Sunday, November 5, 2017

An Urdu Translation of a Kiran Desai Novel by Talat Afroze

I am a big fan of Kiran Desai's style of story telling ... I am working on an Urdu translation of Kiran Desai's first novel, "Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard."

A Brief Biographical Sketch of Kiran Desai (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Kiran Desai (born 3 September 1971) is an Indian author. Her novel The Inheritance of Loss won the 2006 Man Booker Prize[1] and the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award.[

Kiran Desai is the daughter of Anita Desai, herself short-listed for the Booker Prize on three occasions. She was born in Chandigarh on 3 September, and spent the early years of her life in Pune and Mumbai. She studied in the Cathedral and John Connon School. She left India at 14, and she and her mother then lived in England for a year, and then moved to the United States, where she studied creative writing at Bennington College, Hollins University, and Columbia University.

Her first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, was published in 1998 and received accolades from such notable figures as Salman Rushdie.[4] It won the Betty Trask Award,[5] a prize given by the Society of Authors for the best new novels by citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations under the age of 35.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Who Silenced Progressive Writers, Thinkers of Pakistan?

 A facebook friend opined on his facebook timeline that famous Pakistani fiction writers Mumtaz Mufti and Ashfaq Ahmed were worse than the Latin American drug lords El Chapo and Pablo Escobar. Here is my reply to this statment, where I explain that it wasn't just Mumtaz Mufti and Ashfaq Ahmed or Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi or Fahmida Riaz or Faiz Ahmad Faiz or Habib Jalib or Qamar Yurish (labor leader whose book of pen sketches, Yaraan e Maikada, mentions how he and others were tortured by the Pakistan Establishment) or Mohammed Aslam Muznib or Hassan Nasir (revolutionary poet, Sec. General Communist Party of Pakistan who was tortured to death in 1960 on General Ayub Khan's direct orders) but in fact all leading Pakistani thinkers, poets and fiction writers, non-fiction writers (historians, political analysts, political cartoonists) who were silenced by the Pakistan Generals who have been ruling Pakistan since the 1950s with the help of a brutal cadre of spy agencies, secret operatives, torture cells to the extent that in the Pakistan of 2017 we have university professors abducted in broad daylight from an Islamabad campus, tortured, forced to sign documents accepting a liftime ban on operating any social media web site and banished from Pakistan. In modern day Pakistan, groups of fanatics openly lynch progressive minded, liberal thinking students like Mashal Khan, where political activists like Sabeen Mahmud are killed on the streets of Karachi, where outspoken lead journalists like Hamid Mir are shot 8 times by assailants on a busy road in Karachi, where Pakistan is considered the most dangerous country for journalists . . . So, it is not the fault of Mumtaz Mufti or Ashfaq Ahmed that they became silent but that of Pakistan Generals who silenced them with coercion and threats of torture . . .

Operation Condor was a campaign of political repression and state terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents, which started in 1968 and was officially implemented in 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America. 

An excerpt from Fehmida Raiz's long poem .... Kyaa Tum Poora Chaand Naa Daykho Gay?

 Mohammed Hanif wrote a novel in 2008 entitled A Case of Exploding Mangoes describing the events leading up to the suspected/alleged assassination of Pakistan's dictator, General Ziaul Haq

My Urdu language literary web site Dareechah has a web page dedicated to Pakistan's labor leader and short story writer Qamar Yurish

I urge Pakistan's political activist and poet, Yousuf Hassan to continue describing the struggles of Pakistan's Progressive Writers Movment in Pakistan from 1947 to the present time ...
What is happening to Pakistan's thinkers, writers, poets, political activists is just like Galileo's persecution by the Catholic Church ...

Friday, September 23, 2016

Excerpts from my Urdu Novel

2016 September: I have started work on my first Urdu novel ... you may scroll down to read the first draft of a chapter from this novel ... this first image is of the Urdu text as it appears on my eBook Reader Kindle Fire ...

2017 May 21st Update: Have written a Prologue to my Urdu novel  which is under preparation ... the Prologue is in the form of a poem . . . here is the Urdu text of this Introductory passage to my novel ...

             نظم  :       گم  شدہ 
                 طلعت   افروز
    ہم  گم  شدہ   ہیں 
    اور   اِدھر   اُدھر   دیکھتے 
   کچھ   پہچاننے  کی  کوشش  کرتے  چل  رہے  ہیں  
    بھٹک   رہے   ہیں  
    ہمارے   اردگرد    . . .    ہَوا     میں 
    بچھڑی  دیواروں  کی   ادھوری   شبیہیں  اُبھر  رہی   ہیں
    جن   کی  کھُردری   قدیمی  سطحوں   پر
    مِٹے   مِٹے   رنگوں   والے   نقش   جھلکتے   ہیں 
    اور   پھر   یہ   عکس  
    ہَوا   کے  جھونکوں   میں  تحلیل   ہو  جاتے   ہیں
    ہم   اپنے   پرانے   گھروں  کو   ڈھونڈتے
     بِسری    گلیوں   میں   آ   نکلے   ہیں 
    ہماری   نگاہیں   متلاشی   ہیں 
    اپنی  گلی   کے   پرانے   درختوں  کی
    املتاس    کے  پیلے   پھولوں  کے  ڈولتے   لچّھوں  کی 
    مولسری  کی  کلیوں  کی  پھیلتی   مہکار   کی  
     یوکلپٹس  کے    لہراتے،  گہرے  سبز،  لمبے   مخروطی   پتّوں  کی  
    بارش  کے  بعد  کی   گیلی   مٹّی   میں   پڑی   نیم   کی  نم کولیوں  کی  

     ہم   گلی   میں   کھیلتے   بچّوں  کو   
     سوالیہ  حسرت      سے   پہچاننے   کے   جتنوں   میں   ہیں 
     کیا   یہ  ہم   ہی   تو   نہیں   ہیں     . . .    ؟
     پرانے   محلّے  داروں   کو   روک  کر   اُن   سے
     بڑی   توجہ   سے 
     واپس   لوٹ   آنے   کا   رستہ   سمجھ   رہے   ہیں  
     گُزری   برساتیں   پھر   سے    برسانے  کی   تمنّا 
اِک  سیاہ    گھٹا    کی   مانند   ہماری   آنکھوں   میں   اُمڈ   رہی   ہے
 ہمیں   گِلہ   ہے  
  کسی    نے   بھی   تو   اپنے    راز  
           ہم   سے   سانجھے   نہیں   کیے   ہیں
     ہمارے   سنگ   سنگ   چلنے   والے   
     اپنے   اپنے   رازوں  کو  سینوں   میں   چُھپائے  
     بڑھتے   آتے   دوراہوں   پر  
  اِک    اِک  کر   کے 
     کسی   دوسری   طرف   نکلتے   گئے   ہیں   
      وُہ   کیا   راز   تھے  . . .    ؟  
      اُن   خفیہ   حقیقتوں   سے 
      جانے   ہمارے   دن  کیا   رنگ   اختیار  کر   جاتے   . . .    ؟ 
      اور   ہم   سب  کیسی    انوکھی    جوُن    میں    آ    جاتے   . . .    ؟ 
  ہمارے   آسمان    پر   اِک   رات    طاری   ہے 
    ہَوا    ٹھہری   ہوئی   ہے
    اور  تارے  ہمیں   ٹُکر       ٹُکر    دیکھے   جا تے   ہیں
    تنہا   چاند  ہی   ہمارا   ہم  راز  ہے
    ہماری   راہوں   پہ   بچھی   ٹھنڈی   ریت 
    ہمارے  پیروں  کو  چھوُ  رہی  ہے 
    ہم  سفر   چاند  کی  دوست  کرنیں
    ہمارے  کاندھے   پہ   دلاسے  کا   لمس   ہیں
    اور  راہ   کی   ریت  کو   جگمگا   رہی   ہیں
    اِک   دلگیر  خاموشی  کی   چھاؤں   میں
    ہم   اکیلے   چل   رہے   ہیں
    ہم   سب   گُم    ہیں  
    اور  کچھ   کھوج   رہے   ہیں  
    بھٹک   رہے   ہیں   
                                  مئی 14 سے مئی 20،  2017    ۔  ٹورونٹو۔

Here is the Urdu text as jpeg images ...

Sunday, April 17, 2016

شادی شدہ لوگ اور اُن کے دفنائے گئے خواب

 گیان دیو اگنی ہوتری کا مکالماتی جادو

ؐMarried People and their Dreams

Magical Dialogue Written by Gyan Dev Agnihotri

Opening Scene of Indian Art Film "Avishkaar" 

(Avishkaar (Hindi)= to discover the Truth; Urdu = Aashkaaraa honaa)

 Opening Scene Dialogue by Gyan Dev Agnihotri

Opening Scene of Art Film Avishkaar on my YouTube channel "Goonj"

Gyan Dev Agnihotri wrote all the dialogues and was the Assistant Director for this 1973 Indian Art Film Avishkaar, conceived, written (screenplay) and directed by Basu Bhattacharya. The music was composed by Geeta Dutt's brother Kanu Roy for two beautiful songs "Hansnay kee chaah nay kitnaa mujhay rulaayaa hai" (Manna Dey) and "Nainaa hain pyaasay meray" (Asha Bhosle) both written by Kapil Kumar. The classical song "Babul Moraa Naihar Chhootoe jaayay" written by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (ruler of Awadh, Mughal India) in the mid-1880s and sung to critical acclaim by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and to popular acclaim by Kundan Laal Saigal (1938 movie "Street Singer") was also included in the movie "Avishkaar"... here it was sung by Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh and helped revive this old song's magic to enrich the movie.
Avijit Ghosh, Senior Editor, The Times of India, mentions interesting anecdotes about the making of "Avishkaar" in his 2013 book ("40 Retakes: Bollywood Classics You May Have Missed" Tranquebar Press and also available as an eBook on Google Play Books) including the fact that Kapil Kumar wrote "Hansnay kee chaah nay kitnaa mujhay rulaayaa hai" while riding a Bombay mass transit bus and used the backs of bus tickets to write the lyrics that were coming to him and later showed it to Basu who immediately liked it and included it in Avishkaar as a song.

Basu Bhattacharya had always been obsessed with the subject of marital discord (made three movies on marital discord: Anubhav, Avishkaar and Griha Pravesh). Basu got the idea of Avishkaar from watching the five hour Art Film "Scenes From A Marriage" starring actress Liv Ulmann and directed by Ingmar Bergman.Basu wanted Avishkaar to be true to his own life and wrote many scenes which were taken from his actual marital life and even shot the whole movie at his apartment in Bombay with some scenes at the church and park where he and his wife (Rinky Roy, daughter of Bimal Roy) actually met at dawn one day before their marriage.

Description courtesy of Wikipedia:

Avishkaar is a 1974 Hindi movie. Produced and directed by Basu Bhattacharya the film stars Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. The film was the part of Basu BHattacharya's introspective trilogy on marital discord in an urban setting, which included Anubhav (1971) and Griha Pravesh (1979)[1] The movie was critically acclaimed with critics giving it five out of five stars in the Bollywood guide Collections.[2]

SYNOPSIS:  Amar and Mansi are in love, and decide to get married. They do so, and still continue to be in love. They get to their first wedding anniversary, and decide to hire a taxi-cab for a day, just to drive around and have fun. Thereafter, to their joy they are blessed with a child. But then their bliss is cut short, when Amar starts work with his advertising agency, which grooms beautiful young women, to further their careers as models, and both cannot stand each other anymore.
Amar (Rajesh Khanna) works in an Ad Agency, One night when he is alone in his office, Rita one of the staff walks in and invites him to join her for a movie. Back home, Mansi (Sharmila Tagore) is at home with her Child and Margarette, the maid. Sunil, Amar’s childhood friend comes home with flowers and wishes her. It’s Amar’s and Mansi’s wedding anniversary and they don’t remember it themselves.
They think of their carefree days when they were madly in love with each other, when nothing seemed impossible. They start off with an ideal marriage; their small world is brimming with love and is perfect. A whole year and they are still happy with each other. On their second anniversary they decide it’s time to extend their family and plan to have a child.
Amar starts finding fault in everything that Mansi does even suspecting that there’s something going on between Mansi and Sunil. Mansi also knows about Rita. Amar wishes Mansi was as understanding as Rita. But though there are problems they sort them out.
Mansi gets up the following morning when the milkman comes. And when she goes out she sees the flowers that Amar had left outside the previous night. Amar comes from behind and sees her pick them up, he hugs her and they walk in together.

Abdullah Hussein, Urdu Novelist, passes away in Lahore, Pakistan on 4th July, 2015

Excerpts from Abdullah Hussein's Urdu language Novels

              I first read Abdullah Hussein's 1963 debut Urdu novel "Udaas Naslein" (English version "The Weary Generations) sometime during 1979-1981 when I was an M.Sc. student in the Biological Sciences department of Quaid e Azam University, Islamabad.  Social buzz about this novel, which was an instant best seller in Pakistan when it was first published by the avant-garde Lahore publisher Nazir Ahmed Chaudhry ("Naya Idara" publishers; also published the leading Urdu literary journal "Savayraa") had always been very positive ... words like ground breaking, brilliant, cutting edge being used to praise it. It also won the most prestigious literary prize in Pakistan, the Adam Jee Award.
            I heard about "Udaas Naslein" and Abdullah Hussein in 1969 from listening to my parents' drawing room conversations as a 10-year old book worm addicted to children's Urdu novels published by Feroze Sons Publishers. We had just rented the lower portion of a house at Lodge Road, Old Anarkali (just 50 yards away from Lady Maclagan Girls High School where Bollywood Diva Kamini Kaushal had studied in the 1940s and where ghazal singer Farida Khanum's daughters studied around late 1960s or early 1970s, according to a short story by Shabnam Shakeel) ... but I digress  ... a bad habit of mine ... There was an "Aanaa Library" (lending library with a subscription of one Aanaa ... roughly Pak Rs.10 or 10 US cents of 2015) in our neighborhood and I tried renting out Udaas Naslein but all the copies were always lent out. My chance to read Udaas Naslein came in 1979 when I would leave my Quaid e Azam University Men's Hostel every weekend with my bag of dirty laundry and come to my Uncle's (Ahmad Ashfaq, younger brother of Urdu poet Ahmad Mushtaq) house to spend the weekend. I borrowed a copy of Udaas Naslein from my Phoopho Jaan and enjoyed it immensely. Some of the passages were so haunting that they echoed within me for many months afterwards.
           Udaas Naslein was later translated into English by Abdullah Hussein himself and published in 2003 by Peter Owens Publishers, UK via Hussein's literary agent Simon Smith. It was reviewed in 2010 by Kirkus and is now available in English as "The Weary Generations" from Amazon.  

Talat's Cinema Notes: "Brooklyn" and "Rajni Gandha"

(with allusions to "Manhattan" and "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore")

بہت عرصے بعد چند فلمیں دیکھنے کا موقعہ ملا۔ 2015 کی کینیڈین فلم بروکلِن دیکھی جس میں ایک عورت کو دو مردوں کے درمیان انتخاب کرتے ہوئے دکھایا گیا ہے۔ ۔ ۔

بالکل اُسی طرح جیسےبھارتی متوازی سینما کی فلم "رجنی گندھا" میں مرکزی کردار والی عورت کو دو مردوں میں انتخاب کرتے ہوئے دکھایا گیا ہے

دوسری جانب ووڈی ایلن کی فلم مین ہیٹن میں ووڈی ایلن کے کردار کو دو عورتوں میں انتخاب کرتے دکھایا گیا ہے۔اِس فلم میں جب ایک عورت کسی اور کو پسند کر لیتی ہے تو مرد بھاگا بھاگا دوسری عورت کے پاس جاتا ہے اور اُسے تعلیم کے لئے چھ ماہ  کے لئے لندن جانے سے روکنے کی کوشش کرتا ہے کیونکہ اُسے یقین ہے کہ وہاں اُسے دوسرے مرد ملیں گے اور اِس عرصے میں وُہ اُسے ہمیشہ کے لئے کھو دے گا۔  عورت اُسے بھروسہ کرنے پر اُکساتی ہے مگر مرد کو وقت کے ساتھ آنے والی تبدیلی پر زیادہ اعتماد ہے  اور فلم دونوں کے جدا ہونے اور چھ ماہ کے بعد ملنے کے وعدے  پر ختم ہوتی ہے۔

اِسی طرح امریکی ہدایت کار مارٹن سکور سیزی کی فلم
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"
میں ایلس اپنے شوہر کی موت کے بعد اپنے گھر اور قریبی سہیلی اور ہمسائی کو چھوڑ کر اپنے بچپن کے قصبے مونٹیرے کیلی فونیا میں ایک گلوکارہ بننے کے خواب کو پورا کرنے کے لئے جا رہی ہے۔ اپنی پیاری سہیلی کو چھوڑنا اُس کے لئے بہت مشکل ہے مگر اپنا خواب پورا کرنا بھی اہم ہے۔ اِس کشمکش میں خواب کی جیت ہوتی ہے۔ دونوں سہیلیوں کے بچھڑنے کا منظر بہت متاٰءثرکن ہے۔  ایلس اپنی سہیلی کو خط لکھنے کا وعدہ کرتی ہے مگر سہیلی جواب دیتی ہے کہ سب بچھڑتے وقت یہی کہتے ہیں مگر کوئی بھی خط نہیں لکھتا۔  

Description of Indian Parallel Cinema Movie Rajni Gandha from Wikipedia:

Rajni Gandha (Translation: Tuberose) is a Hindi movie directed by Basu Chatterjee and released in 1974. It is based on story "Yehi Sach Hai" by noted Hindi writer Manu Bhandari.[1][2]
The movie stars Amol Palekar, Vidya Sinha and Dinesh Thakur in the lead. Rajnigandha won the Best Picture, the Popular Award and the Critics Award at the Filmfare Awards in 1975.
Rajnigandha was considered to have a realistic outlook on cinema in 1974, an era when potboilers were ruling Bollywood. The film was the first screen role of Vidya Sinha and first Hindi film of Amol Palekar, both of whom went on to work with Basu Chatterjee in many films.
Plot summary
Deepa (Vidya Sinha) is a graduate student in Delhi who is in a long-term relationship with Sanjay (Amol Palekar), whom she plans to marry. Sanjay is a loquacious, humorous, and a good individual who is also rather lackadaisical and forgetful with no sense of punctuality.
A job interview call from a college in Mumbai re-acquaints her with Navin (Dinesh Thakur) whom she had split up with under acrimonious circumstances. Navin is in every way the antithesis of Sanjay: He is very punctual and looks after her during her stay in Mumbai. Navin shows her the city and helps her with the job interview. This rekindles Deepa's feelings for him, and she finds herself torn between the two men and between her past and her present. Upon her return to Delhi, she feels that her first love (Navin) is her true love. She receives a letter stating that she has got the job in Mumbai. At the same time Sanjay comes to her house and tells her that he has got a promotion. Deepa then feels that she should forget the past and get married to Sanjay.

Description of the 2015 movie Brooklyn from Wikipedia... modified by Talat Afroze:

2015 Irish-British-Canadian drama directed by John Crowley and written by Nick Hornby, based on Colm Tóibín's novel of the same name. The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, and Julie Walters. Set in 1951 and 1952, the film tells the story of a young Irish woman's immigration to Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a romance and the young man introduces her to his parents and eventually also shows her the plot of land in Long Island where he hopes to build a house for her. When her elder sister dies unexpectedly, she has to return to Ireland but her new found Italian-American lover pressures her to get married before she goes back.  Upon arriving back in Ireland, her home town reacts differently and in a much better way to her and she receives the attentions of a young middle class Irish man whom she begins to like as well. She eventually has to choose between her young husband whom she has left behind in Brooklyn and her Irish suitor. She is confronted with a choice between two countries, two men and the lives that exist within them for her.
Brooklyn premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim.[4] It opened in limited release on 4 November 2015 in the United States and the UK on 6 November 2015.[5] The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Description of the 1974 movie "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" from Wikipedia: 

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore is a 1974 American comedy drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Robert Getchell. It stars Ellen Burstyn as a widow who travels with her preteen son across the Southwestern United States in search of a better life, along with Alfred Lutter as her son and Kris Kristofferson as a man they meet along the way. This is Martin Scorsese's fourth film. The film co-stars Billy "Green" Bush, Diane Ladd, Valerie Curtin, Lelia Goldoni, Lane Bradbury, Vic Tayback, Jodie Foster (in one of her earliest film appearances), and Harvey Keitel.

 Ellen Burstyn won the Academy Award for Best Actress and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance, and the film won the BAFTA Award for Best Film.

When Socorro, New Mexico housewife Alice Hyatt's uncaring husband Donald is killed in an accident, she decides to have a garage sale, pack what's left of her meager belongings and take her precocious son Tommy to her childhood hometown of Monterey, California, where she hopes to pursue the singing career she'd abandoned when she married.
Their financial situation forces them to take temporary lodgings in Phoenix, Arizona, where she finds work as a lounge singer in a seedy bar. There she meets the considerably younger and seemingly available Ben, who uses his charm to lure her into a sexual relationship that comes to a sudden end when his wife Rita confronts Alice. Ben breaks into Alice's apartment while Rita is there and physically assaults her for interfering with his extramarital affair. When Alice tells Ben to calm down, he threatens her also and further smashes up the apartment. Fearing for their safety, Alice and Tommy quickly leave town.
Having spent most of the little money she earned on a new wardrobe, Alice is forced to delay their journey to the West Coast and accept a job as a waitress in Tucson so she can accumulate more cash. At the local diner owned by Mel, she eventually bonds with her fellow servers—independent, no-nonsense, outspoken Flo and quiet, timid, incompetent Vera—and meets divorced local rancher David, who soon realizes the way to Alice's heart is through Tommy.
Still emotionally wounded from the difficult relationship she had with her uncommunicative husband and the frightening encounter she had with Ben, Alice is hesitant to get involved with another man so quickly. However, she finds out that David is a good influence on Tommy, who has befriended wisecracking, shoplifting, wine-guzzling Audrey, a slightly older girl forced to fend for herself while her mother makes a living as a prostitute.
Alice and David warily fall in love, but their relationship is threatened when Alice objects to his discipline of the perpetually bratty Tommy. The two reconcile, and David offers to sell his ranch and move to Monterey so Alice can try to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming another Alice Faye. In the end, Alice decides to stay in Tucson, coming to the conclusion that she can become a singer anywhere.

 Description of American movie "Manhattan" from Wikipedia:

Manhattan is a 1979 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Woody Allen and produced by Charles H. Joffe. The screenplay was written by Allen and Marshall Brickman. Allen co-stars as a twice-divorced 42-year-old comedy writer who dates a 17-year-old girl (Mariel Hemingway) but falls in love with his best friend's (Michael Murphy) mistress (Diane Keaton). Meryl Streep and Anne Byrne also star.
Manhattan was filmed in black-and-white and 2.35:1 widescreen. The film features music composed by George Gershwin, including Rhapsody in Blue, which inspired the idea behind the film. Allen described the film as a combination of his previous two films, Annie Hall and Interiors.[3]
The film was met with widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress for Hemingway and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for Allen and Brickman. Its North American box office receipts of $39.9 million made it Allen's second biggest box office hit (after adjusting for inflation). Often considered one of Allen's best films,[4][5] it ranks 46th on AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs list and number 63 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies". In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The film opens with a montage of images of Manhattan and other parts of New York City accompanied by George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, with Isaac Mortimer[6] Davis (Woody Allen) narrating drafts of an introduction to a book about a man who loves the city. Isaac is a twice-divorced, 42-year-old television comedy writer dealing with the women in his life who quits his unfulfilling job. He is dating Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), a 17-year-old girl attending the Dalton School. His best friend, college professor Yale Pollack (Michael Murphy), married to Emily (Anne Byrne), is having an affair with Mary Wilkie (Diane Keaton). Mary's ex-husband and former teacher, Jeremiah (Wallace Shawn), also appears. Isaac's ex-wife Jill Davis (Meryl Streep) is writing a confessional book about their marriage. Jill has also since come out of the closet as a lesbian and lives with her partner, Connie (Karen Ludwig).
When Isaac meets Mary, her cultural snobbery rubs him the wrong way. Isaac runs into her again at an Equal Rights Amendment fund-raising event at the Museum of Modern Art hosted by Bella Abzug (who is played by herself) and accompanies her on a cab ride home. They chat until sunrise in a sequence that culminates in the iconic shot of the Queensboro Bridge. In spite of a growing attraction to Mary, Isaac continues his relationship with Tracy but emphasizes that theirs cannot be a serious relationship and encourages her to go to London to study acting. In another iconic scene, at Tracy's request, they go on a carriage ride through Central Park.
After Yale breaks up with Mary, he suggests that Isaac ask her out. Isaac does, always having felt that Tracy was too young for him. Isaac breaks up with Tracy, much to her dismay, and before long, Mary has virtually moved into his apartment. Emily is curious about Isaac's new girlfriend, and after several meetings between the two couples, including one where Emily reads out portions of Jill's new book about her marriage with Isaac, Yale leaves Emily to resume his relationship with Mary. A betrayed Isaac confronts Yale at the college where he teaches, and Yale argues that he found Mary first. Isaac responds by discussing Yale's extramarital affairs with Emily, but Yale told her that Isaac introduced Mary to him. In the denouement, Isaac lies on his sofa, musing into a tape recorder about the things that make "life worth living". When he finds himself saying "Tracy's face", he sets down the microphone.
He leaves his apartment and sets out on foot for Tracy's. He arrives at the lobby of her family's apartment just as she is leaving for London. He says that she does not have to go and that he does not want "that thing about [her] that [he] like[s]" to change. She replies that the plans have already been made and reassures him that "not everybody gets corrupted" before saying "you have to have a little faith in people." He gives her a slight smile with a final coy look to the camera then segueing into final shots of the skyline with some bars of Rhapsody in Blue playing again. An instrumental version of "Embraceable You" plays over the credits.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

In 1989 Punjabi Intellectuals of Lahore launched a Punjabi daily newspaper "Sajjan"


(a 1989 Punjabi newspaper from Lahore for the people of Pakistani Punjab)

May 4, 2014

Celebrating Sajjan, a Punjabi newspaper that was closed down twenty two years ago 

It seems unreal — a legend, a folklore or storyline of a cliff-hanger — that a Lucknow-born, Urdu speaking renaissance man leads a group of passionate volunteers to launch their first ever mother language Punjabi newspaper in the Farsi script. It was the unparalleled dedication and commitment of those young enthusiasts which changed the language scene in Lahore and veteran journalist and activist Husain Naqi was the man. What a name they opted for: Sajjan (Friend, Partner, Soulmate), this Punjabi word makes me believe in love and life in the darkest of times.

Sajjan was launched on February 3, 1989 from Lahore with a meagre amount of Rs1,76,606 from ordinary Punjabi lovers. All the staff except a few office workers was voluntary and without allowances or perks. Many of them did day jobs in far-off cities, travelling hundreds of miles, spending from their own pocket and landing back in the Sajjan office every evening, working till late. For about 21 months they did this just for the sake of their mother language.

Ajeet Cour, a Lahore born, short story writer based in Delhi wrote about the endeavour, “I came to know about Zafaryab Ahmad, Jameel Paul, Iqbal Qaiser, Siddiq Babar, Abbas Ali Siddiqi, Ilyas Ghumman, Zubair Ahmad and other Punjabi enthusiasts who are working voluntarily for Punjabi newspaper Sajjan. In just eight months they are printing 30,000 copies and each copy is being read by forty odd people so their circulation has reached millions. Looking at their sincerity, dedication and passion, I wish to bow my head in respect.”

This effort will have entered the history books if ancient Harappans were still alive or the land of five rivers had not gradually dried up. Thanks to Iqbal Qaiser’s RãtãN HoiyãN VadyãN (Nights have got longer): Rvel publications, Lahore, 1992 that this love story is not all lost yet.

Iqbal Qaiser has done a great job by compiling the details immediately after the newspaper was closed down when all the memories were fresh and wounds open. He has not only collected day to day events but has also provided photographs, contributions and brief biographical sketches of all involved in this effort. They were from all over Punjab: Lahore, Kasur, Vehari, Sialkot, Toba Tek Singh, Sahiwal, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Khushab to the name the few. But friend Akram Varraich and his Wazirabad topped the list; there were above twelve volunteers from that one city. Mushtaq Soofi took leave from PTV to work at Sajjan’s editorial board and Zafar Jamal was there each evening after finishing his day at college. Najm Husain Syed, Shafqat Tanvir Mirza, Cartoonist Feeqa, Painter Ahmed Zoy, Maqsood Saqib, Waseem Dukhya and only female volunteer Najma Parveen Najmi along with many of their comrades were Sajjan’s support system.

Iqbal Qaiser elaborates how the Punjabi elite shunned them when they knocked at their doors for support. He has named and humiliated them from Fakhar Zaman, Hanif Ramay, Meraj Khalid, Aitzaz Ahsan, Abida Hussain to the Sharif brothers. Eventually they turned to ordinary public for help and the response was awesome: a housewife sent Rs100, a school boy promised to buy Sajjan from his pocket money, a painter offered to paint banners for free, theatre director Huma Safdar and short fiction writer Zoya Sajid donated their gold jewellery and a gentleman from Karachi even offered to sell his kidney to help.

Back in those days, they had no telephones, no tele printers and no advertisements and within first four months initial funds were exhausted:

“Vairee JãN Daa Kull Jahãn Hoya,
 Sajjan Ik Naa Aadmi Shehr Daa Ay”

 (Whole world has turned against me; I can’t find a single friend here).

Therefore, it was decided to print and appeal to its readers for their suggestions and help. Response was overwhelming, so price of the newspaper was increased, Sajjan committees were formed in all major cities and a street theatre play written by Raja Rasalu was launched to collect funds.
In those hard times alongside Benazir Bhutto’s federal government it was Sindh provincial government who came to their support offering them advertisements till the end. If there was one discouraging hand it was the provincial government of Punjab. On the first anniversary of Sajjan one of the banner carried a slogan coined by Aslam Dogar  

Shukriyya Punjab Sarkaar,
Ik saal wich Ik Ishtehaar 

(Thank you Punjab government for your generosity of giving us one ad in one year).

Sajjan also got support from National Press Trust and Syed Ajmal Hussain memorial trust but it was not enough to sustain the newspaper. The Marquezian moment was soon approaching and closure seemed inevitable. We experience a grievously sad scene when the final decision was made to seize its publication. Raja Rasalu is dragging himself downstairs, Iqbal Qaisar and Mustajab Gohar are sitting silently on the corners of the sofa and tears are flowing down their eyes and the reporting table is empty.

Was Sajjan an idea that never dies or failure of a community as a whole or success of the impossible? Will there ever be another Sajjan; who knows?

Sajjan was closed down twenty two years ago but we can still breathe the love and passion which was instilled in the air by those selfless Punjabis at the expense of their own lives, families and careers:

 “Tainu Hor Mandda Kee BolãN, 
  Vay Taira Kittay Neoh Lag Jã’ay” 

(Let me wish you the worst, May you fall in love).