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'Basuda always wanted to capture life as it is'

By SUBHASH K JHA
June 04, 2020 19:43 IST
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'Basuda hardly spoke, but he had a sense of humour and that showed in his films.'
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This prolific cartoonist-turned-director made films that were so life-like, they looked like documentaries.

IMAGE: Zarina Wahab in Chitchor.

"I was supposed to walk up to Dina Pathakji and say something," Zarina Wahab, who starred in Chitchor, recalled. "Basuda said, 'Just keep sitting where you are. Turn your head and speak to her'.

"I was like, 'Haainn?'"

'But when I saw the scene later, I realised what he was doing. Basuda always wanted to capture life as it is. No drama. No singing unless the character was a singer like Amol in Chitchor. His films capture life as it is," Zarina remembered.

"Chitchor was a ball to shoot. We -- Amol, Vijayendra Ghatge, Dina Pathakji,, Raju Shrestha and I -- were in Mahabaleshwar for three months shooting for the film. Those were the three happiest months of my life," Zarina added.

Basuda, Zarina said, was a very quiet man.

"He hardly spoke. But what a fabulous sense of humour he had! He gave off the aura of being casual, but he was anything but casual," she said.

"I remember I was very new when we did Chitchor and Basuda strictly instructed me not to use makeup. He wanted me to be just the way I am. I wanted to look glamorous, so I would sneak in some lipstick on my face. Basuda would slowly put on his glasses and scrutinise me. I'd be caught out like s child with her hand in the cookie jar."

IMAGE: Zarina Wahab and Amol Palekar in Chitchor.

"Amol and I hit it off from the word go. To this day, he is the only leading man with whom I am in touch. Why didn't we do more films with Basuda? Oh, but we did."

"Amol and I did a film with Basuda, Savera Hua. It never released. We also did a guest appearance in Basuda's Jeena Yahan. I wish I met him before he passed away. I can't even go to his house to pay my respects because of this coronavirus."

 

Hema Malini, along with her mother Jaya Chakraborty, produced one of Basuda's best films, Swami.

"He hardly spoke, but he had a sense of humour and that showed in his films," she remembered. "The films he did with me were very serious -- Ratna Deep (with Girish Karnad) and Dillagi (with Dharmendra)," Hemaji pointed out.

"I also made a guest appearance in Basuji's Choti Si Baat. We sang Jaan-e-Man Jaan-e-Mann Tere Do Nayan."

IMAGE: Vidya Sinha om Rajnigandha.

Basuda minced no words while decrying the dog-eat-dog world of showbiz.

'When I made Rajniganda with Vidya Sinha, Amol Palekar and Dinesh Thakur, everyone thought it would come and go. But it did surprisingly well,' Basuda once told me

'Choti Si Baat was among my most successful films. I had to repeat my Amol-Vidya pair from Rajnigandha. Everyone got swayed by the success of Rajnigandha,' Basuda said.

'You'd be surprised to know that Rajshri Productions -- for whom I made a lot of films -- used to discourage me from working with Amol Palekar. After Rajnigandha and Choti Si Baat, they insisted I sign him for Chitchor.'

Basuda remembered how unhappy producer B R Chopra was with Choti Si Baat.

'During the dubbing of Choti Si Baat, Mr and Mrs Chopra saw the film in their theatre. They were thoroughly disheartened. Mr Chopra said he couldn't afford a flop. He advised me to add the character of the love guru played by Ashok Kumar. It was inspired by the film School For Scoundrels,' Basuda recalled.

'After the film released, Mr Chopra sent me a telegram admitting he was wrong in his misgivings about the film. That was rather magnanimous of him.'

'I worked with Ashok Kumar for the first time in Choti Si Baat. We went on to work together in many films. He was a very intelligent actor, and a closet director. He used to tell me, 'You are one of the best directors I've came across.'

'Our most popular film together was Shaukeen. Is someone really re-making it? My best wishes to him.'

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