India’s first soap opera “Hum Log” which had none other than Dada Muni Ashok Kumar as the narrator and Anil Biswas as the title score composer. More than three decades have passed but the pull of this family drama defies every diktat of time and change.
“I am baffled and overwhelmed in the same breath. Today, TV has grown from one channel to 433 and yet a dated material like Hum Log still reigns supreme in terms of both quality and impact. The whole and sole credit goes to the prolific writer Late Manohar Shyam Joshi. His astute yet simple vision made Hum Log immortal. After unearthing the innate skills, strengths and interests of each artiste, he seamlessly incorporated their defining traits in the respective characters. That made the North Indian bourgeois family of the serial look so real and believable. We simply performed to the best of our abilities in the given framework.” He reminisces.
Hum Log was followed by Ramesh Sippy’s “Buniyad”, an engaging saga on the Partition which had Chaturvedi playing a pivotal role to perfection. His history major from St. Stephen’s Delhi more than helped him put the pain and pathos of Partition in perspective. The serial as well as his character were very well received. It’s indeed perplexing to note that that a man with back-to-back TV super hits and indisputable theatre roots had actually been rejected by Doordarshan in an audition a year prior to Hum Log, as bewildering a fact as super star-actor Amitabh Bachchan’s historic dismissal by All India Radio at the start of his career. “It was on his son Anupam’s recommendation that Joshiji called me for the audition. And thus began my historic tryst with acting, leaving all other pursuits behind.” he informs.
After tasting unprecedented success as a TV star, his Bollywood debut was nothing short of a trend-setter in a pre-Shahrukh era when small screen artistes were contemptuously slotted as small time achievers, more so by the mighty moguls of the Indian film industry. But his film stint, barring few flicks, remained largely forgettable. He makes no bones of the fact himself “Yes, I was part of a few cinema scope disasters. Things did look up subsequently but I had to go back to Delhi midway to attend to my ailing father. And while he recovered soon after, I stayed back…a choice I don’t regret, being a strong family man.”
His Mumbai confidants like director Subhash Ghai were mighty upset with his decision as they felt a guy with his talent had everything to gain from tinsel town. But Chaturvedi stayed put and following a fleeting phase of indecision if not inaction, he set up his own company focused on making corporate films and event management. This was the time of India’s liberalization drive and Chaturvedi was quick to spot the emerging opportunities by making incisive films on evolving paradigms like quality certifications and compliance requirements for reputed corporates across verticals. Occasionally, he also innovative did radio and TV shows like the immensely popular ‘Lallan Bhaiyya’ on 98.3 Radio Mirchi.

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