So have you ever been someone’s assistant in directing?
I did a lot of work behind the camera. Took over the responsibilities of film production. Used to lend a hand in direction as well. But, officially speaking, I became an assistant to director HS Rawail on the sets of the film Mere Mehboob. There I was his seventh and last assistant. Everything worked. I have picked up Sadhna ji’s slippers. It was a work of two to four days. There was a song. Everything else was learned on the sets of daddy’s films. Daddy had made a lot of films in the 50s. Then in the 60s, he did a lot of work by associating with IS Johar. DR Thakkar, who was the assistant director in ‘Johar Mehmood in Goa’, I kept watching what he did. And, there was a Khalish Miyan who kept an eye on the dialogues and used to write the dialogues in Urdu and give them to the actors. Then our next film started, Mere Sanam, with Asha Parekh and Biswajeet. Learned a lot from his outdoor shoots. We had gone to Manali to shoot this film, but it continued to rain there, so we left for Kashmir with all the trucks. Enough work done. All the songs were shot. Some scenes have happened. Then came and worked in Bombay. Both these films were released in 1965 and both were superhits. Then more films were made. Dad was also in United Producers, the organization that organized the competition in which Rajesh Khanna won. Our first film with Rajesh Khanna was ‘Raj’, so we kept meeting him.
And when did you feel you were ready to direct a film yourself?
Our film started in 1965 with ‘Brahmachari’ Shammiji. The meeting was already going on with Shammiji. But one day on the sets of this film, I asked him that I have a story, will you work in it? He said, Ramesh! Do you know why people know me. dance-music. all of this. Yahoo boy’s image is mine. I said, this is fine, but you have done all that. Let’s do something different. He said after listening to the story, yes! There is some matter. I was 24 when I talked to him and 25 when I launched my first film ‘Andaz’. Told daddy that I talked about a film with Shammiji and he has also said yes.
And what was your daddy’s reaction then? How much support did he get in making his first film?
If daddy had wished to remain the same, he would have said, very good. But, till then I had only spoken to Shammiji. I wanted to take Nutan for the heroine in the film ‘Andaz’ but dad said that the pair is fine but freshness should be brought in it. He had made ‘Light House’ with Nutan. I felt inspired by his words. By then Hema Malini’s first film ‘Sapno Ka Saudagar’ with Raj Kapoor had released. She was tall as well as attractive. But, in those days she was bound by an agreement with the producer of this film, B. Ananthaswamy. She used to get a monthly salary and a major part of the films she signed during this period went to Ananthaswamy. Then there was also an agreement between the two that 15 days of the month would be with Ananthaswamy and 15 days Hema Malini would be able to work on her own. Daddy spoke to Ananthaswamy. He believed that if we take the dates for the shoot through Ananthaswamy then there will be no problem. When the story was narrated to Hema Malini, she asked, will I be able to do this character? I have just started my career and will be able to play the role of a mother to a child. But, the subject of the film fascinated him. So the film started and during the making of this film, mutual understanding between us became very good.
Author: Sangeeta Verma
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.