Film Review: “Dheepan”


Starring: Anthonythasan Jesuthaasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby, Vincent Rottiers

Directed by: Jacques Audiard

“Je m’appelle Dheepan.”

Dheepan begins on the twilight of the war in Sri Lanka. Sivadhasan (Jesuthaasan), a Tamil Tiger, mourns a fallen comrade. Yalini (Srinivasan), a young woman, wants to escape as a refugee.  Illaya (Vinasithamby), an orphaned girl, becomes Yalini’s ticket. Sivadhasan, now renamed “Dheepan,” Yalini and Ilaya leave Sri Lanka a “family” for France.

Set in a housing project on the outskirts of Paris and amidst a Balzac-like cast of thugs, gang members and drug pushers, Dheepan is raw, dark and moving. Audiard’s direction and storytelling create a picture as close to art and reality as cinema gets. Through the performances of Jesuthaasan, Srinivasan and Vinasithamby, one lives the tears, frustrations and spirit of Dheepan, Yalini and Ilaya. The war in Sri Lanka lives on not just in memories.

The cinematography of Eponine Momenceau deepens the ambiance with the paddy fields and funeral pyres of Sri Lanka to the smashed lighting strips and marijuana butts littering the housing project. In this Fifth Republic, there is no law, no fraternity. Dheepan, Yalini and Ilaya have to fight for a new beginning. In Dheepan, Audiard asks gracefully and frankly whether people can start again.

Rating: 88%

Published in: on October 4, 2015 at 12:51 am  Leave a Comment  

‘The Business of Burying is Booming’ by Fauzia Rafique

03Oregon-SS1-superJumbo-v3‘Community members at a vigil in Stewart Park to honor the victims of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Thursday’ October 1/15.
Photo by Gosia Wozniacka/Associated Press.

So sad, 45 mass shootings in nine months, state violence permeates all levels of society. It’s not just the ‘gun laws’ that need changing.

The Business of Burying is Booming

This ode is Daddy
-cated to NATO, our Unified Protector.


1949 to the Present, Daddy
is busy keeping ‘the Russians
OUT, the Americans
IN, and the Germans
The OUT changes
The DOWN changes
But the IN stays the same, and
The IN stays the same, and the IN
Stays the same. The same,
Once and for all:
America brings Dear
-Daddy Democracy and Pretty
-Pink Progress to the
-Third World (People).

NATO’s first progress: Vietnam war
4,257,282 civil, mostly Vietnamese
2,447,087 military, mostly Vietnamese
I won’t count
the dead of Kosovo or Yugoslav
Wars, Iraq Wars, Afghan
Wars or Pakistan Wars.
I’ll go
To NATO’s latest progress: Capture
and kill Gaddafi. Only six (includes my Heartbreak
Harperized Canada) of the
28 countries
in support, still 9,500 strikes.
And wow, how
(in Vietnam Bosnia Yoguslavia Kosovo) how the
Business of
Burying is

Daddy my Sharp Guard Super
Man Hero, spends 70% of
world’s defence budget,
owns the most
of all the weapons of
mass destruction, with ‘possible first
use of tactical nuclear weapons’.
Daddy got navy warships, global
hawk surveillance drones, maritime
patrol aircraft, medium-range nuclear
missiles, radar and interceptor missiles
helicopters, ships, submarines, with
‘No reductions
foreseen in
NATO’s nuclear
And see how
(in Vietnam Bosnia Yoguslavia Kosovo
Iraq Afghanistan Pakistan) how the
Business of
Burying is

Daddy has this huge (oops)
video game
collection, and
You are a part of Daddy’s
games. So am I, check
again, Daddy’s heroic adventures and quests:
Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Ocean Shield, Training Mission – Iraq, Operation Eagle Assist, Active Underwear, Operation Essential Harvest, Deny Flight Operation, Deliberate Force, Operation Joint Endeavor
There’s more, including ISAF-KFOR-IFOR
-SFOR-ACE-ALTHEA, but no more
space on this page
‘cause I am going to
count those
to see how
(in Vietnam Bosnia Yoguslavia Kosovo
Iraq Afghanistan Pakistan
Egypt Lybia Syria) how the
Business of
Burying is

To ward off Daddy’s colonial jok:
My mantra, a bit long
a little tedius
like all mantras.
It will work,
like all mantras.
‘In Your Name, the People of:
Albania (2,834,667), Belgium (10,827,519), Bulgaria (7,351,234),
Canada (34,447,000), Croatia (4,425,747), Czech
Republic (10,515,818);
‘In The Name Of:
5,560,628 Danes, 1,340,122 Estonians, 65,821,885 French
81,802,000 Germans, 11,306,183 Greeks,
10,014,324 Hungarians, 318,452 Icelanders, 60,605,053 Italians;
‘In Your Name, the People of:
Latvia: 2,229,500, Lithuania: 3,249,400, Luxembourg: 502,100, Netherlands: 16,667,700, Norway: 4,937,900, Poland: 38,092,000, Portugal: 10,636,888, Romania: 21,466,174, Slovakia: 5,435,273, Slovenia: 2,046,510, Spain: 46,148,605, Turkey 73,722,988;
‘In The Name Of:
62,008,048 Britishers and 311,328,000 Americans!
All together = 906,002,051 (White majority) people
(i am included even when Brown)
‘In Whose Name, In
My Name, In
Your Name, In
Our Name, In
My name, In
Your Name
Business of
Burying is

NATO: 28 member countries, two in North America (Canada and the United States) and 25 in Europe while Turkey is in Eurasia. NATO missions have taken place in countries located in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Remembering deaths of Palestinian people, and others, not mentioned here.

From Holier Than Life by Fauzia Rafique

Contact Uddari

DHAHAN PRIZE 2015: Darshan Singh – Harjeet Atwal – Nain Sukh

Dhahan Logo in all scripts

Congratulations to authors Darshan Singh, Harjeet Atwal and Nain Sukh for winning this year’s Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize.

Prize ~ $25,000
Lota (Novel) by Darshan Singh
Second Prize ~ $5,000: Gurmukhi script
Mor Udaari (Novel) by Harjeet Atwal
Second Prize ~ $5,000: Shahmukhi script
Madho Lal Hussain – Lahore Di Vel (Novel) by Nain Sukh

Barj S. Dhahan, the Initiator of the Prize, said that this literary award ‘both opens doors for aspiring Punjabi writers and plays an important role in the preservation and expansion of the Punjabi language and its literature.’

The prizes will be celebrated at these events:

Dhahan Prize Awards Gala
A celebration of this year’s recipients and a keynote by Shauna Singh Baldwin
October 24, 2015 6:30pm
Surrey City Hall
Tickets $20
Dhahan Prize Gala Invite 2015

Dhahan Prize Reading
With this year’s authors
October 25, 2015 1:30pm
Waterfront Theatre
Free event, RSVP required
Dhahan Prize Gala Reading

More information

Previous winners are Khali Khoohaan di Katha by Avtar Singh Billing (Gurmukhi script), Ik Raat da Samunder by Jasbir Bhullar (Gurmukhi script), and Kabutar, Banaire te Galian by Zubair Ahmed (Shahmukhi script).

Contact Uddari

The Sweetest Tale of Doom. Ever!

‘Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights’ by Salman Rushdie

The Story of Imam Ghazali’s Jinn and Ibn Rushd’s Jinnia (‘jinnani’ in Punjabi) begins with the orthodox Muslim philosopher Imam Ghazali finding a bottle with the spirit of a powerful jinn in it, and the unorthodox Ibne Rushd finding himself in possession of a jinnia who is the princess and the heir-apparent of the jinni world thriving above us. The jinn is beholden by the Imam to spread his unreasonable and religious fundamentalist thoughts while the numerous ‘kan-tutta’ offspring of the jinnia and the ‘voice of reason’ must resist those ideas to save themselves, us and our world.

It is a surprise to read a pleasant and easy-to-get-into story about our fast-approaching environmental and economic disasters while we are suffering the violence unleashed by the warring corporate rulers and militant religious fundamentalists. In a beautiful, and often funny way, the reader gets to connect the dots in time, history, ideology, argument, cause, effect. This novel is not just an interesting read but it also makes a perfect artistic tool to fight the threats we face. After The Satanic Verses, this is another great literary intervention by Salman Rushdie where he has created something that can be used, in different ways of course, to strengthen secular and equality-seeking trends in the world.

The complexity of the themes of modern life becomes simple when told in the style of a fairy tale. Enjoyable, like all fairy tales, the text is ready to mutate into film, video drama, graphic novel, children’s illustrated book, teen comic book, stage drama, video game, and perhaps, a paperback edition.

I enjoyed Ursula K Le Guin’s review of it (a rare case of one fav doing another), her winks, and the chuckle where she expects that a male author should (could or would?) have explored the delights of motherhood regarding the human-jinnia who had delivered 7, 11 or even 19 children at a time. Yes, i agree, we have been robbed of many hilarious possibilities, but it’s like asking a woman author to expansively gloat in the frolics of mortal men. On second thoughts, may be Le Guin has a point, perhaps only men can speculate motherhood long enough to write something hilarious about it.

Her comment on the jinnia being a ‘man in drag’ provoked some thoughts. Going after one’s descendants or being committed to them can’t be a solely male passion or prerogative; a matriarch would do it perhaps for reasons different than those of the patriarch. Also, from the time the Dunia character appears at the Great Philosopher’s door, to when she re-appears in his grave after a few hundred years, she just keeps doing what she thinks would please the man; even, pathetic as it may sound, while she had been missing her offspring she only begins to get them together when the dead philosopher asks her to; she takes her own ‘leading’ role seriously after her father dies and the gardener bails, and then her almost unconditional beyond life-long love for the philosopher guy!! She seems like a weird woman pretending to be a jinnie.

And yes, it is indeed a delightful read, more so because now we have a new fairy tale on the world literary scene. I like that the people who are fighting for rational/equitable solutions in this story, trace their lineage from their mother; and also, that they are not just mix-race but mix-species.

If this present-day fairy tale was in the public domain, i would translate it in Punjabi and Urdu, and make it available in Pakistan (with the author name visible only to people without earlobes) at different levels of society to inspire artistic interventions.

Available in hardcover, ebook and audiobook editions.

Fauzia Rafique

Poet Irfan Malik in Town

Boston-based South Asian American poet and the organizer of South Asian American Theatre (SAATH) at Harvard University, Irfan Malik is visiting Vancouver from September 12 to 26 with his new collection of Punjabi poetry ‘Dooji Aurat’.

He will be presenting and participating in various events around town including the following, where his participation is made possible by some wonderful people such as our very own Ajmer Rode, Harinder Dhahan, Chin Mukherjee, Sukhwant Hundal, Anne Murphy, Carol Shillibeer, Barj Dhahan, Dr. Saif Khalid, Mohan Gill and Manpreet Dhillon.

Sept 13, 1-4pm
Punjabi Lekhak Manch
Newton Library, 13795 70 Avenue at King George Blvd, Surrey

Sept 14, 6-8pm
Hogan’s Alley Reading Series
Hogan’s Alley Cafe, 789 Gore Avenue, Vancouver

Sept 15, 6:30pm
Punjabi Poetry Evening
George Mackie Library, 112 St/84 Avenue, Delta

Sept 17, 1-3pm
Punjabi Seniors’ Group
Sunset Community Centre, Main/52, Vancouver

Sept 20, 

SANSAD-CPPC Public Forum
‘Pakistan-India Peace: People’s Need vs State Interest’
Room 120, 
Surrey Centre Library, 10350 University Drive, Surrey

Sept 21, 3:30-5pm
UBC Punjabi Class
UBC Campus, Vancouver (non-public)

Sept 21, 6-8pm
Poetry Wars
100 Braid Street Studios, New Westminster

Sept 25, 5:30-8:30
Surrey Muse
Room 418, City Centre Library, Surrey

To contact Irfan while he’s here, send him an email at

Surrey Muse event details

Irfan Malik is the Featured Poet at this gathering. He will be presenting with Author Maureen Butler, Poet/Performer RC Weslowsky and Author Katherine Wagner. The event is hosted by poet/Performer Mariam Zohra.

Event is sponsored by
Dhahan Prize For Punjabi Literature
Dhahan Logo in all scriptsand
Surrey Muse & Uddari Weblog

Contact Uddari

Pakistan-India Peace: People’s Need vs State Interest – SANSAD-CPPC Public Forum


A talk by Karamat Ali
Poetry: Irfan Malik

Sept 20 at 2pm, 
Room 120, 
Surrey Centre Library, 10350 University Drive, Surrey

Since their creation as independent states in 1947 India and Pakistan have fought three wars and taken the subcontinent to the brink of nuclear holocaust. The two militarized states face each other across an uneasy “line of control” in divided Kashmir, frequently bringing the miseries of war to those living along the border. People of the subcontinent need peace, yet peace remains elusive. How can the roadblocks to peace be overcome?

Karamat Ali is a well-known figure in the labour movement in Pakistan and also a prominent peace activist. He is the founder of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER – in Karachi) and co-founder of The Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. An eminent labour activist over the last four decades, he is the author of numerous articles and essays on labour, politics and development. Karamat is also the first recipient of Dadi Nrmala Deshpande Peace and Justice Award (2013).

Born in Lahore, Irfan Malik is the Artistic Director of South Asian American Theatre in Boston. He writes in Punjabi, Urdu, and English. His latest book of Punjabi poetry, Dooji Aurat, was published in 2015.

Organized by South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD, and Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC).

Chin: 604-421-6752
Shahzad: 604-613-0735

Art Work
Shahid Mirza. Leek 4. Mix-media on paper. 14″x27″.


Public Lectures by Karamat Ali

These two Public Lectures are sponsored by the SFU Labour Studies Program and the Hari Sharma Foundation. They are the first of a series to address key questions confronting the labour movement around the world.

1. Lecture: ‘The Status of Labour Rights in Pakistan’
18 September 2015, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
SFU Vancouver Campus, Harbour Centre: Room 1900
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

2. Lecture: ‘Women’s Labour Rights in Pakistan’
22 September 2015, 12:30-1:30 pm
SFU Burnaby Campus: Room AQ 6106, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby

Contact Uddari

India Wins Freedom – The Maulana Speaks


Written by Randeep Singh

The complete text of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s India Wins Freedom was not released until 1988. Until then, Azad (1888-1958) had withheld his personal comments on the responsibility of Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Gandhi for the Partition of India.[1]

The “founder of Indian partition,” was Patel, says Azad. Patel saw partition as a way to eliminate the Muslim League from Indian politics. He found it impossible and frustrating to work with the League’s members as part of an interim government and “openly said that he was prepared to have a part of India if only he could get rid of the Muslim League.”

While Nehru was less enthusiastic about partition, he became gloomy about the prospects of working with the Muslim League in government and acquiesced to the idea of partition.

Nehru sowed other seeds too. Congress had approved a plan proposed by the British cabinet to create a federation of Indian states with guarantees of provincial autonomy (including Muslim majority areas). This only just placated the Muslim League, says Azad. Nehru however proclaimed that Congress would be free to modify the plan as it wished. This alienated the Muslim League so as to make any further negotiations with Congress pointless.

The “greatest shock” for Azad was the Mahatma’s change in his attitude toward the Partition. The apostle for Hindu-Muslim unity gradually became less vehement in his opposition to Partition. Indeed, Gandhi became convinced that partition was inevitable after his suggestion to invite Jinnah to form the government was flatly rejected by Nehru and Patel.

What I found most illuminating about “India Wins Freedom” is Azad’s prescience regarding what the Partition meant for India’s future. Partition did not solve India’s communal problem; it lodged it permanently in the Indian psyche. In accepting Partition, Patel and Nehru had endorsed the Two Nations Theory. How then were they any different from Jinnah?

“India won her freedom, but lost her unity,” says Azad. It’s worth remembering 69 years on, that those who get the credit for winning India’s freedom should also bear the blame for dividing it.

Further Reading:

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India Wins Freedom (Orient Longman: Hyderabad, 1988).

[1] Azad was the longest serving President of the Indian National Congress before 1947 and served as independent India’s first Minister of Education. He narrated his experiences in India Wins Freedom in Urdu between 1955 to 1957 to Humayun Kabir who transcribed and translated them into English.

Published in: on August 16, 2015 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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‘Rainshed Dream’ by Sana Janjua

The purple midnight of Jhelum
crawls over the rainshed memory
I have of you – drenched,
tipsy with pubescent desire,
as if you will light up the mosque in
which we played cards
with your skill at the game- those nerved hands-
and the soul of that fluttering heart,
all mine.
Outside, it poured
and I cajoled you on
with my nascent dialect
that was too outlandish to
your upper middle class upbringing.

A jackal  whimpered in the distance,
somewhere where jackals reside.
The pack moved closer in inches
towards the story, so that the epic

(our love story)

became an unmoored myth
of belligerent animals
that slime out of nocturnal spaces,


which perturbed your
sophisticated sensibilities,
making me an incongruity to your prestige,

your high end, red bricked house,

heaving its mighty benevolence

in the midst of an anthill, my residence.

Your story had to be written with the
nib of a peacock feather,

dipped in the splash of white gold,

imbuing the stately shades

you have in your heroic blood,

when you so generously grant me
a smile,

a glimpse,

(and, nowadays)

a small touch

so i may burn,

burn at both ends.

i have no where to go,

but to hide in the shadows

my voice

generates on the periphery

of your vision.

My genesis lies in
the idea of the possibility

that i may exist,

that i may very well be born

under the weight of

your rib cage.

It’s you,
who has brought me to life.

Between us, there is a galaxy

of contradictions,

and of a singular realization

that you are the guardian of my imagination,

and i am the silhouette of your past.

All this time,
in looking at you and the passing nights,
I only had a longing– a wild cry–

inherited and passed down the line of
old city’s song writers who feed on
the wisdom and chirping of migratorial birds;
right here from my throat
to my stomach is
but a cry, –a wild cry–
a song bird’s devotion,
nothing to quell your taste in music and noble art.

You have spent days
unlearning the dignified aesthetics
of your social class
when you play Salman Ahmed
on a small guitar,
that tune which had no song attached to her,
no burden attached.
It is a free tune and
we are free to touch each other,
as we hold  each other’s hands,

wanting to kiss the august sky
in the imagined street named after

you and me.

Mad reverie,
Somewhere in the world,
There is a street named
after our unrequited love.
Find me that, and

find me your love.

Sana Janjua is a poet and a playwright who is also the President of Surrey Muse, an interdisciplinary art and literature presentation/discussion group.


Poetry at Bathurst & Bloor

Wednesday, 6.00 pm
July 8, 2015

In the Backyard
Behind the Different Booklist Bookshop
746 Bathurst St, Toronto
(Enter via Honest Ed’s Parking Lot)

Krisantha Sri Bhaggiyadatta wonders if you scratch poetry, where you find the economics.

He has read poetry (wherever he can get away with it) more recently in Toronto and San Francisco, but also in Colombo, Peradeniya, Beijing, Port of Spain, New York, London, etc.He was a weekly broadcaster of Bourgeois Blues, Bourgeois News on Toronto’s CKLN (now banned) radio. His books of poetry include: Transfixed in Twilight (2015), Cheqpoint in Heaven (2005), Aay Wha’ Kinda Indian Arr U? (1997, 2015), The 52nd State of Amnesia (1992), The Only Minority is the Bourgeoisie (1985), and Domestic Bliss (1981). He is now compiling: A Very Personal English History of the World.


One Canada, One Citizen

Written by Randeep Singh

It’s Canada Day, a good time to reflect on what Canada means to us. I immigrated to Canada like many before and after me. I became a citizen. I am proud to be Canadian.

The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (better known as Bill C-24), hasn’t made me any less proud to be Canadian, even if it does put me in a different class of citizenship.

All countries differentiate between citizens and foreign nationals or citizens and permanent residents. Canada previously revoked citizenship if it was obtained through fraud or misrepresentation. This was in accordance with the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; but, differentiating between citizens?

The French Revolution developed the modern idea of the “citizen.” The Revolution sought to create a society where people (men) existed as equal citizens before law, not as subjects with differing privileges. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt referred to citizenship as the “right to have rights,” the right to belong to a political community and have one’s rights protected by that community. In a 1997 ruling, Justice Iacobucci for the Supreme Court of Canada stated, “I cannot imagine an interest more fundamental to full membership in Canadian society than Canadian citizenship.”

In differentiating between different classes of Canadian citizens and in revoking (or maintaining) their citizenship status accordingly, the Government of Canada (the Conservative Party of Canada) is not only revoking a legal status; it is revoking all constitutionally enshrined rights associated with such status.

The law apparently infringes equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by discriminating between Canadians (individuals and groups) on the basis of national and ethnic origin. There are all sorts of practical and humanitarian concerns to consider. How can the government send de-nationalized persons “back” to a country which does not receive them? Can it return a person back to a country where he or she may be persecuted?

The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act is an act of splintering Canadian citizenship. It creates different classes of citizenship (for different reasons) just as states in the Deep South of the United States created different classes of American citizens through legal discrimination.

I can only take comfort that it will be challenged and under the grounds of the Constitution of Canada which affirms the equality of Canadians, regardless of their differences.

Further Reading:

Works Cited:

“Revocation of Citizenship after the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act,” Peter Edelmann in Immigration Issues: Not Business as Usual, (Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, 2014).

Published in: on July 2, 2015 at 4:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Zinda Bhaag and Illegal Migration from Pakistan


Written by Randeep Singh and Kulwindar Singh

Zinda Bhaag is the story of three young men in Lahore: Chitta, Khaldi and Tambi. Chitta plans to migrate to Italy under a fake passport. Khaldi dreams of becoming pukka in the United Kingdom. Tambi has recently been deported from the Ukraine. The West it seems is the promised land, the paradise the bright future, awaiting them.

The roads to though paradise are long and tough. Chitta travels to Europe in a cargo container through Iran to Turkey and into Greece, but dies somewhere along the way. Khaldi is refused all legal routes to enter the United Kingdom. Tambi spent two years in prison in the Ukraine for associating with his boss, a heroine dealer, before being deported back to Lahore.

Illegal immigration (including human smuggling) from Pakistan to Europe takes its route through African, Middle Eastern and West Asian countries, across land and sea. There are networks of agents, translators, lawyers, and informers stationed locally. along the way. The dangers on the way are many and include being defrauded, physical or sexual abuse, abandonment and death from lack of food, water and air. Those who survive do so suffer physical and mental trauma. Those who arrive in their host countries live without social assistance, exploited by their employers and on the edges of society.

Khaldi tries to enter the United Kingdom first through family sponsorship, later by student visa, and ultimately, illegally. The U.K. remains one of the most popular destinations for Pakistani illegal migrants from Pakistan. Many Pakistanis arriving there work in warehouses, kebab shops, off-licenses and butcher shops. Khaldi’s plans first to work as a taxi driver. Failing to enter legally, he takes Chitta’s fake passport, not knowing what his fate will be.

Khaldi is undeterred. Like many, emigration is his chance to be a “somebody.” Khaldi’s mum wastes no chance in reminding him how strapped the family is when so many other young men are wiring money home from abroad. Chitta comes from a poor family and sees no future for himself in Pakistan. Tambi conversely is disgraced for having “returned” to Pakistan without a penny to his name.

While Zinda Bhaag looks at the other motives for illegal emigration – including financial imperatives and lack of opportunity at home – it is ultimately a film about “trying to live a life of dignity and honour and failing.”[1] And while illegal migration has been explored in films like “Le Havre,” “West of Eden” and “Journey of Hope,” Zinda Bhaag deserves attention for the first Pakistani and South Asian film of any note to do so.

[1] Interview with Meenu Gaur and Farjad Nabi, Dharmsala International Film Festival:

Published in: on April 8, 2015 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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International Women’s Day: The Gulabi Gang


Written by Randeep Singh

The days leading up to International Women’s Day saw the screening of “India’s Daughter,” a documentary on the rape of murder of Jyoti Singh in New Delhi in 2012. Singh’s rape and murder provoked a national catharsis of demonstrations, clashes with police and soul-searching on how to better protect India’s (middle-class) women from sexual predators.

Singh did not come from privileged circumstances, but she had the aspirations of a middle-class woman. That made her worthy enough of respect of the middle-class. There were however no moments of silence for those indigent Indian women who are raped daily, no national march to fight for the rights of the dispossessed in rural India, the majority of the country’s women.

The Gulabi Gang is a woman’s movement that was started by poor women in 2006 in Bundelkhand, Uttar Pradesh. It began as a band of women who humiliated and punished men for abusing their wives. Today, it has over 300,000 members and fights against dowry death, rape, child marriage and child molestation and caste oppression in northern India.

The Gulabi Gang do not attend classes at Delhi University, read Byron or catch flicks at the multiplex. The antithesis of the modern, enlightened Indian women, they have struck at the heart of patriarchy without the help of NDTV, academia and marches along Rajpath. The fact that this movement has taken place and grown in rural India, tells us that this is where the real battle against violence against women is to be fought if it is to be won.

Published in: on March 9, 2015 at 5:36 am  Comments (1)  
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Shakespeare in Hindi Cinema


Written by Randeep Singh

In the high and palmy state of Bombay, the Bard and Hindi screen did meet … It was the Parsi theatre which brought Shakespeare to Hindi cinema. The Parsi theatre flourished between 1870 and 1940, adapting Shakespeare’s plays into Urdu, the literary lingua franca of northern India. Those plays were in turn screened and adapted to Hindi cinema.

One of the earliest such films was Dil Farosh (1927), a silent film based on the Parsi theatre adaptation of The Merchant of VeniceThe Taming of the Shrew, Antony and Cleopatra and Measure for Measure were adapted respectively in Hathili Dulhan (1932), Kafir-e-Ishq (1936) and Pak Daman(1940). Hamlet meanwhile reigned among tragedies, adapted first into the silent film Khoon-e-Nahak (1928) and later into the “talkies,” Sohrab Modi’s Khoon Ka Khoon (1935) and Kishore Sahu’s Hamlet (1954).

In adapting Shakespeare to India, the dramatists of Parsi theatre recreated his pathos, wit and intrigue in Urdu. With the exception of the drama and opera Inder Sabha (c. 1853), Urdu literature lacked a tradition of drama in the Sanskrit or Elizabethean sense; and yet, the verses of Ghalib and the marsiya of Anis and Dabeer demonstrated that Urdu was capable of dramatic resonance. The Parsi playwrights exploited that potential by making an elaborately rhetorical Urdu the vessel through which Shakespeare was carried to Indian audiences.

Take the following excerpt from Safed Khoon, Agha Hashar Kashmiri’s adaptation of King Lear. The dialogue relates to the first scene between Khakan (Lear) and Zara (Cordelia) where Khakan addresses Zara:

Khakhan: Haan, ab teri gulfishani ka intizaar hai
(Now we await a shower of flower from thy  lips)

Zara: Abba jaan, mai kya arz karoon
Ita’ut mujh se kahti hai ki tu chup rah nahin sakti
Magar mera yeh kahna hai ki mai kuchh kah nahin sakti

(Respected Father, what shall I say –
Obedience tells me that I cannot remain silent
But I have only this to say that I can say nothing)[1]

In the following dialogue, each character speaks half a line to the other, a rising tension building in rhyme:

Khakan: Chhor de yeh zid………Zara: abhi chhooti nahin
(Leave this stubbornness)……….(No, never)

Khakan: Be-adab hai tu…………Zara: Magar jhoothi nahin
(Disrespectful art thou)………(But not a liar)

Khakan: Nuqsaan uthhayegi…………..Zara: era bari ta’ala hai
(You will suffer great loss)…………….(The Creator is supreme)

Khakan: Mai kuchh na doonga tujhko……Zara: Khuda dene wala hai
(I will give thee nothing)……………………  (it is for God to give)[2]

This intensely dramatic Urdu style was well suited not only for adaptations of Shakespeare plays in Parsi theatre but for Hindi cinema as well.

Gulzar’s adaptation of The Comedy of Errors in Angoor (1981) aside, adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in Hindi cinema petered out after 1960. The influence of Shakespeare though has been felt in the theme, story and dialogue of Hindi cinema whether through the The Taming of The Shrew in Junglee (1966) and Naukar Biwi Ka (1983) or Romeo and Juliet in Mehboob Khan’s Aan (1952) and Mansoor Khan’s Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988).

In more recent years, the bard has travelled to the Bombay underworld, the dusty towns of Uttar Pradesh and Kashmir’s valleys of snow. Shakespeare will continue to evolve and inspire in Hindi cinema as in this monologue from Haider:

Dil kī agar sunooñ to hai
Dimāgh kī to hai nahin 
Jaan looñ ki jaan duñ 
Main rahooñ ki main nahiñ[3]


“Shakespeare in Hindi Cinema,” Rajiv Verma in India’s Shakespeare: Translation, Interpretation and Performance (ed. Poonam Trivedi and Dennis Bartholomeusz), 269-290.

[1] R. Verma, “Shakespeare in Hindi Cinema,” 273.

[2] R. Verma, “Shakespeare in Hindi Cinema,” 274.

[3] The barely sane Haider speaks revolver in hand:
“If I listen to my heart – it’s there
It’s not of my mind 
To kill or to die
To be or not to be

Published in: on February 9, 2015 at 10:34 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

New Poster from Pakistan Punjabi Adbi Board

New Poster 1

Pakistan Punjabi Adbi Board plans to celebrate
International Mother Language Day by organizing
a day long cultural program and a rally
on Feb, 21, 2015
from Nasir Bagh to Punjab Assembly.

More than ten thousand people
are expected to participate.

The Board ‘appeals to all,
individuals and entities,
concerned with the linguistic and cultural rights of the people,
for financial help and support’.

For details view the Press Release below.

Amjad Saleem Minhas (Publisher), Coordinator
0333 4051741,
Parveen Malik (Author), Secretary
042 36370520

Mother Language Day: An Appeal

lahorecityofgardensImage: Lahore City of Gardens, Facebook page

Uddari fully supports the initiative taken by Mother Language Day Celebrations Committee in Lahore to present our demands in a forceful way at this year’s International Mother Language Day. Please help out by contributing money and resources to make Saturday 21 February a resounding success.

Press Release

‘February 21st is the International Mother Language Day celebrated every year all over the world with the express purpose of preserving, protecting and promoting the incredible linguistic diversity we humans have. Linguistic diversity is receptacle of human evolution and thus immensely fecund source of irreplaceable intellectual, literary and cultural richness.

‘But sadly we in the Punjab wrongly perceive the multiplicity of languages as a divisive force threatening the ill conceived notion of national unity. That is why the linguistic rights of the people in the Punjab have been denied in the name of ill-conceived linguistic cohesion. Quest for monolithic and exclusive identity has resulted in the denial of diversity and plurality creating pervasive extremism which contradicts the inclusive cultural tradition evolved by Punjab’s saints and poets.

‘Pakistan Punjabi Adbi Board, the oldest independent cultural body, has been at the forefront of struggle to get the linguistic rights of the Punjabi language restored. The Board has to its credit around two hundred publications of classical and contemporary literature. The Board plans to celebrate International Mother Language Day by organizing a day long cultural programme and a big rally on Feb, 21, 2015 from Nasir Bag to the Punjab Assembly with the demand that the mother language/Punjabi be introduced immediately at primary level so that the students get their early education in their mother language as is universally emphasized by the educationists and the UNO.

‘The Board alone cannot organize the event with its meager resources. It therefore appeals to all, individuals and entities, concerned with the linguistic and cultural rights of the people, for financial help and support. More than ten thousand people are expected to participate in the day long programme and the rally. The estimated budget is around Rupee 3 millions. Your support and cooperation will be highly appreciated.’

Amjad Saleem Minhas (Publisher), Coordinator
Parveen Malik (Author), Secretary
Cell: 0300 4117262 & 0322 4830965
Mother Language Day Celebrations Committee
Cell: 0333 4051741
Send an email message to Amjad Saleem Minhas