As a movie buff since early years of my life, I was always keen to know more and more about pioneers of Hindi cinema - the stars, the singers, the producers and directors and it became my hobby to scan through old issues of film magazines or listen to old songs in my repeated visits to gramophone records stores and record whatever information I could get in a journal. This helped me write articles on early era of films, many of which were published in magazine edition of mainstream newspapers like the Hindustan Times, New Delhi, and eventually helped me write a book on Bollywood, “Bless You Bollywood!”, which was published in the U.S. to mark completion of 100 years of Hindi cinema.
Amongst my many contributions to the Hindustan Times, one of my articles, “Era of the Singing Stars” was especially appreciated by late Khushwant Singh, the then Editor of HT, who gave it a prominent place on the back page of the Saturday magazine section besides supplementing with photos of the singers from their own records. He was impressed by the article as it revived memories of the early period in Indian cinema when every lead player in movies had to be a melodious singer too, and and some of them sang all time all time hit songs that were still popular, long after many of the singer-actors had passed away. My wife Jeet suggested that I send a clipping of the published article to a famous film producer, who had made many successful documentaries and short films that were telecast on Doordarshan, the only TV channel available to viewers in India then. She thought the article had the most appropriate material suited for a TV mini series or a short film on the era of singing stars. I knew it was Jeet’s way of praising my work, but all the same, I sent a clipping to the producer, not expecting a response from such a reputed producer. But to my very pleasant surprise, I received a prompt reply from the producer:
“It is a beautiful article that takes us back to the golden era of the great singing stars. I am amazed at your memory in recollecting title lines of all the hit songs and names of the related movies. There is no doubt that based on the article, a beautiful documentary can be made on the singing stars of the bygone era. But it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to collect all the relevant clippings from the very old films of that period, and therefore, it was not feasible to implement the proposal.”
Jeet and I had almost forgotten about the article, as many more articles of mine on varied topics had appeared in the paper thereafter, when we were rudely reminded of it while watching the TV one day. A beautifully documented film on the bygone era of the great singing stars was being telecast. It had the same concept, the same contents, though with a different commentary, as was my article on the subject. And it could not have been coincidental that the same producer, to whom I had sent the clipping of my article, was credited for making it.