Yash Chopra Portrayed His Heroines With Great Dignity: Raakhee Gulzar

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Yash Chopra

Yash Chopra

Yash Chopra’s original Chandni who did 5 films with him, talks about her long association with the eternal romanticist…

“I can’t believe Yash is gone! Did he die of complications related to dengue? Sad! He was very fond of me. Why? Don’t ask me. Maybe because he was fond of food and I loved to cook. I still do. So the combination of a someone who enjoyed cooking and someone who enjoyed eating worked for us. He used to order me to make his favourite food. I used to cook his favourite dishes. Those were lovely times. They’ll never come back. During the outdoor shooting of ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ I’d cook and the entire team would sit and eat together. Nowadays forget about eating together, actors don’t eat! I remember Yash and and the whole team used to play games with coins worth Rs 5. We used to have a great time entertaining ourselves. My association with Yash Chopra started even before ‘Daag’ I knew Yash and his wife Pam from the time when they were just married.”

“The first time I worked with Yash was in ‘Joshila’ in 1972 where I played the female lead with Dev Anand. Even before ‘Joshila’ Yash came to with ‘Ittefaq’. I couldn’t do that film because I was committed to do ‘Jeevan Mrityu’ with director Satyen Bose as my first film. ‘Joshila’ started my long association with two of my favourite film personalities Dev Anand and Yash Chopra. When Yash directed his first independent film I don’t know why he chose me for ‘Daag’. I was relatively new at that time. And mine was the author-backed role in ‘Daag’. My character was taken from novelist Gulshan Nanda’s novel ‘Maili Chandni’. People liked my character of ‘Chandni’ and our connection continued. I didn’t have a single song in ‘Daag’. But did I really care about such things! The unconventional route always fascinated me. Why only in ‘Daag’, in my subsequent films with Yash—’Trishul’ and ‘Kala Patthar’—I didn’t have any songs. When I married Gulzar, Yash became our neighbour.”

“He then offered me ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ after my marriage. I think ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ was conceived keeping me in mind. Lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, I think, wrote the songs keeping me in mind. Gulzar and I used to regularly visit Yash’s home. This was during those times when I was pregnant with my daughter Meghna and Yash’s son Adi was a child. One day in the presence Amitabh Bachchan they played a song and Pam said, ‘This song is for Raakhee’. That’s how ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ was offered to me. Yash Chopra said, ‘I’d drop the film. But I won’t make it with any other heroine.’ Since acting was the only thing I enjoyed, I agreed to do the film even after marriage. When we started shooting for ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ I had to do intensely romantic scenes with Amitabh. That was a problem, since Amitabh and Jaya called me ‘Bahurani’. So ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ started on a note of conflict for me. The first day of shooting when Amitabh had to sing Sahir’s romantic line to me while I had my hair in his lap, I felt so awkward. Yash helped me to get over awkwardness….Yash was like a family member. He would come home, open the cupboard and say, ‘I want you to wear this saree for tomorrow’s shooting.’ Do you know, all the jewellery that I wore for my suhaag raat scene in ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ were my own jewellery from my own wedding! Yash had great observation powers. He wanted me to a wear a shaadi ka joda in ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ exactly like the one worn by singer Mukesh’s daughter during her wedding. God knows how he remembered that particular joda. I think he just revered everything to do with women. He romanced romance to the fullest. Not only his heroines, Yash was equally fascinated by everything to do with his wife. He wanted her to wear particular perfumes only, so that he’d feel her presence. He was enamoured of femininity.”

“After ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ I did ‘Trishul’ with Yash and in-between ‘Trishul’ I shot for ‘Doosra Aadmi’ which Yash produced and Ramesh Talwar directed. When ‘Trishul’ was narrated to me by Salim-Javed in Yash’s presence I was hesitant about playing the working girl. They insisted. I had a very bold role in ‘Doosra Aadmi’. I had to smoke and drink and romance Rishi Kapoor. Come to think of it I never really played the conventional romantic heroine with Amitabh in Yash Chopra’s films. In ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ I loved Amitabh but I married Shashi Kaoor. In ‘Trishul’ and ‘Kala Patthar’ I had no romantic songs with Amitabh.”

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