Lijit Ad Wijit

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scotland Picture Diaries: Music in Interesting Times

Rajashree Gore & I on the T2 terminal of the
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
We live in interesting times. These are times of political and civil unrest. Not just in India but in the whole world. Today, on the 18th of September, Scotland goes in for a referendum. There are some moments which define history, some moments that change its course. Tomorrow will be one such moment.

Just two weeks prior to this referendum, I happened to be in Scotland for a programme organised by the Marathi Mandal of Scotland, Glasgow on the account of their Ganesh Festival celebrations. I had been to Scotland once before but only for a brief period of two days.

Rajashree Gore, talented singer and colleague was accompanying me on this trip. Our Emirates flight was to Glasgow with a brief halt at Dubai.

I was aware of the general unrest brewing in Scotland due to my previous trip to Aberdeen last year. At the time, I was told by the Marathi speaking Scottish citizens that Scotland had a party called the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) which they had interestingly compared with Raj Thackeray's MNS.

This time around the atmosphere in Scotland was definitely politically charged with houses, establishments sporting a 'YES' or a 'NO THANKS' sign on their facades. I am kicking my leg for not taking at least one picture of the boards. I do pride myself on being politically aware but missed out the significance of such a vital photograph.

A Street in Aberdeen
We arrived in Glasgow and on the same day headed towards Aberdeen. Aberdeen is a beautiful city on the northeast of Scotland and is known as the Oil Capital of Europe. We stayed with a friend, Vishwas Shinde, a Scottish citizen proud of his Marathi roots. Most of the Marathi immigrants to Scotland work in the Oil & Petroleum industry. I talked to almost everybody I met about the impending referendum. The reactions were mixed. Vishwas Shinde himself was for a YES and his 12 year old daughter was for an emphatic NO. She has grown up in Scotland and gave her reasons (mainly economic) for staying with the Union. The mother was more with the daughter than the husband! So in the Shinde household the majority was for a NO, THANKS with a vote of 2:1!

The next day Mr Shinde took us for a drive to Inverness, a scenic town to the northwest of Aberdeen. Following are some of the pictures that I clicked in and around Inverness.
On the way to Inverness

Vishwas Shinde, Rajashree and I in Inverness

The River Ness in Inverness

Scotland is extremely serene. If you allow yourself the luxury of not thinking, you can virtually experience time stopping. We stopped by this lake and that is exactly the feeling that I got.

A lake in Scotland

Our next visit to Scotland was to Urquhart Castle, which is again a glowing symbol of the fierce Scottish National pride. Read the wikipedia article on Urquhart Castle to know more about it. One is compelled to compare their preservation of monuments with ours. And even the serene atmosphere for a minute disturbs us, when we think about the irreverence we show towards our national monuments.

Castle Urquhart

Even the remains and the ruins are well cared for.

The Lonely Bagpiper (Catch the video below)

What fascinated me at the Castle Urquhart was the presence of a sole bagpiper playing a melancholy tune. I took a video on my iphone. I think one of my best candid catches of the trip.

Prashant Kurle's depiction of Ganapati as Sir William Wallace.
In the evening after the beautiful drive, we paid a social visit to a Ganapati celebration at the residence of Shri Prashant Kurle who had himself made a very interesting Ganesh idol. The idol was dressed in the clothes of Sir William Wallace, a Scottish land-owner who fought for the independence of Scotland. Sir William Wallace happens to be the subject of the Mel Gibson movie, Braveheart. In the times of the referendum, it seemed to be an interesting political comment. In Maharashtra, we see politically relevant 'dekhaave' (visuals) in Sarvajanik (Public) Ganeshotsav Mandals, but Ganapati as William Wallace was still a new one! Notice that in the picture the two towers hold flags of the UK and Scotland, but Ganesh's mouse holds the flag of India! Draw your own conclusions!
Performing in Glasgow

We returned to Glasgow to give our performance. The programme was titled Eka Sangeetkarachi Mushaphiri (Wanderings of a Music Composer). Among other songs, I talked about the Marathi Abhimaangeet. There were no native Scots in the auditorium and yet as I spoke about the song, I got the feeling that the desire to sustain and preserve a language and a culture sometimes overtakes economic compulsions and is a much more powerful emotion. It would be a serious mistake to disregard or even dismiss emotions as being irrational or illogical. Sanity does not always reside in logic. As Alfred North Whitehead so rightly puts it.
"Logic is the soul of wit, and not wisdom. That is why wit is so funny."
After the performance with Dhananjay Modak and Rajashree Gore
The Scottish people are demanding independence not just because they feel that they are in a bondage. They feel that this is their only chance at sustaining their culture and language and as a result, their identity. The English have threatened them in the language they know - that Scotland won't be able to use the Pound once it is granted independence. In doing so, they might have just showed their ignorance about the will of a motivated people. Do read about the concerns of the sustainability of the Gaelic language in this article.

The Marathi Abhimaan Geet received a rousing response in Glasgow. People rose to their feet to clap and some of them had tears in their eyes. There were a few Scottish technicians in the auditorium. I wonder if they could identify Marathi Asmita with the Scottish Asmita!

The next day we travelled to the Scottish highlands and also took a tour of a Scotch distillery - Glengoyne. Apart from the signboards of YES and NO, THANKS, nothing reminded us of politics.

The Glengoyne Distillery

At the Glengoyne Distillery

The Scottish Highlands

Loch Lamond
With Rajashree Gore & Joe Walters
We came back to London for a day where we met my dear friend, musician Joe Walters. Joe has his origins in Scotland. I asked him what he felt about the referendum and he said that he felt 'torn'. I looked at him and nodded. Sometimes, there are no sides to take and no hedge to sit on. I could very well understand his emotion. You just have to watch events unfold.

As my friend Yashodhan Gokhale wrote on his facebook wall, not a single bus is burnt, there is no sign of slightest of violence even in face of such politically charged atmosphere.

That is a sign of political maturity. I wish we displayed at least a fraction of it. Perhaps we will someday.

Looking back I feel that we live in interesting times and are witnesses of some great history unfolding. The only hitch is that we are not aware of it. The awareness might turn us from witnesses to those who shape history albeit in a small or even miniscule manner. On a personal note, the trip to Scotland reiterated my belief that music travels beyond the realm of entertainment.

© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sampooran Singh Kalra and Shrikrishna

On August 18, 1934, a boy was born to Makhan Singh Kalra and Sujan Kaur in the Jhelum District (now in the Punjab province in Pakistan). He was named Sampooran Singh. Sampooran (meaning Complete) had a flair for writing but initially worked as a car mechanic in Bombay. He renounced his name to adopt another one, but in doing so in fact justified his original name as he became 'Sampoorna' in every way - a poet, a storyteller, a screenplay writer, a prolific lyricist, a filmmaker and even a producer. Yes, you could say that Sampooran Singh became truly 'Sampoorna' as he perfected every aspect of filmmaking and storytelling. The name that Sampooran Singh adopted was Gulzar.

Eighty years later, it seemed interesting to me that Gulzar sahab's birthday should fall on Janmashtami (Lord Krishna's birthday according to the Hindu calendar). The feeling was further accentuated when Rahul Roushan on twitter put up a very relevant poster of the film 'Meera' which Gulzar sahab had directed. It struck me Shrikrishna might as well have been named 'Sampooran' had he been born in Punjab!

We know the Dashavatara of Vishnu as mythology but ancient Indian scriptures were not just about religion. Dashavatara is actually the Theory of Evolution told in parables. The first avatar - Matsya (Fish) is an aquatic being. Then comes Koorma (Tortoise), the amphibian. The third avatar is Varaha (Boar), a terrestrial animal followed by fourth avatar of Narasimha (Half man, half beast). The fifth avatar is Waman - the short man or the pygmy. The sixth - Parashuram (Stone Age Man) who works with iron tools. The seventh avatar is Ram (Administrator and social animal). The eighth avatar is Krishna, the Shrimant Yogi (The complete man.) Plato's Philosopher King is very close to the concept of Krishna! The only avatar above Krishna is Buddha (the Evolved Being). Buddha is more than complete! This can only be succeeded by the tenth avatar, Kalki (Destruction).

The coincidence also reminded me of Acharya Rajneesh's lecture on Meera. Rajneesh started off by saying that Meera was a calm lake and that he was inviting the listener on a cruise of this lake!

In his discourse on Meera, Osho Rajneesh says that it is significant that Krishna's symbol should be the peacock feather. It implies that Krishna has all the colours in him. He is complete. He doesn't have to rush to the Himalayas to find peace. He can stand on the battlefield and can be calm because the Himalaya is within him! His hand holds the flute and the Sudarshan Chakra! Gulzar may have done a lot of things in his lifetime, but poetry is his life; whereas Shrikrishna's life was poetry!

Gulzar's lyrics have often made references to Krishna even when there was no direct mention of Shrikrishna in the scene or the screenplay. For example in Mora Gora Ang Lai Le, Mohe Shaam rang Dai De (Sujata). In Phir Se Aiyo Badara Bidesi (Namkeen) and then again in Kajara Re (Bunty Aur Bubly) he makes reference to 'Kaali kamli wala'. Interestingly the phrase has been used for Krishna, Mohammed, Vishuddhanadji Maharaj, and Meher Baba! Quite like Krishna's peacock feather!

A very happy birthday to Gulzar and Lord Shrikrishna as well! Enjoy this song of Namkeen where the dark clouds (which is a good omen in this land of the monsoon unlike in the West where dark clouds are regarded ominous) are as abstract as Krishna or as abstract as Gulzar's poetry - whatever you choose!

Phir Se Aaiyo Badra Bidesi Tere Pankhon Pe ( Asha Bhosle ) RD Burman & Gulzar`s -Namkeen- by Coffee House

© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Staying Alive

The morning began on a surreal note. I woke up to find twitter abuzz with the hashtag of #RIPRobinWilliams and hushed mentions of suicide.

Suicide is always disturbing. May it be beautiful Jiah Khan or Viveka Babajee or even the forlorn Gurudutt, or the anonymous boy who jumps off from the terrace of a building after faring badly in his exams. Within the inner walls of the soul, some people live with a locked door to which the key melts as soon as the lever of that lock clicks. The walls of this inner sanctum are transparent but totally sound proof. People from both sides see each other, but none hears the other.

But Robin Williams was a comedian! That is the starkest truth about the whole matter. Not even a sense of humour saves you once you once you slip into the abyss of melancholy. Not fame, not money, not even a sense of humour.

Robin Williams, with his actor friends, Whoopi Goldberg and Bill Crystal started a huge charity called Comic Relief Inc., a charity that raised funds for the homeless. It would seem that there is a cure for homelessness, but none for hopelessness.

Is there a way out? I don't know. More often that not, we look for simplistic solutions to a very complex problem.

There is no simplistic solution. It is a dark world outside, but there may be a darker world inside which we all battle everyday, each moment. The only ray of light I see is in love. Love everything. That is why I find Kusumagraj, the Dnyanpeeth Award winning Marathi poet, a lighthouse. In his poem, 'Prem Yog' (प्रेमयोग) he advocates loving the fire of jealousy in Kansa's heart as much as we ought to love Radha's affectionate, tender breast. Because, writes Kusumagraj, Love is the essence of the human civilisation, the conclusion of our history, and the sole hope for tomorrow.

I pay my respects to Robin Williams who died a tragic death, but not before creating moments of happiness in the lives of many like me.

© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2014

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Bond with Kishore Kumar

As a child, I don't remember having cried at anybody's death or funeral. Death was, perhaps, beyond comprehension. Then as one went into teens, it was quite common to be imprisoned by the stereotypical theory of 'Boys don't cry'. So tears were resisted. But on the 13th day of October 1987, just 10 days after I turned 16, I cried a lot. There was no way that I could bar my tears from flowing. The reason was that Kishore Kumar had passed away.

It was heart-breaking. I remember that I went to the elevator and cried. I was myself surprised that I could turn sentimental. I never thought I was the type. But often one discovers oneself when one is off guard.

There is a lot that one could write on Kishore Kumar, his songs, his music, his acting, even his lyric writing and his movies. And I do propose to do it soon in my new blog - Rear Window. But that is not the purpose of this post. It was Kishore Kumar's birthday yesterday and I wanted to share one exclusive moment that I shared with his music.

I never had the good fortune to meet him, but I did share an exclusive moment with one of his songs. This song is not talked about much even among music lovers, but I think, happens to be among his best renditions.

It so happened that Sai Paranjape was hunting for a 'chawl' for her film, 'Katha'. (At that time the film was called 'Kachhua aur Khargosh'. They changed the name later probably for the ease of pronunciation.) The film starred Farooq Shaikh, Naseeruddin Shah and Deepti Naval. The chawl that Sai Paranjape finalised was in Pune and happened to be the residence of my maternal grandparents. My grandfather, Shankarrao Biniwale, a well-known violinist and my mother, Lalakari were well known to Sai Paranjape. (My mother was part of a children's music programme called Bal Durbar on Pune radio, which Sai Paranjape used to compere.)

The shoot of Katha was like a festival for the residents of Salunke Wada. The usually sleepy chawl had come to life with the hustle-bustle of the shooting and arrival of film stars. On their part, even the film stars behaved like an extended family of the residents of the Salunke Wada.

I had a long holiday in school and I visited my maternal grandparents often. This time I was surprised to see the chawl in such a gay mood. The first star that I saw was Deepti Naval. Dark and beautiful, I remember she was quiet and very dignified. Farooque Shaikh on the other hand was quite pally with all the local residents. When I went to him for an autograph, he signed my book with a smile and asked me in Marathi about which school I went to. When I told him I was from Mumbai, he said: "अरे वा! मीसुद्धा मुंबईचाच!" (I too am from Mumbai!)

Watching Katha takes me back in time. There are so many signs of the past in the film that nostalgia grips me every time I watch the film.

The scene where Leela Mishra gives a thalipeeth (a traditional Maharashtrian dish made with multiple flours) to Farooque Shaikh was shot in our kitchen. The curtains in Deepti Naval's house were made by my grandmother and the wall-hangings by my mother. My grandparents are seen in different scenes in the film.

But even today the one memory that holds sway over me is the shooting of the song - Maine Tumse Kuchch Nahin Maanga! Music director Rajkamal has some of the sweetest melodies to his name. But this is a rare song which was sung by Kishore Kumar. You don't associate Sai Paranjape's films with a Kishore Kumar song and this was one of the rare occasions! The shooting of the song was fixed for a night shift. Not only the unit and the actors but the entire Salunke Wada was awake to watch the shoot of this song.

When the song was played on the Nagra, it was magic. I was looking out of the window when Kishore Kumar's deep baritone voice filled up the entire space.

मैंने तुमसे कुछ नहीं माँगा
आज दे दो, सौ बरस से जगे इन नैनों को...
नींद का वरदान दे दो।

The beautiful lyric by Indu Jain, soothing music by Rajkamal, and exquisitely sung by Kishore Kumar. The scene was such that Naseeruddin had to catch the hem of Deepti Naval's saree as she went up the stairs and hold it and then she gently pulls it out of his hand and he releases it watching her go. The particular shot went into takes and retakes as the two veteran actors just could not get the timing right. Sai Paranjape was adamant (and rightfully so) that she wanted Naseeruddin to release the saree on a downbeat, but somehow that moment eluded him every time and he released the hem either too early or too late. It was quite a number of takes before the actors and the unit heaved a sigh of relief.

I'll never forget that final shot. It was too perfect!

Kishore Kumar has always been my favourite playback singer. But with this song, that bond became personal. Years have passed since that night and my grandparents have since then passed away. So have Kishore Kumar and Farooque Shaikh. A few years ago Salunkhe Wada, one day, simply collapsed and was razed to the ground due to indiscriminate building work around it. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Whatever remains now remains on a DVD. But, the moment I hear Kishore Kumar singing Maine Tumse Kuchch Nahin Maanga - my mind goes back to those vacations of 1982. Some memories can never be razed to the ground.

© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Religion is Love

I was the chief guest at a CD release function some time back. Dr. Shashank Inamdar, a music loving doctor from Goregaon composed music for an album based on the Ganapati Atharvashirsha. The songs were sung by veteran music composer Shridhar Phadke and sung by the supremely talented Sadhana Sargam. The function was held in Keshav Gore hall in Goregaon.

As the chief guest, I was asked to speak on the CD that was to be inaugurated. A strange fact struck me as I stood up to speak. I said that there are certain peculiar things that happen only in India. This was one such incident. That a doctor of medicine should produce music based on the Atharvashirsha and then it should be released in a hall named after a socialist leader at the hands of an agnostic - this can happen only in India! 

After the inauguration Dr. Inamdar hosted a small dinner for us at his residence. It was a small gathering. Shreedharji, Sadhana Sargam and Dr. Inamdar's close friends were present. The conversation shifted to a lot of different topics from politics to religion to music and to spirituality and psychology. The conversation also hovered around Narendra Modi and the Zubin Mehta concert. Shreedharji like his father Sudhir Phadkeji is unabashedly an RSS man. As he talked about his art and also his political convictions, conversation moved to his father, Sudhir Phadke and his music. 

I could not help but observe how art catalyses and lubricates the handling of multiplicity of identities in this wonderful country of ours. 

We all know how Sudhir Phadke and G. D. Madgulkar were from diametrically opposite political backgrounds. Sudhir Phadke was a Jan Sangh person while Madgulkar was a hardcore Congressman. We are told of a lot of incidents when these two stalwarts would not see eye to eye on their political philosophy. One particular incident that I vaguely remember having heard was when the Madgulkar, Phadke and Raja Paranjape got together for a music sitting during the film Lakhachi Gosht. The conversation travelled to politics and soon turned into a heated debate. 
Raja Paranjape told the songwriters - "In your political quarrel it is my film that is suffering." 
Madgulkar picked up the pen and paper and said, "Is that all? Tell me the situation."
Raja Paranjape narrated the situation of the song. Within 10 minutes, Madgulkar had already penned the song. He put down the paper and said in a huff- "Okay. Here is the song. I am leaving."

As he turned and reached the door, Babuji (as Sudhir Phadke is popularly known), called after him - "Won't you like to hear the tune before you leave? It's ready!"

The song was Dolyat Vaach Maajhya Tu Geet Bhavananche!

I have an old DD recording with me on VHS of a concert of the Pakistani Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali singing Chupke Chupke. And sitting in the audience - on the floor - next to each other are Kalyanji, Naushad and Sudhir Phadke. The excitement and bliss on Babuji's face is unmistakable when Ghulam Ali breaks into a taan and then arrives flawlessly on the sam. (The first beat of the rhythm cycle). Art fuses all identities and creates a bond that is beyond boundaries.

I have always been and continue to be a diehard fan of the Pakistani Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali. Some years back, while I was still in college, Ghulam Ali came to India for a private concert in Belgaum. As I knew the hostess of the programme well, I persuaded her to let me pick up Khansaheb at the airport. 
So along with my father and our driver, Rafique, both of whom were, like me, hardcore Ghulam Ali fans proceeded to the airport. The flight was delayed by 15 minutes. When Khansaheb appeared I told him that I had come to pick him up. His manager said that one of the musicians had yet to get his baggage. The expression in Ghulam Ali's eyes was that of utter contempt when he said, "what else do you expect in a country like India!"
I was a little shocked to see this artiste displaying open contempt for a country that has always welcomed him with open arms and has been a major source of his income. To tell you the truth, I was pretty miffed at this. But whatever the case, Ghulam Ali was, at this moment, a guest in this country and my culture (even as a 20 year old) did not permit me to be rude to him.

Then, Ghulam Ali sat in the car and as he rolled down the window, a cool breeze was felt entering the car. Almost as a reflex action Ghulam Ali hummed under his breath - "Ik zara si hawa ke chalte hi!" (As a gentle breeze blows)
I immediately caught on to the phrase and said, "Khansaheb, will you sing this ghazal tonight?"
He looked at me, amused.
"You know the ghazal?"

"Yes." I said. "Aa gayi yaad Shaam Dhalte hi."

Ghulam Ali looked at me with interest and appreciation and could not hide even the amusement in his eyes. He had a slight smile when he said:

"Dekhenge, bete, Dekhenge!" (We'll see, son!)

The rest of the journey from the airport to Hotel Sanman in the heart of Belgaum was pleasant conversation mostly dominated by my father and Ghulam Ali's manager-cum-friend, Badal (I don't remember his second name). Finally, when we arrived at the hotel, I accompanied Ghulam Ali to his room along with his luggage. He smiled at me kindly and said:

"Rehearsal dekhna pasand karoge?" (Would you like to watch us rehearse?)

I don't have to tell you that I jumped at the opportunity. In the evening all the musicians gathered in Ghulam Ali's room for rehearsal of the concert. The tabla player was a resident of Mumbai and he seemed nervous as he was playing with Ghulam Ali for the first time. One by one the musicians had a quick look at the songs that they would be singing in the night. I was like a small child in a toy shop! At the end of the rehearsal, Ghulam Ali looked at me with a smile and asked if I enjoyed. I was so full of joy that I just nodded enthusiastically.

That night as the concert began, Ghulam Ali opened with a thumri. The gathering was private and intimate, and I found myself a seat in the third row, quite close to the stage. After the thumri he sang his first ghazal, "Aa Gayi Yaad Shaam Dhalte Hi". This was the same ghazal which he had hummed while sitting in my car this morning!

The concert progressed like a dream. I couldn't believe that I was watching my favourite composer - singer LIVE! Ghulam Ali had his ghazals written in a book that was kept in front of him. It was a windy December night and the pages ruffled as the wind blew hard. Ghulam Ali was singing the ghazal - Para Para Hua Pairahan-e-Jaan (The clothing of the soul is torn to pieces). As he began singing his first she'r (couplet of a ghazal), koi aahat, na ishaara, na saraab (there is no presentiment, nor an indication , nor any mirage), the pages of his notebook ruffled again and he lost the pertinent page. He sang the first line of the she'r again and by now it was evident that he had forgotten the next line of that she'r. Being a die-hard fan of the singer, I had almost all his ghazals by heart. I quickly got up to my feet and prompted the next line of the she'r which was -

Kaisa veeran hai yeh dasht-e-imkaan (what a lonely place this desert in the heaven is!)

The highly appreciative Ghulam Ali raised his hand in an aadaab towards me and gave his trademark charming smile. The concert then cruised along. He was at his best and so was the audience which contained a lot of luminaries. The late Shashank Lalchand (veteran sound engineer), Bharati Acharekar, Vandana Gupte and Rani Verma and a lot of other celebrities were in the audience.

Khansaheb sang till 2AM and then said: "I'll take one last farmaish (a suggestion to the liking of the audience) as I am quite tired and have a long journey ahead tomorrow. So one last song of your choice!"

I jumped to my feet and called out for my favourite ghazal - Dil mein ik leher si uthi hai abhi. At the same time from the first row, Bharati Acharekar, Vandana Gupte and Rani Verma also gave a farmaish of a Punjabi song - Pata laga hundi ki judaai. It was three voices against one and Ghulam Ali started to sing the Punjabi number.

When he was done with the song, he shut the bellows of his harmonium and thanked the audience for their wonderful participation. It was 2:15 in the morning. Then all of a sudden he looked at me and opened the bellows once again.

"Yeh baccha mujhse aur meri mausiki se bahut pyaar karata hai aur sangeet ke chahnewale ka dil dukhana munasib nahin!" he said smiling in my direction. (This boy loves me and my music a lot and it is not right to hurt a music lover).

For the next 45 minutes he enthralled the audience with his amazing rendition of Dil mein ik leher si uthi hai abhi! I think that was his best rendition that day. Time and again he kept looking at me. It was from a musician to a music lover - As Dnyaneshwar says, from one heart to the other! All the boundaries between us seemed to have evaporated. There was no India - Pakistan, No Marathi - Urdu, No Hindu - Muslim divide as only the singer and the listener remained. The most sublime of all feelings!

As I sign off, I would like you to know that Sudhir Phadke, the RSS man you saw sitting on the floor, alongside Naushadji, listening to Ghulam Ali - yes the same RSS man! Do you know who sang the mangalashtakas (auspicious hymns sung in some Hindu marriages) in his marriage in 1949? Yes - you wouldn't have guessed - It was Mohammed Rafi!

© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2014

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


It is the birthday of Pyarelal Sharma today. I don't know how old he turns today. The music of Laxmikant-Pyarelal (LP) however refuses to turn old.

I can talk a lot about LP's music but I'll reserve that for some other time. One blogpost is not going to be enough for that. What I want to share today is my own memories of Pyarebhai. 

My childhood was spent in Dadar. Many people would reckon that Dadar is where Mumbai ends. Anything after that is a suburban affair. So I lived in Dadar for a long time of my life. My apartment was near Kirti College. The peculiar fact of my place of residence was that exactly opposite Kirti College is a building called UMA. Next to UMA is a tenement that is called the AHMED MANSION. It is ironical that tenements in Mumbai are called mansions! Ahmed Mansion is round the curve and next to Ahmed Mansion is AMEYANAND - the apartment block where I lived. Now comes the peculiar twist that destiny loves to give! Snehal Bhatkar, the composer of the famous song by Mubarak Begum, 'Kabhi Tanhaiyon Mein Yun Hamaari Yaad Aayegi' lived in UMA. Pyarelalji spent the initial part of his life in AHMED MANSION. And I spent my childhood in AMEYANAND! Three music directors of three different eras living on the same street! 

It is my good fortune that I met both the great music directors of the earlier eras. Snehal Bhatkarji I met soon after my college days when I interviewed him for a magazine. 

It was my good friend, Ajay Talgeri, who introduced me to Pyarebhai. Even today, on a Sunday, once in a month or two months, all the musicians who played for R. D. Burman get together in the Bhargava music shop and have lunch together. Ajay Talgeri who is a member of this lunch party was kind enough to invite me for this August gathering on one Sunday afternoon. It was one of the memorable afternoons of my life. I was among legends like Pt. Ulhas Bapat, the great keyboardist & accordion player, Kersi Lord, the multitalented Bhupinder Singh! It was a dream! 

After the lunch was over we went over to Kersiji's place in Bandra where Ajay Talgeri persuaded me to play the Marathi Abhimaangeet for Kersiji. I played the song. It was after he heard Maajhya Marathicha Bol that he put his hand in the pocket and drew out a 500 rupee note and handed it to me as a prize. I was overjoyed to receive a prize from a legendary musician who had played the accordion in Roop Tera Mastana or arranged the string section of Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho! It was then decided to pay a visit to Pyarebhai's Mount Mary residence. I was asked to come along. 

You can imagine how my heart must have been beating. Pyarelal of the Laxmikant Pyarelal fame!! And to visit his house!!! I realised this was going to be one of the most memorable days of my life! 

When we went to Pyarebhai's house we were greeted warmly by him and his charming wife. Kersiji and Ajay introduced me to him and asked me to play the Marayhi Abhimaangeet for him. Pyarebhai, most graciously gave his consent and listened to the song with great concentration. After the song was over he patted my back and said - "गाना बड़ा करना तो ख़ैर अलग बात है, लेकिन कमाल की बात ये है कि आपने धुन बड़ी अच्छी बनाई!" "(It is one thing to make a big song, but what is amazing is that you have made a very good tune.")
Those who know him well shall know what a compliment that is! 
His wife very warmly spoke to me in Marathi and said that henceforth she would talk to me only in Marathi!

I told Pyarebhai about how I lived near Kirti College and he was very excited to learn that. 
"I still visit my old neighbours there and next time I go there I'll visit your parents too!" That was the simplicity of the man. 

Three to four months later Pyarebhai had come to the sets of the Marathi SAREGAMAPA as a judge. I got a call from a producer friend saying that Rahul Saxena was singing one of my compositions in the episode in the presence of Pyarebhai and would I like to come over and witness the episode. I went gladly. I am giving the relevant clip below.

As I said in the episode of SAREGAMAPA Laxmikant-Pyarelal's music changed with the times but times also changed with LP's music.  From Hasta Hua Noorani Chehra to Choli Ke Peechhe Kya Hai LP's music saw everything! 

On his birthday, I wish Pyarebhai good health and great happiness - happiness multiplied by the happiness his millions of songs has given to billions of his fans! 

© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Two Obituaries.

20th August 2013 was a bleak day for Maharashtra. Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, crusader against superstition was assassinated by unknown assailants near the Omkareshwar temple in Pune. And Jyotirbhaskar Jayantrao Salgaonkar breathed his last at the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai. The quirk of destiny (for loss of a better word) and the irony of the events cannot be lost on anybody.

That Dr. Dabholkar and Shri Salgaonkar should die on the same day did not seem an irony enough so fate played a game even with locations of their deaths. Dr. Dabholkar, a man of medicine and an atheist was gunned down, reported the journalists, near the Omkareshwar temple; while Jyotirbhaskar left for heavenly abode in one of the most technologically up to date hospitals of Mumbai. The place of their deaths will forever be noted in history.

For all we know these may be random events and it is our compulsion that we envisage a brain or a doer behind every single event. But dimaagh hai ki maanta nahin! We rationalise every event, every single detail of the event. I say even attributing a series of events to destiny is rationalising.
Jyotirbhaskar Jayantrao Salgaonkar
Of the two people, I was acquainted with Jayantrao. My father and he served as trustees on the Siddhivinayak temple. My father is an eminent tax advocate and that was the reason why he was on board as a trustee. He was and continues to be a sort of an atheist. I met Jayantrao a number of times, mostly at cultural programmes. He was a good orator and well read man, in every way a scholar. I remember that I had invited him for the inaugural concert of Jhenduchi Phule, in which I had set to music Acharya Atre's parodies and satires.

I, like my father, being sort of an atheist have never indulged in rituals of my own accord. It so happened that the pitru-paksha had just started. Apparently, it is a belief that you ought not to buy new things or start new projects during this fortnight. It is considered to be a fortnight of mourning for ancestors. I was blissfully of unaware of all this and in his speech Jayantrao mentioned that he was surprised that I had inaugurated the programme in the pitru-paksha. He said that normally people don't embark on new ventures during this time. Then he congratulated me on not being superstitious about it and going ahead with the concert. He dismissed all apprehensions of any ill effects of starting new ventures in the pitru-paksha! And the reason he agreed to come, he said, was to quell this superstition!

Jayantrao was, more than anything else, a successful Marathi entrepreneur. I don't really know what to make of him as an astrologer as I never looked at him for any predictions. But Kalnirnay as a calmanac and as a magazine was Jayantrao's great contribution to the Indian ethos. He also sponsored a number of cultural events and encouraged the arts. 
Dr. Narendra Dabholkar
On the other hand I had no personal acquaintance with Dr. Narendra Dabholkar but I was and am in complete sympathy & support of the work he was doing. He was the voice of reason in a society desperate to stay unreasonable. I remember Dr. Dabholkar's appearance in Khupte Tithe Gupte. He invoked stories of Gadge Maharaj to prove his point. He was an articulate speaker and although passionate about his thought, his voice was never shrill. In fact, when he spoke, he reminded me a lot of Dr. Ashok Ranade. His speech was clear, studious, laced with wit and dipped in wisdom. Even in Khupte Tithe Gupte he expressed his displeasure with the Vilasrao Deshmukh government for stalling the Anti-Superstition & Black Magic Bill. He also expressed surprise that it was the members of the ruling party who actually stalled the bill. But not once did his voice betray a hint of anger or ill temper. After all his voice was the voice of reason in the cacaphony of unreasonable arguments. He told tales of Gadge Maharaj and quoted Tukaram verbatim without as much as a chit of paper in his hand. Dr. Dabholkar, I would say, came across as a very spiritual person. And this is not ironical. Spirituality has little to do with religion and absolutely nothing to do with superstition. 

What disturbs me however was that Dr. Narendra Dabholkar's death was not meant to be. His life was interrupted in the most gruesome and inhuman manner. As Hercule Poirot says in almost all his novels - "I don't approve of murder." And Dr. Dabholkar's murder was not just deeply disturbing, it was alarming. 

George Bernard Shaw said, "Assassination is an extreme form of censorship." I have a gnawing feeling that his murder was not the result of fanaticism; it was the result of a corrupt economic and political order. After all superstition, in any faith, is lucrative business. From the people who travel with naked feet to the Siddhivinayak temple to the Novena at the Mahim church to the public display of spiritual healing there is more money involved than spirituality or even religion. 

Aristotle said that democracy is the corrupt form of polity. The degeneration of a democracy is in a public dictatorship - dictatorship of the people, by the people, against the people. Dr. Dabholkar's assassination proves that. We live in times that has an excess of faith and a shortage of belief - not to mention an absolute dearth of tolerance. There is nobody more relevant than Voltaire today, who said - "I don't agree with what you say but I shall defend to death, your right of saying so."

And so while I feel saddened by Jayantrao Salgaonkar's death as I knew him as an acquaintance, it is Dr. Dabholkar's death that has moved me and changed something within me. It has been sort of a spiritual awakening. That their deaths came together reminded me that in their lifetimes they existed together and could grow together in opposite directions. Both, in their own ways, contributed to the society. Even today the Dabholkars and the Salgaonkars of our society continue to coexist. And a sane, tolerant society is one where they shall continue to coexist. 

© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2013
Note: The photos have been sourced from the internet. There is no intention to infringe the copyright of the copyright holders. Jayant Salgaonkar's photo has been sourced from wikipedia. Dr. Dabholkar's photo has been sourced from