All posts by duggarsite

Aarushi Thakur: A budding icon of Jammu

Abhishek K

Aarushi Thakur is a budding theatre personality of Jammu & Kashmir. She is daughter of Padma Shri Balwant Thakur, a renowned theatre personality of India. Here is a conversation with Aarushi:

During the play Ghumayee
  • Youre a rising theatre icon of Jammu, please tell us in brief about you.

I graduated in Political Science from St. Stephens College. Ive done Masters in International Politics from the University of Leicester, London. Ive done theatre from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London. And right now Im working in Natrang and yes, Ive participated in DirectorsWorkshop in the National School of Drama in addition to various other acting and direction workshops.

  • How different is theatreculture here in India from that in the west?

It is the same in some aspects and in some there are huge differences also. Like the method of instruction and teaching is very similar but the way people perceive and receive theatre is a lot different. In London, people are ready to spend even £20 for a theatre ticket which is not possible here in India. People there take theatre as seriously as films but sadly its not so here in India.

  • Any comparison between theatreculture in Jammu and the rest of India?

The people in Mumbai, Kolkata are coming forward to invest in theatre; theyre getting sponsored which isnt the case here in Jammu. Everywhere else in India, theyre realising that theyve neglected theatre for long and theyre ready to pour in money to save theatre. Though my father has been trying to get sponsors in Jammu and has succeeded in roping in bigwigs like Airtel etc. yet weve to put more efforts.

  • How do you feel about the recent Jammu & Kashmir Festival that took place in London?

It was a great initiative. The people abroad have misconceptions about J&K; like while I was studying in London, people kept asking me if Id encountered terrorists and bomb explosions! The people there have no idea about the state the kind of diversity that we have here in J&K.

Besides theres a trust deficit in the various regions of the state due to political and social unrest; so in order to coalesce them, such festivals are greatly significant. The artists while portraying the composite culture of the state in a foreign land definitely feel the connection among themselves and acknowledge the unity in diversity that our state has exhibited for centuries.

  • How instrumental has your father Mr. Balwant Thakur been in guiding you to take up theatre as full time career?

To be honest! He never interfered in my choices, be it in academics or career. He never interferes while Im on a project and he never watches my rehearsals. He gets to see my performance with the rest of the audience only. And yes he does give me feedback as a viewer once the show is over.

  • You work with kids as well as with adult actors. Who are you more comfortable working with?

Actingwise, I prefer adults as theyre easy to communicate with. Adult actors grasp ideas and concepts quickly and have thorough idea of almost everything. While acting with or directing kids, one has to enact every scene as theyre young and have no idea about a lot of things. Besides I dont like to scold kids.

  • What exactly is Natrangs goal?

Our prime focus is on producing professional actors and directors. It is secondary whether they choose theatre of films at a later stage. A lot of actors from Natrang are acting in films, TV series etc. We do provide periodic courses for casual and hobbyists but were dedicated to producing professionals only.

  • In times ridden with Bollywood, how do you avoid the temptation to become a Bollywood heroine?

(Laughs). I dont want to be stereotyped with anything. In future, I wouldnt mind directing and acting in a film myself but Im not hell bent on becoming a heroine; being an actor would be sufficient for me.

  • Acting or DirectingIf given a choice which one will you choose?

Thats a tough one! I think Ill go with acting as it is less demanding than direction. While acting, everybody else be an actor, a set designer, the director or anybody, contributes to your performance. Everybody helps you bring out the best from your character. But while directing, you have to work on every aspect of the play, from actors, to set design, to costume, lights, soundDirection is tough!

  • What are your short term and long term goals?

Right now we are working on a Hindi adaption of The Twelfth Night. I am writing the script. The show will be presented in Jammu by the end of this year and then again in February, well perform it in Delhi.

Long term goals…. Im planning to take up courses in Film Design and Film Making.


Hero that Jammu forgot

Abhishek K

One day I struck a conversation with an octogenarian at a tea stall in Moti Nagar, New Delhi. Kundan Lal Saigal and Sialkot were two things that he mentioned right away when I told him that I belong to Jammu. Then followed his stories about Sialkot and how faintly yet fondly he remembered songs of KL Saigal.


This event prompted me to venture out to find Saigal’s family and his house, wherever that may be in Jammu. I had to make some phone calls in the artistes-circle of Jammu to find out Saigal’s address. It turned out to be Mastgarh area of the old city.

Taking my camera, I went off to Mastgarh Mohalla hoping to find a legacy of Saigal all over the Mohalla. To my distress, nobody seemed to know about him; right in the middle of Mastgarh! After questioning about 20 passersby and 22 households, I got to know about his place by an old auto driver.

It definitely seemed a beautiful house, as I entered it. I was positive of being welcomed by his long forgotten descendants. As soon as I rang the bell, a rather hesitant girl came up to me. Gathering my intentions, she called her Chachu. The gentleman was quick to disappoint me while he told me that they’d bought the house in 1972. To my utter shock, he said that even their family didn’t know until 2004, when they celebrated the 100th birth anniversary of Saigal at the KL Saigal Chowk, that the house belonged to someone of such prominence. He too wasn’t much to blame because there wasn’t any mark of Saigal in the “KL Saigal Chowk”. Hardly anybody knew of that particular name of the crossroads.

The fact that only 50% of the Jammu youth knows about KL Saigal is also assumed by Mr. Jigar Mohammad, the HoD History Department, Jammu University. Yet he persists that KL Saigal is well known among the scholarly section of Jammu.

Now my only destination seemed to be the KL Saigal Hall at Abhinav Theatre. I wanted to know of their efforts to keep alive his legacy. There, Dr. Arvinder Singh Amn, Additional Secretary Jammu & Kashmir Fine Arts Society briefed me about the purpose of the hall and how it’s a centre of literary, folk, music and other performing arts. Saigal’s birthday is celebrated every year where artistes from the state pay their tributes to this legend in their own ways; including Mr. Anil Tickoo who dresses up as Saigal and sings his popular songs.

I’m still disappointed to see how a very few people remember the first superstar of Indian cinema- the multilingual actor and singer KL Saigal.

The Chinese dilemma

Abhishek K

One lesser known disadvantage of Chinas OneChild Policy, which had been in force for several decades was the growing number of men. Chinese parents wanted sons so that their family name is carried forward. Since families were allowed to have only one child, they wanted their shot to be perfect, i.e. a boy in the first attempt!

maxresdefaultDepending on the region, there still are about 117-120 boys for every 100 girls, i.e. 120 surplus boys to a 1000 girls. China has approximately 3 crore surplus or spare men between age 25-40 who will never find a partner. To give the reader an estimate of this number, this is approximately equal to the population of entire Punjab state. The number is greater than the population of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi put together. 3 crore is more than the population of Belgium, Portugal and Sweden put together.

To add to the misery of men who somehow manage to find a mate, there is tradition of Caili or gifts and money that they have to pay to the brides’ parents as a token of gratitude for the upbringing of their daughter. Traditionally, it was limited to a decent amount of money and gifts but the situation has changed. There is a growing demand of brides and hence the Caili have soared. Brides’ parents are demanding exorbitant amounts of money and precious gifts as Caili.

An ideal Chinese husband is expected to own a house and the property rates are sky rocketing in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The men there have lost hope and can’t dream of marrying ever. According to online matrimonial postings, men from Beijing and Shanghai have to pay more than 20 lakh Yuan to get married.

In a recent move to offset the impact of a rapidly aging society, China has decided to allow all couples to have two children. It was also intended to reduce abortions as millions of female foetuses were aborted every year in China in pursuit of male children.

Now the Chinese parents are in a fix; whether to have a male child, who could carry forward their lineage or not. It is so, because eventually it will be difficult to pay Caili and hence difficult to get married. Eventually, if it’s going to be difficult to marry, how else would he propagate his family name.

Spider silk


Abhishek K

Researchers around the world are trying to fabricate a fibre which is tough as steel and yet greatly elastic. The inspiration for such a material comes from nature. An average strand of spider web is more tough and elastic than a steel fibre of four times its thickness.

Most recently, scientists have developed a method for spinning stronger spider silk by mimicking the way spiders do it. This could be a stepping stone towards producing spider silk on a commercial scale. Spider silk is sought out because of many reasons. Along with toughness, spider silk is bio degradable also which gives it an edge over plastic fibres.

Spider silk is nothing but long chains of linked proteins produced naturally in many living beings. Scientists have tried various animals like goats, spiders and bacteria to produce some kind of super tough fibres like spider silk.

Spider silk has a unique combination of high tensile strength and extensibility. It allows the fibre to absorb a lot of energy before breaking. Usually it’s tensile strength is comparable to that of high-grade alloy steel. Once produced on commercial scale, spider silk could be used to make parachutes, super-tough lines, ropes, bullet proof jackets etc. It could also be used to make light weight glass for air crafts and space ships.

Say Hi to Li Fi

Abhishek K

How would you feel if somebody tells you that Wi-Fi is going to get a hundred times faster? You are ready to welcome Li-Fi. Li-Fi is coming to the markets soon at the speed of Light.

Li-Fi is successor of the Wi-Fi technology. While Wi-Fi uses radio waves to transfer data, Li-Fi uses visible light. In Li-Fi, there is no radio router, but an LED light emitter. This technology was conceived by Professor Harald Hass who started researching on it back in 2003 as saw the upcoming spectrum crunch. He correctly predicted that the lack of radio frequency spectrum for mobile devices would become a real problem. Around the same time, new LED light technology hit the market, and Hass saw an opportunity to bring the two together. He found a way to use these electronic lighting components for high speed data communication, without interfering with existing radio frequency infrastructures.

His Li-Fi setup consists of brick-sized boxes attached to LED lamps and they are called as LED downlighters, which when illuminated cover an area of around 20 square meters. The boxes effectively turn the lights into wireless antennas; antennas which emit visible light. Very high speed fluctuation in emitted light is what transfers data. To receive data from these lights you need a dongle that acts as a wireless modem of sorts, which is plugged into your laptop or tablet. The dongles are a bit smaller than a pack of cards and plug in via USB, which also provides the power. There’ s a sensor that catches the light coming down and then an infrared component that sends a signal back up. The overhead lights also have a networking component, so it’ s possible for multiple users to connect to a single light source, and to move from one light source to another without losing your connection.

The speed of that system is 40Mbps, both downloading from the light and uploading from the dongle. The light has a 60-degree field of view which provides a coverage area of 9 to 10 square meters. The maximum data rate reduces slightly if you move to the edges of the light, dropping to around 75 percent, but the light can bounce off objects and still deliver a signal, it’ll just be slower the further you are from the main beam.

The more Li-Fi enabled lights you have in an area, the higher your total capacity is. Light also doesn’t penetrate through walls the same way Wi-Fi does, so it allows you to create networks with much higher security. Wi-Fi uses radio frequency waves, a technology which has limited space and is quickly reaching its capacity. The limited capacity is why the radio frequency spectrum is heavily regulated all over the world. One of the most endearing facets of Li-Fi is that it uses the visible light spectrum. The visible light spectrum is 10 000 times larger than the radio frequency spectrum and is unregulated. So you don’t need a license to take advantage of the light spectrum. Internet speed of 10gbps is no more a dream as far as Li-Fi is concerned although it can’t guarantee any increase in internet speed through our regular optic fibre cables.