Yes, the cynics and all those intelligent men and women who take life in their stride will say that life and death are part of life and solemn things like, if there is life there has to be death because that is what life is all about or the more spiritually inclined would say that it is the way God created and designed life. But let us face the reality some lives and deaths do make a very big difference to the living or should make. Like two great men proved it lastly, the well-known writer, Kamleshwar first and then within the next twenty four hours the great music director, O.P. Nayyar who died leaving all their good work and even their weaknesses behind. They proved, in their own ways, how their work made a big difference in their respective fields, Kamleshwar in literature and O.P. Nayyar in music. I know there will be a series of praises and paeans sung and written in their honour. I have nothing to add to them but I certainly remember some moments in their lives.
Kamleshwar was the editor of ‘Sarika’, a leading Hindi fortnightly when I first met him. It was only later that I realised that he was one of the leading writers of modern Hindi literature. He was the leader of a new trend in writing in Hindi and had written some of the most striking and outstanding short stories and novels in the sixties and seventies. He came to Hindi film in the eighties and worked together with leading filmmakers like B.R. Chopra, Ramanand Sagar, Saawan Kumar Tak and Gulzar. He also wrote some smaller films with deeper meanings which failed to work at the box office and some films which were not even released because of reasons Kamleshwar could not easily understand. In fact Kamleshwar was a complete misfit in the world of films like many other great literary figures who came here with great expectations and were forced to leave because they could not work according to the ways of the industry, they could not sacrifice the high standards they had set for themselves. He did some films which were left half way because of his refusing to bow to the demands of filmmakers whom he found were not even educated in the basics. He was soon declared a writer with a massive ego and a man difficult to work with. Work stopped coming to him and soon Kamleshwar, the film writer, was a closed chapter even before he could reach the place he was determined to and believed he was fully capable of reaching.
Kamleshwar, however, found a new medium to prove his talent and give expression to his feelings on the small screen which was still to take the big steps it is taking today. Kamleshwar devised what can easily be called the first ever serious chat show in Hindi. It was called ‘Parikrama’ and was aired on Doordarshan which was the only ruling channel those days. His chat show focused on the problems that the every day man faced in his day to day problems of life. He had his own knack of talking to people who were never talked about and revealed the kind of truths that were never told or heard before. ‘Parikrama’ created a stir and sometimes even a storm in the country. Kamleshwar, the voice and the face grew as popular as the most popular film stars of the time. He was the first writer to gain this kind of unbelievable popularity. Unfortunately, the success of the show was something even the spirit of a writer who wrote about success and its effects could not take his own success. He soon believed and confessed or almost boasted that he was God?s reincarnation on earth. He believed he could touch people who were sick and heal them. He believed he could bring back couples who had separated. He believed he could reform the most hardened criminals and what was the ultimate proof of his sadly growing mad with success was when he claimed that there were women of all ages who called him to say they wanted to have a child from him. These are things which he told me over cups of whisky served in silver kettles and cups because it was a dry day and he wanted h