September 26, 2023

DEATH ANNIVERSARY: I have only been trying to show my gratitude to you for making me whatever I am today. I still can’t understand what you saw in black insignificant boy from a remote village to offer him a job which was more than a job for me it was a new life which I am still trying to live according to the values you had imbibed in me during the short time I spent with you to learn how to live with dignity in the life to come – Ali Peter John

I can keep writing about what your life was for me. You were not my mentor or my teacher or my boss. You were a God-sent gift to me which was surprising because I knew that you did not have a very cordial relationship with God. You were so caring that when you knew that I would only have to live on vada paav and cheap roadside tea, you gave me a ticket to a world where I spent the next forty-eight years of my life.I had grown into what you would have more than loved me to be. You had introduced me to the cream of writers in almost every language, who added to my awe and admiration for you because of the awe and admiration they had for you. They all knew that you were a thorough gentleman and a writer without fear.khwaja ahmad abbas familyYou showed me how a man with strong principles and values could speak to prime ministers and fire them. You showed me how a great showman like Raj Kapoor could cry before you and leave your office when you asked him not to come to your office in a drunken state. You showed me how all human beings were equal and it was a must to live as equals if we had to have a better society, a better country and a better world… You left me and so many others like me bereft when you died after you had gone through a long period of pain because of a woman’s cold heartedness when she ran her luggage over the ageing feet and crushed it at the Rome Airport.

You showed me what determination was when you were making a film called “Ek Aadmi” which was planned by you as your biopic with Anupam Kher playing your role and then dubbing for the film even when you suffered three heart attacks and did not show any signs of panic or pain and collapsed only after you had finished the dubbing for that day and were rushed to a nearby hospital from where you came back home at Philomena Apartments only to die after a few days after which I walked alone to the Juhu Beach with four bottles of Haywards 2000 strong beer to grow strong enough to face the reality of the death of a man who made lives and made a difference to them for all time…. I can go on writing about you, my dear Abbas Sahab, but just now,I want to talk about how you discovered Amitabh Bachchan (a story anyone who knows anything about Amitabh Bachchan will know by now and even in the times to come. I remember the time when Amitabh had first become a star and hundreds of young men from all over the country and even outside it, found out your address and reached you and how then you looked at most of them with their long hair covering their ears, you asked them, “tumhare kaan kidar hai?

“And had to repeat the same sentence almost every day to any number of boys and when they said, “aapne Amitabh Bachchan ko banaya” and you used to scream in your voice which even scared Raj Kapoor and all your writer friends and say,“arre, maine Amitabh Bachchan ko nahi banaya, mere bhai, Amitabh ko uske ma baap ne aur upparwaala agar hai toh usne banaya hai”. This Amitabh Bachchan phenomenon went on for several days till you were stuck by an idea. You put me in charge of looking after these potential Amitabh Bachchans and I realized it was easier to break stones on the roads of Bombay than convince these boys that there could be only one Amitabh Bachchan like there could be only one Dilip Kumar, one Dev Anand and one Raj Kapoor.The young man you discovered (what can I do if the whole world believes that you discovered Amitabh Bachchan? Is a man beyond any discussion and beyond any words to praise him. He is seventy-six now, but there are still eighty-year-old grandfathers and grandmothers who try to make efforts to shout “Amitabh Amitabh” and there are children who have Amitabh as the first name that comes to them… I received a call from a pleasantly sounding man called Zain Hussain from Dubai. He had been trying to reach me because he had this feeling that I was very close to the one who the whole world wants to get close to. Zain had finally found my number and after talking to him for hours during just two days, I found out that he perhaps knows more about Amitabh Bachchan than Amitabh himself.

He talked about his room in Banjara Hills (or is it Jubilee Hills?) in Hyderabad which was completely covered with every photograph of Amitabh he could lay his hands on. From whatever little he told me, Zain seemed to know nothing less than the A to Z about Amitabh Bachchan. He seemed to know more stories about Amitabh than me who have spent almost my whole life following Amitabh as they say in the social media. My dear Abbas Sahab, I have gained all my so-called fame and popularity because of my knowing so much about the man they call “the star of the millennium.khwaja ahmad abba and Amitabh AmitabhI have seen Amitabh fans who have built their own temples for their ‘God’, I know of a man called Anil Jadhav who I had introduced to Amitabh who went absolutely mad after he had a ten-minute long meeting when Amitabh had his ABCL office at the Ajanta Hotel in Juhu.He has named his two sons, Amit and Sumit and the whole of Belgaum on the border of Karnataka and Maharashtra know Anil Jadhav because of his love for Amitabh which has not diminished in all these years, but only grown more strong. The man is so grateful to me for introducing him to Amitabh that he treats me like some planet and addresses me as ‘my uncle, APJ, my sir and my God’.

If this could be his madness and if Zain Hussain remembers how he used to feel jealous about Charu, one of my old friends, being introduced to Amitabh and Amitabh’s writting a letter of congratulations on her daughter’s wedding and if Swami, my printer at Indian Express could believe that his son who was dying could be revived only if Amitabh had said hello to him (a dream which I got fulfilled for Swami and I don’t know the reason why, but his son had revived and is a mechanical engineer now and if a man could walk from Ahmedabad to the Breach Candy Hospital with a coconut balanced on his head without letting it even trip once and if a filmmaker like my friend the late S.Raamnathan who directed Amitabh in “Bombay to Goa”,“Giraftaar”and “Mahaan” could walk on his forehead round a holy well in Chennai and if a newly married bride from Saudi Arabia told her husband that she would not talk to anybody till she had seen Amitabh face to face and talked to him even for a minute and who talked for hours after her husband brought her to Bombay and I had to explain the strange story to Amitabh and he not only agreed, but called the couple to ‘Prateeksha’ and put his all arm around her….khwaja ahmad abbas Amitabh Amitabh Bombay to GoaI wonder what Zain Hussain has done, is doing and will do in the future. He talks about the universe conspiring to see that we met and I too have a strange feeling that Zain Hussain had to come into my life at a time when I was beginning to lose faith in human beings and was groping in the dark and I can see a ray of hope after I had started talking to Zain and all this is happening because of only one man and his name is Amitabh Bachchan.

WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT THIS UNBELIEVABLE PHENOMENON, ABBAS SAHAB, YOU WHO I ALWAYS KNEW AS A NON-BELIEVER?

YOU ALWAYS SAID THAT YOU DIDNT MAKE AMITABH BACHCHAN BUT AMITABH HAD MADE HIMSELF . WILL AMITABH ACCEPT THE FACTS LIKE YOU ACCEPTED IT ALMOST 50 YEARS AGO ?

MAI HAMESHAA MAANTA HUN KI AGAR ABAAS SAHAAB MERI ZINDAGI MEIN NAA AATE , TOH MAI KUCH BHI NAHI HOTAA . AUR JAB TAK MAI ZINDAA HUN MAI YEHI SACH KO MAANTA RAHUNGAA .

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