Round About: Partition to be revisited
The opening scene of ‘Tamas’ (Darkness) has innocent tanner Nathu, played by Om Puri, trying to kill a pig. It is an assignment that he has been given by a contractor on the pretext that the carcass has to be sent to the vet. However, the next day the carcass is found on the steps of the city mosque and bitter communal riots break out. Doesn’t the tale seem oddly familiar in the beef-lynching days? Nathu has to flee with a pregnant wife and old mother. He is simple enough to believe that the holocaust is all because of him.
Based on the acclaimed 1974 novel of the same name by Bhisham Sahni, ‘Tamas’ features in the opening sessions of the lit fest at Kasauli (Oct 9 to 11). “A festival dedicated to the writer of ‘Train to Pakistan’ is incomplete without returning to the Partition; so émigrés and journeys are a major talking point at the festival this time,” says Niloufer Bilimoria, director of the festival. Director Govind Nihalani and Om Puri will talk on the making of ‘Tamas’, which was a unique experience in itself. For Nihalani making ‘Tamas’ was an act of faith because he had witnessed the Partition as a child and his family had migrated from Karachi to settle down in Rajasthan. For Puri, ‘Tamas’ was a key point of his acting career and made him greatly popular among people for his brilliant performance of a common man caught in the net of politics and violence.
Nihalani faced grave threats and court cases when the film was first released in 1987, but after its re-launch the next year it went on to win three national awards including the Nargis Award for the Best Film on National Integration. Nihalani had wanted to shoot the film in Punjab and Pakistan but terrorist threats compelled him to shoot the film in a sprawling bungalow in Mumbai with the construction of 16 different sets. The cast included other theatre talents like Amrish Puri, AK Hangal, Manohar Singh, Pankaj Kapur, Dina Pathak, Surekha Sikri and Uttara Baokar. Bhisham Sahni played a pivotal role in the film.
Since it is also the centenary year of Bhisham, his daughter Kalpana Sahni will present a session on the life and writings of her father. Kalpana had penned a book ‘Balraj and Bhisham Sahni: Brothers in Political Theatre’. It was published by SAHMAT during Balraj’s centenary in 2013. The book recounts how Bhisham was sent by his father to Mumbai in the early 1940s to persuade elder brother Balraj to return to Rawalpindi to help out in the family business. What happened was quite contrary. Bhisham was to recount later: “Needless to say, instead of advising and persuading my brother to return home, I got converted myself and came back to Rawalpindi with the script of the play Zubeida in my pocket.”
So there is much to look forward to at the fest, with delegates from Pakistan Mehr Tarar introducing her book ‘Leaves from Lahore’ and former Pakistan foreign minister Khursheed Kasuri dwelling on the theme ‘Peace for Kashmir’. Among other delegates are William Dalrymple, Sudhir Kakar, Coomi Kapoor, Sayeeda Hamid, Wajjahat Habibullah, and Farooq Abdullah.
The death toll in the Banda boat tragedy rose to 12 on Sunday after one more body was recovered three days after the fateful mishap in the Yamuna river on August 11. Three more bodies are still missing and search operations were going on, Banda superintendent of police Abhinandan said. “Three bodies are missing. The search operation by the NDRF, SDRF and PAC divers are underway,” he said.
Vinayak Mete, Maharashtra legislative council member and leader of pro-Maratha outfit Shiv Sangram, died early on Sunday morning when the SUV he was travelling in met with an accident near Bhatan tunnel in Raigad district on the Pune-Mumbai expressway. While the driver escaped unhurt, he alleged that the highway control room did not respond. Expressway police officials claimed that Mete's driver was trying to overtake another vehicle when the accident took place.
Veteran investor and billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala died on Sunday morning at 62, prompting an outburst of condolences across the country. Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj S Bommai remembered the business magnate as "a role model for young investors". Karnataka health minister K Sudhakar also paid tributes to the ace investor. The minister defined Jhunjhunwala as the Warren Buffet of India and he even paid condolences to his family. He was reported to be battling health issues.
In a shocking act, a man killed his estranged wife at a family court here on Saturday by allegedly slitting Chaitra's throat, police said. The family court was organised at Hole Narasipura to settle the discord among the couple where Chaitra (28) and Shivakumar (32) had also come. After the judge heard them, the court gave the couple the next date of hearing, Superintendent of Police R Srinivas Gowda told reporters.
Family members of a nine-year-old Dalit boy from Rajasthan, who died at a hospital in Ahmedabad on Saturday, alleged that he was mercilessly beaten by a teacher for drinking water from a pot meant for people from the upper caste. Police said the accused teacher, Chail Singh (40),has been arrested and a case under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST Act has been lodged.