Once a newsman, now a 'was-man', G. V. Krishnan retired in 1998 as a Times of India correspondent. During his two decades with Times of India, he was posted in New Delhi, Bhopal, Chandigarh and Chennai. He was earlier with the National Herald, New Delhi, and on the news desk of The Northern Echo, a British provincial daily, in the mid-1960s. Krishnan, settled in Mysore, blogs at My Take by GVK. His email is
You may call this a web-age message-in-the-bottle, tossed out into the sea, waiting to be found. This post, addressed to a long lost friend Irshad Panjatan, is done in the hope that if he were to Google this piece, he would know how to find me. Irshad and I haven’t been in touch for nearly five decades now.
He was nowhere in my thoughts till the other day, when I watched this 2007 German movie on Lumiere channel. Irshad plays a role in Reclaim Your Brain, about a bunch of social outcasts, out to revolutionise German TV by meddling with ratings monitors connected to people’s TV cables. Despite ageing his face - the only Indian in the film - seemed familiar, though I couldn’t put a name to it till the end. The film’s credit-lines settled it. He was Irshad Panjatan.
Irshad and I used to meet in New Delhi Janpath coffee-house in the 60s. Then an upcoming mime, Irshad was into the theatre movement; I was on its fringe, and, as an aspiring reporter, I had access to rehearsals by artists of The Hindustani Theatre, at Shankar Market. They rehearsed, after-hours, at office space loaned by Mr Anand, a benovelant archtitect with a flair for theatre.
We had a couple of common friends and coffee-house regulars - O P Kholi, M S Muddhar who ran a youth magazine - sustaining our contact , though I had little interest in mime, which was Irshad’s passion. Of these three Kholi is no more and I am not in touch with the other two. Another friend T R Kini, blogged about his first encounter with Irshad - in mid-60s.
Kini, then a reporter in New Delhi daily, Patriot , was sent to interview Irshad. Describing him as a mime artiste in the mould of Marcel Marceaux, Kini blogged: Irshad had hitchhiked from New Delhi to London via Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Italy and France and Germany.Irshad earned money by performing his unique art of mime in local schools and colleges.He had an easy time traversing half the globe both ways, getting written about and interviewed by local newspapers along the way and had a bulging Press cuttings folder to prove it. His audience realised that mime broke through boundaries of language and,indeed,needed no language to communicate.
Irshad’s return from his adventure travel through Europe occasioned the newspaper interview. And Kini observed that Irshad seemed in good health, ‘none the worse for the months he had spent on the road with a rucksack on his back’. And when Kini mentioned his own plan to hitch-hike through Europe, Irshad offered to write to his brother in Anakara – an economist seconded by the UN to the Turkish Government. Months later, when they hitch-hiked from New Delhi to London, Kini and his friend Subash Chopra were given ‘interim shelter and care ‘ in Turkey by Irshad’s brother.