Where the rich are investing 2016

Creative Visionary

Raja of Kotwara, Muzaffar Ali, on his endeavours to keep Awadhi culture alive in a contemporary era

One cannot not know Muzaffar saab. He is, after all, the one who immortalised Rekha on screen with one of Hindi cinema’s greatest films, Umrao Jaan. But the genesis of Umrao Jaan is far deeper than just a great script and scintilliating dances. It’s about the nostalgia and pain about slowly losing the famed Awadhi culture, which was at its apogee during the reign of Wajid Ali Shah. “Around 1857, Awadhi culture was something you can’t even imagine,” says Muzaffar saab. “The language, the poetry, the music, the dance, the humour, the clothes, the cuisine. In India, there were very few places which could boast of such refinement.” He said that the British rule made people look down upon their own culture, then came Partition, and the end of the zamindars’ rule, which further led to a dissolution of that era. “People were migrating from there to the big cities, and that is what I have shown in my film Gaman,” he says.