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TRIBUTE TO MANOJ LAKHANI (article first published : 2005-02-21)

Television talk show and media personality Manoj Lakhani died in November last year aged 38, after an operation in which it was discovered that he had an enlarged heart. One of the three well-known Lakhani brothers – Ketan and Manu being the other two – he worked extensively in radio and television. With Ketan, he hosted the television talk show Lakhani and Lakhani.

This tribute was written by his friend and colleague Rishaad Mahomed:

“He had become synonymous with the bunny chow in the past year or so, having highlighted and promoted Durban’s most famous bread and curry meal in the media.

Manoj Leeladar Lakhani was born on December 13, 1965. Family and close friends called him Bubloo. His education started at the Gandhi Desai Secondary and continued at the University of Durban-Westville. While he was still at school his talent as an actor, singer and marketer was highlighted. He took part in several song and dance concerts with the likes of Anisha Maharaj. He was always involved in concerts and theatre.

At university, with other media names such as Mahendra Raghunath and Omar Essack, Manoj made his mark in the drama and media world. His passion for radio and arts saw him get involved in the university’s radio station Audwax. He was part of the original cast of the song and dance play The Bombay Duck and more recently, participated in the filming of it. Manoj was the ideas man, constantly after new challenges and greater achievements.

I met him when I was at school and working part-time for his brother, Khetan. We developed a friendship that saw Manoj take up senor marketing positions at companies such as Checkers, Macro, Secom and eTV. Despite a successful stint at each, the call of the media was too strong and Manoj set up Moksha Media. Finally he was home – his fingers of the pulse of everything.

We often said that Manoj could sell an idea and make it sound like the “next best thing to sliced bread” (his favourite words).

His latest bright idea: he wanted to get into the Guinness Book of Records by breaking the record for continuously watching movies for longer than 27 hours. It was during this attempt that Manoj realised his health was failing him and admitted himself to hospital. Doctors removed his gall bladder and also discovered that he had a severe case of cardio myopia, an enlarged heart. His friends and family kept a vigil. After two weeks in the ICU he went home, weak but still fighting.

The day before he went to hospital for the last time we were at the preview of Veer-Zaara and, although he was in a wheelchair, his words were strong and sure as he held my hand throughout our conversation. Despite the laughs, there was a poignancy that almost moved me to tears.

Back in hospital he joked that at least his eyes were perfect as, with a glint, he watched an attractive woman. Always full of fun, that’s how we will remember him.

At about 6pm on Thursday he suffered a massive heart attack and, despite doctors’ attempts, his will finally succumbed to his weak body.

He is survived by his brothers Khetan and Manu and the apple of his eye, his seven-year old daughter, Sonali.

Farewell, lad. And as you have always said: stay in the light. – Rishaad Mahomed




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