Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sajjad Mama : Charming personality of sweet heart and tongue

Last week on You Tube, I was watching an interview of O P Nayyar being taken by Amin Sayani and my thoughts as they always happen with the word ' Sayani' veered towards Sajjad Mama known to the otherd as just 'Sajjad ' or 'Sajjad Sayani ' . An uncanny similarity between the two Sayani personalities was their gift of gab with charm of sweetness.

Y'day when I learnt about the passing away of Sajjad Mama, all those incidents of my interaction with him rolled out like a movie film. He was a professional photographer and had several stories to narrate of his adventures of freelance photography. My earliest memory of him was during the period of ' Bhiwandi Hindu Muslim Riots'. I was in my single digit age by then but his vivid narration of going to Bhiwandi amidst all the mayhem prevailing and taking still shots, getting them processed at Kodak (that was the only film processing studio in Mumbai) and then mailing to BBC in London was riveting and still fresh in memory. His art of reproducing a Bhiwandi riot scenario through sweetness of his tongue matched in equal measure the literary narrative of Bhishma Sahani' experience of Bhiwandi in Tamas.

For me, Sajjad mama represented a perfect PR man. He was people's man and would thrive in the company of people. I don't think I ever saw him sitting alone in any event. He would make sure that he would reach across everyone, greet with smile and humility irrespective of their age or their association with him. How often we become inhibitive of approaching anyone because we can't place their name or feel burdened by the thought of their not being in our age group. For Sajjad Mama, words like ' vahini ' ' bal' ' baba' ' aai' ' aaji' cut across all generations or gender effortlessly. He would love to talk and talk for ever. People often are wary of incessant talkers but with him you would be spellbound by his sweetness of his heart and tongue. All it took ' one personal meeting' for any stranger to claim his association with him. I have never heard him saying anything untoward or inappropriate about anyone, hallmark of his gentleness and noble character. With twinkle in his eyes and child like enthusiasm, his narrative of any interesting story would often begin with “Tula mee Sangto....." and I would make myself part of the adult setting abandoning my fellow aged kids, because there was nothing more entertaining than listening to him.

I do not know when and how he became part of Kurdikar family; perhaps it could be from his growing years at Gowalia tank. But he became an inseparable part of Kurdikar clan all his life. I remember his enthusiasm when Mai Aaji (Gantapswini Moghubai Kurdikar) was accorded Padma Vibushan and Doordarshan crew had arrived to film the event at the Gowalia Tank. This was a perfect setting for Sajjad Mama to display his professional skills and pride of being part of Kurdikar. He was at the helm of recording the event by creating a theme, directing every participant of their role and the photographer about the manner this event would be filmed.

With my drifting away from Mumbai, I lost my contact with him but his personality, charm and sweet communicative skills remained with me forever. Through Sajjad Mama, I realized that if we have a courtesy and courage to apply sweetness of words in sincere manner, we all are so well received, accepted and gets connected in every relationship. Sajjad mama, every one shall miss your presence and so would I. May your soul remain as noble and vivacious as you were in this material world.

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