Tilak Rishi's weblog

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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Happy Holi!

It was a holiday for Holi, the colorful festival of fun, frolics and friendship. We were fondly remembering how our son Alok's class friends would come on this day to play Holi, the game of spraying colors on each other. They would take him with them to another friend, and then to another and so on till they formed into a big group of Holi revelers driving on the roads of Delhi, drenching every one on their way. In the afternoon they would all come back to enjoy a big feast of food, made especially for the festival by my wife, Inderjeet. With Alok gone to America for higher studies, we were missing all the fun we had on this day, when the doorbell rang. We thought it must be some neighbor come to give customary greetings for the festival, but no, it was the most pleasant surprise of the moment to see the same group of Alok's friends at the door with all their clothes drenched in colored water. It was like the earlier years, they were returning after enjoying Holi and decided to stop by to pay their respects and greet us on this great occasion. After the very warm Holi hugs and symbolic applying of dry colors (Gulal) on our foreheads, they settled down to have tea and snacks with us. We were so overwhelmed and touched in our heart to hear Bawa, Alok's best friend, saying with obvious sincerity and affection before leaving:

“We miss Alok today as much as you must be missing him. We would try to visit more often, but definitely on Holi next year to enjoy the festival with you and relish Aunty's delicious delicacies . Think of us like Alok is still here with you.”

This is what Holi is all about. A day dedicated to love, affection and togetherness, irrespective of difference in age, gender, caste, creed or color. Not to speak of friends, including the estranged ones, meeting and having fun together on this festival, even enemies turn friends on this day. As the spring is on its last leg in the landscape, India cuts loose for a day for fun and hilarity amongst one and all. Holi is an excuse for Indians to shed inhibitions and caste differences for a day of spring fever and Big Fun. Teenagers spend the day flirting and misbehaving in the streets, adults extend the hand of peace, and everyone chases everyone else around, throwing brightly colored powder (gulal) and water over each other. Corresponding to the atmosphere of festivity during Holi is the decrease in inhibitions of the participants, both social and otherwise. The women especially enjoy a degree of freedom during the festival which is not otherwise available to them routinely. They deviate from the norms of conduct by boldly participating in the fun of color splashing on their male counterparts. This reversal of roles is interpreted as leading to greater love and understanding of the other. The festival's preamble begins on the night of the full moon. Bonfires are lit on street corners to cleanse the air of evil spirits and bad vibes, and to symbolize the destruction of the wicked Holika, for whom the festival was named. The following morning, the streets fill with people running, shouting, giggling and splashing. Marijuana-based bhang and thandai add to the uninhibited atmosphere. At noon, the craziness comes to an end and everyone heads to either the river or the shower, then inside to relax the day away and enjoy the festival delicacies in front of TV, telecasting special Holi songs from Hindi movies.

Holi and Bollywood, the Indian counterpart of Hollywood, have a long standing bondage. The Film Industry never forgets to set a stage on fire by producing new songs on Holi. All these film songs on Holi show how Bollywood has contributed a lot to our cultural festivities in a very delightful manner. Playful, mischievous and joyful – colorful Holi takes on so many hues. It becomes all the more vibrant, sensuous, glamorous and mysterious in the Bollywood movies. Onscreen Holi is celebrated to add rare sensuousness and spice to a film. A drenched sizzling heroine in white, pursued by the lovelorn hero along with jubilant junior artists, present a colorful spectacle onscreen. The naughty camera does justice to the heroine’s figure as she twirls and swirls to escape the splash of colors. Who can forget Mother India`s flirtatious Holi number – ‘Holi ayee re Kanhai’ and Navrang’s ‘Arrey ja re hath natkhat,’ which is all about sweet mischief. In Kati Patang, Rajesh Khanna declares his naughty mood through ‘Aaj na chhodenge bas hamjoli khelenge hum holi’ to the blushing Asha Parekh. In Dhanwan, Rajesh Khanna flirts unabashedly with Reena Roy, singing ‘Maaro bhar bhar bhar pichkari’. In Hello Brother, Salman Khan teases Rani Mukherjee in ‘Chandi ki daal par sone ka mor’ and in ‘Baaghbaan’, Amitabh celebrates Holi with the elegant Hema Malini in ‘Holi khele Raghuvira’. Ramesh Sippy used Holi to set a hillarious mood that would prevail when Gabbar Singh attacked the legendary village Ramgarh. Dharmendra and Hema Malini, along with the villagers, danced and celebrated Holi in the song ‘Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain, rango men rang mil jaate hain’ forgetting about the looming danger. In Yash Chopra films, Holi takes on a myriad tinge. The unforgettable ‘Rang Barse’ in Silsila effectively captures the conflicts, the romance and passion of the characters. Big B throws caution to the wind, as he croons the song penned by dad Harivansh Rai Bachchan and flirts recklessly with Rekha onscreen as Jaya and Sanjeev Kumar watch on. In Mashaal, the popular ‘Holi aayi holi aayi dekho holi aayee’ serves as the occasion for love reunion for Anil Kapoor and Rati Agnihotri as well as Dilip Kumar and Waheeda Rehman. In Darr, Chopra injects suspense and a sense of foreboding through ‘Ang se ang lagana sajan mohe aise rang lagana’, when the stalker Shah Rukh Khan disguises himself in Holi colors to steal a moment with Juhi Chawla. Chopra`s Mohabbatein too has a match-the couples Holi song, ‘Sohni sohni ankhiyon wali’, that went on to be a big hit. In Rajinder Singh Bedi`s poignantly penned Phagun, Holi celebration turns sour when Waheeda’s stinging remark makes the sensitive Dharmendra desert her and a long separation follows. But, the melodious ‘Phagun aayo re’ leaves an indelible impact on the audience mind. Music director Rajesh Roshan greatly contributed to Holi revelry through his ‘Mal de gulal mohe’ (Kaamchor), and Apne rang mein rang de (Aakhir Kyon?). Most recently, songs like ‘Koi bheega hai rang se’ from Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost, ‘Dekho aayi Holi’ from Mangal Pandey and ‘Do me a favour let`s play Holi’ from Waqt have carried forward the trend of Holi in films.

With Holi, the festival of colors, just a few days away (March 1, 2010), celebrations have already begun in the holy towns of Uttar Pradesh. Holi of Barsana, the birthplace of Radha, a village, 42 kms away from Mathura, is of particular interest. Here, men from Nandgaon, the land of Krishna come to play Holi with the women of Barsana and hope of raising their flag over Shri Radhikaji's temple. But, instead of colors they are greeted with sticks by the gopis. Hence, the Holi get its new name here-Lathmaar Holi. Smart enough, men come fully padded as they are fully aware what kind of welcome awaits them and also the fact that they are not allowed to retaliate on that day. In this mock battle of sorts, they try their best not to be captured. The unlucky one's however, are forcefully led away and get a good thrashing from the women, who can thus be identified with the cowherd women who were the playmates and lovers of Krishna. All in the spirit of Holi. And they are a great attraction for tourists from within the country and abroad.

With a large population of Indians settled in the United States of America, Holi is celebrated with gaiety and lot of fanfare in this country. Different societies formed by the Indians and religious organizations help people to celebrate this joyous festival. Music programs and Holi Meets are also organized by them to mark the occasion. These meets help the new generation to identify with their cultural root. Children learn to understand the significance of celebrating festivals and know legends associated with them. Great enthusiasm for the festival can be specially witnessed in cities where large number of Indians have settled. Holi celebrations are particularly marked in the city of New York. Here Holi parades are taken out. There is so much revelry here that it becomes difficult to imagine that New York is not a part of India. Next to New York is the Stanford University in San Francisco Bay Area where Holi is celebrated with amazing enthusiasm. Asha Stanford's Holi 2009 was Bay area's largest Holi event . Celebrated at Sandhill fields, Stanford, it was a blast with colors, water, music and great food. The highlight of the event was music and dancing with DJ playing Hip-hop, Bhangra and Holi music, and much much more with fun-packed games and delicious Indian food. Hopefully, the economic melt down will have no effect on the scale and enthusiasm of the celebrations at the Stanford or anywhere else in USA at this year's Holi on March 1, 2010.

Happy Holi!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wedding Bells For Bollywood Valentines!

Onscreen chemistry of co-stars creates a professional bond and produces an under current of romantic comaraderie. This is achieved when the players pour their hearts into the roles while doing a romantic scene. When the artistic aspect overtakes clinical professionalism of the actors, the magic of the moment is applauded by the audiences. Bollywood celebrates another blockbuster and also birth of another popular pair. Gossip colums compete connecting the couple from reel to real life. After repeated denials and dilly dallying, the couple atlast accepts the reality and soon there is the breaking news in the media of happy marriage of another celebrity couple. And they a live happily thereafter. This Valentine’s Day, let's pluck a rose and present it to Bollywood’s reel life lovers who did not hesitate to take the vow in real life.
It would be most appropriate to begin writing on real life Bollywood pairs by remembering and paying respects to the most revered and highly accomplished husband-wife team: Nargis and Sunil Dutt. Very few Bollywood couples can match the grace and elegance of these two. The famed love story of Sunil Dutt and Nargis evolved out of a heroic deed which gave a fresh lease of life to Nargis. Nargis and Sunil Dutt first met on the sets of Balraj Sahni's Do Bigha Zameen. During that time Sunil was a student and an aspiring actor while Nargis was already an established star. They got to know each other and developed a friendly relationship. With each passing day they got to know each other better. Sunil found in her a good human being and a woman of rare qualities. Though the seeds of love were sown it never quite blossomed into romance till a daring rescue act.
While shooting for Mother India, Nargis was trapped in the midst of lit haystacks while filming a scene. As the flames engulfed her completely, Sunil Dutt who played her rebellious son Birju in the film ran through the fire scooped her and single-handedly rescued her. He was not deterred by the fire which was powerful enough to char him to death.
To Nargis, commitment to her savior was far above anything else. The only way she could pay him back, if ever she could, was by acceding to his request. So when Sunil proposed to her she readily accepted to marry him. The much talked about romance of Bollywood finally culminated in marriage on March 11, 1958.
The marriage produced three children Sanjay, Namrata, and Priya. They were a happy family until Nargis got afflicted with cancer. After a prolonged period of illness she passed away in 1980. Sunil Dutt joined politics a few years later. He became actively involved with social causes and was even made a minister with the government of India. On May 25, 2005 he suffered a massive heart attack and left for his heavenly abode.

Amongst all the well known Bollywood couples, Dilip Kumar and Sairabanu are the most prominent. Very few Bollywood couples can match the grace of this star couple. Dilip Kumar is considered to be one of the greatest actors of Bollywood. He started his career in 1944. The sterling performance of the actor of yester year has been regarded as the epitome in Indian Cinema. He was the first actor to receive a Film fare Best Actor Award. Today he holds the proud record of receiving the most number of Film fare Awards to his name. Saira Banu made her acting debut opposite Shammi Kapoor in the 1961 hit film Junglee for which she earned her first Film fare nomination as Best Actress. She later went on to act with Dilip Kumar in movies like Gopi, Sagina and Bairaag. All the 3 movies were big hits. It was while acting with him that their courtship began. Finally in 1966, the 22 years old Sairabanu married the 44 year Dilip Kumar. Putting to rest all wild speculation, their marriage has been one of the longest lasting marriages in Bollywood.

Hema Malini:
He is known as 'Garam Dharam' and she as 'Dream Girl'. The “Jat Yamla Pagla Deewaana” fell head over heels for the dazzling “Dream Girl” from the South. Together they were the most sought after pair of Hindi films in the 70s, teamed in 40 films, at least half of them hits. Working as the hit pair of Shole (1975), the biggest Bollywood blockbuster ever, they became close friends, then lovers and eventually married couple in 1980. During their days of romance, onscreen and off-sets, the gossip columns of film magazines were full of juicy stories how Dharmendra did not let any other hero come near Hema outside the studio walls and he even agressively prevented Hema's other two admirers, Jeetendra and Sanjeev Kumar, from proposing to her. All these rumours were laid to rest recently by Hema herself when she admitted on Karan Johar's popular TV show, 'Coffee with Karan', that it was she who was determined to marry Dharmendra and not the vis-a-versa:
"When did you first feel that Dharamji is the man you would want to spend your life with?" shots Karan as he probes Hema Malini to spill the beans about her love story with Dharmendra.
Hema admits that she fell for Dharmendra's looks when she first set her eyes on him, "He was the most handsome man I had ever seen. Thats when I said to myself that I would want to be with a man like him", said an embarraced Hema.

Jaya Bachchan (Bhaduri):
He is the super star of the millennium (BBC onlines poll) and icon of the Indian cinema, and she is the 'woman' behind the successful 'man'. He was still a struggling insecure newcomer in Bollywood carrying the burden of many flops, and she an instant hit as the filmstar-crazy teen tornado of Guddi (1971). On the sets of Ek Nazar (1972) the couple realized that they were in love with each other. Their real life situation was very much similar to their roles in Hrishikesh Mukherji's Abhiman (1973). Jaya had drawn rave reviews for her performance as the talented singer-wife of an insecure crooner and won the Filmfare award. The same year saw the release of Zanjeer, whose immense success changed their lives forever. Playing the angry young man of Zanjeer transformed Amitabh into a mega star. There was no 'Abhiman' (false pride) between them now, both scaling the heights of stardom together. They thought they could now afford to get married and on June 2, 1973, Amitabh, son of the famous Hindi poet Harivansh Bachchan brought home as bride, Jaya, daughter of the noted author-journalist Taroon Kumar. They became the most revered and admired Bollywood couple.

Neetu Singh:
The original chocolate boy of Indian cinema finds his girl, and they go on a “Khullam Khulla” ride that ends in marriage! Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh are one of the most famous celebrity couples in the Bollywood film industry. Audience simply loved Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh's pair on the silver screen and they soon became a teenage romantic sensation of the seventies. They were equally successful in their careers. The Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh love story was truly a fairy tale love story. They first acted in the film Khel Khel Mein (1975) as onscreen couples. It was then that Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh started seeing each other. The film was an instant hit. Later they also acted as onscreen lovers in Yash Chopra's blockbuster film Kabhi Kabhie. By then, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh had become an adorable pair. They were both deeply in love with each other and marriage between the two was obvious. They got engaged and marriage took place in 1979. The marriage of Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh was a lavish affair and almost the entire film industry was invited to the wedding.
Twinkle Khanna:
Akshay Kumar, widely known for his Casanova image and regarded as Don Juan of Bollywood, tied the knot with his lady love Twinkle Khanna in a sedate and secret ceremony on 17th January, 2001 in Mumbai. Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna are one of the most popular celebrity couples in Bollywood and have a son named Aarav who was born on September 15, in the year 2002. Though the two had been seeing each other for quite some time, their decision to go ahead and get married was a sudden one and everything was finalized in a matter of few hours. The wedding was attended by only the immediate family members and a few close friends of the two families. Home of popular fashion designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla in Hormuzd building in Juhu was the venue of the wedding and the two are very good friends of both Twinkle Khanna and his mother Dimple Kapadia. The Hindu wedding ritual of 'Kanya Daan' was performed by Twinkle's father Rajesh Khanna. Akshay and Twinkle have starred together in two films, namely "International Khiladi" and "Zulmi", both of which were released in the year 1999. In fact, Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna met for the first time on the sets of International Khiladi and quickly grew fond of each other. The pair of Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna is as sizzling in real life as in reel life.
Wow! Baazigar girl and the most serious bollywood hunk is on the most romantic list, their chemistry is amazing, for most of the Indian orkut users Ajay and Kajol are “made in heaven” . Glamour, gossips and controversies are so much used to words for anyone related professionally to movies or ramp. But some people are exceptional, one of the perfect examples of sparkling and sweet love story is Kajol and Ajay Devgan, both are some of the finest artists in Hindi cinema or Bollywood circle. We never heard any rumors or gossips about them individually or together. Ajay and Kajol married on 24th Feb 1999 in the perfect Indian style. The respect and dedication for each other is always seen off the picture or on the picture. One website quoted Kajol saying for her husband “A woman should trust her husband , only then will she be able to win him over , I’ve been born and brought up in this industry and know that here smoke can be conjured up without a fire . I trust my husband more than the rumors. I married him because I love him.” Couple has a beautiful daughter named Nysa and lives in Mumbai.
Aishwarya Rai:
Miss World 1994 Aishwarya Rai and Bollywood King Amitabh Bachhan’s son Abhishek’s love story came across many phases like any romantic bollywood movie. Nobody in their wildest dream would have thought that one day Aishwaya Rai will become Aishwarya Rai Bachhan. The marriage hit several national and even international news headlines. Both had experienced the bitter past of failed relationship but every one is created for someone in this world and that too with perfection. While many Hollywood celebrities have made names for themselves internationally, it's Bollywood that boasts of the most famous couple in the world—Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan. Ash and Abhi, as they're known around the globe, were Bollywood superstars long before they fell in love and got married in April 2007. Before they were man and wife, Ash and Abhi were co-stars. After working with Ash in a few films, Abhi says he developed feelings for the actress who's been called the most beautiful woman in the world.
"I was filming in New York for a movie," he says. "And I used to stand on the balcony of my hotel room and wish that, 'One day, wouldn't it be nice if I was together with her, married.'"
Years later, the co-stars returned to New York City as a couple. They were there for the premiere of Guru, a film they worked on together, but Abhi had something special in store.
"After the premiere, we were back in the hotel," he says. "So I took her to the very same balcony, and I asked her to marry me."
After the engagement, Ash and Abhi's wedding became one of the most anticipated events in India. For months, the media reported on every detail and speculated about the couple's plans. On the day of the wedding ceremony, thousands of fans filled the streets outside Abhi's home, hoping to get a glimpse of the Bollywood stars. Once inside, the couple held a private ceremony for family and friends.

And the love story of Bollywood beauties goes on. Every now and then new pairs emerge and soon perish with their break-ups. Let us wish on this Valentine's Day a very happy and ever lasting union to the couples currently making news either by openly declaring their love to each other like John Abrahm – Bipasha Basu and Saif Ali – Kareena Kapoor, or by neither declaring nor denying their ongoing romance like Katrina Kaif – Salman Khan. May they marry sooner than later as it has been long since we last heard the Wedding Bells For Bollywood Valentines!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day arrives with a cheerful mood and cherished memories of romantic moments for everyone. Love and romance fills the air as the birds call out to blissful happy times ahead. It's the season of love and hearts speak to one another creating the perfect ambience for celebrating the spirit of Valentine. What began as a ritual remembrance of a recalcitrant priest has bloomed into a love festival stretching to the farthest corners of the globe. Back in third-century Rome, the story goes, when Emperor Claudius II banned marriage because he thought single men made better soldiers, one passionate priest named Valentine continued to wed young lovers. Later imprisoned for his defiance, Valentine fell in love with a young girl who came to visit his cell. Before his death, the priest wrote her a letter--the first valentine. Nearly two millennia later, Valentine's Day is a $14.7 billion industry in the U.S. But other countries are cashing Cupid's party, too. The Greeting Card Association estimates that approximately one billion valentine cards are sent worldwide each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, behind Christmas. The association also estimates that women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

India, as a nation, adores Valentine's Day. Ancient scriptures and sculptures have shown that India has been a land of love for many years before this day actually started being celebrated. It took a while for India to welcome the Valentines Day. This is a day of romance and love for many Indians. The youth especially take keen interest in the day. Collegians have their own innovative and stylish ways of impressing their loved ones. Exchanging gifts like teddy bears and chocolates or personalized gifts have taken a rage in India. In the metros mainly, disco's and party venues have  various parties organized for the people wanting to have a good time with their loved ones. This day gives a reason for those married to express their affection to their spouses. Jewelry is one of the main gifts exchanged and which is available in different designs in India. Flowers are the most commonly given momentos. Despite complaints from religious groups that it is an affront to Indian tradition and culture, and further westernizing the Indian populous, Valentine's Day has now become a widely recognized and celebrated day with Indian people. The messages of the small number of protesters is being ignored by most people, especially the younger generations. In Delhi, smart restaurants are fully booked for February 14th and card shops and florists are expecting to do record business. The Indian Post Office is also cashing in. It has launched a set of floral-scented stamps for Valentine's Day and hopes this will encourage people to send letters and cards to each other, rather than relying on emails and text messages to express their love.

Euphoria of Valentine's Day festival can be experienced weeks before the festival. Television, radio and print media start creating hype about the festival by covering all facets of it. Gift marketers and card companies launch a rigorous campaign to lure the youngsters. Card and gift shops are interestingly decorated with symbols of Valentine's Day including roses, cupid and heart shaped balloons. Shopping malls in metropolitan cities organize fun-filled competitions and distribute discount coupons to lure the consumers. On February 14, the Valentine's Day restaurants, discos, Cineplex, pubs and pizza parlors see a particularly busy time as couples celebrate the day in togetherness. Many boys and girls even propose to their sweetheart on this romantic day. With the craze for getting married on Valentine's Day gaining ground among young couples, all guest houses, DJs, band parties and priests in Indian metros are over booked for marriages to be solemnized on the day. Caring for the wishes of their clients, many priests pronounce "shubh lagna" (auspicious time) for marriage on Valentine's Day. “The planetary combinations that day are just right for a wedding — the union will be stable and happy," they declare, and the priests have their hands full. More than 50,000 couples line up to get married on Valentine’s Day in the capital of India. Priests say that’s a conservative estimate. There are favorable planetary combinations on other days, too, but the combination with Valentine’s Day is a hit with the youth.

On this auspicious day of love and happiness when millions of marriages are taking place all over indian cities, apart from as many proposals, I have a message for the mighty forces of Ram Sena, Shiv Sena and all the allied Senas, who have declared war on all the love birds who dare open their wings on the Valentine Day in India. May I remind them of their own revered deities of the Hindu mythology, whose stories of love and sacrifice they must have read and reread as they grew up, and before them their elders and before them their ancestors in all ages. Perhaps no other faith glorifies the idea of love between the sexes as Hinduism. This is evident from the amazing variety of mythical love stories that abound Sanskrit literature, which is undoubtedly one of the richest treasure hoards of exciting love tales. Set in a land of great natural beauty, where the lord of love picks his victims with consummate ease, these stories celebrate the myriad aspects of the many-splendor emotion called love. Classical love legends from Hindu mythology and folklore of India, like Shakuntala-Dushyant tale, legend of Savitry and Satyavan, Radha-Krishna Raas Leela etc., are both passionate and sensuous in content, and never fail to appeal to the romantic in us. These fables fuel our imagination, engage our emotions, sense and sensibility, and above all, inspire us to celebrate love. May I call upon the commanders of all sorts of saffron Senas, to call back to barracks all their brigades and let love bloom on Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day!