Hina R. Khan

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                                            Saffron Dawn

Mandakini & Dr. Atthavale

Daughter of Dr. Phalke (Pioneer of Indian Cinema). Child actress till the age of ten, used to the limelight and grand exposure to the social circle, aware of being a celebrity. Brilliant child actress emotes very well. Very attached to her father who is the director of all her movies. Times of 1927.This results in a very strong characteristic in her of expressing herself towards her environment and people. Has learnt to voice her feelings.


A very well known doctor, Dr. Atthavale man of self-respect and great ethics. Fourteen years older to Mandikini.Was involved in studying medicine at the time when Mandikini was busy playing Sri. Krishna roles.


Saffron Dawn


Scene1: The sound of Shehnai is bringing me a rainbow of emotions. Red-for the red sari draped around me, the red flowers in huge vessels and the red carpets all over the lawn. Blue- for leaving my family-my backbone and Prabhakar, the apple of my eye Yellow- for the childhood within me. And Saffron- Saffron for the evening, as I sit in a small corner of my rooftop, deliberately created all in red again.

The sound of shehnai is bringing me a rainbow of emotions mixed up and overflowing like the Subhadra River, where half of my childhood has been spent. But its time up now and I have to go. My father does not believe that I have spent fourteen [years] playfully in his arms. This is the place where I grew up; in the greens of our exquisite family home here in Nasik.Today the lawns are a mandap place lit up with British chandeliers ansd lamps all around. The crowd is increasing in numbers in the best of attire and best jewellery. This evening today is going to be my farewell, given by my parents, friends and relatives. My father believes I am going to be in safe hands for the rest of my life. That unknown person is going to replace my father in a way. It’s a big household but my little brother Prabhakar still hasn’t come to terms that I am going away. He has been weeping for the last seven days. I don’t believe it too, I am getting married. I think the colors are all within me, the turning point of my life. I am getting married.

The knotted bond with each element here is never going to leave my mind. From the tiniest blade of grass to the frolic grasslands of my residence. That little bridge over to the left leads to our studio. My father’s studio, it’s called ‘The Phalke studio’. How I loved spending my time there. Hanging around doing nothing gave me that immense joy that I never experienced any where, that satisfaction of knowledge that you are the baby of this gigantic structure in front of you is a feeling that cannot be expressed in words[.] “[T]{paragraph change?]tayee mala tuzya barobar yayecha aahe”. There he was all full of eight years and full of energy, my little brother Prabhakar.I am worried how will he go on like that in my absence. How I held his little hand and both of us running towards the studio over the bridge, how he held my sari pallo whenever I stood leaning to the door of the editing room. Aah! The editing room, the camera lens, the lights and the sound of “action”, how it still takes my breath away. How attending parties with cameras all around was a part of life. But life is going to be different, very different from what it is today. It’s spending the rest of my life with someone I haven’t even seen before; do not even know what he looks like. Besides having two eyes and a nose, will he be tall or just as little as I am? Will he be caring like my mother and a brilliant listener like my father? Will he play hopscotch and oranges and lemon when I am bored? Will he encourage my poetry’s and the stupid articles that I write? I don’t know…I don’t know whether he knows that the person he is about to marry is a young woman with a child hidden somewhere within her.

The nose-ring is hurting me, my legs are frozen sitting here since the whole day but its nobodys concern. It’s a norm that we all follow. Just like me having not to see the man I am getting married to is nobodys concern. Never even once did I ever think in my wildest nightmare that I will be packed off by my parents even before I could learn tying my own hair. But, I am trying. Though I always knew [it- not needed] in my illusionary mind about the grand day, I never thought it [would come]so early[ reframe this sentence a bit to make if flow easier]. “Baba, cant I wait for another two years or a year more?” He could not say yes. Just like during ‘Sri Krishna Janma’ and ‘Kalia Mardan’ when in front of the cameras I know it just so right, that it was time to enact my father standing behind the camera lens, I knew it here too-I will have to go. I think Sri Krishna’s probably watching me from the great skies so he painted the skies all red and saffron, perhaps picked up a brush and stroked it in this bright hue, to make me learn I am not alone. Its saffron dawn today. Its today that the dusk has turned into a dawn for me, as it’s a new day-the beginning of life for me, where the first ray of new breath is awaiting.

Scene2: She is sitting in a pastel blue sari on a rooftop of a huge house. It’s all orange once again like the day of her marriage, when little Mandikini waited on the rooftop of her house overlooking the grassland outlined by the Subhadra river. But today as she sits here, the chhat does not overlook the Subhadra river its overlooks the distant horizon that seems like a meeting segment of the wheat fields and the orange skies. With the sparrows running out of time to get back home. Mandakini is sixteen, but also ten and twenty-five at the same time. It’s unbelievable.

This evening is a beginning of a new day once again. Once again the dusk has turned into a dawn, saffron dawn and… I write. This evening “aajche sandhya kaad janoo kaahi udhiyachi navinach pahat gheaun aali aahe”. Film parties have transformed into medicine camps, its no more, ‘there my little starlet, with a twinkle in her eye, Mandakini Phalke’. But its ‘here, meet my wife, Mrs. Mandakini Atthavale’.

Transformation-I remember baba always saying, he always told me how I had to transform myself from Mandikini to Sri Krishna. From jumping from a branch like Mandikini but living and breathing like Krishna. But the now of today is different from the then of yesterday. Jumping from tree branches, swinging from the pillars in the studio have transformed into two utensils-dal and rice just about to be cooked. Its twelve months now and my father was right. Greiving about leaving, I cried till I swelled my eyes up and he assured me that he is always going to be there, around and within like a glowing energy. He calmed me down regularly as to how the person I was going to marry will be like a father figure for me, providing with all the possible concern security and love in a glittery parcel of materialistic support. A stereotypical mindset of Indian girls. Of finding a father in their husbands. Maybe it’s right, or may be I am wrong.

                                    “Why do we get attached to people,
                                        And why do they go away,
                                    Clueless about where I am heading
                                    Building a path for my own trail,
                                  Shudders of doubt and inhuman thoughts
                                    Put me in a dilemma leaving[me?] frail”


Far in the distance, cycling through the dusty fields the dakiya breaks my cord of words. Soon, he’ll be knocking at my door, “tayee tuziya taar”. I rush my way down the wooden steps. I know it, yet another telegram…

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