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Art is not a luxury, but a necessity.



According to a survey done by me five years ago there were at least two thousand people who landed in Bombay by Air, train, ST buses and even by ship and boats to make it big in the world of films of these more than half left even before they could find their way to the ultimate way – Ali Peter John

Some kept struggling, working in and out of Studios and the offices of film makers and anyone they thought could help them in reaching their goal.

Hardly three percent of this crowd managed to make it in some way and only less than one percent could make it to some place on high.

Today five years later the number has grown and the percentage of success has fallen beyond all expectations, but the hopeless dreamer continue to cling to their hopes, dreams and ambitions.

But what interests me at this stage is how some men who had all the talent to make it and were within a short distance of reaching their goal had given up hope, packed up their bags and were all set to go back with bitter experiences and nothing else in their bags.

These stories have always had a positive impact on me because in these stories, I see hope for hope and for all dreamers.

More than sixty years ago, a young and handsome driller from Sahnewal, Punjab had come to Bombay with the dream of being another Dilip Kumar.

His only qualification was that he had seen some of the best films of his idol, Dilip Kumar.

He saw a bright ray of hope when he won a talent contest, but it didn’t make any difference to his dreams, but he continued living with his friends most of whom were railway workers and lived with them in their shantys and railway quarters.

He had mastered the art of living on water and sometimes mixing wheat flour with water and making a mound of the paste and swallowed it to drive away hunger.

Indian Bollywood actor Dharmendra (L) poses with Dev Anand (R) at the premier of Dev Anand’s re-release of classical hindi film “Hum Dono” premier in Mumbai on February 3, 2011. Hum Dono is a 1961 Hindi film produced by Dev Anand and written by Vijay Anand, the film stars Dev Anand in a double role. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP via Getty Images)

There was a time when he saw a jar full of some cereals and he was so mad with hunger that he mixes those cereals and gulped it down and little did he know that he had taken a heavy dose of laxative.

The struggle for the handsome man with rippling muscles continued and he often stood in the crowds outside studios,waiting to see how he could catch the attention of someone big.

His wish came true in a big way when Dev Anand, who was the ruling super star of the time called out to him from the crowd and told him that he should not waste his time standing in such crowds because he had a bright future waiting for him.

This one gesture was enough to keep Dharmendra Singh Deol alive for quite sometime in a largely stone hearted industry.

He found some work , but it was not what he was looking for. He had made friends who had already made it and one of them was Manoj Kumar who was still not the Manoj Kumar that he ultimately became.

A time came when Dharmendra Singh Deol got totally frustrated, packed up his bags and was on the way to the station to take a train back to Punjab.

But, he felt like writing a farewell note to his friend “Manu”( Manoj Kumar) telling him that he could no longer take the struggle and the humiliation and that he was going back to drill holes in the rocks.

Manoj Kumar read the letter , he rushed to the station and persuaded Dharmendra to stay back and give him 2 months to see a miracle for himself.

Dharmendra came back from the station and within two months,he had signed three big films and it was the beginning of one of the most successful journeys of a star.

Amitabh Bachchan had made a striking beginning with films like Saath Hindustani, Anand and Bombay to Goa, but the next eleven films that he did all flopped miserably and he was called an unlucky actor with no future.

He took a last chance on the advise of an assistant director who asked him to request the leading actress Mumtaz to work with him and he did.

She did a film with him ” Bande haath”, but when this film too flopped,he called it quits and carried his bag and came to bid farewell to his dear friend, Anwar Ali,the younger brother of ace comedian Mehmood, who was living at Mohan apartments,near my house.

He called out to his friend Anu,who he called Bhidu, which was a common term of endearment between the two friends and told him that he was going back to Calcutta, Anwar came rushing down and first took charge of his suitcase and then asked him to wait for only three months and also told him that if he still failed, he would not stop him from going back.

Amitabh listened to his advise and exactly three months later,he signed Zanjeer and in next four months he was the next super star.

In the 80’s a bald young man came to Bombay from the National School Of Drama, his name was Anupam Kher and fate started playing games with him when he started living in a room in a slum in Bandra which was ironically called Kherwadi and his full temporary address read, Anupam Kher, Kher nagar, kherwaadi, Kher waadi post office , Bandra East.

He lived with three other strugglers , had only two pairs of pyjamas and kurta, gave tuitions at five rupees per student and walked all the way to Prithvi theatre which he believed was the Mecca of all talented strugglers.

He kept doing plays and some T.V serial and the one film maker who was impressed with him was Mahesh Bhatt who sold him all kinds of tall stories.

One of them was his plan to cast him as the lead character in his favourite film, Saraa

Anupam lived in some seventh heaven till this dream lasted. He got the greatest shock of his life when one of his friends who was one of the many assistants at RajShri productions told him a secret and it was that Mahesh Bhatt was casting Sanjeev Kumar in the role that he has been promising him for months.

Anupam couldn’t take it and like his other seniors, he too packed his plastic hand bag and did not go to any station, but went straight to the compound where Mahesh Bhatt lived and gave vent to his pent up feelings and abused and cursed Mahesh and called him the biggest fraud and gave him the curse of a Brahmin and said the taxi standing in the compound had his bag and he was going away for good.

Mahesh kept watching him from his second floor apartment and then called him up.

He told him that what Anupam had done in the compound was exactly the mood he wanted his character to be in while playing the role in Saraansh.

In the presence of Anupam, he called up the late Raj Kumar Barjatya , father of Suraj Barjatya and told him that he had changes his decision to cast Sanjeev Kumar and had decided to take on this new actor called Anupam Kher and it was the beginning of an amazing success story.

Seventy years ago, two men from Tamil Nadu landed in Bombay to try their luck in films, one was L.V. Prasad and the other was Kala Chandra.

Prasad realised that Bombay was not for him and went back to Madras to build his empire of Prasad studios and Kala Chandra worked as an assistant for R.K films and assisted Raj Kapoor and all his three sons. He lived and died as an assistant.

In 1980, a young man called Anant Soins took the industry by one big surprise when he signed more than 10 films.

All of them were big films and gave a massive complex to all the ruling and struggling stars, like Subhash Ghai.

But within three months, all those films were scrapped and Anand Spins was never heard of again.

In 1980’s two young men came to Bombay to make it in Hindi films. One of them became the most wanted star with a name with a difference called Anupam Kher the young man, Who went on to become so many achievers in one man.

And the other young man’s body ( he was considered to be much more talented than Anupam ) was found washed ashore on the Juhu beach. He couldn’t take failure and had committed suicide.

That is Bombay my friends, a city of dreams for some , a city of endless nightmares for many others

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