The Tribune

Pran Nevile presents some rare snapshots of India from the US Library of Congress collection THE invention of the camera in 1839 was hailed for its ‘exact’ reporting of reality. The invention caught on like wildfire and within a year, it surfaced in Calcutta. Photography also received support from the […]

Vintage vignettes

            Artist’s representation of celebrations of “Charak Puja” festival Emergence of the British as a dominant power in India encouraged British professional artists to come to India towards the late 18th century. They were able to earn fame and fortune through landscape paintings of the Indian panorama and by making […]

INDIA: A French View

William Hodges was the first artist whose works introduced the Indian landscape, architecture and life to the West. Pran Nevile writes about this pioneer who was smitten with the beauty of our country FROM time immemorial India has attracted adventurers, traders, travellers, missionaries and scholars, many of whom have left […]

India’s Past on Canvas

  The magnificence and beauty of Kashmir is unrivalled and undisputed. This paradise on earth, a unique blend of divinity and romance, has inspired poets, philosophers and seers over the centuries, writes Pran Nevile Kashmir, nature’s most spectacular work on earth, has, for centuries, enamoured seers and sages, merchants and […]

God’s own land

Humra Quraishi   PRAN Nevile seems passionately obsessed with the bygone era. For some reason or other, this retired civil servant is rather fascinated by the past and with the characters who had then held sway. This is amply evident from the volumes that he has authored. The titles of […]

Poetic melodies from the past

  The first pictorial representation of Pushkar appeared in 1848, nineteen years after the first written account of the place by a British historian. Pran Nevile on the works of the scholar and the artist PUSHKAR is considered as one of the most significant places of pilgrimage for Hindus. With […]

The story of Pushkar

Cooling tales from the Raj by Pran Nevile     The heat of the Indiansummers scared the English. Before the advent of punkhas and Americanice in early the 19th century, the English dreaded theoppressive heat and miseries of the hot season. One of the earliestcomments on the Indian summer was […]

Beating the heat

Much before playback singers entertained listeners, a host of accomplished performers recorded songs and ruled over people’s hearts. Pran Nevile brings alive a few forgotten celebrities of the gramophone era The invention of gramophone and cylinder records by Thomas Alva Edison in 1877 marked the dawn of a new era […]

Melodies on record

Pran Nevile is versatile. Having finished with diplomatic assignments and globe-trotting he’s got down to putting his reminiscences on paper. His first love is Lahore, the city in which he was born and educated. So he writes a nostalgic Lahore: A Sentimental Journey. Of Lahore, his most vivid memories are […]

Sahibs and nautch girls

The Company School of Painting, or pictures made by artists during the British Raj, refers to the genre of pictures that were specifically commissioned by or made for the John Company officials and other European residents. Pran Nevile gives a vivid account of the socio-cultural practices of the period, replete with rich […]

In the Company of Art

MASTER MADAN There has never been a singer like Master Madan who sang with a touch of the divine. There has been no effort to keep the memory of the child prodigy alive either in Jalandhar where he was born or in Shimla where he lived. Pran Nevile, who recently […]

Forgotten voice

In his evocative book Lahore: A Sentimental Journey, Pran Nevile reminisces about the land of his birth, once called the Paris of the East. The memoir recaptures the atmosphere, ambience, mood, lifestyle that existed in this bustling city in the 1930s and ’40s. The famous Anarkali bazar, the splendour of […]

Back to Lahore

B. N. Goswamy K. L. Saigal: Immortal Singer and Superstar by Pran Nevile. Variety Book Depot, New Delhi. Pages 199. Rs 2,500. Almost at the very beginning of this feelingly written account of the life and work of K.L. Saigal, Pran Nevile reproduces a page of advertisement from The Tribune, dated […]

His golden voice

Pran Nevile   Noor Jehan’s death anniversary falls on December 23 NOOR Jehan, the melody queen who enchanted millions of music lovers in the subcontinent for more than half a century passed away four years ago in Karachi on December 23, 2000. Those who witnessed her meteoric rise from a […]

Noor Jehan lives on in her songs

Prakash Tandon MY association with Prakash Tandon who passed away recently covered nearly four decades. He was my boss at one time during my stint with the State Trading Corporation (1969-73). Later, he became my friend, philosopher and guide who inspired me to turn into a freelance writer. It was […]

True Punjabi

V. N. Datta Stories from the Raj: Sahibs. Memsahibs and Others. by Pran Nevile. Indialog Publications, New Delhi. Pages 186. Rs 250.  WHEN this book came into my hands, my eyes fell on its black and white pictorial cover showing two sprightly and curious looking women, one blazing with jewellery, and the […]

How carnal desire put England on top

The nautch girl held the white sahib spellbound for nearly two centuries. Pran Nevile describes the magnetic appeal, grace and romance of the nautch which was found superior to all operas of the world. The word “nautch” is an Anglicised form of the Hindi/Urdu word nach derived from the Sanskrit […]

Nautch girls: Sahibs danced to their tune

Kanan Bala was among the first superstars of Indian cinema. Her melodious voice and exceptional acting abilities mesmerised audiences. Pran Nevile pays a tribute to the actress whose death anniversary falls on July 17.   Kanan Bala with K.L. Saigal in and Lagan (right) Street Singer Kanan Bala began her […]

Heroine who carried honey in her throat

Khurshid, the singer-heroine of K.L. Saigal, died on this day three years ago CELEBRATIONS of singing legend K.L. Saigal’s centenary cannot but revive memories of Khurshid, a singing star of the 1940s who attained fame and popularity after teaming up with the maestro in Ranjit’s hit Bhakat Surdas (1942). A […]

Remembering Khurshid

As the world pauses to remember K.L. Saigal on his birth centenary today, Pran Nevile takes a look at little-known facets of the man, while Devinder Bir Kaur reports on the efforts to keep his music alive. K.L. Saigal in Dushman Saigal with Jamuna in the first Devdas HE was […]

Salute to a legend

Pran Nevile Beauty and dedication Ecstasy “ART is the creation of beauty”, says Will Durant. “It is the expression of thought or feeling in a form that seems beautiful or sublime.” Indian art is a mirror of femininity which is visible in the wealth of sculptures and paintings where the […]

Portraits of feminine mystique

“Layi Hayat Aaye Kaza...” “Shama Ka Jalna Hai...”
With his stunning portrayal of Devdas, Saigal brought the author Saratchandra’s desperate character to life. His brooding looks, that drooping lock of hair and his mournful singing Dukh ke ab din bitat nahin made him a cult figure and Saigal became the first superstar of Indian cinema, writes Pran Nevile […]

Hindi cinema’s First superstar

Pran Nevile THE Delhi-Lahore bus, put back on track on July 11, was once again hailed as a historic step on the long road to Indo-Pak peace. The Wagah border came to life with jubilant crowds on both sides, bringing back memories of the momentous bus ride by Indian Prime […]

More than a bus, it’s a bridge of faith

Pran Nevile   The newlyweds going on a honeymoon— G.F. Atkinson, C 1850. THE imperial enterprise was a masculine affair. Until the late 18th century, very few British women ventured to come to India. The original charters of the East India Company also forbade women on its trading posts. To […]

Memsahibs and the Indian marriage bazaar

Pran Nevile   Madras Nautch Party: A painted photograph called for skill. THE camera made its appearance in 1839 when Louis Daguerre unveiled his invention in Paris. The first photographs were hailed as mirrors of reality. It brought a crisis in art and some painters exclaimed that with the advent […]

An ode to the painted photograph

Pran Nevile Gauhar Jan singing in 1902. A file photograph from H.M.V. Calcutta GAUHAR Jan of Calcutta, who became a legend at the turn of the 20th century was one of the most renowned and charismatic performing artistes of her time. The first artiste to be recorded in India by […]

The importance of being Gauhar Jan

Pran Nevile THE Mughal India presented an exotic view of the Orient. Royal harems were famous the world over for their hordes of ravishing beauties, dripping with pearls and diamonds. Great patrons of dance and music, the Mughal rulers also adorned their courts with beautiful and highly accomplished singing and […]

Stories of royal romance from Mughal India

Prabhjot Singh Tribune News Service Chandigarh, March 10 His knowledge of the cultural and social history of India under colonial rule is encyclopaedic. He lives in the pre-camera age and his books speak volumes for his in depth research into several areas of the British Empire.   He is none […]

Colonial rule – His forte

Pran Nevile One fails to understand the noise about the introduction of astrology teaching in the Indian educational institutions. From time immemorial, astrology has wielded pervasive or peripheral influence in many civilisations, both ancient and modern. The scientists and intellectuals who dismiss astrology as a myth or superstition have not […]

Defending astrology teaching in educational institutions