Friday, May 21, 2010

There is something about being in anticipation of something

Jalsa, Mumbai May 19, 2010 Wed 11 : 39 PM

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There is something about being in anticipation of something. As you sit or travel or brood there builds within you events and situations that remain in the realm of supposition. You imagine within yourself that if ‘this’ were to happen ‘that’ would take place. Or ‘what if’ this happened, then what would happen next.

As you get swayed by a flood of thoughts, the reality of it builds so many impressions, which finite or not, do begin to look as though they would fructify almost immediately. Most of the exercise, indulging in the material or emotional.

What if someone willed you 500 hundred million dollars, what would be done. The house, the cars, the clothing and jewelry, all start falling into place. So to with bonds of emotion.

If only I could get that one moment to hold ‘her’ hand, or that one in a million opportunity when ‘he’ would visit my home. And as you build these castles, they begin to take shape within you. Your demeanor changes. You start walking and talking as though they have all actually been acquired.

The wait then before they actually happen is the ‘anticipation’. And there shall always be ’something’ in that. The tragedy, if it can be termed that, is that nothing ever happens !! Well at least not the way you were imagining it to happen. Thats the bad part. The good part is that, sometimes things happen which you had never anticipated to have happened. Which is why life is always a question mark. You never know when and which way it will turn.

The wife had some friends from her ‘girls’ circle over tonight - Bubbles Behl, wife of late Gogi Behl who made films with Jaya and me ; Jawani Diwani, Kasme Vaade, Pukar; Mother to Goldie Behl close buddy of Abhishek and who directed him in a few - Hiroo Johar wife of late Yash Johar and Mother to Karan Johar ; and no further bio needs to be given on her - Champa Doshi, close friend. And even though I am excluded from the general conversation that occurs in one corner of the house, the dining table gets everyone together in one space.

There are discussions on food, and cooks and materials used to cook various foods and other food places, places with a history of good food. Of weight gains and the excesses of good food. Of other compatriots, in the female gender and their weight gains and the loss of it due to the foods they devoured …

Food, then was the only discussion .. until Mrs Johar brings back old memories of shoots of days gone by when Yashji was alive, of films made under their banner, of intrigue and issues, and the eventual joys.

I had done ‘Dostana’ with Dharma Productions, his production company and this its first banner film - Salim Javed script, Zeenat Aman, Shatrughan Sinha - and we talked, well actually she talked I listened to the days spent in Ooty during the out doors of the film and a host of memories came rushing back. The Savoy Hotel, cute old world charm, wooden floors and fireplaces in the evening to fight off the mountain cold and our escapades therein. The director Raj Khosla, a great exponent of his craft and the maker of several important and successful films. Methodical, controlled, great sense of music and a great sense of how it should be shot for film. Started his career as an assistant to the master Guru Dutt and worked along with him in the immortal ‘Kaagaz ke Phool’.

And as she narrated event after event I reminisced the days spent there in the beautiful Nilgiri Ranges of Ooty, short for Ootycamund, now changed to its original from before the British - Udhagamandalam. Guess the Brits found it beyond their linguistic capacity to get the Tamil or Dravidian pronunciation right !

The flight to Coimbatore an air force base and its restrictions. The drive up the hills finally emerging at our destination. The picturesque hills, not too steep, but rolling about in smooth curves about it. The British Sahebs came up here when the plains became too hot for their countenance, and brought along with them their favorite pastime of hound hunting and horse racing. One of the Maharajas had built the perfect hunting lodge there, Fernhill, now a sprawling Hotel and the number of films that have been shot there is beyond counting. Its no longer a resort, its a studio, almost. The place and the locations came about as a just replacement for troubled Kashmir and never were there less than a few productions working out of Ooty. It was like what I had described our days in Srinagar earlier. For the Southern Film fraternity this was their Kashmir. Traveling for them all the distance up north, when they could get what they required in their own state of Tamilnadu, was a preferred option. So Do aur Do Panch, Hum, Dostana, Aakhri Raasta, Mard, Shakti, Khuda Gawah, Shahenshah… oh dear the list is endless .. all done in beautiful Udhagamandalam !! And my most endearing memory - little Abhishek 4 or perhaps 5 years in age, two middle fingers in mouth dressed in his mini overcoat, sitting by the side of the shooting spots with a dazed expression on his face, wondering what in heavens name his Father was up to !!

Ah ! Ooty, with the continuous smell of pine and eucalyptus about, the unique folk dress and metal jewelry worn abundantly by the ladies that worked in the land and the forests. The fog and early morning mist floating past your Hotel window into the bedroom. The early morning drives to locations of exquisite beauty. The pristine lakes and the ‘downs’ which must have reverberated during the time of the Raj, with the sound of the horns as an entire posse of riders, dressed in their finery chased the hunted beasts led by an entire brigade of anxious hounds. And then those private moments, never to be forgotten -

Nirupa Roy, who played Mother to me in almost all my films getting injured during the shoot for Mard and I cleaning her feet and putting on a dressing on the cut wound, and she blessing me. Now no longer with us.

Smita Patil - that fiesty yet soft hearted friend, sitting in the car with me as we waited for the rain in an outdoor song sequence on Shakti to subside, playing with her camera. A great enthusiast for photography she sat there and much to my amazement opened up the entire camera into all the little parts, cleaned them and assembled them all back again. So impressed with her. She too gone. Now no longer with us.

Life is ’such a question mark. You never know when and which way it will turn.’

Amitabh Bachchan

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