Mumbai Music: Anjali Arondekar
Director: Surabhi Sharma; Cinematographer: Ajay Noronha
Duration: 00:47:26; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 24.017; Saturation: 0.200; Lightness: 0.294; Volume: 0.093; Cuts per Minute: 0.211; Words per Minute: 209.239
Summary: Anjali Arondekar - feminist historian now teaching in the United States - speaks about the history of the Gomantak Maratha Samaj set up by the community to which her family belongs. She traces the migration patterns of Goan kalavant families who started coming to Mumbai in the 1880s and settling primarily in Girgaum, which emerges as a major musical hub in the city. Sitting beside her are her father and mother who grew up in that neighbourhood, and who tell their own fascinating stories about their parentage and the centrality of the Samaj in the community's life.
SS: Anjali actually I will begin with you and first ask you your childhood experiences of growing up in Girgaon in your Samaj (community) and what are the kind of details that have stayed with you over the years?
AM: But ti... Tu aaplya Girgaonwat kuthe rahile
(But you didn't stay in Girgaon)
A: Nahi Nahi te tila mahit aahe ga
( No,no she knows that) Pan ti asa mhanje pathcha mhajya kai aathvani aahet asa vichartay
(But she's asking me about my memories)
AA: I mean as I said to you earlier I grew up in Bandra actually closer to Linking road not here but we spent every weekend in Girgaon which is where my mother was raised and my father was raised in Fanaswadi which is very close so ummm... so the kind of the history of the Samaj
( Community) was a very day to day thing so I didn't recognise the bigness of it till of course I got big myself, so when I was child we had Samaj
functions (Community functions) every year which were basically like nautanki
. There was a talent show we got prizes and everybody in the community came together and at that time the Samaj had offices in Girgaon in very very beautiful area
AA: Baba kuthe hota office Girgaonvat tumhala athavta? Ha juna
( Dad, where was the office in Girgaon do you remember?) Yes the old one
AF: (inaudible), Imperial Talkies
AA: Ha and ekdum chaan building hoti tikade aani aaple te Samajache fucntion kuthe hoiche? Motha asa... tula athavta aai function kuthe hoiche te? Dar varshi
( Yes, and there was a nice building there and where our community functions happen? It was big.. Mom do you remember where the function happened every year?)
AF:Girgaon, tech same, same place
AA: Ha pan tikade mothi jaaga hoti na, aani stage pan hota tumhala athavta na?
( There was a huge space there and a stage you remember?)
AA: So, the every year we had this function where I would see, I would see the bigness of the Samaj (community) in the collection of people that came together from eveywhere. So I would say on an average at these samaj functions there were almost a 1000 people in that big you know and you know most of it was very boring for us as children we just ran around, but we had a sense that this was a community we were part of we didn't quite know what it was but we were very very clear that music was a big part of that community
so there were lots of people who sang or read or... and I think that's why for example I'm not interested in Indian classical music because it was shoved down my throat, so my relationship to it was you know it was I'm not interested but, my cousin Neetu who you have met had the opposite relation to it.
So the Samaj was very day to day in that way also because of our surname so for example, umm when I was in Girgaon because my mother's maiden name is Laxmeshwar but she's from Shiroda in Goa and and my father's surname is very unusual and usually with that surname you couls tell I have had people ask me when I was a child when they... when I would say what my surname was and they would say ha you're from the Samaj.
So there was some sense of that but we didn't really understand the kind of legacy's of gender and sexuality I think till much later though, when I was child growing up and I was just talking about this to my cousin Kamakshi, Neetu's sister and we always used to laugh about the fact that there were Yajman's who would come. Yajman's the patron's who would come to visit but we had no idea... we knew they were these you know... and when we went to Goa we would joke about the fact that we could be related to anybody because of the community of Yajman's
so there was a sense of I would say sense of not so much seriousness around our histories when we were growing up because we didn't understand the caste implications the implications for gender all of that because we were growing in Bombay and these my mum and dad will have and I can help you to get them to tell those stories have incredible stories of crisis, stress particularly for my mother who was a very independent and you know confident woman for her time and you know for example she was the first to break away from the joint family system.
She moved out here to remote Bandra and left Fanaswadi where my father was living because she was working, she wanted to have an independent life and there is the story of their marriage which is also very interesting because my mother for example didn't want to get married but she was being sexually harassed speaking of the Tejpal thing by these men as you can see my mother is still very beautiful so you can imagine what she must have looked like when she was younger so she was getting sexually harassed by men at work who knew of the Samaj connections and would basically sort of expect certain things and so she got fed up and said you know I'll just get married and so she got married quite late so my mother's in her late 70's and my father is 80 and I'm 45 so there is.
AA: So there were all these little pieces that we knew, when we were growing up but I began to get a clearer sense of it I think when I was teenager when I became aware of my own sexuality and also became aware that we suspicously had no older men hanging around there were lot of old women and few random old men but we had no grandfather's.
So which was very ordinary to us we had lot of grannies so my mother's mother and Neetu's mother as I said were first cousins their mother's were sisters but there were 8 or 9 of those grannies that we encountered on a day to day basis Adhik Shirodkar was a very prominent member of the legal community and also very major photographer his mother was someone we met Gore aji ( grandmother) then Vasanti aji who lived in Gowalia Tank who is still the only one alive. So we met on a regular basis all these grandmother's who loved us and but we never thought it was odd that there were no men around.
Then my father for example has a brother who is... has a different father than him and then he has another first cousin who's... who had a very interesting story Te Ghaswalyanchi gosht tumhi tyana sanga mhanje tyancha kai... apan jaicho tyana bhetaila.
( Tell them Ghaswale's story... we used to go to meet him)
Toh when we used to go there it was a very interesting te Ghaswale kuthe rahaiche?
Girgaon ( Where did the Gahswala's stay?)
AA: Khetwadi madhey. Tar tikade aapan jaicho tenva
( In Khetwadi. When we used to go to Khetwaidi) We used to go there and it was very unusal for me even as a kid as we would go there and Dwarkanad kaka who's my... Tumche bhau na te ki?
( He was your brother or cousin?)
AF: Mavas Bhau
(cousin - aunt's son) Ya cousin
AA: So his mother lived in the Ghaswala household this Ghaswala was a prominent Gujarati businessman who had a wife and kids
AF: Actually Ghaswala's wife died very early so this my aunt moved to him
AA: Who is from our Samaj
AF: and his children were very young so she brought them up. So she was very promninent in fact all the Gujarati people used to respect her because she grew.. brought up the entire family. Ghaswala
AM: She was head of the family
AA: Aani pan tyani parat...
( But the he again)
AM: All the community also they use d to call her
AA: Pan aai tyani parat lagna kela na Ghaswalayani
( didn't Ghaswala get married again?)
AM: No no
AA: Aani apan pan jaicho na bhetaila tyana
( we would go to meet them)
AM: Yes and he was very clever na...
AA: Marathi madhey sangitla tar chalel
( You can say it in Marathi)
AM: Te khoop hooshar hote, tyamule
( He was very smart that's why) they were very proud of him and even I was working so they were giving us lot of respect and all
AA: Ya, and I never felt like.. coz we used to go aapan jaicho nehmi mala kadhich vatla nahi
( we would go often and I didn't ever feel like...)
AF: And one more thing. I was the only vegetarian among the non-vegetarian family here and fortunately my school Wilson High School was very near this aunt and they were Gujarati's so I used to go there for lunch every... everyday and that was the only food I enjoyed because in the evening everybody had non-veg so I almost had no dinner.
AM: He's strictly vegetarian.
AA: So to this day my father likes his Maharashtrian food Gujarati flavoured which my mother hates but I think that is... that's a memory of. So she was one like one figure amongst many but there were different stories of each of these women right I think that's what's...
I think what's really interesting about this so, I think part of why I became interested in this is not only because of my parents and I'll ask my father to tell you a story of his growing up which he's told me but was because there was so much information about the women who were in the front like Mogubai, Kishori Amonkar all these people but I was more interested in the back up girls right.
What happened to the stories of people like my mother or her mother who were ordinary women who forged lives? You know for example my grandmother amass property the house in Girgaon that you have seen.
How did they manage to get that house? You know that research that I'm doing the historical research basically you know tells you you know at the time when these women acquired those properties it was Girgaon because of the Bombay Improvement Trust was really blossoming the throughfare that lead to South Bombay so it was prime real estate so did they manage to acquire? I think those stories we didn't really know much about they were just there but I think having a sense of all these women who were around made a big difference.
AA: But my father for example tumhi Fanaswadi madhye hota lahanpane tar tumhala khoop chidwaicha na lok? marathit sangaa tyana
( You were in Fanaswadi when you were a kid people so people made fun of you? Tell them in Marathi)
AF: Ya, ya mala faar chidwaiche aani me gharatun, gharatun baher baher jatana dhaawat dhaawat jaicho,
( yes, they would tease me a lot and when I left the house I would run) because while I was crossing they used to make comments and all those.
AA: Tumhala te athav te ek tumhi mala sangitla sesh kinva... tumhala athavte te gana tumhi mhatlele na mi lihoon thevlela te kahi tari tyachat ek khitari vait shabd hota pan.
(Do you remember that thing you had told me sesh or... you remember that song you told me that you had written it down there was a bad word in it.)
. Sesh is the ceremony that in Goa which was banned in the early 20h century but it was this ceremony that for example the Devdasi's in Karnataka when they are wedded to Yellamma have but ours ceremony is called Sesh it's a word that is half Persian, half... you know has many different lineages but anyway
AF: They used to sesh meaning like marriage sesh vidhi initiated the women in this profession
AA: and you married the deity so but when you marry the deiity Sesh vidhi you stood and you had another wom...person from the samaj who would stand there with a coconut, two coconut's in their hands symbolising the gender of the deity which was clearly male or female we didn't know but the idea was proxy weddings considered proxy.
So this Sesh vidhi was abolished but Sesh was known as you know as the ceremony that we... so if you read the Samaj Sudharak's the annual magazine of the Gomantak Maratha Samaj which is now called the Gomanak Sharda you see references to the Sesh vidhi a lot. So my father I wish I had remembered the song.
AA:Tumhala te chidvaiche tumhi baher jaicha tenva te asa, te gana mhanaiche mhanje don vakya aahet nuste tyanya aathvel ( They would tease you when you went out , they would sing it's just two lines.. he may recollect)
but that will give you a sense of...
SS: But the community the neighbourhood would have been what Gujarati or?
AF: Maharastrian only
SS: Maharastrian only
AA: Pan te Brahmin hote?
( But were they Brahmins?)
AF: They were... no not Brahmin they were other communities but they were not this community so our only building in that locality ours was the only building which had all floors with this community and anytime I passed that point they used to shout and sing that song itself. I used to run away exactly but.
AA: Pan baba tumchi... tumhala tai ni vadhavla na tumcha doctor maichya aaicha tar tichi gosht sanga tumhi Mumbaila kashe aala?
(But dad your Tai brought you up right doctor mai's mother tell her story, how you came to Mumbai?)
(because) my father was not raised by his mother he was raised by somebody else
AA: Really again like I said his niece but who he thought but she was much older. Pan tini tumhala vadhavla aani tyan... tiche pan Yajman hote na? ( But she brought you up and he had a patron right?)
AF: Her Yajman was one Mr. Vora that is must be Gujarati
AM: The big engineer
AF: He was a big engineer staying in Matunga
AM: But she was with him only one person. Like a husband wife like relation
AA: Aani ( and)
SS: But she had her own house separate from her Yajman
AA: Yes, yes
AM: even my....
AA: and his daughter her daughter is a doctor... was a doctor. Dr. Malini Arundhekar
AF: Because in those days education was suppose to be in our community so her ambition was to make her daughter very educated so she was a doctor she is still alive.
AA: She is in her 90's
AF: She's 94. She's a doctor, she was a doctor and we are very proud of her
AM: Even our family my one another aunty also 94 she also like that but her family also very good, rich Gujarati people but they used to give her all respect. They used to call her for some functions and all.
SS: But tell me these big annual programmes that you mention were the Yajman's part of that
AA: No, not. Absolutely not, absolutely not and the interesting thing about the Yajman's and I'll get my mother and father to tell you their stories is that there are two important things. One is that the Yajman's were present but people weren't running around to try to find their fathers. Right, which is the normal thing when people dont have parents or if you are born in or you know born from an extramarital there is this desire like children are adopted and they want to know who their father's are but the interesting thing from my conversation with people, and my parents are great examples of very different opinions around this question is
some of them didnt had no interest in knowing who their fathers are so for example baba mi tumhala kitinda vicharla aahe aani hi hasnyachi gosht aahe, karan
( Dad, I have asked you so many times and it's funny, because) this is where my own naivety as a historian is exposed because I am looking for answers that where the questions are wrong questions, right? So I keep harassing Baba and say Baba tumche vadil kon hote?
( Dad who was your father?) because my fathers middle name is Mahavir. So the father was clearly but babana tyancha (but baba) he doesnt remember his name.
AM : But he died very early
AM: But Babana... tumhala aathavtay tumhi sanga, kai atahavtay tyancha baddal?
(Do you remember, you tell me, what do you remember about him?)
AF: I remember him
AM: Khoop lahaan hote te
(He was very young)
AF: Faar lahaan hoto
(I was really young) then I think once he took me with him when I was young to his house at Matunga. And those people were very, very awkward they knew all this but when I went there they didn't like it. And then this happened sometime and then my father used to take me around Chowpatty but only once he took me to his house. Now one of our friend, our family friend was a lawyer
and he said to my relatives ki
(that) you make him know his house we'll take care of it. Then my mother... my people told me you go there and see that you must go alone whenever time comes.
AA: Pan ka? mhanje paise vagere kadaila
(But why? To get money?)
AA: Ha (Yes)
AF: Because he knew that we can... he was lawyer no so, once when my father was ill I went there alone.
AA: Ma kase pochala tumhi Matungyala?
(How did you reach Matunga?)
AF: Mala kalla mahit hota
(I knew the way)
AA: Pan vai kai hota? tumcha?
(How old were you?)
AM: Matungyala hote?
AF: Ha Matungyala? Kasa mahiti nahi me gelo khara
(Yes Matunga, I don't know how I went there really)
AM: Arre te mai che Yajman hote na?
( Wasn't he Mai's Yajman (patron)?)
AF: Nahi Te vegle.
( No that was someone else)
AM: Aai te swatacha vadlaan baddal saangtat
(He is talking about his father)
AF: Mi mahjya vadlaan baddal sangto
( I'm talking baout my father) I went there and those people were scared they knew who this fellow is so I went there once or twice and they knew that thisfellow going to harass us and possibly my father told him ki....
AA: Tumhala paise vagere dile tyani? ( Did they give you money?)
AF: Ha then they my... our one of our friends were lawyer no he said you go there and keep it. Then he once once contacted them somehow I don't know and I don't know what passed on between them. Then they paid 5000 in those days 5000 rupees was a big amount
AA: Mhanje tumchya shikshana sathi vagere deli kahi?
( Means they gave it for your education?)
AF: Kai nahi nahi
( No, no) to.. he must have said to break up the relationship
AF: I dont know what transpired... well I was not very old so then I remember they paid 5000 as one time settlement or something like that
AA: Pan aai tuhjya vadil...
(But mom your father....)
AM: No my father he was a south...
AA: Marathi madhye saang aai tyana
(Tell them in Marathi)
AM: Karnatakatle hote tar mhanje me pahile aahe tyana mahjya lahaan pani
(He was from Karnataka I have met when in my childhood)
AA: Tyancha naav?
(His name?) Hanumant Rao Laxmeshwar
AM: Hanumant ... He was a Brahmin but he used to.. his wife was not there I think she had... he had children but they were knowing aamhala
(us).. mala olkhat hote mhanje me tyancha ghari pan gele
(They knew me means I had gone to their house)
AM: and tyacha javai hota na
son-in-law toh mahjya aai la pan changla olkhat hota
even toh ikade Mumbaila tenva aamcha ghari aala hota mhanje me tyancha ghari jaat hote kadhi pariksha vagere-- suttit tikade me suttit tikade jaiche mhanje
(and his son-in-law he knew my mother well and even he came to Mumbai he came home and I would go their house during vacations) our relation was good
AA: Pan aai tu Girgaonwat jehva Sanzgiri Sadan madhye rahaichi tenva tu shaalet tya Khothchawadit pan jaichi pan tuhjya shaalet lokaana mahit hota lokana Samajha baddal tula kon vicharat navte tujhe vadil kon vagere?
(But Mom, when you lived in Girgaon at Sanzgiri Sadan you went to school at Khotachiwadi did they know about the Samaj? No ever asked you in school who your father was?)
AM: Mahjya mahit hota
(They knew about it) beacasue other one my friend te pan Samajatli hoti
(I had another friend who was from the Samaj) . Ti
(That) Nirmala Vaigankar pan amhala asa traas koni dila nahi mala tari dila nahi mhanje tya jaati varun asa koni mala kahi vicharla nahi.
(But no ever bothered us because we belonged to that caste or asked anything)
Pan ti mahji dusri maitreen hoti tila jara harassment hoti ti
Grant Road la rahat hoti tenva. Mhanje ti mhanaichi asa ki boltay kon tari mhanje directly amhala koni kai kele nahi. Aamhi hushaar hoto ti aani me doghi. First second number.. scholarship mala milat hoti sagla elocution madhaye me trophy mhanje mala best student mhanun trophy deli hoti SSC la
( But I had another frirnd and she faced some harassment when he lived in Grant Road. She would say that people talk but no ever said anything directly. We were really smart both of us. We would come first and second . got scholarships.. got trophies for elocution. I got the best student trophy in SSC)
AF: It's possible because that Grant Road area was full of these people
AM: and my..
AA: These people ki? Aaple people yaar (What is these people? They are people)
AM: Kishori Amonkar aahe na she was there
SS: In Grant Road?
AM: No no,
SS: In the school
AM: School she was in the school 4 years ahead she was so ticha shala sampli ki aamhi ticha class madhye basaiche. Pan ticha tikadech education jhala. Ram Mohan shaala faar prasiddha hoti tenva.
( when she finished her classes we would go and sit in her class. She did her education there. Ram Mohan School it was very famous back then.)
AA: Ram Mohan Vidyamandir? Ahh. Pan tu...
If you look at the Samaj Sudharak's just to give you a little bit of context between the just say 1920's to the 1940's or 1920's to 1950's I should have brought some of them but the quality of the images are bad. Every single Samaj Sudharak has at least 4 to 5 advertisements of women from our Kalavants from our Samaj having... functions or organising concerts whose proceeds goes to benefit the Samaj
and these are women I have actually if we take a break I'll get the names of the books I have some and these are women that I have never heard of but they had one record at best Columbia Records as I was telling you... so these are women whose names maybe will if you... they seem familiar but they are not stars but their pictures were there and they clearly were singing on a daily basis so there are innumerable women that we probably will never hear about who were singers who composed... you know who my mother has stories about. Shaila maushi back up gaaychi na? (Shaila aunty used to be back up singer?
AM: Ha (Yes)
AA: So Shaila...
AM: Playback singing she used to Lata Mangeshkar is there na ticha barobar chorus madhye gaichi ti
( She used to sing with Lata Mangeshkar in the chorus.) She was.. tila sagli
family olakhat hoti
(The whole family knew her)
SS: But would you have also gone through training for music?
AA: Tula gana madhye vagere
( Were you interested in music?)
AM: Mala hota pan mi jasti...
because I was shalet
first.. shikaila me hushaar hote na.
Tar shaalet mhanaiche me gaana beena, dance karat navte ti mahji baheen hoti ti dance vagere shikat hoti. Mi dance shikale nahi pan gaana beena me shaalet function la vagere. Vande Mantaram meech mhnaiche.
( I was... but I was good at studies. I would sing in school, I wouldn't dance my sister was learning dance. I didn't learn to dance but singing for functions and all. I would sing Vande Mataram.
AF: In those days singing, dancing was not recognised as a good profession
AM: Aani me nehemi first yayche mala scholarship milat hoti 4 varsa shiknyachi pan tyamule mala
best student of that year mhanun...
fish pond vagere... me bolaiche khoop changli.
Elocution madhey trophy aanaiche nehemi shaaletoon. Ta
school madhye mala asa kahi traas nahi jhala
( I would always come first in school. I got a 4 year scholarship. I also got the best student of that year and fish pond etc. I was a good speaker. I always got the trophy for elocution in school. I never had any problems at school.)
AA: Pan baba tumhi... tumhala asa
literature vagere madhye
interest hota. Tumhi
engineering college madhey gela baba
(But dad you.. you were interested in Literature. You went to engineering college) one year and then he left it because he did... he was not interested but tumhala hey sagla mhanje...
umm poetry vagere madhey jo
interest aahe te tumhala
encourage kelela na saglyaani? Kaaran tumhi Samajat te Sampadhika vagere ti lihli hoti. Tar tumhala mhanje tasa tumhala
self conscious jhala nahi tumhi karan aaplya Samajat kala mhanje...
But all this.. the interest in poetry everyone encouraged you for it right? Because you wrote that editorial for the Samaj. Were you ever self conscious because art for our Samaj is...)
AF: Nahi nahi...
I was not self conscious I was a good writer at that time good at poems etc. Our Samaj had a magazine Samaj Sudharak so I used to write then I was the editor of that for sometime
AM: Pan ekdum bold hote.
That time koni asa lihat nahvta.
( He was very bold. No was writing like this at the time)
SS: Toh kis tarah vishay
(So what kind of topics/subjects?)
means (about means)
SS: Samaj ke baare mein?
( Was it about the Samaj?)
AM: About realtionship, abour marriage. Actually my first child he wanted to see the pregnancy so that was very difficult. I said I can't do it my aunties and all. Means he was thinking in that terms
AA: He was forward looking. But also very eccentric as you can see but... Pan tumcha lagna tharla kase te saang tyana
(Tell them how your wedding was arranged)
AM: No because I was working in LIC so many... the department mi kaam karat hote
(I was working) in tikade sagle
young loka hote
(there were many young people). Sagle he jhalele kon te
LIC che mothi
post ( Everyone was what's the big post in LIC)
AM: Actuaries hote sagle
(Everyone was an actuary) and I was the only girl. So mala khoop
importance milat hota
but mhajya aai hoti tila khoop bhiti vataichi
I will run away kai karnar me mhatla ki tula vachan dete me kona barobar palun nahi ja naar tu aanar tyacha barobar mi lagna karnar.
So I knew these people are after me.
(I would get a lot of importance but mother was very scared that I will run away. So I told her I promise you that I wont run away with anyone I will get married to the person the person you bring.)
So everybody I had told ki mala aai saangnar me tyacha barobar lagna karaichay.
(I had told them I would marry the person my mother asked me to) So they all used to fight. Then I went over to Divisional manager I was crying these people are... you transfer me to some other department. Then he said you don't then ultimately aamhi Bandra la aalyanantar tikade
New India madhey transfer ( when we came to Bandra I took a transfer to New India)
AA: Tumcha lagna tharla tenva tu...
( But when your marriage was fixed)
AM: Tharla mhanje
(Fixed means) select select propose. He used to see me because tey hyache madhye kaam karat hote
statistics University and I'm me
LIC madhey karat hote.
( He used to work at the University Statistics department and I was working in LIC) Bus stop he used to see me but I had not seen him before because me mannat tharavla hote na ki me kona kade bhagnaar nahi bolnar nahi jo aanar tyacha barobar lagna karaicha aahe
(I had decided that I won't look at anyone or talk to anyone whoever my mother brings I will marry him)
AA: Pan aai tula aani ani baba tumhala Samajacha baher konashi lagna mhanje tumcha.. tumhi konacha premat vagere padla nahi? Samajacha baher? Asa tumhala vatla nahi karan aapla samajat legal marriages khoop kami hote...
( But Mom and dad for you marriage outside the Samaj (community) You didn't fall in love with anyone outside the community? Didn't you feel because there were very few legal marriages in our community)
parents generation usually pahile aahe
(Means for me my parents generations is first) there are few people who have grand parents or who are as old as me who have grandparents or married. Pan tumhala asa bandi vaatli nahi ki aamhi Samajatach mhanje majha lagna Samjatach honar baher asa honar nahi vagere
( Did you feel trapped that you have to marry someone from the community and not outside the community.
AF: Asa kai nahi
(Nothing like that) mala
I had no particular plans about that and our marriage was fixed by some go between.
generation chi saglyanchi lagna jhali hoti
AA: Arrange marriage na right)... pan aplya generation chi asa kai mhantey
(but our generation what are you saying?) Adhik mama (uncle). We have... my mother has a lot of cousins that's the reason I'm bringing this up is because all these people live in Girgaon. Adhik mama, (maternal -uncle) Shaila maushi
(maternal aunty) all Shaila maushi
sang back up
AM: Saglyachi lagna jhali na
( everyone was married right)
AA: Ho pan tyanchi
arranged marriage jhali nai.
Love marriage jhali aahe aani khoop
scandal jahla karan te
married Brahmins. ( Yes, but they didn't have arranged marriages. They had love marriages and there was a lot of scandal because they married Brahmins) Adhik mama (maternal uncle)
AM: Adhik mamacha scandal jhala jasti karan ti
AF: That was an exception
AA: Ani Ti Leela maushi? leela mami?
AM: Lela maushi cha
scandal Samaja mule nahi jhala. Te tyana doosra motha changla paise wala javai pahije hota. Karan te tyach samajatle hote
( Leela aunty's scandal was not becuase of the community. They wanted a rich son-in-law. Because they were from the same communtiy)
AA: Pan mhanje
Adhik mama married a Saraswat Brahmin so at that time
SS: not audible
AA: and this was a long time almost 60 years ago
AM: That Adhik's wife's father was in the Parliament member he was and his Adhik Shirodkar they had fallen in love and he got married at the age of 20 I think. So he has no business nothing was there so many... Puskal tila yet hote tila
proposals ( she was getting a lot of proposals) but ultimately there were in love so then... he came and then they got married.
SS: Mujhe puchna tha aap dono se ke aap dono bambai mein paida huye hai na?
( I wanted to ask you both that were you born in Bombay?)
AM: Shirod I was born
SS: Accha you were born in
AF: I was born in Bombay
SS: Accha... in Bombay
SS: Par aapki jo mothers thi woh kab aaayi hongi Bombay aur Girgaon mein kya tha ke sab Samaj ke log Girgaon mein aa rahe the?
( But your mothers when they come to Bombay and what is about Girgaon that everyone from the community was coming to Girgaon?)
AF: No idea why Girgaon was selected
AM: Girgaon mhanje te naveen buildings vagere jhale jasti hotya. Naveen buidings vagere Girgaon madhey tyavele suru jhalya. Aamchi pan building teanvach bandhli hoti me..
(Girgaon had a lot of new buildings. Our building was constructed around that time) I was just one and half months old and my uncle was to get married.. so that's why my mummy had brought me from... Goavala mala gheun aali hoti me tithe ti building aahe Neetu chi building aahe na tich.
( She had got me from Goa to that building there Neetu's building the same one.)
and Maharashtrian lok khoop hote tenva
mixed hote sagli Saraswat lok he te..pan amche pan lok pushkal hote.
( There were a lot of buildings there and lot of Maharashtiran people were there, it was mix there were Saraswats's etc... and a lot of our people were also there)
AA: Tumhala athvat nahi na?
( You don't remember?)
AA: Fanaswadi madhey tumhi ka mhanje ka settle jhala?
( Why did you settle in Fanaswadi?)
Fanaswadi, Girgaon jawal jawalech aahe na te sagle Girgaon.. Fanas... area mahey sagle Maharashtrianach hote.
Gujarati vagere navte tenva jasti
(No, Fanaswadi - Giragoan is close. Girgaon.. Fanas.. area had mostly Maharashtrians. There weren't too many Gujarati's then.
AA: The historical records tell a differen story. I mean there are two versions of the story one is that ummm.. people from the Samaj started to migrate to Bombay from the sort of late 19th century post 1880's and a lot of the migration came bacause at that time the history of Goa is very relevant to migration because pre Salazar. Salazar arrives you know the later part post 1925 into Goa but previous to that travel between Maharashtra and Goa was very simple it was complicated in terms you had to take boats etc. but you could get a travel document very easily. After Salazar arrived there were lots of sanctions etc.
so lot of.. umm people from our community in Goa for example Rajaram Paingankar who wrote the only available biography of our... autobiography which is based on the history of our Samaj called, 'Me Kon?' writes about the fact that a lot of young Samaj men and women migrated to Goa either for business because they did export import of coconuts
SS: Bombay.. Bombay
AA: Right.. but they also because a lot of Goan's... Goan Christians had also migrated to Girgaon Khotachiwadi of course is the example everyone talks about so there were two relationships one was labour the other relationship was also because there was a settlement of Goan's there as well but it also spreads out to what is now Hughes Road, Grant Road etc. and the other part of it that most of the Yajman's as my father has attested were Gujarati businessmen or Muslim businessmen or as my aunt's refer to them Mohammedan's the colonial term.
AA: So I think it was the relationship of where the Yajman's were also the emerging Hindi film industry in which a lot of these people sang and worked in different capacities that enabled the migration to that area so I think that's very important to remember in terms of you know why they ended up in Girgaon
so umm and the history of Marathi theatre in Girgaon is also very relevant to this so there was a congregation of things that were happening also Lokmanya Tilak was based in... you know the area od Gamdevi, Labernum Road there were a lot of reasons why the community migrated but the patterns of migration begin quite late and end up right upto to the 1950's- 60's people are still moving back and forth.
And therefore the Girgaon office the office of the Samaj was also in Girgaon and as I mentioned to you earlier you and Teju that I found this very interesting case which I have told my parents about which is dated in 1911. This is very important because this is before the installment of the Bombay Improvement Trust which is the British basically re-organised the urban geography of Bombay and Goa becomes... I mean Girgaon sorry becomes a different place because the thoroughfare that runs through the main which you probably driven on changes it.
So 1911, there is weird case that appears on the archive which is called the evil ladies of Girgaon and it is filed by the Taxpayers Association of Girgaon basically they are people who own property in Girgaon and they are a mixture of people Gujarati's, Parsi's and Saraswat Brahmin's who file a complaint to the police commissoner saying, the evil ladies of Girgaon referring to members of our commmunity. Samaj is not officially formed till 1929 so this before the official formation of the Samaj, these women are polluting our real estate basically and we need to get rid of them
and so the collector writes back and says, these evil ladies of Girgaon are not evil because they are not prostitutes they have usually only one Yajman and I have been to their houses and seen several of you there. So why are you telling me to get rid of them.
So there are lot of you know archival records that indicate the presence of these women and men from these communities in Girgaon from very earlier on but they become visible as my mother said with the installment of these buildings and these were made in very strategically buying property in different areas or asking for payment not in terms of money unlike my dad's cash settlement which I did not know about but that was more unusual they asked for jewellery, they asked for property so Gamdevicha ghar te.. ( The Gamdevi house) next to Mani Bhavan.
This is a very good story, so one of the major Neetu's mother where Mogubai Morikar lived as well was on that lane next to Mani Bhavan so I remember as a child going to desecrate Mani Bhavan because you know we were not.. Gandhi was not a popular figure in our community so we would run over there and vandalise Mani Bhavan as regular ritual as children so that area was also very highly populated by membes of our Samaj so I think that's why there are very different stories my father's community is from Maharashtra my mother's community is from Goa so they were more...
AM: Slowly slowly Goa hoon sagle lok baika yayila laagly mag ikade ( the women started coming here from Goa)
SS: Par ( But then) women could not own property na? So it was all in the names of brothers...
AA: They all had androgynous names so for example and they gave their children androgynous names so Neetu's father, for example his name is Durgaram but he could be Durga as well Durga could be short for Durgaram or just Durga so they were very strategic.
So for example I have a copy of the will of Neetu's great grandmother from Shiroda and the will is written in Portugese and Marathi she writes it in Marathi and she has a Saraswat Brahmin who translates it for her and in that will because she is not...normally if you die people pass on through primogeniture through your children but because she couldn't do that the will details every single piece of her property and says who to give it to and the way the will is written is also history of the Samaj so she says my property is next to the property of Rohan or pick a name or Kakodkar and by telling you where the houses are she also tells you where everybody lived so the will tells you the his... the geography of the Samaj as well as the Samaj and also that will is astonishing when I read it.
I have a recording of my father reading the whole will coz it's in very very arcane Marathi and it was hard for me to read and if you read the will it's almost 12 pages my faher was tired by the end of it. But it's so detailed it describes stools, chairs, everything because they wanted to catalogue everything and it then happened as random people of the community sign in on the will as inheritors of the property because they wanted to make sure everything is given.
So they went to and there is evidence in the Girgaon records as well of these elaborate arrangements by which women you know and the Girgaon house is a good example where the property is in the name of Neetu's grandmother's brother because it couldn't be in her name but he's never lived there and I don't even remember meeting him so. Ramnath mama ( uncle) kon hote tyanche bhau na ( who was he? Her brother.
AM : Nai Nai ( No, no)
AA: ajiche bhau.. bhavancha naav kai hota? tula athvat nahi na? (Grandmother's brother... what the brother's name? You don't remember?)
AM: Te naav, tyancha naava var navta ( It wasn't in his name)
AA: Nai nai tyancha naava var ghar, mhanun te ghar vikta yet nahi na karan te ghar bhadhyacha ghar aahe pan bhadyane ghetlele tyancha ( No, no the house is in his name, that's that house cannot be sold because it's rented... they had rented it)
AM: Bhadyane ghetlele viktach yet nahi bhadyachi ghara ( The rented houses cannot be sold easily)
AA: So there's all these very interesting twists and turns but you can tell how smart these you know the early generation of migrants were because they had to handle all these different umm.... different ways.
SS: So but Girgaon was also an area open to different kinds of Hindu communities
AA: As my mother will tell you, yes
AM: Brahmin sagle hote tikade
(There were Brahmins there)
AA: Ani tujhya maitrini hotya je Brahmin vagere hotya te. Tyancha ghari vagere jaichi tu?
( An your friedns who were Brahmins. Did you go to their house)
AM: Ho Ho, jaiche me jaichi...
even te sagle shopkeeper sagle amhala olkhaiche mala baby mhanaiche
( Yes, Yes I would go... all the shopkeepers knew me they would call me baby)
AA: Lotlikar vagere
( Lolitkar and all)
AM: Haak maraiche, "Baby kai mhante tu?" sagle amhala asa changla karan majhi
maushi vagere hoti te devacha mhanta mhanje aamhala respect asa Girgaonwat asa koni traas nahi dila
( They would call out, "How are you doing baby?" everyone was nice because my maternal aunt were religious so everyone respected us no one bothered us )
SS: Par jab aap bade ho rahe the aap dono toh music kitna tha mahol mein aapke bahut saare programme hote the ya
( While you were both growing up how much music was there in the surrounding were there a lot of programmes happening?)
AM: Programme amcha ghari asa nahi pan tasa ghari kon.. karan dusra baher programme nasaiche na te ghari gana beena mhanje Kesarbai saglyana olkhat hoto amhi.
(Programme didn't happen at our home but at home no one.. there were no programmes outside so music at home means... we knew Keasarbai and everyone.)
AM: Mogubai Kurdikar sagle
. Samajat vhaiche programme, drama vhaicha varshatun ekda tar me pan ekda kaam kelai mhajya bhavani kaam... tasa mhanje get together hota mhanje amhala mahiti hota jaasti amhala detail pan mahiti navti aamchya
jaatichich karan aamhi ekach mansala vadil mhanun tech tyacha barobarach aamhi rahilo tyamule aamhala nantar aamhi mothe jhyala var mhanje kalat hota ki kahi tari problem aahe mhanun pan asa mala tari traas jhala nahi.
( Mogubai Kuridikar everyone.There would be programmes in the community, drama's would happen once a year, even I participated my brother has done... there were get together's. We knew about them but we didn't have a lof of details about our caste because we because we knew one man as our father and we lived with him so we... when we grew up we knew that there is some problem but no one bothered us. )
Kinva lokana office madhye pan mahit asel aani mahja jara lagna ushira jhala. So they were trying mala jara hepan, me sagunach thevla hota na me lagna konashi nahi karnar.
(Maybe people in the office knew about it because I got married a little late so they were trying but I has said I won't marry anyone)
AA: Pan baba tumhala music che kai relationship hota tumhi lahaan pani asatana karan obviously tumcha sagle tumhi lihle pan aahe sagle bajuwale.. mjahnje classical music vagere madhey tumhala interest hota
( But dad what was your relationship to music when you were young because obviously you wrote and the neighbours... means you were interested in classical music)
AF: Ho... aiknayat interest hota... pan
I was a scholar so I thought that getting interested in these things will actually hamper my scholarship. So I never used to indulge in it.
AA: Pan tumhala mhanje ti kala ashi vaatli nahi, music vagere
( But you never thought of it as an art? music?)
AF: Nahi, Nahi
AM: Nai pan tyana awad hoti tyana even my pregnancy te record laun thevaiche mhanje mula gana shik... aikude mhanun mhanje tyana ganyacha awad hoti mehfil la vagere pan jaat hote.
(No but he had an interest even (during) my pregnancy he would pay the the record so that the baby listens to it... he had an interest he would go for mehfils (music concerts)
AA: Pan tumhala asa gana mhanje Girgaonwat gaana aikna mhanje tumhala ashi laaj vataichi ki.
(But did you feel emabarasssed to listen to music in Girgaon)
AF: Nahi Nahi
(No,no) in those days these programmes were done in open good theatres
AA: Nahi te kallla mala pan tumhala aapli ji history aahe tyamule tumhala tumi aata ka mhatla mala scholar vhaicha hota mhanje tya arthane tumhala jara awk... mhanje gana wana te faltu loka kartat me scholar honar asa vatla ka?
( No, I got that but given our history you just said that you wanted to be a scholar that means you felt music was for useless people and I want to be a scholar did you feel that?
AF: tasa kai nahi.. gana aikanyat kai nahi gana actually shiknyat vagere
(Nothing like that... I didn't mind listening but to learn music) I was not interested.
AA: Tumhala interest navta asa. Pan tumhala gaata pan yet nahi
anyway ( So you were not interested. But you can't sing anyway)
AF: Nahi, pan
(No, but) I used to listen to that music. I used to go to music programme.
basically tyana shiknyat pan interest navta.
(But basically he was not interested in learning music.)He was a poet. So he wanted to have a free life
SS: Par aap log kabhi bachpan mein Brahmin Sabha ya Laxmibaug, Trinity Club sunne ke liye jaate hoge?
( So in your childhood did you go to Brahmin Sabha or Laxmibaug, Trinity Club to listen to music?)
AM: Ha jaate the
( Yes, we would go)
AF: Ha ( Yes)
AA: Tyahci kai athvan aahe tumhala?
( What is your memory of that?)
AM: and Neetu's father was the chairman of radio club also we used to go there so that's why he never want means... he was freestyle.. natural sagla
love karaicha pan kholit band bin nahi chaalnar asa asa
type he was thinking ( all natural love should be restricted to closed rooms that type he was thinking)
AM: But he used to like music so much
SS: But you both when you got married you were very conscious that you don't want to live in Girgaon but want to move to a new...
AM: No no not like that but that house was small and I was working in Santacruz and also no I was working that time there but that my aunty and they used to trouble us.. for me because I (was) little forward type lady and she wanted all old type something like that so that's why LIC i got this flat. I was working
AA: Pan baba tumhala Fanaswadi sodavasa vatla?
( But dad did feel like leaving Fanaswadi?)
AA: Ka? Te saanga te
AF: Because anyway it was a dirty locality and I wanted to move out of this family
AM: and te chaal
type ( and it was chawl type)... means one floor was with us but it was a chaal only and this flat was very nice LIC's and I was working so I got it so we shifted there. Because that time Bandra was like a heaven there was nothing there
AA: Pan aai aaplya gharatun ashi tula athvani aahe ki koni gana vagere mhanaila gaanyat interest hota mhanje kon
( But mom did anyone from our family do you remember anyone who has any interest in music?)
AM: Nai maushi mhanaichi na Gowalia tank chi
( No... but aunty (maternal) from Gowalia tank did)
AA: Vasanti aji ti changla gaana mhanaichi?
( Vasanti granny did she sing well?)
AM: Even I... me pan mhanat hote gana chaan
( Even I sang well)
AA: Nai nai tasa
...side ( Not like that)
AM: Shikaila sangat hote mala pan. Shaila maushi shikli gana
(They told me to learn Shaila aunty learnt)
AA: Nai pan Vasanti aji mhanje kashi ghari gana mhanaiche ki
(No but Vasanti granny sang at home or?)
AM: Nahi shikat hoti konakade ganare
(She was learning from someone)
AA: Mhanje ti asa conceret vagere dila nahi
(She didn't have any concert?)
AM: Nahi Nahi concert nahi pan ghari shikwat hote
(No, no not concert but she learnt at home)
SS: Par aapne...
you never learnt music or your brother, you were not?
AA: As I said I think for me it was really a refusal of that and that's why the book I'm writing now about the Samaj which will that's why I was surprised when you asked to speak to me not because I'm very happy that you are doing this project but part of my intellectual project is also to say that we have to move away
( no video)
AA: From the focus on music of this Kalawant Samaj because I'm more interested in the Kala of the archive or the other the Kala of...
SS: Sorry I'm going to ask you the question again
AA: Sure, Sure
SS: Did you learn music?
AA: Well I think I probably would have if I had any talent which I didn't obviously but also.. but I was also
AM: Me jaat hote classla
( I would go for classes)
AA: But I was not interested because
AM: Pan nantar mag sagla mala adjust hoye na te shaala aani te sagla. Me ek paach saah mahine class la jaat hote.
( But later I couldn't adjust everything school and everything. I went for 5-6 months.) Navrang it was a very famous class hota te
SS: Who used to run the class?
AA: Tula athav tey?
( Do you remember?)
AM: Navrang tyancha naav. Te pushkal tyancha mhanje ganaichach class hota tithe me gele ek don teen mahine karan me mhanat hote gana tenva pan nantar shaalet aani gharat pan kaam asaicha servants birvants navte tar mag mala te sagla jamaila mhanun sodla mag me
( His name was Navrang. He was very... he had music classes only I went there for about 2 -3 months I would sing then but I would have school and work at home there no servants at that time and I couldn't manage everything so I gave up.
AF: I also remember. I never learnt music but I used to... I was I hoped that I will be good singer or good player or something and I remember I joined Deoodhar's class in.. near Opera house I used to learn violin. I attended that class for a year or so but I had no talent for it so I left it. Because I was always scared if I go into this I'll lose my touch with this studies because I was a scholar in the school so ultimately I left it but I learnt. I studied violin for a year or so in Deodhar's class. Deodhar was a famous class in Girgaon in those days
SS: Very famous
AF: V R Deodhar
AA: Ho tyancha naav sagle olakhtat
( Ya everyone knows his name)
SS: We went and shot there also
AA: Ya, he's a well known figure
AF: So I used to study there violin for about a year but it... could never pick up
AA: But I think you will notice that relationship in my generation I think the generation after me have very little sense or memory of this of the Samaj's history but even if you look at my cousin or the people my.. very few are actually interested or pursued this history of music unlike, my cousin I think is more of an exception and some of it could have been a refusal of the Samaj or others more I think like me wanted to find other ways
to you know look at that history and I think it's important especially for a project like yours to say that what is at stake when you focus on that aspect of the Samaj's history. Of course it's important because you are doing a film on music but that also what falls away right and I think it's important and those histories for me are always already known and everybody knows the musical histories of the Samaj in fact that's the only history that they know...
and the irony is that.. people are always looking for old recordings they are boot legged or pirated or someone made but the irony is there is an equally vibrant and rich archive of stories and histories that is also available and your book... film is not about the Samaj so obviously I understand what your project is but I think what happens is in the over return over and over again to the musical histories what is forgotton is why did these people turn to music a lot of the times music was not an element of choice it was because that was the way in which they were able to make a living they were able to and in fact every single brick of the building that was built in Girgaon was built and paid by the efforts of these women who are unknown now who gave concerts and donated money.
AA: There are some big donations from major singers pan if you look at... that to me has been a very interesting story what happened to these women who is going to tell their story and they obviously were not musicians of great stature. They were musicians who probably sang and they sang in Hindi films as well and what is ironic is the names of the films are things like, Unwed Mother and then aaplya Samajachya baika . ( The women from our community) sing back up
So when you look at these Samaj Sudharak's you see ad's for these films and then on the other side there is a long editorial speaking to why the Samaj must give up vice and prostitution etc. whereas we are singing back up for these you know so there is a lot of irony there but I think that story is also... so what happens to music which is a form of labour?
AA: You know which is not exemplary or exceptional or not well known but is ordinary right and persisted and clearly by the... there are hundreds of these women whose names have been documenting this one day I will be able to track all of them down but there are women that nobody knows I have asked people and they are like ohh ya maybe she was singer maybe she wasn't, but obviously they were good enough to give concerts but we don't know who these people are.
So for example my eye doctor in Bombay his grandmother tyanchi aai te aaple te ( his mother our.. ) was a singer who I have never heard of nobody has but my mother was like ya she was a singer so there are all these off hand references to women and they also were also living in Girgaon who sang but maybe they sang for two years until they settled down but the realtionship to music was not like the gharana or you know so there is a very kind of different you know modes through which music arrived I think in people's lives and my parents both relationship for my mother it was incidental for my father it was more of an intellectual battle about if I do this what does it mean for me.
SS: But that's why I was also wondering the fact that you grew up in Bandra and so now you are outside the space where music is part of a lived day to day experience where today if somthing's happening at Brahmin Sabha tomorrow someone is visiting Trinity Club or the Ganpati is happening so would that have also made you take that step away from music
AA: Maybe ya, I think so but I think I think even as a child I was very conscious of the importance of the creative arts I think in our especially in our community because Adhik Shirodkar my uncle is a very prominent photographer so even though he has sort of problematic connections to the Shiv-Sena he's an amazing photographer and he's been....
AM: He has 2-3 exhibitions
AA: Ya his first exhbition was in Jehangir and so despite there is always the presence of aesthetic forms is available everywhere and as I said when we had these annual Samaj functions the showcase wasn't you know people's entepreneural businesses nobody cared.. aapan Samaj... so when you have a Samaj function every year that celebrates what we have accomplished in the year people were not telling you, oh he opened a factory here. What they did was oh we did a play, people sang. So clearly even if it was once a year event you had a sense of this is what was and and education you had to have an education so I used to get prizes at the Samaj.
So I think being at Bandra sure I mean it was insulated me but as I said we went to Girgaon every weekend. Every Sunday, we went to eat my aunty's mutton because my father was a vegetarian so that was the one day of the week we had mutton and I also remember going to Bhimsen Joshi's concerts all of which and him spitting at me because I was sitting in the front.
So I went for a lot of you know so there.. so the presence of that was very palpable. So my brother for example is very different he's embraced music, he loves music he's a terrible singer like me has no ear but he's very very interested in music so for him it is like Neetu is a place of sanctuary and for me it was a place of interest but not neccesarily of sanctuary because I felt like the stories of people like my mother were never being told right the only women we looked upto... and also the men I mean if you look at I'm sure you have found this out in the musical histories in Girgaon what roles did the men play? The men from our Samaj were background, they played the tabla, the harmonium they were never really in the centre so what is the role of masculinity in these musical histories right. So there's another reason why ummm... I think a lot of men moved away from those histories.