Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kalpana Lajmi: Bhupen Never Made Me Feel Fat or Ugly

.............. What intrigues is the pull of a man who could make a young girl alter the course of her life. “I was greatly influenced by my father the late Captain Gopi Lajmi. He was a brown sahib. He was an unusual Indian male – liberal, non-inquisitive and someone who never gossiped. Also my grandmother, a great raconteur, introduced me to the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagwad Gita. My uncle, director Shyam Benegal was a surrogate father. I assisted him and grasped much from him. I found a combination of all these personalities in Bhupen,” she analyses her attraction to The Bard of Brahmaputra as the musician was called. ‘‘Bhupen’s detachment to the material world drew me to him. Moreover, he gave me financial and intellectual freedom. That was far greater than someone holding my hand and saying ‘Let’s get married’.”

Kalpana insists she was a one-man woman. “I did have admirers, but they understood I wasn’t focussed on them. I’m not trying to be a sant (saint) though. Whether he was a one-woman man, I don’t know (Laughs). That I’ll never know because whenever I’d confront him about something he’d say, ‘No, no, that’s not true, aisa kuch bhi nahin hai’. I’m sure there were others considering the field he was in. He was such a charming man and a gigantic personality. But he was not a womaniser. Also, I don’t like the phrase ‘women threw themselves at him’.
Unless a man responds, no woman can move ahead.”

Married to ArtAbout their easygoing equation she says, “Without the strain of marriage we lived the life of a married couple. I never wanted to get married, never wanted to have a child. Being an artiste, he was irresponsible. He’d go for a show at 10 pm and come back home the next day at 10 am. I didn’t want to harness my energies to harness his. And only if there’s peace, can one create. Also, I didn’t have to prove myself to him. I didn’t ever have to fit into the idea of a perfect woman; he never made me feel fat and ugly. It was never a male gaze.”

The age difference never bothered her. “He was young in mind and had super energy. Pahadis are genetically strong. While I’d climb up the stairs slowly, he’d run up!” His last words to me were, ‘What will you do without me?’ Surely, it’s lonely without him but I’m trying to be productive. Though I don’t have the urge to be in the rat race or to climb, gnaw, tear and chew into the social fabric of the world. Yet, one has to survive. I know he’s somewhere around. That’s reassuring!”