ANAND and me....

As I pen these lines,my facebook & twitter timelines are flooded with updates about how ‘The Dark Knight rises’ has finally given a fitting finale to the World’s most loved superhero…
However,for someone who’s waited so eagerly for the final movie in Nolan’s Batman trilogy,my mind’s been strangely pre-occupied..

At 10 in the morning,surfing through news to bide my time through attendance,the headline of Rajesh khanna’s demise had little effect on me..I had never been a Rajesh Khanna fan,my tryst with his movies restricted to some of his lesser known movies & only a few of his classics..
In hindsight,I’d say my sensibilities at that age just weren’t good enough to appreciate ‘Classic Bollywood’…

How could I??...My parents were still in college when ‘KAKA’ was at the height of his unparalleled career…Having witnessed the hysteria & frenzy he generated in those days,(something which led to the epithet ‘superstar’ being coined & used first time for a Bollywood star)they have the right to count themselves as his fans,not someone like me who was born decades after…

To quote an article from Open magazine
You know Rajesh Khanna, don’t you? If you are a young man or woman reading this, you may have heard of him as Akshay Kumar’s father-in-law or Dimple Kapadia’s husband or Amitabh Bachchan’s one-time co-star. At a pinch, you might also be somewhat familiar with his work: such classics as Anand, Aradhana, Amar Prem, Aavishkar and Bawarchi, which play on TV now and then. But to know and understand what and who Rajesh Khanna is and was, ask your mother. Chances are, she may have harboured a secret (maybe even an open and zealous) crush on Rajesh Khanna in her youth. My mother did. In truth, it was an entire female generation’s adulation of this actor that was at the centre of the Rajesh Khanna phenomenon.”
The above lines described my situation ‘almost’ perfectly…Almost because even though I didn’t hear of him in relation to his daughters/son-in-law/wife as suggested above,my idea of what KAKA was remained confined to the classics mentioned above,which didn’t appeal to the senses of a pre-teen back then...
Where’s the actor-fan connection then,you might be curious to know??

Talking of connections,we’d very well talk about another one::the trio of Kishore Kumar-RD Burman & Rajesh saab.Best of friends,this legendary  trio has perhaps given us the most memorable songs of those Golden years,all hummable still…Add the lyrics of Anand Bakshi Saab to the equation & what we get is a mix of hauntingly soulful melodies…

My memories stretch back to the mid 90’s growing up in small town India when KAKA was well past his heydays…
Unlike most others of that era who’d have memories of watching Khanna saab croon ‘mere sapno ki rani’ in packed theatres in that opening sequence from Aradhana(1969),my first brush with his his golden run came in the form of his Songs,mostly audios,& a few of his classics,each of which gave me memories that have been overflowing since the sad news of his demise ….

The mid-90’s it was & Doordarshan was still the favoured channel at home despite my desperate pleas to get a cable connection or ‘dish’ as it was called in our parts back then…Dad felt it would hamper my studies so we stuck to DD…
It showed movies only on weekends,FRIDAYS@9:30 pm,SATURDAYS@10:30 pm & SUNDAYS@4:00 pm…I remember a 8 year old me spending a week in anticipation of the movies next week only to doze off around 8 on Fridays & Saturdays,so much of my movie watching experience was limited to Sunday evenings…

painting courtesy~KUNAL GUPTA sketches@Facebook
It was on one such evening that I had watched ANAND(1970) & disliked it…

The reason??...Many,back then…

For one,I kept waiting for a heroine to enter but no real heroine turned up..
Or perhaps,complicated terms like ‘lymphosarcoma of the intestine’ had me confused..
And the biggest reason,I had questioned myself “How could the Hero die in the end??”

At the tender age of 8,cinema for me constituted a good-looking damsel,a hero who could woo her charismatically through that whole song-dance routine,a villain(ideally PREM CHOPRA) & of course an Happy ending…ANAND gave me none of those…I didn’t even bother to find out who the guy playing Anand was..the sole actor I could recognise in ANAND was Amitabh Bachhan,not surprising,considering the fact that AB’s movies were shown much more frequently on DD than Khanna Saab’s…My views were to change,as time would tell..

Around the same time,I had passed class 3 & had now shifted to the senior section at School…Besides the place & teachers,much else changed…Parents felt I was now big enough to travel back home by ‘mini-bus’,something which I was to do for the next 8 years to come…The handful of buses that plied on my route back home were to bring me my next brush with Kaka’s Golden era…

The driver used to have a cassette player colloquialy called ‘box’ in front of him with a handful of cassettes, in a small cabinet overhead..Travel was frequent & cassettes were limited...Result:->In a few weeks,I could croon every single song that was played in any of those buses…

I remember fumbling with “maine dekha,tune dekha…maine dekha..tune dekha,isne dekha,usne dekha..sabne dekha”.. (Mumtaaz dancing & singing)
(Enter rajeshji)-“kya dekha??..kya dekha” ,a superhit song from Dushman…I remember the exultant cry I had let out when I finally mastered it…Quite a tongue-twister for an 8 year old,I’d say J
The same route saw me master ‘yeh jo mohabbat hai’ &chup gaye saare nazare hoye kya baat ho gayi’ just to name a few… Antakshari sessions would see me reproduce many of those often…The lyrics,the beats,the voice(mostly Kishoreda),I had loved almost everything about the songs…But strangely enough,I had never bothered to find about the movie,the actors or the Singers…
Probable reasons:->Wiki didn’t exist back then & internet was still a big,big luxury & dare I discuss songs with DAD(the mere prospect used to squeeze the daylights out of me)OR maybe,I was content with the Eargasms those songs gave me…
In hindsight I’d say,probably it was the last reason..

As someone who flew kites & gazed at skies all day long,the mere mention of the movie title with the word Patang was a source of such unadulterated joy that when I finally stayed awake on a Friday to watch KATI PATANG’ I had felt let down~the movie had nothing to do with kites,the kind I like to flew…." Patang jaisi toh koi cheez hi nahin hai ismein,phir naam Kati Patang kyun??” I remember reasoning with papa the next morning…Of course,he understood I was too naïve to appreciate what the movie title really conveyed even though I could  reproduce its songs verbatim..Ironic!!..Huh??

Sometime soon,I was to watch ‘Haathi mere Saathi’ and it was to restore my faith in humanity…Like many other children,I had loved the movie…Which child wouldn’t like befriending an elephant who could help you ‘le chal khatara kheech ke’….the song was to stay on my lips for days to come…

Not much later,I watched ANAND again…It was a Total Solar Eclipse that day & DD had screened a movie at the last moment…Anand it was & I again couldn’t make much out of the movie except that the songs seemed hummable this time round & I walked away from the TV when ANAND died in that final scene…IN MY WORLD,HEROes DIDN’T DIE

More was to come soon…

Lazing on a cot in the courtyard at my Grandpa’s place with cousins & uncles post a heavy Dinner one night of my Summer vacations,I was asked not to doze off as DD was screening ‘Bawarchi’  & the family planned to watch the Classic together…
I remember waking up in the dark & clambering out of the mosquito-net discovering there was no one around me…I was afraid…The fear changed to anger when I discovered that  leaving me there,everyone else was busy watching the movie…I went in & gave everyone a earful…
An 8 year old’s anger…Mind you!!...
There I was thinking of myself as the ‘ANGRY YOUNG MAN’ & all that avatar of mine could do was give my ‘maasis’ & ‘mama’s a hearty laugh…Late I was but I joined them  just in time to watch Kaka charm members of a warring family one-by-one & fell asleep again only to wake up in the last scene & wonder how the movie ended so soon,again giving family a reason to laugh…
Again however,I couldn’t fathom why he left the family he had finally brought together in the end…a bitter-sweet ending,I had felt…

I was a little more grown up now…probably 12 or 13…




Rangoli??...rings a bell??...every SUNDAY morning  at 7:15,we saw Hema Malini host the evergreen countdown show on DD…





courtesy~Vivek Razdan's blog
It was there that I first saw Rajesh Khanna charm a demure Sharmila tagore in that immortal train-jeep sequence…Loved the location,the lyrics & Kaka’s theatrics in the song but the song also did something else…
It introduced me to sharmila Tagore,my favourite actress of the yesteryears,as she stole coy glances at the charming superstar…& just the way KAKA had sung his way into millions of hearts across India,I felt she had walked into mine…pre-pubertal love!!…hehehe…

I remember looking around for a parallel train track and road post that song…Imagine my joy when I finally discovered a 500 metre stretch on NH-33 on my way to Ranchi with papa...Excited,I remember asking papa when the train passed on those tracks…Perhaps I expected to see a Sharmila pretending to read Alistair Maclean while stealing shy glances at kaka me…I felt like a hero… I was in Love J
Unfortunately,my dreams of wooing my lady on train from a jeep were washed away when I was told that the track wasn’t functional anymore….HEARTBREAK….what else??

However,KAKA’s songs were to offer me other options soon....


Soon I saw the song "hum dono do premi"
from the movie AJNABEE(1974) and I decided I was running away with a girl sometime soon on an open roof train,singing all along



'Bheegi-bheegi raaton mein’-a more sensuous number from the same movie made me reconsider my decision of running away from home…Why run away when you could romance your girl right there on the rooftop in the rains??…..

Teenage Love & Silly me…HAHAHAHA

My tryst with the evergreen ‘AMAR PREM’  came much later,I was in class 10th then & preparing for my boards...Late nights weren’t a problem anymore…I remember coming back from my study & watching the movie start while I ate Dinner…Half an hour into the movie,I decided I was done studying for the day & that night was dedicated to that immortal saga of unspoken love~Love I could appreciate then…The movie tugged at my heartstrings & the classic ‘Chingaari koi Bhadke’ made me fall in love with those lyrics,besides Sharmila Tagore that is
Watching her just gaze at the Bengali Bhadralok in that blue saree while he crooned away still seems magical…I was smitten… 
'that' moment from 'chingaari koi bhadke' 
Maybe just because I’m a fan but IMHO,never ever has an actress looked so beautiful in a saree…

A classic scene in the song comes before the lines ‘maana toofan ke aage,nahin chalta Zor kisi ka’ when the boat sways and Tagore sways along as if she’d fall & Khanna saab pulls her back…For me,that was the most beautiful part of a haunting song…

Was I gradually begin to like the hero I hadn’t bothered to enquire about just because I could identify Amitabh Bacchan in ANAND??...I didn’t know…

I’m 22 now….

Switching over channels all flashing news of his demise,I saw ANAND walking down JUHU beach with a bunch of balloons in his hands & singing ‘Zindagi kaisi hai paheli haye’…I could feel my hair stand on end…

Flipping more channels,I could see almost every song that I had grown up humming but never bothering to find out more about belonged to KAKA..From the tongue-twisting ‘Maine dekha-tune dekha’ to the song of lament yeh jo mohabbat hai’,they were all there…As was mere sapnon ki rani’ & the sensous ‘bheegi-bheegi raaaton mein’,the former IMHO being the most iconic introduction scene ever in Bollywood….

Finally,the pieces were coming together…I had perhaps been a fan all along…His demise just made me realise it & his songs have been on an endless loop ever since…

I was saddened…Yes,I’m a young man born in the late 80’s Mr. reporter & I'm mourning KAKA…I do not need to know about his daughter,wife or son-in-law to know about him…His songs have made me think,made me smile,made me draw plans to romance lovely ladies & even saddened me at times… Is that not reason enough to consider myself a fan??...

In case you were still wondering about the actor-fan connect mentioned in the beginning,you’d probably have your answer by now…

Something rather filmy transpired a day later,ie,yesterday,which was the final reason which made me finally take up this piece

Surgery clinics at Command Hospital(pune)àI was at the Malignant Diseases Treatment Centre(MDTC) at 11 in the morning yesterday as I was to present a case…My patient,a rather pleasant & educated lady from Nagpur,had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer...Filling her personal details,I asked “Aunty..aap kya kaam karti hain??”
A LIC agent she was & as I bent my head to scribble into my notebook I heard her quip with a chuckle yahan aane ke pahle main apna bhi insurance karwa ke aayi hoon…kisko pata tha doosron ka insurance karte karte” and she broke down sobbing heavily…A few sympathetic words & a warm hand holding gesture later,she regained her usual self…I proceeded to finish taking other details over the next hour …

Was it just a coincidence that I had interacted with someone who was in a similar situation as ANAND??...I had to find out

When I went back to my room,I dugout ANAND from the Hindi movies folder on my laptop….The movie seemed so different from the ANAND I had watched as a child & disliked...I sat spellbound through those 2 hours 2 mins of ANAND,marvelling at each line which seemed boring back then,understanding songs which meant nothing much back then & I appreciating the celebrate life’ maxim the movie conveys despite so much pathos…

Meeting that patient earlier in the day seemed just like a heavenly intervention to make me appreciate one of the finest works in Bollywood...

Yes,I have finally grown-up enough to appreciate a work like ANAND~a movie which would be remembered as KAKA’s swansong,his best movie ever…So many lines from his movies have been doing the rounds since yesterday,none more than the ones from ANAND…

I’m grown-up enough to understand ‘lymphosarcoma of the intestine’ & its implications on the psyche of the sufferer…As if a coincidence,godwilling,I’ll be a doctor in 6 months time....

My patient earlier in the day had wept despite her best attempts to remain cheerful…Despite being in a curable stage,it was so difficult for her to remain cheerful…Imagining the psyche of a person who’s been told he’s got 6 months more to live is difficult even for those in the medical profession….

Kudos to kaka for taking on that role & enacting it in a way fit to be treasured & passed on to posterity….

I’ve grown up enough to feel the emotion conveyed in that immortal last line 
आनंद मरा नहीं , आनंद मरा नहीं करते "  a line which kinda reaffirms my childhood belief that HEROES never die…

His deaths in Aradhana,Anand,Safar & Andaz have led many to describe him as the person who made even death look endearing…He probably did
BUT
Shouldn't we concentrate on his ‘celebrate life’ maxim 
coz
जब तक जिंदा हूँ मरा नहीं,जब मर गया तो साला मैं ही नहीं ”-Anand(1970)

Courtesy~satish acharya's page
                                  Rest in peace ‘Superstar’

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Very well written, Hitesh !!

    It's nice to see someone your age, appreciate a legend from a bygone era. This proves the belief that quality sustains the test of time.


    The kind of work Kaka ji did in his prime is absolutely incredible.

    His choice of films tell us a great deal about the kind of person he was and the faith he had in his abilities.

    Khamoshi, Aradhana, Kati Patang, Amar Prem are all heroine oriented films.

    Dushman, Bawarchi, Roti, Ittefaq, Daag, Red Rose etc. are risky subjects.

    Anand, Safar, Bawarchi, Khamoshi, Haathi Mere Saathi etc. are heartwarmingly compassionate films.

    Namak Haraam, Do Raaste, Aap Ki Kasam, Andaz, Kati Patang, Dushman, Amar Prem etc. deal with important social issues.

    These are meaningful films with good messages.

    Hats off to Kaka ji for giving us such beautiful movies.


    The music of his films has, and will always stand the test of time. I just can't thank him enough for giving us such wonderful songs.


    Rajesh Khanna saab was a true legend. He was, and will always be a Super Star !!

    You rightly said, 'Heroes Never Die'.

    Rajesh Khanna will live forever !! His stardom, his magic will live forever !!

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  4. My 10 Favourite Rajesh Khanna Songs !!

    http://asherxai.blogspot.in/2012/07/my-favourite-rajesh-khanna-songs.html

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  5. Thank you for those generous words Akhil sir :)

    I really envy your generation for the kind of cinema,especially the music,you were exposed to while growing up...I remember talking about old films to my mother when I was much younger but I had never talked films with my dad...

    I didn't call up my mom as the reporter had suggested...Instead,I rang up dad & got a first hand account of the frenzy surrounding KAKA from someone who had entered college in 1968...

    Yes,Mr. Rajesh Khanna will live forever through his songs...Btw,your list of his top 10 songs isn't much different from mine :)

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  6. The ease with which (Rajesh)Jatin khanna used to execute romance as well as tragedy scenes is stil uncomparable and unreachables for stars/superstars who came after his era.

    May his soul leave in peace.....................

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  7. You might want to do bit of soul searching and check if you're Kishore Kumar fan or were KAKA fan indeed?
    Because as you mentioned, you were never inspired or moved, by his acting skills. Actor's contribution to a song is very minimal and only limited to bringing it to mass audience.

    KAKA ruled millions of hearts, and precisely his following consisted mostly of damsels, there is a reason for it. Guys prefer flicks with action and science and logic (did you think of Matrix and Inception just now? :)), and mostly are incapable to appreciate the subtleties of romance, which Rajesh Khanna used to bring so artistically live on screen.

    I was never a 'KAKA' fan and I did feel pinch of sadness on his demise, more so due to his state at time of his death, but I didn't feel a vacuum that was left, which perhaps I would feel when Mr Bachchan's time would come (hope not for next 30 years).

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  8. thanks for using my sketch in ur blog...Kunal Gupta

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