Archive for the 'poetry' Category

on making Jashn-e-Azadi: an essay in pratilipi

The online bilingual literary magazine Pratilipi, has quietly built an exceptional reputation  for its quality, the regularity of its bimonthly appearance, and the fact that it is genuinely bilingual, carrying excellent translations of all articles, in English and Hindi.

Readers of this blog may enjoy reading a series of essays on the Indian documentary, commissioned by Guest Editor Sridala Swami, with reflective pieces by filmmakers Paromita Vohra, Surabhi Sharma, and Kavita Joshi. In the December 2008 issue I have written an account of the making of Jashn-e-Azadi. Enjoy!


[ blog connection 7 – place to weep ]

Haven’t posted for a while. Sometimes the off line world has more to ask than the online. This blog is 30,000 views old.  For a seven month old blog, I don’t think that is a bad number (to confess to blogmistri’s initial under confidence when he registered the blog, he was willing to bet on 10-15 thousand views by now, and he lost the bet to Sanjay on it). But more than the numbers, the range and quality of conversations is what i feel proud about. In lieu of the long silence, I am posting a poem by Manglesh Dabral, who is probably amongst the best known contemporary poets writing in the Hindi language, and he won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2000 for his collection Hum Jo Dekhte Hain.

Place to Weep

(Dedicated to Rahul Dholakia’s film Parzania & Sanjay Kak’s documentary Jashn-e-Azadi)

Some time ago, places to weep were limited
Showing your tears just anywhere meant demeaning them
Some cried alone at home or in their backyard
Under a tree or on a lonely footpath
A surprise meeting with somebody, would wet our eyes for a moment
Sometimes an ancestor would appear in our dreams wiping his eyes
At the time of mourning, genteel people would hide their eyes behind dark glasses
When something like a lament would churn our insides
It was unnecessary to interpret the meaning of its romance

These days weeping surfaces from just about anywhere
You notice tears in just about every place
Glittering markets banish their darkness to their backyards
While crossing them, it seems that a river flows
Living together as a family
Beggars, lunatics, orphans, helpless animals, homeless dogs multiply
Mother and father keep searching
For their children slaughtered by the rioters
Weeping for them is like a long road
At the end of the day month year few scenes from a film
Best Bakery Gulbarga Naroda Patiya
In Yavatmal a farmer is seen for the last time
Cupping some earth from his field
In Kupwara dilapidated men and women
Are taken to identify their sons
On a narrow track made by army guns
One innocent dead appears in place of another innocent dead
Who is known by the name of a third innocent dead

Injustice continues to feed on the body of this nation, Raghuvir Sahai used to say
Lorca’s guitar like heart – still pierced with five stars
Impossible to silence it
In this happy well fed world
Kabir’s waking and weeping continues
Ghalib’s saaz is full of pain, tears flow out just as it is strummed
There is a place to weep inside poetry
She invites in people wet with tears
Through ever open doors of
Her house, backyard, under a tree, some footpath

[blog update – audio 1]

Now you can listen to some of the audio from the film.
slogans of azadi   If you want to read a translation of these slogans (and hear some more) click here.
You can also sample some of the poetry with Zarif Ahmed ‘Zarif’ and Piarey ‘Hatash’ reading their poems

[ blog connection 6: samyantar ]

We’ve just got together a translation of a very significant review of the film in the Hindi laghu patrika (little magazine) Samyantar (May 2007). Swarg mein Aag aur Aansoo, translated as In Paradise: Fire and Tears is written by Manglesh Dabral, who is probably amongst the best known contemporary poets writing in the Hindi language, and he won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2000 for his collection Hum Jo Dekhte Hain. Samyantar, edited by the doughty Pankaj Bisht, has a small circulation (around 5,000 we believe), but it’s influence in the Hindi reading public (especially in north India) is way beyond that.

After you’ve read the review, you may want to read some of the poetry of the ‘everyday’ that Manglesh Dabral is so admired for, or explore the very important world of the laghu patrika in a very good piece called Her Editor’s Voice – Hindi Periodicals by Mahmood Farooqui.

[ blog flash 9 : Nashik ]

“D for Documentary” is a relatively recent effort to regularly screen documentaries in Nashik city, initiated by our old and indefatigable friends, Abhivyakti Media for Development. Taking advantage of the Pune screening the previous day, a break-neck bus ride (accompanied by the relentless idiocy of the soundtrack of the Hindi film Bhagam-Bhag on the mandatory video screen) led Jashn-e-Azadi to a preview hosted by Abhivyakti on June 13th, 2007, at the very compact and well-made Municipal Hall named after the great musician Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar in central Nashik. Advance notice of the screening had been carried in some of the local Marathi papers, and a film about the idea of Azadi in Kashmir, should surely have attracted some critical attention in a city with a strong Shiv Sena presence…

One gratifying general observation: most people who are not regular documentary viewers, and who turn up for a screening of Jashn-e-Azadi, are taken aback by the idea of a documentary that runs to 2 hours and 19 minutes. But like has been the case elsewhere in our previews, the Nashik audience too stayed, and to the end, and many stayed for the Q&A as well. At least two people in the audience who identified themselves as RSS people, asked the usual questions about the “genocide of Kashmiri Pandits” and the “Islamic terrorism” in the valley. To their credit, the answers they received seemed to genuinely surprise them. (The fact that there are at least 4000 Kashmiri pandits still living and working with reasonable dignity in Kashmir; the fact that whatever the labels they may carry, the armed militants do draw emotional and sentimental – if not material – support in the Kashmir valley, even today.) Even if viewing the film may not have transformed their views on Kashmir completely, or even substantially, our friends from the RSS did seem a little puzzled…

Most gratifying was the tremendous response to the poetry in the film, and one gentleman who was very keen to know how quickly we could come up with a Hindi version of the film, admitted that translating the Kashmiri poems of Zarif Ahmed ‘Zarif’ and Pyare ‘Hatash’ would be an intimidating task.

[ blog flash 6 – shillong ]

blogmistri will be biased- he is from shillong.

the mysterious screening journey of the film continues. technically, the first preview of the film should have been at Gorakhpur, but hindu right intervened in the city with their favourite festival- riot and to our unhappiness-delhiwallahs got the first official taste of the film not the gorakhpuris. then the film travelled to Srinagar’s truly inspirational screening followed by an exciting and very political screening at Patna– and then Shillong on saturday, 26th May 2007, 3pm.

Shillong- capital of Meghalaya-56 kms north of Cherrapunjee (wettest place on earth) is known more for its hill station charm than its cultural/political life. as in all places cursed with the discourse of tourism – Shillongites struggle between the cunning despair of tourist guide and the banal excitements of everyday life. alt-space of the freedom project which hosted the film, is one of those groups which in a very small town way has been trying to create critical/dissenting spaces through films, music, conversations, politics, etc. They were thrown out of the small place they had been functioning from, and thus had hired the 108 year old Assam Club, opposite the old Presbyterian Church in Laban,with wooden floors and colonial charm for the screening.


Apart from the fact that we had a full house (around 130 people), thanks to Julius Basaiawmoit – an SRFTII graduate- great sound too. For the first time outside the studio setting, we could enjoy the elaborate sound design of Madhu Apsara.

Although Shillong screening was blogmistri/editor’s way of telling his town folk his reason for his regular vanishing acts to Delhi, people chose to read deep political significance in the choice of location. Their reading was to do with the usual discomfort which the societies of ‘North east’ India feel with the idea/geography of India. Historically most of the states/communities which reside here, have one time or the other challenged the territorial integrity of India. It was not that we were not aware of this connection, but we wanted to go beyond the facile similarity into the specificities of various different nationality movements. The profile of the audience was mixed- students, activists, relatives, academics… the usual. Questions- pandits, violence, islamicism, form, etc. One thing which is becoming quite exciting for us is the reaction of the ‘progressive/secular/liberal’ crowd to the religious tonality of the Azadi Movement in Kashmir. From an initial discomfort- the conversation moves on to the false dichotomies between religion/secular which the liberal discourse draws out.

Some of the reactions which we would classify as NGO/Conflict resolution industry type which blights any place where movements challenging the idea of India exists, is best exemplified by this piece which appeared in the North East Telegraph two days after the Shillong screening . Reactions of this type try to dehistoricise and reduce any struggle to a ‘conflict’ and attempts to manage and control the ‘conflict’ on behalf of the state. So the usual questions about the Peace Process, Human cost of the conflict etc.

But then an engagement which made the screening come alive for us was this short poem by Robin S Ngangom, sent to us via sms few hours after the screening.

[ blog connection 3 – robin ]

After ‘Jashn-e-Azadi’

The kite of the smoky chinars is not a symbol
The rose has migrated from the garden of paradise
Freedom will never come
Poured into goblets waiting to be raised
Martyrdom is a handout from god the hagiographer.
Only poetry of ruins is real.
The dumb rose still blooms
From some beloved breast torn open.

Robin S Ngangom
26 May 2007


Robin S Ngangom is one of the major Indian poets writing in English today. He is based in Shillong and also writes in Meitei.

Jashn-e-Azadi is available through various online outlets like amazon

You can now buy a DVD of the film, or Download it and watch
More than two years in the making, Jashn-e-azadi [How We Celebrate Freedom], is a feature length documentary by film-maker Sanjay Kak which explores the implications of the struggle for Azadi, for freedom, in the Kashmir valley.

Click here to watch the Trailer

As India celebrates the 60th anniversary of it's Independence, this provocative and quietly disturbing new film raises questions about freedom in Kashmir, and about the degrees of freedom in India.

And here is a short Interview with the film-maker.

This Jashn-e-Azadi blog is an open forum for conversations about the film, about Kashmir, and about Azadi itself.

For more information about screenings, sales and broadcast write to


For dispatches from the present

Voices of protest can be found here or call you from here

Stone in my hand

In the season of solutions, the late Eqbal Ahmad's wise words have to be remembered

Kashmir blog has the best one line blog take on Kashmir - they call it paradise, I call it home.

Zarafshan is a Kashmiri blogger whose blog (and blogrolls) are "just ways of dispersing news, views and feelings!"

For a considered discussion on the vexed issue of Pandits in Kashmir see Kasheer. And for more on this Ephemeral Existence

And a discovery called Paradise Lost

RSS Kashmir via Greater Kashmir

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.


Festival screenings

May 26, 2008 / International Video Festival of Kerala
Apr 28, 2008 / Dok.Fest
Feb 10, 2008 / Himalaya Film Festival
Nov 28, 2007 / International Documentary Festival
Oct 12, 2007 / Film South Asia
July 22, 2007 / Osian’s Cinefan film festival

Previous Previews

7 Dec 2007 / School of Oriental & African Studies & Sacred Media Cow
6 Dec 2007 / Workshop Theatre, School of English, University of Leeds
Egham, Surrey
3 Dec 2007 / Royal Holloway, University of London
New Delhi
26 Nov 2007 / Russian Centre of Science & Culture & Magic Lantern Foundation

New Jersey
Oct 5, 2007 / College of New Jersey
New York City
Oct 4, 2007 / Columbia School of Journalism
Oct 2, 2007 / University of Texas
Sep 28, 2007 / Temple University
Sep 27, 2007 / University of Pennsylvania
New York State
Sep 26, 2007 / Vassar College
New York City
Sep 25, 2007 / New School for Social Research
Sep 23, 2007 @ MIT
Sep 22, 2007 / SALDA
Sep 21, 2007 / University of Toronto
New Haven
Sep 20, 2007 / Yale University
Sep 18, 2007 / University of Minnesota

Aug 10, 2007 / Pure Docs, Prasad Preview, Banjara Hills

interrupted previews!! [[ MUMBAI ...
July 27, 2007 (Fri)
Vikalp: Films for Freedom @ Bhupesh Gupta Bhawan, 85 Sayani Road, Prabhadevi
July 30, 2007 (Mon)
Vikalp: Films for Freedom @ Prithvi House, Juhu...]]

July 14, 2007 / Institute of Agrl. Technologies, Queens Road
July 13, 2007 / Centre for Film & Drama, Millers Road
June 13, 2007, Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar Hall
June 12, 2007, National Film Archive of India Auditorium
May 29, 2007, Blue Moon Hotel
May 26, 2007, Assam Club, Laban
May 12, 2007, Hindi Bhavan Hall
March 31, 2007, Tagore Hall
New Delhi
March 23, 2007, Sarai-CSDS
New Delhi
March 13, 2007, India Habitat Center



  • 136,480 visitors

%d bloggers like this: