If he were alive, he would have turned 100 on May 12. He was one of the pioneers of Indian cinema..he produced and directed scores of films..from the silent and black and white to films of the colour era.
His was the only film that Mahatma Gandhi saw. He launched the careers of Meena Kumari, Manoj Kumar and Rajendra Kumar, to name a few. His films include Baiju Bawra, Himalay Ki God Mein, Goonj Uthi Shehnai, Ram Rajya..the list is quite long.
His name was Vijay Bhatt.
He was my grandfather. We addressed him as “bhai.” During my teenage years, I shared a bedroom with him. Ours was a strange relationship.
On the one hand, there was my grandfather who scaled great heights in his career, and on the other hand there was poor little me..yearning for success. Often, when he was fast asleep, I would look at his calm face and wonder if I’d ever be able to achieve as much as he did..and sleep with such contentment.
Little did I know, that behind the calm façade, there was a raging storm of discontent. This is filmdom. The unwritten rule here is..you are as good or bad as your last film. You may have been the greatest and delivered the biggest hits but it’s all about your last film.
My grandfather’s last film was not a hit. Then came retirement. Not the glorious walk into sunset that he’d hoped for..but a quiet exit.
He spent the rest of his living years seeing his glory fade a little, every day. Newspaper articles sometimes forgot to mention his name amongst the pioneers.
His peers did not always remember him. He had just one desire..to receive the Dadasaheb Phalke award. God knows, he deserved it but he never got it.
It was heartbreaking to see him wait for the award year after year and his hopes being dashed. He passed away with that dream unrealised. No crowning glory for his achievements.
Such is greatness. Every thing that you achieve.. every thing that you stand for comes to nothingness..what with the world and its short memory.
But if he were alive, I would like to thank him. His last days taught me a great lesson. There’s no point in spending your life being miserable..just so that you will be remembered after you are dead and gone.
After you are gone, what does it matter? What matters is the ‘here’ and the ‘now’.. greatness be damned. Live life to the fullest.
This hall of fame that we all thirst..to have a place in..is just a mirage. It makes you run after it. When you look back, your whole life has passed you by.