Girish Karnad No More
Girish Karnad who passed away on 10 June 2019 at the age of 81, will be remembered as a multi-lingual actor who was known for his bohemian views and who often courted controversies for the same.
 
As late as 2016, he was seen in the movie Chalk-N-Duster that also starred Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla. He was seen in Salman Khan starrer Ek Tha Tiger too. He also acted with Hema Malini in the film Ratnadeep (1979) that was directed by Basu Chatterjee. Among all his Hindi film roles, he is still remembered for his role as the kind hearted Ghanshyam in Basu Chatterjee’s Swami (1977) and Shyam Benegal's Manthan (1976) that was based on Dr Verghese Kurien's valiant attempts to establish a milk co-operative in Anand. Swami was based on a novel by Bengali writer Sarat Chandra Chatterjee and the film won rave reviews.
 
The film was produced by Jaya Chakravarthy, Hema Malini’s mother. The songs "Pal Bhar Mein Yeh Kya" and "Ka Karoon Sajni Aaye Na Balam" are still popular among cine goers.
 
Born on 19 May 1938, Karnad’s oeuvre was vast. He was an actor, film director, writer, playwright and a Rhodes scholar. His villainous roles in Tamil movies like Naan adimai Illai (1986) and Kadalan (1995) are still remembered. 
 
 
He received the Jnanpith award in 1998. He is considered to be a modern playwright in Kannada on the lines of Vijay Tendulkar (Marathi), Badal Sarkar (Bengali) and Mohan Rakesh (Hindi). He was also conferred the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the government of India and won four Filmfare Awards for Kannada films.
 
Karnad was born in Matheran and his father Dr Raghunath Karnad was a medical practitioner. His family moved to Dharwad in Karnataka in 1952. He worked briefly for Oxford University Press and then got involved in theatre. He was the director of FTII between 1974 and 1975 and served as the Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi from 1988 to 1993.
 
Karnad’s foray into Kannada literature was marked by a story in the Mahabharata called Yayati. It was published in 1961 and won rave reviews. His play Tughlaq (1964) won critical acclaim. His other plays like Hayavadana (1971) and Naga Mandala (1988) added more fame to his repertoire.
 
His Kannada debut was in the movie Samskara (1970) that won the President’s Golden Lotus award. He directed a movie Vamsha Vriksha (1971) which won him a national award. Among the Hindi films that he was seen in, Nishaant (1975), Manthan (1976) and Swami (1977) remain notable. Winner of several national and state awards, Karnad proved that he was a man to watch out for.
 
 
Intrepid as he was, Karnad was one who was blunt and always called a spade a spade. In 2012 at an awards function, he made a scathing attack on VS Naipaul for his hatred towards Indian Muslims. Later he commented that Rabindranath Tagore was someone who had got more than what he deserved and condemned him for his plays of “poor quality”. He also carried a torch for Tipu Sultan and his comments that the Bangalore airport should have been named after Tipu Sultan created uproar in Bangalore.
 
Karnad is survived by his wife Saraswathi (who hails from Coorg) and son Raghu.
 
(After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi Seshachalam started her second career innings as a head-hunter. She is passionate about Hindi movies and loves retro music. When her family shifted to Chennai in the 80s, Bhagya had a taste of Tamil cinema too. In the long term, she plans a book on two of her favourite directors – Guru Dutt and K Balachander. She travels across the country on work and is based in Mysore.)
 
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    COMMENTS

    Vydehi

    2 months ago

    Oh my god this man was unbelievable - a maverick to the core! His controversial life apart, I think he was a good actor. Among all his films, I liked him in "Swami" and "Teri Kasam" where he was cast opposite Ranjeeta Kaur.

    Ramesh Poapt

    2 months ago

    mam, this is fast track article indeed but good. lots off missed. he was in Asha,a good
    role! in Godhuli? he was excellent in 'manthan'. yes in 'sur sangam' as well.was in a film
    of kumar gaurav/poonam d. he was in dev anand's 'manpasand', not a good one.
    . i will request to write about 'tughlag' and 'hayavadan'.

    murugu selvan

    2 months ago

    world is better off

    Nehru & the Story of Indian Automobiles - II
    As we have seen in the first part of this article, when Jawaharlal Nehru came to power in 1951, after India’s first general elections, India already had a fledgling automobile industry. So, what were the options that Nehru had? He could either shut them down or encourage them, yet make sure that they were sustainable. 
     
    The year 1951 was a landmark for the industry, when the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act (IDRA) was enacted. The Act required an entrepreneur to get a licence to set up a new unit, to expand it, or to change the product mix. 
     
    The purpose of this system of licensing was to create a planned pattern of investment, to minimise resource waste, to counteract monopolies and the concentration of wealth and to maintain regional balances. All very good intentions; but good intentions are one thing and their execution (specifically in India) is another. 
     
    In the automotive sector, execution meant that the right to make different kinds of automobiles was restricted to a handful of manufacturers. Mahindra & Mahindra had to concentrate only on Jeeps. TELCO received a licence to make only trucks. So did Ashok Motors, which had to give up its assembling of the Austins. 
     
    Austin, in the meantime, had merged with Morris, the collaborator of Hindustan Motors (HM), and the Nuffied Organisation in 1952 to form the British Motor Corporation (BMC). Similarly, Bombay-based Automotive Products of India (API), which had an assembly operation for another British brand, Hillman from the Rootes group, from 1949, received a licence to manufacture scooters. So, in 1955, API switched to manufacturing of Lambretta scooters (instead of assembling the Hillman), in collaboration with Innocenti of Italy.   
     
    If America could have its ‘Big Three’, India had its ‘Little Three’—Hindustan Motors, Premier Automobiles and a Madras-based assembler, Union Motor Company, which had set-up an assembly line in 1949, after getting a licence to make cars (and which had signed up with another British car-maker Standard Motor Company). The government’s thinking was that there should be at most one car-maker at each of India’s three major ports. 
     
     
    What Nehru and the Indian government did—to restrict the licence of manufacturing automobiles to a handful of private enterprises—is exactly what Japan did during the same time, and is what South Korea would eventually do two decades later. It may also be interesting to note that the permissions to assemble/manufacture cars were granted only to the zaibatsus and chaebols (the oligopolistic big family businesses in Japan and South Korea).   
     
    Japan did allow a ‘free for all’ for the motorised two-wheeler industry and by the late-1950s as many as 50-odd two-wheeler manufacturers set up factories. Intense competition ended in a bloodbath and just five (Honda, Hodaka, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha) survived into the later-1960s. 
     
    In 1954, the Indian government realised that there were some 60-odd models of cars (mostly imported) selling in a market, which barely aggregated 20,000 sales per year. Clearly, with competition from imported vehicles, the fledgling auto industry could not survive. The import of automobiles and components as well, was a serious drain on foreign exchange. With self-sufficiency as the mantra of Nehru and the government then, it was decided, in 1954, that high import tariff for automobiles and components was necessary to support localisation and growth of the automobile industry. Consequently, GM and Ford stopped their assembly operations that year. 
     
    With the eventual objective of complete localisation, the three Indian car-makers decided that it would be prudent to concentrate on one specific model, for which they acquired the tooling from their respective collaborators. It also made sense to phase out the assembling of the slow-selling Studebakers and Chrysler Corporation cars, which is what Hindustan Motors and Premier Automobiles did, respectively, by the end of the 1950s. 
     
    From the beginning of the 1960s, it was a case of — ‘you can have any car you please as long as it is a Hindustan Ambassador or a Fiat 1100 or a Standard Herald’! 
     
     
    Yet, less than a decade after IDRA was enacted in 1951, the year when the ‘Licence Raj’ came into being, many of the who’s who in the corridors of power had begun to question whether the system actually benefited the people. 
     
    One school of thought was that passenger cars per se should be a low priority item for industrial growth and progress; two-wheelers, buses and commercial vehicles were significantly more important than cars, a product available only to the very rich at that point of time. At the same time, politicians expressed concern about the cost and prices of the cars made then. At a price of Rs12,000 for the Hindustan Ambassador (Rs11,554 plus taxes), the car represented 40 years of an average Indian’s salary then! 
     
    The Fiat 1100 Select and the Standard Ten were marginally cheaper at Rs10,566 and Rs9,988, respectively, they were very expensive luxuries for the Indian masses. Though localisation had just about begun, it was still a long way from a situation where the import of components was not a drain on foreign exchange which had become very scarce by the late-1950s. 
     
    In 1959, with the country facing a serious foreign exchange crunch, the Nehru government looked at ways to cut imports. Swadeshi, localisation, other than being a populist ideological buzzword, was also a necessity, so the government set up a committee in April 1959, under LK Jha, an additional secretary in the commerce ministry at that point of time, to look into the possibility of making a lower-cost ‘people’s car’.
     
    The Jha committee concluded that it would be possible to make an inexpensive ‘people’s car’ at a target price of around Rs5,000 to Rs6,000 (the equivalent of Rs1.8 lakh in current value). This was about half the prevailing price of cars then, and that the demand for such a car could well be over 10,000 units per year. 
     
    Submitted in February 1960, the Jha committee recommended that the car should be small, yet roomy, sturdy and capable of carrying an average Indian family. The conclusions of the Jha committee had the Indian government enthused enough for the then minister of industry to announce in Parliament that, “we will have the people’s car, of the people, manufactured by the people, for the people of this country.” 
     
    Despite such enthusiasm, in the following year, the government decided to set up another committee, this time under the chairmanship of the retired chairman of the Railway Board, G Pandey, to look into the feasibility of the ‘people’s car’ project. 
     
    The Pandey committee concluded that it was, indeed, feasible and recommended that the car be made in collaboration with French car-maker Renault. The fact that Renault was (French) government-owned may have influenced Pandey committee’s recommendations.
     
    The government of India began discussions with Renault. What brought an end to those negotiations was the reaction of the then deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, VK Krishnamachari, who believed that greater priority needed to be given to bicycles, scooters, buses and trucks. 
     
     
    Then, on 9 August 1962, the minister for steel and mines, C Subramaniam stated in Lok Sabha that, “the small car project cannot be moved up in any list of priorities. The priority in the field of automobiles for some time to come ought to be definitely and overwhelmingly in favour of the manufacturers of commercial vehicles which will provide the base for transport of goods and public transport.”   
     
    Incidentally, the numbers for the Indian marketplace was not impressive: though the sales of cars had gone up from a very modest 14,688 in 1950 to 26,800 in 1958 (a most impressive growth of 82% in eight years), achieving a volume of even an additional 10,000 (an unviable figure nonetheless) for a fourth car-maker looked a tad too ambitious. 
     
    After the war with China in 1962 and other matters of greater import coming up, even by 1964, when Nehru passed away, no decision had been taken regarding the ‘people’s car’ project. The story of how the ‘people’s car’ project came by should be for another day.
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    COMMENTS

    saimagesh raman

    4 weeks ago

    I hope the term ‘people’s car’ came from Hitler (FolksWagen), which became a successful luxury car in later years after WW2!.

    HPPL HPP

    2 months ago


    THE THINKING THEN ------ PROFIT IS A DIRTY WORD ---
    EXCERPT ---
    "Tata did not approve of Nehru’s economic policies. Nehru once told Tata that he hated the word profit. “Jawaharlal, I am talking about the need of the public sector making a profit,” Tata shot back.

    “Never talk to me about the word profit; it is a dirty word,” Nehru retorted.

    REPLY

    shadi katyal

    In Reply to HPPL HPP 4 weeks ago

    Tata and Nehru were like Fire and oil. I recall our discussion on this subject decades ago and Tata was disappointed that Nehru will not allow him to expand and modify his steel mill when India needs such products but rather went for Bhillia .
    The only favour Nehru did for TATA was to let his wife start her beuaty products.

    shadi katyal

    2 months ago

    Nehru idea of car was that it is a luxury and there are more important needs like feeding the population. Total capacity was limited to 20,000 cars
    I do recall very well as it was my cousin Rajender Sikka who was the planning and manufacturing engineer and was sent to USA to buy necessary equipment from Detroit and Beloit.
    The car was manufactured at Calcutta plant and was driven by road for delivery to other cities. The industry was infant and thus lack of foreign exchange did not help and yet the only car which lasted for so long in the market aaccepted it as an official car of GOI

    Doosri Sita: Jaya Salvages Lurid Plot
    As Jaya Bhaduri and Amitabh Bachchan celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary this month (3rd June), let us have a look at Doosri Sita (The Second Sita), one of Jaya Bhaduri’s lesser-known films that was released after her marriage in 1973. 
     
    The film was directed by Gogi Anand and produced by BK Khanna. The music by RD Burman had only one memorable number – “Tu Jahan Mile Mujhe” (presumably shot in Mazgaon dockyard, Mumbai). Lyrics were written by Gulzar but surprisingly the other songs do not connect with you and leave little impact. Nitin Mukesh’s rendering of “Tu Jahan Mile Mujhe” is insipid and lacks rhythm and finesse.
     
    Sita Wagle (Jaya Bhaduri) is in love with Ramesh (Romesh Sharma) but the latter considers her as a friend. Sita is the daughter of Ramesh’s beloved teacher (A K Hangal). When Ramesh doesn’t reciprocate her feelings, Sita is forced to marry another man who turns out to be a rogue. He not only harasses her physically and mentally but also forces her to provide sex to his friend. A highly incensed Sita ends up murdering her husband. What follows is a court case that keeps dragging because Sita refuses to open up and reveal the truth. The jail authorities discover that Sita is pregnant. Her lawyer (Simi Garewal) fights hard for her and eventually, Sita is released on parole. She delivers a baby and refuses to even touch the baby but persistent attempts by Ramesh makes her thaw. Ramesh realizes that he too is in love with her and is hopeful of securing a release for Sita so that he can marry her. But how could a movie in the mid-’70s have had a happy ending? 
     
     
    The film has a supporting cast of Raza Murad, Lalita Pawar, Mohan Chotti, Kuljit, Praveen Paul and Sudhir. But let us admit it – the film is macabre and is watchable only because of its leading lady’s screen presence.
     
    Not much is known about Gogi Anand except that he was related to the legendary actor Dev Anand. He was Jaya Bhaduri’s classmate in FTII. His original name was Alokmitra Anand. He also directed “Double Cross” a movie that released in 1973 and starred Rekha and Vijay (Goldie) Anand.
     
    Romesh Sharma, the lead actor in Doosri Sita, was born in Gurdaspur in 1947. His father Brij Sharma was a film distributor.  Just like Gogi Anand and Jaya Bhaduri, Romesh is also an alumnus of FTII. He produced the movie “Hum” that starred Amitabh Bachchan, Kimi Katkar, Rajinikanth, Deepa Sahi, and Govinda. In the process, he became family friends with the Bachchans.
     
     
    As an actor, Romesh Sharma’s oeuvre was limited – Parinay (with Shabana Azmi), The Burning Train (with Padmini Kapila) and Sajjo Rani (with Rehana Sultan). But being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he had good innings as a film producer before he migrated to Australia in the ’90s.  He launched his son Karan Sharma in the 2005 film “Dil Jo Bhi Kahey” but the film tanked at the box office despite the presence of stalwarts like Amitabh Bachchan and Revathy. The film was directed by Romesh Sharma but had a weak script that damaged its box office prospects.
     
    Doosri Sita had a limited run at the box office, thanks to the lurid plot, poor production values, and a predictable ending. It is clear that the otherwise choosy Jaya Bhaduri would have agreed to play this role only because it was helmed by her FTII colleague. Kudos to her magnanimity! It is amazing how all the FTII alumni have such strong bonding, unlike today's college students who forget their friends as soon as they finish college and enter the job market.
     
    When a journalist went to meet Jaya Bhaduri-Bachchan in the ’80s to discuss and review the films that she had done, Jaya exclaimed, “27 films – is that all what I have done?” Today that number may have increased slightly but the fact is that Bollywood lost one of its charming and bubbly actresses to matrimony.  Jaya Bhaduri-Bachchan will continue to be remembered in the annals of Bollywood film history as the girl-next-door with a squeaky clean image and great acting prowess.
     
    If any readers have any information about Gogi Anand, please share the same in the "comments" column.
     
    (After working in the corporate world for close to two decades, Bhagyalakshmi Seshachalam started her second career innings as a head-hunter. She is passionate about Hindi movies and loves retro music. When her family shifted to Chennai in the 80s, Bhagya had a taste of Tamil cinema too. In the long term, she plans a book on two of her favourite directors – Guru Dutt and K Balachander. She travels across the country on work and is based in Mysore.)
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    COMMENTS

    Vydehi

    2 months ago

    Thanks for the nice review Ms Seshachalam. I am based in Chennai. Can you please review 'Door Ka Rahi' 1971 movie of Kishore Kumar and also Jayaji's Piya Ka Ghar? This is a request Madam.

    Ramesh Poapt

    2 months ago

    sorry about gogi, but i did see the movie.
    excellent fact-full article!nostalgic flashback,wow!! thanks.

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