'Kundan was so knowledgable, and not just about cinema. Way back in 1986, he revolutionised the way we looked at television.'
One of Suchitra Krishanmoorthi's earliest films was Kundan Shah's Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa in 1994.
The actress, who spoke about the unfamiliar world of Bollywood in her autobiography Drama Queen, looks back at the making of his film, and the soft-spoken director Kundan Shah.
Other actors who worked closely with Shah -- Naseeruddin Shah (in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa) and Pavan Malhotra (in the television serials Nukkad, Manoranjan and Circus) -- speak fondly of the director, who passed away on October 7.
Suchitra Krishanmoorthi: I learnt so much working with him
I learnt so much working with him (Shah). I was so young and raw but I wanted to be an actor.
I auditioned for the role in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and was pleasantly surprised when I was selected to star opposite Shah Rukh Khan.
We shot mostly in Goa, and then some in Mumbai.
I remember the sweltering heat in Goa.
And how much I’d cry! (laughs)
Kundan would tell me to do a scene one way and I'd do it another. He would then get upset, and I’d burst into tears. Those days I cried a lot.
I have pleasant memories of working in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa.
I did keep in touch with Kundan after that.
In recent times, I had promised to take my daughter Kaveri to meet him over a meal. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.
I remember Kundan Shah as a learned articulate person, who made cult classics like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa.
If his later works didn’t make the same impact it was because he could not understand the changing politics and economics of the entertainment industry.
Naseeruddin Shah: He spent himself completely with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
Kundan was one of the very few honest guys in that pretentious lot of 1970's 'alternative' filmmakers.
He spent himself completely with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, which is why he didn't do anything close to it again.
Pavan Malhotra: It feels like the death of an era
I was fortunate enough to be a part of that group of game-changing filmmakers in the 1970's -- Saeed Mirza, Aziz Mirza, Vinod Chopra and Kundan Shah.
In fact, it was Azizsaab who called me to inform me about Kundan’s death.
It feels like the death of an era.
Kundan was so knowledgable, and not just about cinema. Way back in 1986, he revolutionised the way we looked at television.
The work he did in Nukkad, Manoranjan and Circus remains unparalleled to this day on Indian television. I was lucky enough to be part of Nukkad and Manoranjan.
I learnt so much from working with Kundan. The wisdom and intelligence he brought to television and cinema with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was amazing. Though I didn’t have a role in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, I served as an assistant on the film.
Kundan was a hard taskmaster. He expected plenty from himself and from those around him. Unfortunately, the work he did after Nukkad and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro could not measure up. This happens to many outstanding filmmakers.
I haven’t seen his later works but none of them had the same impact.
It is remarkable what that group of filmmakers achieved -- whether it was Kundan with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na, Saeed Mirza with Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai and Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (in which I starred) or Vidhu Vinod Chopra with Khamosh and Parinda... these are films that changed the way we look at Indian cinema.
I am very proud to be associated with Kundan.
I met him last after Saeedsaab’s surgery six months ago. We met at the hospital and then, we chatted over a meal. I wish we met more often.