“I met Bakshi ji first when I was very young….. I was new in Bombay, I had come from Calcutta (I was earlier in Delhi.)
I remember we, my brother Tito and I, our production company was, Navjeevan Films International, we were going to start shooting our film, Ram Balram, with actor Dharamji, this was sometime around 1978/79 or 1980. We sent composers Mr. Laxmikant and and Mr Pyarelal to meet Bakshi ji for the lyrics, and Bakshi ji agreed to write our songs of Ram Balram. Later I went to meet Bakshi ji and I fell in love with Bakshi saab.
Soon our film Ram Balram got delayed, because of certain circumstances (The dates Dharamji gave us clashed with dates he had given to some other producer…), so Ram Balram had to be postponed, and thus suddenly we had free time for two to three months; Therefore, we, Tito and I, decided to make another film in that time, and that was Mr Natwarlal; with director Rakesh Kumar.
We requested Amitji if he would do the film, Natwarlal, with us and Rakesh Kumar, and he agreed. Our director Rakesh Kumar had just finished shooting his film ‘Khoon Pasina’ and we knew that Rakesh Kumar and Amitji both got along very well, so we signed Rakesh Kumar and Amitji for Mr Natwarlal.
There was no script at that time, when we approached Amitji for Natwarlal, we had only the story of Mr. Natwarlal.
Ram Balram got postponed sometime in March, and we had two months of free time to complete the script of Natwarlal and do the preproduction untill May; Because we planned to go to Kashmir in summer, May, to shoot Mr Natwarlal. Though we did not have a complete screenplay or complete script ready in March, we had some great gimmicks (scenes with great fun elements) and we knew they would eventually fit very well into the script/film.
While we were scripting Natwarlal we decided to immediately record the 6 songs we needed for the script, because we knew all the song situations in the script, or story, and we decided that while we record all the songs in two months and then them in Kashmir in May, the scenes, the script will be ready before we start the scenes.
Now, it was most challenging to record six songs within just the two months we had in hand before shoot begibs, March and April, because we confirmed the Kashmir schedule for may.
We approached composer Rajesh Roshan (Raju) to compose the music for Mr Natwarlal, and then we requested Bakshi saab to team up with him and give us 6 songs WITHIN THREE WEEKS!
When we met Bakshi saab with this sudden and ‘strange’ request, I remember he was having his paan and he jokingly told us to ‘get out of my house!’ (laughs)
He scolded us, ‘You must be crazy that you want me to write 6 songs for you in 3 weeks, and that too just because you want to go to Kashmir to shoot in May! ‘I have many other producers whom I have promised songs, and I cannot let them down by giving you songs before them.’
We assured him we do not want all the 6 songs together; we want them one by one over three weeks. He thought and agreed!!
Since that day I started going to his house almost every day, to follow up on our request, and he would also call me as and when he spared time for us from all his other commitments. He was a very busy writer, even then and yet he adjusted his time for us.
I would collect him from his house in bandra and drive him to composer Rajesh Roshan’s music sitting room in santacruz, or drive Rajesh Roshan to Bakshi ji’s house, and very soon Bakshi ji and I developed a good relationship with each other.
I must tell you, he used to love the saag (spinach) dish made in my house by our cook. So I would send it to him often. That was the beginning of our relationship as far as affection was concerned.
In those days, we had to book the recording theater 2-3 weeks or a month in advance, since there were few good ones and so they were very difficult to get overnight.
Rajesh Roshan somehow booked a recording studio, I think by requesting LP, with great difficulty. Now the dilemma was we had a recording studio but we had no song to record.
Bakshi saab normally came in his 1964 Fiat car at sharp 6 ‘o’ clock in the evening to Raju’s (Rajesh Roshan) house, with a pan and a 555 cigarette packet, and we all would sit to think on the song.
One evening, as usual, he was smoking his 555, he began humming a song, the lyrics and tune too – ‘Pardesiya se sach hai piya, sab kehete hain toone mera dil le liya…’
We were all surprised, and wondered what Bakshi ji is saying and humming in tune, but it sounded great to all of us. Raju and his musicians got all charged up and they played along Bakshi saab …. that was how that song was composed.
After he narrated and sang the first verse of that song, the remaining three verses he wrote in front of all of us in 15 minutes! And he did that while chewing his paan and smoking his 555.
I must add, after he wrote the first verse of the ‘Pardesiya’ song, he went out of the music hall to the balcony where he sat and looked out for a few minutes. Then he returned and wrote the rest of the verses of that song, one after the other! The whole song ‘Pardesiya” was ready within half an hour, with even the music in place!
When his paan got over, he sent his driver to get him more paan from a shop in Khar west, opposite khar station. Then he said his brains are not working and asked for a cup of tea.
he had the tea, again he lit his cigarette and said ‘Why not we have a song that Amitji sings with the children, and why not we make Amitji sing this song in his own voice?’
Out of the blue he suggested we make actor Amitabh Bachchan sing a song with the children in the story, and Amitji had never sang a song before.
We all were very close friends by then, so Raju looked surprised and told me this would be the first time Amitji would be singing a film song, as a playback singer; and Bakshi saab replied, ‘Yes, but why not make him sing? Him singing in his own voice will make the song sound more intimate especially since he is singing with children.’
That was the end of our discussion on the voice, and believe me in the next 10 minutes he wrote the complete song that Amitji sang as playback singer in the film, ‘Mere paas aao mere doston ek kissa suna.’ That is history I tell you! Because I do not think any lyrics writer ever wrote 2 songs for a film in one music sitting and within an hour, giving the basic tunes, and both the songs became super hits when the film Mr Natwarlal released. Natwarlal’s main assets were the gimmicks and music, for which credit goes to Bakshi ji too.
Once when we became financially tight I told Bakshi saab there is no money to pay him, and he said he should be paid, but it was his greatness that he never asked us for the money thereafter. However, eventually we did pay him in installments.
Those were old days, the great days of trust and of love. We all worked as one team. Bakshi saab was a Great man, I say.
We did 7 pictures with him! ‘Teri Kasam’ was another example of how he gave us great songs with Pancham Da, R D Burman. In 2 days he wrote us 6 songs and he gave us the basic tunes too.
We had 2 movies scheduled for shooting in Manali, ‘Johnny I love you’ and ‘Teri Kasam’, They were planned all of a sudden, and Bakshi saab delivered us songs without a complaint.
Teri Kasam was a romantic film of Kumar Gaurav, and was releasing after his super hit film, “Love story” so the music had to be very good, and Bakshi ji helped us with that, and this is the respect and regards I have for Bakshi saab that he was a genius that the film industry had. I wish he could be with us even now.
Bakshi ji never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings. If we pleaded with him to give us songs earlier he would always adjust. He would call up his music directors, who were also top composers so they were also very busy, and he would request them to adjust time for him, so that he could adjust for us. Bakshi ji was writing for everybody, so many producers and yet he never let us down, that was his professionalism! One must learn from him that everybody’s money is important and has value, so you should and cannot let anybody down ever. You must adjust with everyone and deliver to everyone. He never delayed my songs even when we suddenly asked for them.
He would always call me or Raju and ask how is the verse/antra he has written, and narrate it to us. So he had no ego about his work and would ask us an opinion sometimes. These are nice things in him. What amazed me is he used to write a song in 15 minutes or maximum in a day and it did not think its a very big thing he does. Nowadays, I am told, some writers take many days to write a song.
Bakshi saab had the talent, the energy, and the honesty to his work and producers above all, and all three combined together and made Bakshi saab a Genius and a living legend.
He also wrote songs for our other films, like, Ram Balram, and in Aasman he wrote us two fabulous songs, ‘Banke nazar Dil ki Zubaan’ and ‘Baagan wich Lagiyan Ambiyan’; he also wrote sings for Johnny I love you, Teri Kasam, and some other two films whose names I am now forgetting.
I had a great association with Bakshi saab, and I regret a legend like him is not there with us today.
I used to go to his house in the evening sometimes just to see him. I once saw him at the joggers park where he would walk regularly, and he asked me ‘Saag kithhe hai’ (‘when are you making saag for me? Tell Meenu to send me saag.’) Meenu. my wife. One cannot forget those moments, the most simple ones are so beautiful.
There are other unforgettable ones with him, like seeing him chewing his paan, and he always carried his paan ka dabba to music rooms, his cigarette held between his third and fourth finger, so many moments and memories I have.
He used to play the harmonium at times when he would write lyrics.
He used to tell me, ‘My songs rhythm will always sound like a heartbeat. My songs will beat just as our heart beats, my songs should beat like our hearts beat.’
Bakshi saab was a genius and a genius still remembered.”
Told to me – Rakesh Anand Bakshi