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Art is not a luxury, but a necessity.

Deepti Nawal: The Only actress I fell in love with (Remembering her on her birthday)

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She had just come to Bombay after she had made a deep impact with her performance in “Ek Baar Phir” .
I had seen the film and like everyone else I too was carried away by her sensitive work in a role that was DIFFICULT to play for an actress working in her very first film –Ali Peter John

“I first saw her eyes and was dazzled and asked myself how a human being could have eyes like her eyes” Ali Peter John

I wanted to meet her and one morning found myself outside her paying guest accommodation in a building called  Queen’s Apartments in Juhu .
I first saw her eyes and was dazzled and asked myself how a human being could have eyes like her eyes . Little did I know then that I would be following those two eyes for the rest of my life
She kept moving from one P G  dig after another even has she kept signing some new films .
It was while I was at one of her  P G rooms that the income tax raided her room and I was not allowed to leave till the I T OFFICIAL completed their search.

Deepti kept growing Popular and was making good money

It was both amusing and sad when they found only 35 rupees ( during the same raids , Saarika who was also living as a P G was found to have only 31 rupees and we all had a good laugh over the raids
Deepti kept growing Popular and was making good money which led to her buying  a posh apartment in Versova in a building called Oceanic on the sixth floor facing the sea .
She lived alone for more than six months as no one was willing to buy a flat in a deserted area .
She had a house warming party in her flat which was attended by some of the best names including Raj Kapoor .

Deepti had become a known name , but she loved doing odd things

I have many memories about the party , but the best memory I have is about a dirty fight between two so called intellectuals , director Basu Bhattacharya and Javed Akhtar . The kind of language they used put people living in slums to shame
It was while she was getting used to her new house that she got friendly with an upcoming director, Prakash Jha and ultimately decided to marry him .
I was one of the first Deepti told about her decision to marry Jha and I was together with the young director Raman Kumar witness to the marriage conducted according to Arya Samaj rites .
Her parents and sister had specially flown down from New York to attend the marriage .
Deepti had become a known name , but she loved doing odd things . She once called me and said that she wanted to see the famous Chor Bazar of Bombay and we went to the Bazar and she made sure that she knew everything about it .
She then wanted to walk around Nariman Point and was satisfied only when her wish was fulfilled

She was a good painter and one of her paintings was bought by Dimple Kapadia

She wanted to write scripts and had invited me to join her as a co- writer and if I remember right we had written six scripts together , but nothing much had happened after the writing of the scripts .
It was the first time I realised how Deepti could flit from one passion to another .
She was a good painter and one of her paintings titled “The Pregnant Nun” was bought by Dimple Kapadia for two lakhs of rupees.
She had stayed at the Ranchi Mental Hospital and had written a series of stories about her experiences there and they were published as a collection called ” The Wild Wind And Other Stories” .

She always wanted to make her own film and fulfilled her wish by making movies with her best friend Manisha Koirala

She always wanted to make her own film and fulfilled her wish by making ” Do Paise Ki Baarish Do Chaar Aane Ki Dhoop” made with her best friend Manisha Koirala but has still to be released
She continued to have her own mad ideas.  She once wanted to travel in an auto and realised how it could be DIFFICULT when people saw her and made comments like ” kadki lag gayi kya”? Then only two years ago she expressed her desire to live in a slum .
I managed to get her a room in a huge slum in Juhu and she even paid a deposit and six months rent in advance .
She was very happy and even got herself photographed in and around the dirty slum. I had a strong feeling that she would leave the slum in a few days and that is what she did.

Her marriage with Prakash Jha ended in a saperation and they have an adopted daughter called Disha

She has always felt that she has received a raw deal both from the industry and the critic.
She had her best time when she did films like ,”Kamla”, Panchwati, Ankahee and a few other meaningful films
She has always been a fan of Amrita Pritam and was thrilled when she found an opportunity to play the role of the Punjabi poetess in a play, “Ek Mulaaqat”
She has been unlucky with the men in her life . Her marriage with Prakash Jha ended in a saperation and they have an adopted daughter called Disha .
She had an affair with Nana Patekar but the affair came to an end with their promise to be good friends being kept .
 
She had a very good relationship going with a musician , Vinod Pandit who was the nephew of Pandit Jasraj, but Pandit succumbed to cancer when he was only in his 30s . “
No more men in my life” Deepti said after Pandit died and it looks like she has kept her promise made to her self .
Deepti is a very artistic and sensitive woman , but she is also very practical
Deepti is a very artistic and sensitive woman , but she is also very practical . She has her own painting Studio and a museum of her work in Himachal Pradesh and a cottage near the  Dal Lake in Kashmir and she still lives in that apartment in Versova which she had bought for 6 lakhs of rupees in the early 80s .
 She has traveled all over the hills of India in her car and driving herself , her favourite place is Leh where she has sometimes lived alone with the locals as her friends for days
The last few months have been very tough for her . She lost one of her best friends , Lalita Tamhane, a journalist , to cancer .
She had gone to her house in Himachal where she had a minor heart attack and had to go through an angioplasty.

She is giving the finishing touches to her  book called ” A Country Called Childhood”

She is back at her flat in Versova where she is giving the finishing touches to her ambitious book called ” A Country Called Childhood” 

If you ask me who have been a close witness to the life and career of an unusual woman like Deepti Naval, I feel her restless spirit will continue to look for more and more adventures and I hope and pray that her age and her health stand by her like they have for the last 68 years
And her two beautiful eyes may have grown older , but they still have the light to see the way to a world where Deepti will find the peace she has been looking for .
Sweet journey ahead , my friends and those two eyes of an actress and a woman who could have had a better life but who has not and I hope will not give up