I am living off Indian cinema. I have followed actors like Dilip Kumar, Amitabh and Naseer and I would like to be remembered like Satyajit Ray, Shekhar Kapoor, Mani Ratnam and Lata Mangeshkar. She started when she was 13 years old. It's been 50 years since, and even this year one of the most popular songs "Tujhe Dekha To...." Has been sung by her. It is the same with Asha Bhosle. She's sung "Tanha Tanha" and mind you it isn't a flash in the pan. Compared to their consistence and dedication, what I've done is zilch.
I'd like to pay a tribute to some of these personages because I feel whatever we are, we are the result, the peak of all their efforts and the foundation from which the future will arise.
Sheikh Mukhtar was the original action hero in the pre-Dara Singh era. He had films like Ustaad compared to him we heroes today look like dolls. He was 100 percent macho.
Dev Anand to me signifies the conviction of style. The way he say drop your guns only a Dev Anand could but people believed him and so did the villains. However hard method actors work, style is the definite winner in an actor's repertoire.
Shammi Kapoor brought in the hero who could tease women and get away with it. And what's more, women loved him.
Amitabh Bachchan's contribution is that he brought realism to commercial cinema. One of his contributions is that because of him someone like me had dared to get into mainstream commercial cinema as a hero. Had there been only clean-cut good looking guys like Rajesh Khanna in films I'd have never dared to make it.
Dilip Kumar's language was so impressive, I used to be in awe. But then came Amitabh who used the colloquial 'apun...' and he was accepted. Perhaps thanks to him, today I think anti-heroes are here to stay and so are inconventional looking men like Prabhu Deva, Ajay and me.
In the most far fetched scenes the pot-bellied Haribhai (Sanjive Kumar), never ever looked as if he was acting. And he's done all kinds of films - romance, comedy and even action. He gave you the feeling that acting isn't about getting into the skin of the character - it's about being in front of the camera and delivering the goods. I've heard that for midshots and montages if he was required to wear a tuxedo he'd wear the jacket above and beneath he'd be dressed in his striped shorts.
Identification is the key word. Smita Patil, who graduated from reading news to acting, is my all time favourite. Alongwith Shabana Aazmi, she added stature to the image of the Hindi film heroine. Both made you realise that women are in films as in any other walks of life. They even convinced other commercially successful actresses to work in more meaningful cinema. Take Rekha, for instance. And I think the mystery, the aura, the enigma that is Rekha is her contribution to Hindi films. To me, she is this beautiful, sensuous, Garboesque woman who leaves no tracks behind - the black widow. Rekha is no longer a human being, she is a type of person- the epitome of unrequired love. When she did an Umrao Jaan, she added to the mystique of Umrao.
Dimple was encouraged somewhere along the way I think by Shabana, Smita and Rekha. I have heard of people losing years in the second world war, but Dimple lost her years in marriage. I wish she had acted then. I have never seen not only a newcomer but any person at that age perform as well as she did in Bobby. The fact that she was able to recapture her past glory in Rudaali and Lekin is an encouraging sign for a lot of women that it's never too late.
And there is Hemaji- the epitome of responsibility. I think the real No.1 was Hema Malini. Whoever we've had after was only because we were trying to find a replacement for Hema Malini.
I would not forget to include Helen, the greatest. She was a cabaret artiste who did not look cheap. Just like Cuckoo. My father was a great fan of hers. I am not taking away anything from Nana, Manisha or Salman but I want to go and see the on-the-floors Khamoshi for Helen and I know a lot of people like me who feel the same way. I really wish she does a dance in the film.
Then there were these bad guys like K.N. Singh, Pran even Prem Chopra and somewhere along the line you realise that though villains they never scared you. They were childhood fantasy villains. In fact I think I was scarier in Baazigar or Darr - they were always so sweet, like caricatures. Amjad Khan is the one who brought the deadly villain to cinema-the bad guy. When he said 'Kitne Aadmi the' he meant business-Gabbar Singh you did not laugh at. The success of Sholay was to a great extent due to the fact that you imagined you'd be scared if you met Gabbar Singh on a lonely road. Ramesh Sippy couldn't recreate the same scary impact ever again, not even with Shaakal with Shaan. Before Mehmood and after Mehmood there has never been a hero-comedian who could carry an entire film on his shoulders. He s the clown who made others lose their inhibitions. I'm sure Amitabh Bachchan learnt from him.
There are a few films which have appealed to me. Films that never tire me, films that spur me on to take up a new venture, after one has gone wrong. Like Padosan, Jyoti Swaroop, the director has made a tremendous contribution in this film because it entertains every generation. It is an ageless film.
I loved Sholay and I sincerely believe we haven't been able to make a greater film than that. This is a personal belief. You can question it and speak of Mother India or Mughal-e-Azam isn't as great as Sholay, I can't identify with it. Sholay is a modern, slick film, and what's more Sholay didn't even have a mother figure to bog you down.
Karz is another film I liked. It scared me. Karan Arjun didn't make me believe in re-incarnation but Simi Garewal's icy smile, Raj Kiran's blood-stained face and that haunting tume made me believe that Rishi Kapoor was Raj Kiran re-incarnated.
Deewar again is a very modern film. And for me just one dialogue of Amitabh's is the whole film. "Main Gire Huye Paise Aaj Bhi Nahi Uthata". I would give my life for a film with a dialogue like this. I preferred this even to that legendary line, "Tumhare Paas Kya Hai? Mere Paas Maa Hain."
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was also a trendsetter. With a budget of 17 lakhs it proved that you can make a film without stars, you just need good actors.