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Farewell, Basuda

Sooraj Barjatya owes  Basu Chatterjee  an  apology for  what he  did to his  Chit Chor. Remember  Barjatya’s atrocious remake Main Prem Hi Deewani Hoon?Basuda had a great sense  of humour. But he  wasn’t amused with  what  Barjatya had done to his film.

One  of my favourite  directors,  and why just me, everybody’s favourite Basu Chatterjee is  gone. Basuda once told me he didn’t make films  to change the world .I agree. This prolific cartoonist turned  director made film that were so lifelike they looked like  documentaries.

Zarina Wahab  who was the  lead in  Basuda’s  finest  film Chit Chor recalls an  incident, “I was supposed to walk up  to Dina Pathakji and say something to him. Basuda said , ‘Just keep sitting where you are. Turn your head and speak to her.’ I  was like, ‘Haaainn?!”  But when I saw the scene later I  realized 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 Chit Chor. His films capture life as it is. Chitchor was  a  ball to shoot. We were all in Mahabaleshwar  for three months shooting for  the film. Me, Amol, Vijayendra  Ghatge, Dina Pathaji and  Rajoo Shrestha who  played my  best buddy.Those were three  of the happiest  months  of  my life.”

 Zarina recalls Basuda as  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. I remember I was  very new when we did Chit Chor and Basuda very strictly  instructed  me to  use no makeup. He hated  artifice  of any kind. He wanted me  to be just the way I am. But I wanted to look glamorous.So I would sneak some lipstick  on my face. Basuda would slowly put in his glasses and scrutinize  me.I’d be caught out like  child with her hand in the cookie jar.”

 Zarina recalls the beginning of a new  friendship  during  Chit Chor. “Amol Palekar and  I hit it off from  the word go. To this day , he is the  only leading man with whom I’m in touch.Why didn’t we do  more  films with Basuda?  Oh , but we did. Amol and I did a film with Basuda called Savera  Hua.  It was 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 who along with her mother,produced  one  of  Basuda’s best films Swami recalls, “He hardly spoke,  but he had a  sense  of humour.And that  showed  in his films. But the  films  he did with me were very serious. There  was Ratna Deep with Girsh Karnad and me and there was Dillagi with Dharamji and I. Dharamji and I also made a guest appearance  in  Basuji’s  Choti Si Baat.We sang the number Jaan-e-Man jaan-e-mann tere do nayan. I  don’t remember much about Basuji except that like me, he hardly spoke on the sets.

In my conversation with Basuda he  minced   no words  while decrying the  dog-eat-dog world of  show  biz.

Basuda said to me, “When  I made Rajniganda with  Vidya Sinha,Amol Palekar and  Dinesh Thakur everyone  thought  it would come and go. But it did surprisingly well. Chotisi Baat was among my most successful films. I had to repeat my Amol Palekar-Vidya Sinha pair from Rajnigandha. Everyone got swayed by the success of Rajnigandha. You’d be surprised know that Rajshri Productions for whom I made a lot of films, used to discourage me from working with Amol Palekar.After Rajnigandha and Chotisi Baat they insisted I sign him for Chit Chor.”

 Basuda remembered  how  unhappy  producer B R Chopra was with  Chotisi Baat. “When the dubbing for Chotisi Baat was going on ,Mr and Mrs Chopra saw the film in their own 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. 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 Chotisi Baat.We then went on to work together in many films. He was a very intelligent actor, and a closet-director. He used  to tell me, ‘You’re 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.”

Of course we know what  the people  behind the  remake of  Shaukeen  did  to Basuda’s film Like Sooraj Barjatya they too owe Basuda an apology.

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