In his latest Blog, Big B revealed about hiding his injured hand under his pocket throughout the shooting of “Sharabi” and turning it into a trend in style. It reminds of another star’s similar style statement when Meena Kumari used to hide her one hand under the ‘dupatta’ or sari ‘pallu’ in most of the scenes in her every movie, because she did not want the audience to notice that she had six instead of the normal five fingers in that hand. There was no google search engine then to reveal the truth to curious fans of hers, so not many came to know about it. The ignorance on such stories because of the absence of information technology in the early era of Hindi cinema, takes me back in my memory lane, to where else, but Lahore days of my life.
Film fans in Lahore had only two English language film magazines then - in 1940s - to know off screen stories about their favorite stars. One - Cine-Herald - was edited by B. R. Chopra, who later became famous as producer-director of hit movies with a message, and the second was edited by my brother, R. R. Rishi. Both these magazines were beautifully published on art paper and were highly priced as per the price range of the period - Re. 1/- , as compared to such magazines published in Hindi or Urdu language, which were priced 4 Annas (25 paisa) or 8 Annas (50 paisa) at the maximum. These magazines could cover conveniently cover stories on local filmstars, but were too far away from the hub of mainstream Hindi cinema in Bombay. What they would do was to take such stories from ‘Filmindia’, priced at Rs. 2/-, the most expensive film magazine published from Bombay and edited by the renowned journalist Baburao Patel, who also produced some movies when on the peak of his career and later turned into an active right wing politician, changing his magazine from films to politics with the new name Mother India. My brother Raghu, that was his first name, would bring home the magazine from his office for me, not only because he knew that I was a big movie buff even then and loved to read anything written on films, but also to pick up the best stories from its gossip column, perhaps, called ‘Believe it or not’, and to re-write the same in my words, which would be published in his magazine every month. My compensation for this help was a free pass for four persons for the latest release, which he used to get from the distributor of the film, and this was the most eagerly awaited and enjoyed entertainment for me and my school friends. The stories about the stars were mostly relating to their off-screen romance and relationships. This is what I came to know from working for my brother, so early in my life - 10-12 years of age:
Movie Stars and models don't look the same in "real life". One of the small comforts of watching a movie is knowing that those actors might be idols up on the big screen, but off-camera they're probably just like the rest of us. Every now and then, we come across actors whose real lives are even more incredible than their fake ones. Lights, camera, romance! It's no surprise that actors who have chemistry on-screen find themselves falling in love in real life too. But few stars enjoy fairy-tale endings depicted in their films. Breaking up is hard to do, even if you're rich and famous. They've entertained us for hours on end, but how much sad they have been inside is sometimes unimaginable. Normal occurrences begin to take on magical properties. There are moments in their life that deviate from the ordinary. Some such moments or happenings that occurred in the life of some legendary stars were picked up by me from Filmindia for publishing in Film Critic, in my language and style. Here is an example:
Shobhana Samarth – plane load of 'love you' notes for the screen goddess!
legendary beauty, actress of yesteryear, mother of Nutan and Tanuja, grandmother of Kajol and Mohnish Behl, she was at the head of a family that produced filmstars for three generations. In her heyday, Shobhana was often referred to as a beauty par excellence. When she starred as Sita in Vijay Bhatt's famous classic, Ram Rajya (1943), along with Prem Adip as Ram, the pair's performance was so evocative that they became the eternal Ram and Sita in the audience's minds. In fact, people felt they were no actors enacting the Ramayana characters, but real Ram and Sita had incarnated to act in the movie. They were literally worshipped wherever they went together to promote the film, which was a huge hit. People even had their posters and pictures installed in their homes to worship and pray. Undoubtedly, they would have been flooded with offers to work together in many more movies, especially mythological, but it did not happen. Shobhana Samarth, the most unconventional actress of her time, was not available as she got deeply involved in relationship with her co-star of many films and the famous actor, Motilal. It was one of the most tempestuous relationships ever. Although a thorough gentleman, he enjoyed gambling, races and alcohol, which resulted in financial strains and frequent fights between the couple. Quoting Samrath: “We were forever fighting -- out of 365 days, we would fight 360 days. He reacted by drinking -- he had to drink because we had had a fight and he had to drink because we were happy. When I decided to quit Bombay and live in Lonavala, he objected. I went anyway. He had a flying license and he hired a plane and flew over my cottage, throwing stones with letters tied to them saying 'I love you.”