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Those days it was Jeetender all the way in the South in films made in hindi and all the other heroes from Bombay stood a remote chance only when he didn’t have any time to shoot for films made by filmmakers who made films in Hindi once in a way – Ali Peter John


A leading Congress politician from Coimbatore, Mr. Kovai Chezhian was planning to make a Hindi remake of a Tamil hit with Rajesh Khanna, Rekha and Shabhana Azmi with the title Asha Jyoti and which was to be directed by Dasari Narayan Rao who was known for shooting seven different films in a day, sitting in one place.

It was the muhurat of Asha Jyoti at the Annapoorna Studios in Hyderabad and a group of journalists from Bombay (including me) were invited to cover the event.

But no sooner did Rekha see a male journalist from the gossip press, she told the producer that she would not take part in the muhurat shot or the shooting if that particular journalist was invited on the set.

The producer who was producing his first Hindi film looked bewildered and did not know what to do till one of his advisers asked him to give the journalists a car, a few bottles of whiskey and money enough to have their meals and fun and make sure that they didn’t show their faces on the sets when Rekha was shooting.

I was given special permission to attend the shooting, but my fellow journalists asked me to cooperate with them and I who was a newcomer did and reported that no shooting took place at Annapoorna studios in Hyderabad even though I knew I was doing something wrong.

The same journalist and me were in Mahabaleshwar covering two shootings of Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha.

There was trouble as soon as we reached the hill station when Amitabh’s make-up man Deepak Sawant picked up a fight with the journalist, Harmeet Kathuria and before dinner the producer Tito Singh reached our room with 2 bottles of Whiskey held in both his arms and pleaded with us to leave the location early in the morning as both Amitabh and Rekha didn’t want Harmeet Kathuria to be seen on the sets of any of the two films.

Harmeet tried his best to act smart and when nothing worked, he again asked me to tell my editor that no shooting had taken place when the fact was that the maximum shooting had taken place, which included the entire “Pardesia yeh tune kya kiya” picturised on Amitabh and Rekha….

It was like the beginning of the end for Harmeet Kathuria who was once the most promising journalists and photographers.

He took to drinking heavily, he had no proper house to stay, he had lost his comfortable job and was on his way to his native place in Punjab when he suddenly died of a massive heart attack while he was travelling on a train

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