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Throwback Thursday: The Legacy Of Sharmila Tagore

Celebrating the 78th birth anniversary of Sharmila Tagore, the Bollywood actress, who reigned the 1970s with her charisma.

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Sharmila Tagore, Bollywood, Filmfare

Sharmila Tagore, the Kashmir Ki Kali of Bollywood, hails from the prestigious Tagore family. The Tagore family, as is known, is rich in literature, culture and performing arts. Sharmila stepped into the acting industry at the age of 13. As a teenage newbie, Tagore was desperately trying to carve her own space and identity in the film industry. No one in her family, except her elder sister, Oindrilla had a filmi background. Her sister played the role of young Mini in Tapan Sinha’s Kabuliwala in 1957.

Starting from Bengali Cinema to Hindi cinema, Sharmila Tagore throughout her acting journey achieved many milestones with her unconventional and adventurous self. On her 78th birth anniversary, let’s revisit her iconic showbiz era.

Early Life: Sharmila Tagore Didn’t Quite Enjoy Studying

Sharmila Tagore was born on 8th December in 1944 in Hyderabad to parents Ira Baruah who was an Assamese and Gitindranath Tagore, who was a Bengali. This way, Sharmila was half Assamese and half Bengali. Sharmila did her schooling from Loreto Convent, West Bengal and St. John’s Diocesan Girls’ Higher Secondary School, West Bengal. However, Sharmila was never into studies. Her constant low attendance and mediocre grades were a proof of that. Fortunately, she received a film offer at the age of 13, and her father herself advised Sharmila to prioritize her film career.

Sharmila played her first acting role of ‘Aparna’ in Satyajit Ray’s ‘Apu Sansar’. In an interview, Sharmila shared that the movie made her realise how much she loves acting, and it is acting that she wants to pursue further.

Stepping Into Limelight of Bollywood

The 1964 romance drama film, ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’ proved a big breakthrough for Sharmila Tagore. The film showcased Sharmila’s passionate and brilliant acting which won the hearts of many. It proved her bright future in the film industry further and amassed great expectations from the viewers for her future films. In 1967, in the film ‘An Evening In Paris’, Sharmila wore a bikini for one of the scenes. During that time, it was a big deal and had mixed reactions from the public. A year later, in 1968, she did an entire shoot in bikini for the Filmfare Magazine. This was yet again a vey bold and unconventional move in that era. The conservative society didn’t quite give the best reactions which certainly did upset her. In 2021, in an interview with Film Companion, Sharmila shared that people still didn’t let her forget her 1968 bikini shoot. She also said, “Maybe, there was an exhibitionist in me, as I was young and excited to do something different.”

Some of her other famous movies have been Aradhna, Safar, Amar Prem, Chhoti Bahu, Daag, Raja Rani, Avishkaar, Devar and Anupama. Her box office hits made her the highest paid actress in Bollywood in the 1970s.

In 1965, during the peak of her career, Sharmila met Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, the former captain of the Indian cricket team, at an after-match party. They dated for four years and finally tied the knot in 1969. The pair had a son and two daughters, two of whom are successful Bollywood actors: Saif Ali Khan, Saba Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan.

Later Life And Achievements

Sharmila Tagore has been awarded several prestigious titles and national awards for her immense contribution to the film industry. She was awarded the Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1969 and in 1997, she was awarded the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.

After retiring from the showbiz culture, Sharmila was involved in other projects. For starters, she was the head of the Indian Film Censor Board from October 2004 to March 2011. In 2005, she was also chosen as the Goodwill Ambassador of the UNICEF, particularly for the rights of children with HIV/AIDS.

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Editor's Pick

Mind Matters: Nurturing Well-Being and Resilience

“Just Smile”, “You shouldn’t be so emotional”, “Dont think about it, it doesn’t matter”- WRONG!, It matters, our mind matters.

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For as long as humans have existed, there has been psychology, even if it wasn’t very understood, acknowledged, let alone addressed and studied. However, in recent years, society’s understanding of mental health has expanded, shedding light on its significance as an important part of a balanced life.
Through this article we will go a little deeper into the crucial subject of mental health, emphasizing its importance, addressing stigmas and providing insights into fostering resilience and wellness.

What Is Mental Health?

Mental Health is often referred to as the state of emotional, psychological and social well-being and is the cornerstone of our ability to cope with the challenges and triumphs of life. It takes on a broad spectrum of topics such as emotional stability, effective coping mechanisms, self-esteem and the capacity to form meaningful relationships. Just as physical health is important for our body, mental health is the glue for our cognitive and emotional well-being, impacting how we see and understand ourselves and the world around us.

Stigma In Mind Matters

In a world full of uncertainties, it is crucial to recognize that mental health issues are not something rare. The prevalence of conditions such as depression, stress-related ailments and anxiety disorders are very common mental health struggles that can people of all age groups can be struggling with, from children to senior citizens. Yet, Societal Stigmas and misconceptions for years have cast a shadow of denial over these issues, discouraging open discussions and promoting a culture of silence.

Breaking these stigmas is an important step towards fostering a compassionate and supportive environment for all those grappling with mental health challenges. Just like how a broken bone would require attention, care, support, and most importantly healing space and time, Mind Matters also warrant just as much validation, understanding, and appropriate interventions. Promoting and engaging in candid conversations about mental health not only breaks down society imposed wall of shame but also paves the path for seeking therapy and counseling and embarking on a journey toward healing.

Resilience And Well-Being

Today’s world’s demands often exhaust us mentally and physically. The rapid pace of life, piling responsibilities and the omnipresence of digital devices can contribute to high-stress levels and lowered emotional resilience. The first step would be to acknowledge these pressures and cultivate lifestyle changes that safeguard one’s mental well-being.

Developing resilience emerges as a powerful tool in the quest for mental wellness, where mental health challenges are the Dementors, resilience is our Expecto Patronum. Resilience is defined as our ability to bounce back from adversity. It is not an inherent trait but a skill that can be honed and nurtured. Cultivating resilience involves fostering a healthy sense of self, nurturing positive relationships, and practicing effective stress management techniques. Practices of mindfulness, exercise, creative outlets, and seeking professional help when needed can all add to building resilience and maintaining mental well-being.

Seeking Help

As we explore the landscape of mental health, it is important to understand that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness, it shouldn’t be shunned or ridiculed. If we aren’t mentally healthy, it affects our daily life, interpersonal relationships, life satisfaction and overall well-being.

You don’t need to have textbook cases of issues to seek help from a mental health professional. Feeling down lately, feeling irritable most days, can’t stop those racing thoughts, plagued with negative self-image, just feeling exhausted lately- all these are things we experience daily, and coping with them can be difficult, sometimes even physically, hence we seek help. Just like we consult doctors even for common cold and fever and take medication, consulting mental health professionals for emotional distress in all its ranges is a proactive step towards self-care.

Psychiatrists, therapists and counselors possess the expertise to provide tailored guidance, coping strategies and treatments to navigate the delicate terrain of mental health. Additionally promoting mental health goes beyond individual efforts- it requires societal change. Educational Institutions, workplaces, and communities play big roles in creating environments that prioritize well-being. Adding mental health awareness programs, providing access to support resources, and fostering open dialogues can all contribute to breaking barriers and fostering a culture of compassion.

The Take-Away For Today

Mental Health is a tapestry of emotions, thoughts, and expressions that shape our very being. By embracing the importance of mental health, challenging stigmas and fostering resilience, we make a path for a brighter, more compassionate future. Just as physical health is a journey in progress, so is mental health- a lifelong commitment to self-care, understanding, and growth. Let us begin creating a world with empathy and support, one that embraces the diverse aspects of mental health and create a vibrant canvas of well-being for everyone in mind matters.

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Editor's Pick

Gurram Jashuva: The Poet of the Millennium

Gurram Jashuva was more than just a poet; he was a legendary figure in the Telugu literary world.

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Gurram Jashuva is celebrated as the “Poet Of the Millennium” for his timeless contributions to poetry and literature, which transcended the boundaries of his time and caste. His life and work were marked by immense wisdom and a relentless struggle against caste-based discrimination.

Early Life: Triumph Over Adversity

Jashuva was born in Vinukonda, Guntur ; Andhra Pradesh on September 28th , 1895 to Virayya and Lingamma. His family came from a community of leather workers, given that his father came from the Yadav caste and his mother came from the Madiga caste. This intercaste marriage and their impoverished circumstances made his childhood markedly challenging, as he grew up in a society where certain cases were treated as “untouchable”. Regardless of these complications, Jashuva and his brother were raised as Christians.
His chase for higher education led him to get the diploma of Ubhaya Bhasha Praveena, highlighting his scholarly expertise in Telugu and Sanskrit languages later in life.

Career: A Voice for the Marginalized

Throughout the span of his career, Jashuva utilized his poetic talents to champion the causes of untouchability, Dalit rights, and social segregation. His literary works, including “Gabbilam-(A Bat)”, “Firadausi-(A Rebel)”, and “Kandiseekudu-(A Refugee)”, stand as powerful testaments to his commitment to social justice.

“Gabbilam” is one of his most known works, inspired by Kalidasa’s “Meghadūta”. In this poem, a destitute Dalit man sends a message to God in Benares through a bat, symbolizing the marginalized people. Jashuva’s choice of the bat, often associated with darkness and bad omens is significant as it represents the Dalit community, reclaimed as a tool for raising social consciousness.

In “Firadausi” he tells the tragic tale of the Persian poet Firdousi in the court of King Mahmud of Ghazni, highlighting themes of trust and betrayal. The poet’s pain is depicted, bringing out deep emotions in readers.

Legacy and Recognition

Jashuva’s impact on Telugu literature and society cannot be overstated. He is known as the first modern Telugu Dalit poet, and his erasure from Telugu and Indian literary histories has been met with protests by Dalit communities in Andhra Pradesh. In 1995, centennial celebrations were hosted in his honour, starting efforts to revive awareness of his literary contributions. His achievements did not go unnoticed, Jashuva received several prestigious awards and honours, including the Sahitya Akademi Award for his work titled “Kreesthu Charitra” in 1964. An appointment to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council in 1964. Honorary doctorate of Kala Prapoorna from Andhra University in 1970, and the Padma Bhushan from the government of India in 1970.

In-Depth Study and Awards in His Memory

Scholars such as Endluri Sudhakar have researched Gurram Jashuva’s literature, providing valuable insights into his outlook and societal impact.
To ensure that his legacy endures, awards have been instituted in his memory. The Jashuva Sahitya Puraskaram, established by the Jashuva Foundation, annually recognizes poets from diverse Indian backgrounds for their contributions to Indian literature. Additionally, the Padma Bhushan Dr Gurram Jashuva Research Centre of Telugu Akademi presents awards to poets and writers for their contributions to Telugu literature.

Conclusion

Gurram Jashuva’s life and work serve as an inspiration, transcending the boundaries of caste and time. His poetry, steeped in social consciousness, continues to resonate with readers and remains a powerful tool for advocating social justice. As we celebrate his legacy and contributions, we are reminded of the enduring power of literature to bring about change and shine a light on the injustices that persist in our society. He sadly passed away on July 24, 1971. Still Gurram Jashuva, the “Poet of the Millennium”, lives on through his timeless poetry and the impact he has left on Telugu literature and beyond.

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Editor's Pick

Singeetam Srinivasa Rao: A Maverick Filmmaker Of Indian Cinema

Singeetam Srinivasa Rao’s legacy stands as a testament to the power of creativity and innovation in shaping the landscape of Indian cinema.

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Singeetam, Singeetam Srinivasa Rao, Indian Cinema

Singeetam Srinivasa Rao is a name that embodies versatility and innovation in the world of Indian Cinema. Popularly known as Singeetam, he is a profile every avid film watcher will know of. He is an accomplished Indian Film director, screenwriter, producer, composer, and actor. Singeetam has contributed groundbreaking films to the industry that have left a lasting impact on the industry. With a career that spans several decades, he is rightfully regarded as one of India’s most multifaceted directors.

Early Life

Singeetam was born on September 21, 1931. His journey in the film world began with a stint as an assistant director to the renowned K.V. Reddy from 1955 to 1968. During this time he contributed to iconic films such as “Mayabazar- 1957” and “Jagadeka Veeruni Katha- 1961”, which honed his craft and learning the intricacies of filmmaking.

In 1972, Singeetam made his directorial debut with the Telugu film “Neethi Nijaythi” This was the beginning of his exploration into experimental and socially relevant cinema. His films such as “Dikkarta Parvathi – 1974” garnered critical acclaim and accolades, establishing him as a director with a unique storytelling approach.

Contributions To Cinema

Singeetam’s legacy truly lies in his one-of-a-kind contributions to various genres. He directed films like “Panthulamma”, “Mayuri”, “Anand”, and “Son Of Aladdin”. His films have earned him numerous awards, including two National Film Awards and multiple Nandi Awards. His collaboration with esteemed actors Dr. Rajkumar and Kamal Haasan produced cinematic gems that achieved both commercial success and critical acclaim. With Kamal Haasan he created memorable films like “Pushpaka Vimana” and with Dr. Rajkumar, he created classics such as “Haalu Jenu”. Singeetam’s work in Kannada cinema was equally impressive. He directed the award-winning film “Samskara” and delivered a series of successful films starring Rajkumar. His Kannada ventures such as “Eradu Nakshatragalu” showed his mastery over diverse narratives.

Singeetam’s eye for innovation was evident in his films. “Mayuri” 1984 is a film that celebrated the spirit of dance and garnered accolades globally. “Pushpaka Vimana” 1968, was a ground-breaking dialogue-less film that captivated special mention at the Shanghai Film Festival. He elevated the Indian Film industry’s creative boundaries with science fiction and fantasy genres such as “Aditya 369” 1991 and “Bhairava Dweepam” 1994.

His Legacy

Singeetam’s journey in the world of Indian Cinema has been a trailblazing one. He ventured into uncharted territories, defying stereotypes and creating films that are celebrated for their originality. His legacy is not just his films but also his collaborations with iconic actors and his impact on multiple regional cinemas. He continues to inspire new generations of filmmakers. With the upcoming sequel to “Aditya 369” and a desire to explore new cinematic avenues, his journey continues as a saga of artistic exploration and creative brilliance.

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Editor's Pick

 “The Twentieth Wife” by Indu Sundaresan

“The Twentieth Wife” leaves readers eager for more. Exposing them to the harsh realities of a bygone era that challenged modern sensibilities.

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The Twentieth Wife, Indu Sundaresan, Nur Jahan, Book Review

Indu Sundaresan’s debut novel, “The Twentieth Wife”, takes the readers on an enchanting journey through the grandeur of the Mughal Empire, weaving a tale of passion, ambition and the indomitable spirit of a remarkable woman. Set against the backdrop of 16th-century India, this historical epic invites readers to immerse themselves in the life and love of Mehrunnisa, the woman the world would know as Empress Nur Jahan.

A Closer Look 

The story introduces us to Mehrunnisa, whose life was marked by separation and hardship early. Born to Persian refugees, Ghias Beg and Asmat Begum, Mehrunnisa’s destiny takes a turn when she is brought back to the Imperial Court, catching the eye of Padshah Begum Ruqayya, Emperor Akbar’s chief queen.

Sundaresan’s storytelling prowess is shown in her depiction of Nisa’s character. From a child pushed into the political and social intricacies of the court, Nisa grows into a woman of intelligence, resilience, and beauty. Her life takes a turn when she is married to Ali Quli, a warrior whose indifference adds to the challenges Nisa faces. Through her meetings with Prince Salim, later Emperor Jahangir, a passionate and profound love story unfolds, one that defies time and societal constraints.

One of the novel’s most beautiful aspects is its exploration of the complexities of human relationships. Sundaresan delves into the dark underbelly of court intrigue, where love, ambition, hatred, and greed often blur the lines of loyalty.

As readers go deeper into the story, they become enchanted not only by Nisa’s character but also by the descriptions of the Mughal Empire’s intricacies. Sundaresan’s lush prose brings to life the zenana, the changing seasons, the fashion of the time, and the multifaceted characters who populate this world. It’s a journey through time and place that feels authentic and immersive.

Afterthoughts 

“The Twentieth Wife” is the first instalment in the Taj Trilogy, leaving readers eager for more. While the novel excels in painting a vivid historical backdrop and delivering a passionate love story, character development at times feels lacking. Some may find certain characters’ actions and motivations less than credible by contemporary standards. Yet, this doesn’t diminish the book’s overall impact.

“The Twentieth Wife” is the first installment in the Taj Mahal Trilogy, leaving readers waiting for more. While the novel is great at painting a vivid historical backdrop and giving us a passionate love story, some may find certain characters’ actions and motivations less than credible by contemporary standards. Yet, this doesn’t diminish the book’s overall impact. 

Indu Sundaresan’s “The Twentieth Wife” is a rich and romantic historical fiction novel that masterfully blends fact and fiction to bring to life the journey of a woman who defied societal norms and rose to a unique position of power. It is a tale of love, who relish historical epics, this book is a must-read, transporting you to a bygone era of grandeur and intrigue.

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Editor's Pick

Sir M Visvesvaraya: The Visionary Engineer

Sir M Visvesvaraya’s leadership and administrative acumen earned him the title of “the maker of modern Mysore.”

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Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, otherwise known as MV, was a well-known Indian Civil engineer, administrator, and statement. MV’s illustrious career and remarkable contributions earned him many awards and honours, making him an iconic figure in Indian history.

Visvesvaraya was born on 15th September 1861. He got an early education in Bangalore and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science ( BSc) degree from the University of Madras. Visvesvaraya pursued engineering studies at the College of Engineering, Pune, graduating with a Diploma in Civil Engineering. During his time at the Deccan Club in Pune, he was associated with influential figures like Sir R.G.Bhandarkar, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, enriching his intellectual circle.

Engineering Marvels and Recognition:

MV’s engineering came to the forefront when he began working for the Government of British India in the Public Works Department, Bombay. He implemented complex irrigation systems in the Deccan Plateau and patented an automatic weir water floodgate system. It significantly improved water storage levels in reservoirs. His achievements led to the implementation of the same approach in various dams, like the Khadakvasla Dam near Pune. Visvesvaraya’s expertise extended to other regions as well; he implemented a water supply and drainage system in Aden while working for the British Colony.

In 1909, he was invited to serve as the chief engineer of Mysore State, and under the patronage of Maharaja Krishnraja Wadiyar IV. He made significant contributions to the state’s development. His achievements at this time were extraordinary. He established factories, institutions, and industrial places, like Mysore Soap Factory. Visvesvaraya played a key role in the founding of the Bangalore Polytechnic, Bangalore Agricultural University, and the Government Engineering College in Bangalore. He also oversaw the construction of various railway lines in Mysore Railways.

Dewan of Mysore:

In 1912, Visvesvaraya was appointed the 19th Dewan of Mysore by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, a position he held for nearly seven years. As a Dewan, he continued to drive the development of the Kingdom of Mysore and furthered the cause of education and industry.

Legacy and Honors:

Visvesvaraya’s contributions are recognized both nationally and internationally. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1911 and knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1915. After Independence, he was honoured with the Bharat Ratna in 1955. Throughout his life, he received several honorary memberships, fellowships, and degrees from various institutions. Many colleges and institutions have been named after him in recognition of his legacy.

An Enduring Impact:

Sir M Visvesvaraya’s dedication, technical brilliance, and integrity continue to inspire generations of engineers and administrators. His love for Kannada and his efforts to promote its improvement left a lasting impact on the cultural landscape of Karnataka. The Visvesvaraya National Memorial Trust preserves his memory at his birthplace of Muddenahalli, spotlighting his awards, personal belongings, and the models of the dams he designed. His legacy lives on, through monuments and the hearts of countless Indians who remember him as the true visionary and nation-builder he was.

Sir M Visvesvaraya’s life exemplifies the power of determination, education, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. His contributions as an engineer, administrator, and statesman have left a lasting mark on India’s development. Every year on 15th September we celebrate Engineer’s Day in India, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania in honour of this remarkable man. As we remember and celebrate his contributions and accomplishments let us draw inspiration from his life and work. Sir M Visvesvaraya will always be remembered as one of India’s greatest nation-builders and visionaries.

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