Happy Birthday Jeetendra: A Legacy of Dance and Entertainment

Those were days when I was flying to Hyderabad every ten days, all thanks to my friend, Jeetendra who had taken over Hyderabad and all the surrounding areas and had formed his own parallel Hindi film industry... By Ali Peter John

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Those were days when I was flying to Hyderabad every ten days, all thanks to my friend, Jeetendra who had taken over Hyderabad and all the surrounding areas and had formed his own parallel Hindi film industry with all the rules and regulations formed according to his convenience. Every producer from the South who wanted to make Hindi films just couldn't think of making their film without their own ‘Jeetu Gaaru'(Jeetu sir). The one time two big producers naturally went up to their ‘Jeetu Gaaru' and asked him to play a triple role, he politely turned down the offer and told them, “There is only one actor in Bombay who can play a triple role after Dilip Kumar. He lives a little away from my house in a bungalow under a tree. He is a very good friend and I can talk to him if you want, but, sorry, I can't play one role properly. How do you expect me to play three in one film?" The film was “Mahaan" and as you may have guessed, it was Amitabh Bachchan who played the three roles in the film directed by S.Raamanathan who had played a very vital role in grooming Amitabh's career.

jeetendra and amitabh bachchanJeetendra's Generosity: A Helping Hand to Rajesh Khannamahaan

Jeetendra's Generosity: A Helping Hand to Rajesh Khanna

Another big name to benefit by Jeetendra's benevolence was his one-time neighbor and the former superstar Rajesh Khanna. On this particular morning, Rajesh Khanna was to start shooting with Rekha at the Annapoorna Studios for “Asha Jyoti" which was directed by Dasari Narayana Rao who held the record of directing seven to eight films in a day (don't ask me how) for a big politician turned producer called Kovai Chezhian.

Asha Jyoti

As was the practice, a group of journalists and photographers were flown down to Hyderabad. We were in the compound of the Studios when Rekha created a ruckus before the shot could be taken. He had an ongoing war with a journalist called Harmeet Kathuria and told the producer that she would not come on the set unless this journalist, Harmeet Kathuria was thrown out not only from the set but from the entire studio. The producer who was making his first foray into films and was a very powerful politician looked absolutely perplexed. But, Rekha had the final word. She was kind enough to allow me to be present on the set, but all the journalists asked me to support them and the PRO was given a few bottles of Scotch and money enough to have a good time in Hyderabad. We were bundled into a bus, but before the bus could leave, Rajesh Khanna who was going through a very bad patch in his career came up to the bus and addressing no one in particular said,“You guys have no guts, if was in your place, I would not have taken such nonsense from that woman". No one took him seriously. Everyone was already feeling so humiliated and most of us saw stars while it was still day.

Jeetendra birthday special (4)

P.S---A similar incident happened when only Kathuria and the same PRO (both of whom who are now sadly dead) PRO, Gopal Pandey were with me during the shooting of “Mr. Natwarlal" in Mahabaleshwar where Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha were shooting for two different films for the same producer called Tito. Trouble started as soon as we reached Mahabaleshwar when Amitabh's make-up man Deepak Sawant threatened Kathuria. Within minutes, producer Tito came to the room where we had already started drinking. He placed three new bottles of Scotch before Pandey and pleaded with him to take Kathuria as far away as from Mahabaleshwar because if he didn't, the shootings of both his films would be canceled. Pandey asked the producer what he should do with me. This producer too said I could stay. But, this time Kathuria told me to stand by him and tell my editor, there was no shooting in Mahabaleshwar. I think it was the biggest lie I told during my forty-four years on ‘Screen', but, when I look back now I wonder if that lie will ever get me any kind of punishment. I lied to save the career of Kathuria, who however did not mend his ways and paid his own price during his lifetime.

Mr. Natwarlaljeetendra movies collection (1)jeetendra movies collection

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