This is a hilarious incident that has become a part of my memories of the Holi festival. Once in Bombay, right under my flight a group of Holi revellers, all kids, were at their most riotous, often getting scolded by passers-by for forcibly applying colours on them.
My granny of ripe old age, stood near the window excitedly watching the boisterous fun of the naught children. In her hand she held a bottle of digestive mixture, deep pink in colour that she wa)s shaking vigorously. She was about to consume it when one of the children saw her doing so. Immediately, he screamed, saying “Nani khelna chahti hai.” (Grand mom wants to play) Now the entire group raised their heads to the first floor,
Two of them just rushed to our flat headed straight towards the window to my grand mother and applied gulal to her sunken cheeks! We were really surprised to see my toothless granny without losing a moment pouring the carminative mixture on them!
She was poorer than a bottle of medicine but richer by the admirers she had gained by all this!
The strains of the melodious song “ Hum intezaar karenge” superbly rendered by Asha Bhosle greeted my ears as I entered composer Roshans home which I visited for an interview on behalf of the film weekly “Screen” in the year 1968. This song composed from “Bahu Begum” was being played in his drawing room. At the entrance of the home itself who should be there to welcome me but Roshan himself with his charming wife, both of whom presented a pleasant picture. The informal manner in which our meeting started held promise of an interesting interview. Already feeling at home, I began the conversation by congratulating him for his fascinating song for the recently released film “Bahu Begum’” which also had another song “Duniya kare sawaal to hum kya jawaab dein”. It took me not long to observe he was a rather shy person. To make him more comfortable I asked him to play his song too. His wife readily obliged with a smile. I simply adored this composer whose creations in any genre whether it be filmy dhuns, bhajan ghazal or qawaalis had a melody which was difficult to match. A classical touch pervaded some of the songs which made for a pleasant fare. He started to tell me about his musical journey. Like most persons who seek a career in filmdom, he too had his share of struggles. After his stint at the Lucknow radio station where he met his future life partner Ira who was a Bengali (Roshan Nagrath was a Punjabi) he migrated to the citadel of filmdom Bombay in 1948. After assisting a small time composer, he came in contact with veteran director Kedar Sharma . Roshan was entrusted the musical score of film “Neki aur Badi” whose failure at the box office did not deter Sharma from engaging Roshan for “Bawre Nain” which saw huge success. The songs from this film “Khayalon mein kisika” crooned by Geeta Dutt and the one with the rustic flavor song “Sun bairi balam kuch bol re ib kya hoga” courted great popularity. I knew all about this and much more beyond it till the last phase of his career I had become a diehard fan of his having fully savored the subtle beauty of his songs like the devotional “Ae re main to prem deewani” or the emotion laden “Rehte the kabhi “ from Mamta : the philosophically worded “Oh re taal mile nadi ke jal mein”; the evergreen “Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi wo barsaat ki raat’ ; the FIlmfare award winning, the perennial favourite “Jo vaada kiya wo nibhana padega”, to name few of many hits. When I expressed my admiration for his mastery over melody, the gentle composer just acknowledged with a smile. I could not help heaping praise on his iconic qawaali,” the mother of all qawaalis “as it is hailed, “Na to caravan ki talash thi” unusually long and vibrant that could easily enliven the dullest atmosphere. Countering my opinion that no one could match its marvelous quality he made haste to say that there were so many other qawaalis that fit into my description. The credit should be shared equally by the singer and the lyricist, he said. He told me he had immense love for classical music in which he had sufficient training. While I wanted to ask a question on this aspect, the maestro told me “be good enough to have a leisurely lunch with me. We can continue without talk later.” On my refusing point blank, he openly showed disappointment. ON his insisting further I agreed, the homely atmosphere making me feel as if I was a family member. The table was laid by Roshans wife herself. I was in for another surprise as she herself started doing the culinary chores. I could hear the sound of rotis being rolled out. Roshan and I sat down to lunch while his housewifely wife started serving us hot rotis one by one making sure that the rotis were straight from the tava. Here I felt a little ill at ease. While I felt honoured to have my lunch with the famous maestro the fact that his wife was at the kitchen slugging for us, made me embarrassed. I made my way into the kitchen to enquire her lunch. She gave a reply that she had kept a ‘vrath’ for the health and long life of her husband. Having finished the lunch, the chat went on. Roshan said, he had achieved full satisfaction in his career having had enough opportunity for putting to use his knowledge of classical music as in the musical score of Kedar Sharma’s “Chitralekha” The songs “Man re tu kahe na dheer dhare” and “”ye ri jaane na dungi’ being special to him. “Aye re main to prem deewani” in raag Bhimpalas in “nau Bahar” also was one of his favourites, he added. Throughout the chat nowhere could I found even a shadow of ego, the I and the mine being totally absent. A pleasant smile was naturally on his lips. His expressions did not vary. A calm exterior reflected the inner peace and contentment. And the lunch part of the interview? It was not as if they could not afford a cook. Ila’s herself cooking the food and the in ostentatious way y of laying the table and the serving of the lunch as in the style of a middle class family spoke of their simplicity. During the last few years by dint of hard work that led to his popularity he had become quite affluent, possessing even an expensive limousine. In spite of this the answer that I received for the question I asked as to whether he was keen to see his sons Rakesh and Rajesh step into his shoes was a bit surprising. His opinion was that he would not object to it, if they opted for this line which however, could not guarantee a stable secure life. “The out of work periods which are inherent in this line could be quite agonizing”, he said, with a thoughtful expression. The interview long over, I left with sweet memories of the time with the famous composer. But hardly a few days had passed when I came across the news of his sudden demise in the newspaper. It came to be known that at a party he attended his uncontrolled laughter at a joke cost him his life. Being a heart patient this stress led to cardiac arrest. Then I realized why his devoted wife kept ‘vrath’ frequently. His life was not too long; it was cut short at 51. But indeed he lived a full life, leaving a veritable treasure of heart touching soul-elevating songs of everlasting quality. As far as the frank opinion about the uncertainty in the line, luckily neither his sons, Rakesh and Rajesh Roshan and his grandson, the darling of millions Hrithik Roshan have not been its victims. They have reached a stage where there is little possibility of such a situation.