The other day, watching the annual Filmfare awards, I thought of my days as a film journalist.
Once I went with Mr. B. R. Chopra's unit to Dehradun and Mussoorie for the shooting of Karam. The entire party left from Santa Cruz airport one afternoon, though Rajesh Khanna was late and missed the plane and two of the party had to stay behind to escort him the following morning. I do not quite remember now, I think he missed the plane the following morning also.
The other stars were Shabana Azmi, (my, so intelligent) and Vidya Sinha (who spent most of the time with her maid servant). Rajesh Khanna had brought his valet along. His job was to carry at all times Mr. Khann's tape recorder, State Express cigarettes and lighter.
The shooting was done quite fast. Mr. Chopra had brought along his whole family, son, son in law, etc., and all of them, would direct together and separately. Mr. Chopra was also a gracious host. When we returned to Bombay , he presented each one of us with two kilos of rice bought from the Deharadun rice bazar. Except Rajesh Khanna, he was not given any rice. I suppose, Mr. Chopra gave him Rs. 50 lakh or whatever fees he commanded in those happy days.
There was only one embarrassing aspect of the entire trip. Outside the hotel in Dehradun, where we were staying, large crowds used to collect from morning to late night to spot the stars. Which was natural. However, every time I passed through the gates in one of the unit taxis, the crowds would rush for ward to look in then disappointed, they would shout back to the others in the crowd that it was no body, just a chamcha.
I must also, at this stage, mention the character actors, the bit role players, who were present. One was my good friend, Pinchoo Kapoor who I think, played the principal of the little school in Mussoorie where Rajesh Khanna was supposed to have put his little son (Master Bintu, I think, a lovely child, though quite a ware of all the attention that was being paid to him).
The other and this also I think, was Iftekar, the gentleman who plays police officers in films and on whom, the present police commissioner, Mr. Soman, seems to have based his personality.
In any case, everybody was all praise for the character actors. The shooting of their scenes did not take more than two shots (the second only to make sure) and every body said they were thorough professionals.
Rajesh Khanna also, once he was there was thoroughly professional he knew his lines by heart, all the expressions were correct, one minute he would be talking to people, next he would be in front of the camera, his whole personality changed to suit the role. Small wonder he was being paid what he was.
After Dehradun, I went to three other location shooting. Then, I decided, enough was enough. Now if you make me the editor of Filmfare, I would not go to a location shooting. For that matter, why Filmfare! I would not go even if I was made the editor of Stardust.