In a span of a few days - two giants have passed on. One made glorious music, and the other made fantastic movies.
When I heard about Ustad Bismillah Khan's death, I found a tear in my eye. Music does that to you. It touches your inner being, and naturally the musician who gave you that music becomes close to your heart. He stops being a photo on your CD, and becomes "Bismillah". You know - the old man next door. He was a loveable, toothless old man with the toothy grin (Figure that out!), who fondly lifted a Shehnai in his frail-looking hands, put it to his lips, and proceeded to create magic. With that image in mind, at his death, I found that I was feeling very sad. It was naturally made even worse by the plaintive notes of his Shehnai in the background when they were talking about him on television.
Though I cannot recall a particular Raag or piece of his which is my favourite, I can simply say that I loved his music. Sometimes melancholy, sometimes lively - it was always beautiful. Whether you were listening closely or absent-mindedly, it was anyway pleasing. And to think he said something like "Music is an ocean - I have just touched the surface". Humility, wit, and above all - his utter disregard for religion - it is people like him who have the ability to bring people of all religions together!
As for the fabulous Hrishikesh Mukherjee - if I make a top twenty favourite Hindi movie list, I am sure that 6-7 in that list will be his movies. That easily makes him my favourite film-maker. Even though the director is not really visible when you watch a movie, Hrishikesh Mukherjee was the kind whose touch you could feel in his the movies. You could watch a movie and say - that seems like a Hrishikesh Mukherjee movie - and you will be right.
And what movies!! Each one of them is a masterpiece. Anuradha, for example, is a favourite of all the elders in my family, and apparently, a certain member of our family was named after the protagonist in the movie. ;) Then Anupama - with Dharmendra looking drop-dead handsome, and Sharmila Tagore exquisite - the music, the settings - the movie.. wow! Anari was one of the first Raj Kapoor movies I watched - and just loved the simplicity and the sweetness of the story. Then there is Guddi - an extremely lovable movie with the young and innocent, starstruck Jaya Bhaduri - a movie that I can watch any number of times.
And then Bawarchi and Chupke Chupke - laugh riots, both of them. Mili and Khubsurat, which I rank a little lower than his other movies, are excellent nonetheless. As for Abhimaan - with the brooding Amitabh Bachchan jealous of his talented wife - a beautifully made movie. And his last one - Jhooth Bole Kauwa Kaate - I know that not many people liked it - but I wonder why - I thought it was great - with Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla and Amrish Puri at their funniest!
I keep the best for the last - Anand and Golmaal -- one tragic, the other comic - but both of them are right on top of my all-time favourite list, jostling each other for first place. Both of them are priceless, in their own way. No other movie in Bollywood can even come close to these two.
Since I seem to be at a total loss for words, I will just guide you to an excellent write-up on Hrishikesh Mukherjee's movies.
These two stalwarts have given us hours of happiness - and though they are gone, their work is still here. What else can I say to them? Just "Thank You".