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First Khemchand Prakash award for Best Music to be given at LIFFI

Festival organiser Riju Bajaj discloses the reason for naming the award after the composer who died more than 65 years ago.

Keyur Seta

Late music composer Khemchand Prakash will be honoured at the Lonavala International Film Festival of India (LIFFI) with an award in his name for Best Music. Actor Riju Bajaj, organiser of the festival, spoke to Cinestaan.com about the reason for choosing Prakash's name for the award. 

“He happens to be my maternal grandfather," Bajaj said, "but I never had personal contact with him. He passed away much before I was born and when my mother was very young. He has been long forgotten. In the past, a lot of things have been done in various music directors’ names. Unfortunately, nothing has been done in his name because his era was mostly pre-1947 British India.”

Bajaj recalled how Prakash couldn’t savour the success of what is generally considered his best work, the music score of Kamal Amrohi's Mahal (1949).

“He passed away in 1950," said Bajaj. "The song ‘Aayega Aanewala’ made Lata Mangeshkar an overnight star. But he didn’t get his due and there was nobody to do anything in his name. Or nobody was in a position, or nobody was interested. You can say anything; it doesn’t matter. The fact is that nothing was done to keep his name alive.”

Keeping with the theme, Bajaj continued, “But why should any third person do anything in his name? It takes a follower, a student, a disciple, a great fan or a family member. Fortunately, today I am in a position to do something since we are conducting a film festival. We didn’t have this in mind when we established the award. It happened when we decided to name awards after some people."

Bajaj said that even if he weren’t related to Prakash, he believes the late composer truly deserves to have an award named after him. "His disciples were Naushad, Anil Biswas and Salil Chowdhury," he said. "He is also credited with introducing Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar to Hindi cinema.”

Bajaj said the recipient of the first Prakash award will be decided by the jury at LIFFI, which begins today and continues till 5 September at the hill station, 80 km from Mumbai.