Happy Birthday, Rakesh Roshan
I have known Rakesh Roshan longer than perhaps anyone in the film industry. During the days of landline phones we would speak regularly.
Even when I was starting out Rakeshji was always kind thoughtful and considerate towards me. In fact we get along far better than his son Hrithik who for some strange reason always avoided meeting me although we got along just fine on the phone.While the junior’s relationships are completely need-driven(and no harm in that) Rakeshji and I have known and respected one another for decades now. Even when he is not directing a film –which happens quite often—he’s still the same person. Warm,polite and always ready with a welcoming smile.It is truly distressful to see that generation growing progressively distant in the film industry. There are no more personal relationships,at least none that I can even remotely describe as valuable. Rakesh Roshan belongs to a precious breed of professionals who believed work could be done within the periphery a lasting friendship. I can’t claim to be a buddy.(Rishi Kapoor who can rightfully claim to be that, is also undergoing a health treatment). But we are friends. We share a mutual respect. It shook me to know that this strong tenacious man is , after all, human.I remember when in 2000 Rakeshji was shot at by gangsters for refusing extortion money, Rakeshji drove himself to the nearest hospital with a bullet in his abdomen. His mantra for a good life? “Make every day your birthday and celebrate. Spread happiness as much as you can and stay away from negativity.I’ve always believed in thinking and being positive.”
Rakesh Roshan’s 5 finest films:
1. Khudgarz (1987)—The unlikely friendship between a Punjabi urban businessman and a rural Bihari babu(Shatrughan Sinha) was actually Rakesh Roshan’s take on a life-long friendship gone sour in Jeffrey Archer’s novel Kane & Abel. Rakesh earlier wanted to cast Jeetendra and Rajnikanth in a Punjabi-Tamilian dosti. He changed the cultural backdrop of one of the friends’ characters to cash on Shatrughan Sinha’s real-life friendship with Jeetendra.
2. Jaag Utha Insaan(1984): Though it was “Himmatwala” that launched her into stardom in Bollywood, it was this unsuccessful nugget of a film produced by Rakesh Roshan and directed by the inimitable K. Vishwanath, where Sridevi shone as a temple dancer wooed by a Brahmin boy (Rakesh Roshan) and a socio-economically challenged underdog (Mithun Chakraborty). Sridevi danced and emoted as though there was no tomorrow. And as long as she did, we didn’t care if there wasn’t a tomorrow.This , according to me, is the most neglected film of Sridevi’s vast and far-ranging oeuvre. She played a Brahmin girl in love with a Dalit boy(Mithun Chakraborty). Her dancing with the South Indian temples as the backdrop is to die for. Director K Vishwanath who normally preferred to work with Sridevi’s rival Jaya Prada here made an exception that made us Sridevi fans drool in delight.Very few films have captured this classcal side of Sri’s personality.This one is soup for the eyes and the soul.
3. Bhagwan Dada(1986) :In this Rakesh Roshan-produced film Sridevi was cast as a con-woman who pretends to be a hooker, takes moneyed men into hotel rooms, gets them drunk and runs off with their money.The role was great fun to play and we can easily see Sridevi having the time of her life in the company of Rajinikanth and the 12-year old Hrithik Roshan. “Hrithik was just 9 when he did my father-in-law’s film BhagwanDada.Hrithik was not supposed to do the film. But the child actor whohad a pivotal role with Rajnikanth fell ill. My father-in-law directorJ OmPrakash insisted, ‘Let’s take Duggu.’. I was against the idea.‘Daddy, Duggu can’t act!’ I protested. I wanted Hrithik to focus onhis studies. We’d have never known there was a brilliant actorlurking in him if my father-in-law had not insisted.Rakesh Roshan vividly recalls 9-year old Hrithik’s first shot. “Sincealong with Rajnikanth and Sridevi I also played the lead in BhagwanDada I was there on the first day of shooting when Hrithik had to givehis first shot.It was with Sridevi. I was so nervous and embarrassed that I hid behind a pillar on the sets, just watching my son quietly.I could see him very quiet , not communicating with anybody. I thoughthe was just not interested. But when he gave his first shot he wasperfect!! Like Sridevi, my son transformed when the camera was on.That was the moment I realized my son had it in him to be an actor.Wealready knew he was a natural-born dancer.Before that I thought of himas quiet boy lost in his own world of studies and school.But the wayhe did his death scene in Bhagwan Dada left me stumped. How could a 9-year old boy who doesn’t even know about death, play dead soconvincingly?! That’s when we knew.”
4. Kaam Chor(1982): Rakesh Roshan produced this quaint goodhearted film about a beautiful kind woman who reforms her indolent work-shirking husband. Rakesh Roshan took the backseat as Jaya Prada fronted this mellow drama directed by one of Rakesh’s favourite director K Vishwanath who saw the sparks in Jaya Prada long before any other director. Be it Kaam Chor or Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat, Rakesh Roshan was always game for doing heroine-centric films.
5. Krissh(2006) : Is it a bird, it is a plane?No it’s Hrithik Roshan!!! Fascinating is the word for the measured manner in which he glides through the air to the beat of Rajesh Roshan’s songs… or cuts through the breeze to the stunning special effects created with a verve so-far unknown to Indian cinema.”Krrish” takes us into the world of masked fantasy where the stakes are incredibly high… as high as the computer-generated leaps that the super-hero takes as he tries to save the world from the clutches of a megalomaniacal villain with a glint in his eyes that can only belong to Naseeruddin Shah. Speaking to me about the film in an old interview Rakesh Roshan had said, “To make a niche film is relatively easy. Sanjay Bhansali’s Black was a fantastic film. And the business it did was surprising. But I make fully commercial films. People expect me to surpass my previous collections. Krrish has done so in the first three days. Krrish belongs to the same genre as Superman or King Kong, so it had to go by the genre. In every film of that genre the heroine wonders about the superhero’s identity.”