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A. L. Syed (1904-1991) Abidmian Lalmian Syed (1904-1991), more popularly known as A.L. Syed, is the Doyen of Indian photography.

He is regarded as one of the key figures whose works have captured the glory and aura of the Princely States of preIndependence India. Born on February 2, 1904, in Vernawada, a village 16 kms from Palanpur, he spent his early childhood in the town where his father was hakim of the Royal family. It was a school tour of Mumbai in 1923 that played an important role in shaping his life. On that trip, a photograph he clicked of sunset at Chowpatty won him the First Prize in Illustrated Weekly of Indias snap shot competition. For the next five decades, his photographs were regularly featured on the pages of the Weekly.

In 1925, his images first began appearing in Kumar, a Gujarati magazine, edited by well- known artist Ravi Shankar Raval, and he was a regular contributor, with photos and feature articles till the publication ceased in 1940. At that time he was already working with his elder brother, K.L. Syed, a well known freelance and also official court photographer in Palanpur. But unlike his brother, A.L. went beyond portraits, and Morning Time In Dyara - 1938 his famous photograph Traveller of the - A. L. Syed East taken in 1934, won international recognition and was published as one of the worlds best photographs in Odhan Press Home Library series. Since then it has been a part of over 40 international exhibitions and winner of the annual Popular Photography award in 1935, and later became part of the famous Hutchinson Collection in the USA.

One of his many one-man shows was inaugurated by the then President of India, V.V. Giri, on the occasion of the 6th Convention of the Federation of Indian Photography hosted by the Camera Society, Delhi. Another of his photographs, Difficult Ascent was chosen for an award from among the 2,500 received from 15 Asia Pacific countries in the Asia Pacific Cultural Center for the UNESCO (ACCU) Photo Contest in Tokyo in 1977, and in 1980 he was given the honour of inaugurating a photographic exhibition organized by Illustrated Weekly of India to commemorate its centenary. Later in 1983, he was one of the 10 eminent photographers of the world to receive the India International Photographic Councils highest honour, the Honorary Fellowship for outstanding contribution and service to various branches of photography.

Street Sweeper - 1938 - A. L. Syed

Mr. Syed was more than a photographer; he was a master artist, highly respected in India and abroad, both professionally and personally. His skill in bringing alive remarkable images of day to day life around the country and crafting exquisite portraits have made his work live long after he passed away on August 30, 1991. Amar Palanpuri (Pravinbhai Manilal Mehta) Gujarati literary connoisseurs know this renowned poet as Amar Palanpuri though his actual name is Pravinbhai Manilal Mehta. He was born on 1st July 1935 in Palanpur city. He is not only a great fan and disciple, but also a staunch devotee of late shayar Shoonya Palanpuri. His well known collection of ghazals has been published under the name Ujharada. He is an excellent actor, poet, lyricist, ghazalkaar and organizer of cultural activities, with a deep love for the Gujarati stage. He has acted in many Gujarati plays. He left Mumbai and settled in Surat in 1962, where he established an institution named Saptarshi for cultural programmes, which includes many world renowned classical singers, musicians and poets. He has also provided

a stage and opportunities to young, fresh talents. His creative abilities are not confined to writing ghazals only, but he has written songs and bhajans also. He lives in Surat.

Bakulbhai Bakshi Bakulbhai Bakshi was born in the year 1941 at Kolkata. After passing the B.Com and IAS examinations, he joined the Indian Revenue Service. He was the only member of the Gujarati community to have held the esteemed position of Customs Collector, a matter of pride for all Gujaratis. His articles in Gujarati have been published in several newspapers of Gujarat and Mumbai for the last couple of decades. His columns like Navee Najare in Gujarat Samachar and several others in Janmabhoomi Pravasi and now Divya Bhaskar are popular. To date he has also published five books. Mr. Bakshi has maintained a good balance between his roles as administrator and writer. As an administrator, emotions have to take a backseat, while they have to be in free flow and at the forefront as writer. Mr. Bakshi lives in Ahmedabad now.

Chandrakant Bakshi (1932-2006) Chandrakant Bakshi was well known as a Gujarati littrateur and as a historian. His analysis of contemporary news and events, as well as his political and cultural commentaries, were published in many daily newspapers and magazines. His style and language were powerful and impressive. Mr. Bakshi wrote a number of books on a variety of subjects in Gujarati. His novels, collections of short stories, travelogues, historical and cultural books, biographies, autobiography etc. have enriched Gujarati literature. Mr. Bakshi was also known as an extraordinary orator, anchor and teacher too. During the 1960s and 70s, he conducted a monthly programme, Samvadika for All India Radio (Mumbai) and anchored the weekly programme, Yuvdarshan in Gujarati at Doordarshan (Mumbai). He served as Head of the Department of History in Mithibai College (Vile Parle) and as Principal of Raheja College (Bandra). His fresh and truthful writing inspired people at a time when negativity dominated different streams of society, including journalism. Mr. Bakshi passed away on March 25, 2006 in Ahmedabad.

Musafir Palanpuri (Amir Mohammad Deen Mohammad Sindhi) Poet Musafir Palanpuris original name is Amir Mohammad Deen Mohammad Sindhi. Born on June 21, 1948 in Palanpur, had many hardships in childhood and lost his mother at the tender age of 12. He wrote his first poem at that time: Ab Mujhe Nahi Koi Pyar Se Bulayega, Chum kar Hoth Mere Koi Nahi Satayega, Kal Tune Pukara Mera Raja Kahekar Aaj Mujhe Log Pukarenge Abhaga Kahkar. Slowly and steadily he overcame these struggles and achieved economic stability. As a result his poems and writings became more intense and gradually won recognition. Musafirbhai is a very well known and established shayar of Gujarati literature. He belongs to the traditional school of ghazals. He was always considered a high calibre teacher and received a National Award for Best Teacher in 1998. Musafirbhai lives in Palanpur.

Ojas Palanpuri (Mota Miyan Ali Miyan Saiyad) (1927-1969) Mota Miyan Ali Miyan Saiyad was born on July 25, 1927 in Palanpur, and became well known as a poet under the pen name Ojas Palanpuri. His is one of prestigious names among the Palanpuri contributors to Gujarati literature (ghazal sahitya). Ojas suffered from several ailments since childhood, and grew up in extremely poor conditions. His marginalized socio-economic upbringing impacted his thought process and was expressed in his poems. He was simplicity personified whether in appearance, attitude, personal nature or lifestyle. And despite the difficult situations, he kept his cool against all odds. Hardly anyone knew, or understood the churning in his heart, and he complained: Takaleef pade chhe toy hasee laun chhun. Mushkelee nade chhe toy hasee lau chhun. Aethi-j-to samajee na shakyun Koi mane. Man khub rade chhe to hasee lau chhun. He has published a collection of poems Ojas. He wrote in both Gujarati and Urdu. Ojasbhai enjoyed a guru shishya relationship with Shoonya Palanpuri and also a very close friendship. The beauty of language, expression, thought and philosophy contained in Ojasbhais Shers makes them akin to sparkling pearls. Mareehastee maaree Paachhal ae reete Visarayee gayee Aangalee jal maa thee kadhi ne jagaa purayee gayee. It is poetry like this which has given him a highly-respected position in Gujarati ghazal sahitya. Ojasbhai died at the young age of 42 on October 4, 1969 due to snake bite.

Saif Palanpuri (Saifuddin Gulamali Kharawala) (1923-1984) Born on 30th August 1923, in Palanpur, Saifuddin Gulamali Kharawala became well known as Saif Palanpuri among connoisseurs of shaayaree mehfils and other ghazalpremis. Known for his colourful nature, he held audiences and shayars spellbound when he conducted Mushaiaras. Saif moved to Mumbai for business and other activities. Originally he wrote a lot in Urdu, but he equally enriched Gujarati literature (ghazal sahitya) with his romantic and philosophical ghazals and nazms. He produced two collections of poems -Jharukho and Hinchko. His Nazm Jharukho is not only popular, but also well appreciated by poetry lovers. It is full of compassion. Shaant jharukhe vaat nirakhati roop ni raani joi hati. Mein aek sahazaadi joi hati aena haathe mehandi hasateetee, Aeni aankh nu kaajal hasatutu aek naanu sarakhu upvan Jaane mosam joi vikasautu tu. Shree Manhar Udhas lent his voice to this Nazm and it reached many thousands of Gujarati music lovers. Saifs creative work goes beyond shaayars -- he not only wrote ghazals and nazms, but also novels. For a fairly long period in the later part of his life he was a journalist too. He gives all credit for his work to Shoonya Palanpuri, Shayada Saheb, Bekaar and Ameer Saheb. Saif had a classical understanding of both Urdu and Gujarati ghazals. He was able to read different forms of poetry, like ghazals and nazms in all their beauty. He was somewhat of an introvert and a little happy go lucky, but his language and nature were simple. He suffered for his simplicity and straightforwardness, and was let down by those he considered to be very close. He narrates the pains of these wounds.

Jeevan nee Samee Saanjhe maare, jakhmo nee yaadee jovee hatee. Bahu ochaan Naamo Joi Shakhyo, Bahu angat angat naam hataa. The wounded painful heart says Phool kera sparsh thee pan dil have gabharaay chhe. Aene ruzayel Jakhmom yaad aavi Jaay chhe. Many such painful and delicate nazms were composed, sung and recorded and reached the hearts of poetry lovers. Some of Saifs more noteworthy collections are Nartika, Himalaya, Tajmahal, Mrugjal, Jawani jai rahee chhe, Sanskruti etc. The economic and social discrimination, injustice, corruption and lack of moral values in society touched his heart and he expressed his bitter experiences in these words. Keva yug maan hu janmyo Shayar banee. Maara yug maan Kavitao vechay chhe. Urmionee badhe mashkaree thay chhe. Kaam Saara Kare chhe ae Sharamaay chhe. He struggled a lot in the city of Mumbai, but alongside he nourished his first love poetry. He passed away after a massive heart attack on May 7, 1984. In Palanpur, the road passing near his home has been named after him by the Palanpur Municipality.

Shoonya Palanpuri (Ali Khan Usmaan Khan Baloch) (1922-1987)

Born on 19th December, 1922. in Leelapur village of Ahmedabad district, Ali Khan Usmaan Khan Baloch was known to Gujarati poetry lovers as Shoonya Palanpuri. He is truly one of the stars of Gujarati literature (ghazal sahitya). Ever since his childhood, he often faced pain, depression, frustration and tears, emotions which find a place in his poems and ghazals. Kya Sunaaun? Kya Sunoge? Daastaane Zindagi? Ghamzadon Kaa talkh hota hai bayan-e Zindagi. Zindagee mein jeeke mara jaanaa rumaanee kuch nahee. Dar haqeekat mar ke jee jaanaa hai shaan e zindagee. Shoonyas qualities were apparent from a tender age and he began writing small rhymes as early as when he was studying in Standard 3. By the age of 16, in 1938, he was already writing full ghazals. As he continued writing, his ghazals got more and more mature in form and language. These have been published in several collections. Shoonya nu Sarjan, Shoonya nu Visarjan, Shoonya naa avashesh, Shoonya nu smaarak, Shoonyanee Smurti, Shoonya no Vaibhav, Khaiyaam nee Rubaiyaat, etc are his collections. He was a scholar of Urdu and Farsi languages. Apart from being an expert ghazalkar, he was an expert translator, critic, journalist and creative writer. His translation from Farsi into Gujarati of `Rubaiyaat of Oomar Khayyam was well appreciated by literary critics.

Generally he wrote on secularism and about respect for all religions -- Hindu Philosophy, mysticism of Vedaant or tenets of Islam often found mention in his poems. He presented complex subjects with obvious simplicity in his ghazals, nazms and muktaks. Maanavi Chhun, mujh kalevar Kendra chhe. Chhe naajar Geeta hruday Qurran vaani ved chhe. Shoonya had the ability to face difficult situations without ever getting frustrated or depressed. He always maintained a positive and lively approach to life

He said: Jeevan maa Koi dashaa ne nahee Kharaab Kaho. Kamal ne Pank naa saundarya no jawab kaho. After 65 years of eloquent contributions with his pen, Shoonya Palanpuri finally bid farewell to the world on March 17, 1987.