The Unforgettable Question The Greatest Superstar Rajesh Khanna Asked One Night…

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1461768912226{margin-bottom: 30px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-right: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;padding-left: 5px !important;background-color: #dce8b4 !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”821″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Down the years there have been countless stories to prove what I am saying. I have seen the madness of fans and what or where their madness can lead them. I have also seen how ordinary men and women rise to become stars because of the fan following they create for themselves and what happens when the fans are still with them and what happens to the stars when the same fans desert them to follow other new stars.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1460322946238{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]I don’t know why I remember the story of Rajesh Khanna, one of the greatest ever superstars to have walked the lanes and by lanes of the film industry. It was the fans all over who gave him the feeling of being “God or more than God”. His fans kissed his cars, blew flying kisses at his bungalow and wherever he used to stay while shooting in different places, girls used to stand in the heat of the sun outside “Aashirvaad”, his bungalow to have just one glimpse of him, they wrote love letters to him in their own blood and attached doctors’ certificates with their letters to let him know that it was their own blood, there were lakhs of women of all ages who kept his photographs under their pillows believing that this act would make them see him in his most romantic form in their dreams. There were women who only went to any extents to just see his hands. There were thousands of young men tried their best to have a hairstyle like his and made the guru “kurta” he normally wore a National dress. This kind of madness went on for some years till some of his films flopped miserably and the same time saw the rise of a new star who was entirely different from him, Amitabh Bachchan. I especially remember that one scene at a five- star hotel in Juhu where Rajesh Khanna was making his fans literally eat from out of his palms when there was a sudden flutter and Amitabh Bachchan, the new star made his entry and women who were standing around Rajesh Khanna like zombies stand around godmen snatched their autograph books from Khanna’s hands and rushed towards the new star, Amitabh. That night, Rajesh Khanna went up to the terrace of “Aashirvaad”, got drunk and cried his heart out and looked at the sky and screamed, “why me, oh God”. The one time superstar could not take failure and only kept falling as Amitabh kept rising and reached a stage when he was left all alone even on his birthdays (December 29).

He tried his best to stage a comeback but destiny had other painful plans for him and he had to surrender to it like kings, emperors and legends have to one day…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

A Page From The Past: Bhansali From Bhuleshwar To “SLB”, The One-Man Empire

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1461768912226{margin-bottom: 30px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-right: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;padding-left: 5px !important;background-color: #dce8b4 !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”809″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]I was first introduced to a young man by the veteran choreographer Bhushan Lakhandari, the choreographer of all the ballets performed by Hema Malini all over India and the world. Bhushan had choreographed dances for several small films and had got his first big break in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s “1942- A Love Story”. The young man was dressed in all white, a pyjama and kurta, both stark white. We met at the Mehboob Studios and I was told that he was one of Vidhu’s assistants and was also a choreographer who would perhaps do a song in the film. Vidhu who I had known since he had a small office in the compound of Natraj Studios (which actually belonged to his step-brother and producer Shanti Sagar) when he made films like “Sazaaye Maut” and “Khaamosh” told me the young man whose name was Sanjay Leela Bhansali was crazy about films and had a very bright future ahead of him.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1460322946238{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Sanjay went on to assist Vidhu during the making of his ambitious film and also choreographed a dance cum song called “Kuch na kaho, kuch bhi na kaho” on Anil Kapoor and Manisha Koirala. His work was appreciated by Vidhu who spoke about the “shy” man and his talent to all his friends and others who were looking for young talent…

It was during the making of “1942-A Love Story” that I came to know Sanjay better. He was the son of a one-time filmmaker called Navin Bhansali who had tried making a few films but had failed miserably and was reduced to alcoholism and penury and the family lived in one of the ancient chawls in Bhuleshwar in Central Bombay in a room which was highly dilapidated and showed signs of crumbling or even falling down but the family survived and walked out of the chawl before any kind of tragedy could come anywhere near them. His mother who was a classical dancer, Leela, was his only source of inspiration and she kept encouraging her son as a dancer more than a filmmaker as it was said that she had faced very tough times to bring up the family because her husband was associated with films. Sanjay, the story about him goes was so strongly influenced by his mother, Leela that he was perhaps the few men or even the first Indian to take Leela, his mother’s name as his second name and that is how he was Sanjay Leela Bhansali then, when he was a nobody and is the Sanjay Leela Bhansali today who is ranked among the biggest and most ambitious filmmakers in the country…

He was not prepared to take his father’s failure as a filmmaker as an impediment in his path as he had decided to make films even while he heard songs from films of the past which encouraged and inspired him. He did not work as an assistant or choreographer with any other filmmaker but constantly dreamt of directing his own films.

His passion paid off when a producer called Jhamu Sugandh who was interested in making artistic films with stars decided to back him and produced his first film “Khamoshi-The Musical”. The film had a Goan background and had Nana Patekar and Seema Biswas as a dumb and deaf couple who have a daughter who is musically inclined played by Manisha Koirala. Shot against some of the most picturesque locales of Goa and with some outstanding music by Jatin-Lalit, the film won a great deal of critical acclaim but failed to make an impact at the box-office, but Sanjay was not one to give up and kept aiming at higher and bigger goals and there was destiny and there were people who could see the passion for making films in him who were ready to stake their money on his ambitious dreams to make outstanding films…

His next film as a director, “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” with Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn and Aishwarya Rai turned out to be a big hit and then there was no looking back for the filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. His biggest challenge was when he decided to make “Devdas”, a subject which had been tried once too often, one of them with Dilip Kumar playing Devdas, Suchitra Sen playing Paro and Vyjayantimala playing Chandramukhi. SLB’s film was made on a grand scale with some of the most gorgeous and gigantic sets (Nitin Desai) put up at Film City which stood as memorabilia long after the film starring Shah Rukh Khan as Devdas, Aishwarya as Paro, Madhuri Dixit as Chandramukhi and Jackie Shroff as Chunilal was made, released and is now called a classic and a cult film.

Sanjay then made a bold experiment with “Black” starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee. The unusual film with outstanding performances by Amitabh and Rani was commercially and critically acclaimed. It was in this film that he had two young assistants in Ranbir Kapoor, son of Rishi and Neetu Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor, daughter of Anil Kapoor and Sunita.
It was while he was making “Black” that he was fascinated by the idea of making a young love story with a casting coup when he decided to make “Saawaariya” with Ranbir and Sonam with the firm belief that they could make it as stars. The film made with the utmost secrecy and with ten songs written by Sameer and tuned by Monty Sharma could not make it big but Sanjay’s prediction about Ranbir and Sonam came true when they were both accepted as stars and are major stars today. But it is somewhat surprising to know that he has never tried making a film with both of them or even one of them even though he has made other big and successful films after “Saawaariya”.

His next film, “Ram Leela-Goliyon Ka Rasleela” which he made with Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone was another film which welcomed him into the league of big directors who had the ability to fulfil big dreams…
He had always thought of making a film on the love story of a warrior and a courtesan, the legend of Bajirao and Mastani. He took his own time to re-create history and bring alive two of the greatest lovers in history. A great deal of hard work and the dedication and zeal to do his best to get the best encouraged him to make “Bajirao Mastani” with Ranveer Singh as Bajirao, Deepika Padukone as Mastani and Priyanka Chopra as the wife of Bajirao. The work he and his team had put in for more than two years was very clear when the film was released and was admired and acclaimed as one of the best films ever made in India. He made his debut as a music director with the film and emerged as a major competitor for the ruling music composers in the industry…

SLB, the boy from Bhuleshwar is the head of his empire now and is planning some other films, but the one film he is planning and I am most interested in is a film he is hoping or rather is sure of making, a film based on the life of one of the greatest Urdu poets and songwriters of Hindi films Sahir Ludhianvi, his life, his loves and the magic of his poetry. If SLB has to create a firm niche for himself and his empire, he will have to prove it by doing justice to a character like Sahir who lived a life that has made him and his love story immortal.

Rise, SLB, you have built your empire, it is now time to see your own empire flourishing with the blessings of Leela, your mother who has been an example for other mothers to follow. And, SLB, you who have dared to rise from one height to another, why can’t you make a film about a mother whose only ambition and dream has been her only son, you, Sanjay Leela Bhansali?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Maharashtra State Government To Honour Jeetendra And Anil Kapoor With Its Prestigious Raj Kapoor Awards

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1461768912226{margin-bottom: 30px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-right: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;padding-left: 5px !important;background-color: #dce8b4 !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”770″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]The Government of Maharashtra has been honouring personalities from the film industry down the years even as it does honour to the greatest showman of India Raj Kapoor, in whose name it presents these prestigious awards.
In keeping with its tradition, it has decided to present the veteran actor Jeetendra with the Raj Kapoor Award described as the “Jeevan Gaurav Puraskaar” for his long standing and outstanding contribution to Indian cinema and Anil Kapoor with the same award for his contribution to cinema, as a producer, the owner of a film and television company and for making a mark after starting as a junior artist.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1460322946238{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Government of Maharashtra has been honouring personalities from the film industry down the years even as it does honour to the greatest showman of India Raj Kapoor, in whose name it presents these prestigious awards.
In keeping with its tradition, it has decided to present the veteran actor Jeetendra with the Raj Kapoor Award described as the “Jeevan Gaurav Puraskaar” for his long standing and outstanding contribution to Indian cinema and Anil Kapoor with the same award for his contribution to cinema, as a producer, the owner of a film and television company and for making a mark after starting as a junior artist.

Jeetendra started his career as a junior artist in V.Shantaram’s “Sehra” and played the leading man in Shantaram’s “Navrang” and “Geet Gaaya Pattharone”. He shot to fame as a star with “Farz” and then was the leading man of more than three hundred films shot in Mumbai and some of his most successful films in the south. Among the more known films in which he played the central character are “Himmatwala”, “Tohfa”, “Maqsad”, “Mashaal”, “Khushboo”, “Parichay”, “Kinaara”, “Jeene Ki Raah”, “Humjoli” and “Santaan”. He produced his own films under the banner of Tirupati Pictures and has been the source of inspiration behind Balaji Telefilms run by his wife, Shobha, daughter Ekta and brother-in-law Ramesh Sippy.

He is in his early seventies but is still very active in the everyday working of the company. He has however not been seen on the screen big or small for several years but is active in film and social circles.

Anil Kapoor started his career as a production assistant to his brother, Boney Kapoor and made a beginning as an actor in a Kannada film and then showed how good an actor he was in his first few films like “Woh Saat Din”, “Saaheb”, “Eeshwar”, “Kaahaan Kaahaan Se Guzar Gayaa” and besides doing films like “Shakti” and “Mashaal” with thespians like Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan, he shot to superstardom with “Mr. India”. He has done more than a hundred films of different genres in Hindi and is also the producer who has made films like “No Entry”, “Gandhi My Father” and films he has presented for his daughter Rhea. He has also made a name for himself in Hollywood films like “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Mission Impossible” and the internationally popular TV serial “24” which he is now producing in its second season in Hindi and at sixty he is still full of energy and ideas to build an empire of his own with him as the head and his daughters Sonam, Rhea and son Harshvardhan as his pillars.

The awards were announced by the Cultural Affairs Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. Vinod Tawde and will be presented at a grand open air function in Mumbai on April 30.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Shahenshah Dilip Kumar Survives One More Scare

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1461768912226{margin-bottom: 30px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-right: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;padding-left: 5px !important;background-color: #dce8b4 !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”765″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Dilip Kumar, the actor known as “the emperor of acting” has been ailing since a number of years and has been recuperating at home under the care of his wife Saira Banu and family doctors.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1460322946238{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Dilip Kumar, the actor known as “the emperor of acting” has been ailing since a number of years and has been recuperating at home under the care of his wife Saira Banu and family doctors.

On April 14, he developed a serious chest infection and fever and was rushed to the Lilavati Hospital where he spent a week on medication because the doctors felt treating him at the ICU of the hospital could be a risk because of his heart problems and other age-related problems. He was under the specialized treatment of Dr. Jalil Parker, a noted chest physician.

The rumours of his health deteriorating and even some nasty rumours about his so called passing away spread almost every three hours but he finally walked out of the hospital “hale and hearty”. The thespian is ninety-three.
Incidentally, there are two major films with which he is associated which have still to be released, “Kalinga”, directed by him for the first time and “Aag Ka Dariya” both of which have been lying in the cans for several years.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Udit Narayan honoured with the PADMA BHUSHAN

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1461768912226{margin-bottom: 30px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-right: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;padding-left: 5px !important;background-color: #dce8b4 !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”759″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]Udit Narayan Jha renowned as Udit Narayan has recently conferred with second highest civilian award of the country PADMA BHUSHAN from The President of India.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1460322946238{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Udit Narayan Jha renowned as Udit Narayan has recently conferred with second highest civilian award of the country PADMA BHUSHAN from The President of India. He got PADMA SHRI third highest civilian award in 2009. He is a winner of Three National awards, five Filmfare awards, two MTV music video awards one MTV Asia music award. O ne IIFA and all awards related to music. He has been serving the Nation with his songs for over three decades in thirty six different languages.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Padmabhushan Naseeruddin Shah: The Man Who Doesn’t Know What “No” or “Never” Mean

[vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1461768912226{margin-bottom: 30px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;padding-right: 5px !important;padding-bottom: 15px !important;padding-left: 5px !important;background-color: #dce8b4 !important;}”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_single_image image=”805″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]When I first met him on a forlorn over bridge outside Churchgate station, I never had even a faint idea that the young man walking all alone and lost in his own world would be recognized as one of the greatest actors not only in India but almost the whole world and that he would be honoured by the Government of India first with a Padmashri and then with a Padmabhushan besides the countless other awards including one he won at the Venice Film Festival. I never could imagine that he would be the leader of a movement to bring in better cinema, parallel cinema or new wave cinema and would then be disillusioned with it and join what is called mainstream or looked down upon as masala films. I never knew that he would do a rare film shot in Pakistan. I never knew that he would direct a film and be unhappy about the results and decide that he would not direct a film again and then regretting his decision and keeping his options open, I never knew that he would write his autobiography and I could never imagine that at sixty-five he would still be passionate about theatre and act in and direct some of the most meaningful plays of our time…

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1460322946238{margin-bottom: 30px !important;}”][vc_column][vc_column_text]That evening he was like any other newcomer for me who I had seen only in his first film, “Nishant” and be impressed by his performance. I always remember that scene more than thirty-eight years ago. I had requested him to walk with me to my office and introduced him to my editor who did not know the difference between “Jaanwar” and “John War” and who called “Door Ki Awaaz” Door (meaning the door of a house) Ki Awaaz, not that I am making fun of him after so many years and especially because he was responsible for my getting the first job of my career which I kept for forty years, even thirty-eight years after he left this world… I introduced the new actor to him and he asked me if I had seen his work and when I told him I had and how good he was, my editor asked me to write about him which I did and which the actor called Naseeruddin Shah and me still remember after so much has changed in the world…

When Naseer came to Bombay after passing out of the National School Of Drama, there were a number of other young actors who came out of the FTII. It was with these enthusiastic actors that some filmmakers made films which were out of the rut and their brand of cinema and was known as new wave or parallel cinema which talking practically meant that they did not need the big stars, the big budgets, the big sets and above all the running round the trees. It was Naseeruddin Shah who in a way led this movement while he kept doing one experimental film after another, films like “Nishant”, “Aakrosh”, “Sparsh”, “Mirch Masala”, “Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai”, “Trikal, Bhavni Bhavai”, “Junoon”, “Mandi”, “Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho”!, “Ardh Satya”, “Katha” and “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”…

It was after years of hard work and total dedication to his calling as an actor that Naseer realized that he was only doing all the good work without gaining results in the materialistic way like the stars of the time were. He and other colleagues of his lived a hand to mouth existence living as PGs in out of the world places and at times were not even sure from where their next meal would come.

It was this extreme disparity between the stars and even star-sons that awakened and angered Naseer and he found out how the men behind the movement to make better films were making the best of life at the cost of the work put in by actors like him that he who still lived as a PG in New Light Society opposite the Sacred Heart Church and school at Santacruz and decided to revolt…

He shocked and shook the movement when he signed a film like “Tridev” in which he wore a “tirchi topi” and sang “Oye Oye” with a nymphet called Sonam. He was criticized by his admirers but he had an answer for them when he said, “only appreciation, only awards and only more and more work to keep the movement to make better films going is not the only thing. Money also matters and what wrong have actors like me done to sweat it out and be paid peanuts while the stars that do less than half the work we do live in palaces and drive around in the most plush cars. I think I have had enough of it and I am not going to let myself and my family live in misery to let art prosper”. His call for a revolt was heeded by other actors in the same league as him which gradually led to the fading out of the new wave and parallel cinema movement. Was Naseer responsible for the waning of interest and walking in the wilderness for all those who felt and believed that the movement they had started would go on and on? History will try to find an answer to this question.

Naseer however decided to do what his heart dictated and showed how strong his resolve was when he played the villain in “Mohra” and then there was no stopping him as he kept doing what was called commercial cinema with films like “Hum Paanch”, “Karma”, “Ijaazat”, “Jalwa”, “Hero Hiralal” and continued doing such films till the recently released films like “Dirty Politics” and “Tera Suroor”..

Naseer however kept his balance as an actor and did outstanding roles in Hollywood films like “The Perfect Murder”, “Monsoon Wedding”, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and others. He also showed the courage of his convictions when he did not one but two films made in Pakistan, “Khuda Ke Liye” and “Zinda Bhaag” for which he won recognition on both sides of the border, being the first actor in both countries to receive that kind of recognition and honour.

Among some of the better commercial films he has been associated with are “Encounter”, “A Wednesday” and “The Dirty Picture”. He has now reached a stage when he can be choosy but can also do films like “Dirty Politics” only because of the need for money to live a “reasonably decent life for my family”.
Naseer has directed some of the best plays in theatre like “Waiting for Godot”, his one man shows and his recent controversial plays based on the lives of rebel writers like Ismat Chugtai and Saadat Hasan Manto besides the plays he does in English with his wife Ratna Pathak Shah, daughter Heeba and the actor Kenneth Desai.

His ambition drove him to direct his first feature film, “Yun Hota To Kya Hota” but it was not a good experience and he reacted by saying that he would never direct a film again, but now years later he believes that he should not have made that statement in a hurry which means that admirers of Naseer can still hope to see him behind the camera.

Naseer has a liking for playing characters the world knows as a part of history and he proved it when he played the Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib in a TV serial of the same name which made the poet much more popular than he already was and the play he is now doing all over, “Einstein” based on the life of the Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein. He always had the dream of playing Mahatma Gandhi, so much that he even auditioned for the role of Gandhi in Sir Richard Attenborough’s film and failed for Ben Kingley to find the prestigious part. He however got his own opportunity to play Gandhi in Kamal Haasan’s film “Hey Ram” and later in a play called “Gandhi v/s Harilal” based on the relationship between Gandhi and his elder son.

After putting in years of work which was the work of an actor and a gentleman in his own league Naseer decided to write his autobiography, “And Then One Day” which is a book everyone associated with the arts, especially theatre, films and televisions must read as a must read book.

Naseer is a happy family man with his entire family deeply involved in films, theatre and other art forms. His wife Ratna Pathak Shah is a versatile actress who acts best when she teams up with him but is good in every challenge she is offered. His daughter Heeba (from his first wife) is a formidable talent as an actor and director in theatre. His elder son, Imaduddin Shah is a musician who can also act well and his younger son Vivaan is an actor last seen in films like “Saat Khoon Maaf” and “Happy New Year” and is also a director.

The number of awards he has won are too many to be listed but it must be said to his credit that he has never let any kind of success affect him or let it affect anyone in his family.

He is one man who has erased two words from his life, no and never which are the only strong points which can never make him grow weaker as an actor or in whatever he aims to do.

At sixty-five he is still raring to go and his happiest moments are when he is performing on stage with his wife Ratna, daughter Heeba and Kenneth Desai in different parts of the world and even at private shows held by different organizations and is thrilled to perform free before an audience of students who are interested in theatre to whom he says “acting on stage is like living a part of life, you can act anywhere, you don’t have to have big sets and all the other paraphernalia, only remember that you have to be perfect with your lines which can only come with reading, reading and more reading and then not banging into any part of the furniture on stage if there is any”.

They call him “Naseer sir” now, he would have been “Sir Naseer” if he was in some other land where they have greater respect for talent, but whatever anyone calls him there can never be another Naseer.

Among the members of the Rajya Sabha who retired on March 16 was the well-known poet and Hindi film lyricist Javed Akhtar.

He will always be remembered as the MP who raised the issue of the amendment in the Copyright Act which got lyricists the right to have a share in the earnings of a film.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]