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“Shashi Kapoor Called Him Chimney,”  Raakhee Gulzar In A Rare Interview On Esmayeel Shroff



Raakhee Gulzar and Shashi

The  super-reclusive Raakhee Gulzar who did two memorable  movies with director Esmayeel Shroff  has only words of praise   for the  director.

“I will talk about him for two reasons. One, because you are  asking. Two, because he was  an underrated  underused director. I am shocked to know he is  no more. He was very young when we worked together. How old was he? 62? Is that  any age  to die?” Raakheedi gets upset.

She recalls happier times. “Both my films with Esmayeel were special, though they may not have been boxoffice  successes. I’ve never  done films for the boxoffice. Our first film together was  Dil Aakhir  Dil Hai about the pitfalls of  arranged marriages.I played a  woman who is  abandoned  by her husband . She then marries another man but dares to divorce him when she finds out that he loves another woman. It was  a very progressive character. Esmayeel was  very clear  in his  head about what he wanted. He  had a partner(brother Moin-ud-Din) who wrote his films, another brilliant man.”

 There are  two other reasons  why Raakheedi recalls  Dil Aakhir Dil Hai so fondly. “It was the only film in which I got to work with Naseer. What an actor! Also, the music by Khayyam was outstanding. The title song(Raakheedi hums  the tune)  was sung  so beautifully  by Lataji. Do you know Lataji sang for me in every film of mine as a leading lady , except maybe one,   from my  first Jeevan Mrityu. I would  like  to believe  I am the  only heroine  for whom Lataji sang so many  beautiful melodies.”

Lataji sang  another  lovely song  for the ravishing Raakhee Gulzar in Pighalta Aasman,  the second film she did with  Esmayeel Shroff, “Yes, it was  Mujhe aisa mila moti. I  remember this  film because it was with my favourite co-star Shashi Kapoor. I think I had a  more difficult role in Pighalta Aasman than Dil  Aakhir Dil Hai. I played a mentally  unbalanced woman.  It is not easy to show psychological disorders.  One  can easily go  overboard. Esmayeel was  there  to guide me. Shashi had  a  special name for  Esmayeel: Chimney,  because he  smoked nonstop. Esmayeel was  also very tall.”

There was  another reason why Pighalta Aasman was memorable  for Rakheedi. “The  film’s producer was Shammi Aunty(character actress). She taught me  how to shed  my inhibitions  and  laugh out loud. The Britishers  left behind so many of their artificial  etiquettes, like  don’t laugh,  don’t eat with your hands,  don’t comp on your food. It took me  a long time to  get over these  colonial etiquettes.”

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