If destiny and ill-health had not willed it otherwise Jagjit was supposed to be in Patiala with his buddy Om Puri to honour the memory of their guru, mentor and guide – the well-known playwright and acting coach Harpal Tiwana, who passed away in 2002 leaving behind a looming legacy.
Om and Jagjit, one could safely say, were Tiwana’s favourite students.
The two buddies had gone to great lengths to ensure Tiwana’s memory was honoured. Funds for a theatre named after Tiwana for staging plays had been specially sanctioned by the chief minister of Punjab, thanks to the efforts of Jagjit and Om.
“And now look at fate,” laments Om from Jodhpur where he is shooting a comedy though he’s in no mood to laugh, “Jagjit is critically ill in hospital. We’re both supposed to be in Patiala to honour the man we love to death. Jagjit was supposed to sing in Harpal Tiwana’s memory and I am to speak about the man who is responsible for my acting career.”
“It is Harpalji who pulled me out of my wage-earner’s status at a very young age when I had to look after my family, and coaxed me to join his theatre group.
“He said, ‘How much money do you make per month? Rs.125? I will give you Rs.150, if you join my group.’ In this way I found my vocation and sustained my family. I owe my life and career to him,” says Om.
Sighs Om: “It just doesn’t feel the same. The trip to Patiala is something we had both planned together down to the last detail. Jagjit is a very dear friend. I’ve recited in some of his albums. We’ve even done an ad together.
“The plans for honouring Harpal Tiwana were made by the two of us, months in advance. But I suppose Man proposes and God disposes.”
Om is still hoping for a miracle cure for his pal.”I’ve been speaking to the doctors at Lilavati (hospital) from here in Jodhpur. I am told there has been a miraculous improvement in Jagjit’s condition. Even if God willing Jagjit survives, he won’t be able to accompany me to Patiala. That event remains eclipsed,” Om said.