Posts Under Tag: Writers

Read Biography of Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor

Read Biography of Shashi Tharoor Dr. Shashi Tharoor, born on 9 March 1956 in London, is currently the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and a member of the Indian Parliament from the Trivandrum constituency in Kerala.

Born to Chandran Tharoor, born Tharoor Chandrasekharan Nair, hailing from the ‘Tharoor Tharavad’ of Chittilanchery, Palakkad, Kerala. His mother, Lily Tharoor, born Sulekha Menon, hails from ‘Mundarath Tharavad’ in Elavanchery, Palakkad, Kerala and has adopted the nickname “Lily” as her formal name. His roots are in Palakkad, Kerala, India. He studied at Montfort School in Yercaud and Campion School in Mumbai, attended high school at St. Xavier’s Collegiate School in Kolkata, Bachelor of Arts degree in history from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. He later joined Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He then completed a Ph.D. at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Massachusetts, at the age of 22.

He previously, between June 2002 and February 2007, served as the UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, during the term of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the United Nations. In 2006, he was the official candidate of India for the office of United Nations Secretary-General, and came second out of seven official candidates in the race. He is also a prolific author, columnist, journalist, human-rights advocate and a humanitarian.

He also presently serves on the Board of Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the board of trustees of the Aspen Institute, and the Advisory Boards of the Indo-American Arts Council, the American India Foundation, the World Policy Journal, the Virtue Foundation and the human rights organization Breakthrough. He is an International Adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva for the period 2008-2011, a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities and the Patron of the Dubai Modern School.

On 19 March 2009, Tharoor was declared as the Indian National Congress candidate of the Thiruvananthapuram (Lok Sabha constituency) in Kerala for the General Elections in 2009. Tharoor featured in a five-cornered contest against P. Ramachandran Nair of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Neelalohitadasan Nadar of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), M.P. Gangadharan of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and P. K. Krishna Das of Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP).

Tharoor is known for his passionate interest in cricket, especially Indian cricket, about which he has written in such publications as The Cricketer International, The Illustrated Weekly of India and The Hindu. A theatre buff and successful actor in his schooldays, he played Antony to Mira Nair’s Cleopatra in a 1974 production of Antony and Cleopatra. At St. Stephen’s in the early 1970s he founded the Quiz Club, which is still in existence; he also revived the Wodehouse Society, which is no longer in existence. Upon election as President of the College Union (campaign slogan: “Shashi Tharoor jeetega zaroor”) he relinquished the Secretaryship of the History Society as well as the editorship of the campus humour magazine “Kooler Talk.” He was invited by St. Stephen’s College to deliver the college’s 125th Anniversary Jubilee Lecture in 2005. He has been an elected Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and a member of the Advisory Board of the Indo-American Arts Council. He has also served on the Board of Directors of Breakthrough, an international human rights organization, the Board of Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Institute, and as an International Adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross. He also supported various educational causes, including as Patron of the Modern School in Dubai, UAE. He is a member of the Indian National Congress.

At the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1976, he founded and was the first chair of the editorial board of the Fletcher Forum of International Affairs, a journal examining issues in international relations .

Tharoor has twin sons from his first marriage, Ishaan and Kanishk. Both attended Yale University. Ishaan writes for Time magazine’s international edition in Hong Kong, while Kanishk is an editor at openDemocracy in London.

Tags: , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: March 8, 2015

Read Biography of Aasif Mandvi

Aasif Mandvi

Read Biography of Aasif Mandvi Aasif Hakim Mandviwala was born on March 5, 1966 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, known professionally as Aasif Mandvi, is an Indian-American actor and comedian. He began appearing as an occasional contributing correspondent on The Daily Show on August 9, 2006. On March 12, 2007, he was promoted to a regular correspondent.

Mandvi was born to a Dawoodi Bohra Muslim family. His family moved to Bradford, England, when he was a year old, where his father, Hakim, had originally come to work in textiles research at Bradford University but later went to run a corner shop, and his mother, Fatima, was a nurse. Although Mandvi identifies himself as a “working-class kid from Bradford”, he attended the independent Woodhouse Grove School. His father grew frustrated with Margaret Thatcher’s Britain and moved his family to Tampa, Florida, when Mandvi was 16.

After graduating from the University of South Florida with a degree in Theatre, Mandvi worked as a performer at Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. He later moved to New York City where he began appearing in off-Broadway productions. During this time he was active in the band Cowboys and Indian. He won an Obie Award for his critically acclaimed one-man show Sakina’s Restaurant.

On Broadway, Mandvi appeared as Ali Hakim in the 2002 revival of Oklahoma! directed by Trevor Nunn. He also appeared in the play Homebody/Kabul by Tony Kushner. He portrayed Fritz Haber in the off-Broadway play Einstein’s Gift.

Mandvi played Melchior in On the Razzle by Tom Stoppard at the Williamstown Theatre Festival and appeared in the docudrama Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom at the Culture Project. In 2012 Mandvi starred in Disgraced at the Clare Tow Theater at Lincoln Center. He played the lead role of Amir, a Pakistani American lawyer struggling with his identity and Islam in the drama by Ayad Akhtar. The play went on to win the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Mandvi made his television debut as a doorman at the Biltmore Hotel in the episode “Line of Fire” of the series Miami Vice. He has since appeared in numerous television shows: ER, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, CSI, Oz, Ed, The Bedford Diaries, Jericho, Sleeper Cell and various editions of Law & Order, including Criminal Intent, Special Victims Unit and Trial by Jury. He was the book reader for audio editions of Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown (2005) and V. S. Naipaul’s Magic Seeds (2004). In 2011 he appeared in Taco Bell commercials.

In 2006, Mandvi auditioned for The Daily Show. He was hired immediately and appeared on the show the same day. Mandvi became a regular correspondent in 2007. He often appears in segments satirizing and commenting on Islamic, Middle-Eastern, and South-Asian-related issues with such titles as “Senior Asian Correspondent,” “Senior Middle East Correspondent,” “Senior Foreign Looking Correspondent,” and “Senior Muslim Correspondent.”

In 2013, Mandvi was cast in a recurring role on the FOX romantic comedy, Us & Them.

In October 2013, during a segment on The Daily Show, Aasif Mandvi’s interview with Don Yelton led to Yelton’s resignation from the North Carolina Republican Party office.

In November 2014, he appeared on the very popular The Dan Patrick Show. On the show he revealed the story from his book No Land’s Man where his father moved his family to the U.S. because the U.S. has brunch.

Mandvi played minor roles in the films The Siege and Die Hard with a Vengeance as well as the title role in Merchant Ivory Productions’ film The Mystic Masseur. He had a major supporting role in the independent film American Chai, playing the lead character’s roommate, “Engineering Sam.” He played the doctor who diagnosed Paul Vitti’s (Robert De Niro) panic attacks in Analyze This, and had a role as Mr. Aziz of “Joe’s Pizza” in Spider-Man 2. He was also in commercials by Domino’s Pizza and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). He played the tone deaf doorman Khan in Music and Lyrics.

Mandvi played a dentist alongside Ricky Gervais in the 2008 romantic comedy Ghost Town, as well as office employee Bob Spaulding in The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock. Today’s Special, which Mandvi co-wrote with Jonathan Bines, premiered at the London Film Festival in October 2009 and New York’s Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival on November 11, 2009. He appeared in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a coming-of-age film written and directed by Anna Boden with Ryan Fleck, adapted from the 2006 novel by Ned Vizzini. He also co-starred as a Guantanamo captive in the film The Response, a script based on the transcripts of Combatant Status Review Tribunals convened in Guantanamo in 2004. In M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender (released in 2010) he played a major role as Commander Zhao. Mandvi played the role of Mr Chetty in the 2013 comedy The Internship, which starred Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, and portrayed Ash Vasudevan in the 2014 film Million Dollar Arm.

Mandvi is involved with disaster-relief organizations like the charity initiative Relief 4 Pakistan, which assists in flood relief in Pakistan. In 2010 he hosted the “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” comedy event to raise money for the organization. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, he performed with fellow Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac at Conan O’Brien’s “I’m with Coco” Benefit for earthquake victims. He is also a supporter of the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: March 4, 2015

Read Biography of Acharya Ramlochan Saran

Acharya Ramlochan Saran

Read Biography of Acharya Ramlochan Saran Acharya Ramlochan Saran was born on 11 February 1889 in Sitamarhi Bihar, India, & died on 14 May 1971 in Darbhanga Bihar, India, was a Hindi littérateur, grammarian and publisher. He founded the Pustak Bhandar in Laheriasarai and Patna in 1915, which made the little known place like Laheriasarai prominent in Indian publishing. He shifted his publishing activities to Patna in 1929.

He also founded a number of magazines like Balak magazine (1926–1986), Himalaya (1946–1948) and Honhar (Hindi and Urdu) (1939). Through his publishing efforts he encouraged many other Hindi and Maithili littérateurs like Ramavriksha Benipuri, Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’, Acharya Shivpujan Sahay, and Pt. Harimohan Jha.He guided Upendra Maharthi the artist to develop his talents through work under him for over a decade. He was a pioneer in encouraging young authors of Bihar and through his editing standardised the Hindi language. His Hindi primer Manohar Pothi is still the finest effort ever made to teach Hindi alphabets to beginners. He also published Some Eminent Bihar Cotemporaries by Sachidanand Sinha, books by Mahatma Gandhi and other Gandhian literature in Hindi and English. He published Tolstoy and Gandhi by Dr. Kali Das Nag in English. His classic Maithili rendering of all the books written by Goswami Tulsidas is unique. He edited and published Sidhant Bhasya in four volumes on Ramacharitamanasa by Tulsidas which is permanent contribution to the spiritual literature. He was first to start printing Maithili books in Maithili script (Mithilakshar).

The golden jubilee celebration was the occasion of RAMLOCHAN’S fifty years of successful publishing and the literary and cultural contribution. It was a service to the human kind .It brought an appreciation from Mahatma Gandhi the greatest Indian leader. He sent a message: “ Brother Ram Lochan. I appreciate your work. Keep on with such service.

Laheriasarai on the world map became a hub of publishing by RAM LOCHAN JI. His company was employing five hundred locals. They were trained by him in editing, production and marketing operations for best planned effort in South Asia including BALAK magazine and innumerable valuable creative projects. He was catalyst to canalise the energy released by the nationalist creative talents for freedom in our country, through transformation in to literature, informative inspiring books for the masses: 100 essential books for rural Libraries. The Almanac, inspiring books on Indian civilization were mass-produced, efforts of think tank for renaissance in India. Ramlochan was regularly playing host to saint, artist poet, philosopher, social worker educationalist, policy planners, and bureaucrats of the region. RAJA and the princes of Darbhanga Raj publicly honoured his contribution in the city and the development of intelligentsia’s creative artists, writer poets, and spirituals.

On his death President of India V.V.Giri mentioned Achayaji’s service to children’s literature will always be remembered as it will always inspire the coming generations. The noted English daily Indian Nation wrote in its editorial, “Had Ramlochan Saran not been born in Bihar the progress of Hindi Literature would have been delayed by a decade or two.” He was born on 11 February 1889 in Muzaffarpur district of undivided Bengal and died on 14 May 1971 in Darbhanga, Bihar.

Tags: , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: February 11, 2015

Read Biography of J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling

Read Biography of J. K. Rowling Joanne “Jo” Rowling, was born on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British novelist, best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies to become the best-selling book series in history and been the basis for a popular series of films, in which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts as well as maintaining creative control by serving as a producer on the final instalment. Rowling conceived the idea for the series on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990.

Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling and Anne Rowling. Her mother Anne was half-French, half-Scottish. Her mother’s maternal grandfather, Dr. Dugald Campbell, was born in Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. Her mother’s paternal grandfather, Louis Volant, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for exceptional bravery in defending the village of Courcelles-le-Comte during the First World War.

Rowling has led a “rags to riches” life story, in which she progressed from living on social security to multi-millionaire status within five years. As of March 2011, when its latest world billionaires list was published, Forbes estimated Rowling’s net worth to be US$1 billion. The 2008 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling’s fortune at £560 million ($798 million), ranking her as the twelfth richest woman in the United Kingdom.] Forbes ranked Rowling as the forty-eighth most powerful celebrity of 2007, and Time magazine named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named ‘Most Influential Woman in Britain’ by leading magazine editors. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and Lumos (formerly the Children’s High Level Group).

On 12 April 2012, Rowling announced that her new adult novel The Casual Vacancy would be published in the UK by Little, Brown and Company on 27 September 2012.

Rowling’s sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She attended St Michael’s Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael’s, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would usually then read to her sister. She recalls that “I can still remember me telling her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed strawberries by the rabbit family inside it. Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee.” At the age of nine, Rowling moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt, who Rowling said “taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind”, gave her a very old copy of Jessica Mitford’s autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling’s heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her books.

She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College, where her mother, Anne, had worked as a technician in the Science Department. Rowling said of her adolescence, “Hermione is loosely based on me. She’s a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I’m not particularly proud of.” Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she says inspired the one in her books. “Ron Weasley isn’t a living portrait of Sean, but he really is very Sean-ish.” Of her musical tastes of the time, she said “My favourite group in the world is The Smiths. And when I was going through a punky phase, it was The Clash.” Rowling studied A Levels in English, French and German before reading for a BA in French and Classics at the University of Exeter, which she says was a “bit of a shock” as she “was expecting to be amongst lots of similar people – thinking radical thoughts.” Once she made friends with “some like-minded people” she says she began to enjoy herself. After a year of study in Paris, Rowling moved to London to work as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International.

After working at Amnesty International in London, Rowling and her then-boyfriend decided to move to Manchester. In 1990, while she was on a four-hour-delayed train trip from Manchester to London, the idea for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry “came fully formed” into her mind. She told The Boston Globe that “I really don’t know where the idea came from. It started with Harry, then all these characters and situations came flooding into my head.” When she had reached her Clapham Junction flat, she began to write immediately.

In December of that year, Rowling’s mother died, after ten years suffering from multiple sclerosis. Rowling commented, “I was writing Harry Potter at the moment my mother died. I had never told her about Harry Potter.” Rowling said this death heavily affected her writing and that she introduced much more detail about Harry’s loss in the first book, because she knew about how it felt.

Rowling then moved to Porto in Portugal to teach English as a foreign language. While there, on 16 October 1992, she married Portuguese television journalist Jorge Arantes. Their child, Jessica Isabel Rowling Arantes (named after Jessica Mitford), was born on 27 July 1993 in Portugal. They separated in November 1993. In December 1993, Rowling and her daughter moved to be near Rowling’s sister in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In order to teach in Scotland she would need a postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE), requiring a full-time, year-long course of study. She began this course in August 1995, after completing her first novel while having survived on social security. She wrote in many cafés, especially Nicolson’s Café, wherever she could get Jessica to fall asleep. In a 2001 BBC interview, Rowling denied the rumour that she wrote in local cafés to escape from her unheated flat, remarking, “I am not stupid enough to rent an unheated flat in Edinburgh in midwinter. It had heating.” Instead, as she stated on the American TV programme A&E Biography, one of the reasons she wrote in cafés was because taking her baby out for a walk was the best way to make her fall asleep.

In 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on an old manual typewriter. Upon the enthusiastic response of Bryony Evens, a reader who had been asked to review the book’s first three chapters, the Fulham-based Christopher Little Literary Agents agreed to represent Rowling in her quest for a publisher. The book was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript. A year later she was finally given the green light (and a £1500 advance) by editor Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, a small publishing house in London. The decision to publish Rowling’s book apparently owes much to Alice Newton, the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury’s chairman, who was given the first chapter to review by her father and immediately demanded the next. Although Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, Cunningham says that he advised Rowling to get a day job, since she had little chance of making money in children’s books. Soon after, in 1997, Rowling received an £8000 grant from the Scottish Arts Council to enable her to continue writing. In early 1998, an auction was held in the United States for the rights to publish the novel, and was won by Scholastic Inc., for $105,000. In Rowling’s own words, she “nearly died” when she heard the news.

In June 1997, Bloomsbury published Philosopher’s Stone with an initial print run of 1,000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries. Today, such copies are valued between £16,000 and £25,000. Five months later, the book won its first award, a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In February, the novel won the prestigious British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year, and later, the Children’s Book Award. In October 1998, Scholastic published Philosopher’s Stone in the US under the title of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: a change Rowling claims she now regrets and would have fought if she had been in a better position at the time. Its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published in July 1998 and again Rowling won the Smarties Prize.

In December 1999, the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, won the Smarties Prize, making Rowling the first person to win the award three times running. She later withdrew the fourth Harry Potter novel from contention to allow other books a fair chance. In January 2000, Prisoner of Azkaban won the inaugural Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year award, though it lost the Book of the Year prize to Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf.

The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released simultaneously in the UK and the U.S. on 8 July 2000, and broke sales records in both countries. Some 372,775 copies of the book were sold in its first day in the UK, almost equalling the number Prisoner of Azkaban sold during its first year. In the US, the book sold three million copies in its first 48 hours, smashing all literary sales records. Rowling admitted that she had had a moment of crisis while writing the novel; “Halfway through writing Four, I realised there was a serious fault with the plot … I’ve had some of my blackest moments with this book … One chapter I rewrote 13 times, though no-one who has read it can spot which one or know the pain it caused me.” Rowling was named author of the year in the 2000 British Book Awards.

A wait of three years occurred between the release of Goblet of Fire and the fifth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This gap led to press speculation that Rowling had developed writer’s block, speculations she fervently denied. Rowling later admitted that writing the book was a chore. “I think Phoenix could have been shorter”, she told Lev Grossman, “I knew that, and I ran out of time and energy toward the end.”

The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released on 16 July 2005. It too broke all sales records, selling nine million copies in its first 24 hours of release. While writing, she told a fan online, “Book six has been planned for years, but before I started writing seriously I spend two months re-visiting the plan and making absolutely sure I knew what I was doing.” She noted on her website that the opening chapter of book six, which features a conversation between the Minister of Magic and the British Prime Minister, had been intended as the first chapter first for Philosopher’s Stone, then Chamber of Secrets then Prisoner of Azkaban. In 2006, Half-Blood Prince received the Book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards.

The title of the seventh and final Harry Potter book was revealed 21 December 2006 to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In February 2007 it was reported that Rowling wrote on a bust in her hotel room at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh that she had finished the seventh book in that room on 11 January 2007. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on 21 July 2007 (0:01 BST) and broke its predecessor’s record as the fastest-selling book of all time. It sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United States. She wrote the last chapter of the book “in something like 1990”, as part of her earliest work on the entire series. During a year period when Rowling was completing the last book, she allowed herself to be filmed for a documentary which aired in Britain on ITV on 30 December 2007. It was entitled J K Rowling… A Year In The Life and showed her returning to her old Edinburgh tenement flat where she lived, and completed the first Harry Potter book. Re-visiting the flat for the first time reduced her to tears, saying it was “really where I turned my life around completely.”

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Rowling gave credit to her mother for the success of the series saying that “the books are what they are because she died…because I loved her and she died.” During this period Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression, and contemplated suicide. It was the feeling of her illness which brought her the idea of Dementors, soul-sucking creatures introduced in the third book.

Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated £7 billion ($15 billion), and the last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history. The series, totalling 4,195 pages, has been translated, in whole or in part, into 65 languages.

The Harry Potter books have also gained recognition for sparking an interest in reading among the young at a time when children were thought to be abandoning books for computers and television, although it is reported that despite the huge uptake of the books, adolescent reading has continued to decline.

In October 1998, Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to the first two novels for a seven-figure sum. A film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released on 16 November 2001, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on 15 November 2002. Both films were directed by Chris Columbus. 4 June 2004 saw the release of the film version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. The fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was directed by another new director, Mike Newell, and released on 18 November 2005.

The film of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released on 11 July 2007. David Yates directed, and Michael Goldenberg wrote the screenplay, having taken over the position from Steve Kloves. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released on 15 July 2009. David Yates directed again, and Kloves returned to write the script. In March 2008, Warner Bros. announced that the final instalment of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, would be filmed in two segments, with part one being released in November 2010 and part two being released in July 2011. Yates would again return to direct both films.

Warner Bros took considerable notice of Rowling’s desires and thoughts when drafting her contract. One of her principal stipulations was the films be shot in Britain with an all-British cast, which has been adhered to strictly. In an unprecedented move, Rowling also demanded that Coca-Cola, the victor in the race to tie in their products to the film series, donate $18 million to the American charity Reading is Fundamental, as well as a number of community charity programs.

The first four, sixth and seventh films were scripted by Steve Kloves; Rowling assisted him in the writing process, ensuring that his scripts did not contradict future books in the series. She has said that she told him more about the later books than anybody else (prior to their release), but not everything. She also told Alan Rickman (Severus Snape) and Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) certain secrets about their characters before they were revealed in the books. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) asked her if Harry died at any point in the series; Rowling answered him by saying, “You have a death scene”, thereby not explicitly answering the question. Director Steven Spielberg was approached to helm the first film, but dropped out. The press has repeatedly claimed that Rowling played a role in his departure, but Rowling stated that she has no say in who directs the films and would not have vetoed Spielberg if she had. Rowling’s first choice for the director had been Monty Python member Terry Gilliam, as she is a fan of his work, but Warner Bros. wanted a more family-friendly film and chose Columbus.

Rowling had gained some creative control on the films, reviewing all the scripts as well as acting as a producer on the final two-part instalment, Deathly Hallows.

On her website, Rowling revealed that she was considered to have a cameo in the first film as Lily Potter in the Mirror of Erised scene. Rowling, however, turned down the role, stating that she was not cut out to be an actor and, “would have messed it up somehow”. The role ultimately went to Geraldine Somerville.

Rowling, producers David Heyman and David Barron, along with directors David Yates, Mike Newell and Alfonso Cuarón collected the Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema at the 2011 British Academy Film Awards in honour of the Harry Potter film franchise.

Forbes has named Rowling as the first person to become a U.S.-dollar billionaire by writing books, the second-richest female entertainer and the 1,062nd richest person in the world. When first listed as a billionaire by Forbes in 2004, Rowling disputed the calculations and said she had plenty of money, but was not a billionaire. In addition, the 2008 Sunday Times Rich List named Rowling the 144th richest person in Britain. In 2001, Rowling purchased a 19th-century estate house, Killiechassie House, on the banks of the River Tay, near Aberfeldy, in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Rowling also owns a home in Edinburgh, and a £4.5 million ($9 million) Georgian house in Kensington, West London, on a street with 24-hour security.

On 26 December 2001, Rowling married Neil Michael Murray (born 30 June 1971), an anaesthetist, in a private ceremony at her Aberfeldy home. This was a second marriage for both Rowling and Murray, as Murray had previously been married to Dr. Fiona Duncan in 1996. Murray and Duncan separated in 1999 and divorced in mid-2001. Rowling’s and Murray’s son, David Gordon Rowling Murray, was born on 24 March 2003. Shortly after Rowling began writing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince she took a break from working on the novel to care for him in his early infancy. Rowling’s youngest child, daughter Mackenzie Jean Rowling Murray, to whom she dedicated Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was born on 23 January 2005.

In an interview with Stephen Fry in 2005, Rowling claimed that she would much prefer to write any subsequent books under a pseudonym; however, she conceded to Jeremy Paxman in 2003 that if she did, the press would probably “find out in seconds.” In 2006, Rowling revealed that she had finished writing a few short stories and another children’s book (a “political fairy story”) about a monster, aimed at a younger audience than Harry Potter readers.

As regards the possibility of an eighth Harry Potter book, she has said, “I can’t say I’ll never write another book about that world just because I think, what do I know, in ten years’ time I might want to return to it but I think it’s unlikely.” On 1 October 2010, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Rowling stated a new book on the saga might happen.

Rowling plans to write an encyclopaedia of Harry Potter’s wizarding world consisting of various unpublished material and notes. Any profits from such a book would be given to charity. During a news conference at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre in 2007, Rowling, when asked how the encyclopaedia was coming along, said, “It’s not coming along, and I haven’t started writing it. I never said it was the next thing I’d do.” At the end of 2007, Rowling said that the encyclopaedia could take up to ten years to complete, stating “There is no point in doing it unless it is amazing. The last thing I want to do is to rush something out”. On 13 April 2012, following the release of her new website, Rowling confirmed that she had started work on the project and would donate all royalties to charity as she had previously planned.

In July 2007, Rowling said that she wants to dedicate “lots” of her time to her family, but is currently “sort of writing two things”, one for children and the other for adults. She did not give any details about the two projects but did state that she was excited because the two book situation reminded her of writing the Philosopher’s Stone, explaining how she was then writing two books until Harry took over. She stated in October 2007 that her future work was unlikely to be in the fantasy genre, explaining, “I think probably I’ve done my fantasy … it would be incredibly difficult to go out and create another world that didn’t in some way overlap with Harry’s or maybe borrow a little too much from Harry.” In November 2007, Rowling said that she was working on another book, a “half-finished book for children that I think will probably be the next thing I publish.” In March 2008, Rowling confirmed that her “political fairy tale” for children was nearing completion.

In March 2008, Rowling revealed in an interview that she had returned to writing in Edinburgh cafés, intent on composing a new novel for children. “I will continue writing for children because that’s what I enjoy”, she told The Daily Telegraph. “I am very good at finding a suitable café; I blend into the crowd and, of course, I don’t sit in the middle of the bar staring all around me.”

In June 2011, Rowling announced that future Harry Potter projects, and all electronic downloads, would be concentrated in a new website, called Pottermore. The site includes 18,000 words of additional information on characters, places and objects in the Harry Potter universe. The following month, she parted company with her agent, Christopher Little, moving to a new agency founded by one of his staff, Neil Blair.

On 23 February 2012, Rowling’s agency, The Blair Partnership announced on its website that Rowling was set to publish a new book targeted at adults. In a press release, Rowling noted the differences between her new project and the Potter series, saying “Although I’ve enjoyed writing it just as much, my next novel will be very different from the Harry Potter series.” On 12 April 2012, Little, Brown and Company announced that the book was entitled The Casual Vacancy and would be released on 27 September 2012.

Rowling, her publishers, and Time Warner, the owner of the rights to the Harry Potter films, have taken numerous legal actions to protect their copyright. The worldwide popularity of the Harry Potter series has led to the appearance of a number of locally produced, unauthorised sequels and other derivative works, sparking efforts to ban or contain them.

Another area of legal dispute involves a series of injunctions obtained by Rowling and her publishers to prohibit anyone from reading her books before their official release date. The injunction drew fire from civil liberties and free speech campaigners and sparked debates over the “right to read”.

Rowling has had a difficult relationship with the press. She admits to being “thin-skinned” and dislikes the fickle nature of reporting. “They went in one day from saying, ‘She’s got writer’s block’ to saying, ‘She’s been self-indulgent'”, she told The Times in 2003, “And I thought, well, what a difference 24 hours makes.” Rowling disputes her reputation as a recluse who hates to be interviewed. In 2001, the Press Complaints Commission upheld a complaint by Rowling over a series of unauthorised photographs of her with her daughter on the beach in Mauritius published in OK! Magazine. In 2007, Rowling’s young son, David, assisted by Rowling and her husband, lost a court fight to ban publication of a photograph of him. The photo, taken by a photographer using a long-range lens, was subsequently published in a Sunday Express article featuring Rowling’s family life and motherhood. The judgment was overturned in David’s favour in May 2008.

Rowling has said she particularly dislikes the British tabloid the Daily Mail, which made references to a stalker Rowling insists does not exist, and conducted interviews with her estranged ex-husband. As one journalist noted, “Harry’s Uncle Vernon is a grotesque philistine of violent tendencies and remarkably little brain. It is not difficult to guess which newspaper Rowling gives him to read.”

In September 2011, Rowling was named a “core participant” in the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press, as one of dozens of celebrities who may have been the victim of phone hacking. On 24 November 2011, Rowling gave evidence before the inquiry; although she was not suspected to have been the victim of phone hacking (she “hardly used her phone in the 90s”, she said), her testimony included accounts of photographers camping on her doorstep, her fiance being duped into giving his home address to a journalist masquerading as a tax official, a journalist leaving a note inside her then-five-year-old daughter’s schoolbag, and an attempt by the Sun to “blackmail” her into a photo opportunity in exchange for the return of a stolen manuscript. Rowling claimed she had to leave her former home in Merchiston, Edinburgh because of press intrusion.

Tags: , , , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: July 31, 2014

Read Biography of Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling

Read Biography of Mindy Kaling Mindy Kaling was born as Vera Mindy Chokalingam on June 24, 1979 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, is an American actress, comedian, writer, and producer who portrayed Kelly Kapoor on the NBC sitcom The Office and created and currently stars in the Fox sitcom The Mindy Project. She is also a co-executive producer, director and writer of several of the show’s episodes; she also wrote, executive produced and directed various episodes of The Office.

Kaling was born to a Tamil father and a Bengali mother, both from India. Her father, Avu, is an architect, and her mother, Swati Roysircar, was a gynecologist.

She has been referred to as Mindy ever since her mother was pregnant with her when her parents were living in Nigeria. They were already planning to move to the United States and wanted a “cute American name” for their daughter, and liked the name Mindy from the TV show Mork & Mindy. The name Vera is the name of the “incarnation of a Hindu goddess.”

Kaling graduated from Buckingham Browne & Nichols, a private school in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1997. She attended High School with Boston sports talk radio show host Mike Salk. The following year, she entered Dartmouth College, where she was a member of the improvisational comedy troupe “The Dog Day Players” and the a cappella group “The Rockapellas,” creator of the comic strip “Badly Drawn Girl” in The Dartmouth (the college’s daily newspaper), and a writer for the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern (the college’s humor magazine). Kaling graduated in 2001 with a BA in Playwriting.

In 2003, she portrayed Ben Affleck in a play called Matt & Ben, which she also co-wrote with her best friend from college Brenda Withers. The play was named one of Time magazine’s “Top Ten Theatrical Events of The Year.” Kaling’s TV appearances include a 2005 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, playing Richard Lewis’s assistant. Kaling is also featured on the CD Comedy Death-Ray and wrote for one episode of Saturday Night Live in April 2006.

After her film debut in The 40-Year-Old Virgin with Steve Carell, Kaling also made an appearance in the film Unaccompanied Minors as a waitress. In 2007 she held a small part in License to Wed starring fellow The Office actors John Krasinski, Angela Kinsey, and Brian Baumgartner. Recently, Kaling was in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian as a Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum tour guide and voiced Taffyta Muttonfudge in Disney’s animated comedy film, Wreck-It Ralph. In 2011 she played the role of Shira, a doctor who is a roommate and colleague of the main character Emma (played by Natalie Portman) in No Strings Attached. Kaling also made an appearance as Vanetha in the 2012 romantic comedy film The Five-Year Engagement.

Prior to acting, one of her “worst job” experiences was as a production assistant on the Crossing Over With John Edward psychic show. Kaling used to maintain a blog called “Things I’ve Bought That I Love”, which reemerged on her website on September 29, 2011. She is the author of the comic memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). The book is a collection of essays about her early life and career, intertwined with short observational essays about her friends, family, and relationships. In 2012, Kaling pitched a comedy to Fox called The Mindy Project; which was written by her. The initial pilot featured her as the lead actress, while she also contributed as a producer. Fox began airing the series Tuesdays at 9:30 Eastern Time starting 2012.

Kaling first joined The Office as a writer at age 24 as the only woman on a staff of eight, and then took on the role of character Kelly Kapoor. She has written at least 22 episodes, including “Niagara,” for which she was co-nominated for an Emmy with Greg Daniels. Kaling also wrote and directed the webisodes “Subtle Sexuality” in 2009. In a 2007 interview with The A.V. Club, Kaling stated that the Kelly character is “an exaggerated version of what I think the upper-level writers believe my personality is.” After the “Diwali” episode, Kaling appeared with Daniels on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Most recently, Kaling directed The Office webisodes The 3rd Floor. She also directed the season 6 episode titled “Body Language,” which marked her television directorial debut. Kaling’s contract was set to expire at the end of Season 7. On September 15, 2011, she signed a new contract to stay with the show for Season 8 and was promoted to full Executive Producer status. Her NBC contract includes a development deal for a new show (eventually titled “The Mindy Project”), in which she appears as an actor and contributes as a writer.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: June 24, 2014

Read Biography of Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth

Read Biography of Vikram Seth Vikram Seth was born on June 20, 1952 in Calcutta, West Bengal, India, is an Indian poet, novelist, travel writer, librettist, children’s writer, biographer and memoirist.

Vikram Seth was born on 20 June 1952 to Leila and Prem Seth in Calcutta (now Kolkata). His family lived in many cities including the Bata Shoe Company town of Batanagar, Danapur near Patna, and in London.

His father was an executive with the Bata India Limited shoe company who migrated to post-Partition India from West Punjab in Pakistan. His mother, Leila was the first woman judge on the Delhi High Court as well as the first woman to become Chief Justice of a state High Court, at Simla. She studied law in London, while she was pregnant with Seth’s younger brother, and came first in her bar examinations conducted only weeks after she delivered her second child.

His younger brother, Shantum, leads Buddhist meditational tours. His younger sister, Aradhana, is a film-maker married to an Austrian diplomat, and has worked on Deepa Mehta’s movies Earth and Fire. (Compare the characters Haresh, Lata, Savita and two of the Chatterji siblings in A Suitable Boy: Seth has been candid in acknowledging that many of his fictional characters are drawn from life; he has said that only the dog Cuddles in A Suitable Boy has his real name — “Because he can’t sue”. Justice Leila Seth has said in her memoir On Balance that other characters in A Suitable Boy are composites but Haresh is a portrait of her husband Prem.)

Born in Calcutta, India, Seth spent part of his youth in London but returned to his homeland in 1957. After receiving primary and commencing secondary education at the Doon School in Dehradun in India, Seth returned to England to Tonbridge School. From there, Seth studied philosophy, politics, and economics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he developed an interest in poetry and learned Chinese. After leaving Oxford, Seth moved to California to work on a graduate degree in economics at Stanford University.

Having lived in London for many years, Seth now maintains residences near Salisbury, England, where he is a participant in local literary and cultural events, having bought and renovated the house of the Anglican poet George Herbert in 1996, and in Delhi, where he lives with his parents and keeps his extensive library and papers.

A polyglot, Seth detailed in an interview (in the year 2005) in the Australian magazine Good Weekend that he has studied several languages, including Welsh, German and, later, French in addition to Mandarin, English (which he describes as “my instrument” in answer to Indians who query his not writing in his native Hindi), Urdu (which he reads and writes in Nasta’liq script), and Hindi, which he reads and writes in the D?van?gar? script. He plays the Indian flute and the cello and sings German lieder, especially Schubert.

Seth has published five volumes of poetry. His first, Mappings (1980), was originally privately published; it attracted little attention and indeed Philip Larkin, to whom he sent it for comment, referred to it scornfully among his intimates, though he offered Seth encouragement.

In 2009 Seth contributed four poems to Oxfam which are used as introductions to each of the four collections of UK stories which form Oxfam’s ‘Ox-Tales’ book project.

Tags: , , , , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: June 19, 2014

Read Biography of Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie

Read Biography of Salman Rushdie Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie was born on 19 June 1947 in Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India, is an Indian British novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), won the Booker Prize in 1981. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent. He is said to combine magical realism with historical fiction; his work is concerned with the many connections, disruptions and migrations between East and West.

His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the centre of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries. Death threats were made against him, including a fatw? issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on 14 February 1989.

Rushdie was appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in January 1999. In June 2007, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for his services to literature. In 2008, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the fifty greatest British writers since 1945.

Since 2000, Rushdie has lived in the United States, where he has worked at Emory University and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses.

The son of Anis Ahmed Rushdie, a University of Cambridge-educated lawyer turned businessman, and Negin Bhatt, a teacher, Rushdie was born in Bombay, India, into a Muslim family of Kashmiri descent. Rushdie has three sisters. He wrote in his 2012 memoir that his father adopted the name Rushdie in honour of Averroes (Ibn Rushd). He was educated at Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, Rugby School, and King’s College, University of Cambridge, where he read history.

Rushdie’s first career was as a copywriter, working for the advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, where he came up with “irresistibubble” for Aero and “Naughty but Nice” for cream cakes, and for the agency Ayer Barker, for whom he wrote the memorable line “That’ll do nicely” for American Express. It was while he was at Ogilvy that he wrote Midnight’s Children, before becoming a full-time writer. John Hegarty of Bartle Bogle Hegarty has criticised Rushdie for not referring to his copywriting past frequently enough, although conceding: “He did write crap ads … admittedly.”

His first novel, Grimus (1975), a part-science fiction tale, was generally ignored by the public and literary critics. His next novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), catapulted him to literary notability. This work won the 1981 Booker Prize and, in 1993 and 2008, was awarded the Best of the Bookers as the best novel to have received the prize during its first 25 and 40 years. Midnight’s Children follows the life of a child, born at the stroke of midnight as India gained its independence, who is endowed with special powers and a connection to other children born at the dawn of a new and tumultuous age in the history of the Indian sub-continent and the birth of the modern nation of India. The character of Saleem Sinai has been compared to Rushdie. However, the author has refuted the idea of having written any of his characters as autobiographical, stating, “People assume that because certain things in the character are drawn from your own experience, it just becomes you. In that sense, I’ve never felt that I’ve written an autobiographical character.”

After Midnight’s Children, Rushdie wrote Shame (1983), in which he depicts the political turmoil in Pakistan, basing his characters on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Shame won France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book) and was a close runner-up for the Booker Prize. Both these works of postcolonial literature are characterised by a style of magic realism and the immigrant outlook that Rushdie is very conscious of as a member of the Indian diaspora.

Rushdie wrote a non-fiction book about Nicaragua in 1987 called The Jaguar Smile. This book has a political focus and is based on his first-hand experiences and research at the scene of Sandinista political experiments.

His most controversial work, The Satanic Verses, was published in 1988 (see section below).

In addition to books, Rushdie has published many short stories, including those collected in East, West (1994). The Moor’s Last Sigh, a family epic ranging over some 100 years of India’s history was published in 1995. The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999) presents an alternative history of modern rock music. The song of the same name by U2 is one of many song lyrics included in the book; hence Rushdie is credited as the lyricist. He also wrote Haroun and the Sea of Stories in 1990.

Rushdie has had a string of commercially successful and critically acclaimed novels. His 2005 novel Shalimar the Clown received, in India, the prestigious Hutch Crossword Book Award, and was, in Britain, a finalist for the Whitbread Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

In his 2002 non-fiction collection Step Across This Line, he professes his admiration for the Italian writer Italo Calvino and the American writer Thomas Pynchon, among others. His early influences included Jorge Luis Borges, Mikhail Bulgakov, Lewis Carroll, Günter Grass, and James Joyce. Rushdie was a personal friend of Angela Carter’s and praised her highly in the foreword for her collection Burning your Boats.

His novel Luka and the Fire of Life was published in November 2010. Earlier that year, he announced that he was writing his memoirs, entitled Joseph Anton: A Memoir, which was published in September 2012.

In 2012, Salman Rushdie became one of the first major authors to embrace Booktrack (a company that synchronises ebooks with customised soundtracks), when he published his short story “In the South” on the platform.

Rushdie has quietly mentored younger Indian (and ethnic-Indian) writers, influenced an entire generation of Indo-Anglian writers, and is an influential writer in postcolonial literature in general. He has received many plaudits for his writings, including the European Union’s Aristeion Prize for Literature, the Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy), and the Writer of the Year Award in Germany and many of literature’s highest honours. Rushdie was the President of PEN American Center from 2004 to 2006 and founder of the PEN World Voices Festival.

He opposed the British government’s introduction of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, something he writes about in his contribution to Free Expression Is No Offence, a collection of essays by several writers, published by Penguin in November 2005.

In 2007 he began a five-year term as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he has also deposited his archives.

In May 2008 he was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Though he enjoys writing, Salman Rushdie says that he would have become an actor if his writing career had not been successful. Even from early childhood, he dreamed of appearing in Hollywood movies (which he later realised in his frequent cameo appearances).

Rushdie includes fictional television and movie characters in some of his writings. He had a cameo appearance in the film Bridget Jones’s Diary based on the book of the same name, which is itself full of literary in-jokes. On 12 May 2006, Rushdie was a guest host on The Charlie Rose Show, where he interviewed Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, whose 2005 film, Water, faced violent protests. He appears in the role of Helen Hunt’s obstetrician-gynecologist in the film adaptation (Hunt’s directorial debut) of Elinor Lipman’s novel Then She Found Me. In September 2008, and again in March 2009, he appeared as a panellist on the HBO program “Real Time with Bill Maher”. Rushdie has said that he was approached for a cameo in Talladega Nights: “They had this idea, just one shot in which three very, very unlikely people were seen as NASCAR drivers. And I think they approached Julian Schnabel, Lou Reed, and me. We were all supposed to be wearing the uniforms and the helmet, walking in slow motion with the heat haze.” In the end their schedules didn’t allow for it.

Rushdie collaborated on the screenplay for the cinematic adaptation of his novel Midnight’s Children with director Deepa Mehta. The film was also called Midnight’s Children. Seema Biswas, Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, and Irrfan Khan participated in the film. Production began in September 2010; the film was released in 2012.

Rushdie announced in June 2011 that he had written the first draft of a script for a new television series for the US cable network Showtime, a project on which he will also serve as an executive producer. The new series, to be called The Next People, will be, according to Rushdie, “a sort of paranoid science-fiction series, people disappearing and being replaced by other people.” The idea of a television series was suggested by his US agents, said Rushdie, who felt that television would allow him more creative control than feature film. The Next People is being made by the British film production company Working Title, the firm behind such projects as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Shaun of the Dead.

Rushdie is a member of the advisory board of The Lunchbox Fund, a non-profit organisation which provides daily meals to students of township schools in Soweto of South Africa. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy group representing the interests of atheistic and humanistic Americans in Washington, D.C. In November 2010 he became a founding patron of Ralston College, a new liberal arts college that has adopted as its motto a Latin translation of a phrase (“free speech is life itself”) from an address he gave at Columbia University in 1991 to mark the two-hundredth anniversary of the first amendment to the US Constitution.

He took on Facebook over the use of his name in 2011. He won. Rushdie had asked to use his middle name Salman, which he is most recognised by. He described his online identity crisis in a series of messages posted on Twitter, among them “Dear #Facebook, forcing me to change my FB name from Salman to Ahmed Rushdie is like forcing J. Edgar to become John Hoover” and “Or, if F. Scott Fitzgerald was on Facebook, would they force him to be Francis Fitzgerald? What about F. Murray Abraham?” Messages such as these were then circulated online. Facebook eventually relented and allowed him to use the name by which he is universally known.

The publication of The Satanic Verses in September 1988 caused immediate controversy in the Islamic world because of what was seen by some to be an irreverent depiction of the prophet Muhammad. The title refers to a disputed Muslim tradition that is related in the book. According to this tradition, Muhammad (Mahound in the book) added verses (sura) to the Qur’an accepting three goddesses who used to be worshipped in Mecca as divine beings. According to the legend, Muhammad later revoked the verses, saying the devil tempted him to utter these lines to appease the Meccans (hence the “Satanic” verses). However, the narrator reveals to the reader that these disputed verses were actually from the mouth of the Archangel Gibreel. The book was banned in many countries with large Muslim communities. (12 total: India, Bangladesh, Sudan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Thailand, Tanzania, Indonesia, Singapore, Venezuela, and Pakistan.)

On 14 February 1989, the day of the funeral of his close friend Bruce Chatwin, a fatw? requiring Rushdie’s execution was proclaimed on Radio Tehran by Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of Iran at the time, calling the book “blasphemous against Islam” (chapter IV of the book depicts the character of an Imam in exile who returns to incite revolt from the people of his country with no regard for their safety). A bounty was offered for Rushdie’s death, and he was thus forced to live under police protection for several years. On 7 March 1989, the United Kingdom and Iran broke diplomatic relations over the Rushdie controversy.

The publication of the book and the fatw? sparked violence around the world, with bookstores firebombed. Muslim communities in several nations in the West held public rallies, burning copies of the book. Several people associated with translating or publishing the book were attacked, seriously injured, and even killed.Many more people died in riots in some countries. Despite the danger posed by the fatw?, Rushdie made a public appearance at London’s Wembley Stadium on 11 August 1993 during a concert by U2. In 2010, U2 bassist Adam Clayton recalled that “lead vocalist Bono had been calling Salman Rushdie from the stage every night on the Zoo TV tour. When we played Wembley, Salman showed up in person and the stadium erupted. You tell from Larry Mullen, Jr.’s face that we weren’t expecting it. Salman was a regular visitor after that. He had a backstage pass and he used it as often as possible. For a man who was supposed to be in hiding, it was remarkably easy to see him around the place.”

In reply, Rushdie published a statement that called the Prophet Muhammad “one of the great geniuses of world history,” but noted that Islamic doctrine holds Muhammad to be human, and in no way perfect. He held that the novel is not “an antireligious novel. It is, however, an attempt to write about migration, its stresses and transformations.”

On 24 September 1998, as a precondition to the restoration of diplomatic relations with Britain, the Iranian government, then headed by Mohammad Khatami, gave a public commitment that it would “neither support nor hinder assassination operations on Rushdie.”

Hardliners in Iran have continued to reaffirm the death sentence. In early 2005, Khomeini’s fatw? was reaffirmed by Iran’s current spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Muslim pilgrims making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Additionally, the Revolutionary Guards declared that the death sentence on him is still valid. Iran rejected requests to withdraw the fatw? on the basis that only the person who issued it may withdraw it, and the person who issued it – Ayatollah Khomeini – has been dead since 1989.

Rushdie has reported that he still receives a “sort of Valentine’s card” from Iran each year on 14 February letting him know the country has not forgotten the vow to kill him. He said, “It’s reached the point where it’s a piece of rhetoric rather than a real threat.” Despite the threats on Rushdie, he publicly said that his family had never been threatened and that his mother (who lived in Pakistan during the later years of her life) even received outpourings of support.

A former bodyguard to Rushdie, Ron Evans, planned to publish a book recounting the behaviour of the author during the time he was in hiding. Evans claimed that Rushdie tried to profit financially from the fatwa and was suicidal, but Rushdie dismissed the book as a “bunch of lies” and took legal action against Evans, his co-author and their publisher. On 26 August 2008, Rushdie received an apology at the High Court in London from all three parties. A memoir of his years of hiding, Joseph Anton, was released on 18 September 2012. Joseph Anton was Rushdie’s secret alias.

In February 1997, Ayatollah Hasan Sane’i, leader of the bonyad panzdah-e khordad (Fifteenth of Khordad Foundation), reported that the blood money offered by the foundation for the assassination of Rushdie would be increased from $2 million to $2.5 million. Then a semi-official religious foundation in Iran increased the reward it had offered for the killing of Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.

On 3 August 1989, while Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh was priming a book bomb loaded with RDX explosive in a hotel in Paddington, Central London, the bomb exploded prematurely, destroying two floors of the hotel and killing Mazeh. A previously unknown Lebanese group, the Organization of the Mujahidin of Islam, said he died preparing an attack “on the apostate Rushdie”. There is a shrine in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra cemetery for Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh that says he was “Martyred in London, 3 August 1989. The first martyr to die on a mission to kill Salman Rushdie.” Mazeh’s mother was invited to relocate to Iran, and the Islamic World Movement of Martyrs’ Commemoration built his shrine in the cemetery that holds thousands of Iranian soldiers slain in the Iran–Iraq War. During the 2006 Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that “If there had been a Muslim to carry out Imam Khomeini’s fatw? against the renegade Salman Rushdie, this rabble who insult our Prophet Mohammed in Denmark, Norway and France would not have dared to do so. I am sure there are millions of Muslims who are ready to give their lives to defend our prophet’s honour and we have to be ready to do anything for that.” James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation testified before the United States Congress that a “March 1989” explosion in Britain was a Hezbollah attempt to assassinate Rushdie that failed when a bomb exploded prematurely, killing a Hezbollah terrorist in London.

In 1990, soon after the publication of The Satanic Verses, a Pakistani film entitled International Gorillay (International Guerillas) was released that depicted Rushdie as plotting to cause the downfall of Pakistan by opening a chain of casinos and discos in the country. The film was popular with Pakistani audiences, and it “presents Rushdie as a Rambo-like figure pursued by four Pakistani guerrillas”. The British Board of Film Classification refused to allow it a certificate, as “it was felt that the portrayal of Rushdie might qualify as criminal libel, causing a breach of the peace as opposed to merely tarnishing his reputation.” This effectively prevented the release of the film in Britain. Two months later, however, Rushdie himself wrote to the board, saying that while he thought the film “a distorted, incompetent piece of trash”, he would not sue if it were released. He later said, “If that film had been banned, it would have become the hottest video in town: everyone would have seen it”. While the film was a great hit in Pakistan, it went virtually unnoticed elsewhere.

Rushdie was due to appear at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2012. However, he later cancelled, and indeed cancelled his complete tour of India citing a possible threat to his life as the primary reason. He investigated police reports that paid assassins had been hired to kill him and suggested the police might be lying.

Meanwhile, the police, on the advice of officials, sought Ruchir Joshi, Jeet Thayil, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar. They fled from Jaipur after reading excerpts from The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literature Festival. In India the import of the book is banned via customs. However, reading from an existing copy of the book is not illegal.

A proposed video link session between Rushdie and the Jaipur Literature Festival was cancelled at the last minute after the government pressured the festival to stop it. Rushdie returned to India to address a conference in Delhi on 16 March 2012.

Rushdie was knighted for services to literature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on 16 June 2007. He remarked, “I am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour, and am very grateful that my work has been recognised in this way.” In response to his knighthood, many nations with Muslim majorities protested. Parliamentarians of several of these countries condemned the action, and Iran and Pakistan called in their British envoys to protest formally. Controversial condemnation issued by Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Muhammad Ijaz-ul-Haq was in turn rebuffed by former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Ironically, their respective fathers Zia-ul-Haq and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had been earlier portrayed in Rushdie’s novel Shame. Mass demonstrations against Rushdie’s knighthood took place in Pakistan and Malaysia. Several called publicly for his death. Some non-Muslims expressed disappointment at Rushdie’s knighthood, claiming that the writer did not merit such an honour and there were several other writers who deserved the knighthood more than Rushdie.

Al-Qaeda condemned the Rushdie honour. The Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is quoted as saying in an audio recording that Britain’s award for Indian-born Rushdie was “an insult to Islam”, and it was planning “a very precise response.”

Rushdie came from a liberal Muslim family although he now identifies as an atheist.

In 1990, in the “hope that it would reduce the threat of Muslims acting on the fatwa to kill him,” he issued a statement claiming he had renewed his Muslim faith, had repudiated the attacks on Islam made by characters in his novel and was committed to working for better understanding of the religion across the world. However, Rushdie later said that he was only “pretending”.

The Iranian press has called Rushdie “a self-confessed apostate,” but he is better described as a lapsed Muslim, and he makes no bones about it: “I do not believe in supernatural entities,” he has said, “whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu.” Though Rushdie is hardly alone in his views, what he stands for perturbs many Muslims. They take particular offense because he has renounced his ancestral country, language, and the Muslim way of life, adopting instead England, English, and secularism.

His books often focus on the role of religion in society and conflicts between faiths and between the religious and those of no faith.

n the 1980s in Britain, he was a supporter of the Labour Party and championed measures to end racial discrimination and alienation of immigrant youth and racial minorities.

Rushdie supported the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, leading the leftist Tariq Ali to label Rushdie and other “warrior writers” as “the belligerati'”. He was supportive of the US-led campaign to remove the Taliban in Afghanistan, which began in 2001, but was a vocal critic of the 2003 war in Iraq. He has stated that while there was a “case to be made for the removal of Saddam Hussein”, US unilateral military intervention was unjustifiable.

In the wake of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy in March 2006—which many considered an echo of the death threats and fatw? that followed publication of The Satanic Verses in 1989—Rushdie signed the manifesto Together Facing the New Totalitarianism, a statement warning of the dangers of religious extremism. The Manifesto was published in the left-leaning French weekly Charlie Hebdo in March 2006.

In 2006, Rushdie stated that he supported comments by the then-Leader of the House of Commons Jack Straw, who criticised the wearing of the niqab (a veil that covers all of the face except the eyes). Rushdie stated that his three sisters would never wear the veil. He said, “I think the battle against the veil has been a long and continuing battle against the limitation of women, so in that sense I’m completely on Straw’s side.”

Critic Terry Eagleton, a former admirer of Rushdie’s work, attacked him for his positions, saying he “cheered on the Pentagon’s criminal ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan”. Eagleton subsequently apologised for having misrepresented Rushdie’s views.

At an appearance at 92nd Street Y, Rushdie expressed his view on copyright when answering a question whether he had considered copyright law a barrier (or impediment) to free speech.

Rushdie supported the election of Democrat Barack Obama for the U.S. presidency and has often criticized the Republican party. In Indian politics, Rushdie has often criticized Hindu nationalist political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena.

Rushdie is a supporter of gun control, blaming a shooting at a Colorado cinema in July 2012 on the American right to keep and bear arms.

Rushdie has been married four times. He was married to his first wife Clarissa Luard from 1976 to 1987 and fathered a son, Zafar (born 1980). He left her in the mid-’80s for the Australian writer Robyn Davidson, to whom he was introduced by their mutual friend Bruce Chatwin. His second wife was the American novelist Marianne Wiggins; they were married in 1988 and divorced in 1993. His third wife, from 1997 to 2004, was Elizabeth West; they have a son, Milan (born 1999). In 2004, he married the Indian American Padma Lakshmi, an actress, model, and host of the American reality-television show Top Chef. The marriage ended on 2 July 2007, with Lakshmi’s indicating it was her desire to end it. In 2008, the Bollywood press romantically linked him to his friend, Indian model Riya Sen. In response to the media speculation about their relationship, she simply stated: “I think when you are Salman Rushdie, you must get bored with people who always want to talk to you about literature.”

In 1999, Rushdie had an operation to correct ptosis, a tendon condition that causes drooping eyelids and that, according to him, was making it increasingly difficult for him to open his eyes. “If I hadn’t had an operation, in a couple of years from now I wouldn’t have been able to open my eyes at all,” he said.

Since 2000, Rushdie has “lived mostly near Union Square” in New York City.

Tags: , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: June 18, 2014

Read Biography of K. Satchidanandan

K. Satchidanandan

Read Biography of K. Satchidanandan K. Satchidanandan was born on 28 May 1946 in Pulloot, Kodungallur, Thrissur district, British India (present-day Kerala, India), is a major Indian poet and critic, writing in Malayalam, and English. Satchidanandan has established himself as an academician, editor, translator and playwright. Born in central Kerala, he was a Professor of English and Editor of Indian Literature, the journal of the Sahitya Akademi (India’s National Academy of Literature) and the executive head of the Sahitya Akademi for a decade (1996–2006) He has to his credit 23 collections of poetry besides many selections, 16 collections of translations of poetry and 21 collections of essays on literature, language and society-three of them in English- besides four plays and three travel narratives. He has 25 collections of his poetry in translation in 17 languages including Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, English, Arabic, French, German and Italian. He has introduced several poets like Garcia Lorca, Alexander Block, Voznesensky, Pablo Neruda, Cesar Vallejo, Bertolt Brecht, Paul Celan, Zbignew Herbert, Eugenio Montale, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Mahmoud Darwish and Yehuda Amichai to Malayalam readers through translations and studies besides a lot of Black, Latin American and Indian poetry. He has also travelled widely, writing and lecturing.

K. Satchidanandan was one of the pioneers of modern poetry in Malayalam and is well known for the subtle and nuanced articulations of socio-political contexts in his poetry. Critics have noted narrativity, irony and philosophical contemplation on the contradictions of existence as decisive elements in his poetry. Commenting on his first collection of translations in English, the poet Jayanta Mahapatra said; “in Summer rain we find a depth of meaning that cries out aloud to be known and read far and wide. These are poems of great strength and power, a moving tribute to the generation in which we live.” According to Carlo Savini, the Italian critic, finds him to be a poet “who resists all kinds of mass ideas and conditioning”, one who “celebrates his inner freedom even while respecting the real values of man and his soul”. Antonio Mennitti Ippolito speaks of his “many-stringed lyre”; and says he brings all these voices together in his best, dialogic, poems. Satchidanandan has received sixteen literary awards besides many honours like the Knighthood of the Order of Merit from the Government of Italy and the Medallion of Friendship from the Government of Poland.

Koyamparambath Satchidanandan was born in 1946 in Pulloot, a village in Kodungallur in the Thrissur district of Kerala. After his early education in the village schools, he studied biology at Christ College, Irinjalakuda and had his Masters in English from Maharajas College, Ernakulam. He obtained his PhD in Post-structuralism poetics from the University of Calicut. He joined as a lecturer in English at K.K.T.M. College, Pulloot in 1968, and moved to Christ College in 1970 where he became a Professor of English. He voluntarily retired from this post in 1992 to take up the editorship of Indian Literature, the English journal of the Indian National Academy in Delhi. In 1996 he was nominated Secretary, the chief executive, of the Academy, a post from which he retired in 2006. Later he served as a Consultant to the Indian Government’s Department of Higher Education and to the National Translation Mission. He currently edits Beyond Borders, a journal of South Asian literature and ideas. Satchidanandan is married, with two daughters.

Satchidanandan’s early poems were highly experimental and the publication of his first collection, Anchusooryan (Five Suns, 1971) was an important event in Malayalam literature. The same year he launched Jwala (Flame), an avant-garde journal dedicated to experimental writing. He had earlier published a collection of essays on modern Malayalam poetry (Kurukshetram, 1970).He was also translating poetry from across the world for Kerala Kavita and other poetry journals, and writing critical articles on modern literature, arts and culture. By the mid-seventies, he had aligned himself broadly with the political left in Kerala, and was close to the New Left movement and active in its cultural wing, Janakeeya Samskarikavedi (The Forum for People’s Culture). He was also associated with other liberal political and secular forums like Desabhimani Study Circle and Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, an organisation to promote scientific outlook. He wrote many poems protesting against the Emergency in India (1975–77); many of his poems were censored and he was also interrogated by the Crime Branch. In 1978, he launched a small publishing house called Prasakthi Library that brought out anthologies of poems and short stories as well as political tracts. A collection of his poems, written between 1965 to 1982 was published in 1983. He was invited to participate in the Valmiki International Poetry Festival in New Delhi and to represent India at the Sarajevo Poetry Days in former Yugoslavia in 1985. In 1988 he visited the U.S.S.R. as part of a poets’ team to take part in the Festival of India there. By this time, his poems and collections had begun to appear in other languages and his books were becoming text books in colleges.

His life in Delhi, after he took up the editorship of Indian Literature, influenced his poetry in many ways: his concerns became broader, resulting in a series of poems on Kerala made possible by his physical distance from the district, and another series on the saint and Sufi poets of India as a part of recovering the secular heritage in the Indian tradition that he felt was getting lost in the sectarian communalism of right wing politics. In 1993 he visited Ayodhya as a part of a team of writers to protest against the destruction of Babri Masjid by the Hindu right wing. He led the writers’ team to China during the Festival of India in China in 1994. As Secretary of the Sahitya Akademi (1996–2006) he launched several new platforms for the emerging writers, especially the young, women, dalits, and tribals besides making the Akademi contemporary in the true sense.

At the same time he kept on writing, translating and editing; a good part of his literary output at this time was in English, as he was addressing a national readership, but he wrote poetry only in his mother tongue, most of which he, along with others, translated into English. He took part in the Ivry Poetry Festival in France in 1997, led a team of writers to Sweden and visited the U.S.A. as a writer the same year. He led a group of writers to Italy in 1999, revisited China in 2000 and again in 2010. In 2002 he was invited to the World Poetry Academy in Verona, Italy, and was active in the campaign against the genocide in Gujarat committed by the Hindu communalists there. His collection of poems in French was published in Paris in 2002. In 2003 he visited France again for readings in five cities as part of the poetry festival, Prentemps des Poetes. In 2004, he visited Syria, New York in the United States and Pakistan as part of the Indian writers’ delegations to those countries; his collection in Italian was published in Rome the same year. He was the Indian invitee to the Berlin Literary Festival in 2005, and read at the Frankfurt Book Fair. He was also an invitee to the Leipzig Book Fair and the Abu Dhabi Book Fair in 2006. He again visited Germany in 2006, after his retirement from the Academy when his German collection was released during the Frankfurt Book fair. The same year saw the publication of his Collected Poems (1965–2005) in three volumes. The first volume of his Collected Translations of poetry came out in 2007. In 2007, he again visited Italy, had a reading tour in the Gulf countries and was invited to the Jaipur International Literary Festival in 2008. Since then he has been part of this Fesrtival, taking part in readings and discussions (2009–2011) He represented India at the London Book Fair, 2009 and the Moscow Book fair (2009).His collection of poems in Arabic translation was published in 2009 from Abu Dhabi..A documentary film on him, Summer Rain was released in 2007. He was made a Fellow of the Sahitya Akademi, Kerala in 2010.He was part of the Wales-India poetry Exchange in Wales in 2011 and took part in the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal in 2011, followed by readings in Ottawa and Regina. He took part in the U. N. Symposium in New York on ‘The Role of Literature in Unlearning Intolerance’in the same year.Satchidanandan also ws part of the Hay Festival in Kerala in 2010 and 2011. He was also nominated for the 2011 Nobel Prize in literature.

Tags: , , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: May 27, 2014

Read Biography of Mirza Ghalib

Mirza Ghalib

Read Biography of Mirza Ghalib Ghalib was born as Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan on 27 December 1797 in Agra, Mughal Empire & died on 15 February 1869 in Delhi, Punjab, British India, was a classical Urdu and Persian poet from the Mughal Empire during British colonial rule. He used his pen-names of Ghalib and Asad. His honorific was Dabir-ul-Mulk, Najm-ud-Daula. During his lifetime the Mughals were eclipsed and displaced by the British and finally deposed following the defeat of the Indian rebellion of 1857, events that he wrote of. Most notably, he wrote several ghazals during his life, which have since been interpreted and sung in many different ways by different people. Ghalib, the last great poet of the Mughal Era, is considered to be one of the most popular and influential poets of the Urdu language. Ghalib today remains popular not only in India and Pakistan but also amongst diaspora communities around the world.

Mirza Ghalib was born in Agra into a family descended from Aibak Turks who moved to Samarkand (now in Uzbekistan) after the downfall of the Seljuk kings. His paternal grandfather, Mirza Qoqan Baig Khan, was a Saljuq Turk who had immigrated to India from Samarkand during the reign of Ahmad Shah (1748–54). He worked at Lahore, Delhi and Jaipur, was awarded the subdistrict of Pahasu (Bulandshahr, UP) and finally settled in Agra, UP, India. He had four sons and three daughters. Mirza Abdullah Baig Khan and Mirza Nasrullah Baig Khan were two of his sons.

Mirza Abdullah Baig Khan (Ghalib’s father) got married to Izzat-ut-Nisa Begum, and then lived at the house of his father-in-law. He was employed first by the Nawab of Lucknow and then the Nizam of Hyderabad, Deccan. He died in a battle in 1803 in Alwar and was buried at Rajgarh (Alwar, Rajasthan). Then Ghalib was a little over 5 years of age. He was raised first by his Uncle Mirza Nasrullah Baig Khan.

Mirza Nasrullah Baig Khan (Ghalib’s uncle) started taking care of the three orphaned children. He was the governor of Agra under the Marathas. The British appointed him an officer of 400 cavalrymen, fixed his salary at Rs.1700.00 month, and awarded him 2 parganas in Mathura (UP, India). When he died in 1806, the British took away the parganas and fixed his pension as Rs. 10,000 per year, linked to the state of Firozepur Jhirka (Mewat, Haryana). The Nawab of Ferozepur Jhirka reduced the pension to Rs. 3000 per year. Ghalib’s share was Rs. 62.50 per month.

At the age of thirteen, Ghalib married Umrao Begum, daughter of Nawab Ilahi Bakhsh (brother of the Nawab of Ferozepur Jhirka). He soon moved to Delhi, along with his younger brother, Mirza Yousuf Khan, who had developed schizophrenia at a young age and later died in Delhi during the chaos of 1857.

In accordance with upper class Muslim tradition, he had an arranged marriage at the age of 13, but none of his seven children survived beyond infancy. After his marriage he settled in Delhi. In one of his letters he describes his marriage as the second imprisonment after the initial confinement that was life itself.

In 1850, Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II bestowed upon Mirza Ghalib the title of “Dabir-ul-Mulk”. The Emperor also added to it the additional title of “Najm-ud-daula”. The conferment of these titles was symbolic of Mirza Ghalib’s incorporation into the nobility of Delhi. He also received the title of ‘Mirza Nosha’ from the Emperor, thus adding Mirza as his first name. He was also an important courtier of the royal court of the Emperor. As the Emperor was himself a poet, Mirza Ghalib was appointed as his poet tutor in 1854. He was also appointed as tutor of Prince Fakhr-ud Din Mirza, eldest son of Bahadur Shah II,(d. 10 July 1856). He was also appointed by the Emperor as the royal historian of Mughal Court.

Being a member of declining Mughal nobility and old landed aristocracy, he never worked for a livelihood, lived on either royal patronage of Mughal Emperors, credit or the generosity of his friends. His fame came to him posthumously. He had himself remarked during his lifetime that he would be recognized by later generations. After the decline of the Mughal Empire and the rise of the British Raj, despite his many attempts, Ghalib could never get the full pension restored.

Ghalib started composing poetry at the age of 11. His first language was Urdu, but Persian and Turkish were also spoken at home. He received an education in Persian and Arabic at a young age. When Ghalib was in his early teens, a newly converted Muslim tourist from Iran (Abdus Samad, originally named Hormuzd, a Zoroastrian) came to Agra. He stayed at Ghalib’s home for two years and taught him Persian, Arabic, philosophy, and logic.

Although Ghalib himself was far prouder of his poetic achievements in Persian, he is today more famous for his Urdu ghazals. Numerous elucidations of Ghalib’s ghazal compilations have been written by Urdu scholars. The first such elucidation or Sharh was written by Ali Haider Nazm Tabatabai of Hyderabad during the rule of the last Nizam of Hyderabad. Before Ghalib, the ghazal was primarily an expression of anguished love; but Ghalib expressed philosophy, the travails and mysteries of life and wrote ghazals on many other subjects, vastly expanding the scope of the ghazal. This work is considered to be his paramount contribution to Urdu poetry and literature.

In keeping with the conventions of the classical ghazal, in most of Ghalib’s verses, the identity and the gender of the beloved is indeterminate. The critic/poet/writer Shamsur Rahman Faruqui explains that the convention of having the “idea” of a lover or beloved instead of an actual lover/beloved freed the poet-protagonist-lover from the demands of realism. Love poetry in Urdu from the last quarter of the seventeenth century onwards consists mostly of “poems about love” and not “love poems” in the Western sense of the term.

The first complete English translation of Ghalib’s ghazals was Love Sonnets of Ghalib, written by Sarfaraz K. Niazi and published by Rupa & Co in India and Ferozsons in Pakistan. It contains complete Roman transliteration, explication and an extensive lexicon.

Mirza Ghalib was a gifted letter writer. Not only Urdu poetry but the prose is also indebted to Mirza Ghalib. His letters gave foundation to easy and popular Urdu. Before Ghalib, letter writing in Urdu was highly ornamental. He made his letters “talk” by using words and sentences as if he were conversing with the reader. According to him Sau kos se ba-zaban-e-qalam baatein kiya karo aur hijr mein visaal ke maze liya karo (from hundred of miles talk with the tongue of the pen and enjoy the joy of meeting even when you are separated). His letters were very informal, some times he would just write the name of the person and start the letter. He was very humorous and wrote very interesting letters. In one letter he wrote “Main koshish karta hoon keh koi aesi baat likhoon jo parhay khoosh ho jaaye'” (I want to write lines such that whoever reads them would enjoy them). Some scholar says that Ghalib would have the same place in Urdu literature if only on the basis of his letters. They have been translated into English by Ralph Russell, The Oxford Ghalib.

Ghalib was a chronicler of a turbulent period. One by one, Ghalib saw the bazaars – Khas Bazaar, Urdu Bazaar, Kharam-ka Bazaar, disappear, whole mohallas (localities) and katras (lanes) vanish. The havelis (mansions) of his friends were razed to the ground. Ghalib wrote that Delhi had become a desert. Water was scarce. Delhi was now “ a military camp”. It was the end of the feudal elite to which Ghalib had belonged.

His original Takhallus (pen-name) was Asad, drawn from his given name, Asadullah Khan. At some point early in his poetic career he also decided to adopt the pen-name of Ghalib (meaning all conquering, superior, most excellent).

Mirza was born in Kala Mahal in Agra. In the end of 18th century, his birthplace was converted into Indrabhan Girls’ Inter College. The birth room of Mirza Ghalib is preserved within the school. Around 1810, he was married to Umrao Begum, daughter of Nawab Ilahi Bakhsh Khan of Loharu (younger brother of the first Nawab of Loharu), Nawab Mirza Ahmad Baksh Khan, At the age of thirty he had seven children, none of whom survived (this pain has found its echo in some of Ghalib’s ghazals). There are conflicting reports regarding his relationship with his wife. She was considered to be pious, conservative and God-fearing.

Ghalib was proud of his reputation as a rake. He was once imprisoned for gambling and subsequently relished the affair with pride. In the Mughal court circles, he even acquired a reputation as a “ladies’ man”. Once, when someone praised the poetry of the pious Sheikh Sahbai in his presence, Ghalib immediately retorted.

He died in Delhi on 15 February 1869. The house where he lived in Gali Qasim Jaan, Ballimaran, Chandni Chowk, in Old Delhi has now been turned into ‘Ghalib Memorial’ and houses a permanent Ghalib exhibition.

Ghalib’s closest rival was poet Zauq, tutor of Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the then emperor of India with his seat in Delhi. There are some amusing anecdotes of the competition between Ghalib and Zauq and exchange of jibes between them. However, there was mutual respect for each other’s talent. Both also admired and acknowledged the supremacy of Meer Taqi Meer, a towering figure of 18th century Urdu Poetry. Another poet Momin, whose ghazals had a distinctly lyrical flavour, was also a famous contemporary of Ghalib. Ghalib was not only a poet, he was also a prolific prose writer. His letters are a reflection of the political and social climate of the time. They also refer to many contemporaries like Mir Mehdi Majrooh, who himself was a good poet and Ghalib’s lifelong acquaintance.

Indian Cinema has paid a tribute to the legendary poet through a film (in sepia/black and white) named Mirza Ghalib (1954) in which Bharat Bhushan plays Ghalib and Suraiya plays his courtesan lover, Chaudvin. The musical score of the film was composed by Ghulam Mohammed and his compositions of Ghalib’s famous ghazals are likely to remain everlasting favorites.

Pakistani Cinema has also paid tribute to the legendary poet through another film also named Mirza Ghalib. The film was directed by M.M. Billoo Mehra and produced as well by M.M. Billoo Mehra for S.K. Pictures. The music was composed by Tassaduq Hussain. The film starred Pakistani film superstar Sudhir playing Ghalib and Madam Noor Jehan playing his courtesan lover, Chaudvin. The film was released on 24 November 1961 and reached average status at the box-office, however, the music remains memorable in Pakistan to this day.

Gulzar produced a TV serial, Mirza Ghalib (1988), telecast on DD National that was immensely successful in India. Naseeruddin Shah played the role of Ghalib in the serial, and it featured ghazals sung and composed by Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh. Serial’s music has since been recognised as Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh’s magnum opus enjoying a cult following in the Indian subcontinent. The serial was colored by contemporary Indian nationalism, and Ghalib’s persona was frequently a vehicle for propaganda in favour of national unity.

The Pakistan government in 1969 commissioned Khaliq Ibrahim (died 2006) to make a documentary on Mirza Ghalib. The movie was completed in 1971-72. It is said, that the movie, a docudrama, was historically more correct than what the official Pakistan government point of view was. Thus, it was never released. Till this date, barring a few private viewing, the movie is lying with the Department of Films and Publication, Government of Pakistan. The movie was made on 16 mm format. Ghalib’s role was played by actor Subhani Bayunus, who later played this role in many TV productions.

Ghalib must be the only Poet who had biggest number of Stage portrayals. Various Theatre groups have traditionally staged plays related to the life of Mirza Ghalib. These have shown different lifestyles and the way he lived his life.

Starting from the Parsi Theatre and Hindustani Theatre days the first phase of his Stage Portrayal culminated in Sheila Bhatia’s Production which was written by Mehdi Saheb. Mohd Ayub performed his role so many times that many theatre goers used to know him as Ghalib. Sheila Bhatia Production was basically celebration of his famous Ghazals which used to be presented one after another. Ghalib’s character lacked required nuances and was shown philandering with the Courtesan played famously by Punjabi singer Madan Bala Sandhu. Later Begum Abida Ahmed wife of late President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed supported many very costly Productions. This was perhaps the golden period of Ghalib productions as many other Productions also were done including Surender Verma’s Play which was done by National School of Drama. Qaid-e-Hayat (Imprisonment of Life, 1983) written by Surendra Verma talks about the personal life of poet Ghalib, including his financial hardships and his tragic love for Katiba, a woman calligraphist, who was working on his diwan. Over the years, it has been directed by numerous theatre directors, including Ram Gopal Bajaj in 1989, at the National School of DramaThis period also saw numerous College and University Productions done by Students’ Groupes. The writers whose scripts were more popular during this period were Jameel Shaidai, Danish Iqbal, Devender Singh and few others.

In recent years Dr Sayeed Alam’s ‘Ghalib in New Delhi’ started another phase with contempoarary fun & frolic. Sayeed Alam has had more than 250 shows around the world. Danish Iqbal’s Play ‘Ghalib-e Khasta ke Baghair’ was staged in Aurangabad, Aligarh and at few other places on the occasion of 150th year of India’s first war of Independence. Sayeed Alam also wrote a non-comic version of ‘Ghalib’ played by veteran actor Tom Alter, this Play is also a well known Production which is frequently staged.. and written by Dr Sayeed Alam was staged many times in Delhi.

Another Play ‘Main Gaya Waqt Nahin Hoon’ written by Danish Iqbal, provides a fresh spin to the never ending spin to the character of Ghalib. Sayeed Alam’s new Production is inspired from the famous letters of Ghalib and presents the recipients of the letters only, showing the other sode of the picture.

Late Sheela Bhatia started this trend on Ghalib., Delhi.

An animation film on Mirza Ghalib is telecast on Zee Cinema.

Ghalib is still very popular today, and his poetry is well known. Many singers from all over South Asia have sung many of his ghazals.

When the late Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru watched the film Mirza Ghalib and heard the Ghazals of Ghalib sung actress-singer Suraiya, he praised her by remarking, “You have put life into the soul of Mirza Ghalib”.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: December 26, 2013

Read Biography of Ismail Merchant

Ismail Merchant

Read Biography of Ismail Merchant Ismail Merchant was born on 25 December 1936 in Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India (now Maharashtra, India) & dide on 25 May 2005 in London, England, was an Indian-born film producer and director, best known for the results of his famously long collaboration with Merchant Ivory Productions which included director (and Merchant’s longtime professional and personal partner) James Ivory as well as screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Their films won six Academy Awards.

Merchant succeeded as an independent producer in Hollywood for more than 40 years. His strength lay in funding his projects, particularly in his ability to produce films for several million dollars less than those of his contemporaries.

Born Ismail Noormohamed Abdul Rehman in Bombay, he was the son of Hazra and Noormohamed Haji Abdul Rehman, a Mumbai Memon textile dealer. He grew up bilingual in Gujarati and Urdu, and learned Arabic and English at school. When he was 11, he and his family were caught up in the 1947 partitioning of India. His father was president of the Muslim League, and refused to move to Pakistan. Merchant later said that he carried memories of the “butchery and riots” into adulthood.

He studied at St. Xavier’s College, Bombay and it was here that he developed his love of film.

When he was 22, he traveled to the United States to study at New York University, where he earned an MBA. He supported himself by working as a messenger for the United Nations and used this opportunity to persuade Indian delegates to fund his film projects. He said of this experience that “I was not intimidated by anyone or anything”.

In 1961, he made a short film, The Creation of Woman. It was shown at the Cannes Film Festival and also received an Academy Award nomination.

In 1961, Merchant and director James Ivory formed the film production company Merchant Ivory Productions. Merchant was also Ivory’s long-term life partner. Their professional and romantic partnership lasted from the early 1960s until Merchant’s death in 2005. Their partnership has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest partnership in independent cinema history. Until Merchant’s death in 2005, they produced nearly 40 films, including a number of award winners. Novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala was the screenwriter for most of their productions.

In 1963, MIP premiered its first production, The Householder, based upon a novel by Jhabvala (she also wrote the screenplay). This feature became the first Indian-made film to be distributed internationally by a major American studio, Columbia Pictures. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the partnership “hit on a successful formula for studied, slow-moving pieces … Merchant Ivory became known for their attention to period detail and the opulence of their sets”. Their first success in this style was Jhabvala’s adaptation of Henry James’s The Europeans.

In addition to producing, Merchant directed a number of films and two television features. For television, he directed a short feature entitled Mahatma and the Mad Boy, and a full-length television feature, The Courtesans of Bombay made for Britain’s Channel Four. Merchant made his film directorial debut with 1993’s In Custody based on a novel by Anita Desai, and starring Bollywood actor Shashi Kapoor. Filmed in Bhopal, India, it won National Awards from the Government of India for Best Production Design and special award for the lead actor Shashi Kapoor. His second directing feature, The Proprietor, starred Jeanne Moreau, Sean Young, Jean-Pierre Aumont and Christopher Cazenove and was filmed on location in Paris.

Of his partnership with Ivory and Jhabvala, Merchant once commented: “It is a strange marriage we have at Merchant Ivory . . . I am an Indian Muslim, Ruth is a German Jew, and Jim is a Protestant American. Someone once described us as a three-headed god. Maybe they should have called us a three-headed monster!”

Merchant was also well known for his “lavish private parties”. He was fond of cooking, and he wrote several books on the art including Ismail Merchant’s Indian Cuisine; Ismail Merchant’s Florence; Ismail Merchant’s Passionate Meals and Ismail Merchant’s Paris: Filming and Feasting in France. He also wrote books on film-making, including a book about the making of the film The Deceivers in 1988 called Hullabaloo in Old Jeypur, and another about the making of The Proprietor called Once Upon a Time . . . The Proprietor. His last book was entitled, My Passage From India: A Filmmaker’s Journey from Bombay to Hollywood and Beyond.

In 2002, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. He was also a recipient of The International Center in New York’s Award of Excellence.

Merchant died in Westminster, London, aged 68, following surgery for abdominal ulcers.

He was buried in the Bada Kabrestan in Marine Lines, Mumbai, on 28 May 2005, in keeping with his wish to be buried with his ancestors.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: December 25, 2013

Read Biography of Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer

Read Biography of Stephenie Meyer Stephenie Meyer was born on December 24, 1973 in Hartford, Connecticut, is an American author best known for her vampire romance series Twilight. The Twilight novels have gained worldwide recognition, won multiple literary awards and sold over 100 million copies worldwide, with translations into nearly 37 different languages. Meyer is also the author of the adult science-fiction novel The Host.

She born to Stephen and Candy Morgan. She grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, with five siblings: Seth, Emily, Jacob, Paul, and Heidi. She attended Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. She then attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where she received a B.A. in English in 1997. Meyer met her husband Christian, nicknamed “Pancho”, when she was growing up in Arizona, and married him in 1994 when they both were 21. Together they have three sons: Gabe, Seth, and Eli. Christian Meyer, formerly an auditor, has now retired to take care of the children.

Meyer was named USA Today’s “Author of the Year” in 2008. She was also the biggest selling author of the year, having sold over 29 million books in 2008 alone, with Twilight being the best-selling book of the year. Meyer was ranked #49 on Time magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in 2008”, and was also included in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list of the world’s most powerful celebrities in 2009, entering at #26 with annual earnings exceeding $50 million.

Meyer currently lives in Cave Creek, Arizona, and also owns a home on Marrowstone Island, Washington.

Meyer is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has stated that she is “straitlaced” about her beliefs, and does not drink alcohol or smoke. Meyer had never written even a short story before Twilight, and had considered going to law school because she felt she had no chance of becoming a writer; she later noted that the birth of her oldest son Gabe changed her mind, saying, “Once I had Gabe, I just wanted to be his mom.” Before becoming an author, Meyer’s only professional work was as a receptionist in a property company.

Tags: , , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: December 24, 2013

Read Biography of Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

Read Biography of Arundhati Roy Arundhati Roy was born on 24 November 1961 in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, is an Indian novelist, essayist and activist who focuses on issues related to social justice and economic inequality. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things, and has also written two screenplays and several collections of essays. Her writings on various social, environmental and political issues have been a subject of major controversy in India.

Arundhati Roy was born to a Keralite Syrian Christian mother, the women’s rights activist Mary Roy, and a Bengali father, Ranjit Roy, a tea planter by profession.

She spent her childhood in Aymanam in Kerala, and went to school at Corpus Christi, Kottayam, followed by the Lawrence School, Lovedale, in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. She then studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, where she met her first husband, architect Gerard da Cunha.

Roy met her second husband, filmmaker Pradip Krishen, in 1984, and played a village girl in his award-winning movie Massey Sahib. Until made financially stable by the success of her novel The God of Small Things, she worked various jobs, including running aerobics classes at five-star hotels in New Delhi. Roy is a cousin of prominent media personality Prannoy Roy, the head of the leading Indian TV media group NDTV,. She lives in New Delhi.

For her work as an activist she received the Cultural Freedom Prize awarded by the Lannan Foundation in 2002.

Arundhati Roy was awarded the 1997 Booker Prize for her novel The God of Small Things. The award carried a prize of about US $30,000 and a citation that noted, ‘The book keeps all the promises that it makes.’ Prior to this, she won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay in 1989, for the screenplay of In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones.

In 2002, she won the Lannan Foundation’s Cultural Freedom Award for her work “about civil societies that are adversely affected by the world’s most powerful governments and corporations,” in order “to celebrate her life and her ongoing work in the struggle for freedom, justice and cultural diversity.”

Roy was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in May 2004 for her work in social campaigns and her advocacy of non-violence.

In January 2006, she was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, a national award from India’s Academy of Letters, for her collection of essays on contemporary issues, The Algebra of Infinite Justice, but she declined to accept it “in protest against the Indian Government toeing the US line by ‘violently and ruthlessly pursuing policies of brutalisation of industrial workers, increasing militarisation and economic neo-liberalisation.'”

Tags: , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: November 24, 2013

Read Biography of Ritwik Ghatak

Ritwik Ghatak

Read Biography of Ritwik Ghatak Ritwik (Kumar) Ghatak was born on 4 November 1925 in Dhaka in East Bengal (now Bangladesh) & died on 6 February 1976 in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, was a Bengali Indian filmmaker and script writer. Ghatak is considered to be one of the greatest and most significant filmmakers in Indian and Bengali cinema as well as the world. His stature among Indian directors is comparable to that of Satyajit Ray.

He and his family moved to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in West Bengal just before millions of other refugees from East Bengal began to flood into the city, fleeing the catastrophic Bengal famine of 1943 and the partition of Bengal in 1947. Identification with this tide of refugees was to define his practice, providing an overriding metaphor for cultural dismemberment and exile that unified his subsequent creative work. The 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, which led to more refugees fleeing to India, was to also have a similar impact on his work.

In 1948, Ghatak wrote his first play Kalo sayar (The Dark Lake), and participated in a revival of the landmark play Nabanna. In 1951, Ghatak joined the Indian People’s Theatre Association ( IPTA ). He wrote, directed and acted in plays and translated Bertolt Brecht and Gogol into Bengali. In 1957, he wrote and directed his last play Jwala (The Burning).

Ghatak entered the film industry with Nemai Ghosh’s Chinnamul (1950) as actor and assistant director. Chinnamul was followed two years later by Ghatak’s first completed film Nagarik (1952), both major break-throughs for the Indian cinema. Ghatak’s early work sought theatrical and literary precedent in bringing together a documentary realism, a stylized performance often drawn from the folk theatre, and a Brechtian use of the filmic apparatus.

Ghatak’s first commercial release was Ajantrik (1958), a comedy-drama film with science fiction themes. It was one of the earliest Indian films to portray an inanimate object, in this case an automobile, as a character in the story.

Ghatak’s greatest commercial success as a script writer was for Madhumati (1958), one of the earliest films to deal with the theme of reincarnation. It was a Hindi film directed by another Bengali filmmaker Bimal Roy. The film earned Ghatak his first award nomination, for the Filmfare Best Story Award.

Ritwik Ghatak directed eight full-length films. His best-known films, Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star) (1960), Komal Gandhar (E-Flat) (1961), and Subarnarekha (Golden Lining) (1962), a trilogy based in Calcutta and addressing the condition of refugee-hood, proved controversial and the commercial failure of Komal Gandhar (E-Flat) and Subarnarekha prevented him from making features through the remainder of the 1960s. In all three films, he used a basic and at times starkly realistic storyline, upon which he inscribed a range of mythic references, especially of the Mother Deliverer, through a dense overlay of visual and aural registers.

Ghatak moved briefly to Pune in 1966, where he taught at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). During his year at FTII, he was involved in the making of two student films, viz., Fear and Rendezvous.

Ghatak returned to film making only in the 1970s, when a Bangladeshi producer financed the 1973 epic Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (A River Called Titas). Making films became difficult because of his poor health due to extreme alcoholism and consequent diseases. His last film was the autobiographical Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Reason, Debate And Story) (1974), in which he portrayed Neelkantha (Nilkanth) the lead character. He also had a number of incomplete feature and short films in his credit.

Ghatak’s father Suresh Chandra Ghatak was a district magistrate and also a poet and playwright; his mother’s name was Indubala Devi. He was their 11th and youngest child. His elder brother Manish Ghatak was a radical writer of his time, a professor of English and a social activist who was deeply involved with the IPTA theatre movement in its heyday and later on headed the Tebhaga Andolan of North Bengal. Manish Ghatak’s daughter is the writer and activist Mahasweta Devi. Ghatak’s wife Surama was a school teacher and his son Ritaban is a film-maker.

At the time of his death (February 1976), Ghatak’s primary impact would seem to have been through former students. Though his stint teaching film at FTII was brief, one-time students Mani Kaul, John Abraham, and especially Kumar Shahani (among many others), carried Ghatak’s ideas and theories, which were further elaborated upon in his book Cinema And I, into the mainstream of Indian art film. Other students of his at the FTII included the acclaimed filmmakers Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

Ghatak stood entirely outside the world of Indian commercial film. None of the elements of the commercial cinema (singing and dancing, melodrama, stars, glitz) featured in his work. He was watched by students and intelligentsia, not by the masses. His students have also tended to work in the art cinema or independent cinema tradition.

While other neo-realist directors like Satyajit Ray succeeded in creating an audience outside India during their lifetime, Ghatak was not so fortunate. While he was alive, his films were appreciated primarily within India. Satyajit Ray did what he could to promote his colleague, but Ray’s generous praise did not translate into international fame for Ghatak. For example, Ghatak’s Nagarik (1952) was perhaps the earliest example of a Bengali art film, preceding Ray’s Pather Panchali by three years, but was not released until after his death in 1977. His first commercial release Ajantrik (1958) was also one of the earliest Indian films to portray an inanimate object, in this case an automobile, as a character in the story, many years before the Herbie films. Ghatak’s Bari Theke Paliye (1958) had a similar plot to François Truffaut’s later film The 400 Blows (1959), but Ghatak’s film remained obscure while Truffaut’s film went on to become one of the most famous films of the French New Wave. One of Ghatak’s final films, A River Named Titas (1973), is one of the earliest films to be told in a hyperlink format, featuring multiple characters in a collection of interconnected stories, predating Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975) by two years.

Ghatak’s only major commercial success was Madhumati (1958), a Hindi film which he wrote the screenplay for. The film was one of the earliest to deal with the theme of reincarnation and is believed to have been the source of inspiration for many later works dealing with the theme of reincarnation in Indian cinema, Indian television, and perhaps world cinema. It may have been the source of inspiration for the American film The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975) and the Hindi film Karz (1980), both of which dealt with reincarnation and have been influential in their respective cultures. Karz in particular was remade several times: as the Kannada film Yuga Purusha (1989), the Tamil film Enakkul Oruvan (1984), and more recently the Bollywood film Karzzzz (2008). Karz and The Reincarnation of Peter Proud may have also inspired the American film Chances Are (1989). The most recent film to be directly inspired by Madhumati is the hit Bollywood film Om Shanti Om (2007), which led to the late Bimal Roy’s daughter Rinki Bhattacharya accusing the film of plagiarism and threatening legal action against its producers.

Ghatak’s work as a director also had an impact on many later Indian filmmakers, including those from the Bengali film industry and elsewhere. For example, Mira Nair has cited Ghatak as well as Ray as the reasons she became a filmmaker. Ghatak’s impact as a director began to spread beyond India much later; beginning in the 1990s, a project to restore Ghatak’s films was undertaken, and international exhibitions (and subsequent DVD releases) have belatedly generated an increasingly global audience. In a critics’ poll of all-time greatest films conducted by the Asian film magazine Cinemaya in 1998, Subarnarekha was ranked at #11 on the list. In the 2002 Sight & Sound critics’ and directors’ poll for all-time greatest films, Meghe Dhaka Tara was ranked at #231 and Komal Gandhar at #346 on the list. In 2007, A River Named Titas topped the list of 10 best Bangladeshi films, as chosen in the audience and critics’ polls conducted by the British Film Institute.

Tags: , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: November 4, 2013

Read Biography of Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra

Read Biography of Deepak Chopra Deepak Chopra was born on October 22, 1946 New Delhi, India, is an Indian American public speaker, and writer on Ayurveda, spirituality and mind-body medicine. His father, Krishan Chopra, M.D. was a prominent Indian cardiologist. He was head of the department of medicine and cardiology at Mool Chand Khairati Ram Hospital, New Delhi, for over 25 years, and a lieutenant in the British army His paternal grandfather was a sergeant in the British Army, who got help for his heart condition from Ayurveda after Western medicine did not help.

Chopra’s younger brother, Sanjiv, is a Professor of Medicine and Faculty Dean for Continuing Medical Education at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

As a young man Chopra’s desire was to become an actor or journalist but he reports that he was inspired by a character in Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis and became a doctor.

Chopra completed his primary education at St. Columba’s School in New Delhi and graduated from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). After immigrating to the US in 1968, Chopra began his clinical internship and residency training at Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield, New Jersey. He had residency terms at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts, and at the University of Virginia Hospital.

He earned his license to practice medicine in the state of Massachusetts in 1973 and received a California medical license in 2004. Chopra is board-certified in internal medicine and specialized in endocrinology. He is also a member of the American Medical Association (AMA), a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

Chopra began his career as an endocrinologist and later shifted his focus to alternative medicine. Chopra was a top assistant to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi before launching his own career in the late 1980s by publishing self-help books on New Age spirituality and alternative medicine.

A friend of Michael Jackson for 20 years, Chopra came to widespread public attention in July 2009 when he criticized the “cult of drug-pushing doctors, with their co-dependent relationships with addicted celebrities,” saying he hoped Jackson’s death, attributed to an overdose of a prescription drug, would be a call to action.

Chopra has written more than 57 books. His books have been translated into 35 languages and sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. His book, Peace Is the Way won the Quill Awards and The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of your Life received the Nautilus Award. Chopra is represented in the United States by the literary agency, Trident Media Group. His first book, Creating Health, is credited with helping to create initial, international recognition for Chopra.

Tags: , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: October 21, 2013

Read Biography of R. K. Narayan

R. K. Narayan

Read Biography of R. K. Narayan R. K. Narayan was born on 10 October 1906 in Madras, British India (now Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India) & died on 13 May 2001 in, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, shortened from Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, was an Indian author whose works of fiction include a series of books about people and their interactions in an imagined town in India called Malgudi. He is one of three leading figures of early Indian literature in English, along with Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao. He is credited with bringing Indian literature in English to the rest of the world, and is regarded as one of India’s greatest English language novelists.

His father was a school headmaster, and Narayan did some of his studies at his father’s school. As his father’s job required frequent moves, Narayan spent part of his childhood under the care of his maternal grandmother, Parvati. During this time his best friends and playmates were a peacock and a mischievous monkey.

Narayan broke through with the help of his mentor and friend, Graham Greene, who was instrumental in getting publishers for Narayan’s first four books, including the semi-autobiographical trilogy of Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts and The English Teacher. Narayan’s works also include The Financial Expert, hailed as one of the most original works of 1951, and Sahitya Akademi Award winner The Guide, which was adapted for films in Hindi and English languages, and for Broadway.

The setting for most of Narayan’s stories is the fictional town of Malgudi, first introduced in Swami and Friends. His narratives highlight social context and provide a feel for his characters through everyday life. He has been compared to William Faulkner, who also created a fictional town that stood for reality, brought out the humour and energy of ordinary life, and displayed compassionate humanism in his writing. Narayan’s short story writing style has been compared to that of Guy de Maupassant, as they both have an ability to compress the narrative without losing out on elements of the story. Narayan has also come in for criticism for being too simple in his prose and diction.

In a writing career that spanned over sixty years, Narayan received many awards and honours. These include the AC Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature and the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award. He was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament.

His grandmother gave him the nickname of Kunjappa, a name that stuck to him in family circles. She taught him arithmetic, mythology, classical Indian music and Sanskrit. According to his youngest brother R. K. Laxman, the family mostly conversed in English, and grammatical errors on the part of Narayan and his siblings were frowned upon. While living with his grandmother, Narayan studied at a succession of schools in Madras, including the Lutheran Mission School in Purasawalkam, C.R.C. High School, and the Christian College High School. Narayan was an avid reader, and his early literary diet included Dickens, Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Hardy. When he was twelve years old, Narayan participated in a pro-independence march, for which he was reprimanded by his uncle; the family was apolitical and considered all governments wicked.

Narayan moved to Mysore to live with his family when his father was transferred to the Maharajah’s Collegiate High School. The well-stocked library at the school, as well as his father’s own, fed his reading habit, and he started writing as well. After completing high school, Narayan failed the university entrance examination and spent a year at home reading and writing; he subsequently passed the examination in 1926 and joined Maharaja College of Mysore.

It took Narayan four years to obtain his Bachelor’s degree, a year longer than usual. After being persuaded by a friend that taking a Master’s degree (M.A.) would kill his interest in literature, he briefly held a job as a school teacher; however, he quit in protest when the headmaster of the school asked him to substitute for the physical training master. The experience made Narayan realise that the only career for him was in writing, and he decided to stay at home and write novels. His first published work was a book review of Development of Maritime Laws of 17th-Century England. Subsequently, he started writing the occasional local interest story for English newspapers and magazines.

Although the writing did not pay much (his income for the first year was nine rupees and twelve annas), he had a regular life and few needs, and his family and friends respected and supported his unorthodox choice of career. In 1930, Narayan wrote his first novel, Swami and Friends, an effort ridiculed by his uncle and rejected by a string of publishers. With this book, Narayan created Malgudi, a town that creatively reproduced the social sphere of the country; while it ignored the limits imposed by colonial rule, it also grew with the various socio-political changes of British and post-independence India.

Narayan won numerous awards during the course of his literary career. His first major award was in 1958, the Sahitya Akademi Award for The Guide. When the book was made into a film, he received the Filmfare Award for the best story. In 1964, he received the Padma Bhushan during the Republic Day honours. In 1980, he was awarded the AC Benson Medal by the (British) Royal Society of Literature, of which he was an honorary member. In 1982 he was elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature multiple times, but never won the honour.

Recognition also came in the form of honorary doctorates by the University of Leeds (1967), the University of Mysore (1976) and Delhi University (1973). Towards the end of his career, Narayan was nominated to the upper house of the Indian Parliament for a six-year term starting in 1989, for his contributions to Indian literature. A year before his death, in 2001, he was awarded India’s second-highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan.

Narayan’s greatest achievement was making India accessible to the outside world through his literature. He is regarded as one of the three leading English language Indian fiction writers, along with Raja Rao and Mulk Raj Anand. He gave his readers something to look forward to with Malgudi and its residents and is considered to be one of the best novelists India has ever produced. He brought small-town India to his audience in a manner that was both believable and experiential. Malgudi was not just a fictional town in India, but one teeming with characters, each with their own idiosyncrasies and attitudes, making the situation as familiar to the reader as if it were their own backyard.

Tags: , , , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: October 10, 2013