Let them RIP
Or, time for some nostalgia
Two people in my life, in a manner of speaking, passed away last week. The first was Rajesh Khanna and the second was Jon Lord, both aged around 70. Seems like a rather early exit, considering that all of us expect to live forever. Everyone, except of course kids of people of my generation, knows who Rajesh Khanna was. But not too many will know who Jon Lord was. To the uninitiated, Lord was one of the Gods of Rock Music, being the keyboard player for the eponymous rock group Deep Purple. Both Rajesh Khanna and Deep Purple were, in different ways, responsible for moulding my thinking and preferences and habits when I was a youth. So, it was indeed a bit of a nostalgic trip when their deaths caused me to reach back into those memories.
My kids can’t understand how RK could ever be called a superstar! What do they know, the twerps! Rajesh Khanna embodied the eternal lover at a time when Romance was the essence of the air we breathed, the spirit of the water we drank and the taste of the food we ate! When he looked at the heroine, it was as though only she existed in the whole world for him and he was there to fulfill her every wish, his very existence was meant only to make her a Goddess. That was his magic. And the songs that he sang! OMG should have been invented back then! Movie after movie, music director after music director, singer after singer, lyricist after lyricist- it all seemed like they were all there only for one hero- Rajesh Khanna! Kids of mine (and your friends), you will never, ever understand that sense of complete domination of your senses by one individual. I aped his walk, copied his dressing style, tried to model my hair like his- and even carried his picture in my wallet! Looking back now, I can’t quite believe that I did all that! But such was the sway he held. Now imagine if he could do that to us guys, what did he do to the girls? They just fainted, I tell you- and I have seen this with my own eyes! No wonder the phrase back then was, “upar Aaka, neeche Kaka” (above is God and on earth is RK). RIP, Rajesh Khanna. Your era died 30 years ago but your songs and movies and your fans will keep you immortal.
My kids won’t know Jon Lord either. But of course, to them it is a lot ‘cooler’ to profess to know Jon Lord than Rajesh Khanna! The first rock song that shook me to the core was Highway Star and it remains, to this day, some 40 years later, a cult piece of music. I was taken in all the way by Ian Gillan’s screechy vocals; the thunderous lead played by (the God of lead guitar) Ritchie Blackmore and the heavenly keyboard masterpiece of Jon Lord. This song was born on a tour bus going to Portsmouth in 1971 when a reporter asked the band how they wrote songs. To demonstrate, Blackmore grabbed an acoustic guitar and began playing a riff consisting of a single “G” repeated over and over, while Gillan improvised lyrics over the top. The song was refined and was performed that same night. Music to me was never the same after that. When this followed up with a hearing of Quadrophenia by The Who, I was gone- it was rock music and nothing else for the next decade or two for me! Aah, what bliss! Jon Lord, rest in peace.
Fortunately, remnants of those days are still around. Amitabh Bachhan, an RK contemporary and rival is ruling the roost. But can he do romance? No chance! When he looks at a woman, it is as though she exists to serve him! Naah, that doesn’t appeal to the romantic in my heart, no way! But Amitabh has his other strengths that an RK could never ever match. So we are happy to settle for that and continue to clutch on to our memories. Similarly, Ritchie Blackmore has mellowed and gone all the way towards medieval music and I love it. Those who haven’t seen that side of this guitar great should check out albums of Blackmore Night- where he teams up with the ethereal voiced Candice Night and they produce some real magic! They are part of my every day listening and even have some ring tones based on their music!
For the week ahead, though, I think I will tune into some of those internet radios and play Rajesh Khanna hits and watch those reruns of Amar Prem and Anand on the TV. And look up discography of Purple to see the albums which featured Lord and play those over the weekend. In any case, the market is doing nothing much anyway. Let me indulge in some nostalgia.