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What you DIDN'T know about Sanjay Dutt, Salman, Alia Bhatt

Last updated on: May 20, 2013 09:20 IST

What you DIDN'T know about Sanjay Dutt, Salman, Alia Bhatt

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

Featuring Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Smita Patil, Salman Khan, Alia Bhatt, Rekha...

Jagannath Sasane gives us a ring-side view of the Hindi film industry.

Jagannath Sasane loves his job.

His wrinkled face and the puffiness under his eyes tell the story of the quintessential Bollywood technician -- the faceless folk who tirelessly work behind the limelight and transform actors into stars.

Sasane, 52, has been working as a spot boy for almost 40 years. He greets me with a big smile and says, "40 saal main pehli baar koi mera interview kar raha hai. Bada acha laga ki koi humare jaise logon ke baare main likhna chahate hai (For the first time in 40 years, someone has asked me for an interview. It feels good that there is someone who is interested in writing about spot boys.)"

He had no intention of becoming a spot boy. He wanted to become an actor. "I was always fascinated by films. Dilip Kumar was my favourite hero."

His enthusiasm for cinema shows up in his unique way of remembering dates. He doesn't remember when he was born, but says he was born in the same year that Dev Anand's Hum Dono (1961) released.

Sasane also remembers his wedding day in true Bollywood style. "I got married four days before Qurbaani (1980) released."

His children (two daughters and one son) are named after the Bhatt family, with whom he worked for more than a decade.

"My eldest daughter Tina is named after Soni Razdan's sister," he says, adding, "My second daughter is named Soni (after Soni Razdan) and my son is named Mahesh (after Mahesh Bhatt)."

As I settle down with Sasane to peek into the reality of a spot boy's life, he removes stacks of photographs clicked with the celebrities he has worked with all these years.

Jagannath Sasane -- no less a star than Bollywood's stars and directors -- recaps his 40-year journey in Tinseltown.

Continuing our series celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema.

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Image: Jagannath Sasane with Sanjay Dutt


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'My first salary was Rs 50'

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I was around 13 when I started working in films. My friends and I were going to Mount Mary Church in Bandra. We were passing Mehboob Studios when my cousin saw me and called me inside the studio.

Dharmendra was shooting a wrestling sequence for Kahaani Kismat Ki and my cousin told us to sit in the crowd for the sequence.

The shooting went on for three days and we were paid Rs 50 every day. I was really happy. I thought it was a good job with a lot of money. So I decided to work in films.

I started working as a peon with Sonik-Omi who were established music directors in the 1970s. They gave some good music in films like Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya, Sawan Bhadon and Dharma. I used to get Rs 150 a month.

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Image: Rajendra Kumar, Mahesh Bhatt, Avtar Gill and Jagannath Sasane


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'Rajesh Khanna would never sit with the crowd'

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A year later, I got a job in Rajesh Khanna's office. Khanna's secretary (Yusuf Hassan) was a good friend of mine.

Khannaji's partner Baldev Pathak ran a costume designer shop in Colaba called Shriman Tailors. They stitched all the clothes for Rajesh Khannaji.

Khannaji wanted to become a producer. He had started a film with (filmmaker) Kamal Amrohi, which was later shelved.

His second film Chakravyuha was released in 1978. It was directed by Basu Chatterjee. Yusuf Hassan was credited as the producer, but actually it was Khannaji's money.

During the shooting of the film, I overheard a conversation between Basuji's secretary and the casting person. They wanted someone to play the role of (actor) Vinod Mehra's servant.

I told Basuji's secretary that I wanted to act in the film. He immediately agreed.

Two days later, I was called on the sets. I just had to say two dialogues. As soon as the lights and cameras started, I became nervous. It took me 20 retakes to give the perfect shot!

That day I told myself that never ever in my life would I act again in a film!

I worked with Khannaji for two years. He had his own unique style. He lived a king's life. He would never sit with the crowd. Wherever he would go, the crowd would follow him.

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Image: Saif Ali Khan and Jagannath Sasane


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'Rekha was a terror on the sets'

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After leaving my job with Rajesh Khanna, I worked with Navin Nischol for a few months. He was making a film that never got released.

We had an early morning shoot at Holiday Inn at Juhu in Mumbai. Navinji was shooting with Reena Roy and told me to wait at the entrance and inform him once Rekha had reached the venue.

Rekhaji's support staff had reached, but she was nowhere to be seen. I waited for almost an hour-and-a-half and then decided to go to her room.

Rekhaji opened the door. I couldn't recognise her because she was not wearing any make-up.

She was furious that I couldn't recognise her. She complained to Navin Nischol and almost got me fired.

Producers were very afraid of Rekhaji. She was a terror on the sets.

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Image: Jagannath Sasane with Reena Roy


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'Smita Patil never behaved as if she was a celebrity'

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I later joined Smita Patil with whom I worked with for almost five years. Mukesh Bhatt was her secretary and I worked with her as her personal assistant.

I was working under Mukeshji's supervision. My job was to look after her day-to-day activities. Right from her food to clothes to her schedule I managed everything.

She was a very fine human being. Once we were shooting for a film in Kolhapur when suddenly in the middle of the night some guys started shouting that they wanted to meet Smita Patil.

The hotel staff along with me told them it was not possible. Smitaji came down from her room and shouted at those guys for harassing us.

She said they could come the next morning and she would definitely click pictures with them. She really took care of all the people around her.

Whenever she was at home, she would personally clean the house. She would sit with all of us and eat food. She never behaved as if she was a big celebrity.

Smitaji told me that the future in the film industry for people like me who were spot boys and assistants wasn't really good.

She would always tell us that if needed she would speak to (politician) Sharad Pawar (whom she was very close to) and would get a job for me as his personal assistant.

I never pay heed to her. I was not aware that a politician's peon could become rich (laughs).

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Image: Jagannath Sasane with Shaheen Bhatt


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'Mahesh Bhatt bought me a house'

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When my son was born, I realised that I needed a stable job. I approached Smitaji and requested her to talk to Sharad Pawar.

She was pregnant (with Prateik Babbar) and told me that she would speak to him after a month. Just a few days after Prateik's birth, Smitaji passed away.

The day Smitaji passed away, I was tense. I didn't have any work. Although while working with Smitaji I was simultaneously working with Mahesh Bhatt, I wasn't sure about my future.

Mukeshji was working as a secretary to Smita Patil and Vinod Khanna. He would not give a schedule for his star clients until he got the entire remuneration in advance.

During Smitaji's funeral, Mukeshji met an entrepreneur from Dhanbad called Bajrang Babu. He was very close to Smitaji. He told Mukeshji to stop being a secretary to stars, become a producer and that he would finance him.

Mahesh Bhatt had just given a big hit, Naam. They had a meeting with Sanjay Dutt who agreed to do another film with them.

Mukeshji turned producer with Kabzaa. Bajrang Babu financed the film, which was a decent hit. Later he also financed Sadak.

My first film with the Bhatts was Thikana.

Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt are very good businessmen. It is a pleasure to work with them. I have known them for more than 25 years and they have been very cordial towards me.

Bhattsaab (Mahesh Bhatt) bought me a house in Malad (in suburban Mumbai in 1995.

Even today, if I have any problem I can call them in the middle of the night.

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Image: Jagannath Sasane and Mukesh Bhatt


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'Alia Bhatt is a very sweet girl'

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Before moving to Malad, I used to stay in Khar (another suburb in the city). During the annual Ganesh Chaturthi festival, celebrities would visit our pandal.

Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Aditya Pancholi, Rahul Roy would come for the aarti.

Dimple Kapadia would also come. Sunny Deol would always accompany Dimple, but would never step out of the car.

I remember when Soniji was pregnant with Alia, Bhattsaab had to go to London for a shooting.

He called his driver and me and gave us a blank cheque and told us to fill any amount that we wanted. He told us till he returned we should be at his home and take care of Soniji.

My last film with Bhattsaab was Raaz.

Alia's older sister Shaheen is a very nice girl. I remember we were shooting in Juhu for Awaargi. Anil Kapoor and Meenakshi Seshadri were in the lead roles.

In the evening, Soniji and Shaheen came on the sets. I was playing with Shaheen for almost an hour and she refused to go home. She cried till she reached home.

Soniji called Bhattsaab and told him to send me home. She ate dinner only after I reached home.She still respects me a lot.

Alia is a very sweet girl. I felt really good when I saw her become an actress. She was very fat when she was young. Her pet name was Aloo.

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Image: Jagannath Sasane with Alia Bhatt on the sets of Sangharsh


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'Vinod Khanna is very moody'

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Vinod Khanna is very moody. Mukeshji had very cordial relations with him till they did Jurm.

Vinodji, who was the lead in the film, cancelled the shooting for 40 consecutive days.

We would be ready on the sets when he would call Bhattsaab and give reasons like he was not well or would come after lunch or he was out of town.

Mukesh Bhatt got very angry and told the media that he would cast his spotboy Jagan as the hero, but would never cast Vinod Khanna again!

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Image: Vinod Khanna and Jagannath Sasane


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'Sanjay Dutt is like a king'

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I worked with Sanjay Dutt in many films. He is like a king.

If he decides to do a film, he will do it, irrespective of how good or bad the script is. And if he decides not to, even if you give him Rs 100 crore, he will not do it.

He is very down-to-earth and jovial. On the sets, he always interacts with the spot boys and other technicians and makes sure they are given proper food.

I know him since Naam. I have done around 10 to 12 films with him. Whenever his films become a hit he always gifts something to the support staff.

Once he gifted me a gold ring. Whenever he went abroad he would get Reebok shoes and Levi jeans for me. He has helped me a lot.

I pray to god and hope that he comes out of jail as soon as possible.

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Image: Sanjay Dutt on the sets of Sher


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'Amitabh Bachchan would always sit on a stack of three chairs'

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Amitabh Bachchan doesn't mingle on the sets. He gives his shot and goes back to his van. I was working as a spotboy on Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo.

My job was to fulfill all the requests made by Amitji. He would always sit on a stack of three chairs. Abhishek does the same. Amitji likes to eat a lot of jaggery. He always eats home-cooked food.

Abhishek is different. He always jokes around on the sets. He is very similar to Sanjay Dutt.

After leaving Mahesh Bhatt, I struggled to get work for almost two years. I joined Shree Ashtavinyak Films in 2005. I still work with them.

My first film with Shree Ashatavinayak was Bhagam Bhag. I have done a lot of films with Rohit Shetty. He is very hard working and dedicated. One of the finest directors today.

I was working with him on Chennai Express, but unfortunately I fell ill and had to leave it half way.

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Image: Amitabh Bachchan and Jagannath Sasane


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'Salman Khan told me if I needed anything, I could approach him any time'

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Salman Khan is very down-to-earth. I've know him for almost 25 years. When Bhattsaab was writing the dialogues for Naam, he would often go to Salim Khan's (Salman Khan's father) house. I would wait in the taxi, which was provided by Rajendra Kumar (the producer of Naam).

Salimsaab would call me and the driver to his house and make us eat. The driver's son is Sanjay Sankla, who has become a big editor today (he has edited films like Rowdy Rathore, Bodyguard, Double Dhamaal).

Recently, when we were shooting Son Of Sardaar with Salman, he spoke to me for 15, 20 minutes. He told me if I needed anything, I could approach him any time.

I worked with him on Chahaat and Duplicate.

When we were shooting for Duplicate, my sister-in-law was admitted to hospital and had to undergo surgery for which the expense was Rs 2 lakh (200,000.

I spoke to Shah Rukh Khan. He wrote a letter and told me to meet Dr Ali Irani at the Nanavati hospital. Dr Irani was the physiotherapist of the Indian cricket team and was Shah Rukh's childhood friend.

I met Dr Irani and ultimately the surgery was done for Rs 40,000.


Image: Salman Khan with Jagannath Sasane


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