Dalip Tahil: Vanraj Bhatia has had such an interesting life

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Dalip Tahil opens up about his book project on Vanraj Bhatia.

Veteran music composer Vanraj Bhatia made headlines recently after the 93-year-old opened up about his deteriorating health condition and financial troubles.

Actor Dalip Tahil, who considers Bhatia as his mentor, has initiated a book project on the National Award-winning music composer’s life.

We at indianexpress.com approached Tahil to know more about his initiative.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

What is the initiative about? Why did you decide to dedicate a book to Vanraj Bhatia?

Vanraj Bhatia is my guru. He is the one who discovered me in theatre many years ago. He wrote the music of my play and I sang in that play.

He has had such an interesting life. He has contributed so much to the world of music as a composer. So I felt it is time that we did a book on his glorious life. He is 93. He has lived a very interesting life and has worked with some great directors like Shyam Benegal. I wanted to bring his story out in the public domain, so people can know more about him. That is where the idea came from. I think it is time that a book was written on Vanraj Bhatia because he is such a colourful character and a talented human being.

Tell us more about the book.

When I went to meet him on Sunday, I realised that due to Khalid Mohamed’s article, people are beginning to visit him now. But people don’t know about his career, life and all the contributions he has made in the world of music. I wanted to get his story told. And thankfully Khalid has agreed to do it, and now I am in the process of looking for sponsors.

It is an important story to tell people. All that people are hearing now is that he is old and has no money, which is true to an extent, but Vanraj has had the most wonderful life and his contribution is priceless. He is an amazing talent and I don’t want him to go unnoticed.

Today, actor Aamir Khan tweeted about the book. How is he involved in this initiative?

I would like to say a big thank you to Aamir Khan who immediately tweeted about this so we can now get some sponsors because there is a cost to working on this book. I spoke to Aamir and he didn’t hesitate one bit and tweeted. He knows Vanraj’s story needs to be told, and also that Vanraj needs help. Aamir is a person who helps people in the film industry.

Reports suggest that Vanraj Bhatia is suffering from memory loss. How do you plan to go about researching for the book?

For the book, we will be using all the photographs that we have. We will be speaking to people who have been associated with him. Shyam Benegal will be writing the foreword. And we will be using his recollections. We will compile it all. It won’t be an easy task as he is old and has an age-related hearing problem, but his memory is not that bad. He is in good condition for his age. I want this book to be out very quickly because I want to do it while he has his faculties about him and can remember things.

I am so ashamed actually because Vanraj has been so close to me and yet I didn’t know about his dire condition. I moved on and have been doing films. It is very sad that people, who have been so close at one stage, move on and they get old, forgotten and neglected. I would like to help as many people as possible in the film industry. I know there is a corpus because Javed Akhtar also helped him and the Sangeet Academy is now contributing to Vanraj’s expenses. We are also putting a corpus in place where every month he can get some money for his monthly expenses. I think I will only be glad to give people from the industry the due that they deserve because I am from the same industry. Many efforts are being made to take care of those who need to be taken care of and I am willing to do my bit for the same.





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