A mesmerising broadcaster, a multilingual poet and playwright, an intellectual of substance and above all else a great human being who carved his name on the hearts of millions the world over sadly passed on to his heavenly abode earlier this month.
He is none other than Chaman Lal Chaman who spent over six decades of his working life bringing literary, poetical and musical happiness to one and all.
The late Chaman was born and educated in India; however, his creative literary abilities found a nourishing home in Kenya where he settled with his family in the mid-fifties. Initially, he worked as an accounts clerk in a government office and later as a trainee teacher.
His artistic passion and creative writings found themselves suffocated in a classroom and Chaman took to broadcasting as an announcer and news caster with what was Cable and Wireless and later Kenya Broadcasting Service. The young poet gradually rose to become a producer of radio and television shows and later Head of Radio Operations.
During his sunny stay in Kenya Chaman had a rare distinction of interviewing International dignitaries and musical performers visiting Kenya at that time. His radio and stage plays were greatly appreciated as was is service to cultural and religious organisations. In 1974 Chaman left Kenya for England where his literary and poetical expositions found a wider listenership on BBC Radio and TV, London Broadcasting, GeetMala Sunrise Radio and Punjab Radio London.
His songs and Ghazals have been voiced by iconic vocalists like Jagjit Singh, Asha Bhosle, Kavita Sheth, Kumar Sanu, Hans Raj Hans and Deedar Singh Pardesi to name a few. His songs found place in Bollywood movies and mad him a household name.
For the last 20 years he served as Arts Officer in London. His bilingual theatrical exposition Palam To Heathrow was a gem of a presentation still revered by theatre goers. Chaman as a concert compère in Kenya, UK and South East Asia was much sought after as he spelt a special poetical magic to the proceedings on stage.
I have personally known Chaman since the early days of my romancing with radio broadcasting and theatre. Participating in his live on air show Radio Theatre with my humorous skits and sharing creative happiness on stage at the Kenya National Theatre and City Arts Society remain some of my cherished memories. He was a painstakingly creative colleague, a great friend and an excellent human being.
Gurbux Virdee of the Voices of Kenya group London whose founder member Chaman was, informs me that the iconic joy bringer was given an emotional send off by hundreds of mourners who braved a freezing cold weather last Tuesday and gathered at South West Crematorium Hanworth. With Chaman’s soul mate Pushpa and family, we from Kenya share their grief and offer heartfelt condolences.
Your heart throb may have physically departed but still lives on in and around us. Knowing him and sharing creative happiness with him is a matter of pride for us all. May his precious soul rest in eternal peace.
JAI HO CHAMAN