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For Father’s Day Shabana Azmi Remembers Her Great Father Poet-Writer-thinker Kaifi Azmi

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“I want to share an incident with you about Abba.

The last time he ever got out of bed was 14 January 2002 which was his  birthday. I had gone down to Mijima (our village in Azamgarh) to meet him.

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From early morning I had been sitting waiting for him to finish meeting all the villagers.   Finally my father hauled himself out of bed and asked my mother for some money.  No one had the guts to ask this very old and frail man where he was going off to with his man-Friday.  Forty-five minutes later he came back, all drained out. He looks at me and says, ‘Mere gaon wale tumhara subah se bheja chaatrahen hai  na? Main apne chidiya ke liya khaas taur se wohsamoselekar aaya hoon jo ussey bahut pasand hai.’ That was the last time he moved out of bed. When Abba passed away I realized nothing prepares  you for  the loss of a parent…NOTHING!  I was completely  devastated. But now years later I feel his spirit envelopes me  like the air I breathe. I remember him with celebration. I do not remember  him with sorrow….My brother Baba Javed, his poem ‘Ajeeb Aadmi’ on my father…these have helped me heal.

“My mother was a remarkable companion to my father.  It was an amazing relationship. I was attracted to Javed because he was exactly like my father. In getting to know Javed I got to know my father.  Like Abba, Javed is a feminist. My father had this complete dependence on domestic matters on  my mother. Even I’ve to buy all the clothes  and shoes for Javed. Likewise the tailor who stitched my father’s kurta-pyjamas never saw his face. Neither Abba nor Javed have seen the kitchen in the house. Nor can they fix anything around  the  house. But  both can do anything  if they set their heart  on  it. Javed fights to win. I fight to  play the game…..My brother Baba is an extreme introvert. He shared an extremely deep relationship with my father.  Baba’s wife Tanvi, who’s the most talkative person in the world, would run out of the room when Abba and Baba were together. They just shared silences.  Baba is now writing a script which he’ll direct. In that script  you can see  the prodigal son return. Abba  was  everything  to me.  I continue with his good work in our village. He was my comrade,  I remember when I went on my padyatra  from  Delhi to Meerut.  There was so much tension. But when I went to my father he  caught my face in his hands and said, ‘Meri bahadur betijaa rahi hai? Jao tumhein kuch nahin hoga. Sirf kaamyab hokelautogi.’ It was like a gust of oxygen  pumped into me. Ours was an open house during Abba. It continues to be so.  My reference point  and the choices in life will always  come  from him,  his poetry, work, life and courage.”

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“My earliest memory  of Abba…Of him sitting  on a  writing table  in  his kurta-pyjama smoking incessantly and writing till the wee hours of  the morning. As a child, I was convinced a poet was a euphemism  for someone who didn’t have any work. Daddys were supposed to put on trousers, shirts and  ties and go out to work. In fact  when  people would ask me what my father did I said he was a  businessman and  quickly changed the topic….Oh , the follies of innocence…My father was a really gorgeous looking man with this beautiful voice. People don’t know this, but he  had a tremendous sense of  humour. I remember once I was  putting eye-drops in his tiny eyes. The drops kept falling all  over his face.  He told me about this inept prince who was taught archery and who broke everything in the house during practice.  Then he said, ‘Put  the drops in my  ears they’ll go in my eyes.’ He said such lines with a poker face.  He always made digs at the strange procedure in our films where  tunes came  first and lyrics were written into them later. ‘It’s like first digging a grave and then trying  to fit a corpse into it. But I constantly  keep fitting  the corpse into the grave, so everyone  thinks  I’m a good  lyricist’ he said…. You know I took  my father for granted, as all children tend to. But as a poet he continues to overwhelm me each day even four years after  his death. Whether it was his poem Makaan or Aurat…they’ve  been a great source of inspiration. My concern for slum-dwellers started with my father’s poem Makaan which talks of  the irony of  the construction worker who builds  a building with his sweat and blood  but isn’t allowed  to enter  it.”

Shabana pauses and then resumes: “In   Hindi cinema, along  withSahir, Majrooh, Jaan Nissar Akhtar and  Shailendra,  my father raised  the standards of film lyrics. They were often deceptively  conversational–Kuch dil ne kaha…..kuch bhi nahin….As  a film lyricist, he was a mixture  of  simplicity and poeticality. Take these lines Kissi  ka na  ho jiss pe saaya mujheaisi din  aisi  raat do/ Mainmanzil to khud dhoond loongi mere haath main zaraa apna haath do/Qadam-do-qadam tum mera saath  do….And when Lataji  sang these lines by my father….what can be said? You know what was exceptional about my father? He never spoke at  home about  his work.

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“My most favourite Kaifi Azmi lyrics? Hmmmmm… Koi kaise yehbataaye ke wohtanha kyon hai/who  jo apna tha who aur kisika kyon hai/yehi duniya hai to phir aisi yeh duniya kyon  hai/yehi hota hai toaakhir yehi hota kyon hai?…The simplicity of  these lines kills me.  Imagine , a spouse-deserted woman (in the film Arth) being faced with these lines!….That sense of  commitment which artistes  of my father’s generation had, has been missing. But slowly it’s coming back in my film fraternity. I like it when film people  come  out to involve themselves with social issues. I find it very strange when people say, how could Aamir Khan have taken up an issue without knowing  the nitty-gritty of it?  Arrey when Gandhiji  was thrown  off the train in South Africa, he responded emotionally. When I went on a hunger strike twenty years ago on behalf  of  slum-dwellers, I didn’t know the issues as well as I do today. I come from a background where my parents believe art is an instrument of social change.  At a time when my father could’ve reveled  in the luxury of his success in the film industry he chose to go back to his village  in Azamgarh to work  on  its development. Imagine a man paralyzed for thirty years making  his village into a place of progress single-handedly.    One day I asked him  if he feels frustrated when change doesn’t happen as speedily as he’d have liked. He told me we must all be  prepared  for  that change  to not happen in  our lifetime.  This  to me, is  the one mantra that I’ve taken  from my father. I don’t look for instant results at all. That’s why I couldn’t be  a politician.

Delhi mein bhi hai Kaifi Azmi road DPS school ke saamne. There is aKaifi Azmi road in Mijwan. The Sultanpur Expressway in UP  is also called Kaifi Azmi Expressway.
Govt of india has named train from Azamgarh-Delhi KaifiyaatExpress ( the name of his complete works of poetry) in recognition of his stellar work. There r only 2 other writers who have trains named after their work- Gitanjali Express after Rabindranath Tagore’s work,Godaan Express after Premchands work
On 18th Feb 2012 Hyderabad ke mayor ne ailan kiya hai Rd no 3Banjara Hills Kaifi Azmi road, Ramkote Eden Garden UstadBismillah Khan Road, Ramkote Circle Pandit Bhimsen Joshi road. Inauguration will be in third week of March.

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“If you ask me who among contemporary lyricists has inherited  my father’s legacy I’d say my  husband Javed Akhtar. Abba himself used to say this.  They both have this amazing vocabulary which if they wanted, they could flaunt  generously. Still they both keep their poetry simple.  There was never a word in Urdu that my father couldn’t give me the meaning of.  I told Amit (Bachchan) this. And he said, ‘My father could do this in both English and  Hindi.’ Can  you imagine!  To this day it’s a big void in my life that I can’t write Urdu, though I can read it. It’s something I have to do. Javed keeps telling me I’ve my father’s restless spirit. But if I’m cleaning a cupboard that’s  relaxation for me, though Javed doesn’t agree.

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Pink Director’s Next  Featuring Yami As A Crime Reporter To Stream From February 16

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Yami

Anniruddha Roy  Chowdhury whose  Pink  featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu was one of  the  most important  films of  2016, is all set to  release his  next  Hindi film.

Entitled LostAnniruddha’s film , based on true  events, will see Yami Gautam Dhar(that’s  what the actress calls herself after her marriage)  as a crime journalist. LOST is an emotional social thriller that represents a higher quest, a search for lost values of empathy and integrity.

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Inspired by true events, Lost is a story of a bright young woman crime reporter in her relentless search for the truth behind the sudden disappearance of a young theatre activist.

Lost

Lost

Says Aniruddha  “The shoot of LOST has been an incredible journey. I have been eager for the release of our hard-worked venture. The film is a realistic highlight of media in a social context and I am sure that it will give the audience a compelling watch. I am curious about its release and see the responses it shall get. I hope they will welcome it with open hearts.”

Yami Gautam Dhar  who plays  the lead  of  the  crime reporter  says,   “I can’t be happier and more proud of the film’s selection for the opening night at CSAFF. I feel like its one that the people will connect to and will be the one that you cannot miss, especially in the current age and time. I have loved playing this role because it was such a special experience, it allowed me to explore so many layers of emotions as an actor and the entire team has worked really hard on it. I genuinely cannot wait for the film’s release, especially to see the reactions of the audience to it.”

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The crime investigation  drama boasts a stellar cast. Along with Yami, the film will feature Pankaj Kapur, Rahul Khanna, and an ensemble of younger talent, including Neil Bhoopalam, Pia Bajpai, and Tushar Pandey, in pivotal roles.

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Jamuna Had A Love-Hate Relationship With  Bollywood

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Jamuna

Veteran  Telugu  actress  Jamuna who passed away on Friday, shared an uneasy relationship with  the Hindi film industry.She did eleven Hindi films including the iconic Milan in  1967 where Jamuna  agreed to play the  second lead, or the  supporting role if you will, to Nutan.

 Jamuna as Gauri was the Other Woman who craved for the hero Sunil Dutt’s attention whereas  he had  eyes and devotion  only for Nutan. In later  years  Aruna Irani played a similar  role in  Caravan.

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 In Milan Jamuna  was not keen to  do a supporting role. Producer L V Prasad tempted her with three chartbusting songs. Besides, Jamuna had played the same role in Mooga Manasulu, the  Telugu original  of  Milan. But it  was the songs composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal  which convinced  Jamuna to  take up the second lead in Milan.

 While  Nutan had no solo songs  in Milan, she did have the chartbuster duet  Sawan  ka mahina . Jamuna on the  other hand,  had two  splendid Lata Mangeshkar solos: Tohey saawariya naahin khabariya  and   the magnificent Ghazal Aaj dil pe koi  zor chalta nahin.Not only  these, Jamuna  also had a  hit duet  with Mukesh  based on her character  Gauri:  Bol Gauri  bol tera kaun piya.

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But  then, fate  intervened. After the film released  one of Jamuna’s solos, the poignant and memorable  Aaj dil pe koi zor chalta nahin was  snipped  out of the film.

Here is what  happened:  the  Ghazal , one of Lataji’s all-time greats, was very much a part of Milan when  it released on 17 March 1967. But then  it was seen to hamper the  flow of the  film and  edited  out. The  beautiful song occurred right after intermission. Producer  Prasad, a shrewd  filmmaker, got to know that audiences prolonged their  loo breaks as there was  a song after the break. Hence the sacrifice  of  a seriously  sonorous melody.

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Jamuna hardly did  Hindi films after Milan. Her last  Bollywood appearance  was in  Raj Kumar  Kohli’s Raj Tilak  where she  was lost in a multistarrer as  the royal  queen.

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Karan Johar Moves Alia Song From Switzerland To Kashmir

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Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani

The  romantic duet in  Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani  which was to be  shot in Switzerland and which was  delayed  due to the film’s leading lady Alia Bhatt’s motherhood, is now being relocated to  Kashmir.

Purely out of  the  love for  new mom Alia.

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Says a source in the know, “Karan loves Alia  like his own daughter. He would do anything for her. He postponed  the  release of Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani as the love duet could not be shot before Alia’s maternity leave. Karan had decided to shoot the song in Switzerland  after Alia’s maternity love. But now he has relocated the song to Kashmir  as Alia doesn’t want to leave her  baby girl behind for  long stretches.”

And as Karan Johar argued, snow is  snow. How does it matter whether it is  Switzerland or Kashmir?

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This  song would be Karan Johar’s tribute to  his  idol Yash Chopra. Alia would be dressed in chiffon sarees while  Ranveer, for  a change, would be seen in  formals.

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Bobby Deol’s Switchover To Villainous Roles

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Bobby Deol

After  Prakash Jha’s webseries Ashram where Bobby  played a sleazy  godman, and Love Hostel  where  he was a ruthless assassin,   he is playing the villain to Ranbir Kapoor in  Sandeep Vanga’s  Animal.

Bobby says it is not conscious career decision to play negative characters  but a conscious  decision to play interesting characters. “ I don’t look at  characters as positive or negative.When I watch  films there is always  one character  that stays  with you. I want to play that  character.”

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Prakash Jha’s Ashram proved a gamechanger for Bobby.  He admits finding  challenging roles is tough.  “I am trying. I  am doing Sandeep Vanga’s Animal with Ranbir  Kapoor , Parineeti Chopra. Then I am doing the family film Apne  2 which I am  very excited  about.”

 In an  earlier  interview with  this writer Bobby spoke  about his   long absence  from screen  before Prakash Jha’s Ashram.  “My fans   would ask why I wasn’t being seen on the screen.And I couldn’t tell them it was  because  I wasn’t getting good roles. But my fans  stood by me. They gave me  the strength  to  keep looking for the right roles. Thankfully I found the roles I liked. My new  films have given  me  some new fans. I am  thankful  I am still here. Yeah , I am in a good space right now.”

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