Today I woke up with the info of the 97-year-old legend Chandrashekhar aka Chandrashekharji urf Chandrashekhar sahab breathing his last at his residence. He died peacefully in his sleep. A series of flashbacks started haunting me since I know Chandrashekharji personally as my father’s dear friend. As I am writing this memorial, people from the film industry and media fraternity will be offering respects and by the time you all will read this our dear Chandrashekharji’s last rites will be in process or done but memories which I hold as a person and as a film journalist will remain forever.
This is perhaps the most personal memorial for me of a person who I admired immensely as an individual / human more than anything else.
Born in Hyderabad on 7 July 1923, Chandrashekhar dropped out of college and moved to Mumbai with a diploma in western dancing from the UK. On recommendation from singer Shamshad Begum, got his first job with Shalimar Studios in Pune in 1948. He then received a junior artist role in Bebas (1950), with Bharat Bhushan as the lead character and so on worked in around 250 movies. The world will talk about this but the thing that strikes me the most is his incredible communication skills, knowledge of poetry and those letters he wrote to people.
Chandrashekharji was a prominent character artiste and a very prominent figure in trade circles. He headed CINTA as president for many years.
Chandrashekharji had a habit of writing letters to people, he wrote to everybody from super stars to prime ministers to relatives, friends, their kids, etc.
This author has also received letters from Chandrashekharji as a teenager when I passed my board and as a young graduate when I was about to begin my job. Chandrashekharji’s impeccable bonding with my father – Vermaji (a columnist for the then bible of film industry Screen) made it possible for me to understand the great human behind this popular character actor and activist.
Every Sunday evening whenever that MTNL landline rang, we at our home presumed it to be Chandrashekhar uncle on the other side. He was older than my father but insisted that I call him Chandrashekhar uncle. The conversations on Sunday which lasted for at least an hour ranged from cinema, poetry, politics, religion, sports, youth and so on…
Chandrashekharji had a piece of advice to everyone and I was also the one who received his rare input. His gyan on the world around and the changing times during meetings with him helps me even today.
Chandrashekharji was well read, he kept himself informed and always had things to share.
Today when most of the celebrities stay away from making an opinion about things that are affecting the Nation in this age of social media, Chandrashekharji spoke through his letters to everyone.
A man of taste and style, Chandrashekhar is one of those rare breed of a dancer, actor, filmmaker and reader. The man who started as a junior artiste became a filmmaker, Chandrashekar is instrumental in bringing the legendary Helen into limelight. Helen made her debut as a lead heroine in the 1964 musical drama CHA CHA CHA produced, directed & acted by Chandrashekhar.
A great movie on friendship can be made on the real-life bonding between Chandrashekhar and Bollywood’s first chocolate hero Bharat Bhushan – the legend, the icon known for his romantic image and flamboyant lifestyle with his love for cars, bungalows matched with books. And guess what – the legendary poet Sahir Ludhianvi also makes a special appearance in this bonding between Chandrashekhar, Bharat Bhushan and Sahir Sahab.
Chandrashekhar had the quality to make you feel special. I always remember many those who have visited him will second this. Chandrashekhar’s house is filled with great memories, trophies and those outstandingly delicious seven course meals. There was a time when parties at Chandrashekhar sahab’s house were a common phenomenon. He was very fond of socialising.
I remember the day when he treated me on my first job at his house chatting and relishing those seven course meals.
Last year he celebrated his birthday virtually with the same enthusiasm.
The legacy of Chandrashekhar is carried by his son Ashok and grandsons Shakti Arora (Pavitra Rishta fame TV artiste) and Vishal Shekhar – renowned ad film maker.
Around a year younger to the thespian Dilip Kumar, Chandrashekhar was very much concerned about Dilip Sahab’s health.
Both were eyeing that century but today the legendary Chandrashekharji, as we all know made his move silently to the heaven… cha cha cha ciao. May have communicated with God through stars.
RIP Chandrashekhar : The street singer who will now cha cha cha in heaven.
May god bless the divine departed soul.