My memories with Rajesh Khana
When I treated the actor while he was shooting for his film Roti
DR. MIRZA ASHRAF BEG
My memories with Rajesh Khana date back to early seventies when Kashmir was peaceful, attractive and pleasant. This also reminds me of my youthful days when a young man compares himself with one or the other film actor and if others equate him with someone from the film industry he feels flattered and tends to believe it.
Pahalgam those days was a small hill station with no pollution. Hotel Pahalgam, Wood stock, Mount view, Volga and Plaza would cater all the tourist traffic whatsoever. In addition to the tourist huts on circuit road there used to be ‘Dar Camp,’ a tented colony at the site of the present golf course that would cater the trekkers and students with a modest budget.
From Zachaldar the remotest village in district Baramulah I was transferred to Pahalgam in the month of December when we had knee deep snow that made Pahalgam all the more attractive for me. So I opted to stay in Pahalgam permanently for winter months too breaking the time old practice of shifting the doctor to Aishmuqam for winter months. Being fond of hunting Chakoor and other species of forest pheasant mountains of Pahlgam, Aadoo and Chandanwari were fascinating. Sometimes one would play hide and seek with the musk dare at Kolhai and Tullian. With the passage of time when one understands the importance of other living creatures one starts to hate the gun.
Staying dormant in winter months Pahalgam used to start activities from March and would be brisk with tourists from June to the end of September. Many a film unit came to shoot their films during my tenure of ten years in Pahalgam. Besides many others I had the honor to play a physician to legendary Dalip Kumar, Sunil Dutt, Omparkash, and Rajesh Khana and have enjoyed the company of Raj Kapoor, Rajindar Kumar and many stalwarts of film industry. I had a great liking for Sanjiv Kumar and the memories of an evening with him at Aadoo are still fresh with me. I must confess I was a bit shy to interact with the ladies of the film world of those days! Despite that being the only doctor available in the area people had no choice but to accept me as a Masihah for everything ranging from labor pains to tooth ache. Medical officer Pahagam was designated as ex-officio chairman of NAC that added a feather in my cap and gave an authoritarian hue to my modest job. So a medical officer was two in one making him indispensible for the society and if you were inclined for social work you could do a lot to be remembered for times to come.
The residential apartments on the first floor of TRC building were occupied by government officials and I as medical officer too lived with my family over there. This wooden building a milestone of Pahagam like the impressive old club building were constructed during the golden days of Bakshi Sahib while there was no conception of fire hazards. That is why we lost the heritage club building to a mysterious fire while it was occupied by security forces during the days of turmoil in Kashmir.
Rajesh Khana and Mumtaz the tubby actress of her times came to Pahagam to shoot their film, ‘Roti,’ in June 1974. It was an interesting film in which Rajesh Khana a convict in India escapes from custody, reaches Kashmir and then falls in love with Mumtaz who owned a tea shop in the present bus stop in Pahagam adjacent to my residential place in the first floor of TRC. During one of these days I was called to get rid of an irritating foreign body that had slipped in Rajesh Khana’s left eye while performing near the old club. After putting some xylocain drops I removed the irritant flushing saline water from a twenty ml syringe with care and skill despite my limited knowledge and expertise in ophthalmology. Thus Rajaesh Khana, Mumtaz and me had enough avenues and opportunities to interact with each other. That is how I found you just have to be interactive to find your place in the elite society whatsoever and after our working hours we would often spend our evenings in the lawns of Pahalgam hotel on a cup of coffee or my favorite lemon juice. Rajesh had little knowledge of politics around and often talked about our mountains and forests. He was concerned about deforestation that was minimal those days and was conscious of his hair style and performance in the films. He would often rehearse the dialogues to be spoken in the next shooting and would never go without proper preparation in front of the camera. Mumtaz a bewitching beauty was relaxed unmindful of the charming contours of her personality. As per my observations her acting was more spontaneous and tranquil befitting a rural blond. If I am not wrong she was getting married to a US based NRI doctor hence we had all the reasons to discuss topics of common interest like night duties of doctors and long hours of the vigil for their home maker wives. Shri Manmohan Desai the director of the film was a pure vegetarian and a teetotaler. Had clean habits and his devote wife would cook personally for him in the dressing room of the first floor special suite of Pahalgam hotel. After dinner the couple was always busy with their pooja while we would enjoy the moonlit nights.
While staying close to the people of film industry for over ten years in Pahalgam I learned to differentiate between personal, professional and social relationships. One also understands the fact that performance on a stage by actors of two different genders is just a professional relationship like doctors of different sex working together and nothing beyond that. Besides that the social relationship that we develop with the elites as stage actors is transitory and short lived but memories do stay and are lasting. However I will miss Rajesh Khana for his superb simplicity and respect for the poor. Like Raj Kapoor in, ‘Mera Nam Joker,’ Rajesh Khana’s parting words must have been, ‘This world is a stage and we all are actors. The show is over. Let us pack up and go home.’
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Lastupdate on : Sat, 4 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 4 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 5 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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