Sunday, April 10, 2011

'Bombur ta Yambarzal'. From Russia. With Love.1965.

The story of first Kashmiri Opera so far (previously covered here):

In 1952 Dina Nath Nadim on a visit to Peking gets to see Chinese classical opera, White Haired Girl. He is impressed with the format and believes that it could very well work for a Kashmiri story with Kashmiri folk music. 1953, only a year later, drawing inspiration from a popular Kashmiri legend about change of seasons, he comes up with Bombur ta Yambarzal (The Narcissus and the Bumble Bee). That year this opera is staged for the first time at famous Nedou's Hotel. Acclaimed to be first of its kind in the entire country, it proves to be a roaring success among the public who can't keep themselves from singing the songs from this original production. Quasi  propagandist context mixed with genuine folk music, a popular story that everyone knows, earnest socialist fervor triggered by promise of a new political change, another new beginning - this creation of Nadim, not yet disillusioned, offers it all. It is a significant achievement.

An achievement significant enough to draw a special audience. In 1955 the show, that has already had a few re-runs, is again put up at Nedou's Hotel for special guest - military leader and Marshal of the Soviet Union Nikolai Bulganin who is accompanied by First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party's Central Committee Nikita Khrushchev. At the end of the show, the two political giants offer Nadim a hug each. The story was believed to be allegory on American Capitalism and Soviet Socialism.

That was the story of 'Bombur ta Yambarzal' this far.

Nadim was joyous that day.
Dina Nath Nadim, the artist, between the two colossus Khrushchev and Bulganin. 1955.  Found this rare photograph (by Anatoliy Garanin) at RIA Novosti website. Dina Nath Nadim stood  unidentified, unmarked, with his crew.
 [Came across this photograph thanks to Autar Mota ji]
Update: July 7 2013.  Another photograph of the event. Via: Photodivison India
[Update: July 29,2013 Details about the performers in the photograph sent in bt readers]
This great interest of Russians in a Kashmiri story wasn't sudden. It was cultivated. In 1955, on a diplomatic goodwill mission for USSR to Kashmir, Uzbek communist leader Sharaf Rashidov, a name that in later years would be called 'a communist despot' and a few years later would be called 'a true Uzbek hero', came across Dina Nath Nadim's modern re-telling of an inspiring old Kashmiri story. By the end of 1956 Rashidov was already out with his interpretation of the story in a novella titled 'Kashmir Qoshighi' ( also known as Song of Kashmir/Kashmir Song/Kashmirskaya song) acknowledging Nadim's work.

-0-

 Much dwelling, much seeing, much tasted from pleasure and burning the teacher has asked the schoolboys,whose young eyes were alert, and mind just spriad it's wings for a long-distance flight:


- Where the wisdom of people originates?


- In experience, - one has answered.


- In thought, - another has answered.


- In connection of experience and thought, - third has answered.


And again, having thought, the teacher told:


- The experience of the man dies together with the man, the mind of the man dies together with the man. For the tam of ours is short! The wisdom of the people originates in memory of the people. It is - ocean, from which the mining flows and springs becoming on the way the rivers are born. Memory is the consequent of wisdom and it is the reason of it. But where the memory lives and what gives it force to pass, enriched, from century to century, from past times to times of future?


It is a figure on a wall and a picture on a canvas.


It is a line on an stone and book.


It is a fairy tale, tradition and legend.


It is a song and music.


In them memory of people, which widening the beaches, flows from breed to breed, in them is wisdom of people, which as all the inflaming plume, is transmitted from breed to breed

~ lines from Rashidov's Song of Kashmir (via this interesting Russian article)

-0-
By the start of 1960, the dream was already over for Nadim and many of his friends. The poets were coming to term with new realities, promises broken and perhaps their own role in the events of past. Making a departure from his earlier 'progressive' style, in his 1959 poem Gassa Tul (Blade of Grass) Nadim wrote*:

This blade of grass
Like me
Soft silk when sap was there
Bowed to the sun and waved with the wind.
In winter nights its roots were lost.
Robbed of its sap, it stood erect,
Dried up, stiffened with false pride,
Changed in kind, having outlived its day.
Blow on it, it crumbles;
Step on it, it is dust;
Show it a flame and
Ashes is all.

-0-
1965 was the year of second Kashmir war between India and Pakistan. It was also the year when USSR's famous Soyuzmultfilm studio produced an animated film called Наргис. Soyuzmultfilm excelled at producing animated fairy tales and other popular stories targeted at children, but for Наргис the story came from Rashidov's Song of Kashmir. Interesting the film retained the original Kashmiri names of all the characters sketched originally by Dina Nath Nadim, all the names except Yambarzal who is given the popular name Nargis, the name of this film.


This film tells the story of flower Nargis awaiting the arrival of Bombur who is no where to be found even as winter is over. Nargis roams around and calls out for him. An evil witch (Wav or storm in Kashmiri version) transforms her master Harud (Autumn) into Bombur but Nargis sees through the ploy, in his rage Harud kills Nargis. Nature God intervenes and chases away Harud who is finally revived by tears of wailing Bombur.A happy ending like the one in Nadim's version and unlike the original Kashmiri story in which Bombur turns blind and spend his life looking for Yambarzal moving from flower to flower.


Nargis
Bombur
Wav
Harud



With the birth of Doordarshan, by mid-1970s, animated films from Russia made appearance on Indian television science, they would keep up such appearances for decades to come even after the fall of USSR and Soyuzmultfilm getting devoured  in capitalist market.

In his early 1970s poem Hisaab Fahmee (Know the Science of Number) about a man whose account balance has gone haywire, Nadim laments*:

It never became four,
At last I saw only a cypher,
One round zero,
Now shrinking, now swelling again,
Like breathing in and out.


-0-
* translated by T.N. Raina

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