New Login   


Subhadra Sen Gupta

By Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
Year 2016, pp. 44, Rs. 65.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

We all know of the legendary Khwaja Ahmad Abbas who was the scriptwriter of Raj Kapoor’s classic films like Awara, Shri 420, Mera Naam Joker and Bobby. He also directed award winning films like Saat Hindustani and Do Boond Paani and introduced an actor called Amitabh Bachchan. As Abbas’s niece Syeda Hameed writes ruefully in her introduction, he wrote hits for Raj Kapoor but his own films would flop at the box office. Few of us remember that Abbas was also an acclaimed writer, author of 74 books and wrote a column in the Blitz magazine for 45 years. One should thank Hameed for reviving this gem of a book where Abbas profiles five women who exemplify the Bharat Mata of his dreams. These are real women and that makes them resonate in the reader’s mind. I really think we should send a copy of this book to every loudly self proclaimed ‘desh bhakt/patriot’ to make them understand who the true Bharat Mata is—the humane, compassionate, generous, open hearted face of our country. Abbas dips into his childhood memories to begin with Hakeemat who is called Hakko by everyone. She was a poor widow who survived by weaving, brought up her children and lived near his grandfather’s home. Hakko was too busy working to keep the purdah and as an illiterate woman knew nothing of banks, so all her savings were in the silver ornaments that she wore all the time. As Abbas writes, ‘She knew nothing about democracy or socialism. But she herself was never dominated by any man, nor was she overawed by the rich, the affluent or any person of authority.’ This is the story of how Hakko became a freedom fighter and an activist for khadi. One day Gandhiji came to visit the town and after listening to Bapu, Hakko quietly donated her precious necklace and earrings to the cause. Then when she was old and blind she continued to weave, making a khaddar shroud because she refused to be buried in the English made lattha cloth. This theme of traditional women who show an unexpected ability for independent thought and refuse society’s absurd rules runs through the profiles of the five women. There is the Maharashtrian Nani in Pune whose grandson joins the freedom movement and hides his comrades in her home. Without a protest Nani houses and feeds the young ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.