Travel is in the veins of my family. My father, and my grandfather before him, were among the first in their extended families to venture outside our nation. My parents especially have been avid travelers for the last half century and continue to do so till this very day.
As you can imagine, all these years of travel resulted in a multitude of stories that range from trying pizza and burger for the first time in America – circa 1970s – to spending long hours at airports due to flight cancellations – still happens – to getting teargassed when being caught up in some demonstration in Korea – again, quite a few decades ago.
However, travel isn’t always about going international. My father, as a young man, at a time when there were limited number of cars on roads in India, drove across the length and breadth of the country. His stories about travels around the world are as interesting as the ones that are local.
One of those stories, that comes with photographic proof, is about meeting a legendary Indian film director and two stars who at the time were newcomers but would rule “Bollywood” for decades to come.
The quintessential Indian romantic story; a film infused with the freshness of youth; a traditional rich boy falls for a poor girl type love affair; a legendary director; two young starts taking their very first steps into the big world of lights, camera, and action.
Bobby has long been a classic Indian romantic film for all of the above reasons and more. Made by the charismatic and one of India’s most noted filmmakers, Mr. Raj Kapoor, Bobby has stood the test of time – and as many say, it was years ahead in context when released.
The film was also the launch of what were to be two of India’s most recognized film starts, till date. The 16-year-old Dimple Kapadia and the young and soon to be the heartthrob of millions Rishi Kapoor gave the film an air of tender innocence that only a director like Raj Kapoor could extract from his performers.
Over the years I have listened to my father speak about the time he visited the set of the film in Srinagar. There is a photo of him sitting along with the stars and the director of the film having “lunch and beer”, the only photo that I was not able to trace when the time came to write this post.
But, the other day, as my Dad was reminiscing about the instance and going through some of his old photos he did come about a few that were taken during his visit to the outdoor shoot.
He had been in Srinagar on work, taking along a friend for company, when his local business contact had boasted of his closeness to the famous director. A few phone calls here and there and soon the trio was off to see the shoot.
He has fond memories about the day, and often candidly talks about briefly speaking with Raj Kapoor and the then unknown Dimple Kapadia. Life was a lot easy and there weren’t the type of crowds one would expect around a film shoot. Furthermore, while the director was famous, both the stars were still unknown to the world.
I can’t say whether I’m jealous of my father because he met Dimple Kapadia, who would become one of the most ‘desired’ women of the Indian film industry, or that he got to see the master-craftsman of Indian cinema, Raj Kapoor, in action, but maybe it is moments and experiences like these that eventually are the reason that his son, me, loves films so much till this very date.
Those of you who are wondering about the whereabouts of Rishi Kapoor; he was in the vicinity. My father and his friend ‘bumped’ into him a little later, as they headed back, when my father’s friend in a somewhat excited state went on to shout “oh! Yoh hai woh launda” (Oh! So this is that guy!).