The Legend

While a lot of unknown information and anecdotes about Madan Mohan have been unearthed through the write-ups by his family and his admirers, some more key aspects are also mentioned below for a quick dekko into the persona of the man behind the great composer who we only know through his music

Madan Mohan was an intensely emotional person, in his interpersonal relationships, and then in his work too. The Cancerian in him was evident in his sensitive nature.

He was a self respecting person and a self made man. He did not get any assistance from his father, a studio baron, to further his creative urges, and fought all resistance to make it on his own.

His father, Rai Bahadur Chunnilal, passed away during the Delhi premiere of Sargam in 1950, when he was the co-owner of the renowned Filmistan Studios.

Madan was very fond of his younger brother, Prakash, who was a cinematographer in films. His brutal murder on a train journey shattered Madan, and left a deep impact on his life.

His only sister is Shanti Mahendroo, who has two daughters, Anu and Anju (the well known actress)

Madan did well in school and did his Senior Cambridge from the prestigious St. Mary's School in Bombay. However he could not pursue his further studies. It was for this reason he was insistent that his 3 children complete their education.

Despite not being a graduate, he was among the only educated members of his fraternity. He was well read, with a quest for knowledge in all fields. He spoke the English language like a 'bada saab', and the aristocracy in his personality was evident in his demeanour... in the way he spoke, the way he dressed and his tastes, while at the same time he was a complete Indian at heart, as evident from his compositions!

When he arrived in Bombay to make a mark on his own, he initially shared rooms with various friends... including Ramanand Sagar, Sajjan, O. P. Dutta and Shekhar. As a bachelor, he also lived in the suburb of Malad.

When he married Sheila Dhingra, he soon shifted to a small bungalow in Khar where they lived for a few years. Sangeeta (1954) and Sanjeev (1956) were born during this time.

In 1958, he wa s the proud owner of a big flat in Makani Manor, one of the first buildings on Pedder Road. Sameer (Micky) was born in 1961. The shift to the city was largely because most of the good recording studios were now developing in the city, rather than the suburbs. Soon he acquired another flat in Shanti, opposite his Pedder Road residence, which remained his music room till the very end.

His two dogs were very dear to him... Sugar (a black Alsation), and Romeo (a Collie) were with him through his Khar days, but died soon after the shift to the city flat. He was very upset and refused to keep another pet therafter.

He had tremendous interest in sports and was a regular at major tournaments... cricket, hockey, football and billiards. Any major sporting event and Madan was in the ringside seats. He developed great friendships with the top sportsmen of the day and the mutual respect for each others' talent helped in the bonding.

A favourite event of his was the wrestling matches at the Vallabhai Patel Stadium in Worli, especially when Dara Singh was the top draw. His great moment of pleasure was showing off his own muscles from the front seat to Dara Singh, as if to say, 'I could beat you at your own game!!'

Indeed, Madan had a great physique and was proud of it. He had a trainer for his exercises in the 60s when such things were not the norm. His external appearance and physique was that of a wrestler, while his music made people wrestle with their emotions!

He was an excellent billiards player himself and won many private competitions of the game at his favourite club, NSCI at Worli.

He frequented the club for a regular swim... again he was excellent at swimming... and took his family for their Sunday outing, which was the swim, a hearty brunch, and then his game of billiards, which he just had to win!!

He was excellent at Chess, as well and often played with his children at home... while teaching them the fine nuances of the game. Playing cards too was his form of relaxation and many evenings the family would play 'rummy' or 'coat piece' together, while Madan also enjoyed his drink and cooked the dinner.

A meal cooked by Madan, was an experience that cannot be forgotten. The taste of the food was just out of the world. He would personally supervise the masalas, for recipes only he knew... he would go shopping for the ingredients himself.. the meats, the chicken, and the vegetables... he was so finicky about quality. He would personally stand in the bazaar while the meat was being cut and cleaned to suit his requirement.. his favourite bazaar haunts were Null Bazaar for meat and Crawford Market for vegetables.

Most often, one of the 3 children would accompany him and he made them observe how he did his shopping for the perfect ingredients. As a reward for their patience they were treated to the Royal Falooda at Badshah Centre in Crawford Market... one of his favourite drinks!

The unusual dishes that he created included 'bhindi mutton', 'baingan mutton', 'doodhi mutton', ' khada chicken', and various others, which he cooked with as much care, as he composed his tunes

Such exclusive meals were reserved for special evenings with the family or on a day he was happy with the song he had just recorded... in which case he would have some of the team over for dinner and to enjoy hearing the song at home on his master spool playing on his favourite tape recorder. Lataji, Chetan Anand and Priya, Kaifi Azmi and others were a regular part of these exclusive soirees at his 52, Makani Manor residence on Pedder Road.

Fond of all kinds of cuisine, Chinese was one of his favourites... and he was one of the earliest few to be a regular patron at Nankings, Fredericks and Shanghai restaurants, all at Colaba, at that time.

His two tape recorders were his proudest possessions. Earlier, he had a Grundig 2 track and then he was one of the first to have the Akai 4 track with excellent speakers... listening to his masters on them was a great experience... almost like being in a studio.

He was also very attached to his possessions, which he personally looked after with great care. This included his cars. His favourite among them was the Studiebaker, which he had specially painted in white and blue and was a trademark of Madan Mohan on the roads. He would often wash it himself, as he was extremely possessive about it, and its maintenance was very important to him. He called it his ' baby'.

His gold Rolex Watch, a prized possession, his very stylish gold bracelet, his diamond solitaire ring, personally designed by him, were always worn by him with a great sense of pride.

Always the best whiskey for him. Black Label being his favourite... and having it from his unusual musical decanter was an even more intoxicating experience. Occasionally he also indulged in smoking cigarettes, the 555 State Express tins, being his favourite!

Another great leisure moment for him was attending the Sunday races... an avid follower of the races, he would plan his Sunday on the basis of the Turf Club agenda... He would plan his suit and matching tie, earlier from his enviable collection, of which he was very proud.

He enjoyed doing all kinds of house jobs... and would often be found in his shorts and T-shirt, cleaning the brassware, the antiques at home, most of which he had personally collected on his foreign trips.

He was well traveled and enjoyed trips abroad, especially the UK. He had even travelled all over India, including road trips all the way to Delhi, driving the car himself!

Most summers, during holidays he would take the family to hill station resorts... memorable trips were the ones to Simla, Nainital and Mussoorie. Hotel guests would be charmed by their favourite composer's presence, and some evenings he would regale a few with his songs... on some occasions he has cooked for 100 guests at the hotel, where the kitchen had been closed for the day only for the Madan Mohan meal being cooked!! This not only highlighted his culinary expertise, but his joy at seeing others relish and enjoy his creations... the songs and the meals!!

He was very fond of classical music and attended all major concerts. Various classical stalwarts were close personal friends of his, especially Ustad Vilayat Khan, Pt. Ramnarain, and they had a mutual respect for each other. Begum Akhtar and Barkat Ali Khan were among his favourite vocalists.

Without any formal training, he played the harmonium as well as the piano like a professional. The sitar was his favourite instrument, but despite using it so well in his songs, he had not learnt to play it. In the early 70's, he began learning the sitar from Ustad Shamim Ahmed.

In early 70's, he was beginning to dislike the noise and pollution and the travails of the Bombay city. He acquired a beautiful property in Lonavala, and was building a castle like dream house, which he wished to use for his living as well as for peaceful atmosphere to create his tunes. He was designing the house himself and made frequent trips by road, for this purpose.

A few months before his death, he had a miraculous escape, when his Herald car, skidded off the Western Ghats, and was fully destroyed, while he managed to escape this mishap, by jumping out of the car!! In a state of shock, and minorly bruised but undeterred, he arrived into Mumbai by a taxi and went straight for the scheduled recording to the studio, as he was never late for a recording!!!

All were thrilled at his miraculous escape, and the lease of life he had been granted. But this miracle was short-lived... a few months later, he succumbed to his bitterness and his disappointments, and the miracles he left behind were his songs and compositions!!

He received no public honour in his life... no recognition from the Government... much lesser achievers from his field were awarded titles, but he just suffered this from within. Even after his death, nobody cared to give him any posthumous honour. All efforts to perpetuate his memory have been through his music alone, which his fans remember till today.

No moving images of Madanji are available. He had appeared on Doordarshan's programme PHOOL KHILE HAIN GULSHAN GULSHAN, in 1973, but when he passed away in 1975, Doordarshan was unable to find the masters and said they were erased. Doordarshan then produced a tribute programme in which Lataji and Jaidevji paid tributes to him and Lataji sang 3 songs in his memory

Madan Mohan's wife Sheila, succumbed to leukemia in May 1980. His eldest son, Sanjeev, married Anjani Shingala in January 1981 and they were blessed with a son, Akshay, born in April 1983. His daughter, Sangeeta, married Rajiv Gupta of Jaipur, in February 1982, and they have two daughters Putul (born in September 1988) and Suhasini (born in January 1994). The youngest son, Sameer (Micky), remains unmarried. The sons moved from the Makani Manor residence 30 years after Madan Mohan's demise and now live in North Mumbai.