|Teji Bachchan passes
Teji Bachchan, wife of the distinguished Hindi poet Harivansah Rai Bachchan and mother of superstar Amitabh Bachchan, has passed away.
The 93-year-old Teji, who had been ailing for some time, died at the Leelawati Hospital in Mumbai on Friday.
Born to a Sikh family, Teji Suri married Harivansh Rai Bachchan in 1941 after the death of his first wife Shyamala.
She was an accomplished
singer and stage performer in her early days and acted in Shakeapeare's
plays translated by her husband.
Teji and her husband became friends with the Nehru-Gandhi family in Allahabad and the family connection with Indira Gandhi prospered when the Bachchans moved to Delhi.
Family friends including Samajwadi party leader Amar Singh and Anil Ambani also visited the hospital.
The body is likely to be taken to the Bachchan residence in Juhu before the last rites are performed.
The second wife of Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Teji was an amatuer actor as well as a singer. Harivansh Rai, himself a renowned Hindi poet, died in 2003 at the age of 96.
Born as Teji Suri to Punjabi parents, she married Bachchan in 1941 after the death of his first wife. She was also close to the Nehru-Gandhi family while the Bachchan family was living in Delhi in the late 1950s.
Teji's illness had resulted in the Bachchan family curtailing celebrations at their Juhu residence for the past few years on occasions like Holi and Diwali.
Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai had visited her in the hospital prior to their wedding earlier this year to seek her blessings. All major family events were usually conducted after seeking her blessings.
A stunner in her youth, Teji, Amitabh remembers, treated him and younger brother Ajitabh like adults.
Once when Amitabh came home teary eyed after a fight at school, she told him he must learn to fight his own battles.
How many people know that
it was to Harivansh Rai and Teji Bachchan that Indira Gandhi sent her daughter-in-law-to-be
Sonia Maino when the young Italian arrived in India to marry an Indian
Airlines pilot named Rajiv Gandhi? She was anxious that Sonia learn a bit
about Indian culture and customs, and who better to give her a crash course
than the elder Bachchans?
The funeral procession
will start from there Saturday morning for the Chandanwadi electric crematorium
in south Mumbai, around 20 km from the Bachchan home.
The question did the rounds of the Capital's power circles as news came of the Bachchan matriarch's death.
Those close to the Nehru-Gandhis point out that there is a big difference between a wedding and a death. "Rahul Gandhi attended Harivansh Rai Bachchan's cremation," a family friend recalled.
For 10 Janpath, Teji Bachchan's death brings back the memory of happier days when the children — Rajiv, Sanjay, Amitabh and Ajitabh — grew up together in Teenmurti House, Jawaharlal Nehru's residence.
Teji performed the 'kanyadaan'
for the bride at the Rajiv-Sonia wedding. That was much before diverging
interests and conflicting political affinities drove a wedge between the
two families. If the thinking in the circles around 10 Janpath is any guide,
perhaps one of the children will attend Teji Bachchan's funeral in Mumbai
Once again, Teji came to the family's help. Sonia and her family moved in briefly and stayed at the Bachchan's New Delhi residence all through the wedding for a few days. After the wedding, Indira's elder daughter-in-law moved into the Gandhi household.
Sadly, the warm relationship between the Gandhis and Bachchans soured after Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister upon Indira's death and allegations of Bofors kickbacks started being hurled about.
Rajiv had earlier convinced his childhood friend, the youthful Amitabh to join politics. He was given a Congress ticket in 1984 and won from Allahabad with a handsome margin for one term. They were part of the famous youth brigade in Delhi, comprising Satish Sharma, Arun Nehru, Arun Singh, Kamal Nath, and Amitabh.
To her credit, Teji consistently maintained a dignified silence over the Rajiv-Amitabh controversy. Even the Bachchans have chosen never to comment about it.
After Harivansh Rai's death in 2003, Teji became a virtual recluse and her health started deteriorating sharply.
Born into a Sikh family of army officers as Teji Suri, she met Harivansh Rai Bachchan Srivastava in Allahabad where he taught English at the Allahabad University. Bachchan was a widower at that time, having lost his first wife, Shyama, after 10 years of marriage.
The noted poet, a man of few words, was enamoured by Teji's charms and spirited commitment to the society. They fell in love and married in 1941.
During his lifetime, Harivansh Rai remained completely engrossed in his muse, leaving his dynamic wife to handle all family matters. Even in social engagements, Bachchan senior always willingly played second fiddle to his gregarious wife.
Besides her commitment to social service, Teji also took part as an amateur artiste in dramatic groups, both in Allahabad and New Delhi.
Bollywood circles said that
without his mother's encouragement, Amitabh would never have given up a
secure private job in Kolkata to step into the quick sands of Bollywood.
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