Remembering Ranjit Chowdhry

Updated: Apr 17, 2020, 19:50 IST | | Mumbai

Here is a column penned by the late actor that was shared by his sister Raell Padamsee as part of his weekly diary

Ranjit Chowdhry
Ranjit Chowdhry

“Ranjit... an unbelievable raconteur, and such incisive wit...” - Raell Padamsee

Mrs. Nandini Sardesai sure loves her meat. Overheard at the Dilip Sardesai tribute by Farokh Engineer (read Farokh Engineer on Farokh Engineer) she was overheard saying: "Yes, I"d love to come for dinner but it has to be non-veg".

"Madam Sardesai" the unidentified man replied: "aaayyeee shapath, I promise Madam she will not see anything green on the table."

They took off towards the dais as I, an NRI got my real taste of lightly mayo-ed chicken sandwiches, chutney and cheese, mini wadas and sugarless tea. While waiting for the keynote speaker to be introduced by my new hero Rajdeep Sardesai, Kunal Vijaykar got up 7 times to adjust his collar. I thought this was a heads up for the function to begin.

"And now, someone announced, his back to the audience, "Mrs. Sardesai will give the guest of honor Mr. Farokh Engineer a gift".

Five minutes later there was no sign of any gift -- only Farrokh, in a powder blue suit, empty handed, looking very much like a bouncer at a senior's club, quipping in Marathi to the general audience and Mrs. Sardesai biting into what must have been a chicken patty.

If this had been a live broadcast…

My new hero Rajdeep Sardesai opened the attack against Farokh, reeling him in and coaxing tidbits from the life of the honoree Dilip Sardesai. Not to digress but i saw Dilip's 200-odd innings live from the terrace near The Brabourne Stadium. Not to name drop, but the terrace belonged to Shashi Tharoor.

My still new hero Ranjdeep Sardesai threw the gauntlet to Farrokh -- the gauntlet being -- tell us about your experiences with Dilip Sardesai. Oddly enough Farokh must have heard him say -- tell us as much as you can about yourself in an hour.

And so it began.

Farokh Engineer. Life as a Dadar bawa.

The first Indian playboy cricketer -- at which point Kunal rose again and doffed his collar.

Poddar college.

Selected for The Indian cricket team.

Being selected the wicketkeeper of The World XI over Allan Knott and some other Aussie. Was Farokh a wicketkeeper/batsman or a batsman/wicketkeeper?

Issues with Venkataraghavan -- which have all been sorted out.

Farokh's 92 before lunch just missing a century at Chepauk -- did he chicken out or was it just not to be -- discuss amongst yourselves.

A truly informative educational section on what it was like to keep wicket to the fab four spinners of the time and finally some slight he"d received by many a selector during his career.

Farokh dismissed any sort of grudge or pushback against the selector fellows with -- "Arrey yaar jaaoon dey" he said in Marathi. "Parsis don"t have a mean bone in their bodies."

Of course only Diana Eduljee could have stood up to differ -- holding onto a mean Parsi bone clearly plucked from Farokh Engineer.

She admonished the imaginary bone she held in her hand while berating playboy cricketer about some insults he"d hurled at her during some OCA or such other acronym meeting.

Cue Kunal and his collar.

Diana and Farrokh spoke over each other like they were both guilty of something and then agreed that never mind their spat which the media had hyped - the said acronym was a waste of time and money.

After this minor glitch, the questions poured forth and the answers came -- glib, fast, funny, insightful from the very charming spontaneous Engineer, I shook my head and said to myself -- "wait a minute isn"t this supposed to honor Dilly Sardesai? But no one had noticed and no one seemed to mind that the Dilip Sardesai event was hijacked most brilliantly by India"s first playboy cricketer.

By the end, an enthralled audience of 200 led by Kunal Vijaykar rose to its feet. Next year I suppose they"ll get Kapil Dev to tell us about Tunbridge Wells!

Wouldn"t miss it for anything.

- Ranjit Chowdhry

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