Back in the
days, on my way back from ATL, I decided to take a Parisian detour and stopped
in the city of art and love for a few days.
Paris......Its a gold mine for an artiste of all hue n colors. Paris is young,
Paris is feminine and Paris is beautifully healthy. A few minutes of stroll by
the river .....is enough for you to fall in love with it.. There is no other
I landed in
Mumbai and was trying to catch some sleep when I heard someone calling me out.
It was Mirza on his bike. So I went down and he drove me to our usual adda at
Nariman Point footpath. I was still sleepy and after a usual talk I wanted to
sleep. I made myself comfortable on the bench and slept. Mirza, realizing my
jet-leg situation allowed me to rest in peace.
hour or so when I woke up, I found Mirza reading a newspaper. He looked up and
" Yaar Ek Hafte Pehle Tum US main the, Kal Shaam Tak Paris Main,
Aur ab Footpath Pe So Rahe Ho!"
Farak Padta Hai? Arsh Ho Ya Farsh Neend Aani Chaiyye. Baki Sab Semantics
something else on my mind to discuss with Mirza, so I told him I want to
confess something. He put down the paper and look at quizzically.
Mirza, Main Ne Galti Se Paris Main Sharab Khayi Hai!"
down to "smell" me for sharab.
Beta Ab Tum Ne Sharab Peena Chalu kar Di?"
Main Sharab Nahi Peeta.....Main ne Sharab Khaayi Hai Paris Main"
Haram Hai......Tumhen Malom Tha Na?"
Peena Haram Hai......Lekin Main Ne To Sharab Khayi Hai!"
I told him
the whole story about one of the days when I got my "free hugs"
outside Amsterdam Church I felt hungry for "more", so I went to eat
at the nearest cafe by the river.
I could not
read the menu as it was all in French. I signaled a waiter and told him that
"No Pork for me". I chose one
good looking dish and and inquired if it was pork. The waiter realizing my
concern made sounds of chicken crowing "Kukdu Koo". I said Yes thats
what I want!!
exactly what he got me. It was tasty - very tasty and delicious. I enjoyed
every bite of it. But soon I started feeling a little "tipsy". My
body has zero tolerance for lies and Nasha and a small amount of it is enough
to make me feel weird. When I inquired from the waiter about the content of the
chicken dish, the waiter pointed his finger at the bottle of Red Wine and told
me in something in french. Apparently the chicken that I was served so nicely,
was marinated all night in wine and spices and which made it more tasty.
Kiya Hum Logon Ko Mullah Ke Paas Jaa Ke Is Ka Hal Maloom Karna Chaiyye?"
Usually Mullah Murge Ke Khilaf Nahi Bolta, Woh Us Se MarOub Hota Hai. Mullah
Tum Se Paris Ki Detail Lega aur Footage Khayega"
Mano To Jab Tum Agli Baar Kisi Jungle Main "Fabe Aiye Aala Rabbe Kuma
Tukazzebaan" padh Rahe Ho Tab Tum Apne Allah Miya Se Maafi Maang Lena. Woh
Raheem Hai...Maaf Kar Dega!"
Thats what I
Its been a
few years but even today Mirza brings up this story and reminds me how I slept
on a footpath. Even today I tell him the same thing that in the grand scheme of
things it does not matter where you sleep as long as you sleep. I am fortunate
to have frnds that are like me only. We are not born to carry weight of
unrealistic expectations of others. Why should I eat, sleep and carry my life
in a way that suits your immature fancy?
A friend of
mine once drove me in his brand new Mercez convertible at the speed of 150 MPH
( 230 KMPH) in Atlanta. In a few months he met me at Ville Parle station and
from where we took local to Church Gate in sardine packed compartment. Both of us did not compain about anything as
we had no time .... we were busy cacthing up on each other and laughing away to
This is the time n place I feel sorry for myself, being stuck like sardines in a local train. No matter where u go there is no escaping this in India. This is what others economists call the "population dividend" - a dividend I can live without.
So here I was pissed off n angry, more concerned about the health my MacBook Pro than myself. And suddenly a guy started singing a sad song:
" main ne chaand aye sitaron ki tamanna ki thi
mujh ko raaton ki siyahi kuch na Mila!"
I tried to inject some humor in a F&%$# Up situation so I told him " yaar ghar jaa rahe ho office nahi, u shud be singing happy song!"
He came back with " Ghar jaa raha hoon isi liye to sad song gaa raha hoon. Biwi hai ghar main. Aap to experinced honge"
Except perhaps I was always happy going home back in the days....
Agha Jaani Kashmiri, was a legendary writer n actor who wrote some of the memorable films in 40s, 50s, and 60s. Some of them are Anmold Ghadi, Humayun, Amar, Mujhe Jeene Do, Chori Chori and almost all of Joy Mukherjee's films. In fact he was the one who saw Joy, and pressured his father S. Mukherjee to allow him to act....saying he will take care of his diction and teach him acting.
Anyways. this post is not about him. Its about Ashok Kumar. The picture below is from his autobiography called "Seher Hone Tak", published in 1967 or so. He had dedicated his book to many frnds from the Industry and to Pt. Nehru. In this page he is dedicating it to Ashok Kumar with an interesting anecdote. He writes " Ashok Kumar is a 30 year old frnd, and it was he who dragged Ashok Kumar to Anmol Ghadi and Humayun".
Well, this post is about what he writes next. He says "Whenever I run into Ashok Kumar, he hugs me and says yes to everything I say - even though I may not see him again for a long time. Ashok believes in "Milo to Khush aur Na Milo to Aur bhi Zayada Khush".
That line gave me the 'aha' moment after I bought it from a raddi-wala on a footpath of Bhindi Bazar. This book made me and old man even when I was suppose to be a teenager. This book has lived in two different continents with me.....traveled to many cities internationally. It contains many gems, but the one I internalized was "Milo to Khsuh aur Na Milo to Aur bhi Zayada Khsuh"
Just think about it for a second.....
By believing and living with this dictum you are offering freedom to everyone in your circles. No one is be pressured to see you, at the same time no one is stopped from seeing you as well. Happiness is the result whether you meet or not.....
When frnds meet me after a long time or meet me daily or weekly, I thoroughly enjoy them. I go full throttle on my humor and laugh like there is no tomorrow! I seldom complain to anyone ke why you didn't meet or never called. For me, meeting me after many years is not the topic of reverence, what is important is what we are going to do next......
Coz I have set everyone free with by living Ashok Kumar Mantra " Milo to Khush aur na Milo to Aur Bhi Zadya Khush!"
"Shahid ji, how would you like if we get Bhupinder ji to song your ghazal?"
"Which Bhupimder? Dil dhoondta Hai wale?"
I remember exactly where I was when Apurva ji called. I felt like I transported to the moon a minute.....my first film, my first ghazal going to be sung by a singer I grew up loving.....too good to be true!
Before that for about a few months we were looking for a singer in the Atlanta and neighboring areas. Apurva Ji would audition singers every week and reject them. After we exhausted all the potential singers he auditioned me as well. I was rejected in less than a minute....this is how my career in singing ended....
I was feeling depressed and frustrated and this call from Apurva ji lifted my spirits.
However, on the day of the recording I was away on a business trip to Burnswick, GA. Sandhya ji, narrated this incident to me:
Bupinder ji, while rehearsing the ghazal realized a word not fitting in well so he mentioned that to her, who told him that "Shahid could not make it....please feel free to make changes as you like".
Bhupinder Ji said " Nahi rehne den.....without writer it would be improper to make changes. I will sing as he has written.."