When Aadesh Shrivastava fought cancer and callousness together

Here's the story of how the late music composer Aadesh Shrivastava overcame Cancer.

Updated on Sep 28, 2021 02:35 AM IST  |  434K
When Aadesh Shrivastava fought cancer and callousness together
When Aadesh Shrivastava fought cancer and callousness together (Pic Credit: Colours Cineplex YouTube)

September was indeed a special month in Aadesh Shrivastava’s life. It was destined to be the month of his birth and also his demise. In fact, the young musician passed away on 5 September, a day after his 51st birthday on 4 September 2015. A career, which was in full spring, succumbed to untimely autumn – cancer!

Born in a Kayastha family in Katni (Madhya Pradesh), Aadesh began his career as a composer with Saif Ali Khan’s Haathon Mein Aa Gaya Jo Kal from Aao Pyaar Karen (1994). Two decades in showbiz, his popular numbers include Kya Ada Kya Jalwe (Shastra), his own rendition Sona Sona for Amitabh Bachchan’s (Major Saab), Kiska Chehra (Jagjit Singh’s ghazal in Tarkeeb), Shava Shava (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham), Suno Na Suno Na (Chalte Chalte), Chali Chali (Baghban) among many more between 1996-2003.
 
A master of fusion, he was the only Indian performer to have collaborated with international artists like T-Pain, Soulja Boy, Wyclef Jean, Norah Jones, Queen Latifa, and Shakira. His jamming with American R&B superstar Akon in the House Of Blues grabbed headlines just as his track, One For the World with the global star.

Yet nothing can compare to the soulful renditions of his own compositions - Allah hoo (Dev 2004) sung by Aadesh with Asha Bhosle and the semi-classical Mora Piya (Raajneeti 2010) composed in Raag Darbari. Perhaps, these compositions emerged from his lush spiritual landscape, which alone anchored him through the painful and premature end…
 
It all began in 2010 when an otherwise energetic Aadesh found himself tiring easily.  “I’d start panting even if I climbed a few steps,” he recalled. Believing it was just exhaustion, he went off to unwind at his farm in Lonavla. “The lake opposite my house has a tree. But I couldn’t see it. I believed someone had cut it. But my son Avitesh pointed out that the tree was there. I had begun to lose my vision!” he shared that moment when he realized something was seriously amiss.

Back in Mumbai, a series of tests revealed that his hemoglobin was low and that Aadesh was suffering from multiple myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells). Amitabh Bachchan, with whom the musician shared a close bond (and also the common surname Shrivastava), was the first person to whom he disclosed his sickness. Aadesh mentioned that Bachchan, after talking with the best medics, urged Aadesh to undergo chemotherapy.

 “After the boys (his teen sons Avitesh and Avinesh) would go to sleep, Vijeta (Aadesh married the actor in 1990) and I’d cry at night,” he once confided about those 10 excruciating months post-chemotherapy. “I couldn’t sleep at night; the soles of my feet burned. I felt as though nails and needles were being pierced in my legs. Even medicines to numb the nerves didn’t work,” he shared while speaking to Filmfare.

The stem cell treatment left him drowsy for two days. “On the third day when I walked to the washroom and saw myself in the mirror, I was shocked! I sank into depression as I was shades darker and had lost my hair. I thought, ‘God! If this is the way I’m going to look, it’s better to die’,” he recalled in the same interview.

Aadesh, a fighter, would perform yoga, even in such a fragile condition. But the sight of his fading form traumatized him so much that his vital parameters began to falter. Putting mind over matter, he then asked the nurse to remove the mirrors from his room.  What left him more sickened however was the apathy of his peers. “Falling ill so suddenly was traumatic. But the cold shoulder I got from the people with whom I’d closely worked for years, caused me even more damage than the disease itself. Nobody came to visit me after I fell sick,” he rued during a conversation with Mumbai Mirror. Aadesh’s wife, Vijeta, reportedly said, “It’s not been an easy time for us… where were all our friends? In one day, our life turned upside-down. We got to know who our real friends are.”

In another interview, Aadesh reflected, “I can’t blame people for keeping away from me. People knew how passionate I was about my work and didn’t know what to say or how to console me.” He was grateful to colleagues Sonu Niigaam, Abhijeet, Shaan, Anu Malik, JP Dutta, Alka Yagnik and Preity Zinta, who lent him moral support. Though Aadesh didn’t know Anurag Basu, also a cancer survivor, the filmmaker got in touch with the singer and boosted his confidence. To his physical and emotional woes were added financial compulsions. To pay off the hefty bills, the musician had to sell off his favourite Hummer car. “Maine aaj tak kabhi haath nahin phailaya,” explained a self-respecting Aadesh.

After having responded well to the treatment, Aadesh turned largely vegetarian and gave up alcohol. Apart from yoga, he began playing squash and did swimming to strengthen his withered muscles and weakened bones. His tryst with the dreaded disease also made him spiritual. “I read the translations of the Holy Quran, the Bible, and the Bhagavad Gita. I chanted Buddhist hymns, the Mahamrityunjaya jaap, the Gayatri mantra, and the Surya mantra. I slept with music on,” he shared while talking to Filmfare. Bouncing back, he believed he was healed for the sake of his young sons. In keeping with the optimism, he wanted to arrange a show, the proceeds of which he wished to donate to myeloma patients. “In the long run nothing matters more than health,” he remarked.

But just when Aadesh had found his feet once again, life threw him off balance once again. His elder brother ‘Dada’ Chitresh Shrivastava (helmed Eyeline Telefilm and Events and was handling Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s work) died in a car accident on 7 May, 2011 in the US. The car Chitresh was in, was reportedly driving at 180 km per hour where the limit was 60. The SUV Lexus ejected him and he fell into a 10-15 feet trench in Michigan, US. “Dada was with me throughout my illness. He’d press my legs for hours, while I lay in a stupor. He never cried in front of me. But he’d sob like a child once out of the room. He sacrificed his life so that I could live!” said a devastated Aadesh, who remained deeply concerned about Chitresh’s young son and daughter.

Four years later, in August 2015, came the news that Aadesh’s cancer had resurfaced. “We had just returned from America when Aadesh suddenly started bleeding from his nose… We rushed him to the hospital. That’s been his home for the last month,” said distraught wife Vijeta while talking to The Quint. The family was undergoing great financial stress as each injection, brought from America, reportedly cost 12 lakhs. The writing was clear on the wall when even those stopped working. “Aadesh is in hospital for the last 41 days. His cancer is growing at a rapid stage… He’s serious. The injections have not worked…,” Aadesh’s brother-in-law and composer Lalit Pandit (of Jatin-Lalit), told PTI.

Aadesh passed away in a coma in Mumbai, on 5 September 2015, a few hours after his 51st birthday the previous day. While he bid farewell to the world, Aadesh’s last work as a background scorer in Welcome Back (2015) hit the screen hours before his death.

Three years later, Aadesh’s older son, Avitesh Shrivastava, launched Main Hu Tera, his first single in collaboration with Grammy Award winner Giorgio Tuinfort. During the pandemic in 2020, Avitesh launched another single titled Yaadein, composed and written by him. “Yaadein encapsulates love and remembrance and serves as a reminder that distance is nothing when someone means everything to you,” posted Avitesh, who’s also keen to act. Reportedly, Aadesh’s younger son, Anivesh, is studying medicine.

We hope the magic and melody return in their lives…

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Credits: PinkvillaPic Credit: Colours Cineplex YouTube

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Anonymous
Sep 27, 2021 09:24 PM
A beautiful composer.....may his soul rip
REPLY