Sunday, May 24, 2009


The proud residents of Vansada sing to Jaikishan - Ek But Banaoonga Tera Aur Pooja Karoonga!
By Sandeep Apte - Founder & Moderator : SJ Yahoo Group,

Bansda, Dist. Navsari, South Gujarat - 21st May, 2009

Hindi Film Music finally did itself proud! On May 21, 2009, the first ever larger than life statue of a Hindi Film Music Director was unveiled in Vansada - an obscure village of Gujarat, India. "Jaikishan Dahyabhai Panchal" was engraved on the plaque - a man known the world over - as the latter half of the all time great duo named - Shankar-Jaikishan!

I took a train from Mumbai the previous day and reached Valsad in the thick of the afternoon. Dr.Padmanabh Joshi and Rajnikumar Pandya received me at the station. A sedate, simple Gujju dinner and long conversations on SJ was the agenda for the night! We drove off for Vansada the next morning at 6.30 a.m. a journey that takes just about two hours!

The name Vansada comes from Bansada - Bans which is the Gujarati word for Bamboo. This is part of a thick forested of South Gujarat and the was green even in that blistering heat! We reached the main ground in the heart of the city which was the venue for the function! An arch, banners in Gujarati with Jaikishan's photograph - an elegant mandap on the ground created a nice festive ambience.Clearly, it was a big day for the residents of Vansada!Sure enough in just about a hour the place was full of music buffs from all over Gujarat and animated conversations in Gujju filled the air!

Our group members - Prashant Menon, Devendra Shastry and Qamaal Mustafa were also en route and reached the venue exactly on time. Swami Sachidananda - the man who made this event happen arrived followed soon by Anandji (of Kalyanji-Anandji fame) and his wife Kantaben. The function began and a large number of people were felicitated. The Maharaja of Vansada, Dr.Padmanabh Joshi, author of SJ biography, writer Rajnikumar Pandya et al.

A quiet, very elegant looking woman in her 80s was felicitated too. She was Jaikishan's sister who lives in Vansada even today! I would have loved to hear her speak about her brother. And then came the speeches which thankfully were brief. With my limited knowledge of Gujarati let me report what I could pick up!Swami Sachidananda made some telling points. He said many would wonder why is a Swami into Hindi Film Music! A Swami should sing bhajans and look down at Hindi Film Music! However, he added that times have changed and in today's world it is the music of the Golden Era which will keep the musical heritage of India alive!

Swamiji was very forthright and stated that for over three years when he was in a depression and it was the music of Shankar Jaikishan that helped him overcome the depression! He also added that on a trip to Europe he was astonished by the way artists and their contribution was valued in society and how they remembered their heritage which was sadly lacking in India! He wanted to change this apathetic situation and what better beginning than to make a statue of a son of Gujarat his home state - and so Jaiksihan!

And this is just a beginning he added! In fact, he went on to mention that the next statue he was planning was in Billimora and the artiste he had in mind was another son of Gujarat - Mehboob Khan!Rajnikmar Pandya's speech too was noteworthy. He told the residents of Vansada that their own Jaikishan had attracted so many people who are diehard music lovers and had travelled all the way! He mentioned some noteworthy folks like Prabhakar Vyas whose work on Radio Ceylon is simply mind boggling or Harish Raghuvanshi the co-author with Harmandir Hamraz of that consummate biography and song book of Saigal!

The next part of Rajnibhai's speech gave us group members goose pimples! Rajnibhai mentioned that he was going to talk about something serious and said he would read out one SMS from Mr Sudarshan Pandey from Kolkata!'Reverred Rajnibhai - it is a great thing that you are honoring Jaikishan but please do remember Shankar' - was the message! Rajnibhai said that this was a sentiment that all of us shared and how Padneyji's message stright touched a chord in the heart! The audience responded with a thundering applause!

Anandjibhai spoke - in his own smiling, lighter vein. He wondered why all Music director Jodis had one fair partner and one not so fair partner!And why the fair partner departed first! He added that after he noticed this phenomenon he had made it point to bring it to the notice of Nadeem too! And Nadeem went off to London! Anandjibhai added that he knew Shankar Jaikishan right from their struggling days in Girgaon and how they would all get together in the day for a cup of tea in the grocery shop and in the night pull down the shutters, pull out the harmonium and play melodies through the nights! He also recalled how Jaikishan would speak in Hindi in Mumbai but when chided by Anandji would smile and slip to Gujarati!

Dr. Padmanabh Joshi recounted some key aspects of Shankar Jaikishan. How both of them were creative geniuses who delivered consistently - he cited examples like how they scored two title songs for Hariyali Aur Rasta and both made it to the film. And also how they could create songs over night as in the case of Mere Bhains Ko Danda Kyon Mara!

The Maharaja of Vansada spoke too - unfortunately I could not follow his speech and the only thing I picked up was he recalled the time he played cricket with Jaikishan!After that was unveiling time and the Vansada folks had arranged a stylish, rather high tech remote controlled unveiling! Anandji did the needful as starins of Dil Ek Mandir Hain filled the space and lo and behold a handsome, garlanded Jaikishan was looking at his home town! That was the big moment and everyone rushed towards the statue and it was the usual crowded photo opportunity time. Everyone wanted to be photographed with the statue and with Anandjibhai!

Swamiji pointed out that lunch had been arranged for all and no one should leave the premises without having lunch! The Rangoli episode!Amidst all this a very touching event took place!Before he function began I noticed two young men carrying a beautiful Rangoli rendering of Jaikishan's photograph on a plywood plank!They placed it below the stage and it was admired by one and all! Someone in his enthusiasm tried to prop up the piece of plywood and whew - in a minute the entire creation was wiped out!"Excuse me, but did you guys take aphotograph of it?" whispered a vooice and Qamaalbhai and myself turned to see a flummoxed Manish the creator of the Rangoli portrait! "Of course we have" both of us chimed! We promised to send the photographs to Manish!

Somewhere the little accident had a significance! Here was another artiste of Vansada proudly displaying his creation and in no time he had found it wiped out forever! Such a sad fate should never be the lot of any artiste or their creations!Somewhere Jaikishan's statue would certainly symbolize the beginning of such a time!