A few days back, I was searching for clips of movie Siddhartha on the youtube. I found a few. The movie was directed by Conrad Rooks and the river features prominently in the story. The river is the best teacher tells the movie at many places. We should look towards it for peace of mind because it lives in the present. Today is everything because yesterday is gone now and tomorrow is unpredictable.
The movie seems like sketches made by an artist with the boat being rowed by the characters on the river. It is like celluloid poetry. In one of the clips, a very lean and handsome Shashi Kapoor is rowing the boat with another person who have beard and covered his head with a cloth. He is a man full of wisdom and delivering the knowledge to Siddhartha (Shashi Kapoor). Then there is scene in which the old man is taking leave of Siddhartha and before leaving he talks philosophically to Siddhartha. I was mesmerized by his voice. Such a mellifluous modulated voice. It transported you somewhere out of this dull routine. I searched for his name and found out that it is Zul Vellani.
Not much is available on the net about him. May be because he was mostly associated with English theatre and acted in so many plays written by Shakespeare and other masters. Although he came to India from Africa where his family must have migrated. He was the main person behind so many documentaries made by Films Division of India. Indira Gandhi liked his voice and she had specially written a note directing that it is to Zul Vellani who shall be called to be the compere about her death news. He was specially flown to Delhi after her assassination. He also lent his voice in the LP record cut by HMV and sung by Lata Mangeshkar about Sant Dnayneshwar and Bhagwat Geeta.
He is no more and breathed his last on the last day of 2010. The man who has such beautiful voice is said to stammer in the childhood. This was due to his uncle who was very harsh and Zul was very much afraid of him. It was only in the school where he found a very encouraging teacher that he overcome the problem. But he never ever stammered during his acting.
I wish we could find more about him. I could find only following few links.