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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Amrita Pritam’s Nagmani, nostalgia and memento

Amrita and Imroz brought Nagmani up like a child, taking care of the minutest detail for 33 long years.

punjab Updated: Aug 31, 2018 09:48 IST
Nirupama Dutt
Nirupama Dutt
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Amrita Pritam
Amrita Pritam(HT File )

Whenever there is mention of Amrita Pritam, besides the immortal poem Ajj Aakhan Waris Shah Nu, what is mentioned is the monthly magazine called Nagmani. Amrita and Imroz brought Nagmani up like a child, taking care of the minutest detail for 33 long years.

The magazine was started in 1966 and a brave new world opened up before the readers of Punjabi writers and readers alike. I recall fiction writer, the late Kulwant Singh Virk, asking me to take notice of this magazine in my column in the late 1970s: “This magazine is a valuable document of social history for it notices societal change at every step.”

I recall when I once took my Biji to meet her in the 1980s in her Hauz Khas home, she was thrilled. Biji was four years her senior and Amrita took to her at once.

She turned to me and said, “Niru you go out and meet your friends in Delhi. Let Kusum spend the day with me. I want to interview her for Nagmani.”

Kusum was Biji’s first name and she put one condition that the sketch by Imroz accompanying the article should be from one of the photos of her youth. Imroz agreed readily to please the vanity of this comely Pothoaran. The interview was quite a rage when it came out.

Amrita and Imroz were always on the lookout for something that would add value to their baby. Content apart, the design of the magazine was such that Punjabi readership had never seen before. Amrita was a gifted wordsmith and Imroz had a way with the line so the duet was not just inspiring but beautiful to look at.

Two generations of readers and writers still feel the Nagmani nostalgia. Painter-poet Beeba Balwant has a complete collection of the issues of the magazine brought out ever month for over three decades. So does my young friend Bardeep Bhathal who started reading it while still in school. The cover above is courtesy him

It was in 2002 when Amrita’s health started failing and eye sight grew weak that Imroz and she decided to close it down. It was a heartbreaking moment for many and for some it is a precious memento to be cherished.

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 09:48 IST