'My bench mate at school was Shashi Kapoor and we were together from KG right up to the 10th standard.'
Former India wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer recalled his "great friendship" with the legendary movie star Shashi Kapoor, saying if it was not for his quick reflexes during their school days the actor would have ended up playing villains in the movies.
Engineer and Kapoor both went to the Don Bosco school in Matunga, north central Mumbai.
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"My innings started in the Don Bosco school in Matunga since I lived in Dadar (also, north central Mumbai). My bench mate was Shashi Kapoor and we were together from KG right up to the 10th standard. Dono ki dandi gayi thi 10th standard main (we both failed in the 10th standard)."
"We had a French teacher called Mr Lobo who used to throw the duster at every student who talked in class," the 81-year-old former India and Lancashire wicket-keeper remembered while delivering the 10th Dilip Sardesai memorial lecture in Mumbai on Wednesday, December 4.
"One day when Shashi and me were chatting away, I see a duster flying in the direction of Shashi's face. It must have been my reflexes, I just managed to catch the duster literally an inch from his face."
"I always use to tease him saala tujhe daaku ka role milta agar main duster nahi pakdta tha (you would have only got the role of dacoits had I had not caught the duster)."
Engineer, who played 46 Tests and 5 ODIs for India, recalled how he became a popular figure at his school after a swashbuckling century against the West Indies in Madras in January 1967, when he nearly smashed a hundred before lunch.
"We had Father McLaren in our school and after I got my hundred -- Shashi was also there at the match by the way -- Father McLaren invited me and Shashi to the school to felicitate us. He said, 'Don Bosco and I, the way we encourage Farokh in his cricket and Shashi in his acting career'. You know he felt responsible for our success."
"Shashi and I just glanced at each other and said 'kya bundle maarta hai! (What lies he is cooking up!) because he had failed us both in the 10th standard."
TEXT: HARISH KOTIAN/REDIFF.COM