The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Music and beyond

Taking a new direction

AADESH SHRIVASTAVA: “Yes,” he smiles shyly. “It just happened so suddenly. But it had to happen. I’ve made a 12-minute film about child prostitution called Sanaa. It stars the Black girl, Ayesha Kapoor, in the title role'. It’s been an exhausting, enlightening and life-changing experience for me.”

Aadesh and child prostitution' “I know it’s hard to associate me with something so sensitive. But the idea of doing this film came to me when I was returning from the Mumbai airport at 1:30 am. My car was in a lane in Juhu which is infamous for its red-light activity. There, at that unearthly hour I saw a little girl telling an autorickshaw driver, ‘Give me money and I’ll give you pleasure.’ I was shocked and numbed. For days after, I couldn’t get the picture of that little girl out of my head. Have we lost all sense of decency in today’s day and age' Can we really violate children in such a way' I had to do something about it. The question was, what'”

Aadesh had to fight an uphill battle to direct Sanaa. “First of all, I needed a 10-year old protagonist who could express all the shades required for this complicated part. When I zeroed in on Ayesha and approached her mother, they were advised by their well-wishers from Bollywood ' whom I don’t wish to name ' not to get into this complicated issue.

Luckily for me, Ayesha’s mother is German and therefore far more liberal than an Indian mother might have been. She understood how important my film’s message was.” Throughout the film’s making in Mumbai, Ayesha was completely protected from the true nature of the theme. “We took utmost care to withhold the delicate theme from the child. Ayesha was told what to do, but not why.”

Aadesh did considerable research on the subject before embarking on the film. “Twenty per cent of the Nepali female population that comes to India for the flesh trade is under-age. What are we doing about this menace except turning a blind eye pretending everything is fine as long as our own children are safe' Through my film, Sanaa, I hope to create an awareness. It’s been accepted for the Asia-Pacific festival. I also hope to tie up with CRY to show it in various parts of the world.”

Aadesh is thankful to Sanjeev Mohan Gupta (of the Jagran group) who agreed to finance Sanaa. “Otherwise who would back such a non-profitable venture' I feel it’s time for me to make myself useful in ways other than music. I’m thinking of producing a film for Kalpana Lajmi. I like her subject of Devdasi and will probably produce it.”

Uff...kya honour!

SANDESH SHANDILYA: It’s a historic happening in the music world that would’ve gone unnoticed were it not for the fact that the world-renowned pianist and composer Richard Clayderman sent a copy of his latest album to Sandesh Shandilya. “That’s how I came to know my tune from Uff'Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai is in Richard Clayderman’s album! I’m stunned and honoured. Sunidhi Chauhan has rendered the song.”

The song had sunk without a trace after the film had vanished. Sandesh is the first Bollywood musician to be billed in an international album. Why haven’t the composer and the film’s producers Barjatyas bothered to play up this unprecedented achievement' Sandesh shrugs, “I don’t know. I came to know of this honour by accident. When I saw my name along with Richard Clayderman.” It’s strange that no one involved with the film Uuf...Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai seemed to think Clayderman’s honour is important enough to play it up back home.

Sandesh best known for his haunting melodies, Bhaage re man in Chameli and Suraj hua madhyam in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... is in all probability going to be the first Bollywood musician to be billed alongside an international musician. Sandesh is also going to be the first Bollywood musician to have composed music for an international venture.

“It’s a film based on the life of Mother Teresa directed by Gautam Ghosh (not the Kolkata-based director). He’s been in LA for the last 25 years. Now he’s making another Hollywood film, and he wants me to do the music for that film, too.”

In Bollywood, Sandesh says he needs to do more work. “I was being too selective. I’d do four films out of which three wouldn’t get released during a year. I’m now working on Jahnu Baruah’s second Hindi film, then I’m also doing Sriram Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddar and Guddu Dhanoa’s next musical. I’m also doing a children’s film produced by Jhamu Sugandh. It’s an Indian Harry Potter. So by the grace of God, I intend to build my career at home before looking Westwards.”

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