'I got an opportunity to direct him in Baaghi 3.'
'He played a police commissioner's role, and it was so weird directing him.'
On the first day of shooting, I asked him, 'What do I call you today?' and he shot back, 'Satish uncle'.'
It's impossible to believe that Satish Kaushik is gone.
The man who made us laugh, and occasionally cry too, was only 66 when he suffered a fatal heart attack in his car in Delhi-NCR.
One of his oldest acquaintances, who has known him since he was a child working in Mr India is actor-choreographer-director-producer Ahmed Khan.
Understandably distraught, Ahmed recalls the film-maker, who was always Satish uncle for him.
Speaking to Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, Ahmed remembers, "While Shekhar Kapur (director, Mr India) would be quite chill, telling Satish uncle, who was his associate director, to let us play. They would shoot our scenes after we were done. Satish uncle was a taskmaster. He would chase us with a stick, trying to round us up for the shot."
My memories of Mr India are intrinsically linked with Satish uncle.
There were 10 of us playing the orphan kids Anil Kapoor's character Arun has adopted in the film, and we would do a lot of masti on the set.
While Shekhar Kapur (director) would be quite chill, telling Satish uncle, who was his associate director, to let us play. They would shoot our scenes after we were done.
Satish uncle was a taskmaster.
He would chase us with a stick, trying to round us up for the shot.
He had different names for us, Aftab (Shivdasani) was Aafat and he would tell me, 'Tum Ahmed nahin, Qayamat ho.'
He would scold us, magar pyaar se (but lovingly) with the result that while we were scared of him, he was the one we were closest to in the unit.
It was a beautiful love-hate relationship that in my case went beyond the wonder years.
'Ahmed, why don't you do what you want to do?'
I grew up to be a choreographer and directed multiple songs for his films, starting with Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai in 2001.
It was a young, peppy film with Tusshar Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor in the lead.
I was a young boy myself, but since Satish uncle was much older than all of us, I was holding myself back initially.
After a while, he came up to me and said, 'Ahmed, why don't you do what you want to do?'
When I told him I had thought he would want me to choreograph the song from a more mature angle, he laughed, 'When I have you, why would I impose my views? I want to be younger, I want to learn from you.'
After that, I shot Maine Koi Jadoo Nahi Kiya in my style.
He was very appreciative.
Rabba Mere Rabba followed; both songs were huge hits.
'You will soon make me the industry's uncle'
For Badhaai Ho Badhaai too, a romcom which released a year later, he wanted something fun, with some sport being played.
We made Anil Kapoor, who was this really fat guy Raja, play football while the girls play hockey in Mere Bil Bata, Mera Dil Bata.
Satish wanted him to do the kind of cute stuff fat guys usually do and would stand up and show us himself.
I would shoot accordingly.
We filmed the song in Delhi; it had an endearing and energetic vibe.
Then came Milenge Milenge, which had some really nice songs.
Both Kareena (Kapoor) and Shahid (Kapoor), being industry kids whom he had seen growing up before him, called him Satish uncle.
So did I.
Soon, because of us, 10 others were calling him 'uncle' on the set.
He didn't mind, but would laugh and tell us, 'You will soon make me the industry's uncle.'
'I am the same person, you have grown'
I did a couple of more films with him.
Actually, he wanted me to choreograph for all his films but because of date problems, I couldn't do them all.
But he insisted I do Kaagaz.
It was a small budget art film.
Laalam Laal was a nautanki song which we shot in Madh Island.
It was along the same lines of my Shool chartbuster, Main Aaye Hoon UP-Bihar Loot Ne.
I got an opportunity to direct him in Baaghi 3.
He played a police commissioner's role, and it was so weird directing him.
On the first day of shooting, I asked him, 'What do I call you today?' and he shot back, 'Satish uncle.'
I reminded him that we had come a long way from Mr India in 1986 to Baaghi 3 in 2019 and he quipped, 'I am the same person, you have grown.'
He gave his all to the role, even danced in one of the songs.
That was our last collaboration.
'Acting in a film you're producing will complete a circle for us'
I had wanted to cast him in my upcoming production, Baap, which features senior actors like Sanju (Sanjay Dutt), Mithunda (Chakraborty), Sunny (Deol) and Jaggu Dada (Jackie Shroff).
When I approached him, he told me excitedly, 'Ahmed, that's the last thing we will do together. After collaborating with you as an actor, choreographer and director, acting in a film you are producing will complete a unique circle for us.'
My director (Vivek Chauhan) was really keen on him, but Satish uncle was shooting Kaagaz 2.
I couldn't wait as I had dates from the other stars.
I told him so, regretfully, and that was the last conversation we had.
That was three months ago.
Usually, I sleep early and wake up early, but last night I went to bed late. As is my habit, I woke up early.
Just as I was drifting off to sleep again, a message pinged with the tragic news.
It was shocking, unbelievable.
Even today, when my kids and I are hungry, we sit at the dining table and start chanting, 'Calendar khana do (Calendar, get us food).'
When my wife Shaira asks if I liked a particular dish, and I haven't tasted it, I tell her, 'Calendar ne nahin diya (Calendar didn't serve it).'
Both Satish uncle and Calendar will live in our hearts forever.