The greatest and perhaps the only regret that I have for leaving Mumbai and coming to Sharjah is the logistic impossibility of meeting reputed artists in the music circle there. I just love those moments when I am able to meet musical persons whom I admire. Unfortunately the tag of 'NRI' has severely limited those golden moments!
But strangely another label of - 'Child specialist ' has proved to be my trump card. Yes, being a doctor has been a real boon in my interviewing endeavours. It has given me an unreal aura of being an intellectual and many an artist who are loathe to meet the quote-hungry journalists have agreed readily for meeting this music-minded medicine man! And how eventful these interviews have been!
One of the the most memorable moments was meeting Bhagwan - the dancing hero of the yesteryears who gave us musical hits like 'Albela'. I was watching from the wings a programme in which Mannada was being felicitated by Lata Mangeshkar. Suddenly an obviously overweight person was helped by a volunteer in the seat left of me. Even in the dark his identity as Bhagwan was well apparent and I greeted him enthusistically. Next forty odd minutes he was reminiscing about the glorious musical past with many interesting anecdotes about music directors and singers. I was just keeping him talking by reminding things which I knew. Finally he suspiciously asked me -" Are you a journalist?" When I told him that I was a doc who wrote about music, he just smiled and said," So you tricked me into an interview!"
That felicitation programme must count as a double delight as after some time another person slumped into the chair on my right and introduced himself as Ravi - the excellent composer of 'Chaudahavin ka chaand' , 'Humraaz' and 'Gumraah'. He also gave some rare insights about the film music during that programme. I don't even know what happened that night on stage but for me, my side-stage 'show' was a big success!
Manna Dey – then just past his seventy-fifth birthday, agreed to do the interview only after sternly checking and double-checking my credentials as the doctor. Still when I reached his place for the scheduled interview he excused himself to go for some other function making me wonder if he was a snob! Yet when we finally met what a wonderful person he turned out to be. For almost three hours we chatted about the past, present and future of Hindi film music and in the end he even sang a few lines in front of my video camera.
The biggest moment for me was when I interviewed Lata. She agreed to meet me during her recording session at 'Bombay Lab'. After the initial greetings I spent my next six hours just admiring the recording process. Then came the bombshell that she was leaving Mumbai the next day and it wasn't possible for her to do the interview. But somehow she could read the sincere desparation in my face and finally agreed for a telephonic interview . The scheduled time was 8-30 p.m. but till 10-45 p.m. I was just searching for a phone with external speakers to record the conversation. Then with great trepidation I phoned her bluffing about non-connection and quickly started with the questions. To my greatest surprise even after 45 minutes we were still talking about music with apparently no end in sight. Finally with heavy heart I had to wind up the proceedings as I had exhausted my questions!
So many memories - Anandji coming out to the lift to say 'good bye', Kalyanji compulsorily making me listen to the kids - singing, Hridaynath Mangeshkar surprising me by offering to record the interview , Khayyam's soft non-controversial style. All these musical encounters have made my world richer!
There have been regrets, too. Like missing out meeting the maestroes like R.D.Burman, Salil Chaudhury and Laxmikant when the