FOR A CHANGE IN THE HOT SEAT
(. . . . . . . . Continued from Vol 8. Issue 3)
Butani : After Sahyog Foundation did you still continue to be an active member of other organizations like Priyadarshini etc. or was your involvement quite limited in them?
Jawhrani : Indeed my involvement got reduced to a great extent as whatever activity I needed to initiate was done from the platform of Sahyog Foundation.
Butani : Organizing social and cultural events and functions was done single handedly or with assistance of others?
Jawhrani : Sahyog Foundation is a registered Trust and there are several active Trustees; besides there are no two ways regarding the fact that without the support of others such huge events cannot be organized. Chander Manghnani and Sunil Shivdasani both have been with me since the beginning and the third was Mr. D. K. Raiker who was the chief editor of Indian Express. In this journey of Sahyog Foundation many joined the Foundation. I got the support of many such good persons.
Butani : It is said that you gave a new direction to Sindhi Cultural programmes. Can you clarify this?
Jawhrani : I felt that the Sindhi function should be organized with a difference. I approached the well known singer Mahendra Kapoor to sing in Sindhi, he agreed. The others were Kavita Krishnamurti and Rajendra and Neena Mehta. Mr. Mehta said that he could sing but need some one to train him a little. I requested Mr. Vashdev Nirmal to teach him. Along with these non-Sindhi singers we also had Sindhi singers. The first programme that I organized under the banner of Priyadarshini was in the memory of the three great stalwarts of the Sindhi community – Bhagwanti Nawani, Ram Panjwani and Master Chander. After getting a very good response for this first event, we organized the second event 'Sindhi Sangeet Ji Shaam' at Shanmukhanand hall. The hall was full with about 3,500 people sitting and some were even standing. In that event also I had requested Anup Jalota to sing in Sindhi. I felt that there should be some variety in the Programme. Thus came up this idea of making the non-Sindhi singers sing in Sindhi. I tried to convey a message specially for Sindhi children, through these programmes that these singers being non-Sindhi can sing in Sindhi then why can't you speak in Sindhi. You should learn at least to speak in Sindhi.
Butani : How did you come in contact with Sindhi litterateurs, artists and other stalwarts of the community?
Jawhrani : Since the beginning I believe that Sindhi litterateurs and Sindhi artists are the precious gems of our community. It is our duty to take care of them, support and encourage them. I also have great respect for the senior social workers of the community. Seeing these seniors who were in their 70s, I always believed that had they not given their services, Sindhyat would not have reached our generation. Had the generation of these seniors been too occupied with earning their bread and butter, and not cared to preserve and protect our culture then Sindhyat would not have been handed over to us, i.e. the next generation. The stalwarts like Gobind Malhi, Bhagwanti Navani, Baldev Gajra etc. have contributed immensely to our community. Even great was Ram Panjwani's contribution who used visited every town and village carrying his pot, spreading the message of Sindhyat. All of them did the job of implanting Sindhyat within the souls. I was in close contact with Mr. Hotchand Advani who had the foresight and he established so many Sindhi colleges. Had he not thought of it then, maybe even we would be wandering here and there for the education of our children, as nowadays you are well aware how difficult it has become to educate our children in good colleges. Therefore I salute them. I always had good and cordial relations with that generation also.
Butani : As everyone says and can also be seen that, the kind of literature that was written by these litterateurs, about whom you just spoke, is not being written nowadays. Such kind of books or prose or poetry can't be seen today. The theatre and drama is not at all popular as it used to be in yester years. The crowds are no longer interested in viewing the dramas, nor anything new is being performed. What is the reason behind this and why . . . . . . ?
Jawhrani : You are quite right in saying so. When a litterateur writes literature he needs full time and he is the one who shows a new direction and course to the society. He tries to bring forth every aspect of the society for its benefit. If there are some vices then he shows us, how to destroy them, for example child marriages, no widow re-marriage etc. It was these writers who took the baton in their hand and tried to get rid of such vices. So these writers usually give us a new path, a new way of thinking. Now for this new thought they don't have time. This is because the new age writers are working from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening. After returning from their jobs after 6-00, they are tired and not in any mood to write and hence new literature is not being produced. The same is the case with Sindhi stage. The Sindhi stage artists though talented need time for rehearsals. Even the artists are doing a 10 to 6 job, taking care of their households and families and hence find no time for practice or rehearsals. But in Sindh it was not so, if a person was a writer he was full time writer, if he was an artist he was a full time artist. So they dedicated their entire time to their art. But here they are not getting the required time needed to do full justice to their art.
When we made the film Jhulelal for television, the whole night I sat with Music Director C. Lakhmichand and got the new songs recorded for the film. The old songs were available, but we wanted to put in new songs. The film is in the form of a poet narrating the story of Jhulelal. To record the entire story it took me two nights. I gave that cassette to an artist, (I don't wish to name), to rehearse and come prepared for the shooting as their would be lip movements during the shooting. When he arrived at Doordarshan studio, he said that he had not heard the cassette. So now when he had not heard, how were we supposed to shoot? We somehow managed by showing the musicians and the chorus singers in the song. So here the question arises of time. If you don't give enough time, you won't get the desired quality. An artist has to give full time for practice and rehearsal. My suggestion to the social institutions is that they should conduct workshops or art, music, dance etc. to produce new artists. Like we have the electronic media where they hunt for new talent in the form of 'Indian Idol', we should hunt for Sindhi Idol. We have Sindhi talent but it is not visible. We should try to make their talents visible by bringing them in the front and on their basis we can also start a Sindhi channel. If we don't have the artists we won't be able to produce programmes. Workshops should also be conducted for writers where they should be taught what kind of literature is required. No one is doing these things. Each one has his own goal.
Butani : Your excellent relationships with the film industry is well-known. What benefits did the foundation derive from these?
Jawhrani : I had very good relations with Dev Anand and Sunil Dutt from the film industry, they were always full of life and used to never get tired. Sunil Dutt used to tell me that whenever I am nervous or feel weak I turn to Dev Anand. I sit with him for about half an hour and come back rejuvenated and young, full with confidence and zeal. I had very good relations with Dev Anand to such an extent that sometimes in the evening we used to have drinks together at his residence and he used to drive me back to my house in his fiat car. I would always feel that I must learn and take up something from such great personalities. They taught me that one should be satisfied with whatever he has. In between, Dev Anand was going through quite a bad phase. Someone offered if he could be of any help to him. He replied, Dev Anand can only be helped by Dev Anand. So I feel that every human being can help himself and no outsider can help him. I was greatly influenced by this positive way of thinking.
Butani : How did you come in contact with Doordarshan?
Jawhrani : I was neither connected to Doordarshan nor to All India Radio. One day Mr. Tekchand Mast called me up and said that he had seen and heard me at various social and cultural programmes. He was of the opinion that I had not only a good voice but a good head for addressing social issues. So he requested me for an interview programme on All India Radio and I agreed. This was in the year 1985 or 86. The programme on Radio was named 'Kal ain Aj' i.e. Yesterday and Today, where along with me others like Thakur Chawla were also invited. The next programme he gave me was 'The effect of films and T.V. on society.' I suggested for this programme you must invite some film personalities. He said as a lay man you suggest who should be invited. I suggested them to invite Mac Mohan and Renuka Israney. In this way my talk shows started on All India Radio.
Govind Malhi's daughter Pushpa, did one programme on Doordarshan where she interviewed me along with Thakur Chawla and one more person. After that programme, the director of Doordarshan called me and asked whether I would like to do more programmes. In this way I got to know him and my contact started with Doordarshan. In 2004-2005, Mr. Mukesh Sharma the director of Doordarshan told me that he was keen on doing a new Sindhi programme with me. I told him that first I would like to try. He agreed to give me trail. Every Sunday he used to have a live programme telecast on Doordarshan. I was made to sit in the Hot Seat, just as you have done today. It was a one hour live programme of Maharashtra. This programme used to be conducted in Hindi by Mr. Javed Akhtar. I did that programme in which phone calls used to come from entire Maharashtra and I had to reply. He saw that and had the confidence that I could do interview based programmes and offered me 52 episodes. This is how 'Sindhi Sarvech' programme began.
Butani : Oh! The origin of the book – 'Global Sindhis'. You just now spoke about the workshops to be conducted by the social institutions. But it is said that these social institutions are at loggerheads with each other and cannot adjust with one another. They do not meet each other and there is no unity. So what do you feel is the reason behind this?
Jawhrani : It is in human nature, that once the hunger of the stomach is satisfied, there is hunger for name and fame. So in this quest for name and fame many institutions were established. The aims and objects with which these institutions are started, slowly vanish in the greed for fame and prominence. So these institutes just exist in name. Some work just 1%, while some work 99%, and hence the question of Unity doesn't arise.
Butani : Your activities in Sahyog Foundation and other activities, were in Mumbai. How did you develop your network not only all over India but also outside India?
Jawhrani : In 1995 I started Sahyog Foundation in Gujarat. We started giving awards in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Then I started in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. I planned to establish Sahyog Sports Complex in Bhopal. We acquired the plot, but then felt may be we would not be able to manage it. Hence we handed it over to the college in Bairagarh. That college needed funds for setting up its building which was named Sadhu Vaswani College. They approached me and said they required about Rs. 10 -15 lakhs to complete the building of their college. I told them that the name 'Sahyog' suggests assistance, hence we shall definitely assist you. I requested Hema Malini to give a free dance ballet at Nehru Platenatrium Hall. The other expenses regarding the hall etc. would be borne by Sahyog Foundation. She agreed. She performed the dance ballet – 'Durga.' I printed the donation cards for the Bairagarh college people. They sold those donation cards and collected about Rs. 9.5 lakhs out of which Rs. 8.5 lakhs were collected by sale of cards, while Rs. 1 lakh was given by Mr. Sanmukh Israney, who was alive then. Ramrao Adik was the Chief Guest, the other guest included celebrities like Asha Bhosale, Ramdas Athavale and Pran Sahab. I have had close relations with Pran Sahab. He loves me so much that till date on my birthday, the very first bouquet which arrives at my house in the morning at 6-00 a.m. is sent by him. Even Pran agreed to donate Rs. 1 lakh. In this manner we managed to collect about Rs. 10 - 11 lakhs and the remaining work of that college in Bairagarh was completed.
In 1992, Indersen Israney who is quite active in the social field invited me to Jaipur as the key speaker, where Mr. Shekhawat was the Chief Guest. Even Dr. Satish Rohra had participated in that event. In this way my contacts grew in Jaipur. In Delhi I was quite close to Motilal Jotwani. They invited me as a guest on behalf of Sindhi Academy, where I honoured Mr. Anand Hingorani with Bhisham Pitamah Award. K. R. Malkani was the Chief Guest. In this way my contacts grew in Delhi. In this manner from 1992 to 2000 I toured almost the whole of India, and everyone in all these cities invited me affectionately. I accepted the invitation from places in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Kakinada in Orissa. And till date I am in touch with them and even when they come to Bombay them meet me. And this is how I have established personal relations within the community all over.
Butani : Any special moment of achievement which you dearly cherish?
Jawhrani : My journey is still on. If I just anchor on some achievement and take satisfaction that this was my biggest achievement then as they say the game is over. If the thirst is quenched, life is over. I am still thirsty and shall try to do whatever I can in future also, for my community.
Butani : If you look back, any disappointing moment?
Jawhrani : I definitely feel disappointed sometimes. In 1994 there was a seminar organized jointly by Bombay University and Sahyog Foundation, in which our senior writers like Popati Hiranandani, Arjan Shad, Govind Malhi, Sanmukh Israney had participated along with the Vice Chancellor of Bombay University Mr. Karnik. All the writers were saying that our Sindhi language is dying. They had literally used these words. Although Karnik couldnot understand our language but he sensed what was being spoken. He got up and announced that if you fear so much regarding your language then I shall grant you land free of cost at Kalina Campus. You can build your Sindhi Bhasha Bhavan over there. He estimated that approximately it would cost Rs. 40 lakhs for building that Bhavan. I announced that I would donate Rs. 1 lakh, Sanmukh Iraney announced Rs.1 lakh, Rs.1 lakh was announced by Jai Hind College and Chander Manghnani announced Rs.1 lakh. Rs. 4 lakhs were thus collected. When we moved outside we called up Nanik Rupani and he agreed to donate Rs. 1 lakh. Dr. L. H. Hiranandani promised Rs. 2.5 lakhs. Rs. 2.5 lakhs were promised by Gope Daryanani. Dr. Hiranandani got Rs. 25 lakhs from Ashok Advani on behalf of Hyderabad Sindh National Collegiate Board. In this manner we were able to collect Rs. 37 lakhs within one week. Slowly we started thinking that this would be quite small why not to make a bigger one, and ultimately the budget reached Rs. 1 crore. The Jaslok Trust promised to give us Rs. 1 crore and 1 lakh, till date we also have that letter. But then circumstances were not favourable and we could not get that cheque and adequate funds. Till date that Sindhi Bhasha Bhavan is not built whose Bhoomi Poojan was done by the great saint and spiritual leader and guide of our Sindhi community – Shri J. P. Vaswani. This I feel will be very good for the Sindhi community if this Bhasha Bhavan is built. It is my personal suggestion, that this entire project should be taken over by Hyderabad Sindh National Collegiate Board (HSNCB) and it should be managed and controlled by them. This is because they have the required expertise, tools, funds and they are the ones who have donated the highest amount of funds, i.e. Rs. 25 lakhs. There is no need to form any other committee, if it managed by HSNCB and it can be of great utility.
Butani : Hasn't the Bombay University questioned that since 1994 the land granted to you is lying vacant?
Jawhrani : So many times they have questioned, but they are not much bothered since our funds are in a separate account, Sindhi Bhasha Bhavan A/c, University of Mumbai, which have multiplied to about Rs. 1.25 crores. It has been almost 15 years now.
Butani : Have you ever tried to approach the HSNCB to take over the project?
Jawhrani : I haven't tried to approach them. The ones who are sitting in the Sindhi Department there should try or the others in the committee can give their suggestions. This is just my view. HSNCB is such a strong body in our Sindhi community where 60,000 students are educated.
Butani : As this will be delayed, the cost will go on escalating.
Jawhrani : Definitely, the cost of construction will increase. Some times I feel that this project has been left incomplete and should be soon completed.
Butani : Any unfulfilled task, wish or dream? Have you got any plans for the future?
Jawhrani : Now my main objective is to pass on this rich treasure of our ancient culture, which paved the way for the whole world civilization, to the next generation. They should not keep wandering, but feel proud of their rich heritage and culture. I want to convey this message to our Sindhi youth. I wish that along with SindhiShaan we should make some programmes for T. V. serials or on DVDs for our youth. Because today is the era of electronic media, no one wishes to go to the class and study. Our history is also soon being forgotten cent percent and their aren't any historians left to record our history. The reason for this is that our ancient history is not being taught anywhere in schools or colleges. Every state teaches its own history. No one will educate students regarding Hemu Kalani, but they will definitely be taught about Lokmanya Tilak and Subhash Chandra Bose. It's the duty of each state to teach their history, but unfortunately we Sindhis don't have a state of our own. So to acquaint the younger ones with our historical past we can use the medium of theater by recording some dramas, T. V. serials and other such programmes which can then be reached out to them. They should know that the sacrifice of our Hemu Kalani is in no way lesser than that of Bhagat Singh. We Sindhis have also contributed immensely towards the freedom struggle of the nation. Our literature has 7 love stories of Shah Latif, on which many non-Sindhis have made innumerable films. These 7 tales of Sasi-Punhu, Sohni-Mahiwal, Leela-Chanesar are originally composed by Shah Latif. 'Shah Jo Rasalo' is said to be more powerful then the writings of Shakespeare also. So all these have to reach our younger generation, if not then the whole matter comes to an end and no one will ever remember that there existed such culture. I wish that all this should reach the younger generation. The first part of this was the conducting of interviews on Doordarshan where even you co-operated immensely. During those interviews I tried to ask them about our historical background. How was Sindh prior to the beginning of freedom movement? What was the contribution of Sindhis during the freedom struggle? Who was responsible for the Partition? Were the Sindhi leaders faithful or not? How did the Sindhis lead their life after coming here and staying as refugees? Thereafter how they struggled and reached the position where they are today? Those Sindhis who came empty handed to India, today are so strong and capable of helping others. This is my aim; to convey this entire struggle of our Sindhis to the younger generation.
Butani : Hence this book – 'Global Sindhis'.
Jawhrani : This is just the first part of it. With the co-operation of friends like you the second volume too of the book shall be published shortly.
Butani : Which are those personalities, according to you, who have had an impact on your life and thought process?
Jawhrani : In every walk of life I have met different personalities. My nature has been like that of a magnet, to attract the good points in whomsoever you across. So if you talk about self-confidence, then I got that abundantly from Dev Anand. Regarding the capacity to struggle, I learnt it from Sunil Dutt. If it is to be strong and steadfast on any matter, come what may, then I am inspired by Ram Jethmalani. If it is to remain happy in life, no matter the amount of sorrows befall you then I have learnt that from Lata Mangeshkar. I have been to her house many a times and even she had come to my office, usually she doesn't go to anyone's office. I have always received something or the other from her. So in this way little by little I am impacted by these persons.
Butani : I also recollect that your published a magazine – can you tell me about it?
Jawhrani : In 1994, my friend Sunil Shivdasani, who was the senior reporter PTI then, advised me to publish such a magazine which should be a bridge between the Sindhis and non-Sindhis. So I started Sahyog Times International, which I published successfully for 7 years. Since I was alone and due to some domestic responsibilities, I wasn't able to continue it. That lacking of mine, which I could not continue due to time constraints and other factors, is now being fulfilled by SindhiShaan. My purpose is that my message should reach the masses, so whether that is delivered through Sahyog Times or through Sindhishaan, my purpose is solved. And I believe that SindhiShaan is doing that job fabulously.
Butani : I also want to know one secret from you. I have never seen you angry or lose your temper. Is this your nature or do you control yourself?
Jawhrani : Look, after all even I am a human being. So the attributes that are there in other humans are there in me also. Every one feels angry, but some have more tolerance, while some have less. One should always think that – 'We have very little time to live here, Then why do the people fight here?' So there is no benefit in fighting. I have noticed one thing that by being angry and troubling myself and also hurting the opposite person, if I don't understand the person, its better that I move aside. This I feel is better than spoiling the relationship.
Butani : One final question, we don't find any shortcoming in you. But do you feel that you have any shortcoming which you would like to correct?
Jawhrani : Shortcomings are present in all the human beings created by God. Even the incarnations of God had some shortcomings. Those shortcomings within a person cannot be found out by himself, but the opposite person can point it out to him. So I leave this upto you to let me know about it and advice me accordingly so that I can correct myself.
Butani : Thank you for consenting to this interview. SindhiShaan Team is indeed grateful.