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Raj Kaushal: A Nice Man To Know and Dino Morea Agrees!

 49 is no age  to go. I  got to know Raj Kaushal when he directed a  film called Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi in 1999. It was  a  sweet, if not a remarkable, take  on  first love featuring an all-new  star cast  of Rinke Khanna(Twinkle’s kid sister who  just couldn’t stop  raving about  the film and her role), Sanjay Suri, Shweta Salve and Dino Morea.

My old friend Dino is inconsolable, “I’ve just left the crematorium. Very saddened by this.Raj was such a  fun jovial guy, full of life. How  could this happen to  him at such a young age?”

Both Raj and his wife Madira Bedi were  most health conscious  and fitness adherents.

Recalls Dino  sadly, “My first movie experience  with Raj was Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi  All of us Sanjay Suri, Rinke  Khanna, Shweta Salve were  so young.Two of the songs  from this film Musu musu hasi and Wohpehli baar are hummed even  today.”

Dino remembers spending a lot of time  back then with Raj. “We were  always together  while promoting Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi. He was  such a  great guy.And  to be now gone at just 49…”

 Five  years after Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi , Raj Kaushal directed Shaadi Ka Laddo which gave  the  neglected  Sanjay Suri  a chance to shine.

I still remember  Suri’s  gratitude  for the opportunity. “I will remain indebted  to Raj Kaushal for this  opportunity. He  respect talent and hard work.”

 Then came  Raj’s best,  Anthony Kaun Hai  a pseudo-noire film which  was sassy original and  utterly  likable. In my review  of the  film I wrote: “First questions first: is this an original film? If it is, then this is one of the finest, sassiest and most sparkling scripts one has encountered in recent months.A fine central performance by the ever-competent actor Arshad Warsi playing a victim of destiny’s high-handedness, gives that extra edge and simmering sparkle to what could have been a precariously stylish pretext to film Thailand like never before.Hemant Chaturvedi’s cinematography is top-notch. Use of sepia and brown shades in the first half and more flamboyant colours in the second half gives director Raj Kaushal’s film that certain edge of delicious irony and under-stated ecstasy, generally denied to Hindi commercial cinema.Indeed one of the films USPs is the subversion of cinematic conventions. The device of the victim Champak Chaudhauri, aka Champ (Arshad) narrating his story to a child-like gangster (Sanjay Dutt, and how many times has he played the gangster to perfection!) gives the narrative a chance to repeatedly jump the grin and the gun to give us a dollop of devilish delight that seems original and intelligent.Sanjay as Arshad’s sounding board reminds us how much Hindi cinema can benefit from its traditions, if it only stops being slavish to convention.Sanjay often “corrects” Arshad’s narrative about his life. Watch that wickedly funny moment where Sanjay slaps his story-telling hostage and tells him to woo his girl in the way they do in Yash Chopra’s films.

Yup, the hit-man is a movie buff. Predictably, he falls for his intended victim’s love story. Why not’ The romantic scenes between Arshad and Minissha Lamba, who has vastly improved from her earlier outings, are done up in a believable warm and endearing style.”

Raj’s appreciation for my appreciation was heartfelt.During Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi I teased how about stealing the title  from a  Bappi Lahiri song in Chalte Chalte.After Anthony Kaun Hai  I teased him about the unrevealed  ‘source’ for this clever film.

Raj was  always  smiling laughing. Now  looks who’s having the last laugh.

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