For Vidya Balan’s dad, it was a question of only crossing the road – the function was bang opposite Vidya’s parents’ building in Khar, Mumbai.
The inauguration of the much-delayed Hemant Kumar Chowk which was scheduled to coincide with his 100th birth anniversary on June 16, 2020, had to be put off for two years because of the pandemic.
It finally happened when Bollywood, Bengal and the BJP came together on the morning of Thursday June 16, the legendary music composer and singer’s 102nd birth anniversary. Even the rain gods blessed it by taking a break in the nick of time.
Amiable Nitin Mukesh rose hours before his normal wakeup time but this was a special occasion. Mukesh, his celebrated father, and Hemant Kumar were colleagues and family friends. Also, Nitin and Hemant Kumar’s son Jayant Mukherjee (Babu to friends) studied at St Xavier’s College at the same time and used to sing at the Sangeet Mandal decades ago.
Hemant Kumar’s daughter-in-law Moushumi Chatterjee wore an elegant beige and yellow saree from Kolkata for the morning function while her daughter Meghaa chose an attractive red. Much missed was Moushumi’s older daughter Payal who passed away tragically in December 2019.
Shakti Samanta’s son Ashim and Deb Mukerji (son of S Mukerji who had brought Hemant Kumar to Bombay and Hindi cinema) were a part of the gathering under a shamiana.
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar arrived with a spring in his step to join BJP’s famous MLA Ashish Shelar, Moushumi and Babu for the inauguration. BJP corporator Alka Kerkar who’d pitched in to make this chowk come true, was also present.
From the inimitable ‘Dol kara’ (the Hridaynath Mangeshkar composition in Marathi that Hemant Kumar sang with Lata Mangeshkar) to memorable Hindi songs like ‘Ya dil ki suno’ from Anupama, Hemantda’s voice added the right musical note to the morning.
Incidentally, the Khar-Santa Cruz area is also home to other chowks named after famous musicians including RD Burman, Chitragupt and Arun Paudwal.