By Chaitanya Padukone
Agile dancer-actor Chinu Shikari-Rajput on whom the sensational cabaret song phrase ‘Monica O My Darling’ (Caravan) is picturised, is no more. Brilliantly matching steps with the legendary dancer Helen, in the song ‘Piya Tu Ab Toh Aaja’ the graceful Chinu connected instantly with the masses. The veteran dancer Chinu apparently in his ‘70s, who was quite unwell due to his acute diabetic protracted illness passed away on Tuesday (January 4).
What is rather uncanny, which this writer and even actress-dancer Aruna Irani (in the lead cast of ‘Caravan’) also observed, is that fateful day (January 4th) by mysterious coincidence also happened to be the death anniversary of iconic composer R D Burman (Pancham-Da). Who had lent his resonating play-back voice to Chinu when the later lip-synced to ‘Monica O My Darling’. This senior journalist recalls having met Chinu, many years ago, where the unassuming famous dancer had mentioned how ‘genius R D Burman’s unique voice had made him immortal on screen’.
The sentimental Aruna Irani seemed upset to hear the sad news of the veteran dance-master’s demise. She recalled, “Always smiling and fun-loving by nature, Chinu Shikari had diligently choreographed my various dance-songs in both Hindi and Gujarati movies. With his ever-smiling friendly nature, I was very comfortable executing the agile dance-moves-steps which he showed me on the sets. With a pleasant screen-personality, Chinu-bhai, was multi-talented and an asset to our film- industry. We will really miss him,” sighs Irani.
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Meanwhile, the office-bearers of the Indian Film & TV Choreographers Association (IFTCA) have posted a respectful homage to Chinu on their Facebook page… Expressing his earnest condolences, IFTCA President Sagar Das shared that, “It’s really distressing that after Saroj-jee, we have now lost a luminous legend Chinu-bhai. Both our Association and our benevolent IFTCA General Secretary Ganesh Acharya-Masterji went out of their way to financially assist the Shikari family to cope with their crisis. Some years ago, Chinu-bhai had lost his young son Vinay due to an acute illness and that had also shocked him. In fact, I still recall that in 2012 Chinu-bhai along with Hema Malini-jee and Saroj-jee had felicitated me with a memento, which was a major motivating boost in my life and career,” recalled Sagar.
(The writer Chaitanya Padukone is an eminent senior film-journalist-columnist and author of memoirs book R D BurMania)