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‘Mother India' Uma Anand

Remembering Uma Anand, well known journalist, broadcaster and writer



Dev Anand with Uma Anand.

“O ne has thousands of memories of those who have been close. I met her again after a long gap only last year at the ‘shack' (that's how the late Chetan Anand's seaside cottage in Juhu is known). It is sad…sad…sad…sad…” Dev Anand's voice continued to sink on the mobile, as if moments long forgotten began to flashback on his mind's screen…on the news of the demise of his sister-in-law, Uma Anand. “I don't want to say anything more at the moment. But is a very sad bit of news,” he continued.

A multi-faceted, much respected figure once she moved to Delhi — after estrangement from her filmmaker husband (she even acted in the 1946 film “Neecha Nagar” and co-scripted Navketan's first hit, “Taxi Driver”, that came in 1954) — and a companion to legendary theatre director and art historian, E. Alkazi, Uma Anand had been a well known broadcaster and journalist ( Femina, Times of India). She was the editor of Sangeet Natak — a journal on the performing arts published by the Sangeet Natak Akademi (1965-81) and a writer of several children's books that were translated and published into various Indian languages by the National Book Trust, India.

Her last book, which she co-authored with elder son, filmmaker Ketan Anand, was “Chetan Anand: The Poetics of Film” — a coffee table tribute to the late filmmaker in which she candidly described the ethos of theatre and cinema in Bombay of the 1940s and '50s, and life at 41 Pali Hill, a heaven of ‘intellectual stimulus' for the likes of Balraj Sahni, Guru Dutt, Sahir Ludhianvi, Ravi Shankar, S.D. Burman, Ali Sardar Jafri, Amita Malik, Zohra Saigal and others, a place that ultimately became the grooming ground for brothers Dev and Vijay Anand.

Above all, Uma Anand (born 1923 in Lahore) was a compassionate, lively human being till her cancer-squeezed bones turned too brittle. The mortal Uma Anand is no more, but the smiling visage of Mather-e-Hindustan, or Mother India, as some of us fondly called her, will stay in our memories for ever.

SURESH KOHLI

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