New Delhi: They
entertained, educated and enlivened our lives with their talent
and sheer brilliance. As another year draws to a close, it is time
to remember their magic and say adieu once again to some of those
who left us in 2011.
Bhimsen Joshi: In what was described as the sun setting on Indian
classical music, the iconic Hindustani music vocalist passed away
at his hometown Pune Jan 24 at the age of 88. The Bharat Ratna
awardee was known for his mellifluous 'khayals' as well as his
popular renditions of devotional 'abhangs' and 'bhajans'. But he
also lent his powerful, moving voice to cinema in Hindi films like
"Basant Bahar'"(1956) with Manna Dey, "Birbal My Brother" (1973)
and "Ankahee" (1985).
Anant Pai: It was his creativity that gave generations of children
their first glimpse into the fascinating world of Indian mythology
and history. Shorn of any esoteric abstractions, it was Uncle Pai's Amar Chitra Katha comics that taught children simply and
easily the intricate lessons of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana
and introduced them to the myriad characters from the ages gone
by. Pai, who also introduced the Tinkle comics series, died Feb 24
at the age of 81.
Sathya Sai Baba: He was widely revered as god and attracted a
following of millions of people, who flocked from across the world
to his home in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh, which went from
obscurity to global fame. Sathya Sai Baba preached an eclectic
blend of Hindu religion. He died April 24 at the age of 85,
leaving behind a legacy of philanthropy but also controversy, with
sceptics questioning his proclaimed divinity and investigators
finding cash, gold and silver worth nearly Rs.59 crore from his
M.F. Husain: With his flowing white beard, intense gaze and
penchant for walking barefoot, he met the stereotype of the genius
artist. The prolific, phenomenally successful painter died June 9
in London, far away from his beloved India, at the age of 96. It
was a virtual exile for the country's best known artist, who left
home in 2006 after being hounded and threatened by rightwing
activists for his paintings of goddesses. He yearned to get back.
Alas, that was never to be.
Shammi Kapoor: Hindi cinema's "Junglee", "Professor" and "Bluff
Master" who jolted audiences out of their lethargy with his
romantic war cry of "Yahoo", which is said to have inspired even
Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, died after a long illness Aug 14.
Shammi Kapoor, 79, who jived and rock-and-rolled like no other
before him and redefined the image of the traditional hero to
become an enduring style legend, gave his last performance in the
fittingly titled "Rockstar" that released after his death.
Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi: India's cricket legend, who personified
style on and off the cricket field, died Sep 22 when he was just
70. The former Indian captain, who was felled by a lung infection,
played 46 Test matches for India between 1961 and 1975. With
cricket, cinema and royalty making for a heady cocktail, the late Nawab of Pataudi, who was married to actress Sharmila Tagore and
whose son Saif is one of Bollywood's biggest stars, was never out
of the limelight.
Bhupen Hazarika: The bard of Brahmaputra fell silent for eternity
Nov 5. But his haunting melodies "Dil hoom hoom kare" and "Ganga
behti ho kyon" resonate through the country, particularly his
homeland Assam. Hazarika, who gave voice to the aspirations of
millions in the northeast, died at the age of 85 in a Mumbai
hospital. His funeral four days later in Guwahati saw an upsurge
of humanity, with some crying, others barely managing to hold back
Hargobind Khurana: The Punjab-born scientist, who made the US his
home, won the Nobel Prize in 1968. Khorana shared the prize with
Robert Holley of Cornell University and Marshall Nirenberg of the
National Institutes of Health. Khorana, who died Nov 9 in
Massachusetts, revolutionised biotechnology with his pioneering
work in DNA chemistry. He was born in India in 1922 in a small
village in Punjab that is now part of Pakistan.
Dev Anand: Bollywood's very own Peter Pan finally said sayonara
Dec 4 this year at the age of 88, an actor who epitomised the
suave lover romancing his way through generations of heroines --
from Nalini Jaywant to Zeenat Aman. With a legacy of some of Hindi
cinema's finest films and best loved songs, Dev Anand acted,
directed and produced unflaggingly for six decades. From "Baazi"
in 1951 to "Chargesheet" in 2011, it was an untrammeled joyride -
for us and for him. The star died, but the sparkle lives on.
(Minu Jain can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)