Issue :   
July 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         June 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:May' 2018

BOOK BAZAAR

A great treat indeed !

Humra Quraishi

Passionate Players-
A Selection of Writings by Pran Nevile

Pran Nevile
BookWise ( India )
Pp - 190. price Rs.475
This Spring came in the latest volume from PranNevile – Passionate Players (BookWise), which, as the title relays is a collection of essays on legends from the world of classical musicK L Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, Master Madan, Kanan Devi, Khurshid , Tamancha Jaan, Suraiya , Noor Jehan, Jahanara Kajjan …the list is indeed long of the passionate players! And this volume is definitely for those who are passionate enough to grasp the offbeat details to the lives of those players.

I’m left amazed at Pran Nevile’s writing prowess. Perhaps the oldest surviving writer in this part of the subcontinent, this 95 year old diplomat turned author, is not halting the flow of words. One book after another— Lahore: A Sentimental Journey, Love Stories From the Raj, Nautch Girls of India, Rare Glimpses of the Raj, Raj Revisited, KL Saigal: Immortal Singer and Superstar, Marvels of Indian Painting, Behind The Veil: Indian Women In The Raj, Sahib’s India: Vignettes From the Raj, Stories From The Raj: Sahibs, Memsahibs and Others, Carefree Days: Many Roles, Many Lives.

He has written on any given topic, except on politics. There isa sense of determination in his voice as he tell me that he has never allowed politics to enter his writings. “I have seen to it that no matter what happens, I’m not going to comment on the political situation and nor on politics… Till date I have avoided writing or focusing on any type of politics or politicians. Even when I’m invited to literature festivals in Pakistan I never comment on Pran Nevile politics. I tell the audience that I’ll not entertain queries related to diplomatic or political relations between the two countries…it’s the same set of rules follow here. I can write volumes on any given topic related to music and arts and culture but not on politics! Never going to break this rule!”

And even here he follows a certain rule –He writes long hand. No computers or any of the modern day gadgets for him. Just sheets of paper and the good old pencil, which he uses in that unstoppable way to jot down his experiences and interactions and meetings with the who’s who of the world of classical music and arts and literature.

Stands out the fact that he tries to go beyond the routine sort of information. There’s much focus on thepersonal aspects; those little -heard of details to an entire range of the classical singers,renderers and performers of the years gone by.

I’m left amazed at Pran Nevile’s writing prowess. Perhaps the oldest surviving writer in this part of the subcontinent, this 95 year old diplomatturned - author, is not halting the flow of words. He has written on any given topic, except on politics. There isa sense of determination in his voice as he tell me that he has never allowed politics to enter his writings. “I have seen to it that no matter what happens, I’m not going to comment on the political situation and nor on politics… Till date I have avoided writing or focusing on any type of politics or politicians.


Indian Jugglers and a girl acrobat by Sir Charles D’oyly c. 1805 In this volume I particularly liked his essay on Noor Jehan, who was rightfully titled - Malikae - Tarannum. Let me quote these lines, which go on to relay how PranNevile weaves in the personal to accelerate the connect for the reader- “ On a personal note I A devadasi and musicians by a Tanjore artist, c. 1805 have been an ardent fan of Mallika- e- Tarannum for as long as I can remember. I had the privilege of meeting her in 1978 during her visit to Chicago where I was then the Indian Consul General. There was no Pakistani mission there at that time and the organizers of her concert asked Noor Jehan if she would agree to my being invited as the chief guest. I learnt that she readily agreed to the suggestion when told that I was a great fan of hers and also a Lahoria by birth and upbringing.The concert hall was overflowing. There was a roaring welcome and standing ovation as Mallika-e - Tarannum made her appearance on stage. A thundering applause followed as she began the programme with the eternal melody awaz de kahanhai. I requested her to sing one of my favourite songs lagahaimisarka bazar dekho, and she smilingly Rani Jindan by local artist at Lahore c. 1860 responded with the remark that she was thrilled to find an Indian diplomat familiar with her latest film songs.”

Akbar watching performance by celebrated dancing girls from Mandu (Akbarnama) Noor Jehan This volume is indeed a treat. A relaxing read , taking one far beyond the routine.