Of Sadhana, Pink Make-Up, Vodka and Birthday Cake

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Sadhana clearly was a trendsetter, after the Sadhana Cut and churidars she says she sparked off another fashion trend, the mojris. She points to her foot and says, “see look at this toe of mine, it is smaller than the rest and I have ugly feet. I was very conscious of my feet so to cover them I started wearing mojris. There is one more reason I had to wear them, see I am 5 feet 6 inches tall, the Bouffant then added a little more to my height, and if I wore heels I would be 5 feet 10 inches tall and you know most of our heroes are short. Once Raj Kapoor was given a stool to stand on, it was for a film called Dulha Dulhan, it was a very bad film. You know but when you wear mojris your walk is very different, than when you wear heels. In those days the shoe shop, Metro, in Colaba used make special mojris for me and the owner once gave an interview to the press and told them that I had a little crooked toe. But do you know Waheeda has crooked toes on both her feet?”

By now she is on her third vodka and I have finished off my granddad’s left over whiskey, so we are all nicely warmed up. So I try to ask her about the casting couch in those days. Sadhana says, “Those were innocent days. Today of course there is a casting couch. Those days you fell in love, sometimes with a married man even, but you got married to him.” I was hoping to hear a little more gossip than that. A little more prodding perhaps, so I ask her who her favourite male co-stars were. She says, “Oh! I was very comfortable with Rajendra Kumar and Shammi Kapoor. They were the nicest two guys in the industry and I really enjoyed working with them. But can I tell you this? But please don’t write this, Shammi had a real reputation so I was really scared to work with him in Rajkumar so at first I kept my distance. But then I realised what a wonderful person he was. One day Shammi told me, “Sadhana, you are not my cup of tea and there are two women in the industry who are like a Frigidaire, you and Saira.” But I turned round to him and said, “Shammi, I think you are not my cup of tea.” She tells me a couple of more stories but I must keep my promise to her by not putting it on record.

I ask her about star rivalry in those days and she very calmly replies, “See, it was very simple if you wanted a pretty looking girl for your film, they would cast Saira (Banu), if they wanted a good dancer then it would be Asha (Parekh) and of you wanted an actress then you chose Sadhana. I was very punctual. I would be ready with my makeup sharp at 9.30 a.m. in the morning. For the shooting of Rajkumar we were staying nearly two hours away from the location so we would wake up at 2 a.m. every night, get ready with makeup and costume by 4.30 a.m. and reach the location at 7 a.m. sharp. And that time we didn’t have air-conditioned vanity vans like today. So a lot of times we had to use the jungle as the loo. Nowadays they shoot in Switzerland and Australia.”

There are stories that I have grown up hearing, of how Sadhana would come and pick up Papaajoba in her Buick and that was probably the only Buick in town. To that she says, “Oh! Yes everyone knew that was my car.” I had also heard this story where my brother accompanied my grandfather on a shoot to Lonavala with Sadhana and it was her birthday. My brother was told to wish her but he refused and said like any three-year-old would, “it cannot be a birthday until there is birthday cake.” On hearing that Sadhana sent her driver all the way from Lonalava to Bombay to buy a birthday cake just for my brother. Sadhana doesn’t remember this story and many others that my granddad tells her. I guess it is just that some stories the stars will never remember or maybe that my granddad has a superb memory.

This evening though, is about the star so it ends with her telling us about her crazy fans who would stand outside her bungalow for hours and, “once there was a mad fan who would throw gifts into my compound, he would throw watches, radios,” says Sadhana. But as we leave her bungalow, located in a dark lane, nobody stands outside it. It is quiet and lonely, Papaajoba and I get into a rickshaw and leave. — Anuja Ghosalkar”

Courtesy- Dhrupad from tumblr. Follow #Bollywoodirect #bollywood

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Celebrating Cinema

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