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Sharmila Tagore On Maverick Writer Prayag Raj Who Passed Away  On September 23

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Prayag Raj

Writer-director  Prayag Raj who passed away  on September 23 was a prolific artiste. He  scripted  a majority  of Manmohan Desai’s  films including Aa Gale Lag Jaa, Roti, Dharam-Veer, Amar Akbar Anthony and Parvarish.

Prayag also directed ten  films none  of which was very successful . One of his early directorials  was Paap Aur Punya in 1974  which starred Shashi Kapoor  and Sharmila  Tagore.

Sharmilaji who is currently in London spoke to  me about Prayag Raj. “I  didn’t know  he was gone until you told me. He had a full life. He wrote many hit films for Manmohan Desai and others. I  recall the one-month  outdoor  shooting in Jaipur  of Paap Aur Punya which he directed. The  film  was  not a  success. But I recall it with  fondness because we had so much fun . Shashi’s family  was there. My husband  and Saif who was just a toddler , were there.There was a Tiger who accompanied Shashi. I still don’t know what his  real name was. I only  knew him as Tiger(Shashi’s  cousin Tiger Kapoor).”

 Sharmila reveals that toddler Saif was  very attached  to Shashi Kapoor. “In one sequence  of Paap Aur Punya that we  were  shooting Shashi was being beaten by goons.Saif toddled  into the  frame to rescue his Shashi Uncle from these bad persons, since no one else was  doing the needful.”

Amidst a  good laugh Sharmila recalls the fun she had shooting for Paap aur Punya. “Shashi and  I  would be shooting while  the two families explored the areas nearby. Shashi’s wife  Jennifer and his  sister-in-law Felicity were there. Felicity would organize all kinds of fun adventures  for the  children.Yes, shooting this  film was  a picnic.”

There were hardships, though.  “This  was  the first film where I had to do some daring stunts. I played this  brave bold girl  called Jugni. In one sequence I had to jump off a high place with a briefcase  in my hand. I thought  it would be easy . But it was quite tough . In another  sequence Prayag asked me to  slide down an iron rod. I refused. I realized doing stunts needed  a lot of preparation.”

 About Prayag Raj’s relative non-success as a director Sharmilaji says, “I guess  one doesn’t have  to succeed in another  domain of  cinema just because  you are successful on one area. Sachin  Bhowmick  was   another very successful  screenwriter. But his  directorial Raja Rani with me  and  Rajesh Khanna  was  not  a success.”

She mourns  for the loss but she also celebrates  his  life. “Prayag lived long and was  very successful.He was not in good health  for the last ten years. Lucky are those who go  peacefully in their sleep.It is not easy for those  who have suffer in their last years, as those close  to them  also have to suffer.”

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