|24.02.1924 - 09.05.1998|
Long childhood hours were companionably spent with my father, he smoking one cigarette after the other, reading the latest bestseller, or re-reading Wodehouse, while I sprawled with the newest comic or Enid Blyton that he inevitably bought for us while returning from his many trips. And in the background, always, always, were songs from old films, whether it was on the gramophone that my father had picked up in France before I was born, or on the old radio that was always tuned to Vividh Bharati.
It was on one of those smoke-filled Sunday afternoons that I was first introduced to Talat Mahmood. The song? Ye hawa ye raat ye chandni... I remember asking my father who the singer was. I cannot claim to have fallen in love with his silken voice then, but I filed the name away, alongside Mohammed Rafi's as someone whose voice held magic. My dad's collection of LPs didn't have many Talat Mahmood songs, though. And even the radio programmes of the day played more Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi numbers than they did that of any other male singer. It was only after my father bought home a stereo player and a regular supply of music cassettes began making their way into our house that I became more familiar with Talat Mahmood's body of work. Sangdil, Aaram, Aarzoo, Waris, Mirza Ghalib, Taxi Driver... now when my father came home, it was not only new books that I waited for eagerly; I would hurriedly 'help' him unpack, so I could see the new cassettes he had bought to add to our collection.