With all the arguments and dissents that are pervasive in our democracy these days, what is most perceptible to me is the general nature of the people of India to trust what have been taught to them since centuries in a particular geographic region. What I mean with the above statement is that our nature and innate tendency to believe what is right or wrong or to demarcate right from wrong with the help of widely held belief without judging any issue ourself is one reason why most of the sects of the biggest democracy of world are at loggerheads with each other these days. Without knowing why we are following anything, the nature to question other’s drawback has become our basic disposition. Many personalities holding many important posts have been doing it since ages to make Indians think how different they are from each other irrespective of the fact that all of them are actually Indians. We, the people of India, on the other hand believe that we take decisions on the basis of how we perceive the world. If we ask ourself this question I believe we’ll get to know that most of the knowledge that we have is based on what we have been taught and is not based on our own knowledge.
So what I reckon we must do is to think and ask ourselves-without being judgemental about other sects-the question as to why we think anything the way we do. Is it something that we know with the evidence or we believe it because we have been witnessing it all our lives or we are having a notion about other sects just because we have been taught to think about them in that particular way. This question if asked to ourselves honestly can give all the answers to our problems regarding sectarian disharmony and can make the society a great place to live in.
White Mughals-love and betrayal in eighteenth century India
by William Dalrymple
580pp, Penguin India
If you ever had the (mis)conception that British east India company officers always looked down upon us-both Hindus and Muslims-it’s high time you started thinking otherwise. British, contrary to the widely held belief that they hated one and all in India, actually fancied the culture and traditions of the Mughals and then the 18th century India. Not only this but they also got betrothed to Muslim girls after undergoing the conversion. And that’s what William Dalrymple has opened layer by layer in his book The White Mughals.
James Achilles Kirkpatrick was a British resident in the palace of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Nizam Ali Khan and Khair-un-Nissa was the cousin of Mir Ali, disciple of Aristu Jah who was the prime minister of the Nizam and also a close associate of the Nizam.
It was late 18th century when Kirkpatrick met Khair and after much commotion in the in the company as well as in the palace of the Nizam, they married at last but that was not the happy ending that they had expected. With Kirkpatrick’s sudden demise, Khair became a stranger in her own regal home. She left for Kolkata where lay the tomb of her beloved husband. Khair had no one for emotional support except for her mother, as her children were already sent to England to their grandfather. At this phase of her life when she was most helpless and vulnerable, Henry Russell came close to her and they became lovers in a very short span of time. But it was not love from his side and the worst came to her when Russell left her and married another girl.
Khair was a strong lady and lived with this betrayal inflicted by Russell. She never met her children once they left for England. She was not allowed to enter Hyderabad because Mir Ali whose career was ruined by Khair and James’s marriage was instated as the prime minister to the new Nizam of Hyderabad-Nizam Sikander Jah and it was extremely menacing for her to re enter the city. She however breathed her last in the residency at Hyderabad where she had once lived with her husband and children in full glory.
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White Mughals is not just the story of Kirkpatrick and Khair; it is the show of orientalism combined with the cultural as well as religious pluralism that was pervasive in the Hyderabad and whole India pre 1857 mutiny. The way so many men from west married Muslim girls of India after conversion and Muslim women converted to marry Christian men in the 18th century has been so perfectly shown by The Last Mughal writer in this book that it makes it one of its own kind. No other book in my knowledge has given such a vivid description of history of the people called The White Mughals. Dalrymple has used the letters from the British library as well as national archives, New Delhi as he did in his book The Last Mughal which came much later.
White Mughals is a story or history of people who were much tolerant in acceptance of the cultures poles apart from their own. It is about people who encouraged the confluence of cultures and lived happily with people those of other cultures. But it all ended once some despotic British officials took over the government. And till 1857 it was all finished for ever.
So if you fancy the exploration of the unexplored pages of the history, then White Mughals is one book that you need to have. Apart from that it is a wonderful gem from the treasure chest of the man named William Dalrymple which offers all the book readers a perfect book to get indulged in.
Her acting skill is phenomenal. Her dancing is the expression of passion and fire she has in her mind and soul. Her moves touches you. She’s one of the most prolific and complete actor Indian cinema has ever produced or I should better say Indian cinema has ever had the opportunity to work with. She’s none other than Urmila Matondkar. When a sweet little girl Urmila first appeared in Shekhar Kapoor’s classic masterpiece masoom, her performance accorded her special attention and love from the audience but never had the world realized what gem of film industry they are having the extreme privilege of looking at.
Urmila made her debut as an adult in Bollywood with narsimha which was a commercial success but the movie didn’t do much to propel her career and she was just received as another newcomer but few years later in the year 1995, Ramgopal Varma made romantic rangeela with her and this was the movie which happened to be the spur to her career. With rangeela’s success and Matondkar’s highly appreciated performance and specially because of her acting skills she became Ramgopal Varma’s prodigy. Her next Ramgopal Varma movie daud couldn’t create the magic of rangeela although. But she had become the sex symbol of b-town till now. With rangeela’s sizzling dance moves and daud’s steamy show, she proved that she’s not made for the stereotypes albeit she had a successful movie like judaai as well in her bag. But her next Ramgopal movie satya showed her in a completely different light altogether. As a Marathi girl who lives in a chawl, she lived her role to its fullest and convinced the audience that they have seen just one side of this diva. But what left the audiences utterly awestruck was her next Ramgopal movie kaun which showcased her deft acting talents like never before. She plays the role of a psycho serial killer in this flick, who’s mentally ill and wreaks havoc on a fierce stormy night. After this, there was no looking back for miss Matondkar as her next ventures specially those which portrayed her in the most unconventional manner garnered her many accolades that an actor wishes for. Her performance as a vulnerable girl next door in jungle, portrayal of an obsessive lover in pyar tune kya kiya or role of a possessed woman in bhoot proves that she’s one of the most finest actresses of the country who can get inside the soul of each character that she plays. At this point of her career people started believing that her days are over now and she can’t do any better in her career than she previously did. This was the time for Urmila to get back with a bang. Extremely versatile Urmila played the role a village belle this time-in pinjar– who has been abducted and is forced to live away from her family in the direst circumstances. Urmila played her role in an extraordinarily understated way and her subtle performance again won many hearts. In her next movie she played a role which not only proved that she’s a great actor but also that she’s a one man show. The movie was ek haseena thi and this time she played the role of an innocent girl who after being cheated by her boyfriend-which landed her in jail-turns out be an extremely shrewd avenger. After this Urmila did movies like bas ek pal and garnered critical accolade as well but this was the point when she started maintaining distance from movies. The reason might be the lack of similar scripts that she has liked in her career. Whatever the reason is, Urmila has been one of the greatest actresses of our time and at the same time most underrated actress according to me. She has been regarded as a fine actress but with the kind of performances that she has given back to back, she deserves recognition more than that and more than many actresses of Bollywood. There is no doubt that being such an actress with perfection in every role she has not been given much acclaim than she deserves but this is also a fact that Urmila is known as a great actress to all those who like movies with great performances and a gripping plot. Urmila is happily married now and all that we can do is to wait for her to come back with her extreme talents in her second innings. Till then, if you haven’t seen her best movies yet then do watch and enjoy the showcase of talent, titillating beauty and beautiful innocence of a gorgeous diva called Urmila.