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'The name Jr Mehmood transformed my life'
Lata Khubchandani | July 26, 2004 18:56 IST
Comic actor Mehmooddied on July 23, after a long illness. Junior Mehmood, who made a career out of imitating his guru, speaks fondly of him.
This goes way back to 1966, when we had made a film together, Suhaag Raat. I played his brother-in-law. I had a small role, that of an extra.
He was celebrating his daughter Ginny's birthday and had invited everybody. But he did not invite me. So I told him, 'Bhaijaan, just because I am not a big man's son, does it mean you will not invite me to your daughter's birthday party?' I spoke such nonsense!
But he responded saying, "No, my son. You must come."
I told him that I would make his party rock. When he asked me what I would do, I said I would sing his songs. I asked him if I could bring another friend with me. I went and danced at his party. The big celebrities were present at his party and all of them saw me.
Mehmood bhaijaan had said then that this boy has a knack for performing. He said I would become big one day. He also said he would make me his disciple. We actually went to Ranjit Studios and in true guru-shishya tradition I tied a gaanth on his wrist and paid him five rupees and 25 paise as dakshina. That's when he bestowed his own name upon me and called me Junior Mehmood. Otherwise, who was I to do anything in this industry? This name transformed my life completely.
Not only me, but the entire industry considered him a great artiste.
He was a very kind and generous man. Stories of his generosity are all over the industry. I remember, there used to be this drunken makeup man who never got any work because no one would hire him. He knew of Mehmood's generosity and approached him saying, "Mehmood Saheb, I am in trouble. I need money. Please help me."
Mehmood took out Rs 100 from his pocket and gave it to him. He told him, "Promise me on everything you hold sacred that you will take this money and drink with it. You will not take food home for your family."
The man was so ashamed that he started crying. He apologised and said, "I will try and reduce my drinking. I will look after my family. I am very ashamed."
As I grew up, I learnt a lot from him. I owe my career to him. Though I copied him, I didn't have the ability to copy him fully.
The last time I spoke to him was when he was down from Bangalore. I telephoned him and asked how he was. He said, "Taqleef hai, beta. [I have problems]."
I gave him my best wishes.
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