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May 6, 1998


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Mature beauty

V S Srinivasan

Dimple Kapadia. Click for bigger pic!
That pretty face looking askance at the young intruder into her house in Bobby isn't easily forgotten. And the sensuous ingenue with her short skirts and the ill-concealed bosom had quite a few hearts thumping away faster, among them that of the boy who played her paramour, besides the superstar of the time.

But time and marriage crept up on Dimple Kapadia and she disappeared into the innards of Rajesh Khanna's bungalow on Carter Road, a prize hard won from the young Rishi Kapoor. Just when it appeared she would slowly dwindle away into slow senescence came a tumultuous divorce.

Dimple wanted back but the industry wasn't so sure if it did. Twelve years had passed. This wasn't a young ripe girl any more, it was a divorced mother with two children. Though the good looks hadn't disappeared altogether, there was a hardness, a maturity about her, that could bely audience expectations. For hadn't they first seen her as an innocent wide-eyed lass?

A still from Bobby. Click for bigger pic!
Which is why when she finally resurfaced, Ramesh Sippy put her opposite Rishi Kapoor again, with Kamal Hasan providing the third vertex of the love triangle. But if Saagar succeeded on the basis of the audience belief that here were old lovers being reunited, the makers also insured themselves getting her to provide some sensuous scenes and a glimpse of a bare bosom.

But that it seemed was it. Dimple Kapadia was on her way out again. Till she bagged a role in Rudaali and went on to win a national award.

But another return to commercial cinema with Mrityudaata failed. As had Ajooba earlier, also an Amitabh starrer.

"It was sheer luck. One never knows why (Mrityudaata) flopped. People who had seen the film like the way it was made. Though, I didn't have a great role, I enjoyed working in a set-up like that. I had already worked with Amit in Ajooba and Mehul Kumar in Krantiveer. But it was not my film at all. It was generally conceived as Amit's comeback vehicle and I enjoyed doing it. Hence I don't have any regrets," she says before telling us she hates interviews.

Click for bigger pic!
"I don't know why," she smiles and brushes back a lush tumble of hair. "I don't like questions that delve into my personal life. I don't mind talking about my professional career, but I hate interviews if I have to answer a stupid question about personal matters," she says, suddenly getting altogether serious.

The lady is dressed in a black gown and looks ravishing enough to give her daughter Twinkle a run for her money. Reason maybe film magazines still think her the right beauty to link every hero in the business today with. This, 25 years after Dimple made her debut in films.

She says that after her second stint into commercial films, she decided to go in for the more serious kind, trying to maintain a balance with films like Rudaali, Antareen and Drishti.

"The fact was that most of these offers were not very tempting. I rejected films offered by Aparna Sen, Shyam Benegal and Kalpana Lajmi. For me Aparna's film was seemed similar to Drishti and I didn't want to do the same kind of role. Getting typecast even in parallel cinema is the last thing I want. Shyam Benegal offered me Sardari Begum. The subject was interesting but I didn't want to come down to television...."

Click for bigger pic!
But then wasn't she planning to start a television software company, doing a talk show, even wielding a megaphone for a serial?

"A lot of things were discussed," she says. "What's wrong in exploring avenues to see if there is scope for variety? But then nothing concrete materialised out of all that. In fact I am not interested in television right now. Maybe after sometime... No, I have no qualms about doing anything on television. But there would be something that touches my senses..."

Some matters that, as she says, do touch her senses are films with Amitabh Bachchan and her own favourite, Jackie Shroff. She had worked with Jackie in a few projects, including Angaar. Up and coming is Laawaris which will also star Akshaye Khanna and Manisha Koirala.

"The subject I appealed to me the moment it was read out. Moreover I have a substantial role in the film which I can talk about." She giggles girlishly. Not she the one to get intense and hyper about another role. And her easy-going approach is perhaps what is keeping her face fresh and glowing.

"It is all due to my exercising and diet regiment. It is indeed a pleasure when you pull out all the clothes out of the wardrobe and manage to fit into everything easily." There's a hint of triumph somewhere beneath her pleasure.

A still from Zooni. Click for bigger pic!
It was that kind of fitness that helped her give those scenes in swimming costume for Saagar.

"I don't want to talk about the swimming costume bit, but Saagar was indeed a great film for a comeback. I proved that a married woman with a two kids can also make a comeback if she wants to. One just needs to have a drive in her to do so." That apparently had much to do with her return.

"I would call it fate," she smiles. "So many things have happened. I made my film debut in 1973. It is 25 years ever since that happened. And there was this period of thirteen years during which I wasn't working. I really cannot explain, why I wasn't doing it. I hadn't planned anything for myself. Whatever is happening is probably what was destined to be. Everything seems so natural; it's happening automatically."

And why hadn't she stayed around, aspiring to greater heights instead of going away and scheming a comeback?

"I never wanted to be something called the number one. Please keep me out of all this. I was never part of the rat race I'm still not, considering the fact that I am a veteran. It's time for my daughter to carve a niche for herself. I know that whenever I want to work I will always be able to do so. I have never been able to explain why I am like this. But then I have always taken things as they come," she smiles sheepishly.

Click for bigger pic!
Then we raise the issue of Rajesh Khanna and a failed marriage and Dimple slinks back into her shell.

"It has all happened. There is no use talking about it. We are still good friends and the children too are pretty close to him. I meet him sometimes and have also campaigned for him during the elections along with the children." Then she remembers....

"I told you not to ask personal questions," she says, glaring, So it's back to business.

There were talks of the Muzaffer Ali project Zooni being revived....

"I was slated to play the role of the poetess Habba Khatoon. We also shot for it in Kashmir. That was 10 years ago. But I believe Ali faced some financial hassles and we can do the film only if they are sorted out," she says.

So what now?

"Well, there are a few films in which I am acting. I will continue to give justice to do whatever I want to and like to do. But then I am not bothered about the long term at all. I want to see Tina (Twinkle) come up as an actress. And yes, I want to lose two more kilos. The other day I found one pair of jeans I could not fit into..."

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