Bhrigu's question

कभी जो याद भी आता हूँ मैं तो कहते हैं के आज बज़्म में कुछ फ़ित्ना-ओ-फ़साद नहीं - मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब

Location: the valley, California, United States

Bay Area, Strategy Manager, Haas- U. C. Berkeley, Marathons

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Shanta Apte and Longfellow

This is an excerpt from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's (1807-1882) poem. The entire poem can be read here.

A Psalm of Life

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate ;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way ;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Let us, then, be up ........(repeat)

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time ;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up ........(repeat)
Longfellow's poem is sung as a song in the Marathi film Kunku (Hindi: Duniya Na Mane) made by V. Shantaram in 1937. The singer is the actress Shanta Apte, a fiery woman in real life, she acted as Neera in Kunku.
Neera is trapped into marrying an old widower Kakasaheb. He is a progressive lawyer with a son and daughter of Neera's age. Neera refuses to consummate the union claiming that while suffering can be borne, injustice cannot. Neera faces many hurdles including her mother-in-law and a lascivious stepson Pandit. Finally the widower realizing the unfairness of the situation commits suicide thus freeing Neera.
It is reckoned to be a landmark film. It required a lot of guts from V. Shantaram. This Prabhat film was the film version of a Marathi novel 'Na Patnari Ghosta" written by Hari Narayan Apte ['Na Patnari Ghosta' - literally: stuff/stories you will not understand].

The film also starred social worker/feminist Shakuntala Paranjpye as the daughter of the old man. She's the one who brings about the change in the young bride and her father. Just as Nora in Henrik Ibsen's 'A Doll's House' undergoes radical change during the course of a particular event. Read more about the film here.

I thought the song was quite interesting since Longfellow's poem was prominently featured, sung in a defiant albeit poignant tone! Remember, this was 1937. I recently got an mp3 of this song from a generous collector. The film is available from the Prabhat website. [Or if you are in the US, from the Neelam website]


Anonymous Chetan said...

Thanks for letting us know.

Interesting. Does she recite the poem in English or a Marathi translation of it?

Also, I am not sure whether 'stuff/stories you will not understand' is an appropriate translation of Na Patnari Goshta. In my view 'Stuff/story that is hard/impossible to believe' would come closer to capturing its essense. The word 'patne' has more to do with agreeing or believing than with understanding.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Quizman said...


It is in English.

Thanks for the exact translation.

10:01 PM  

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