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Farewell to a friend



Gogi Anand.

IF JAYA Bachchan had a genuine friend, a well-wisher in Mumbai who never approached her for a favour, it was he. He was the witness for her wedding with Amitabh Bachchan. If Asha Bhonsle gave a clean chit to any associate after R D Burman's death, it was he. If Dev Anand trusted anyone behind the camera when he himself was in front of it, and who could ask him for a retake, it was he. If most people swore about one of the finest FTII products, it was he. And if one could depend on someone in dire need of any sort, he was one of the few in the film industry. Yet, he died almost unsung, perhaps because he never sought any favours from anyone, and, therefore, no one bothered since he had to go away like that. Because he was somewhat of a recluse, a fakir, and in the common jargon a failure in a money-success-minded, self-promoting film industry.

Gogi, Alok Mitra Anand, was truly a friend. When one spoke to him last a couple of months ago during a visit to tinsel town, he voice sounded hollow. It shook one because of the shrillness, indicator of what was coming. And he extracted a promise that will remain unfulfilled because he is now no more. The promise of staying with him during the next visit. For old times sake, if nothing else. One had stayed with him for over a month once during Bollywood days because one had nowhere else to go.

Gogi was a nephew of the legendary Anand brothers; a class-fellow of Nikhil Kumar, IPS at Allahabad University; a batch mate of Jaya Bhaduri, K.K. Mahajan, amongst others. He was the director of the Dev Anand-Zeenat Aman starrer, Darling Darling, and the first Indian daily satellite soap, Swabhimaan. Many others followed in quick succession.

He also abandoned several directorial ventures. Hum Teeno with Dev Anand, Hema Malini; Sab se Bada Paap (based on a prized Rahi Masoom Raza script) with Smita Patil and Raj Babbar; Khoj (a remake of the Raj Khosla directed CID) with Nitish Bhardwaj come to mind instantly. He had recently been recalled by cousin Dev Anand to help him, after a gap of nearly a decade, and call the shots for the under-production Mr Prime Minister. And it was during a recent shooting schedule at the RK Studios that he fell prey, never to recover again.

Another friend gone. The third `anand' in a calendar year, after Vijay Goldie Anand and Uncle Mulk Raj Anand. Another excuse to get drunk - as a loyal mutual friend from Mumbai, Rajendra Rana, called up to say, in mourning - and, perhaps (to many others' disdain) to hasten the meet with them in the nether world. Till we meet again, for anand. Actress Mita Vashisht performed the rare farewell gesture. She arrived shortly before the ambulance was to drive away the body of the senior she held in great esteem. She quietly placed a wreath and a bottle of whisky next to the body, and made a hurried retreat. One is certain Gogi's soul must have enjoyed the parting gift.

SURESH KOHLI

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