After the extraordinarily well made and superbly acted "Paan Singh Tomar" (2012),
Tigmanshu Dhulia has announced his upcoming project, a film on the life of 'X'.
About X :
Real Name: Farzana Zeb un-Nissa
Husband's name (First) : Walter Reinhardt 'X'
Name Changed to Joanna Nobilis 'X' after her second marriage to a Frenchman named
A portrait of 'X'
'X' was one of the most powerful women rulers of the 18th and 19th century India.
She is regarded as the only Catholic Ruler in India, as she ruled the Principality of Sardhana (located approx. 80 km from Delhi and 20 km from Meerut).
The Church Basilica of Our Lady Of Graces, Sardhana, near Meerut, U.P.
In the year 1822, 'X' assigned an Italian architect called Anthony Reghelini to build the 'Basilica of Our Lady of Graces', a church dedicated to St. Mary.
Today, it is the largest church in North India and has a UNESCO World heritage site status.
X's statue at the church.
The statue of 'X' is raised on a three-tiered pedestal.
On December 13, 1961, Pope John XXIII decided to upgrade the Sardhana Church to the status of a Minor Basilica. It is said that the Pope grants the status of Basilica only to churches that are historically significant and beautiful.
'X' was a very rich and philanthropic lady. She sent the Pope at Rome Rs.1,50,000, a big sum in those days and Rs 50000 to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
She also built another church at Meerut, where the Roman Catholic Bishop was an Italian named Julius Caesar.
Shah Alam II a.k.a. Ali Gauhar
Shah Alam II a.k.a. Ali Gauhar, the predecessor and father of Akbar Shah, regarded 'X' as his daughter. He did so because she had saved Delhi from an army of 30,000 Sikh invaders who tried capturing Delhi, under Baghel Singh in 1783.
They had encamped at Tis Hazari (the name of the place being derived from the number of those who constituted the force, estimated at 30,000).
Thanks to the X's negotiations, the Sikhs did not enter the city and went back to Punjab after getting a generous monetary gift from Shah Alam II.
X's palace in Chandni Chowk, Delhi.
Akbar Shah II (Mirza Akbar)
The palace in Chandni Chowk was built in a garden gifted by Akbar Shah II (Mirza Akbar), to the Begum, when he ascended the throne after the death of Shah Alam II in 1806.
X's Palace / 'X' ki Haveli is now known as Bhagirath Place which houses Central Bank of India’s main Old Delhi branch.
The palatial building still stands in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi. The palace building is now occupied by the Central Bank of India. Soon after, the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah II (Bahadur Shah Zafar), was held captive here by the British.
In 1940, the palace was bought by a merchant, Lala Bhagirath Mal, thus giving the building its name.
Today, Bhagirath Place is Asia's largest market for electrical goods and has become India's wholesale medicine supply warehouse for medical equipment and allopathic medicines.
Lord William Bentinck's letter to 'X' :
Lord William Bentinck was an excellent judge of character and the following letter will show how much 'X' had impressed him :
To Her Highness, 'X'.
My esteemed Friend,
I cannot leave India without expressing the sincere esteem I entertain for your highness's character. The benevolence of disposition and extensive charity which have endeared you to thousands, have excited in my mind sentiments of the warmest admiration; and I trust that you may yet be preserved for many years, the solace of the orphan and widow, and the sure resource of your numerous dependants.
Tomorrow morning I embark for England; and my prayers and best wishes attend you, and all others who, like you, exert themselves for the benefit of the people of India. I remain, with much consideration.
Your sincere friend,
M. W. BENTINCK
March 17, 1835
Lord William Bentinck served as Governor-General of India from 1833 to 1835.
The 500 Million de la Begum / The Begum's Fortune
'The Begum's Millions' is an 1879 novel by Jules Verne which has references to 'X'.
Additional Trivia :
'X' died in 1836, at the age of 90, leaving behind a fortune of 7,00,000 Pounds and an immense army of pensioners.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani (1875–1951) is famous for coining 'Inquilab Zindabad'; the famous slogan of Indian freedom fighters.
Popularized by revolutionaries such as Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh and Ashfaqulla Khan, this phrase was used by Hasrat Mohani at a labour strike in Kolkata for the first time.
Hasrat Mohani's real name was Syed Fazl ul Hasan. He was a freedom fighter by nature, a journalist by profession, and a poet by heart.
He once wrote a poem 'X' which is immensely popular; but unfortunately, not many people know that it is Hasrat Mohani's creation.
Hasrat Mohani wrote this beautiful poem remembering his beloved wife. He was imprisoned for fighting against the British rule and was facing torture for supporting the 'Khilafat movement'. With all the hardships, instead of penning down his sorrows, he wrote 'X'.
The lovely creation 'X' was in hibernation since 1928, until it was made famous by another singer 'Y' who got a lot of fame because of 'X'.
Till date, many singers have sung their own version of 'X', but the most popular is the one sung by 'Y'.
'Y' also recorded a version of Hasrat Mohani's poem 'X' for a famous Hindi film released in 1982.
'Y' belongs to the 'Patiala Gharana' and is a world renowned singer. He is addressed by prefixes like 'Legendary' and 'Maestro', but sadly, no one remembers Maulana Hasrat Mohani any more.
Identify 'X' and 'Y'.
Additional Trivia :
** Another version of how Hasrat Mohani wrote 'X', is by Rahul Pandita, who adds in his memoir of Balli Maran :
'X' was written on a terrace in Balli Maran by a youthful Hasrat Mohani who had fallen in love with a girl living in the next house. She would often come to the terrace on the pretext of drying clothes.
** 'Hai mashq-e-sukhan jaari Chakki ki mashaqqat bhi Ik turfa tamasha hai Hasrat ki tabiyat mein..'
- Hasrat Mohani
Hasrat Mohani wrote this famous couplet in his jail diary 'Mushahidatezindan'.
** 'Kahkashan' is an Indian Television series about six great masters of modern Urdu poetry :