Gogi Anand

Someone said ‘you are as unique as everyone else is’. Like everyone else in my life too there have been many people who not only crossed my path; but also walked along with me for a while… some stayed long enough, some as little as 24 hours. At various stations some got off, some of them grew big, while some others made me grow. This cycle does not stop. People always keep flowing in and out of everyone life adding value and making a difference. People keep joining your track and leaving it as and when they find their own destined diversions. I have decided to identify some of these people, who made a difference to me. I am not talking about any great human or a saint who gave me a life changing advice or a Mantra! I am trying to identify ordinary people who happen to be my friends and whose one little gesture or an insignificant decision significantly changed the course of my life. One such person was late Arunmitra Anand, popularly and lovingly known as Gogi Anand.
Gogi came to Bombay to take up to movies. He was related to the illustrious Anand family. He was well educated and extremely well read person. Well, in that sense entire Anand family consists of educated people.

Soon he was recommended to go to the Film Institute of India at Poona to study film making. He chose screenplay writing. To be sure of admission, it is said that he took a letter of recommendation from his uncle Dev Anand. There was no problem in admission. After he completed the course he returned to Bombay in 1963. He must have been too eager to find his own place in the glittering movie world and also realized that real work experience would give him much than campus studies, especially since Anand family was right at the top in this business those days. Navketan group was constantly making movies, so getting involved in serious work was no problem. Gogi started assisting in direction in their films. He worked in Navketan films like Prem Pujari, Gambler, Teen Devian and Heera Panna.

Sometime in 1970-71 Gogi launched his first directorial venture, Double Cross, a thriller with his uncle, Vijay Anand, as the leading man and Rekha as its heroine. Vijay Anand did a double role in it. The film was produced by Gogi’s cousin Yash Kohli (popularly known as Baba), also Dev’s nephew. This was Baba’s first feature too as a producer. Baba’s time was ripe to become a producer since he was already a very experienced production hand. He was production controller of some big Navketan films like Heera Panna (1973), Tere Mere Sapne (1971), Prem Pujari (1970) and earlier to that Jewel Thief (1967). So Gogi and Baba worked together in two of those films. R D Burman was their close friend, so it was not too difficult to launch an interestingly put together film project. Double Cross released in 1972, but did not do too well at the box office. 

I too had reached Mumbai in May of the same year. It was an electrifying experience for me to get in contact with the people from Navketan camp. Whenever I met someone who knew Dev Anand or had worked with him, was enough for me to turn terribly dreamy. In such an emotional state I met Gogi sometime in early 1973, when I joined the unit of ‘Doosri Seeta’ as an assistant recordist. The film starred Jaya Bhaduri and Romesh Sharma, who were my friends from the FTII. In fact I was very close to Romesh. Even the cinematographer K K Mahajan, was an ex-FII. KK was also a close friend of Gogi. They had shared a large room with a great sea view at Mount Mary in Bandra for many years. So this film was produced with a great camaraderie between the entire unit.

In the meanwhile Gogi managed to start his third film ‘Darling Darling’. I was an assistant in this film too. During this period Gogi was very busy shooting and looking after editing for Doosri Seeta. In the meanwhile Doosri Seeta completed and its release date was announced. This would be the first film to release that was going to carry my title. I was very happy. One of the days during Darling Darling’s shooting at Sun u Sand hotel, I was told about premier of Doosri Seeta at Ganga-Jamuna theatres (they are not functioning now) at Tardeo. I was extremely excited in anticipation to be part of the starry premier crowd, which I had only envied by seeing pictures and reading the magazines during my college days.
On the premier day after an early pack up, caravan of Darling Darling’s entire unit headed towards Ganga-Jamuna. Dev Saab was in Zeenat’s car. I was in Dev Saab’s car with some others. Cinematographer Fali Mistry was also with us along with many other smaller actors. But alas! Tragedy struck hard, spoiling all my chances of attending the first premier show of my life! No one could reach the theatre. The city was experiencing exceptionally heavy cloud burst that day. Our caravan could reach only till Worli… With a heavy heart I watched all the cars being turned back by the traffic cops. I was hurt deeply when someone said that it was a bad omen for the film. Somehow all of us reached back Sun n Sand late at night. I slept in the room that was hired for the shooting. It had rained so hard that I could not go home for next three days, due to flooding. Tragically the film too got washed out at the box-office very badly.

Gogi was developing a soft corner for me as we met practically every day. He was becoming like an elder brother to me. I remember he took me to see the premier show of God Father at the Sterling. We had to come back late night in a taxi and I was dreading to think about the fat bill that I would have to pay at my home. But when Gogi got off at his home he gave me enough extra money to reach my house too. I guess he liked me due to my sincerity and enthusiasm at work.

I would always reach the studio much before the shooting shift started. Many times even stage would not be open. I remember once during Doosri Seeta shooting at Filmistan, I found Gogi was already there. He was comfortably lying on a bench and reading the script. I asked him what time did he reach? He said 7.30. Next day I was there before him for a 9.30am shift!
Gogi was an avid reader. I remember Gogi listening to and narrating Urdu couplets with another literary person Prabhuji (Prabhu Dayal). They had worked together in early Navketan films.

Once, during one of my rare free days, I was engrossed in playing carom with kids at my paying guest place. I was enjoying myself. The phone rang and the land lord, Jayant Patel told it was for me. I took the receiver and I heard someone saying that he was calling from Navketan office. My heart missed a beat. I asked him what was it about, he said ‘we want to hire you as a recordist for our next film to be shot in Nepal.’ I was flabbergasted. I pleaded, ‘I would not able to do it, as I am only an assistant right now.’ Hearing the names of Navketan and Dev Anand, a hush had descended in the room. Everyone was listening to my conversation. After a little hesitation I took down the address. After an hour long bus journey I was climbing a ‘rickety wooden staircase, Khira Nagar, Santacruz’. I met Hersh Kohli here. I was being pushed to decide fast though I was extremely scared to take up a Navketan film to be shot abroad. If it was a smaller banner or shooting was in Mumbai, I might have gone for it straight away. Hersh pushed me harder, ‘in four days unit is leaving and all the names have to be finalized’. Well, rest is history for me…

Much later I was informed that Gogi had personally recommended my name to Dev Saab. He had to also remove all doubts in Dev Saab’s mind about me. This one single point had changed the course of my life, then. It also fulfilled my childhood fantasy of experiencing the phenomenon that Dev Anand had been. Later for very long whatever I did in my professional life, I did it as a Navketan man. I had to leave work of ‘Darling Darling’ in between until I came back after three months. Well, ‘Darling Darling’ too bombed and after this Gogi took very long to put a project together. Many years later I remember he asked me to work with him for a film; I said ‘of course any time’, but the film never took off.

As long as I was with Navketan I met him often, either on sets or in office. I decided to enter field of documentaries in 1985 and asked to be relieved from Navketan. From then on Gogi went out of loop for very long. He would fall ill often due to his excessive drinking and tobacco habits. Once I went to see him at Nanavati Hospital, with our old colleague Amit Khanna. Gogi was being discharged that day. He looked very thin; but cheerful. But I was amused and shocked to notice that even in the hospital he had made arrangements to get his tobacco with the help of a ward boy!
No doubt at that stage nobody could imagine that Gogi would ever make a movie again. That was a fair judgment, but I did not like that nobody seemed to have a positive word for him. I don’t think people visited him. Gogi was lonely and out of work for a long period! That is how the film industry works. The more successful you are busier you will be. Only Gogi’s well wishers and close friends knew him as a bright guy, who could have made it – period.

Sometime in mid 90s, I heard that he was directing a daily TV soap for Balaji. I was so happy for him. That series was doing well too. He was beginning to make a name for himself in television! Soon after that he became a part of Plus Channel, where I was too working. He was hired to direct, ‘Swabhiman’, which too turned out to be a very successful daily soap. I was happy to see that finally he had found his eluding ground in television. It was nice to see his title in every episode during the audio mixing. Technicians from Swabhiman sets told me that Gogi was doing very well as a director and he had picked up the strings of multi-camera set up very well. He would finish a day job well within an allotted shift.
Gogi never got married. He never had a steady girl friend too, except for a short time during Doosri Seeta, when he had a live-in arrangement with someone.

There were some light moments in his life too. He once kept a pet monkey in his house. It was rumored that the monkey would jump down to a grocery store and steal potatoes and run back home. He would also christen the monkey with a name; whom he did not like those days. Another popular story was about a suitcase full of coins. Gogi had been dumping lose change in that suitcase for years. Finally it was full to the brim and couldn’t be carried due to its weight. I had the opportunity to see it once. He always boasted about it, until one fine day I found him sheepishly grieving about it. It seems his servant had vanished with the famous suitcase.

I was informed of Gogi’s last hospitalization by K K Mahajan and Praba. Some of us went to see him in Asha Parekh hospital. He was on life support system. There seemed no hope. His eyes were shut. His relations had been informed to be there. I felt very bad at his condition especially with a lingering thought that it might be the last time, I was seeing Gogi.

He died the next day. As soon as I got a call, I reached his house. But his body had not arrived till then. I entered his bedroom. Gogi’s garlanded photograph was placed on the ground. After spending few long moments staring at the photograph, I left; to promptly return next morning to be a part of his unit, one last time…

I decided to put this piece together because nowhere on the internet I could find any useful and definite information about Gogi, not even about his birth or the date of his death. Some posthumous comments bracketed Gogi with words like ‘anonymous’ and ‘unsung’. According to those Gogi may have been lost in the oblivion. But they don’t know that he had his days too. He may have gone without making an earth shattering film, but he did commendable work for television. He had been very busy for most of his life, except for a few years. Lean periods are common for any film professional. For me he was a very special person and ‘the’ reason that put my professional life on a faster and higher track. The least I could do for Gogi was to share some of the relevant information about him with people, especially with who might be interested.

I have known Gogi’s younger brother Kaka too, since long. He was very nice to give me Gogi’s birth details:

“Arunmitra Anand lived between Aug 22, 1942 and Oct 25, 2004. He was born at Gurdaspur to parents Shri Vishwamitra Anand and Shrimati Gargi Devi Anand.”

Finally through this reflection if I did manage to remove ‘unknown, unsung and anonymous’ labels stuck on my friend, I would consider myself fortunate.

Why!

i will go for a walk later

why?

it is too bright right now

bright? do you want to go when it is dark?

yes

why?

because…

what because

because they all whisper,

whisper? who? what do they whisper?

they say, ‘here he is again’

who says that

them… they say

who them, who are they

they. they hide behind the trees and say it

are you crazy?

no, i mean it. they look at me and i feel they are noticing me

you are having illusions, who will look at anyone and say anything

no i am sure no illusion

they whisper about you only? who in the hell do you think you are?

I don’t know that, but they especially notice me

oh god! okay, tell me more about them. what exactly do they do.

… as soon as i enter the garden, they look at me and share a glance with others. then they start chatting. when i turn to look at them they hide behind trees. then i can’t see them, but their flowing white clothes flutter out in breeze. one day i was really angry. “why don’t you leave in peace!?” i shouted at them.

then?

then they climbed up the tree, and merged themselves in the green. they went behind the thick leafs and kept looking at me from there.

what an utter nonsense story!

no please i will go later; after it is dark.

have you ever been there in dark?

no

then? don’t you think they can harass you more in dark.

oh i… i don’t know that.

okay try going around 8 today. there may be only some garden lights. but it will be quite dark otherwise.

you think they will trouble me more in dark?

why don’t you go and check it out, since you know what they do in day time.

umm… actually. no i think i will go now only.

no no try walking in the dark today. why not?

… okay, but why can’t i miss my walk once in a while?

remember what doctor told you? if you miss your walk, you will be in deep trouble.

i am going now… bye

fine see you in an hour. phew…

Capital Changes

it has not been raining well at all in mumbai this year. perhaps we mumbaikars are in for a shortage to sever shortage of water. there was already a news item in papers saying that “if the dry spell continues; there will be a water cut…”

it is only august right now. monsoon is still not over and if the cut come in force, one can imagine what to expect for the rest of the year. no, i am not scared. what can one achieve by getting scared or worried? nothing. so i will face it when it comes, whatever it may be. in fact i love it when there is no escape, no alternate and no way out. i don’t have to work on deciding or decoding the problem at hand to find its solution by using my lazy brain. if there is no rain so be it – let there be no rain.

recently i happen to meet four of my best enemies in a room. i felt they did not shake me up as they did last year. that time i had got disturbed even with their presence that was only expected. or to put it simply even with their absence.

i have also been so lazy in writing or blogging. in contrast i was so particular earlier. i used to feel terrible if i did not write at least 3-5 posts in a week! now not only i don’t write, i also don’t feel bad about it. things don’t remain the same. i have also changed or in other words i am also not the same, any more.

but it seems that things may be happening at a different (kind of deeper) level. but nothing is clear. i don’t even know if they are happening or i just have a feeling that they are happening. a kind of deep detachment/ disinterest has surfaced to things, to events. people i meet seem foggy in their presence, in what they say or do. as soon as they leave, they all dissolve and fade out – their faces, conversations, ideas.

it’s great to not bother about capital alphabets too.

13 Aug, 2015

Lost Sync With Time

It so happened, the other day ;-)

She wanted to meet me

She had been planning

Excited about the meeting

Making notes, calling, detailing

On ‘the’ day

My phone stayed close to me

In my pocket

The day opened…

Played its regular part

And downed the shutter

Without her call

What must have happened

I wondered

No cancellation, no sorry, no nothing

I hoped nothing was wrong :-/

It seems she just went away

Kind of vanished

I mean without meeting

Calling, informing

I don’t know after how long

One day

My phone beeped

The arrival of an email

Her email

:-) in the ‘subject’ space!

I was taken aback

How dare she…

I read on,

“…it was such fun meeting you

To our good luck

The weather was so pleasant

The moon was a pretty arc

Sky full of stars

Because it was rather dark

I remember an unknown fragrance

That wafted around like an ocean

I was sure it was your scent…”

I was totally zapped

All this was utterly strange

Such detailed description!

About that never happened :-/

She had never called me

I never went there

Anywhere, nowhere

I never met her

The moon, stars, weather

Were all part of her…

Her own story,

She floated the fragrance,

And made a moon crescent,

Then scattered the stars,

Because it was rather dark?

I need to sort this out

On my own

With help from no one

I read the mail again

And yet again

How can this be?

More over why would she?

Would anyone do this to a friend?

Could something be wrong?

With me? I mean.

Could it be that

Have I lost the sync

Between me and my time

Have we both separated?

The link degenerated

Am I on my own here

While the time travels elsewhere 

Has it ever happened?

Or could it at all happen?

It seems I am suffering

From a yet un-discovered sickness

That has discovered me

I started watching

Everyone, everything

All around

Finally it dawned

Time had left me alone

I was now on my own

What I was to do yesterday

The previous day

Or even earlier days

Had already been done

That day in question 

A few days back,

Was already in the pack.

10 Feb, 2016

No One Shot MH17 Down

Investigations by the Dutch Safety Board for the crash of Malaysian Airline flight MH 17 is over. The that flight had originated on July 17, 2014 from Amsterdam and was scheduled to land at Kuala Lumpur. Investigation report says that the ill-fated Boeing 777-200ER, was hit by a Russian, surface to air Buk missile. Total fatalities were 298 including flight staff, along with unfortunate 80 children. At the time of being hit, aircraft was flying over the Ukraine air space at an altitude of 33000 feet. The report does not claim who fired that fatal shot. But it seems that it was launched from an area that is controlled by Russia-backed agitators in Ukraine. Some TV news channels have reported that at that point of time there were approximately 160 odd flights traversing that section of sky. But why was MH 17 chosen? Was this plane wrongly hit and real target being some other aircraft, may be a military plane? There was at least one such aircraft in the area.

For many years countries mainly America and Russia sell their arsenal to various other countries and often to small legal or illegal warring groups. The producers are only interested in making the sale and getting the money. They don’t care for what purpose will it be used and against who. Also whether it will be resold lent or it could even get stolen. That is why there is such a hue and cry about security of nuclear war heads. People are also trying make dirty bombs that may use primitive nuclear technology. These groups want to prove a point to who so ever, may be to the world in general.

But it is really so horribly sad that so many innocent lives were lost for which no justification can be given. It pains me to think about the reactions of fliers when soothing hum of flying was shattered by a loud blast, the steady airplane shuddered violently, the aircraft started plunging down, the flames sped inside, front of the plane broke off and from the cozy comfort of warm blankets sleepy children were suddenly exposed to rare air and temperature of 30c below zero.

14 Oct, 2015

Kabir simple

Mud tells the potter, today you handle me your way

Soon a time will come, I will handle you my way

Everyone prays in bad times but none does in good times

If you pray in good times too, there wouldn’t be any bad times

If people found god in the stones, I would pray to mountains

It is better to pray to the grinding stones that grinds the grains

Nights went sleeping, days spent eating

A diamond like life, is spent like a dime clinking

There is no use of success, that is like a palm tree

That gives no shade to rest and fruits are out of reach

If someone sows thorns for you, sow flowers for him

Your flowers will be with you, his thorns will get him

4 June, 2013