Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Moazzam Jah: The junior Prince of Hyderabad.A Dreamy“thousand and one nights” nocturnal court

The "Nizams" (monarchs) of Hyderabad, were known for their luxurious lifestyle and all the princes of the royal family lived in the midst of great splendor, surrounded by courtiers who crawled in their presence, friends and flatterers.

One of those extravagant princes was Moazzam Jah (1907-1982), the second son of Mir Osman Ali Khan, last Nizam of Hyderabad, who was considered in 1937 as the richest man on the planet.

 But what Moazzam Jah liked most was poetry. With a pseudonym of "Shahji," he wrote "ghazals" and Urdu poetry, and established his own court composed of about 30 Urdu poets from various regions of India. The uniqueness of this court was that it met only at night.

Every time the sun set on the Indian Empire, a group of luxury cars sent by the prince took the members of the court, all with their best traditional attire, to gather in the palace. Moazzam occupied a central seat overlooking all the courtiers. 

The distinguishing feature of the Prince’s court was that it was held, as a rule, only during nights. Around 7.30 pm, the courtiers were brought from their homes in a posy of cars sent by the prince. They came with the aroma of attar renting the air.
 Prince Moazzam Jah with his  children
One after another, they greeted the Prince with ‘Seven Salaams’. Glasses of choicest drinks were served over exchange of pleasantries.

Then the Prince formally escorted all the courtiers to the adjacent dining hall where a multi-course meal awaited.The best biryani, exquisite dry-fruits from Arabia, custard and the finest pastry soaked in ghee were served in dazzling china and silver wares. Dinner ended at midnight when “paan” was served wrapped in gold paper.

Prince Moazzam's courtiers were then transferred to Durbar Hall, where comfortable padded sofas were waiting for them.

This happened even when at the court of the Nizam no courtier could sit in the presence of royalty. (Only the 'diwan' of Bahadur had the privilege of sitting in the presence of the Nizam).

The prince prepared the atmosphere by reciting a poem he had written and then invited the other poets to present their compositions to the entire audience. Moazzam's poets competed with each other to excel in their poetic abilities.

The court would go on thus till the first call for prayer, early in the morning, which would be heard from the nearby masjid.

The proceedings of the court would then wind up and the Prince would announce its adjournment. He would then take his dose of sleeping pills and withdraw to his private chamber.
The entire day time was meant for sleep and he woke up only for breakfast the next day, by 11, and for lunch at 3.00. And then, he woke up in the evening for the “day’s court”.

On every Idd he used to buy a new suit of clothes consisting of a sherwani and a pyjama which was presented to all his courtiers. For himself when he made a purchase, Burton’s Shop in Secunderabad was closed to all other customers except the wives of European military officers.
The Prince never purchased a piece. He would buy a whole roll. The idea was that nobody else should wear a sherwani made of a cloth similar to the one that he had purchased.

For Idd, agents were sent to different parts of the country to select and invite singers and dancers. Amongst them was also Begum Akhtar who at that time was known as Akhtari Bai Faizabadi.

Mir Osman Ali Khan -(VII) Nizam of Hyderabad

The beautiful Hill Fort palace, perched on the eastern slope of Naubat Pahad, in front of the Assembly Hall, was the residence of Moazzam Jah, where the young prince had his night court.

Hill Fort Palace was built in 1915 by Nawab Sir Nizamat Jung, who served as chief justice in the government of Nizam. His stay in the palace was for 15 years. The architecture is in style of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Hill Fort Palace (1930)
In 1929, after he went on Haj he wanted to live a simpler life so it was purchased by last Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII for his son Prince Moazzam Jah, and it was then designated as the official residence of the chairman of the City Improvement Board.
Interior of Hill Fort Palace (19300
In 1931, Moazzam married Princess Niloufer, nephew of Abdul Majjid II, the last Turkish sultan. The Sultan, after being deposed by Mustafa Kemal Pasha in March 1924, lived in exile in France. Abdul Majjid's own daughter, Princess Durrushehvar, on the same occasion, married Azam Jah, Moazzam's elder brother.

Princess Nilofer

Proud Nizam Osman Ali Khan used to accompany them to public events. Princess Niloufer, known as ' the Kohinoor of Hyderabad’, was the only person who addressed Nizam as ‘Dad’, while her own daughters always addressed him as 'Sarkar'.

Prince Moazzam's love for poetry and his devotion to the court's nightlife unfortunately affected his married life. Niloufer complained about him to his father-in-law, but it was in vain, and he finally left Hyderabad court in 1952 to never return.

Princess Niloufer

After the merger of Hyderabad with India, in 1948, Moazzam faced serious financial problems. Nizam's allowances were drastically reduced and the family, accustomed to living in luxury, had to get used to living from the family fortune (which was not scarce).

Last Ottoman caliph -Abdul Majid 2nd
In 1949, the Prince left the Hill Fort Palace and went to Mumbai, where he lived for five years. Returning to Hyderabad in 1954, he moved to a modest house in the Red Hills. The nocturnal court virtually came to end with his leaving the Hill Fort Palace.

On September 15, 1989, the Junior Prince passed away. He was 82. There were very few who turned up at his funeral. The Prince, who entertained thousands in his life, and never ate a meal without the company of at least a score of ten, went almost alomost alone to his grave.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Haziq and Mohi of Hyderabad:The search of old story lovers by scholars and historians end.The heaven of rare antique books.

Haziq and Mohi of Hyderabad; haven for historians, scholars and students from around the world. “A store like this…gives us glimpses into our past and holds immense historical value”

Books are my weakness, so when ever I go to any city I use to visit book shops of that city. Because:---Books have given me access to the world’s best wisdom, and have stretched my mind past any conceivable horizon.

Books are the ultimate form of self-education, and the ultimate tool for personal empowerment.Many people have dreamed bigger because of the books they have read.

Recently I was in Hyderabad. To quench my thirst for wisdom by books.I googled and zeroed at Haziq and Mohi’s Book shop of Hyderabad.So one fine day, with my Canon Camera,I reached  at Haziq and Mohi’s book store.
Ibrahim Bin Khalid Bafana

On reaching at Haziq and Mohi of Hyderabad, I realized that it is heaven of rare antique books.A right place, where search of old stories by scholars and historians end. Situated in Murghi chowk a small lane after Chowk Masjid near Laad Bazar area.

“Haziq and Mohi” is one place where anyone looking for something different or a particular book from a certain period would never be disappointed. Author William Dalrymple reportedly researched his historical novel “White Mughals.”
On reaching there “Ibrahim bin Khalid Bafana” of 4th    Bafana’s generation attended me.He maintains the shop.400-sq-feet store was stacked with books from floor to ceiling. There was very little grandeur to suggest that this 50-year-old bookstore is a haven for historians, scholars and students from around the world.
Mohammad bin Salim Ali Bafna, migrated from Yemen, and used to work for the then Nizam government,” Ibrahim bin Khalid Bafana told me. With the passing away of Mr. Salim Bin Ali Bafana, his siblings have vowed to run the shop with the same passion.

Haziq and Mohi book shop was started more than half a century ago by Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bafanna, after inheriting a huge collection of precious books from his grandfather Salim Bin Ali Bafanna.

Most of them are decades, if not centuries, old, and cover an eclectic variety of subjects: from history and philosophy to mysticism, religion, medicine, Islamic art and architecture, art, poetry, architecture, mysticism, religion, music, and medicine. One can find Urdu, Persian, and Arabic literature and dictionaries, old census reports of Hyderabad, and out-of-print historical records. 

The books at Haziq and Mohi are priced according to their age. If the book is only half a century old, you can buy it for somewhere between Rs 3,000- Rs 5,000.

If the book has seen centuries of wear and tear, the price can shoot up to Rs 20,000-Rs 50,000. Certain books are only sold in photocopies as they are the only pieces available.

After independence. The grand old libraries of the city’s aristocrats were of no use to the younger generations, who were downsizing their living quarters by moving into smaller houses.
Hence these books found a home in Haziq and Mohi as its proprietor was always on the lookout for new additions to his collection.
Haziq and Mohi is only one among the many stores that Bafanna owned. His collection was so huge that he set up a couple of others around the city.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Travel Story “Trip To Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary: Paradise For Bird Lovers.

Family kids were enjoying winter vacation as per their interest, playing cricket, football, reading fairy tales.” To make their winter vacation from funny to spicy and knowledgeable, I decided a trip to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.

Where thousands of migratory birds come to the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur each year from Siberia, Central Asia, Mongolia, and Egypt to be in the relative warmth of northern India“.

Bharatpur is at 110 Km distance away from Aligarh, a three hours’ journey.

Kids were ready with their fully charged mobiles for clicks and binoculars. I too picked up my camera bag. Journy started 6.00A.M. It was a freezing cold January. Never imagined such thick fog. Low visibility caused the vehicle to run slow.

We reached Mathura at about 8.30. Here we stopped at a hotel cum dhaba for breakfast. The hotel boy was frying hot jalebi. We refreshed us with Kachaudi, Bedai, hot and sweet jalebis, and garam adrak wali tea.

It was about 9.00A.M. Sky was not clear, still some fog. Thanks to Almighty Allah. We reached safely on gate of santury at about 1o.A.M. Purchased Entrance ticked @75/-per adult, student’s entry was free. From main gate no vehicle is allowed.

The options are to go by walking or hire a pedal rickshaw, bicycle or horse-cart available at the main gate. Rickshaw (Two Seater) charge Rs.100/=per hour, and bicycles charge Rs. 40/=. 

The length of the straight road upto which rickshaws/horse-carts are allowed is around 3.5 kms one side. If not in a hurry, it takes around four odd hours to and fro.

We hired a rickshaw guide and started on the journey into the wildlife, a journey which I am never going to forget. Thankfully the rickshaw guide was very well versed with a vast variety of birds and mammals present in the sanctuary.
“You may not see a tiger at Ranthambore, but you will always see Painted Storks in Bharatpur.”  The proud rikshaw puller cum guide told us.

History of Bharatpur bird santury

It is better to tell about this Bird santury, before entering in a mesmerizing world of flaura and fanna. The 29 km, reserve is locally known as Ghana, and is a mosaic of dry grasslands, woodlands, woodland swamps, and wetlands.

These diverse habitats are home to 366 bird species, 379 floral species, 50 species of fish, 13 species of snakes, 5 species of lizards, 7 amphibian species,7 turtle species, and and a variety of other invertebrates. 

Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a famous sanctuary that plays host to thousands of birds especially during the summer season. 

Over 230 species of birds are known to have made the National Park their home. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a declared World Heritage Site.

The sanctuary was created 250 years ago and is named after a Keoladeo (Shiva) temple within its boundaries. Initially, it was a natural depression.

The park was a hunting ground for the maharajas of Bharatpur, a tradition dating back to 1850, and duck shoots were organised yearly in honor of the British viceroys. In one shoot alone in 1938, over 4,273 birds such as mallards and teals were killed by Lord Linlithgow, the then Governor-General of India.

The journy insiside sanctury, in the silence and mystic beauty.

I preferred to walk with my camera, Bilal on bicyle and others on rickshaw. Rickshaw puller was a well trained guide having knowledge of the various species of birds both inland and migratory. 

He guided me to points of clicking the birds, by their names and habits. It was a treat for my photography.
I still remember the hues and the colors which the sanctuary was bestowed with; a drop of sunshine and the whole place was lit with morning soft sun light mixed with thin frost glory.
Into the tranquility and serenity of the sanctuary which still engulf my mind and soul and takes me in a completely different world with melodies of birds chirping, whistling, flipping and all other sounds that I feel lost in a world of dreams.

This place is a perfect set-up for nature lovers, poets, philosophers and authors, a setup for thoughts, emotions and words.
We moved in a magical world of dream, the world which is ruled by birds, about 2 hours. I confess 2 hours are none for this place. It requires at least one and half full days to witness and inhale the magic of birds.

All were tired and in a mood to return back. My camera was fully loaded with memories of this unforgotten journey.

So vivid was this travelling that even after a long time since our visit, it is still part of the poetry of my imagination.

“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints!”

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Aligarh Wale Talat Mahmood: The Era of Golden Voice That Never Gets Old

Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh is not only a seat of higher learning and education, it has created a galaxy of stars, who glittered in every field of life. One of them was—Talat Mahmood (1924-19980), A bright star of AMU galaxy. The Ghazal Samrat”, the Golden Voice of India.

The nostalgia voice for many of generations. He sang about 800 songs in his long career. His songs are still popular among the music lovers.

Those were the days of Radio Cylone Amin Syani and Binaca Geet mala, when in peaceful silence of nights, I heard his first song on radio; ‘Ai dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal jahan koi na ho’ (Arzoo).

Later I became a great fan of Talat Mahmood In that craziness, I purchased a new gramophone and L.P records of Saregama HMV ‘Golden Collection’ of Talat Mahmood ghazals.

I instantly fell in love to velvet singing of Talat Mahmood for his 8 songs.He was an obsession for me. :
1- ‘Ae Mere Dil Kahin Aur Chal’ (Daag).
2- ‘Main Dil Hoon Ek Armaan Bhara’ (Anhonee)
3- ‘Ae Ghame Dil Kya Karoon’ (Thokar)
4- ‘Shaam-E-Gham Ki Kasam’ (Footpath)
5- ‘Raat ne kya kya khwab dikhaye’ (from ‘Ek Gaon Ki Kahani’).
6- ‘Aansoon samajh ke’ (Chhaya)
7- ‘Seene mein sulaghte hain armaan’ (with Lata Mangeshkar in Taraana).

8-Tasavir banata hun, Tasavir nahi banati(Baradari)

Once Dilip Kumar said Talat as "a perfect gentleman". He was a fine gentleman who always had time and respect for his admirers.

Talat was known for his unique style of singing.  He had a characteristic quiver in his voice that was unique.  Initially many music directors saw this as a flaw, but it was Anil Biswas who saw this as a characteristic that had potential.

Born in Lucknow on February 24, 1924, in a conservative Muslim family, Talat's father was averse to his singing pursuits. But his peternal aunt, phoophi, encouraged her nephew's singing talent and also convinced her brother not to smother his son's passion for music. 

After completing his initial studies in Aligarh he came back to Lucknow and joined the Marris College of Music in 1938, like many singers of that period. He was very active in the 1950s and early 1960's and has many notable films to his credit.

Talat's musical career was marked by a steady rise.  His training began under Pandit S.C.R. Bhat at the Morris Music College Lucknow in the 1930's. In 1939 when he was only 16 years old, he began to sing gazals on All India Radio.

In 1944 came the smash hit "Tasveer teri dil mera behela na sakegi" sold over 100,000 copies; It took the country by storm. Its popularity was so phenomenal and unrivalled that even today it remains one of the biggest non-film hits! 

This disc brought Talat fame throughout India and soon he was beckoned by the Calcutta Film Industry, which was then the premiere hub of film production in the 40's.
He moved to Calcutta and began to sing and act for the film industry there.  While in Calcutta he often performed under the name Tapan Kumar. 

Talat received Padma Bhushan in 1992, in recognition of his artistic contributions in the spheres of cinematic and ghazal music. he had a unique, elegant and profoundly artistic style of singing. Talat was a very gifted singer in every sense.

In 1949 Talat moved to Bombay, to sing for the Hindi film industry. His name and fame had already preceded him and soon he was flooded with offers.

His big break came with the song “Ae dil mujhe aisi jagha le chal jahan koi na ho” composed by music director Anil Biswas for the soundtrack of the movie Arzoo. The song proved to be extremely popular. 

However, Talat who was the first Indian singer to go on foreign concert tours in 1956 to East Africa found eager fans awaiting his arrival in other foreign countries.

His last recording was Mere Shareek-e-Safar, recorded in 1985.  He died on May 9, 1998, at the age of 74.

The Love story of “Talat Mahmood” that ended in happy marriage 

Young and handsome Talat Mahmood was the heart-throb of the nation and he had no dearth of girls, from beautiful movie-stars to sophisticated Maharani's, practically throwing themselves at him vying for his attention! 

But his heart was stolen by a beautiful Bengali girl called Latika Mullick.  Latika had been a child star and had starred in hit films like 'kashinath' and others. 

She was a great fan of Talat's and was thrilled to meet him during one of his many trips to Calcutta for his recording and acting sessions. 

Love soon blossomed and the two decided to marry. But in those days it was unimaginable for anybody to marry against the wishes of their parents. 

Talat was worried that his orthodox father would throw a fit if he came to know that Talat was planning to marry a Christian Bengali!  So Talat and Latika decided to marry on the quiet!

However, the Press soon got wind of the "quiet marriage" and within days splashed stories of their marriage, including photo's of the 'Nikahnama' or marriage certificate, on the front pages of their publications! 

Talat's family in Lucknow came to know of his marriage when some well-meaning family friends showed these Press revelations to them. 

His father was upset but only for a very short while and soon gave his daughter-in-law Latika, whose new married name was now Nasreen Mahmood, his blessings for a happy married life. And so, this became a love story that had a happy ending!!!

Talat and Nasreen married on 20th Feb 1951 and have two children: Khalid born in 1953 and Sabina born in 1959. 

Written with help of Wikipedia, many other write ups on Talat Mahmood and photos available on internt and with an special thanks Mr Khalid Mahmood son of Talay Mahmood.

The End

Friday, 12 July 2019

Aligarh Wali-Begum Para: A Legendary Bold Actress of Hindi Cinema.

Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh is not only a seat of higher learning and education, it has created a galaxy of stars, who glittered in every field of life. A bright star of that galaxy was Begum Para (1926–2008) was one of Bollywood's most bold actresses during the 1950s.

She was considered a glamour girl of Hindi Cinema, to such an extent, that Life magazine had a special session with her devoted to her fine sensuous photographs.
Her active Years in Hindi Films were 1944–1956. She returned to films after 50 years for last role in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya (2007) as Sonam Kapoor's grandmother. She died in her sleep at the age of 81.

Begum Para carved an image of her own with beguyling shimmying her riding crops, Westernized clothing, and seductive shimmying to music. Films like Ustad Pedro (1951) made her one of the earliest pin-up girls of Hindi cinema.
She was offered to play Nigar Sultana’s role 'Bahar' in Mughal-e-Azam (1960). However, she refused to play the role because she considered it against her image.

In one of her interviews, she had said, "I have millions of memories from those days. I didn't smoke as I never liked it. But, I did drink even when it was considered taboo. I used to hold a glass of whisky openly, unlike other actresses who mixed whisky in colas and pretended that they were teetotalers."
No one will disagree that here was a woman who lived life on her own terms and brought sunshine into the lives of millions of her fans, including those American GIs in Korea who would stick her picture on the cover of Life in their bunkers.
Begum Para’s connection with Aligarh

Begum Para was born as Para Haq in Jehlum (Pakistan). Her family was from Aligarh. Her father, Mian Ehsanul-Haq, was a judge. Later he joined judicial service of the princely state of Bikaner, where he became chief justice of its highest court. He was a fine cricketer too of his time.

She was educated at the Aligarh Muslim University. Her elder brother Masrurul Haq, had gone off to Bombay in the late 1930s to become an actor.

There he had met and fell in love with the Bengali actress Protima Dasgupta, and married her. Protima Dasgupta, was born in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, in 1922.

 Whenever she visited them in Bombay, she was quite taken up with the glitzy world of her sister-in-law. She used to accompany her on many occasions and get-togethers. 

People would get quite impressed with her looks and offer her a lot of roles. One such offer came from Sashadhar Mukherjee and Devika Rani. Her father consented to her wishes reluctantly, and requested her to never work in Lahore.

The Grand Family Relatives Background of Begum Para

She married actor Nasir Khan, the younger brother of Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar.They had three children, including the actor Ayub Khan. Her husband Nasir Khan died in 1974. Following her husband's death, she briefly migrated to Pakistan in 1975. Two years later, she relocated back to India.
Begum Para’s older sister Zarina’s daughter Rukhsana Sultana is the mother of the Indian Actress Amrita Singh. Rukhsana Sultana married Shavinder Singh, the younger brother of the novelist Khushwant Singh, and the son of Sir Sobha Singh of Lahore. 

Amrita Singh, who is Saif Ali Khan's ex-wife, is also Khushwant Singh's niece. After marrying Kareena Kapoor, Saif now has family roots on both sides, as Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor shared a close familial relationship.

The End