Basu Chatterjee’s attempt to cast Jaya Bachchan in his first film Sara Akash went in vain. This information is as first-hand as it gets. It’s a story that needs to be highlighted now.
It was on March 27, 2013, that my phone rang and it was Basu Chatterjee calling. I had called the ace filmmaker a few hours back to seek an appointment for an interview for Mumbai Mirror. I was boarding a Malad-Fast local from Churchgate but it was relatively empty; it was 9.42 pm- my favourite train that I don’t know why I liked when I was working for the Times Group.
I was thrilled to bits but Basuda snapped a bit when I asked him his address. ‘Figure it out and see me tomorrow around lunch time’. And he hung up. Lunch time? Should it be 1 pm, 1:30 or 2, I wondered.
Well, I figured out the address somehow and landed up at his Santacruz apartment at sharp 1. A trifle nervous, I stood outside the door waiting for someone to open the door. What if he thinks that the lunch time is 12.30 or 2 and snaps again?
Luckily, nothing of that sort happened and as some domestic help ushered me in, the maker of classics like Baaton Baaton Mein, Choti Si Baat, Kamla Ki Maut, Ek Ruka Hua Faisla and Rajnigandha suddenly came right in front of me and greeted me effusively.
The conversation was so lovely that every word is still resonating in my ears.
I remember telling him to speak on his favourite actress Jaya Bachchan. He had been vocal about how impressed he was with her acting talent. I thought she would have done great justice to several films he made and not just his second film, the 1972 release Piya Ka Ghar. Said Basu da, “I requested the principal of FTII (where Jaya Bachchan was studying) to allow Jaya to work in my first film Sara Akash. The principal refused saying she was too young. What kind of a principal was she, who had no foresight?” And throughout this answer, he had an anguished look on his face.
What a filmmaker. A beautiful craftsman and a great storyteller. He is gone and the heart weeps.
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