A filmmaker imagines Gauhar Jaan’s life for the screen... 

...and it’s not Ashutosh Gowariker. Partha Chatterjee writes about his attempt in 2010 to bring to the screen Vikram Sampath’s eponymous book on the famed Hindustani music vocalist

Below is the ‘Film Treatment’ of My Name is Gauhar Jaan, which I wrote based on the book with the same title by Vikram Sampath. The book is a well-researched, informative piece of documentation done with love and respect for a great exponent of Hindustani vocal music, Gauhar Jaan (1873-1930), now hardly remembered even by rasiks. I had the pleasure of meeting Vikram Sampath in 2010, the year of its publication, and told him that it was a fine book and a memorable film could be made out of it. I wrote a Film Treatment based on the book with the express desire of directing it.

There was an explicit understanding that I would buy the film rights to My Name is Gauhar Jaan the moment the money (budget) for making the film came through. Despite my best efforts, raising funds for a serious film on a great Hindustani music vocalist became extremely difficult. I tried various sources but almost always got the same response - that it could only be financed by a true connoisseur with enormous wealth who would do it for love alone.

I gave a copy of my detailed Film Treatment of My Name is Gauhar Jaan to Vikram Sampath, who liked it. My associate, Gayatri Bhattacherya, now a producer with Rajya Sabha TV, and I, had a detailed session with Vikram Sampath at the Annexe Lounge of India International Centre, Lodhi Estate New Delhi. We even managed to cast the film. Madhuri Dixit was to play Gauhar Jaan. Of course the money was not there to approach her or other stars, including Nagarjuna, who we wanted to play The Maharaja of Mysore, the last patron of Gauhar Jaan.

I had also chaired a talk on the book at the India International Centre by Vikram Sampath. An interesting Question-and-Answer session followed in which both of us interacted with the audience.

A week ago, I was informed by Gayatri Bhattacherya that Ashutosh Gowariker, the famous Bollywood producer-director, had bought the film rights to My Name is Gauhar Jaan from Vikram Sampath. A film production is likely to get under way soon. Mr Gowariker is free to produce his film from Mr Sampath’s book since he has paid for the rights.

My detailed treatment of My Name is Gauhar Jaan is based on incidents from Vikram Sampath’s eponymous book but the visualisation is exclusively mine. Gauhar Jaan’s life has been re-imagined for the screen by me, and I claim full intellectual property rights for it.

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