new-found love.  

7.  You have truly added your own innovation to Dastangoi in your immensely popular Daastan Hijraton ki.  Please tell us more about this and also about any other Dastangoi you are planning to present. 

It is only six months since I started Dastangoi, but am so fortunate to get international recognition, love and attention for this. It’s the hot weather here in India that is compelling me to go back to Toronto. Had it been winter, I would have opted to stay back, as there are so many bookings and requests from various cultural groups and universities. 

The best part is that after the Urdu performance, the interaction with multilingual students are done in English, as you have seen at the University of Hydrabaad. 

My promoters in Doha still want the same show, although I am preparing a two hours’ performance with musical ghazals and Qawwali, along with Narration, which will not be a solo, but a group show. But for now, I am enjoying my solo venture.

8.  Please share with us about your maiden Urdu film ‘Bara Shayer Chota Aadmi’ .

I wrote a controversial play‘Bara Shayer Chota Aadmi’  some 25 years back, It is included in my book Hijrat ke Tamashey. Almost all the plays from this collection were either staged or produced as T.V. serials, but ‘Bara Shayer Chota Aadmi’ was not touched because of its explosive subject. It exposed the brand name Poets and Celebrities, who come to Canada during summer for Mushairas and other cultural programs, and what they actually do behind the façade of   Literary gatherings. I think it was in 2010 that it was included in an Anthology – ‘50 Years of Urdu Drama’.  My group got excited and planned for a local film production. Some readers from Pakistan thought it is on Faraz, the popular Poet, but I have categorically stated that it is pure fiction. Well, it got good and bad feedback, remarks and critiques, as the poets all over disliked the exposure.  Instead of going into details, let me inform that you it is now available on Youtube; please go ahead and make my day!!!

9.  Interesting and intriguing! I am sure not only me but our RML members too will be making a beeline for that Youtube clip immediately after this interaction!!! Mention of Shayer brings me to ask you about your poetry. Do tell us about Jawaid Danish, the Poet. 

Poetry was inherited by me, as my father also wrote poems, my uncle was a poet, and so, I had poetry running in the family. Heard Ghazals from my childhood. I believe that a seasoned Playwright should have some knowledge of music and a flare for Poetry. I always add NAZM, to my plays as it adds lustre and grace. As I said earlier, from school days, I used to recite poems in Tarannum, singing on stage. But Gurudas my mentor, took that luxury away from me! I don’t sing anymore, but recite Nazms at Mushairas with equal confidence - thanks to the great Guru whose voice modulation training still works peacefully for me.  I hardly go to local Mushairas, but love to recite in private mahfils and gatherings. 

I compose Ghazals, and some very talented singers have presented them - Bharathi Vishwanathan of Bhopal, Akhtar Shoukat of Toronto and Gurmeet Muksh of Mumbai. But I love NAZM that I love to recite myself, or use it in my Plays and Films. 

10.  Your audio presentation of your NazmChehrey’ at our Amaravati Poetic Prism 2016 International Multilingual Poets’ Meet at Vijayawada in November, 2016, received a spontaneous standing ovation and encore from the poets! I guess, this one may be a tough one for you – of the many hats that you wear, which role do you enjoy the most – of a playwright, director, actor, Daastango or Poet? 

Yes, I do wear different Cultural and Literary hats, but basically, I am a Playwright, a down to earth student of drama, or as it is said in U.P., a Nautanki enthusiast. I think, all the craftsmanship is interconnected to Theatre and the ancient art of Dastan.   I enjoy, cherish and love writing plays.  I do direct them and sometimes due to some requirement, I am also compelled to act even after 25 years, but my loyalty always stays with writing plays, where I have a full control over my pen. That’s the reason, out of my dozen books, none is a poetry collection, as I do not wish to shift my focus from playwriting.  Although, now the time seems ripe as a lot of friends and publishers want my Poetry Collection, and I think, soon this will happen. But I’d still prefer to be remembered as a Playwright. 

11. How has your current Indian sojourn been? Please provide some glimpses of your tour. 

I am on the road since the last five weeks.  It has been a great experience! Every day, one learns something new; with every performance one gets a new feedback; every city brings in new admirers; I am short of words to express my feelings and thanks to all my friends, well-wishers and fans, it seems like a never-ending story.   I wish I could stay back, but really, the West spoils you; we are weather sensitive, coming from minus fifteen temperature in March. It is very humid here and hard for a performer of my age. I should have been travelling extensively and performing 25 years back, and now is the time when I should be confined to writing!  But life is so unpredictable, I was confined to writing when I was young, and I am performing when I should rest. The best performance was at Hyderabad, the interaction with students and professors was amazing, you are my witness.  The second best was Aligarh, where it was a surprise for me as well as for the students.  There was a Students’ Arts and Culture Festival going on, in the courtyard or park of GEC, lot of art display, and Solo competitions were going on.  And without notice, I was asked not only to preside but to be a judge of these performances. At the end the Dastangoi item was announced.  The fun part was, it was an open-air show -  the stage was decorated under a banyan tree - and everybody was standing. It was sheer pleasure, performing in an open space.  It also gave me a new confidence, that besides air conditioned auditoriums and Five Star Hotels, I can now perform in open air, Mela- thela, exhibitions and Fairs just as well

12. Thank you Jawaid Danish ji, for this highly enlightening, inspiring and most engaging interaction that has been a personal learning experience for me! It is truly commendable that in the far-away Canada, you are promoting Urdu and   Hindustani Theatre and poetry in a big way. One final question, how do you see   the future of theatre and poets in the Urdu language and what is your message for the young aspirants wanting to foray into theatre and poetry, especially those who have a profession to pursue and also have a passion for theatre and/or poetry? 

Paddy Saheba, this is the most entertaining and enlightening cross cultural exchange of experience and experiments.  I am humbled, flattered and elevated in your company! Maybe, I was a little over excited and talked some extra, but believe me, this is the real HASIL (gift) of this tour. 

Let me share a secret with you; 35 years ago, I smuggled a small plant of rose to Canada, tried to plant it in snow, people laughed at me, that you are here to make dollars, forget about this cultural baggage and Literary nostalgia.  I kept working on new soil and new ways to nurture that plant and my heritage. Today, it is a healthy tree, having survived the snow storms of Canada.  I was importing Indian Culture and Literature 35 years back to Canada.  Today, I am a proud Exporter of Indian Culture and Literature back to India.  Institutions invite me to share my literary ventures and my theatrical performances in India. 

Poets and writers - whether Urdu or any ethnic Language - should not have any complex.  We should do our best and leave the rest for the test of time.  If you have potential, you will surely survive, as they say survival of the fittest.  When I can survive Canadian snow storms, any Indian writer should survive.  We should see, what we can give, instead of what the Sarkaar is providing.  As far as Urdu is concerned, it’s a very strong breed, it will survive the test of time.

For any young writer, my message is: we should read more and write less, once you absorb world classics, a day will come when it will start oozing out in your writings. 

I follow the Sufi school, and have three golden words not only for writers but for all:

TOLERANCE, ACCEPTANCE AND LOVE. We lack tolerance in our daily life. Once we practise tolerance, you will naturally accept the other person with all the odds, and once you start accepting, naturally you will start loving that person, the world and finally yourself. I will bid Khushbash, with this: 

AAPSE JHUK KE JOMILTA HOGA
USKA  QAD AAP SE UONCHA HOGA.
                                                                               - Wakil Akhtar 

(WHO EVER BOWS IN FRONT OF YOU, HE IS TALLER THAN YOU. IN FACT, HE IS HIGHER THAN YOU.AS THE FRUIT LADDEN BRANCH ALWAYS BOWS AND BARREN TREES STAND ERECT)

Apr 17th

Daastan Hijraton ki – A Unique Dastangoi Presentation by Jawaid Danish

By Paddy

   

Dastangoi is a 16th-century Urdu oral storytelling art form and has its origin in the Persian language. Dastan means a tale and the suffix goi makes the word mean "to tell a tale".  At the centre of Dastangoi is the Dastango or the storyteller, whose voice is his mainstay in orally recreating the dastan or the story. This format of story-telling largely included tales drawn from the epics, fantasies etc. to engage audience attention. In the bygone era when digital media was unheard of, Dastangoi was a great source of entertainment and also enlightenment. 

In India, this art form of story-telling saw its zenith in the 19th century, led by dastangos Amba Prasad Rasa, Mir Ahmad Ali Rampuri, Muhammad Amir Khan, Syed Husain Jah, and Ghulam Raza. Mir Baqar Ali was another leading practitioner of Dastangoi that received a set back with his death in 1928. However, the art form saw a revival in 2005 thanks to the untiring efforts of the Indian poet and Urdu critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi and his nephew, writer and director Mahmood Farooqui, who have played a significant role in the revival of Dastangoi in the 21st century. 

Renowned Theatre Personality and Poet Jawaid Danish from Toronto (Canada) was in my city of Hyderabad to present his Daastan Hijraton ki (Epic of Migration) at the Urdu Hall, Hyderabad on 9th April, 2017 and at the University of Hyderabad on 10th April, 2017. I had the good fortune to be an audience at his Dastangoi on both the days! How could I miss such a golden opportunity and the double bonanza??? 

Daastan Hijraton ki by Jawaid Danish primarily deals with the angst, agony, issues, concerns and insecurities of migrants to another country..in this case Canada. The trials and tribulations narrated in this highly relatable and contemporary Dastangoi, instantly engage audience attention, with Jawaid Danish himself switching into the various characters of the hour-long tale. And this is precisely what sets Daastan Hijraton ki apart from other Dastangois in which the narrator tells the stories with their highs and lows. But here is Jawaid Danish, himself playing the characters of the Daastan !!! 

What stood out in his Daastan Hijraton ki, were the felicity and aplomb with which Jawaid Danish transformed into the various characters of his Daastan (story)!!! A tilt of his head and he was Jawaid himself, a change of posture and he was Abubakar Batliwala, the has-been Mumbai Bhai speaking the Bombaiya Hindi, a change in his tonal quality and he was Shubrati the cook from Meerut speaking in the typical Urdu-Hindustani dialect of North India, a slight gesticulation and he became young Banerjee from Bengal, moonlighting (actually sunlighting) as a cab driver by day and preparing to fulfil his medical school ambitions by night, or the poet Iqbal Shahryar with his Sheroshayari …, with all these characters interacting with Jawaid Danish playing himself from time to time!!! Each has a tale to tell of why he is in Canada and why he could not or would not go back to India. 

Daastan Hijraton ki is excellently complimented and aided by Jawaid’s considerable theatre experience that has the audience riveted to their seats, traversing the journey and living the lives of the five characters portrayed by him, speaking different dialects or Boli Tholi retaining their authenticity and unique flavour. One can empathize with every character of the Daastan Hijraton ki, largely because of the way Jawaid brings each to life on the stage with a story one can easily identify with eg. the helplessness of the uneducated, hapless Shubrati from Meerut whose passport has been confiscated by his employer to ensure that he constantly remains in his employer’s stranglehold. With Batiliwala, the has-been don, one is transported to the underbelly of Mumbai and with the Bengali-speaking Banerjee to Kolkata…The magic of Jawaid Danish speaking all these languages and dialects effortlessly, truly holds us spellbound and in his sway throughout! His voice control and modulation as he seamlessly switches from one character into another, is truly commendable. 

All in all, Daastan Hijraton ki is a masterclass act by Jawaid Danish!!! The Q & A Session that followed his performance at the University of Hyderabad on 10 April, 2017, when he patiently and comprehensively answered audience queries was interesting and enlightening. I feel fortunate that I got the golden opportunity to watch Daastan Hijraton ki on two consecutive days!!!  

About Jawaid Danish
Jawaid Danish is a renowned theatre personality and poet from Toronto, Canada where he has been living for over three decades. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Rang Manch, that promotes Indian theatre in Canada. He also organises the annual Hindustani Drama Festival, that showcases the varied and rich heritage of Indian theatre. All the leading theatre personalities from India, have been a part of this annual event. 

A celebrated author of 12 books in Urdu, Jawaid Danish’s rich repertoire of works includes drama, travelogues and poetry collections. While he mostly writes in Urdu, his plays have been translated into English, Swedish, Hindi, Bengali and Kannada. Some of the plays from his award-winning book ‘Hijrat Ke Tamashey’ were adapted for a 13-episode serial produced by Omni 2 T.V., Toronto.  His latest book of plays is ‘Chalees Baba Ek Chor’. Besides, he has also produced a film ‘Bada Shayer Chota Aadmi’ the first Indo-Canadian Urdu Film. 

Jawaid Danish is a recipient of several prestigious awards notably The Civic Arts Award – Pickering 2010, South Asian Theatre Festival Award – New Jersey 2008 and the Shiromani Sahitya Award – India 2007 and more recently, Sadaf International Award, Doha Qatar, 2016, Ghalib Award-Drama, New Delhi India, 2016 and AmuAward of Excellence, Toronto Canada, 2016. 

My association with Jawaid Danish began when I was compiling poems for ‘Amaravati Poetic Prism 2016’ the International Multilingual Poetry Anthology published by the Cultural Centre of Viayawada & Amaravati (CCVA). When I requested him for his Urdu poem, Jawaid not only readily sent me his poem but also shared a recording of the poem in his rich baritone that also had the accompaniment of a singer who beautifully added a soulful musical dimension to his Urdu poem ‘Chehrey’. When this recording was played at the International Multilingual Poets’ Meet at Vijayawada on 13 November, 2016, it received a standing ovation and a spontaneous request for an encore. Such is the magic of Jawaid’s poetry and presentation!

Jawaid Danish is currently in India visiting various places and presenting his Daastan Hijraton ki (Epic of Migration) in the Dastangoi format, besides participating in literary events. To Dastangoi, often a narration of episodes from epics, fairy tales or fantasies, Jawaid Danish has given a contemporary touch by speaking of migration – its pains, pressures and pleasures! To him, goes the credit of reviving this unique story telling format in the West in all its glory, finery and fanfare, with his own theatrical touches and flourishes, donning the traditional costume worn by the Dastangos of the yore and thus recreating the magic of Dastangoi!

 

Mar 30th

Bharat's Lament

By Paddy


Image Courtesy: www.plus.google.com

To you, we four were always your own sons
You never differentiated between us even once!

For me and my loving brothers,
All you three were our mothers! 

Why oh Why, oh mother mine
After being so loving and divine

What came over you, oh my mother,
Your insecurity and greed killed father?! 

Long back, our father granted you just two boons;
You exercised them now asking for several moons!

Why has power become more important to you?
Why haven’t you given us and family our just due?
Why have you given justice, fair play and love a go
Just to assuage your sense of insecurity and ego?
Oh, you are not really so ignorant, didn’t you know,
That your insecurity will cast a deep, dark shadow
On relationships and bonds forged long time ago? 

Why mother, why this selfishness? Why this greed?
At the cost of love, affection, trust and family, indeed?

My desire to remain Rama’s shadow, I never flaunted,
But then, shouldn’t you have asked me what I wanted?
All I wanted and ever want is to remain at Rama’s feet
And serve Him and protect Him from all ill and deceit. 

Here I am, designated by you to occupy the Ayodhya throne
That is rightfully my brother Rama’s, only his, his very own!

Never ever will I occupy a throne that is not meant for me
Though absent, brother Rama is still the King and I His protégé! 

Henceforth, even good stepmothers will be viewed suspiciously,
As your treacherous act is forever etched in the psyche of posterity. 

Thus lamented the distraught Prince Bharat, the brother of Rama,
As he set out to bring Him, Seeta and Lakshman back to Ayodhya! 

 

(Inspired by ‘Bharat Vilaap’ from the great Indian Epic ‘Ramayana)

 

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