Along with ‘Prateeksha’ and ‘Jalsa’ in Mumbai, another address received a body blow after the death of superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s mother, Teji Bachchan. ‘Sopan’, the beautiful abode for many years of Teji and her husband Harivansh Rai Bachchan, is an elegant house in Block B of the capital’s upmarket Gulmohar Park.
‘Sopan’, which has seen many memorable sessions of poetry and debates, wears a deserted look today. Both Harivansh Rai and Teji wanted to stay back in Delhi, but it was Amitabh who forced his parents to shift their base to Mumbai.
‘Sopan’ was perhaps the first house that was bought by the Bachchan family and had witnessed many lively poetry sessions under the guidance of Harivansh Rai till the late 1970s. But after the couple moved to Mumbai, it was only during Diwali that lights were seen in ‘Sopan’. No caretaker has ever taken care of this place.
The original allottees of Gulmohar Park still recall the time when Harivansh Rai and Teji used to stay here like any other resident. Eminent Hindi poet Subhash Sagar says that Harivansh Rai used to organise poetry sessions very often at ‘Sopan’ and the couple were very good hosts. Apart from poetry sessions, debates were also held. Poets, writers, intellectuals and teachers attended those debates in large numbers.
Dev Krishan Vyas, veteran journalist and a neighbour of the Bachchans, says that even though Gulmohar Park was meant for journalists, Teji got the membership of the Gulmohar Park Society because during those days there were not many takers.
When Gulmohar Park and ‘Sopan’ were coming up in the early 1970s, Big B was not a star. Bachchans were an upper-middle class family with political connections. Harivansh Rai and Teji used to visit the area very often to see the progress of the construction of their house. Vyas said that a security man used to follow the two during their morning walks. Asked about the reason, Teji said: “Munna [Amitabh] fears that his parents may be kidnapped”.