Monday, October 17, 2005


Awesome. I checked my blog for more comments today. To my amazement LC Singh - writer of the film "Banaras - A mystic love story” has posted his comment right here.
You bet I am lucky!! I guess this great opportunity for me and for all those reading this stuff to delve deeper into the details of the film with none other than the writer of the film himself!
By the way did any of you check the films website –
It’s a cool site - not to be missed.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Banaras's own -Tulsidas

Hmmm....ever since I saw the original manuscripts of Saint Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas I have been wanting to know more about this great saint/ poet who lived and died in Banaras. I went digging into the past and these are some interesting facts I stumbled upon.
Tulsidas was born to Brahmin parents. A legend relates that he had all 32 teeth at birth! Having been born under an unlucky conjunction of stars, he was abandoned in infancy by his parents, and was adopted by a wandering sadhu. He married Ratnavali at a young age. The untimely death of their Tarak, led Tulsi's wife to lifelong wroship of Lord Rama. Apparently, she left her husband and returned to her father’s house to occupy herself with religion. Tulsidas followed her, and endeavoured to induce her to return to him, but in vain. He too renounced the world, and entered upon an ascetic life, much of which was spent in wandering as a preacher of his faith in Rama. According to the legends, Lord Rama is said to have appeared in his dream, and is said to have commanded him to write a Ramayana in the language used by the common people. In 1574, he began this work on Ramcharitmanas, after having migrated to Banaras. Tulsi's great poem, popularly called Tulsi-krita Ramayana, but named by its author as Ramcharitmanas or the Lake of Rama's deeds, is more popular in amongst Hindus in north India. It's a more simplistic version of Valmiki's Ramayana which is written in sanskrit - a language spoken only by the elite. Tulsidas re-wrote the epic in a common man's dialect. Not only are his sayings proverbial: his doctrine actually forms the most powerful religious influence in present-day Hinduism. His greatness lies in the fact that he founded no school and was never known as gugu or master. He died in Banaras, at the age of 91 in 1623 during the reign of Emperor Jehangir.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Yet another Banarasi fad

Apart from chewing the beetle nut leaves the Banarasi babus are famous for their obsession for bodybuilding as is apparent from the large number of akhadaas in the city. I've already lost count of their numbers! Women are not a part of these akhaadas, by the way . Also getting permission to watch an akhaada in session is not as easy. I had to request one of the guys at the hotel to arrange it for me. It's a must see for everyone who visits Banaras. The first sight is a little repulsive though.
But a little while and I realised that it is quite a fascinating sport.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Music and musicians of Banaras

I have been digging for information on the famous Banaras Gharana of music. Inspite of being student of classical music myself, I had a very general idea about this gharana. Apart from being the world centre for all the spiritual fervor, Banaras is an ancient centre for learning the true essence of the Hindustani Classical music. Artists settled here, evolved a unique style of singing, which is the Banaras Gharana. Banaras Gharana (Vocal) was founded by Pt. Gopal Mishra. The style incorporates several genres like the Drupad, Dhamar, Tarana, Tappa, Thumri, Bajan, etc. Lyrics, 'Sur Prastap' (emphasis on music notes), and converting those 'Sur' into 'Aakar' are some of its other salient features. Some of the world renowned musicians from the Banaras Gharana still believe that it was Banaras that made them and their music!
Ustaad Bismillah Khan is the most famous Banarasi citizen. Born in a small Bihar village in 1917, Ustad Bismillah learned shehnai from his uncle who played in the famous Vishwanath temple. Bismillah Khan is now one of the most respected musicians. Yet his lifestyle has not changed. It retains the old world charm of a Banaras life ... his chief mode of transport is still the cycle-rikshaw!
Pt. Kishan Maharaj is one of the finest tabla players ever, was born on the auspicious day of Sri Krishna Janamashthami in the year 1923, in the holy city of Banaras. He began learning at the tender age of eleven, accompanying the principal artistes of the day.
Girija Devi one of the finest thumri experts of this century was also born in Banaras in 1929, She started music lessons at the age of 5 with the well known singer-sarangi player Pandit Sarju Prasad Misra, and later continued her music training with Pandit Chandra Misra.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Day 8 : Blessed Banaras ...... I got the story!!

Hey!!!! Finally I met someone from the crew. He’s been in living in the same hotel and I had no clue! Anyway, this fella was an interesting one. He claimed he knew there story but if I really wanted the authentic version…. I could speak with er…the director himself. Wowee!! I got Pankuj Parashar’s e-mail and dashed a mail to him immediately. And yessssssss… I got it!
Here’s how it is - :
The cast :
Urmilla Matondkar, Asmit Patel, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Raj Babbar, Akash Khurana.
The film is set in the mystique land of Banaras. Shwetambari ( Urmila Matondakar) plays the main protagonist in the film titled “Banaras – A mystic love story”. She is the only child of her rich parents. (Dimple Kapadia and Raj Babbar). A teacher of philosophy and religion, she falls in love with a low cast musician – Soham (Ashmit Patel). She unspools the events of her own life when she looses her beloved. Disillusioned by fear and fragmentation she abandons hope, desire and leave Banaras. Things start looking brighter as she transcends her own attachments and discovers the ultimate freedom. She finally returns to Banaras, the city of Shiva, where 'everything is possible'. Naseerudin Shah, plays the mystical preacher. He knows the secret of life and helps Soham gain enlightenment.
The film is produced by LC Singh. The entire project for him, is like an investment in the city and on a subject he loves the most! The dialogues of this ultimately mystical film are written by Javed Siddiqi.
Most interestingly, since Banaras represents one of the oldest gharanas of hindsutani classical music, songwriter Sameer and music director Himesh Reshammiya have ensured that every single note reflects the purity of the gharana.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Day 7: Khai ke pan banaras wala!!

I was now wondering what to do, since I couldn't mange to meet the chappie who probably had the real story of the film I've heard so many versions about the storyline of the film that now it is almost like an obsession. I have to get hold of someone who knows it all.
Anyway, I couldn't really do much sitting here, so I went out again into the endless winding gali's for my daily dose of the 'notorious' banarsi paan. I forgot to mention earlier but i've been munching on my favorite maghai ever sinceI landed here! (mom - don't panic I've been taking enough care of my oral health.) Incidently I learnt from my regular 'paan wale bhaiya' that the Banarsi pan wasn't grown in Banaras after all! It get's its name after it is treated here to get the distinct pale colour! It seems the maghai is more popular with the locals. Hmmm.... So what's the big hype over a banarsi pan?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Day –6 : Waiting for more ….

Hell! The damn kachoris didn’t agree with me. I’ve been in the room watching TV most of the time. Guess what, I am meeting someone from the film’s crew tomorrow and will get to know more about this mystical film, tittled - “Banaras –A mystic love story”. I’ll get all the facts by tomorrow!!! Will give out all the details soon.
This place has really fascinated me since the day I landed here. Hence I am more than curious to know if the film has really been able to weave the mysticism of the place into the storyline.