And Rajesh Khanna..?
We had launched Rajesh Khanna, so he was from home only. After ‘Raj’, we also made another film with him, ‘Bandhan’. This film was with Mumtaz. We had cast Mumtaz in ‘Brahmachari’ also, her song, ‘Aajkal Tere Mere Pyar Ke Charche Har Zuban Par…’ became very popular. So that’s how my career started and call it luck or something. By the time my first film ‘Andaz’ released, Rajesh Khanna became a superstar. I started the film in January 1969, then some of his films were coming out and people were paying attention to him, and Aradhana was released later that year. It was from here that Rajesh Khanna’s flight went towards the seventh sky. By then our film also arrived. ‘Anand’ was also released in 1971 and ours too. Incidentally, his character dies in both these films.
So Andaz became a super hit. He must have had success parties and that’s why you started ‘Sita Aur Geeta’?
No, all the talk of this film happened before that. Talked to Mumtaz as well. At that time it seemed that both her experience and her acting were strong and she would be perfect for the film. But, she had too many films in those days and she was facing date problems. The heroine had to do a double role and if the dates were not available then there would be a problem. So one day when the dubbing of the film ‘Andaz’ was going on. So I asked the mic on the control panel. I was sitting here and Hema Malini was dubbing in another room. So I asked on the mike that you will do another film. So her attitude was such that suddenly what kind of question is this during dubbing? Although her answer was that she would definitely do it, but what to do? Then there was a break in between, then I sat and talked and told the idea of the story, then she had the same question, will I be able to do this character?
And, you met Dharmendra from this film ‘Sita Aur Geeta’…
Yes, talked to Haribhai (Sanjeev Kumar) as well. We had worked with Haribhai. But, did not do with Dharamji. Both got ready. Salim Javed joined us in the middle of the shooting of ‘Andaz’ in 1970. This was before the release of Haathi Mere Saathi. The idea of making ‘Sita Aur Geeta’ came to me after watching the film ‘Ram Aur Shyam’. Some five years before ‘Andaz’ released, while watching this film, I liked the film very much, but I felt that a man who is suppressed like this looks strange. If there is a girl instead. But, at that time I thought that this film has just been made, so it would not be right to make it immediately. Let’s do this later. But, that thought stayed with me. When I told this idea to Salim-Javed, they said that it will be done very quickly. Another film was released in English at the same time, similar to the idea. I also shared this information with Salim-Javed.
Occupation:Indian film critic and reviewer
Education: Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, Masters in Mass Communication
Career: Sangeeta Verma started her career as a freelance writer and film critic and continuing it.