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'Hrishida had a childlike smile'
August 31, 2006 14:59 IST
When the Hindi film industry bade adieu to celebrated filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee on Tuesday, Amol Palekar, the bumbling but loveable lead of his hilarious Golmaal, was running a high fever in Pune.
"I was like a son to him. I'm too disturbed to talk now," he told rediff.com then.
But later, he did speak to us about his last two meetings with Hrishida:
The last two times that I met Hrishida, I felt emotionally overwhelmed.
My last meeting with him was when he was in Mumbai's Lilavati hospital. Before that, I met him when he was to be felicitated in Kolkata. Being felicitated by the Bengali community naturally had a significance for Hrishida. But he could not attend it due to his poor health, and that was a matter of regret to him.
When I talked to him before going to that function, he felt very nice. However, at the function, I was embarrassed to find that among all the Bollywood celebrities who had promised to be there, I was the only one present eventually.
In my speech, I talked about our association, and mentioned that I was privileged to be so close to this beautiful human being. But even if I had not had that privilege, I would consider it a great honour merely to be a postman and carry the manpatra (scroll of honour) that was being given to Hrishida that day by the Bengali film industry and film lovers. I meant every word of it. When this was reported to him by his friends, Hrisihida was emotionally disturbed, and happy, both at the same time. But seeing such a great man in this most vulnerable state was a painful experience to me.
At the last meeting in the hospital, his family members were quite disturbed by the fact that apart from Gulzarsahab and me, nobody from the industry had bothered to enquire about his health.
I sought permission from the doctors to meet Hrisihda. When his daughter-in-law went close to him and whispered into his ear in Bengali, 'Look who's here, Amol has come,' Hrishida, in a semi-conscious state, opened his eyes and smiled like a child.
I sat next to him and he held my hand very tightly. I talked to him for about 10 minutes, during which time he kept holding my hand and responded to my chatter, merely through his touch.
That childlike smile and that warm affectionate touch of his will be another treasure that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
As told to Sanjay Pendse