“I am equally busy with my orchids, agriculture as well as with the dairy farm.”

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By Team Bollyy
New Update
SHE WAS A CELEBRATION OF LIFE AND WOMANHOOD

NUTAN tells JYOTHI VENKATESH

Day before yesterday on June 4 was the 84th birth anniversary of NUTAN. To pay our tribute to mark her birthday, we at bollyy.com and Mayapuri reproduce this interview of NUTAN by JYOTHI VENKATESH which had appeared in Femina dt 24, August, 1973, 47 years ago 

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Nutan was one rare actress, who was not only an actress par excellence but also really good at managing a poultry farm at her Thane farmhouse besides growing orchids and doing agriculture too. Currently Nutan is busy on the floors with her films like Mayuri, Ginny and Johny, Ajab Teri Sarkaar and Chor Mandali. Yet she manages to find some spare time to devote to the huge poultry farm which the Behls own on the outskirts of Thana, near Bombay. For this interview, which was basically about actresses who are adept at other aspects than acting, Nutan arranges to send her driver with her car to my residence at Worli to fetch me to Thane where she has a farmhouse.

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As her husband Rajnish Behl puts it jokingly, “I am the working partner of the farm; Nutan is only the sleeping partner”. In the 55 acres of land which houses Nutan’s bungalow as well as the poultry farm, as many as 15 servants stay with their families, looking after the birds. What is the total capacity of the farm? “There are 60,000 birds in all. Among them only about 45,000 lay eggs. The rest are too small. Every six weeks, we buy around 5000 one day old female chicks from Delhi,” says Nutan.

Is poultry farming a profitable enterprise? Nutan answers. “For the first three years, it is not at all profitable. It takes time to establish oneself in this line. It is an extremely scientific industry. It is not a small scale cottage industry like most people imagine. A bird cost Rs 3 when only a day old. It takes 6 months to grow. Hence if the bird doesn’t lay eggs as expected, you stand to lose heavily in the gamble”.  

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The farm is the brainchild of Nutan’s versatile hubby Rajnish. Why did they start it? How did the idea click? “What lured me to start the farm in 1972 was the fact that poultry farming was a tax free business till last year” confesses Rajnish. “Mortality in the farm is less than 0.75% per month, provided the breed is good.”

It would be a short sighted policy to stop the import of these breeds from abroad and solely depend upon our own breed till the government compels all the hatcheries to enter the random sample test which is now being conducted in Bangalore by the government”, says Rajnish and continues. “In fact our hatcheries should guarantee the minimum performance of the birds.” 

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Around how many eggs do the Behls sell wholesale every day at their farm? “We sell about 25,000 eggs per day. Since we do not hold ourselves responsible for breakages in transit, normally the parties concern come to the farm and pick up the eggs for delivery”. Are there any incubators at the farm to hatch thermostatically? “No. Not a single one because we are not interested in selling the birds. We only sell about 5000 birds every six weeks, as and when these birds become too old to yield egg.”  

Have the Behls explored the commercial possibilities of exporting the eggs to countries where there is a big demand for them? “It is the Middle East which demands an enormous supply of eggs from us. But we can do precious little about it, because there are several limitations. Restrictions are present in plenty at the higher level. Besides, who has got the time to cut through all the red tape? 

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”What are the precautions that Nutan has taken at the farm to prevent birds from fighting with each other, thus leading to serious injuries and occasionally death too? “The chickens are cannibalistic by nature, you see. Hence as a remedy, we should see to it that the beaks of the birds are cut off partly, when they are six weeks old,” replies Nutan. 

What are common diseases that attack the birds? “There are virus diseases like fowl pox and ‘ranikhet’ and bacterial diseases like the common ‘coccidiosis’ too, which could easily wipe out the entire farm overnight. The birds are subjected to frequent medical check-ups by veterinary surgeons.” 

 

How does Nutan get rid of the dead birds at the firm? “Normally we dispose of the dead birds by the simple process of burning. In the case of birds that are still eatable we deep freeze them and then use their meat. For burning the birds we have constructed on the outskirts of the farm a deep pit exclusively for this purpose.” 

 Before winding up, Nutan remarks, “Please do not be under the impression that I only do poultry work in my spare time. I am equally busy with my orchids, agriculture as well as with the dairy farm.”

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