In Memorium: Manubhai Gadhvi

I smile everytime I think of Manubhai Gadhvi, Sanjaybhai’s father.

And he’s passed away. The first person in this city who told me: ‘You are bright and you will be successfull!’ is gone. Someone calls me at 12 in the night: ‘Did you hear about Sanjay’s father?’ My smile wanes.

I came to Bombay from Ahmedabad, in 1999. My career there was finished. I had no friends. I had no money. I badly needed someone to tell me ‘Giddyup! Boy! The world is waiting for you!’ I needed someone to hold my hand. Believe in me. But no one does that to a ‘struggler’ in Bombay. Sometimes, I was politely shown the doors and sometimes the doors were slammed on my face. Then, I met Sanjaybhai. I guess he must have seen something in me. He hired me. I was, honestly, scared of him. All assistants were. (Sanjay Gadhvi, 1999, pretty fiery in the role of a first time director).

A week later, Sanjaybhai asked me if I could go to his house and meet his father. He wanted to do some television thing ‘…and I don’t know jackshit about the idiot box’. I promptly nodded yes. Having directed and written for regional TV in A’bad, I was deemed qualified for the interview with Manubhai.

Now, Manubhai was a kind of person who puts you in comfort zone within 2 seconds of meeting. You see him. He sees you. He gives you a big smile and a wave of hand and calls you warmly in. Everytime you see him. Its the same. Same affection, same love, same big smile and the same customary wave of hand that calls you to sit next to him. I believe if someone would walk over to kill him with a gun in hand, he’d have behaved the same. ‘Arrey arrey Bandookwala Bhai? Aavo aavo.. beso beso!’

I loved sitting down on the rug next to him and talking. And we talked. Serious stuff man! Firstly, we both loved Gujarati literature (Manubhai was probably the finest authorities on Gujarati folk literature) and secondly, he was like a minefield full of anecdotal gems. You step on left and ‘Boom!’ an anecdote sprang up. You stepped right and ‘Boom!’ went another. Talking to him went on for hours. A lot of times during scripting sessions of ‘Mere Yaar Ki Shadi Hai’ Manubhai would call me to his room and we’d start chatting while Sanjaybhai waited for us outside. Sometimes he’d get irritated and would send a message to his dad that he’s waiting for Mayur outside and ‘We have work to do!’ Manubhai would smile promptly and say: ‘Then what are we doing? Wise discussions are never a waste!’

Yes, they are never… I think of Manubhai again… One of the wisest men I’ve known, one of the clearest, simplest, most charming and most principled. But above all, the one with an unforgettable smile.

You had a good life uncle. Maybe someday at the end of our journeys, we could smile like you and take a graceful exit, like you did!

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