Masterpiece restored

Yes, look closely at the picture & it is me, nearly 2 decades ago. This was when satellite channels first came to India, when Aaj Tak, headed by SP Singh would be aired on DD Metro.

This picture was possible only thanks to technology. Those days were of pagers (oops don’t want to sound like a dinosaur) & more VHS players. Video recorders which were attached to the television sets, like today’s DVD players or drives with stereos, etc. There were 6inches video tapes from 60 min to 3 hours that were used to record & play. Some great shows, films, videos we have seen on these VHSs. This was possible really thanks to one Pankajbhai, tiny, squeaky place on Kalbadevi main road who was introduced to me by a twitter friend Vishal.

A few months ago I tweeted if anyone knew from where & cost of getting VHS tapes converted to DVDs. It costs a lot, moreover it’s a lengthy process & conversion takes time. Vishal googled & called up, we got few contacts & we exchanged notes. While at Mahim 1 man said he charges rs 10 a minute, that was more expensive than a piece of jewellery. Coz i had nearly 10 3 hours of tapes. Since I was among the first few women journalists on tv then, it was exciting to get recordings of my work.

Mainly because most of the channels do NOT give us reporters on roll any archives or your work reel. Even if they were to put a water mark & give unlike in foreign countries, here there are few pro-employee rules in most industries, moreover the media. So it was nice, friends, family or me would record. As a result over daily news bulletin of 3 years, I have only few hours of footage. But what a splendid surprise I got.

My whole journey of getting my work converted from VHS tapes to DVDF was self- exploration. I had absolutely NO idea who all I had interviewed. As daily discipline for good mental health, I erased all memories from my brain. I don’t want to remember & sound nostalgic. I needed to see my own work.

I simply found out of this place, called Pankaj & went over with my bag full of tapes. Pankajbhai had asked if these tapes had fungus, I happily refuted & he showed me eventually the condition of those tapes. He said they all would be given an acid wash & then only he could decide whether they could be salvaged. It was 2 weeks of palpitation.

I can’t explain to readers what it is to see one’s own work, that too years later. I know my look changed on-screen every few months. On a dehati channel where most had long flowing hair that appealed to the Indian eye & mentality here was a bohemian girl who wore that attitude on her face & sleeve. Some of seniors & a older colleague felt I was a misfit, SP loved that I would walk in with a cap on my head, sneakers, short hair & spoke Bambaiya Hindi. He approved, while others burnt their…..

I had trunk full of memories, most erased from my mind, but not from the evidence-VHS tapes. Experience of a near accident off Western Ghats on old Pune highway, as driver nearly fell off to sleep over the steering wheel, one altercation outside Thackeray house where he nearly threatened me & finally apologised profusely as he learnt his son had lied about the shoot, or times of many altercations with police (I love to hate them & vice versa) …many other  nicer ones…meeting some heroes of my life -Azaruddin, or a total kid out-of-school Sachin Tendulkar who finally became capt of India, amazing creative personalities…

or lot many more dangerous ones… Brains splintered of a fireman who was sitting atop a huge fire engine, when it upturned outside Nirmal building on a sharp right turn & he was crushed underneath that weight, that gut feeling proved true-a headless body was found, while tiny, pink shavings, which were his brain were splintered around…a man who was shot at point blank under a foot-over-bridge on Bandra station & the smell of fresh blood from his wound had gone straight in my intestines. Later his 12-bullet ridden body lay like a piece of waste on a stretcher. While many a red-faced politician either snapping or walking smugly, depending on which side he was walking past our camera.

Or some of the memorable times when Datta Samant was slain & the tension thereafter, Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar as Ramdas Athavle stood taking beatings while Prakash Ambedkar sat locked in a hut, many a flood & riot…blood soaked bodies, bloody foot prints of someone wanting to live as he ran for safety at Gateway Of India….all the memories can’t all be told or recollected.

After 15 days of all these thoughts I went by with absolute tensed emotions. What was salvaged, what all can I show next generation –not mine but nieces, nephews, students-what was that I could call mine own? And I was thoroughly shocked!

A bunch of DVDs & that kind Pankajbhai had taken effort to make them look professional. He had taken stills of many of these persons I’d interviewed & made a collage of cover for these DVD jackets! Wow…I wanted to jump…my smile was from ear to ear…I thanked him profusely. And Panjakbhai said, “Sister bolo ney yeh aap ke kya kaam ka hai? Aap ne itna paisa waste kyu kiya?” I was shaking by then, waste? Yeh kya bol rahe ho. Pankajbhai was then told, “Yeh mera kaam hai sir. Meine ki hui stories hai,” “aap reporter hai? Lekin yeh sab toh itna juna hai. Aapki kaam ke vajah se shayad itna old nahi lagtey” hello…Pankajbhai come to the point…this is MY effort…he was frozen on looks, body, sehat…hmmm sigh…

Thankfully Pankajbhai began showing me as test proof the DVDs.. wait Pankajbhai…oh wow! I exclaimed. “Kaun hai yeh? Beauty queen?” Haan…she is Pamela Bordes. aah…achcha…chalo agey…

And believe me Pamela still looks a hottie. & lo behold! Her pouting lips with Red lipstick, black hair that must’ve enticed many a MP in House of Commons when she was an escort. That interview was when she had returned as a photographer, while i thought she still was perfect in front of the camera. Pamela you were something..

MF Hussain when he 1st designed a chair for Living Room, the owner Jehangir Negree…who i met recently when Hussain died…Hussain i’d interviewed few times, Bal Thackeray many a time –exclusive interviews, Ali Sardar Jaffery, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Amitabh Bachchan, Lata Mangeshkar, quite a few PMs, CMs, Ajit kerkar, Ratan Tata… the time I tracked down Nadeem in London while he was named as main accused, Arun Gawli, other gangsters who were finished…many a beauty queen…

More over the one lone heroine –Sheela Kini. Chhagan Bhujbal had called me to his official bungalow, B-3 opp Mantralay & introduced me to this frail lady sitting absolutely scared to bits. She had written a letter to Bhujbal, who had moved into NCP, opposition leader. He was going to shake the Sena-BJP govt the next day with her plea..her husband was bumped off by Raj Thackeray’s friend Suman Shah….that is one special interview I will also remember…that lady was a true unsung HERO.

The thoughts also went back to this frame. It was monsoons (when I’m the happiest) & I was returning from Khadkee after 2 stories & had stopped over in Khandala…it was pouring & Ghulam was just released…that’s when I did a rain, wet story on ‘Aati kya Khandala” this is a frame frozen from the PTC of that time… J

Imagine all that work converted today, saved, restored & transferred on a DVD, my heirlooms…while at a flick on youtube you get to see the world…


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