Harivansh Rai Bachchan was a philosophical!

Harivansh Rai Bachchan was a philosophical!

It is difficult to understand the position in which destiny had placed Amitabh Bachchan’s father Haribachchan. Let’s call him Bachchan, sr. He was a poet and an author in his right. He wrote Madhushala, Madhubala and Madhukalash in lighter vein. Once Amitabh commented to me that his father wrote prose better than poetry in a sheepish tone.

In my humble opinion, I found Bachchan sr in an ambiguous position. When Lokendra, the elder brother of Rajat Sharma of “Meri Adalat” fame took me to Amitabh’s home in Juhu in Mumbai, I heard some children playing in the courtyard. He said they were the kids of Amitabh and Ajitabh. Lokendra had taken me to Amitabh’s house to meet Bachchan sr. Out of the blue I shot a question, how do you feel in this house? He said, “Mann ka ho to achha, na ho to aur bhi achha” (if what you desire that happens, it is good, if not still better). It was a profound statement.

Bachchan had written four volumes of his autobiography in Hindi. I remember the names of two, “Sopan (stopover) se Prateeksha (waiting) tak” (names of Amitabh’s house in Gulmohar Park in Delhi and Prateeksha in Mumbai) respectively. Another volume was titles “Kya Bhoolon, Kya Yaad Karoon”. When Lokendra took me to Amitabh’s house in Mumbai, Bachchan sr treated us very affectionately. Some children were playing in the courtyard. I had a question on my face. Sr. Bachchan said “Amitabh’s and Ajitabh’s children were playing with servants,” sarcasm intended.

Being an inquisitive journalist, I asked, did you ever imagine that one day you would be the father of a star. He said, “my wife Teji was very close to Indiraji. They were good friends. Amitabh and Ajitabh used to play in their house. Amit and Ajit studied in KM College of Delhi University. He was not very serious about studies; His lecturer Frank Thakurdas still remembers him, as a shy guy. They had no airs about themselves. Khawaja Ahmad Abbas took Amitabh to Goa for a film From “Bombay to Goa.”

I never knew that Amit would grow so fast and so high. Amit used to cry over her mother’s shoulders but slowly and steadily. I still remember when I was the editor of “Super”, the popular film magazines like “Stardust” and “Cine Blitz” had banned Amit as an angry young man. He had stopped talking to famous journalists like Shobha Kilachand. I had no such problem as being from Delhi. I shot off a letter to Amitabh that I don’t belong to Mumbai crows, won’t he talk to me. Amitabh sent me a nice letter on his beautiful letter head with a golden embossment and said, “He had stopped talking to media, but the first interview whenever He would start again, I will be the first to get a meeting.” I sent my correspondent Malvinder Grewal to talk to all the people in Delhi about him.  That was a cover story in “Super”.

He kept his promise.  In fact when his name was mentioned in “Bofors scandal”, his press relations guy K. Srinivasan called me from Delhi. I flew down and stayed in a five star hotel and interviewed him during a shooting. I said why his name is dragged? He said, they are kings and we are helpless citizens.

By Om Gupta, Former Editor, Super Magazine