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  He was protective of me: Deepti Naval

He was protective of me: Deepti Naval

Published : Nov 16, 2015, 9:41 pm IST
Updated : Nov 16, 2015, 9:41 pm IST

A very saddened Deepti Naval wasn’t able to hide her grief when she heard to Saeed Jaffrey’s demise on Sunday. She happened to work with the legend in one of his last films.

Deepti Naval
 Deepti Naval

A very saddened Deepti Naval wasn’t able to hide her grief when she heard to Saeed Jaffrey’s demise on Sunday. She happened to work with the legend in one of his last films.

Deepti says, “I remember we were shooting for a film that neither of us was enjoying shooting. It was called Ghar Ho Toh Aisa. He was miserable shooting it. He said to me, ‘Enough. I am going back to London. Ab jo hoga wohi dekha jayega.’” Deepti and a lot of Saeed’s friends in Mumbai feel Bollywood couldn’t really find a place for him.

 

Saeed started his own theatre group in Delhi at a very early age. He made his way into Bollywood in 1972 with a long-forgotten Rehana Sultan starrer Tanhai. Deepti says, “Ek Baar Phir was my first film. I was new to India and Indian cinema. So was Saeed. We hit it off instantly. He was very protective towards me. Perhaps I came across as vulnerable, and he saw that. He had a fabulous role in the film. He played a character actor.”

But it was the incorrigibly goodhearted paan-seller Lalan Miyan in Sai Paranjpye’s Chashme Buddoor that Saeed obtained maximum recognition in India. Deepti Naval recalls Saeed’s enthusiasm for the part. “We were shooting in the Nizamuddin area of Mumbai where a paan shop had been set up for Saeed’s character. When Saaed arrived he looked around the crowded area, spotted a man walking by in a lungi with the Taj Mahal printed on it. He made up his mind that his character Lalan Miyan would wear that lungi. He made the passerby take off that lungi and wore it for his character. That’s how I’d like to remember Saeed — When he wanted something he would get it anyhow.”

 

Andrew Robinson recalls in his fine book on Satyajit Ray, The Inner Eye, how Saeed accosted Ray at the Beirut airport to be part of his cinema. Ray who knew Saeed as the husband of the cuisine queen Madhur Jaffrey told him to be patient.

The role happened sooner than expected. Saeed’s performance in Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi is regarded by many including Saeed himself, as his finest ever

Says Naseruddin Shah appreciatively, “Zia Mohyuddin and Saeed Jaffrey were the first sub-continental actors to make a mark on the British stage.” Saeed’s laughter preceded his presence wherever he went. It is for that laughter and the joie de vivre Deepti Naval would like to remember him by. “I am sure he is up there entertaining the angels with his anecdotes about all the actors and directors he worked with in Bollywood and Hollywood. If I am lucky I’d also feature in one of his anecdotes,” says Deepti.