No occasion of patriotic significance is complete without songs written or sung by Kavi Pradeep. Old works of the writer, like Ai mere watan ke logon, Aao bachchon tumhen dikhayen, Chal chal re naujawan and Door hato ai duniya walon directly address and inspire millions of Indians spanning several generations.
However, except when the Dadasaheb Phalke Award was conferred upon him a little while before his death, the poet went largely unrecognised. Like his exhortation to his countrymen to remember the sacrifices of their martyrs is heeded only twice a year, his own work too is recalled only this often.
It is to make the world aware of his immense contribution to nation-building that the Kavi Pradeep Foundation has been set up by his wife, and his daughters, Ms Sargam and Ms Mitul. They are assisted in their task by former MLA and now general secretary of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), Mr Avinash Pande. He is also a distant relative of the poet.
He says, "I consider Kavi Pradeep my guru. I have seen him work for 20-22 years, and have been enamoured by his ideas and ideology. I would say thefamily's beliefs are the same as his. Which is why we thought of starting this society. Our aim is to collect and compile his works in the form of a book, and to make a film on him. We shall try to get the authorities to incorporate Kavi Pradeep's writings into the syllabus in schools and colleges."
Mr Pande vouches for the poet's purity of thought, his simplicity and humbleness, which he says have inspired many people who came in contact with him. "His work was plagiarised blatantly, but he neither complained nor confronted any of the offenders. I do believe he never got his due as a writer, and was largely forgotten by the government and the public. Except towards the end of his life, when the government realised his worth and honoured him with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award," observes Mr Pande.
He looks back on the award ceremony with pleasure, though, saying everyone right from ordinary government workers to bureaucrats and politicians showered their love and affection on Kavi Pradeep and gave him a standing ovation. "And yet, the writer neither craved, nor got, what we call material honour," rues Mr Pande.
He informs us that Doordarshan made a film on Kavi Pradeep titled Chal Akela in 1995, and then Films Division made another after his death. However, Mr Pande would have liked these documentaries to have focussed more on the artiste as a patriot. After all, Kavi Pradeep's name heads the list of writers who wrote with such feeling for their motherland.
But Mr Pande expects the foundation's film and book will fill this gap, although he cannot say which will be released first. "Our documentary is an independent venture and besides being a kind of biography, it will highlight the poet's thoughts on national integration. Stalwarts from the field of literature have contributed to it, like Dr Ram Manohar Tripathi, Dr Pushpa Soni, Dr Shivmangal Singh `Suman', Mr Nand Kishore Nautiyal, Mr Madhup Pandey, Dr Vyas, the Gujarati writer Mr Pandya, Mr Upendra Trivedi, Mr G D Joshi, and so many others. Dr Pramod Dwivedi, who has written a book on Kavi Pradeep titled Shabd Swar Ke Sumeru, is also assisting this venture. Even the eminent composer, Naushad Sahab, has evinced keen interest in our project. Kavi Pradeep's nephew, who himself is a great writer and heads the Department of Hindi Literature in Vikram University, Ujjain, is working with us," Mr Pande says.
Despite the worthy intention, it is possible that a film screened once, or a book excerpted in a couple of publications will bring the Geet Rishi into the limelight for a few days alone. The foundation knows theirs is an ongoing effort.
Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.