A national service scheme volunteer, corporate professional, social communicator, creative director, scriptwriter and now a poet – Mukesh Anand has been one of those rare kinds who can take on many different challenges and thrive. This journey has bestowed upon him the labor and subsequent birth of “Tum Kabhi Boodhi Mat Hona” – his book of poems which has recently got published and the foreword for which has been penned by two eminent persons of their respective fields – litterateur Shri Ajit Kumar and screenwriter-director Anurag Kashyap.
Mukesh’s interest in music, poetry, lyrics, and other performing arts is evident given the ambience he has grown up with. He recalls accompanying his father to various classical music concerts in his childhood and having been deeply inspired by the divine music of all-time greats like Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Bahadur Khan, Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pt. Godai Maharaj, Pt. Kishen Maharaj, Ustad Lateef Ahmed Khan, Ustad Sabir Khan, Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki, Pt. Ramujee Shashtri, Kedia Bandhu, Ustad Naseer Ahmed Khan, Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan, Kishori Amonkar, Mehdi Hassan, Pt. Shankar-Shambhu bandhu et al. The fact that his father was a great connoisseur and also a part of the several organizing committees only helped as some of the great artistes also used to visit home. At one of the concerts, he wrote a couplet and asked his father to request Mehdi Hassan sahib to sing it. This was modeled on his popular ghazal “zindagi mein to sabhi pyaar kiya karte hain”. Not wanting to let down a child’s creative aspirations, Hassan sahib smiled and said that he needs to prepare the new lines before singing it to the audience and motivated the young child to keep writing. Recently, Mukesh met Mehdi Hassan’s family in Delhi through a close friend and narrated the incident to his sons – Sajjad and Shehzaad – and together they had a hearty laugh!
In college while many of his friends were busy setting up dates and chasing other dreams, Mukesh was setting up blood and eye donation camps, besides traveling the breadth of the country volunteering for the National Youth Project and engaging with eminent Gandhivadi (before Gandhigiri was born) Dr.Subba Rao. As the student in-charge of National Service Scheme in college, he set-up and led a small team of volunteers who would devote two hours in the evening teaching underprivileged children at the Delhi University ridge. Some of his hostel mates used to think that he has gone crazy and lost track of his educational ambitions. But for him, the experience of contributing to the society even in small ways was always enriching and soul-satisfying. His experience came handy later-on in his new-found career.
Dabbling his hands in journalism for a very short period, he moved on to do behavior change communications and worked on various social communication campaigns for various issues like child rights, elementary education, pulse polio immunization, girl child trafficking, TB control, HIV/AIDS etc. Some awards and many nationally popular campaigns later, he was shortlisted for the EU funded media training project in India and Europe.
But something, he felt, was amiss in his life. Something he had always dreamt of but never pursued for various reasons. As a child he has always loved the sound of the radio announcer detailing the names of ‘geetkaar’ and ‘sangeetkaar’, so on his return from Europe, he decided to relocate to Mumbai and follow his love of writing lyrics and scripts.
In his professional career he feels fortunate to have worked with some of the most creative people in the business – Pradeep Sarkar, Shantanu Moitra, Ketan Mehta, Pritam, Ram Mohan, Bharatbala, Neeraj Vora, Rajat Dholakia, Parmeshwar Godrej, Richard Gere etc. – and have got inspired from their focused approach to work, a sense of purpose and attention to details.
Inspiration behind the poetry book
Over the years, he has read a lot of books and specially got inspired by the poetry of Harivansh Rai Bachchan, ‘Ajneya’, Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena, Trilochan, Nagarjuna, Kedarnath Singh, Ghalib, Faiz, Shiv Kumar Batalvi and many others. All these years Mukesh was also writing but never thought of publishing them until recently. One day, while taking something out of his double bed-box, he realized that much of his writing is being relished by moths and termites and it’s only a matter of time that they would disappear along with the old dilapidated diaries! So, he thought of publishing his collection and presenting it to his wife on her birthday. And according to her, this has been the best gift she has received in years.
On meeting Anurag Kashyap
Recounting the incident Mukesh says, “Anurag is a 24 carat gold. He is pure at heart and almost has child-like innocence. He has absolutely no pretensions and air about himself. I approached him for the foreword of my book as I was aware of his love for literature. Can you imagine he called me over to meet him without any reference or connections? It’s only after our meeting that I told him that we share the same university and some common friends. But even without it, he was natural and forthcoming. I asked him to agree only if he likes the poems, no obligations whatsoever. Next time when I met him he said he has liked the collection and will do the needful. And he kept his word. No tantrums, no mind-games, no frills…that’s Anurag for you”.
It’s only three years since he shifted base and has already co-written two feature film scripts, collaborated as creative consultant on some projects and penned a couple of songs. One of his songs that he wrote for ‘Femina Miss India contest’ got nominated in the best lyrics category at the Indian Telly Awards.
He feels it takes time in the film industry to get one’s foot in the door. On a humorous note he adds, “Usually people come to Mumbai and struggle, they achieve something, get married, and then have children. In my case I got married first, had children and then came to slug it out”. So while he prepares for the long haul, till then no one’s complaining.
He also feels there is a strong gap between the intent and action as a result of which 9 out of 10 films fail to make an impact at the box office. Perhaps people are playing safe at the project approval stage itself. With his passion, knowledge of cinema and trend spotting abilities, he envisions himself as a script development resource in the film production houses that intends to take risks and roll-out successful good cinemas. Commerce and creativity can be merged if there is willingness, he feels.
His book of poems was formally launched at the Crossword Bookstore in Juhu, Mumbai in November of 2009 and is doing reasonably well. And to express his overall feelings, he refers to one of his poems from the book:
“Gahri ganit hai zindagi
ek tinka banaye minus
aur do tinke plus
ek sapna kabhi haath na aaye
kabhi sach ho jayein dus!“