My 25-Year-Long Journey : From Kareena Kapoor to Alia Bhatt


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           AUGUST 08, 2014           08.50 P.M.

 

My fascination with Hindi film heroines started in mid 60s. In the dark environs of Amar Jyoti Talkies, Deoria, my rendezvous with Hindi cinema took place with Rajendra Kumar and B. Saroja Devi starrer Silver Jubilee hit  ” Sasural ” [ 1961 ] . B. Saroja Devi, though not well-known to Hindi cine-goers, was almost alien to me. But after watching the film, I was unable to forget her. Her elegant persona, her well-kept figure, her chiselled face enticed me for weeks and months. She was the first icon of my childhood fancy.

Few years later in 1967, after appearing in High School exams, I watched Dilip Kumar and  Vyjayanthimala, starrer golden jubilee film ” Ganga Jumna “. B. Saroja Devi and  Vyjayanthimala, to my utter surprise, looked almost similar. I was hooked to Vyjayanthimala and my fascination for the film heroines got fortified.

After passing High School, I went to Allahabad for further studies. My true rendezvous with Hindi cinema started in all earnest in Allahabad. I started watching films regularly. I got acquainted with the heroines of early Hindi cinema. I was particularly enamoured by Devika Rani and Kanan Devi. [ Who can forget Devika Rani’s ………. MAIN BAN KI CHIDIA BAN KE BAN-BAN DOLOON RE ……….( ” Achhut Kanya ” – 1936 ) and Kanan Devi’s ………….. YE DUNIYA ,YE DUNIYA TOOFAN MAIL ……… ( Jawaab ” – 1942 ) ? Few years later I watched two earlier films of Kanan Devi; P. C. Barua starrer ” Mukti ” [ 1937 ] and K. L. Sehgal starrer ” Street Singer ” [ 1938 ]. Though they were the heroines of my father’s generation but their etherial beauty, their sweet voice enthralled me and fascinated me during my adolescent and growing up years in Allahabad.

Later on I got acquainted with the works of other highly successful actresses of the bygone era. The list included Nargis, Suraiya, Nalini Jayawant,  Meena Kumari, Madhubala, Nimmi and Geeta Bali. These heroines ruled the golden era of Hindi films. But even they belonged to the earlier era.

My era included highly successful and enchanting heroines like;  Nutan, Vyjayanthimala, Waheeda Rehman , Nanda and Mala Sinha .

I became a die-hard fan of Waheeda Rehman after watching her films Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) . After watching Raj Kapoor‘s Awaara (1951) and of Mehboob Khan‘s Mother India (1957), Nargis, also became one of my all time favourites. Vijay Bhatt‘s Baiju Bawra (1952), made me a fan of  Meena Kumari.  K. Asif‘s Mughal-e-Azam (1960) made Madhubala my eternal favourite.

Then times changed. My journey with cinema matured. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, actresses like Sadhna, Saira Banu, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz and Asha Parekh ruled the Hindi film world.

In the early 70s  Amitabh Bachchan, era started in the Hindi film industry. Actresses from this era included Hema Malini, Jaya BachchanRekha,  Zeenat Aman and Dimple Kapadia. I adored these heroines but frankly, I was neither enchanted or enamoured by them. Mysterious quality of the earlier heroines was missing. Or may be I became mature and the mystique slowly evaporated.

In 1975, I completed my studies in Allahabad and returned to my native place, Deoria. A 14-year-long second phase of my life started in Deoria.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the pendulum swung back towards family centric romantic musicals with the success of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) . Incidentally this was the last film, which I watched in Deoria.

I moved to Bombay [ now Mumbai ] in 1989. This was the year when Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) got released and changed the film-watching experience forever.

Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Dil (1990), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994) and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), making stars out of a new generation and actresses such as Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla and Kajol . In that point of time actresses such as Rani Mukerji, Preity Zinta, Aishwarya Rai also arrived on the scene.  Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor too appearing in popular comedy films .

Furthermore, this decade marked the entry of new performers in art house and independent films like Satya (1998), directed by Ram Gopal Varma and written by Anurag Kashyap. Manisha Koirala, Tabu and Urmila Matondkar were the heroines of this generation.

So it was a long association with the silver screen heroines. From Kanan Devi to Kajol and Karisma Kapoor , I watched everyone, got fascinated by them and silently admired their etherial beauty. But never in my wildest dream did I imagine that one day I would train few of the present day ruling Divas of Hindi cinema. After 25 year stay in Mumbai, when I look back, I reminisce my by-gone days with astonishment. I am bewildered with my accomplishment.

In 1994 two heroines trained by me made their debut in Hindi films. They are Sonali Bendre in ” Aag ” [ 1994 ] and Divya Dutta in ” Ishq Mein Jeena Ishq Mein Marna ” [ 1994 ] . It uncanny that 1994 was the year when Devika Rani died. Kanan Devi bid us adieu two years earlier in 1992.

My childhood icons left this world in 1994 and present day icons, trained by me , made their entry in 1994. It is strange. It is quirky. It is really uncanny. After debut of Sonali Bendre and Divya Dutta in 1994, flood-gate of the newcomers got opened and it has now submerged the Hindi film industry. I present a list of some of the epoch-making new era Hindi film Divas, who got trained by me :

Kareena Kapoor : ” Refugee ” [ 2000 ] = DEBUT

Priyanka Chopra : ” The Hero ” [ 2002 ] = DEBUT

SONAM KAPOOR : ” Saawariya ” [ 2007 ] = DEBUT

Anushka Sharma : ” Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi ” [ 2008 ] = DEBUT

Katrina Kaif :  ” Raajneeti ” [ 2010]

ALIA BHATT : ” Student Of The Year ” [ 2012 ] = DEBUT

KALKI KOECHLIN : ” Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani ” [ 2013 ]

URVASHI RAUTELA : ” Singh Saab The Great ” [ 2013 ] = DEBUT

 

In the end I would like to submit that the above mentioned list is almost endless. I have mentioned very famous names only. As I watch Alia Bhatt making rapid strides,and other newcomers trained by me making their entry in the tinsel town, my heart beats fast with pride.

Some of the biggest star sons / daughters are currently being trained by me and they are going to make their debut in 2015.

So the SAGA CONTINUES !! Dust settles down. Sun shines brilliantly. And the World { excluding few egoistic nay-sayers } watches with awe, admiration and amazement.

 

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Merchandise , I wish all my above mentioned students all the success and stardom never attained before by anyone and unseen even by the mightiest.

God bless them for making me proud !!

 

VIDUR

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Remembering Mani Rabadi – Queen of Polka Dots


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           AUGUST 18 , 2013           11.50 P.M.

        Mani Rabadi

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A well-known costume designer of 60s and 70s , Mani Rabadi died this month on August 06 , 2013 . She was older sister of yesteryear actress Nargis Rabadi a.k.a. Shammi or Shammi aunty .
   

Much before the advent of Manish Malhotra and Neeta Lulla , long before Anna Singh and Anaita Shroff Adajania and eons ago Niharika Khan , there was Mani Rabadi , who along with Bhanu Athaiya , became couturier to the stars in the Golden Age of Hindi Cinema.

Making her debut in 1967 with the Dev Anand starrer Jewel Thief , she worked all the way in to the 90s ending her career with the mega hit ” Hum Aapke Hain Koun ” .

” Jewel Thief ” [ 1967 ] , ” An Evening In Paris ” [ 1967 ] , ” Farz ” [ 1967 ] , ” Sapnon Ka Saudagar ” [ 1968 ] , ” Aankhen ” [ 1968 ] , ” Duniya ” [ 1968 ] , ” Mahal ” [ 1969 ] , ” Ek Phool Do Mali ” [ 1969 ] , ” Aradhana ” [ 1969 ] , ” Prince [ 1969 ] , ” The Train ” [ 1970 ] , ” Kati Patang ” [ 1970 ] , ” Gambler ” [ 1971 ] , ” Victoria No. 203 ” [ 1972 ] , ” Kachche Dhaage ” [ 1973 ] , ” Jheel Ke Us Paar ” [ 1973 ] , ” Bobby ” [ 1973 ] , ” Trimurti ” [ 1974 ] , ” Aap Ki Kasam ” [ 1974 ] , ” Amir Garib ” [ 1974 ] , ” Kasauti ” [ 1974 ] , ” Sanyasi ” [ 1975 ] , ” Rafoo Chakkar ” [ 1975 ] , ” Bairaag ” [ 1976 ] , ” Hera Pheri ” [ 1976 ] , ” Don ” [ 1978 ] ,  ” Amar Akbar Anthony ” [ 1979 ] , ” Aasha ” [ 1980 ] , ” Kaalia ” [ 1981 ] , ” Mard ” [ 1985 ] , ” Pestonjee ” [ 1987 ] , ” Maine Pyar Kiya ” [ 1989 ] , ” Hum Aapke Hain Koun ! ” [ 1994 ]  are her famous and most successful films .

She also won National Film Award , along with Ramilla Patel , for Best Costume for ” Pestonjee ” [ 1987 ] .


English: Scanned photograph of my grandmother,...

Costume Designer Bhanu Athaiya. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apart from Bhanu Athaiya , she was another one , who was a professional dress designer in the early years of our film industry . She worked for 27 long years in this unpredictable and risk-driven industry . She successfully withered changing times , fluid tastes and all the changing patterns from ” Jewel Thief ” [ 1967 ] till ” Hum Aapke Hain Kaun ” [ 1994 ] .

Jewel Thief

Jewel Thief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Evening in Paris

An Evening in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amar Akbar Anthony

Amar Akbar Anthony (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maine Pyar Kiya

Maine Pyar Kiya (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun...!

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Born as Mani Rabadi in a family of Parsi priests , she was only a kid when her father died . Her mother made a living by cooking at religious functions. Later on , along with her younger sister Shammi , Mani Rabadi worked in toy factories after school to source their tuition fees. After school time, they worked at offices, ran a magazine and did odd jobs. Mani also worked with the Indian People’s Theatre Association and did some Gujarati films.

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Here is a gallery of her designs from the movies we all love :

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An Evening in Paris (1967)

Sharmila actually plays a dual role in the film. The villainous side incidentally always shows her tummy–just to help the audience keep things straight.

Uhh, what precisely are you looking at Pran?

Cutsy hair clip that’s bigger than my nose? Don’t mind if I do.

Jewel Thief (1967)

I’ve talked a lot about my feelings for Helen in a chicken suit from this film, but this picture definitely deserves one more mention.

Yup, those are cotton balls puffing out of that red sari like polka dots. Just saying, it takes a bold and confident woman to try and pull that off.

Dev Anand poses as a French jewelry importer. Can’t you tell by the beret?

Aradhana (1969)

Who can forget Rajesh Khanna’s tall Nepali hat as he bellows “Mere Sapnon Ki Rani” on a hillside?

Rajesh Khanna in a blue suit with a hot red turtleneck during “Kora Kaagaz Tha” is the epitome of suave.

Unarguably the most famous scene from Aradhana, Sharmila Tagore makes a sari out of a flimsy blanket…and the rest is history.

Bobby (1973)

Youth and freedom must mean a tight leather jacket!

Umm, ok Dimple Kapadia, where did the rest of your shirt go though?

Cute but completely arbitrary villager costume for “Jhoot Bole Kauva Kate.”

Farz (1967)

Nice ascot, Jeetendra.

Oh, those tight white pants that made you who you were. It’s no wonder Jeetendra was nicknamed “Jumping Jack”!

Prince (1969)

Did someone say “hep cat”?!

Helen and Vijayantimala dance off in “Muqabla Humse Na Karo.”

Kati Patang (1970)

Asha briefly portrays a 70s bride before running away from the ceremony.

Bindu makes a spectacle of herself in comparison to Asha’s stark white sari..

Amar Akbar Anthony (1979)

Rishi Kapoor dresses as a qawwal by night.

There actually aren’t really words for this.

Moss green leather jacket with religious bling.

You are wearing a fedora? Clearly, you have become a millionaire.

Don (1978)

Nothing says “bad boy” like a big red bow tie.

Don’t mess with her scarf.

Or his.

Helen rocks an overly slitted dress for “Yeh Mera Dil” in Don (1978)

The bottom line here is , could Jeetendra have seized Bombay by storm without his famous tight white pants ? Could Dimple Kapadia have shot to stardom without costumes that only covered half of the minimum required? Her polka dots top for ” Bobby ” is still remembered . Vyjayantimala’s red saree from ” Jewel Thief ” is still fresh in our memories . Amitabh Bachchan’s tuxedo in the song My name is Anthony Gonsalves from the film ” Amar Akbar Anthony ” or Rishi Kapoor’s costumes from the same film are still there in our memory lane . Polka dot waist – coat of Amitabh Bachchan in ” Don ” is unforgettable . You remember his iconic song Khai ke paan Banaraswalla …… from the film and you will surely remember his polka dot waist-coat . You will never forget any costume of legendary Helen . Mani Rabadi designed innumerable costumes for her in films . They were revealing but not vulgar .

Her work is so diverse, so eye-catching, and so unpredictable . Mani Rabadi is unarguably genius. It is sad that her death is not widely reported in newspapers . Today , when Parsi community is celebrating Navroz [ thier new year ] , I am writing this obituary of Mani Rabadi , one of the prominent member of Parsi community .

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , which is known as Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , I offer my condolences to the bereaved family and specially Shammi aunty who is left alone to bear this loss at the age of 84 .

VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to offer heartfelt sympathies at the sad demise of the legendary but almost forgotten dress designer of the golden era of the Hindi films .

[ It is sad that I could know about her death after a week through the latest issue of ” Screen ” weekly . I found material about her in magazines like ” Screen ” , ” Parsi Khabar ” and ” Mid Day ” . For her photographs and her volume of work , I had to refer to online posting of ” Mr. & Mrs. 55 – Classic Bollywood Revisited ” . I express my profound gratitude to all of them . ]

VIDUR

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In Memoriam Rajesh Khanna : Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli , Hai!


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 24 , 2012           01.15 A.M.

Dara Singh died on July 12 , 2012 . Within a week another luminary of the Hindi film industry bid adieu to this world . Rajesh Khanna died on July 18 , 2012 .

In Glass Casket

In Glass Casket

Akshay Kumar with the Dead Body In Glass Casket

Akshay Kumar with the Dead Body In Glass Casket

Let me state honestly . I am not his fan . In fact I was never ever a fan or admirer of Rajesh Khanna , the actor or the man . Though I have watched many of his films . I do admire some of his cult films . I definitely remember and hummed many of his iconic songs . I am very much aware of his stupendous super stardom , which , once upon a time , engulfed the film industry like a hurricane or tornado or tsunami . I am witness to those years when every star  was dwarfed in front of him . I am well aware of  those momentous days when everyone or everything became insignificant in his presence . His blitzkrieg darkened all the other objects . His tumultuous rise momentarily eclipsed all the other stars and consigned some of the mightiest stars into the trash bin of history . I am witness to those days . I was living in that era . I am privy to those happenings . In 1972 I was here in Bombay [ now Mumbai ] . I have seen the crowd in front of his bungalow Aashirwaad . I have witnessed the fan adulation . But still , I was not his fan or admirer .

But I was saddened beyond words when I heard the news of his demise . My wife , again not his fan , cried profusely when she watched his funeral procession . So the question arises , what happened to us ? Why we felt for Rajesh Khanna so deeply ? Is it not enigmatic ? Is it not ironical ? No , it is not . Just watch these pictures posted below and notice the horrific changes in his personality down the years and you will fully understand the reason of our empathy .

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From a dashing , charming young superstar to a pale shadow of his own self , these photos tell us a very tragic and pathetic story . For present day generation of movie – goers , his popularity during his heydays is unknown and unimaginable . I am presenting some of the milestones of his life’s journey one by one .

Aakhri Khat

Aakhri Khat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1966 : Made debut with ” Aakhri Khat ” .

1967 : Made his mark with ” Raaz ” .

1969 : Attained Super stardom with ” Aaradhana ”

1969 : ” Bandhan ”

1969 : ” Do Raste ”

1969 : ” Doli ”

1969 : ” Khamoshi ”

1969 : ” Ittefaq ”

[ 6 super hits in 1969 ]

1970 : ” Aan Milo Sajna

1970 : ” Safar ”

1970 : ” Kati Patang ”

1970 : ” The Train ”

1970 : ” Sachcha Jhootha ”

[ 5 super hits in 1970 ]

1971 : ” Anand ”

1971 : ” Haathi Mere Saathi

1971 : ” Dushman ”

1971 : ” Mehboob Ki Mehndi

[ 4 super hits in 1971 ]

1972 : ” Amar Prem ”

1972 : ” Apna Desh ”

[ 2 super hits in 1972 ]

Within 3 years of making his debut , he attained unimaginable , unheard of and unprecedented super stardom in 1969 with ” Aradhana “ and gave 15 consecutive super hits till 1972 , a record still unbroken . ” Daag ” [ 1973 ] and  ” Namak Haraam ” [ 1973 ] were also big hits . But 1973 was a watershed moment in his career . He was eclipsed by Amitabh Bachchan in ” Namak Haraam “ . Amitabh Bachchan’s career defining film ” Zanjeer “ also came in 1973 . And thus began the well – known downward slide of mighty Super Star Rajesh Khanna .

Alarmed by his waning popularity , he married much younger Dimple Kapadia and made headlines temporarily.

Though in 1974 he gave 2 super hits like ;Aap Ki Kasamand ” Roti “ but the slide was visible and evident . The era now clearly belonged to Amitabh Bachchan , who once played second fiddle to him in super hit , iconic cult films like ; ” Anand ” and ” Namak Haraam ” .

Poster of Anand

Poster of Anand

Poster of Namak Haraam

Poster of Namak Haraam

Poster of these two films can give you Amitabh Bachchan’s position in the industry in those days vis-a-vis Rajesh Khanna . But alas , the cruel hands of fate had started writing some unknown and inglorious chapters of his life with indelible ink .

In 1975 Amitabh Bachchan gave ” Deewar ” and ” Sholay ” . Rajesh Khanna’s mentor and lucky mascot Shakti Samanta made ” Mehbooba ” [ 1975 ] . ” Deewar ” and ” Sholay “ were super hits and became ageless cult classics . While ” Mehbooba “ was a resounding flop and sealed Rajesh Khanna’s fate finally. After 8 years gap and some insignificant films in between , in 1983 , he again came with 2 mega hits like ; ” Avatar ” and ” Soutan “ but the magic was missing . Even these massive hits could not salvage his lost position in the industry . His turbulent career affected his personal life also . In 1984 came the tragic separation from Dimple Kapadia .

From 1983 [ his last hits ] to 2012 [ his death ] ,  29 years of his eventless , colourless career and lonely personal life proved fatal for him . It is regrettable and cruel irony that a c-grade movie ” Wafaa ” [ 2010 ] is his last film .

In between he dabbled in TV also . In total he worked in 4 TV serials . ” Apne Paraye [ B4U TV – 2001 ] , ” Ittefaq ” [ Zee TV – 2002 ] , ” Bhabhima ” [ 2008 ] andRaghukul Reet Sada Chali Aayi ” [ DD 1 – 2008 ] . But none could touch the popularity of Amitabh Bachchan’s ” Kaun Banega Crorepati ” [ Star Plus – 2000] .

It is a well-known secret that the title superstar was coined for him by his publicists ; Devyani Chaubal and K. Razdan . But the mass hysteria which he generated in those days and that too without the help of internet , twitter and facebook , is unimaginable , unfathomable and still unattainable . It is regrettable that his stardom or superstardom lasted just for 4 years . 15 successive super hits in a row and then 7 consecutive super flops in a row defines Rajesh Khanna’s strange film career . Compare his 4 year tenure with other stars :

DEV ANAND : 65 Years [ 1946 Hum Ek Hain – 2011 Chargesheet ]

ASHOK KUMAR : 61 Years [ 1936 Jeevan Naiya – 1997 Aankhon Me Tum Ho ]

DILIP KUMAR : 54 Years [ 1944 Jwar Bhata – 1998 Qila ]

AMITABH BACHCHAN : 40 Years [ 1973 Zanjeer – 2012 Bol Bachchan ]

Stars of this generation SHAH RUKH KHAN , SALMAN KHAN and AAMIR KHAN are reigning kings even after almost 20 years . HRITIK ROSHAN has 12 years of stardom behind him . Even DARA SINGH survived for 45 years [ 1962 King Kong – 2007 Jab We Met ] . But alas ! Rajesh Khanna vanished from the stardom and was banished from the film industry just after 4 years . Though he did 165 films and played solo lead in 107 films but was forgotten by the masses and ignored by the friends and the same film industry , which once said , ” Upar aaqa ; neeche Kaka .”

It is sad . It is heart – wrenching . People say many things about him . I , myself know many stories about him , which are said to be the cause of his downfall . But I don’t want to write those stories after his death . After all he was human and to err is human . Just re – think about some facts of his life . He debuted when he was 24 . He attained superstardom when he was 27 and lost his empire when he was just 31 . After that , till his death , it was 38 year – long wait for regaining his lost empire . It was 38 year – long wait for The Knock at his door by any producer or director . It was 38 year – long wait for the crowd to assemble again at his doorstep . It was 38 year – long wait for the same mass – hysteria , same mass adulation which was once his right and he thought it was his birth right  .

Mass hysteria , mass adulation did happen again but alas , it happened only after his death . See these pictures of his funeral procession and then watch the  crowd in front of his bungalow Aashirwaad and you will be able to feel the irony of fate . I wish , this attention should have happened a year before ……….. or a week before ……… or even a day before ………… he would have died a happy and contented man . But strange are the ways of destiny.

Crowd at Funeral Procession

Crowd at Funeral Procession

Crowd at Funeral Procession

Crowd at Funeral Procession

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

Crowd at Aashirvad on July 22

I agree , he did make some mistakes . He did err like a human and for that mistake , for that error destiny punished him with all its might , with all its ferocity , with all its lethal cruelty . He , for his mistakes , never got same benevolence by destiny , which others easily got for their sins . Fate was condescending to others , not to him .

He was like quintessential Greek tragic hero . You can only feel sorry for him . You can empathise with him . And you could hum his memorable song …. zindagi kaisi hai paheli , hai ; kabhi ye hasaye , kabhi ye rulaye ……. Ek din sapno ka rahi , chala jaye sapno se aage kahan ………..

Phenomenon , known as Rajesh Khanna , regained some of his glory once again but alas , only after his death . He had gone forever and had gone even beyond his dreams .

As I finish my blog , I feel , I must express my admiration and gratitude to his son in  law Akshay Kumar and his long – time friend Anju Mahendru , who took every care to give him comfort during his last days . Though it seems futile , but still , it was because of them that a befitting funeral could be arranged for this forgotten phenomenon , fallen Super Star and a lonely icon , who once ruled supreme . Thank you Mr. Akshay Kumar , thank you Madam Anju Mahendru , I bow my head in gratitude ! May God bless you two !

My heart also goes for Rinke Khanna , my student , who was very close and was very much attached to her father .

If I could feel so much without being his fan or admirer , then you can imagine the pain and pathos of his fans and near and dear ones .

Rest In Peace Sir ! Destiny was cruel to you . Better luck in next life .

VIDUR

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