Saturday, November 22, 2014

Amol Palekar ~ Middle Class Man Next Door by : Niilesh A Raje

Born In Lower Middle Class Family

Amol Palekar was born in a lower middle class family to Kamlakar and Suhasini Palekar in Mumbai. His father worked at the General Post Office while his mother worked in a private company along with his three sisters. He admits that it was his parents who thought him to take pride in whatever work they did. This was his biggest motivation in life.

He came from a lower middle class background. They did not even have a radio of their own. On the contrary they used to listen songs at their neighbour’s home. But their family upbringing thought each one of them the value and respect for money knowing the fact the way his parents worked hard to earn it. He gives the whole credit of this to his parents (Baba and Aai) who trained him to make his own bed, sweep the floor or be it assisting in the kitchen.

The Turning Point

When young he was very innocent by nature coupled with his simple lifestyle. He was always a good student and used to get good ranks and always within the top 10. To overcome his innocent nature and to get the pulse of the outside world and gain experience his parents decided to get him admitted to a boarding school in Gholwad village Dahanu Taluka post passing his class ninth. It was here that he got fascinated in the world of Arts and Marathi Literature. 

It was Amol Palekar's second or third day in the boarding school while in class tenth his school teacher had given the class an essay to write and the topic was "Pravas Varnan" (प्रवास वर्णन). The essay penned down by Amol Ji was highly appreciated and was read by his teacher in front of the whole class.

Teacher asked Amol to meet him after the class gets over. While he met his teacher after the class his teacher asked him if he had read the following book "Rutuchakra" by the prolific writer Durga Bhagwat. Teacher asked him to read this book which was there in their school library. 

Teacher, also made it clear reading this book "Rutuchakra" has nothing to do with his school syllabus nor would he would be getting any extra marks for reading this book from the school library. This episode with his school teacher served to be the turning point in his life then. The first episode being his parents getting him admitted to boarding school. Might be his school teacher must have got the pulse of his artistic ability quite early in school itself post reading his essay.

After he cleared his SSC exams, Amol Palekar decided to dabble in fine arts rather than becoming a commercial artist. His father (Baba) asked him if I was prepared to lead a life of struggle and his immediate answer was yes. His parents allowed him to take the decision of his life then which indeed gave him encouragement in the odyssey of life.

Amol Palekar, passed out his Post Graduation in Fine Arts from Sir JJ School of Arts, Mumbai post which he commenced his artistic career as a painter which was distinguished by his seven one-man exhibitions along with his participation in many group shows.

Journey from Bank of India to Actor

Amol Palekar started working with Bank of India. He worked during the day and pursued his passion towards painting at night. One thing he was very clear about was he didn't want his passion for painting to be dependent on his earnings. So, from 9 am to 6 pm, he worked full time in Banking profession and post 6 pm as a painter.

Career in Films

Amol Palekar, as an actor, ruled the silver screen for over a decade from 1970. His charming image as a ‘boy next door’   carved an unparallel niche in contrast to the larger than life    heroes prevalent at that time in Indian cinema. He received three Film Fare and six State awards as Best Actor. Amol Palekar made his acting debut in 1971 with the noted Marathi film Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe directed by Satyadev Dubey. In 1974, he was cast by Basu Chatterjee in Rajnigandha, and later Chhoti Si Baat. This led to many other such roles in mostly alternative cinema. He is noted for his image of the "middle-class every man" in movies like Gharonda, Baaton Baaton Mein and Gol-Maal. While choosing to concentrate on filmmaking, he decided not to act after 1986.

Toe-Tapping Numbers

Amol Palekar has not only entertained each one of us with his signature style as middle class man next door but has also captivated the ears of many music lovers even today with his toe tapping numbers. 

Some of the notable numbers (if not all) from the movies where Amol Palekar is seen in the songs includes : 

Gori Tera Gaaon Bada Pyara, Jab Deep Jale Aana Jab and Aaj Se Pehle (Chitchor)

Na Jane Kyon Hota Hai Yeh (Chhoti Si Baat)

Aanewala Pal Janewala Hai and Golmaal Hai Bhai Sab Golmaal (Gol Maal) 

Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuchh Kaha, Uthe Sabke Qadam, Baton Baton Mein, Suniye Kahiye (Baton Baton Mein) 

He firmly believes one's life is about exploration. He doesn't believe in God, Spirituality means nothing much to him. Amol Palekar came in at a time when Superstar Rajesh Khanna and angry young man Amitabh Bachchan were at their peak. Be it his short innings of a shy or as a middle class hero but for the common masses Amol Palekar gave a good family entertainment whom we still remember as the young Tony Braganza.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Niilesh A Raje with actress Rohini Hattangadi

Super Saturday : With actress Rohini Hattangadi an eminent Indian film, theatre and television personality. She played the role of Kasturba Gandhi in Richard Attenborough's biographical film Gandhi. Well known for her role as a Mother that brings out all her emotions in her work . . . 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sachin Tendulkar : Playing It My Way (My Autobiography) ~ by : Niilesh A Raje

Sachin Tendulkar (Co-Writer : Boria Majumdar)
Hachette India Private Limited
Rs 899/-

It reminds me how the Champion NBA player Kobe Bryant of Los Angeles Lakers once responded in an interview, "There are certain people that have a tremendous hunger. There are certain people that have a will, determination and hunger that you need to be the best in the world. Those people and those people alone become champions." Sachin Tendulkar has been no exception. He puts in all his blood loves playing the game of cricket with meraki. Other word for Sachin I could think off immediately at this point of time being altitudinarian. 

Last week while I was back home from work switched on the television to watch news while having my dinner the only thing that was shown on all the news channels for extended length of time was the coveted book launch the autobiography of the greatest batsmen of all times holding the title "God of Cricket" namely Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Publisher Hachette India has come up with his autobiography titled Sachin Tendulkar: Playing It My Way. Even today’s new movie releases would not get so much electronic media coverage as much as this star studded book launch got it which was followed by panel discussions.

Let me take this opportunity to pen down the book review on Sachin Tendulkar’s latest book his autobiography.

His Father’s Words

Born to a Maharashtrian family in Mumbai’s based in Bandra Sahitya Sahawas Colony having two brothers and a sister and Sachin being the youngest. His father, Ramesh Tendulkar was an acclaimed Marathi poet, critic and professor while his mother Rajani worked for the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) office based in Santacruz.   

The very first chapter in this book titled “Childhood” talks about the words of his father that are registered in his mind even today. If you remain humble, people will give you love and respect even after you have finished with the game. As a parent, I would be happier hearing people say, “Sachin is a good human being” than “Sachin is a great cricketer”.

The teaching and upbringing from his parents and blessings he receives from his fans spread across the globe makes him the admired and respected personality.

Love can’t be arranged it just happens (The Best Partnership)

The book would not be complete if there is no reference to his wife Anjali the best partnership of his life who has been with him always in his best as well as bad times - Anjali Mehta becomes Anjali Tendulkar. It was on Sachin’s 21st Birthday that they both engaged.

The curiosity factor always remains in the eyes of the common masses how and where Anjali met his better half. Well, Sachin had just landed in Mumbai from the 1990 tour of England and was waiting to pick up his bags when he saw an extremely attractive woman looking down from the viewing gallery in the airport. Anjali was wearing an orange T-shirt and blue jeans. While coming out of the airport his dear friend Sachin Harshe said softly in ear’s of Sachin that a very good looking girl was calling his name and was very keen to meet him. But, with his brothers Ajit and Nitin around Sachin was too apprehensive to speak or meet Anjali in person. The fact is love can’t be arranged it just happens.

Comprehensive Autobiography

A very interesting and comprehensive autobiography I must say with interesting anecdotes. Those were the days when Sachin was not out on 94 at the end of the first day. Just few days before this match Sachin had invited his mentor Mr. Ramakant Achrekar at his home for dinner. Sir, agreed for his dinner invitation but only on the day when Sachin would score his first hundred in school cricket. The next day Sachin who was not out on 94 on day one scored his hundred and true to his words Mr. Achrekar came to Sachin’s home for dinner that night which was the most satisfying moment for him.   
The book has been supplemented with many colored pictures including the notes of his speech that Sachin carried with him on his last day in International Cricket. What I like about Sachin is apart from the profound respect he has towards his parents it’s also the reverence he has towards many individuals that came in his life especially to sum it up in his own words his Sir Mr. Ramakant Achrekar. When people get exalted success the tendency is to get carried away and forget one’s own mentor which is not healthy. Well, experience enriches our life and we should learn from such role models in the journey of our life.

To the voice of all my readers Happy Reading !!! Sachin Tendulkar: Playing It My Way. I do hope you all find reading his autobiography enlightening as much as I did. To sum it up in Sachin's own words it is his life between 22 yards for 24 years.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rajesh Khanna: Massive Success, Bloated Ego and Dramatic Downfall ~ By : Niilesh A Raje

At the beginning I would like to Thank all my readers and the lover’s of Bollywood for their kind words of appreciation and suggestion on different personalities on whom I should pen down my future articles. Your observations motivate me to read more, research more and amplify my thoughts my emotions over the written word.

Last month I wrote a small piece on the Living Legend and the Superstar of the Millennium Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. So many books have been authored on Big B and would be in the future as well. But, when I learnt in recent times that Gautam Chintamani (author) has now come up with his first book titled, Dark Star - The Loneliness of Being Rajesh Khanna a HarperCollins Publication what intrigued me is the fact why there had not been many books written earlier on India’s first Superstar Rajesh Khanna. The reasons might be innumerable however I am glad that author Gautam Chintamani with his deep research and prolific writing made efforts to come up with his first book on Rajesh Khanna. Gautam is a born cinephile and also a popular columnist across many leading National Publications. In a short chat with the author and post reading his book an impressive read I take this opportunity to pen down a short summary review of his own book.

At this juncture it also reminds me of the wonderful lyrics and the song casted on the Superstar Rajesh Khanna, "Chand Taaron Se Chalna Hai Aage Asmaanon Se Badna Hai Aage  Pichhe Reh Jayega Yeh Zamana Yahan Kal Kya Ho Kisne Jaana  Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana  Yahan Kal Kya Ho Kisne Jaana”. Lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri fetched the Filmfare Award for this lovely number.

Rajesh Khanna (Massive Success, Bloated Ego and Dramatic Downfall)

If today we were to relate this number to Rajesh Khanna was it a mere coincidence that this song was casted on him or was it that Almighty was giving him indications on his journey ahead in tinseltown. To me the name Rajesh Khanna registers three things in my mind: His massive success, bloated ego and the dramatic downfall. Mind the sequence success, ego and then downfall. Were they all interlinked? I thought so “Yes” but not until the author Gautam and his book provided me deeper insight and convincing response.

Early Days and Massive Success

“Superstar” the word was coined by the media for Rajesh Khanna. With seventeen massive hits to his credits in a short span of just over four years Khanna felt this phase would remain for eternity. He was originally born as Jatin Khanna to middle class parents and was later adopted by rich relatives who brought him up like a prince. His adoptive Mother wouldn’t allow anyone to go anywhere near his room in the morning till Kaka woke up on his own. Even when it came to going to school it was the man himself Rajesh Khanna more than anyone else who would decide whether he wanted to attend the classes or not. He used to tell his friends if he asked for five rupees he would get ten from his parents. The time when Rajesh Khanna won the Filmfare United Producers Combine Talent Hunt, as a struggler he was already famous as person who drove an imported sports car. The impact of his success was so much that short anecdote from the book says, While Khanna was shooting for “Prem Kahani” at Mithibai College a fakir in the vicinity went about begging for alms from the crowd not in the name of the Almighty but in the name of the Superstar then Rajesh Khanna. Such was the hysteria generated by the Superstar then amongst the common masses.      

Bloated Ego

First it was his massive success then came in his bloated ego and how one’s exalted ego can bring down an individual from success to mediocrity a lesson we must learn looking at the life and times of Rajesh Khanna. It’s rightly said, “Where love enters ego takes the exit and where ego enters love takes the exit”.
However, if one does read this book closely coupled with good research done by the author it can be distinctly seen that the man's ego was not a by-product of his success. On the contrary the ego was always there and as large as ever.

It can be read in the book, Shyam Keswani, the lawyer introduced to Khanna by Shakti Samanta, is certain that even if Rajesh Khanna had ventured into business had been a railway contractor or even clerk for that matter his ego would have still remained the same. Rajesh Khanna was always impetuous and people got the pulse it was more especially after the string of hits post his movie Aradhana. “Success changed the attitude towards him and as long as hits were piling up no one seemed to mind his brashness.”

Dramatic Downfall

Looking at the picture above one thing is quite evident that time does change many aspects and priorities of one’s life. Not all days in one’s life are similar and so were they in the life of the Superstar Rajesh Khanna. There was a time where everything he touched into gold now came in the phase when everything he touched turned into dust. His imported cars were exchanged for Maruti 800 and his 555s were replaced with Gold Flake. He hoped Politics would give his life new direction but to no avail as a new and more dependable individual was seen then in Sunil Dutt. Khanna's role as Father in the 1999 release "Aa Ab Laut Chalen" wasn't widely applauded at box office as there was Mr. Amitabh Bachchan's Mohabbatein year 2000 release that fetched Big B his Filmfare Award for the Best Supporting Actor.

Admire the good writing, the patience and deep research it took for the author Gautam to come up with his debut book on this superstar Rajesh Khanna. The book is indeed a wonderful tribute by the author that covers the odyssey of Rajesh Khanna spread across four decades which had swept the nation at one point of time. Rajesh Khanna reached heights which nobody had done before him.

Lessons Learnt

There are many interesting lesson's one can learn post reading the book and by going through the life and times of Rajesh Khanna. To sum it up with a song from Khanna's very own movie, "Aap Ki Kasam" - Zindagi Ke Safar Mein Guzar Jaate Hai Jo Makaam Woh Phir Nahin Aate (We can never revisit the milestones we leave behind in the journey of life). However, big or small one’s achievements might be it would be always ideal to remain down to earth. Success and ego never goes hand in hand. One might win on their ego but eventually you are still a looser and you loose ahead in the battles of life eventually ending up disturbing one’s happy home. Be it the loneliness of being a superstar or be it a common mass ego leads you no where. Rightly coined by Kabir, “Speak without ego it will calm you and comfort others.” Zindagi Ka Safar Hai Ye Kaisa Safar . . . Koi Samjha Nahin Koi Jaana Nahin . . .     

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Niilesh A Raje with the award winning writer Dr. Shashi Tharoor

Pleasure meeting Dr. Shashi Tharoor an award winning writer, prolific author and second term Lok Sabha Member of Parliament representing Thiruvananthapuram . . . ~ Niilesh A Raje

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Niilesh A Raje with Kabir Bedi

Writer Niilesh A Raje in a freewheeling chat with the debonair Kabir Bedi one of the finest actors who has worked in three continents namely Bollywood, Hollywood and European Nations. A man with an impressive command over the language . .