Monday, September 25, 2006

Remembering Padmini the graceful actor and dancer

My mother told me yesterday morning that the actor and dancer Padmini is no more. I felt that one chapter of my childhood had ended. As a young child growing up in various cantonments the weekly Hindi movie was a great educator and to some extent it neutralised the negative effects of being deprived of Indian inputs. My mother would often talk of Padmini and her sisters. The 'Travancore sisters' as she called them. I guess for someone from outside Kerala and especially for someone from outside South India Padmini would have been just one of those heroines who made the hero's world a little more colourful. In a state like Kerala she must have shocked many by entering the celluloid world. Inspite of their matrilineal traditions and the immense freedom their women enjoyed the land owning Nairs must have been shocked. Not unlike the case of Mallika Sherawat and the conservative society of Haryana. In Mallika's case the desire to shock was a calculated one in Padmini's case the fact that she was acting in films was enough to shock the orthodox.

My mother is my source of information as far as commercial Malayalam cinema is concerned. When she told me some years ago that Shobana ('Dance like a Man', 'Anantaram') is Padmini's niece I became extremely attentive. Another cousin Sukumari is also a one-woman institution in Malayalam cinema. Padmini's ouevre in Hindi cinema was limited but will be remembered. "Payal" [1957], Babubhai Mistry's "Mahabharat" [1965], Raj Kapoor's "Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai" [1961], and "Mera Naam Joker" [1971].

Her film debut in Udai Shankar's Kalpana, the manner in which she left Travancore and established herself in the Madras film industry, acted in films made in all the South Indian languages and made her mark in Bollywood long before anyone had heard of Kamalahasan or Sridevi is something which has never been recognized. Maybe if she had been a man.

Some excellent links to Padmini are available here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


The little candle eagerly waited
For the match to
Light the flame
And make its life real.
And it waitedAnd waited……

All the matches
Were staring at the lamp
And the wonders of electricity
Hoping they could be a
Part of thisNovelty.
Wondrous and beautiful
Full of light….
And the candle and the matches
Waitedand waited
till eternity....

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sarai Reader 06: The theme is "Turbulence"

Amardeep Singh, Assistant Professor of English at Lehigh University has created one of the best literary blogs. I check it out at least once a day. Thanks to this entry in his blog I came to know about issue #6 of Sarai Reader. The articles are available in pdf format.

I have just seen A Candle in my Window by Peter Griffin, whose articles I often read in The Times of India. Peter writes about collaborative blogs and how he and his online friends started an online initiative named Tsunamihelp which evolved into the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog (SEA-EAT blog). A fascinating read. It shows how some of us have harnessed the awesome power of the internet to make a positive difference to the lives of the less fortunate.

Amardeep recommends A City Feeding on itself: Testimonies and Histories of 'Direct Action' Day by Debjani Sengupta. A horrifying account of the riots that took place in Calcutta in 1946.

In Poetry In a Time of Terror the Shillong based Manipuri poet Robin S Ngangom writes of the pain and trauma that the people of his state are going through.

And there are the previous issues too
Reader 1 has 'The Public Domain' as its theme.
Reader 2 has 'The Cities of Everyday Life' as its theme.
Reader 3 has 'Shaping Technologies' as its theme.
Reader 4 has 'Crisis/Media' as its theme.
Reader 5 has 'Bare Acts' as its theme.

Plenty of good stuff here folks. Click away. Thanks Amardeep.

p.s. This happens to be my first post in Neti Neti. Here's looking forward to a long and fruitful association.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Onam is about homecoming. A spirit that takes our being from all corners of the world and swoop in around a magical table where everyone gathers to munch on foregone tastes and memories - of childhood, parents, siblings, flowers and sunlight in the neighborhood.

Let Mahabali return to see us who are after all the same old ourselves - simple and warm people.

Ellavarkkum ente Onaasamsakal.

September: A sudden light shower in the morning, left the yard exhilerated and let it regain composure. The laughter and mirth from the living room grew with sunshine. Today is Onam. There is a weightlessness in reunion and barricading time to slip any further. Spring is now and hope is in the moment. (from an older Article)

* A little late to post this. Better late than never :)