What a man! What a journey!
My heartfelt thanks to all those who shared the pain of my father’s departure with so much love, appreciation, and regret.
Itna pyaar.. itni izzat.. itni duaaein…
Yahi toh hai 70 saalon ki asli kamai...
From 10 to 81 years of age, all he breathed and lived was cinema. After losing his father at the age of 7 and losing everything else that existed of a good life after the partition, it was a head-to-head combat with poverty and survival on the footpaths of Mumbai. An 8-year-old with his mother thrown head first into the ocean. It was either sink or swim. So he swam. From working in small-scale tin factories, to making kites, selling soap, to walking behind a maalishwala, holding his canister of oil and shouting ‘Maalish, tel maalish’. At 10 years of age what destiny chose for him, as the light at the end of the tunnel, was cinema.
The journey began with BR Chopra sahab’s first film Afsana (shot in ‘49 but released in 51) and as the adage goes ‘a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’, there was no looking back. His father figures and guides were the likes of Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Mehboob Khan, K Asif.
From the most natural child actor I have witnessed in Hindi cinema to a sensitive leading man, to the craziest improv comedian with impeccable timing in latter years, he never failed to entertain and amaze.
The best of directors, producers and co-stars like Dilip Kumar, Guru Dutt, Balraj Sahni Kishore Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Ashok Kumar Johny Walker, Mehmood, Helen, Nanda, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Leela Mishra, Aruna Irani, Kanhaiyalal, Jeevan, Feroze Khan, LV Prasad, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Shatrughan Sinha, Rekha, Rajesh Khanna, Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Rajshri Productions, Subhash Ghai, Salim Khan, Javed Akhtar, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Amrish Puri, Danny Denzongpa, Rajkumar Santoshi, Inder Kumar, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and many more, were and are, full of love and praise for him.
The word ‘legend’ is thrown around freely these days but in his case it is so amply justified.
A father who taught me the values of life, the lessons of poverty, the importance of dedication and the finesse of craft, with innumerable stories of positivity and inspiration. Always smiling, with words of encouragement for all, and reminding me that true success is gauged by what one ‘is’ and not what one ‘has’, and by ‘what’ one knows and not ‘who’ one knows.
What a man, what a journey.
Hindustaan ke logon ko do cheezon se bohot lagaao hai, ek hai Ma, doosra, Cinema. Mere father ko bhi in donon se behad lagaao tha.
I would like to end with his favourite couplet which his Maa quoted under dire straits and which he constantly used as a reminder – “Woh manzil kya, jo aasaani se teh ho; Woh raahi kya, jo thak kar baith jaaye”
Magar afsos zindagi kabhi kabhi thak kar baithne per majboor kar deti hai. Hausla bulund hota hai par jism saath nahi deta.
To the man I called ‘papa’ and who the world knew by his various avatars, SALAAM !!!
Aapka naam Sooorma Bhopali ayysaee naee tha!