Anu Ranjan, Shotgun Sinha and Shashi Ranjan at the celebration of 10 years of ITA.
How far back I have to go to come to this place?
With Shashi and Anu Ranjan, the beautiful couple who announce the 10th anniversary of ITA with the release of a coffee table book celebrating all the talent of the television industry of India like never before in a 200 page journey from the beginning to now, this moment, it is really a long time ago, from even much before I had written my first word for Indian Television.
Way back in the late '80's there was an obscure suburb of Mumbai taking shape called Yari Road which was filling up with people from the world of theatre and films. Everyone who lived there at the time was a new comer to Mumbai and so were we.
I used to live in an appartment on the 6th floor with three of my girl friends, Ashoo, Ritoo and Nootan. We were friends from school and college who had landed up in the city of dreams in search for one. We were a wild bunch who had tasted freedom for the first time, and the four of us had an open house which was filled with friends from day till night.
Shashi Ranjan, an established young good looking actor was the only neighbor we had on the same floor.
We hardly knew him.
If we met him in the elevator, he was polite and charming and once in a while when we either ran out of ice or our old doddering refridgerator had konked off, we would ring his doorbell and request him to give us some.
One fine day, he dissapeared for a long spell. His housekeeper informed us when we next rang his doorbell that he was due to return soon with bhabhi. I swear that two of the four hearts broke so hard that we could hear the glass shattering.
The next thing we knew was that he was back with his wife and then one day, as we were piling into the elevator to go downstairs what do you know? Shashi's wife peeps out of her door and yells out our names. We were shell shocked.
She turned out to be a childhood buddy who all of not only loved but also admired.
She was Anu.
Then there was no looking back. Anu and Shashi had the comforts and we used to live like gareebs, desperately waiting for our lives to take off. Anu was a dream come true who gave us great food left over from her late night parties to eat, chilled beer to drink and would often allow us to watch video movies in her house when Shashi and she were out.
Soon their lovely daughter Anushka was born and we would baby sit her for which Shashi and Anu would pay back with a free access to their bar while they were out. One or two of us would hang out in the luxury of their warm home watching over a sleeping baby Anushka while they partied, drinking their beers and watching movies and TV shows which were a part of their abundant collection.
Life went on and we moved on.
First Nootan got married, then Ritoo and finally Ashoo.
I had moved into my own digs and was writing my first series Tara. I would often bump into Anu and Shashi Ranjan and Anu who was a regular viewer of my serial would laugh and tease me because she was one person who knew how close the story of the serial was to the lives of us four friends who are still, 20 years later, such good buddies.
A sequel to Tara is ready to be written and produced.
In the year 2000, at the end of the last millenium and the beginning of the 21st century, Anu and Shashi Ranjan launched the Indian Television Academy (ITA).
It was the first such institution in extremely scattered times of the Industry, established to hold it together and give it some sense. For Anu and Shashi Ranjan it has never been difficult, nor ever shall be, to gather the support of the entire fraternity. They attract the community with their involvement with the industry and their participation in the process of a constantly changing world which is evolving as we go along.
From the ITA awards, which was the first thing to be floated which gave recognition to the talent in the industry, to Gr8, the only Television Journal in the country, from Beti, a pro social enterprise to communicate about the issue of the girl child to all the seminars, conferences and workshops to discuss concerns of the industry, ITA has come a long way in the last 10 years and ITA is what binds the family together.
The evening at the Marriotte which was to celebrate the completion of ITA's 10 years and to launch the Coffee Table Book edited by the couple, was a dive into the past, a brush with the present and a peep into the future of Indian Television. The book is in limited edition and traces the world of Indian Television from where it first began to this day. It celebrates success and acknowledges the contribution of each and everyone who matters. A must have, if you can lay your hands on it, although I believe it is available only on order with the ITA for the next month or so. If you are a part of the industry and you don't have it in your collection, you will miss it.
Meeting the Sinha's, the Sagars, the Bedi's, Satish Shah and his wife, Raman Kumar, Anand Mahendroo and his wife, Neena Gupta with her husband Vivek and lovely daughter Masaba, Sanjay and Binaifer Kohli, Ajai Sinha and his wife, Ashoke Pandit, Manmohan Shetty, Shekhar Kapur, Dheeraj Kumar, Rohit Roy, Divya Dutta and oh so many of those people who also grace the pages of the book made a lifting evening and also rang in a new era.
Hats off to this wonderful couple Shashi and Anu Ranjan to have pulled it off till here....
ITA is an institution which is here to stay way beyond all of us.