Nargis & Deedar: The Art of the Refrigerator Mujra

In light of Pakistan’s defeat yesterday by India in the Cricket World Cup 2011 semi-finals, I’d like to help cheer up Pakistan along with my readers.  Pakistan, you may not have progressed to the finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, but you do have the consolation of something I like to call the refrigerator mujra.  Allow me to explain. Back a few years ago I found a video of mujra star Megha.  After watching one of her videos, I found a need to see more and more and was thus sucked into the gritty and sexy world of mujras.

Mujra is a form of dance originated by tawaif (courtesans) during the Mughal era. Mujra incorporated elements of the native classical Kathak dance onto music such as thumris andghazals or poems of those from other Mughal cultures such as Bahadur Shah Zafar.  Mujra was traditionally performed at mehfils and in special houses called kothas. During Mughalrule in India, in places such as Jaipur, the tradition of performing mujra was a family art and often passed down from mother to daughter amongst Muslim practitioners. The profession was a cross between art and exotic dance, with the performers often serving as courtesans amongst Mughal royalty or wealthy patrons. (source)

I needed to process what I’d experienced watching these dances and was lucky enough to stumble upon Richard’s blog Dances on the Footpath, and was able to share my response too Megha and her wild dancing.  As it turns out Richard is a connoisseur of mujra and you can see some of his reflections of the art form HERE.   After Megha, I became fascinated with  Nargis and then found her sister Deedar whose style is more athletic and what I  imagine a Pakistani Jazzercise instructor would deliver.

First let’s warm up with a mujra featuring the sisters Nargis and Deedar :

After getting over the initial shock of the boldly sexual nature of the mujra, I became fixated on the staged mujra and the sets.   Often times the stages are set up to look like a home, and I started noting the stereo consoles, furniture, televisions, telephones, and just basically all the regular things found in a home up there on the stage.  I think the point is to show the guys, Hey, this is all typical stuff, see it’s just happening here in a typical home, could be anyone’s home…even your home, yeah you could have all this. OK the truth is the stage is set up for a play and the mujra number serves as a break in the action.

Thank goodness for being able to discuss the art of mujra with the likes of Richard, and fellow Lollywood enthusiast, Dishoom Dishoom, who owns several prominent kothas in Pakistan. I made that part up about the kothas, sorry Dishoom Dishoom. Now let’s start with Deedar’s mujra in which a  refrigerator is featured at  5:09, but I recommend you watch her entire performance:

Here again Deedar mujras away and at 1:47 the refrigerator makes a cameo, and then makes a full on appearance at 3:25:

You may be saying, Sita-ji, look it’s just the same stage set up, so it’s the same refrigerator. To that I say, take a look, they’re DIFFERENT refrigerators.I especially like the mujra here, since it features a commercial refrigerator in a store setting.

For the life of me I CAN’T find Nargis doing a mujra near a refrigerator!  If you find one, let me know and I will amend this post.  As a substitution, I believe this mujra in a hospital setting will suffice, since refrigerators are implied, like in the kitchen or in an area where blood is stored in the hospital.

Nargis also has a beauty salon in Canada!

Nargis currently resides in Canada with her husband Zubair Shah and one son Murtaza Ali and daughter named Masooma. She now runs a beauty parlour/spa/salon in Markham ON Canada. (source)

Feast your eyes on all that’s available at Nargis Botique…Where Beauty Begins. Next time I’m in Markham Ontario, you know where I’ll go!

Now Pakistan, cheer up about your loss to India in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, because you have a whole world of refrigerator mujras to help you feel better.  And congratulations to India.  I challenge someone out there to do a post on stage murja that feature television sets and/or stereo consoles in the background.

UPDATED 4.18.11!

Thanks to Richard at Dances on the Footpath for doing more research and locating  a special Sheeza refrigerator mujra:

What do Ganesha, Sanjay Patel, The Minnesota State Fair, crop seeds, Shree 420, and Bollywood have in common?

I put myself on full throttle ultra purdah for a few days in preparation for my creation of crop art for the Minnesota State Fair. Crop art is the design of crop seeds in artistic arrangements, and if you’re crop arting for the MN State Fair, the artists are to use only seeds of plants and crops that grow in the state. It’s how city folks like me learn about farm crops from the country. I’ve entered before and there is a time commitment involved in gluing seeds down, and you have to make a sacrifice, and you can guess what I had to sacrifice: Bollywood! But my qurbani, I mean sacrifice, yielded this:

I recreated the image using these seeds: barley, canola seeds, corn, flax, golden flax, millet, oats, safflower, sunflower seeds, and wild rice. You can see my Sanjay Patel inspired Ganesha recreation in person in the Ag-Hort building at the MN State Fair through labor day. I would like to think that some people will do a little puja in front of my Ganesha of seeds.

I found Sanjay Patel’s excellent Ghee Happy website back in early 2007 while looking around for Hindu god images. When I saw Patel’s super cute deities I immediately thought: crop art! If you don’t already have it, I recommend his book The Little Book of Hindu Deities to you. It’s not only adorable, but also a clever, fun, and informative read. How could I choose from the dozens of ultra cute deities to recreate in seeds? I decided since the RNC is coming to Minnesota during the time of the fair, that it would be nice for a very different kind of elephant to welcome that RNC elephant. Maybe Ganesha’s divine energy could help out the Republicans.

I did contact animator extraordinaire, Shree Sanjay Patel, via email to tell him about my crop art and to let him know that I may be infringing on his copyrighted material. It seems that the copyright doesn’t cover seeds, so I should be safe from a lawsuit. Mr. Patel graciously responded to my email and was so very kind. Thank you Shree Patel!

When my Ganesha was completed and delivered to the state fair, I got back on the happy Bollywood train. The first movie waiting for me was the 1955 classic Shree 420. The Shankar-Jaikishan soundtrack is awesome, but I was particularly taken by one song for obvious reasons: Eechak Dana Beechak Dana, picturized on Nargis and Raj Kapoor, with playback singers Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh. The Bollywood universe knew I was heavily dedicating myself to seed work during my purdah and rewarded me with this gem of a tune. Just look at the seed related lyrics!

I know what Nargis is talking about, one little seed, two seeds, seed on seed!

Thanks to Sharikazoid for the video with the English subtitles.

If you’d like to hear it again, Dr. Chadhury did a remix of the song.

I’m certainly not the first to recreate Sanjay Patel’s images. Check out this impressive stuffed Kali inspired by Patel’s image. For further reading of the art of seeds, consult David Steinlicht’s excellent CroptArt.com site as well as Colleen Sheehy’s book, Seed Queen: the Story of Crop Art and the Amazing Lillian Colton.