The Week, November 2009
I am very happy that the legendary Manna Dey received the Dada Saheb Phalke Award this year. Like all other great play back singers, young Indians, also grew up listening to Mannada (as he is addressed affectionately). He comes from a cultured musical family. His uncle, Shri K.C.Dey was also a very renowned musician. Mannada is a rare classical singer, who became famous through the Indian film songs. He interestingly also sang a duet with Pt. Bhimsen Joshi in a film. I have always admired him no end. My heartiest congratulations to Mannada and his family members for this great honour!

It has become a custom and a ritual to write an obituary or a tribute after an Artist or person after they are no more. Why should we wait for an Artist to become 80 or 90 and then consider him or her for the highest honours. I am very happy that a young sportsman receives a highest Award, honours and prizes while they are young in their thirties and at the peaks of their careers. It will really be very healthy and encouraging for the creative Artists of national and international repute, if the tributes are given while they are active and are able to perform and enjoy the honours and awards.

Speaking of Legendary artists, I have always admired the great Dilip Kumar (who’s family name is Yusuf Khan) as an actor and a human being.

Every Indian grew up seeing his movies along with the works of his contemporaries Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Pran. Dilip Saheb, as film industry addresses him, is a symbol of Tehzeeb and Tameez- He is truly an inborn Actor. He did not go to any acting school nor did he ever have a guru, but I am sure that he must have found his inspiration through his lives journey. I still remember his masterpiece and classic films like Devdas, Mughal-E-Azam, Ganga Jamna, Madhumati, Aan and Andaaz etc

He always had a great regards and love for Indian classical music, especially for Sarod and Sitar.In a film Kohinoor, he had to hold the Sitar and sing the very famous song “Madhuban mein Radhika Nache Re” – sung by Mohammad Rafi. I was told that to feel comfortable and to be at ease he seriously learnt Sitar for two years! A perfectionist, a poet and a great orator, he has been all this and more.

I have a few memorable interactions with Dilip Saheb and his charming wife Saira Bano. In the early 70’s there was a concert in Bangalore, organized by the late wife of former police commissioner of Bangalore Mr.Rahim N Nizamuddin, for the National Society for Equal Opportunities for the Handicap held at the Windsor Manor Hotel. Since it was a Fund raiser, the price of couple entries was Rs.1000 back then. Post the concert, the best dressed lady would get the prize from Dilip Saheb and best dressed man from Sairaji. There was the most glamorous and elite audience that evening at this event. During the interval Dilip Saheb and I had tea together. While having the tea, he mentioned “BHAI, MUJHE IS SAAZ SE BEHAD PYAAR HAI AUR MAIN SAROD LAMBE ARSE SE SUNTA AA RAHA HOON . MAASHAAALLAH AAP NE IS SAAZ KA DHANG OR DHAP HI BADAL DIYA’.

(Brother I love this instrument and I have been listening to the Sarod for a long time, but by the grace of God you have completely changed the conventional structure and flavour of this beautiful instrument.)

I was taken aback and pleasantly surprised to see and realize his involvement and interest in Sarod and music in general. At the end the best dressed lady received the prize from Dilip Saheb and to my utter surprise for the best dressed man’s prize, my name was announced. It a gracious gesture of Sairaji and Dilip Saheb!

The Last time I met him in was Mumbai. I went to invite him for my younger son; Ayaan’s wedding Reception in Mumbai. It was a memorable meeting. Sairaji is a great hostess and she really takes care of Dilip Saheb. As expected, as gracious as he is, Dilip Saheb came up to my car to see me off, in spite of my persuasion not to come out. They both very kindly came and blessed the young couple in Mumbai a year and a half ago.

Dilip Saheb is a very fortunate to seen the third generation of actors and super stars today, who continue to draw inspiration from this monumental icon of the Indian Film Industry.