Getting nostalgic with Delhi Heritage Foundation

This New Year opened on an exciting note.Seventh of January brought a surprise invite from Delhi Heritage Foundation an organisation working for reviving ancient culture and preserving heritage of Delhi the capital city of India.The organisation conceived and promoted by certain prominent citizens of old city has brought together bunch of city lovers enthused with past glory of the Shahjahanabad and fired with zeal for preserving it’s cultural heritage and traditions.Going through the Facebook page of the organisation and impressed by the committed, crusading spirit of the dedicated citizen vigilantes we promptly lapped up the invite.

The event titled Tangible and Intangible Heritage of City of Delhi opened floodgates of nostalgia about the old city popularly known as the walled city, having been protected by fortification by Mughal Emperors over middle ages. Several participants having been born and grown up in the city and others having migrated in course of their formative years in life spoke emotionally  about the ways of old Delhi. While someone spoke about the artistic ways of traders and market men other speaker gushed over the culinary delights of Chandni Chowk the Central market which was in historic times, and continues to be  the nerve centre of commercial activities. For everyone  mention of areas covered by narrow lanes and bye lanes evoked passionate memories of having discovered the charms of the city on foot.

img_4458
Secretary Dr.GG Saxena interacting with audience

The tone for the evening was set by Dr. SY Qureshi an eminent ex civil servant and leading light of the organisation who in keynote address recalled the lost glory of the city and shared his vision for preserving and recreating the lost heritage of city of Shahjahanabad . It transpired that The Delhi Heritage foundation has  on it’s own initiated moves  for preservation of several historic monuments by coming up with the novel scheme of encouraging educational institutions to adopt a monument.

Another highlight of the evening were the narratives on Cinema theatres of Delhi which were succumbing to loss of business in hard times.Even mention of names of of picture halls had element of excitement for everyone bringing back memories of a Mughal-e-Azam or Pakiza and excitement associated with queuing up for a first day first show ticket outside Regal in Connaught Place or Golcha in Daryaganj.Every one felt the need  for re energising the picture halls located on prime places in the city with innovative techniques.

The myriad suggestions for recreating the lost glory of city poured in  from enthusiastic participants. The phoenix like ability  of the city to reinvent itself was best summarised by Chairman in a poetic rendering of Mir Taki Mir which refers to a stage when the city was passing through times difficult.It is recalled that master of Urdu poetry had introduced himself in a mushaira  as

” Dilli Ek Shahar tha Aalamein Intikhab ..rahne wale hain hum us ujde dayar ke”

It is a matter of historical knowledge that the city later on rebuilt itself to take pride of place in leading cities of the world.

*****************************

Jab Jodhaa met Akbar

In every civilized society which cares for individual sentiments there is some law for protection of certain heritage sites and buildings since these are considered to be the collective property of the humanity and there is a recognition of the fact that every one has a right to share the unspoilt beauty of an architectural monument or a natural formation in an unaltered fashion. Unfortunately there is no legal protection in respect of an icon of history whose image cultivated over generations is mercilessly butchered by a buccaneering film producer unrepentantly and with the simple excuse that it is merely a work of fantasy and has no historical basis!

Aushutosh Gowrikar of Lagaan fame has done precisely that to the image of Jodha Bai a Rajput Queen of middle ages and the Mughal King Akbar who is remembered as one of the few benevolent despots who have given this country a symbol of administrative reforms and spirit of religious tolerance .

Having failed to meet success at the oscar nominations for his period film Lagan , Gowrikar has come out with a more calculated assault on the Oscar battlefield through Jodah Akbar romance which the film claims is not reported in history ( the name of the princess and her relation ship with Akbar is also doubted) but the expensive film with lavish squandering on objects of visual pleasure appears to be attempting to become a historical magnum opus. Nobody wishes to join the issue of historical credibility with Mr. Gowrikar but pray Mr. Gowrikar why did you thrust this plastic beauty of Indian screen to wipe out the memories of Jodha Bai so powerfully projected by the legendary Durga Khote. And your Akbar…although young , but can he ever be expected to adorn the throne occupied by powerful personae of Prithviraj Kapoor in Mughal-e-Azam which is etched in the memory of generations of cinegoers .

A good documentary for Rajasthan Tourism or chalu stuff for a good tear jerker TV serial to be watched by Saas Bahus in the afternoon , or a modern presentation of Vikram Betal stories is what you have produced Mr. Gowrikar with so much fanfare. Your bundle of mini stories of religious hysteria , Saas bahu tussle ,wimpish Rajpoot princes , plotting brother-in-law, fanatic ulemas and incognito visits of young emperor to see the status of his praja could have created a long running TV serial because each episode is a mini thriller but not the part of a story of any interesting substance. The only tears which come to the eyes of an intelligent cinegoer are due to strain of spending 200 minutes in the theatre for witnessing your mediocrity.

And there was a feeling of relief after coming out of the hall for one more reason. That was for the realization that the romantic excitement of Madhubala, Dilip Kumar pair in Mughl-e-Azam would remain beyond the reach of producers for all times and the movie would remain the true Moughal amongst the movies as tribute to the genius of it’s producer and Director.

Madam Ashwarya Rai may now try her luck with some other fake piece of history because this one again seems to have floundered like remake of Umrao Jaan…despite the hidden support of dad-in-law by way of unworthy praise of a dance sequence filmed on Hrithik Roshan. Cinegoers having seen the Mughal movies like Anarkali and Mughal-e-Azam will have to recall the emotional thrill of “Pyar kiya to darna kya “ dance number performed so tantalizingly by Madubala and the Quawalis of the films produced in sixties when they want to think of a piece of art which is highly entertaining and also intellectually satisfying , while the likes of Aishwarya and Aushotosh will fade away from the scene in no time.

And now last but not the least, the latest news  reports say that Mayawati Ji Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has chosen this occasion to garner some votes from Rajput community by placing a ban on the movie (just two days after the MP High Court quashed a ban of similar nature and under full realization that hers would also be a short lived ban). The scenario is a bit  comical in the sense that Akbar the great warrior of middle ages has come to the rescue of another damsel in distress in modern times by helping her recover some popularity in Rajput community .