Surat connoisseur charms Bollywood bigwigs

Harish Raghuvanshi, a low-profile businessmen in this diamond centre of Gujarat, was not surprised when film comedian Johnny Lever telephoned him.

"Lever told me, 'Gulshan (Grover) told me that you had done detailed research on his work and come out with his filmography. Can you do the same for me?' I readily accepted Lever's offer," Raghuvanshi told IANS modestly.

Raghuvanshi is already well known for his works on legendary singers Mukesh and K.L. Saigal.

"I was a diehard fan of Mukesh since my youth. The passion for his mellifluous voice often left me wondering about the exact number of his songs," he said.

The numbers varied widely. Even Mukesh's son Nitin Mukesh did not know the exact number of songs sung by his father.

Diligently working between 1980 and 1986, Raghuvanshi discovered that Mukesh had sung 1,100 songs.

The book "Mukesh Songs' Encyclopaedia" contains the complete lyrics of Mukesh's songs, names of his films, release dates, and details of music directors and producers.

Raghuvanshi has authored a similar work on Saigal too.

"After Mukesh, I decided to work on Saigal's filmography. Apart from his songs and films, it was surprising to learn Saigal had sung two songs in Persian.

"To translate the Persian songs into Hindi, I had to search for a Persian expert. A Persian teacher in Surat said the language of the songs was old-style Persian," he said.

Raghuvanshi was successful after a US-based Persian expert contacted him on the Internet and volunteered to translate Saigal's Persian songs.

The filmography on Saigal states he sang 200 songs, of which 115 were for Hindi films, 38 were non-film Hindi songs, 32 were in Bengali and two each were in Punjabi, Tamil and Persian.

Raghuvanshi's penchant for digging out filmdom's forgotten details has catapulted him from his kiosk-sized shop of electronic goods to the dizzying heights of Bollywood glamour.

"It was the need of a researcher in Bollywood that did the trick. Every busy star would like to have his complete work profile in hand.

"When word about my filmography on Mukesh reached Bollywood, Gulshan too wondered if his work could be documented in such a way," said Raghuvanshi.

Raghuvanshi finished Gulshan's filmography in 2000, detailing the Bollywood villain's 250 films.

Apart from working on Johnny Lever's filmography, Raghuvanshi is also researching the contribution of Gujaratis to Bollywood.