Legendary poet Chaman Lal Chaman passes away

Wednesday 13th February 2019 02:07 EST

Legendary Radio TV broadcaster Chaman Lal Chaman passed away on February 4, in London after a heart condition. He was a poet, lyricist, writer, orator, author, and a well-known broadcaster and presenter. Chaman Lal worked as a radio presenter in Kenya and Britain and interviewed more than a hundred celebrities including, Sunil Dutt, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Naushad. Chaman Lal was also the writer of popular Punjabi song 'Saun Da Mahina', sung by Jagjit Singh in 1979. In 2010, he was presented with the Asian Achievers Gold Award for achievements in media, art, and culture.

Born in a small village of Jalandhar, Chaman Lal was called to Kenya by his father after his mother died when he was a child. There, he worked as a presenter for Kenyan Radio The Voice of Kenya, in Nairobi. At the age of 13, he wrote a poem on Guru Nanak Dev's birthday and it was loved so much, Chaman received a rupee as an award. That stirred his inner poet and there on, he wrote several pieces, publishing three anthologies of his poems. In 1974, he moved to Britain and worked at the Asian service of BBC and Panjab Radio, UK. Chaman Lal began the first Indian commercial radio programme in London called Geetmala. He also anchored the weekly programmes on BBC's TV One and BBC Radio Four during the 1990s.

On the 50th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan, Chaman Lal penned a play titled 'Sare Jahan Se Achha', which was directed by noted Punjabi writer Balwant Gargi and the music was composed by Jagjit Singh. The title came from a poem by famous Urdu poet Iqbal, which emphasised the sentiment that Hindustan was better than any other country. The play hit major success in London and other cities in Britain in 1997 and 98. He also wrote a Bhangra song for Gurinder Chadha's 'Bride and Prejudice', starring Aishwarya Rai with music by Anu Malik, and many songs and ghazals for Jagjit Singh and his wife Chitra Singh. His lyrics has also been sung by noted Indian singers like Asha Bhosle, Kumar Sanu and Sonu Nigam.

Chaman Lal has contributed extensively to create understanding between British, Indian, and African cultures. During his stint as the Project Manager of Ealing Community Relations Council, he advised ethnic minorities who didn't speak English well. As the founder-organiser, he established Hounslow Multi Cultural Centre under Hounslow Community Relations Council to promote multi-cultural understanding through the medium of dance, drama, music, poetry and international cuisine.

He was a caring, and warm person and all those who knew him, knew him to be a sincere man oozing with love and laughter.

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