Monday, April 19, 2010

The Pyramid of Life

Maha Kamel
few are those who make it to the top...!!

few are those who
make it to the top
few who once
reach up there
sometimes drop
hitting the floor
rock bottom
from the zenith
of a rooftop
an exclamation
a full stop
once a success
now a film flop
someone else
has taken
your place
your crown
a new backdrop
a new king atop
babu mushae
fame only
reflected sorrow
in a raindrop
we swap
you are now
the new photo-op
mr amitabh bachchan
the cycle of fame
a roller coaster ride
non stop
a new number one
waiting in the wings
with his lap top

this poem was inspired by maha kamels comment on this post when it was only a picture.. now it is wisdom

The Life of Man is an Open Gutter

123,754 items / 865,773 views

broken dreams
broken wings
that wont flutter
fucked f stops
half open aperture
time lagging shutter
curses on the soul
of depravity
he loves to mutter
the life of man
an open gutter
eloquence of speech
his tongue stutters

Motherhood Begs

123,743 items / 865,756 views

the weight
of her womanhood
on broken legs
on the crossroad of life
motherhood begs
a healing touch
a promise
time reneges
a mothers dream
broken eggs

The Grave of Meena Kumari

123,736 items / 865,623 views

This is another grave that I recite fatiah.

Meena Kumari or Mahjabeen Bano (1 August 1932 - 31 March 1972), was an Indian movie actress and poetess. She is regarded as one of the most prominent actresses to have appeared on the screens of Hindi Cinema. During a career spanning 30 years from her childhood to her death, she starred in more than ninety films, many of which have achieved classic and cult status today.

Kumari gained a reputation for playing grief-stricken and tragic roles, and her performances have been praised and reminisced throughout the years. Like one of her best-known roles, Chhoti Bahu, in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Kumari became addicted to alcohol. Her life and prosperous career were marred by heavy drinking, troubled relationships, an ensuing deteriorating health, and her death from liver cirrhosis in 1972.

Kumari is often cited by media and literary sources as "The Tragedy Queen", both for her frequent portrayal of sorrowful and dramatic roles in her films and her real-life story.[1


Mahjabeen Bano was the third daughter of Ali Baksh and Iqbal Begum; Khursheed and Madhu were her two elder sisters. At the time of her birth, her parents were unable to pay the fees of Dr. Gadre, who had delivered her, so her father left her at a Muslim orphanage, however, he picked her up after a few hours.

Her father, a Shia Muslim, was a veteran of Parsi theater, played harmonium, taught music, and wrote Urdu poetry. He played small roles in films like Id Ka Chand and composed music for films like Shahi Lutere.

Her mother, Prabhwati Devi, was the second wife of Ali Baksh. Before meeting and then marrying Ali Baksh, she was a stage actress and dancer, under the stage name, Kamini. After marriage, she converted from Hinduism to Islam, and changed her name to Iqbal Begum.

(It is said that Prabhwati Devi's mother, Hem Sundari, had been married into the Tagore family, but she was disowned by that family after being widowed.)
[edit] Career
[edit] Early work

When Mahjabeen was born, Ali Bakhsh aspired to get roles as an actor in Rooptara Studios. At the urging of his wife, he got Mahjabeen too into movies despite her protestations of wanting to go to school. Young Mahjabeen is said to have said, "I do not want to work in movies; I want to go to school, and learn like other children."

As Mahjabeen embarked on her acting career at the age of 7, she was renamed Baby Meena. Farzand-e-Watan or Leatherface (1939) was her first movie, which was directed for Prakash Studios by Vijay Bhatt. She became practically the sole breadwinner of her family during the 1940s. Her early adult acting, under the name Meena Kumari, was mainly in mythological movies like Veer Ghatotkach (1949), Shri Ganesh Mahima (1950), and fantasy movies like Alladin and The Wonderful Lamp (1952).

Meena Kumari gained fame with her role as a heroine in Vijay Bhatt's Baiju Bawra (1952). This heroine always negated herself for the material and spiritual advancement of the man she loved and was even willing to annihilate herself to provide him the experience of pain so that his music would be enriched. She became the first actress to win the Filmfare Best Actress Award in 1953 for this performance.

Meena Kumari highly successfully played the roles of a suffering woman in Parineeta (1953), Daera (1953), Ek Hi Raasta (1956), Sharda (1957), and Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960). Though she cultivated the image of a tragedienne, she also performed commendably in a few light-hearted movies like Azaad (1955), Miss Mary (1957), Shararat (1959), and Kohinoor (1960).

One of her best-known roles was in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), which was produced by Guru Dutt. Kumari played Chhoti Bahu, an alcoholic wife. The film was a major critical and commercial success, which was attributed by critics to Kumari's performance, which is regarded as one of the best performances of Hindi Cinema.[3] The role was famous for its uncanny similarity to Meena Kumari's own life. At that time, she herself was on a road to gradual ruin in her own personal life. Like her character, she began to drink heavily, though she carried on. In 1962, she made history by getting all the three nominations for Filmfare Best Actress Award, for her roles in Aarti, Main Chup Rahungi, and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. She won the award for Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. wrote about her performance,

While each of the performances are spot on, if there is one person who is the heart and soul of the film, it is Meena Kumari. Her portrayal of Chhoti Bahu is perhaps the greatest performance ever seen on the Indian Screen. The sequence where Chhoti Bahu dresses for her husband singing Piya Aiso Jiya Main is a poignant exploration of a woman's expectations and sexual desire. And later on when she has become a desperate alcoholic, you cannot help but cry with her in the sequence where she pleads with her husband to stay with her and then angrily turns on him to tell him how she has prostituted her basic values and morals to please him. However the common factors between the actress's life and Chhoti Bahu are too dramatic to be merely coincidental - The estranged marital relationship, the taking of alcohol, turning towards younger male company, the craving to be understood and loved - all elements evident in Meena Kumari's own life.[4]

[edit] Later work

For four more years, Kumari performed successfully in Dil Ek Mandir (1963), Kaajal (1965), and Phool Aur Patthar (1966), all of which earned her Filmfare nominations, with Kaajal garnering her a fourth and last win of the Best Actress award. However, after divorcing her husband in 1964, her addiction to alcohol became stronger, and she often dulled her senses with liquor. She also relied more and more on intimate relationships with younger men like Dharmendra. Her subsequent releases, including Chandan Ka Palna and Majhli Didi did not do well.[1]

Kumari's heavy drinking had badly damaged her liver, and in 1968 she fell seriously ill.[1][5] She was taken to London and Switzerland for treatment. Back home, she started settling her debts and made peace with her estranged sister, Madhu, whom she had not spoken to for two years.[5] Because of her heavy drinking, she increasingly lost her good looks, and when she returned, she began playing character roles in movies like Jawab (1970) and Dushmun (1972).[1]

She developed an attachment to writer-lyricist Gulzar and acted in his directorial debut Mere Apne (1971). Kumari presented an acclaimed portrayal of an elderly woman who got caught between two street gangs of frustrated, unemployed youth and got killed, her death making the youth realise the futility of violence.

Pakeezah, starring Kumari and directed by her ex-husband Kamal Amrohi, took 14 years to reach the silver screen. First planned by Amrohi in 1958, the film went on the studio floors in 1964, but the shooting came to a standstill after their separation in March 1964, when it was more than halfway complete.[5] In 1969, Sunil Dutt and Nargis previewed some reels of the shelved film and convinced the estranged Amrohi and Kumari to complete it.[1] Hindustan Times described the meeting which Dutt had organised between the two:
“ Not much was said, but streams of tears were shed... Amrohi greeted her with a token payment of a gold guinea and the promise that he’d make her look as beautiful as the day she had started the film.[5] ”

Gravelly ill, Kumari was determined to complete the film and, well aware of the limited time left for her to live, went out of her way to complete it at the earliest. Despite her rapidly deteriorating health, she gave the finishing touches to her performance. Initially, after its release in February 1972, Pakeezah opened to a lukewarm response from the public; however, after Meena Kumari's death less than two months later, people flocked to see it, making it a major box-office success. The film has since gained a cult and classic status, and Kumari's performance as a golden-hearted Lucknow prostitute drew major praise. She posthumously received her twelfth and last Filmfare nomination.

Throughout her life, Kumari had a love-hate relationship with movies, and besides being a top-notch actress, she was a talented poetess, and recorded a disc of her Urdu poems, I write, I recite with music by Khayyam.
[edit] Death

Three weeks after the release of Pakeezah, Meena Kumari became seriously ill, and died on 31 March 1972 of cirrhosis of the liver. At her death, she was in more or less the same financial circumstance as her parents at the time of her birth: It is said that when she died in a nursing home, there was no money to pay her hospital bills.
[edit] Relationship with Kamal Amrohi

In 1952, on the sets of one of her films, Meena Kumari fell in love with and married film director, Kamal Amrohi, who was fifteen years elder than her and was already married. She wrote about Amrohi:

Dil saa jab saathi paya
Bechaini bhi woh saath le aaya

When I found someone like my heart
He also brought sorrow with him

Soon after marriage, Kamal Amrohi and Meena Kumari produced a film called Daera (1953), which was based on their love story. They also planned another film, Pakeezah. However, it took sixteen years (1956 to 1972) before Pakeezah reached the silver screen. (The scenes in Pakeezah's popular song, Inhi logon ne, were originally filmed in black and white, and were later reshot in color.)

It is said that Amrohi did not want children with Meena Kumari because she was not a Syed. They raised Kamal Amrohi's son, Tajdaar, who was greatly attached to his chhoti ammi (younger mother).

Due to their strong personalities, however, Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi started to develop conflicts, both professionally and in their married life. Their conflicts led to separation in 1960, and ultimately divorce in 1964. Highly affected Meena Kumari, who, once a happy woman, became depressed and found solace in heavy drinking.They remarried, but Meena Kumari had become an alcoholic by then.

She expressed her sorrows prominently in her poetry. About Kamal Amrohi she wrote:

Tum kya karoge sunkar mujhse meri kahani
Belutf zindagi ke kisse hain pheeke pheeke

Why do you want to listen to my story:
Colourless tales of a joyless life

At the time of the divorce, she wrote:

Talaak to de rahe ho Nazare kahar ke saath
Jawani bhi mere lauta do Mehar ke saath

You are divorcing me with rage in your eyes
Return to me, also, my youth along with the bridal-price!

[edit] Filmography

1) Gomti Ke Kinare (1972) .... Ganga
2) Pakeezah (1972) .... Nargis/Sahibjaan
3) Dushmun (1971) .... Malti R. Din
4) Mere Apne (1971) .... Anandi Devi/Auaji (Aunt)
5) Jawab (1970) .... Vidya
6) Saat Phere (1970)
7) Abhilasha (1968) .... Mrs. Meena Singh
8) Baharon Ki Manzil (1968) .... Nanda S. Roy/Radha Shukla
9) Bahu Begum (1967) .... Zeenat Jahan Begum
10) Chandan Ka Palna (1967) .... Shobha Rai
11) Majhli Didi (1967) .... Hemangini 'Hema'
12) Noorjehan (1967)
13) Phool Aur Patthar (1966) .... Shanti Devi
14) Pinjre Ke Panchhi (1966) .... Heena Sharma
15) Bheegi Raat (1965)
16) Jadui Angoothi (1965)
17) Kaajal (1965) .... Madhavi
18) Purnima (1965) .... Purnima V. Lal
19) Maain Bhi Ladki Hun (1964) .... Rajni
20) Benazir (1964) .... Benazir
21) Chitralekha (1964) .... Chitralekha
22) Gazal (1964) .... Naaz Ara Begum
23) Sanjh Aur Savera (1964) .... Gauri
24) Akeli Mat Jaiyo (1963) Seema
25) Dil Ek Mandir (1963) .... Sita
26) Kinare Kinare (1963)
27) Aarti (1962) .... Aarti Gupta
28) Main Chup Rahungi (1962) .... Gayetri
29) Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962) .... Chhoti Bahu
30) Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan (1961) .... Geeta, Shyam's wife
31) Pyaar Ka Saagar (1961) .... Radha/Rani B. Gupta
32) Zindagi Aur Khwab (1961) .... Shanti
33) Bahaana (1960)
34) Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (1960) .... Karuna
35) Kohinoor (1960)
36) Ardhangini (1959) .... Chhaya
37) Chand (1959)
38) Char Dil Char Raahein (1959) .... Chavli
39) Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan (1959) .... Ratna
40) Jagir (1959)
41) Madhu (1959)
42) Satta Bazaar (1959) .... Jamuna
43) Shararat (1959)
44) Farishta (1958)
45) Sahara (1958) .... Leela
46) Savera (1958)
47) Yahudi (1958) .... Hannah
48) Miss Mary (1957) .... Miss Mary/Laxmi
49) Sharada (1957) .... Sharada Ram Sharan
50) Bandhan (1956)
51) Ek-Hi-Rasta (1956) .... Malti
52) Halaku (1956) .... Niloufer Nadir
53) Mem Sahib (1956) .... Meena
54) Naya Andaz (1956)
55) Shatranj (1956)
56) Adil-E-Jahangir (1955)
57) Azaad (1955) .... Shobha
58) Bandish (1955) .... Usha Sen
59) Rukhsana (1955)
60) Baadbaan (1954)
61) Chandni Chowk (1954) .... Zarina
62) Ilzam (1954)
63) Daera (1953) .... Sheetal
64) Dana Paani (1953)
65) Do Bigha Zamin (1953) .... Thakurain
66) Foot Path (1953) .... Mala
67) Naulakha Haar (1953) .... Bijma
68) Parineeta (1953) .... Lalita
69) Aladdin Aur Jadui Chirag (1952)
70) Baiju Bawra (1952) .... Gauri
71) Tamasha (1952) .... Kiran
72) Hanumaan Pataal Vijay (1951)
73) Lakshmi Narayan (1951)
74) Madhosh (1951) .... Soni
75) Sanam (1951)
76) Anmol Ratan (1950)
77) Hamara Ghar (1950)
78) Magroor (1950)
79) Shri Ganesh Mahima (1950)
80) Veer Ghatotkach (1949) .... Surekha
81) Bichchade Balam (1948)
82) Piya Ghar Aaja (1947)
83) Bachchon Ka Khel (1946)
84) Duniya Ek Sarai (1946)
85) Lal Haveli (1944)
86) Pratiggya (1943)
87) Garib (1942)
88) Bahen (1941) (as Baby Meena) .... Bina
89) Kasauti (1941)
90) Nai Roshni (1941)
91) Ek Hi Bhool (1940)
92) Pooja (1940)
93) Leatherface (1939)
[edit] Filmfare Awards

Awards won

* 1954 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Baiju Bawra

* 1955 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Parineeta

* 1963 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam

* 1966 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Kaajal

Awards nominated

* 1956 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Azaad

* 1959 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Sahara

* 1960 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan

* 1963 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Aarti

* 1963 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Main Chup Rahungi

* 1964 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Dil Ek Mandir

* 1967 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Phool Aur Patthar

* 1973 Filmfare Best Actress Award - Pakeezah (posthumous nomination)[6]

[edit] Biography

One of the first biographies of Meena Kumari was written just after her death by Vinod Mehta in the year 1972. It was simply titled Meena Kumari.

Getting Ready For The Ultimate Jouney Back Home

123,726 items / 865,584 views

must leave behind
only you and your soul
on an ultimate journey
back home your goal
no other part
no other role
not the wealth
or the moments
that you stole
your mansions
your wealth
your grandeur
your pride
your arrogance
will watch
you from afar
as they
you in the hole
your life
no more under
your loved ones
with tears
will condole
the soft moist soil
your only bedroll

Grave of Nawab Kashmiri

Late Nawab Kashmiri was a veteran actor and contemporary of Dilip Kumar, Mukri, Jayant Johhny Walker and had his spacious residence at Khatau Bhuvan now Jony Castle at Wodehouse Road Colaba.

We were his tenants and he had three kids Akthar Baji , Anwar Kashmiri deceased and the ebullient fun loving gourmand Munawar Kashmiri..

Nawab Saab was already dead when my dad came to live here , but he was an undying legend having removed all his teeth for a film called Yahudi Ki Ladki..

His first cousin was the enigmatic , charming Agha Jani Kashmiri, I remember Agha Jani Saab very fondly , he was one of the most stylish man of his time ..unfortunately they dont make such giants anymore.

He always gave us kids money generously and we waited for him and his visits to this house.He stayed at Keki Court Warden Road Kemps Corner.

Nawab Saab helped a lot of Shia families and was related through his wife to the erstwhile family of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.

Nawab Saab had a Kolkatta connection too.

Ammi the grandmother of the three kids was a very strong personality diminutive woman that could shake the ground under your feet if you wronged her or her grand children.

Much of what I am , I owe to her grand daughter Akthar Baji , who put me in a European School at Colaba, I remember her fondly and she was a great photography enthusiast , Dayal the photographer on a cycle shot their pictures early 50s..

Dayal was incidentally very close to actor Chandrashekar Saab.

So every time I come here to the Shia graveyard to pay tribute to my parents , I dont miss Nawab Saabs grave and offer fatiah to his soul.

Nawab saab it is told was a very strict disciplinarian, and his house at Khatau Bhuavan was an entire wing , he was very close to Begum Akthar with whom he had co starred in a film.

The next wing completely belonged to Dossabhai Kanga of New Era Printing Press father of Keith Kanga of Atomic Forest fame.. the pioneer of rock music in India.

We stayed in three room servants quarter of Nawab Saabs palatial home..

Till we moved out of this place in 1963 and shifted to Warden Road for a short while and back to Strand Cinema Colaba..which has been our ancestral family home ever since.

The Shakirs of Colaba

123,714 items / 865,574 views

I start a new set at Flickr called We The Dead to show you the intimacy of Death with life..

This is my parents graves buried side by side as in life as in death.

Graves , shooting graves might sound like a morbid passion , but than morbidity is the ultimate excuse of setting sail out of this earth..we berth here and dock into an unknown region which only God knows ,its longitude latitude and its geographical existence always in the poets head heart and soul.

My dad was Mohomed Shakir Hussain
son of Bashir Hussain Wazir Ganj Lucknow

died 21 Dec 1996

My mother
Shamim Shakir Hussain

Wife of Mohomed Shakir Hussain
do Syed Abid Al aka Daroga Nabban Saab of Pata Nala Lucknow
descendant of poet Mir Anees.

died 11 dec 1998

My Soul Is Held Captive In Her Eyes

123,713 items / 865,349 views

from the prison cell
of her inner vision
it tries to fly
fate it defies
it screams
it cries
it falls
it survives
my soul
is held captive
in her eyes
i had deleted
her from
my fucked
her cruel heart
is my earthly
she holds me
my testicular fortitude
in a deathly vise
one sided love
i pay a hefty price
she loves
another man
who is none
but my alter ego
in sartorial disguise
lord of the flies

The End of a Era

123,712 items / 865,336 views

I took this shot and I had tears in my eyes I was sure I wont see Don again .. and the short time I got to know him would remain etched as a poem on my soul.

Don and Me

Don and Me, originally uploaded by firoze shakir photographerno1.

123,712 items / 865,309 views

Don asked my shop help to take another picture of him and me , Don is really fond of me , and this is a karmic relationship..I told him I would pray for his recovery..and as I got up again I took a few single shots of my favorite Don.

Don Wants Me To Come To Bihar

123,710 items / 865,307 views

As I got up to leave Sarkela the Dons hunch back henchman took this parting shot, he is only good at shooting the dons rival down , and you can see he is not good with the camera at all..

Don asked me if I would want to come with him to Bihar but I politely refused his offer I have to take care of my business which is down in the dumps..besides I had to rush to Colaba to Leopold Cafe to meet my French photographer friend Laurent Salesse , we had met in Lucknow 2007 and shot the Ashura procession from Nakhas till Karbala Talkatora where the Shias bury the tazias..

He had arrived in Mumbai unexpectedly , going to shoot the Koovagam Eunuch Vilupuram.

Don Ke Bad Kaun?

123,709 items / 865,299 views

I have very sad news , Don who was my friend a rags to riches story , is leaving the city of Mumbai for good, he is taking Sarkela and Pakya with him.. he is going back to Bihar where he was born in the city of Patna .

His mother is blind but she is eagerly waiting for him to return, she is not aware that her crippled son has a few days to live , yes Don has been diagnosed with blood leukemia , the doctors have given up all hopes , and the Don is not defying death anymore..

The film he was to make is for the time being on hold..the person who will inherit his empire his slums his shanties is a mystery..this was the last picture of him with me - my favorite Don..

Don Ke Bad Kaun ?

Searching For Hope

123,708 items / 865,262 views

this is for gail
the walls of her mind
i cannot scale
a cosmic poet
in a poor mans jail
beggar women
in veil
an image
on the
wings of poetry
set sails
my story
my angst
on the
of a gender
that is neither
nor female
a pathless trail
even the blind man
on the street corner
for the
holy grail

Cross Over

Cross Over, originally uploaded by firoze shakir photographerno1.

123,708 items / 865,262 views

This is for Randy my dear friend

it was a burden
carrying the cross
of a woman
i once loved
i had deleted
her from
my fucked
i still
of her
as my beloved
but frailty
thy name
is woman
she has a new
out i was shoved
a cosmic poet
into a crow
black 'wretched

You Telecom The Kiss of Death

123,706 items / 865,218 views

Since last night I have gone through a [ain which I cannot describe and it goes deeper than my you know what,.
My Internet provider You Telecom dies at midnight or a little before midnight..this morning it came back at 4 am again went dead and I logged in at 9 am.

Now it is intermittent erratic troubling me like hell.. might die anytime as I blog...

And You Telecom Customer Care is pathetic , dont answer your message or get back to you ..and I am writing this as no one cares , most of the guys get transferred or leave their I am back to where I started.

I have just sent a SMS message to two of their Bandra office heads.

Tweaking The Soul of Adversity

123,705 items / 865,166 views

as a street photographer
the hostility of pain
is not always a bluff
the soul of adversity
a task very tough
being a poet
a remark off the cuff
seeing all this
littered on the streets
my soul says
enough is enough
edges all rough
an empty stomach
not sufficient
food stuff
allah ho akbar
the muezzins call
on the soul
beyond that
bad luck
her fate
a husband
sickly at home
tuberculosis and cough

Where Do I Begin Where Do I End

123,704 items / 865,095 views

this could be an Idd greeting
to the sanctimonious silent
leaders of our community
I could send a few coins
a life of pain wont mend
buying a sacrificial goat
for Rs 100000 on Bakra Idd
is the usual rich Muslim
trend on the soul
of misery outspend
a woman and a goat
on a canvas blend
sacrificed in marriage
sacrificed as mother
they presume
she is happy content
being a woman
for the sins
of her forefathers
she must repent
begging outside
the mosque
at every
feast and event
truth is bitter
truth hurts
the best
i shoot
what i see

Gods Little Soldiers of Peace

The pipe that runs through from the tap to the house is the life source of the slums..water is the essence of slum life and power that runs a fan or a single bulb is what survival is about.

Just as you enter the slums a lady does the ironing for your clothes , there are two provision shops in the slums.

Most of the hawkers , hotel waiters helpers have rooms here taken on rent.

I have cordial relationship with most of the denizens of the slums, they know I wont write adverse about them or show them in poor light.

The kids love me but I am not familiar with any one as such, I only know one guys name I have a bad memory.. This is life an extension of pain despair , I pass by this way twice a day..and do not get tired shooting the same kids or the same situations day in and day out..