“Mathan” the celebrated Hindi feature film directed by Shyam Benegal and produced by the Gujarat Milk Marketing Federation Limited was released before I joined the Chairman’s Office in NDDB.
Dr Kurien wanted to have the first show of Manthan in Anand and invite a select audience from various milk unions of Gujarat, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation and other dignitaries from the Government and civil society.
The first Executive Assistant of Dr. V. Kurien, who later became the Director (Administration) of NDDB, was Shri Ashok Koshy from the Indian Administrative Service.
Koshy and I got along very well. When Nagar and I vacated Mani Bhuvan to move to the newly built NDDB campus in 1970, Koshy and PT Jacob stayed for a month or so at the same accommodation. Let me talk of Manthan first and more of Mani Bhuvan later.
Koshy had very good contacts among the bureaucracy, business persons and top citizenry of Anand. Koshy before joining NDDB on deputation was Assistant Collector in Petlad.
I remember watching English films in Laxmi Talkies of Anand on Friday nights from midnight to 3 a.m. after the last regular show of Laxmi Talkies. Only three or four of us will be in the theatre. We had these special shows specially for us thanks to Koshy.
When the premiere show of Manthan was to be organized, Koshy chose Gopi Talkies, which had recently started operating. A rehearsal was done, and once again we watched Manthan in Gopi Talkies from 12:30 am till 3 am. This time, we were not only 3-4 persons but a larger group, which included many who had duties for ushering VIP invitees to the first premiere show of Manthan in Anand the next day, starting at 9 am.
Yes, in a way, we were the first ones to watch the legendary film in Anand before its formal release.
VS Behla and Baboo Nair were the original occupants of Mani Bhuvan. I joined NDDB in 1968. Behla and Baboo joined NDDB before me. A few months after I moved to Mani Bhuvan, Nair left for Sweden, Behla used to be posted on construction sites during those days. After Nair moved to Sweden his brother stayed with me at Mani Bhuvan for a few months.
Nagar joined NDDB in 1969, and Behla and I invited him to move over to Mani Bhuvan. Later, Shailendra Palvia and Naithani joined us in Mani Bhuvan, which has quite a history. Raojibhai was our cook cum man Friday. Khedekar from Amul Dairy had suggested his name to Nagar, and we asked Raojibhai to manage Mani Bhuvan. At one point in time, nearly 15 plus bachelor, real or forced, used to come for lunch at Mani Bhuvan.
When I was appointed the first warden of the NDDB hostel in 1970, and when Shri AK Raychaudhury was Secretary of NDDB, the hostel kitchen was commissioned, and Raojibhai was appointed as a cook. Raojibhai later joined NDDB.
Looking back after over 52 years, I find it interesting to note that some of the Mani Bhuvan residents of the late 1960s include one IAS Officer Ashok Koshy, who retired as Additional Chief Secretary of Gujarat, and two Professors Emeritus: Dr. Baboo Nair at the Department of Food Technology, Engineering, and Nutrition, University of Lund, and Dr. Shailendra Palvia, Professor Emeritus, MIS at Long Island University, USA. Nagar, Behla, and I too held senior positions in NDDB.