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“Media is like a mirror, it reflects both merits and flaws” says music-savvy, showman Subhash Ghai known for his Hitchcockian cameos

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Chaitanya Padukone

Even as ‘showman’ Subhash Ghai’s illustrious movie-banner Mukta Arts recently celebrated its 42nd anniversary, we jog into memory lane to recall interesting anecdotes. While most film-makers are very sensitive to negative criticism and feel offended when their events and movies are panned and criticized, I realised that producer-director Subhash Ghai was comparatively a large-hearted Aquarian personality who took criticism in his humble stride.

Alfred Hitchcock--colour--01

Many years later after I had known him, at a private late-night personal filmy party I casually asked Mr Ghai, what was the secret that he very rarely over–reacted to negative criticism With his charismatic smile, he explained his logical funda.

Replied Subhash, “ Good you asked me this question Mr Chaitanya. For me the press and media is more like a ‘mirror’ which reflects our faults, flaws and also highlights our achievements and excellence in creativity.

Subhash Ghai cameo roles in own movies

It is the media which has given me the glorious title of ‘showman’. . As long as the criticism is constructive and not biased and not prejudiced, I humbly accept the honest verdict of the press-media. Just as all actors look into the mirror to check any flaws in their facial ‘make-up’ before giving their shots, the same way, we get to know our shortcomings thru media reviews and columns,” explained the articulate Ghai.

The first time I was officially introduced to Subhash Ghai was at the star-studded premiere of his directorial movie ‘Hero’ at the ( now defunct) Ganga-Jamuna twin theatres ( in central Mumbai) by none other than the ‘macho hero’ himself –affable Jackie (Bhidu) Shroff .

Subhash Ghai with Laxmi-Pyare and Anand Bakshi--01

Enthuses Jackie, “ Gutsy Subhashjee is not just my mentor-godfather who launched me, he is also like a real-life father-figure for me and I always hold him in high emotional esteem.” Thereafter I used to meet frequently at muhurats, recordings, trailer-previews and success-parties and even at location-shoots..

Once when I asked Subhash Ghai about his Hitchcock-ian cameo appearances in most of his movies, he initally laughed , “As a student of world cinema I have always admired Alfred Hitchcock for his slick amazing suspense films. Having completed my acting and film-making course with all my efforts and investing money, from the prestigious FTII-Pune, I got into acting and played lead and supporting roles. But success seemed to be evading me, even after multiple attempts in various movies including Atmaram-jee’s Umang’.

Later on, when I diversified into direction with movies like Kallicharan and Vishwanath (where my competent close-friend-iconic mega-star- actor Shatrughan Sinha was such a huge support as part of the lead cast) I felt that I should also make cameo-appearances in future in my own productions. Because essential I am an actor-turned-director. It’s just like my visual on-screen autograph .

My ardent fans always recognized me and they would applaud when I made my brief screen-appearances in several movies like ‘Hero’ or in ‘Taal’. The actor is me will always remain  alive and kicking,” laughed Ghai.

Speaking about multi-faceted ‘showman’ Subhash Ghai’s marvelous music-sense, all composers and music directors right from Kalyanji Anandji to A R Rahman and from Nadeem Sharavan to Laxmikan Pyarelal have all lavishly praised Ghai.whose movies are known for their chartbuster songs and fabulous picturisations.

Recalls iconic composer-arranger Pyarelaljee, Subhash-jee’s knowledge of folk-music and western music and musical instruments and approval of tunes at ‘sittings’ , his valuable inputs and while approving the ‘prelude-interlude arrangements’ and yet giving creative freedom to improvise is commendable.

Chaitanya P with Jackie Shroff ( during late '80s decade)

It was always a pleasure to work with Subhash Ghai with whom we composed for such a variety of diverse subjects whether it is Hero, Khalnayak, Ram Lakhan or the western-modern music-centric ‘Karz’.

Like for instance in the song ‘One Two Ka Four—my name is Lakhhan , the song starts with rhythmic chorus and vigorous rhythmic folk-music rhythm beats . In contrast check how he approved the classical-raga based ‘O Ram-jee Bada Dukh Deena or the disco-beats super-hit song ‘Om Shanti Om’ from ‘Karz’ or the flute-melody-theme of ‘Hero’ which is so evergreen,” explains Pyarelal.