R.I.P. Nana Chudasama: A man of smoking wit
Best known for his witticisms in his Talk of the Town banner at Marine Drive, besides his contributions to social causes, Nana Chudasama was a Mumbai institution
For the first time in decades, citizens who drove by Marine Drive yesterday were greeted not with a witty one-liner by Nana Chudasama, but by the shocking news of the Mumbai legend's death. While for his near and dear ones, he was at heart a family man, for many others, the 86-year-old was the city's voice of conscience, and nothing short of an institution.
Nana was "very much a Bombay man. I always think of Nana as Bombay, he was the city in spirit and soul," said Indrani Malkani, Malabar Hill activist and chairperson of V-CAN (Citizens Action Network).
Nana Chudasama.File Pic
Malkani said that she wants to remember Nana, "for his indomitable spirit". "I had several personal interactions with him, but what will stay with me the most is that when he was unwell, and a little frail, he would arrive at some events in a wheelchair. That was his dedication to the cause shining through," said Malkani.
Shaina NC grieves over her father's body. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Son-in-law Alfaz Miller, married to Nana's eldest daughter Brinda Chudasama-Miller, remembers the 86-year-old as the glue that held the family together. "It was my father-in-law's ability to find that elusive work-life balance that was outstanding. Even though he had so much on his plate, it was he who kept the family together. When he was at home, he brought several generations together; his children, grandchildren came together all at once. He and I would sometimes have a stimulating and peppy conversation about art," recalled the architect.
The 'art' that Nana was synonymous with in Mumbai was his witty commentary on current affairs and social issues through the Talk of the Town banners strung up over Pizza By The Bay at Marine Drive (see 'Seoul searching').
The hoarding at Marine Drive that once bore Nana Chudasama's witty one-liners, now announces his demise
"Nana loved Marine Drive," said R Somani, president of the Marine Drive Citizens' Association. "His thoughts were emblazoned on iconic banners that SoBo drove under daily. It was fitting also that his non-profit, I love Mumbai, used to line the exteriors of the gymkhanas with plants and saplings twice a year. He gave away free plants to people in an effort to keep Mumbai green, long before it became fashionable to be eco-friendly, and carbon footprints and green businesses became stylish buzzwords," finished Somani.
The family in happier days
A 'Giant' in Mumbai
Nana also did plenty of social work though his non-profit, Giants International. Nana was the moving force behind the Giants group's relief efforts in tragedies like the Bhuj earthquake, recall Ashwin Ankhad, central committee member of Giants International, and wife Nayana, who is a member of Giants Group of Chowpatty. "We were on the ground helping those affected one day after the earthquake, and post the Uttarakhand floods too," said the couple.
Wife Munira in mourning with real estate magnate Niranjan Hirnandani
"We remember Nana motivating us, a group of 12 [doctors and volunteers] to go to Kargil during the war. We set up camps to treat the civilian population affected in the fighting," said the Ankhads, with Ashwin adding, "He had such tremendous contacts. He understood the power of networking. He used his contacts to persuade the airlines to take all our gear, medical supplies and equipment to Kargil."
Daughter Brinda and son Akshay during the last rites. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Life of the party
It was one former sheriff speaking up for another, as cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar said, "I am truly saddened to hear about the passing away of Nana. He was a wonderful man, full of good cheer and a terrific sense of humour, a friend who was always happy to pass on his expertise and experience. He was the life of the Saturday Club at the Bombay Gymkhana, and would have us in splits with his stories. Truly the world has lost a 'Giant' of a man. Sincere condolences to his family."
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