The Homes of Some Stars Tell Amazing Stories….
By Ali Peter John
If there is one place which makes me believe that God must be a very partial God , it is the good , bad , sad and even mad world of Hindi films. How can a just God look on when thousands of young men and women come to Mumbai with all their ambitions , dreams and desires and face the kind of humiliation and the kind of struggle very few must have I’m any other field ? How could a God who was just as they say see most of these young people surrendering to the ” God ” of defeat and failure which ultimately kills their spirit and in some cases even their lives ? How can that just God see one man who has come with the same dreams as a mother and lives to see his dreams die and another man who is equally talented and in many cases more talented look on helplessly as the one who is less talented build his own umpire and his massive mansions and palaces ?
How can one man who came at the same time keep waiting in long bus queues while the other men who were not a patch on his talent have a fleet of some of the most expensive , exclusive and the most loved cars in the world and has a car or two for every member of his family and even a car specially to carry his lunch when he is shooting and some stars even having cars for their pet dogs ? All these questions have left me baffled and I have spent the last sixty years of my life trying to find out the rules of God to decide who deserves more and who deserves less ? For a change , lets talk about the houses build by men who wants slept on the streets or lived in slums and slept in caves.
In the fifties , a young actor called Rajendra Kumar Tuli was one of the many thousand years of refugees who crossed over to India and had to depend on his food on special missions organised to throw packets of food to reach the refugees who could kill each other to get their hands on those packets of food which was like manna God had sent to Moses and his people in the desert.
Rajendra Kumar was handsome and was also lucky. He lived on the pavements in Bandra till he got a role in ‘Mother India’ and then got a leading role in ‘Vachan’ which zoomed him to stardom and yet all he could afford was a dingy room in ‘Marina Guest House’ , again in Bandra where he lived with many other strugglers, they continued to be struggles while Rajendra Kumar went on to shift from one better place to another. He was more than just lucky , there was some force driving him to each greater heights. He was told about an all old bungalow on Carter Road which was available for only three and a half lakh of rupees because it was considered to be an unlucky bungalow and some events called it a ghost house. Nothing mattered to Kumar whose ambitions only kept soaring at this stage of his life. He was desperate and approached the well known filmmaker B R Chopra and told him that he needed money somehow and Chopra made it possible by making him sign two films with him and his company. Kumar got the bungalow , renovated it and gave it the name “Dimple”. It was not a ghost house for him , but a house which changed his life upside down and made him the first Jubilee Star of India because at one time he had twenty two films running in their silver jubilee week. He lived in “Dimple” for more than twenty years and his luck continued to stand by him all the time…
Till he grew more ambitious and wanted to shift into a bigger bungalow. It was a time when another young star , Rajesh Khanna was aiming for the skies and when he came to know that Kumar was selling his bungalow , he moved heaven and earth to find the money to buy “Dimple”. He was very sure that Kumar’s luck would run on to him. He paid Kumar more than eight lakhs in the early seventies and bought the bungalow from him. Rajesh Khanna, strangely even wanted the name “Dimple” , but Kumar was not willing because Dimple was the name of his eldest daughter who had brought him all the luck. Kumar went on to build a multi storeyed building which was attached to a dubbing and recording studio , all named after Dimple. It is like a believe it or not story , Rajendra Kumar started his slide down after he moved out of his bungalow and Rajesh Khanna kept rising till he became the first superstar of India. It was outside bungalow which he had now named “Aashirwad” that thousands of people stood outside only to have a glimpse of him and one of them was a beautiful sixteen year old girl called Dimple , and no one , I think not even God knew that this girl Dimple was going to be the wife of the superstar within a matter of time.
Khanna’s luck also began to fail him and when another actor called Amitabh Bachchan came on the scene in a big way , Khanna had to make way and Bacchan had literally stolen his empire and crown from right under his snooty nose. The bungalow was in serious trouble and Khanna had even to mortgage his and was facing heavy legal issues till he died under the most tragic circumstances. There was a lot of talk about what would happen to “Aashirwad” . Dimple and her son in law Akshay Kumar had even talked about changing “Aashirwad” into a museum in honour of Rajesh Khanna but all such talk was just so much talk in the air. ” Aashirwad” was taken over by a rich owner of a chain of Udupi hotels in Mumbai and the first thing he did was to demolish “Aashirwad” and build his own bungalow according to his own tastes. Today , both Dimple and “Aashirwad” are a part of a history.
Dilip Kumar was working as a canteen manager in Poona when he decided to try his luck as an actor , even though he had looks which were entirely against the ruling standards of a Hindi film hero and even though he knew he stammered when he talked it was Devika Rani who took a liking for him and even gave him his name Dilip Kumar. It took him just five years to establish himself and the first thing he did was to buy an old house on Pali hill which became and still is a legendary house. The sad thing now is that Dilip Kumar is critically ill at ninety eight and there is a builder who claims that the bungalow belongs to him. The bungalow is the demolished , but there is a legal stay on any further demolition and all the pleas made by his wife , Saira Banu to the Prime Minister of India and the CM of Maharashtra to have fallon on the deaf ears like it happens when a case goes into the hands of politicians.
The sixties saw another huge star called Bharat Bhushan who was at one time as important a star as Dilip Kumar. He had his own bungalow where he had some of the grandest parties as long as he was a star. He fell from grace and lost his stardom and the first thing he had to lose was his bunglow which was the talk of the industry and the media once. He kept shifting from one little apartment to another, he was forced to play bit roles to make a living and he finally landed in a far way small room in Malad where he died and there were hard days. Seven people at his funeral.
In the seventies a young , tall and entirely unlikely hero with an unusual name called Amitabh Bachchan had shown signs of establishing himself as a star and all he needed was a good house. He first bought an apartment in Juhu in a building called ‘Mangal’. The house proved to be lucky for him as he slowly but steadily took long leaps towards stardom and needed a bigger place. Someone told him about a haunted bungalow in one of the lanes in Juhu and the bungalow was popularly known as ‘Bhoot Bangla’ and no-one wanted to live in it and it was sometimes used for the shootings of some films. Amitabh found out more about the ‘ Bhoot Bangla’ and decided to and bought it for a sum of rupees seven lakhs only and consulted his father and named his bungalow “Prateeksha” and the “Bhoot Bangla ” changed his life and today he has four huge bungalows within a kilometre away. But Amitabh is still faithful and grateful to “Prateeksha” and he may be living with his family in his new bungalow , “Jalsa” , but after a day of working seventeen to eighteen hours a day, he drives alone to “Prateeksha” where he spends time dealing with matters related to the social media and writes his popular blog. He has confessed that he is an insomniac.
There was another small-time hero called Amol Palekar who was a star on his own and the actor who once lived in a old building on Gamdevi Road in Central Bombay could afford to buy an old bungalow close to where ” Prateeksha” was and bought a bungalow for only five lakhs of rupees and named it “Chiredandr” . He lived here with his actress- painter wife Chitra and their only daughter Shalamalee. Serious differences erupted between the couple till they broke up and Amol married another painter and shifted to Kothrud in Pune. And in the place where “Chiredandr” was now stands a three star hotel.
The most interesting story when it comes to stars and their homes , is the story of Shah Rukh Khan. He came to Bombay with only Sixty rupees in his pocket. He was supported by his directors of the TV serial, “Circus” in which he was noticed by one and all as the son of the owner of the circus who had differences with his father over the way the “Circus” was being run, Aziz Mirza and Saeed Mirza and then by one of his co-actor Viveck Vaswani. He then shifted to an apartment in a building called ” Varun” on Carter Road in Bandra, very close to the bunglow of the superstar Rajesh Khanna. Yash Chopra and Yash Johar ( The father of Karan Johar) were very big supporters of the rising star Shah Rukh. Yash Chopra once told him that he was now a big star and needed to shift into a bunglow of his own. There was an ancient Parsi bunglow on Bandstand in Bandra which was unoccupied for years and was on sale for a very small price. Yash Chopra negotiated with the owners or whoever had the rights to the bungalow and got it for Shah Rukh which he ” gradually converted” into “Mannat”, one of the most famous addresses in India where thousands and sometimes lakhs of people gather to have just one glimpse of the man they call “King Khan” or “Badshah Khan”. He had once spoken to the sky while he was lying on a pavement outside the Lucky Restaurant outside Bandra Station and had dream- talked to the sky saying , ” I have come to conquer you and mind you I am not the kind who will surrender to your supernatural or natural ways, I will win, I will be a winner , mark my words”. Shah Rukh now has his bunglow and two multi storeyed buildings in which he has his own office of the company ” Red Chillies Entertainment” .
The other interesting story about a star and his house is the story of Shatrughan Sinha. He started his journey in hills from a dilapidated building called “Devdoot” which was bang opposite the now defunct five star hotel, ” Searock”. The only filmi neighbour he had was the well known Urdu writer, Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza who was best known for his dialogue in the biopic TV serial ” Mahabharat” .
Shatru as he was now known as a star shifted to other apartments but finally built his own sprawling bunglow in Juhu and had a reason to name his bunglow, ” Ramayana”. His elder brother was Bharat Sinha , he was Shatrughan Sinha and his younger brother was Dr. Lakhan Sinha and Shatru’s twin sons were Luv and Kush, which was like the family in the original Ramayana.
Many of the students of acting from the FTII tried to make it , but very few succeeded in the true sense. The one of the strangest cases was of an actor who originally came from Sikkim and whose name was Tshering Pentso Denzongpa. He was one actor who no film maker was willing to take seriously and he was one of the actors who after a day’s struggle would sleep in a cave in Andheri where other struggling actors and a writer and poet like Javed Akhtar used to sleep.
His name was too difficult to call out or use in daily conversation and so it was his friend and colleague from the FTII , Jaya Bhaduri who asked him to take the name , Danny. Like all the other strugglers, Danny too kept walking from office to office and bungalow to bunglow looking for work. He had approached a leading film maker who lived in a bungalow of his own and the film maker is said to have him so cruel to Danny that he laughed at his ambition and offered him a job as one of the Gurkhas in his bungalow. Danny kept this insult in mind …
Danny had vowed that he would succeed and when he had , he would build a much better bungalow than the bungalow of the film maker and he would built it on a piece of land next to the film maker’s bungalow. Years later , Danny Dangzonpa was a very big star. He first lived in a one bedroom apartment in Kalumaal Estate , where his girlfriend , Parveen Babi had a very huge flat and where stories about their love affair started.
Danny had always kept that vow in mind and when he had made enough money, he built one of the most stylish bungalows which the best of the material brought especially from Sikkim.
He named the bungalow ” D’zongrila” . For quite sometime his bungalow was only occupied by his staff , all of them mostly from Sikkim. He lived alone in an attic-like room on the top of the bungalow and lived like a monk. He was unaware about what was happening in his bungalow and how many servants were working for him did not even know he had glass partitions in many places and one evening when he was quite drunk he just crashed into one of these glass walls and was in hospital for more than six months. He is a happily married man now , but he keeps yearning for the hills of Sikkim where he goes very often these days because he says he cannot tolerate the noise and the pollution of Mumbai.
In the early seventies, there were several boards put up all over Juhu saying , ” This property belongs to ..and soon there were the bungalows of stars like Dharmendra, Jeetendra , Manoj Kumar, Amrish Puri and only recently there is the new bungalow of Ajay Devgn and Kajol built bang opposite the bungalow of Dharmendra. This Ajay Devgn was the son of a well known fight director, Veeru Devgn who started off in a small apartment called “Sheetal Apartment” opposite the one time Chandan Talkies.
Among the others build bungalows in Juhu were Dev Anand who was the first to build his own bungalow in Juhu, Manoj Kumar who had his strolling bungalow called “Tulsi Niwas” which he ultimately found difficult to maintain and sold it off to have two huge buildings called “Goswami Chambers” in which he has an entire floor and his two sons have two floors to themselves.
In the nineties , there were many smugglers and dons who came into the industry and one of them was a smuggler of silver called Sudhakar Bhokade . He struck gold with his very first film “Saajan” and made many other films but his dream was to make a film with Dilip Kumar. Dilip Kumar agreed to officially direct his film, “Kalinga”, but the film has still not been released and I don’t think it ever will now .Sudhakar had grown prosperous and had built his own most sophisticated bunglow in the Lokhandwala area which had all that the Sultans and Shaikhs could only dream of but Sudhakar’s ambition got the better of him and before he could say Sudhakar again , his dream bunglow was demolished by the Municipal authorities and he was completely broke and within a very short time , he shocked the industry when he died under what some believe were mysterious circumstances.
Boney Kapoor and N Chandra had their own bunglows in the Lokhandwala area . The bunglows are still there but Boney and N Chandra are gone away to places from where they have no chances of returning to the same bungalows.
The only bungalows which have stood the test of time are Dev Anand’s , “Iris Park”, the bungalows of film makers like Ramanand Sagar whose bungalow , ” Sagar Villa” has now been rebuilt as two different bungalowas to accommodate more than seventy members of his joint family , the bungalow of Prakash Mehra which used to be a hive of activities and now stands like a haunted house, the very palatial bungalows of the Khan brothers of the sixties , Feroz Khan , Sanjay Khan and Akbar Khan. Music director Laxmikant who once lived in a chawl in Ville Parle had built his own bungalow called “Parasmani” which was the name of the first film he had scored music for together with his partner Pyaarelal. The bungalow has made way for a very crowded plastor of apartments, while Pyarelal continues to live in his simple apartment at the foot of the Mount Mary’s church.
The builders of Mumbai now have their hungry eyes on the bungalows of Dev Anand where his eighty five years old wife and one time co star Kaplana Kartik lives all alone and conducts rare meetings in honour of Jesus Christ, the bungalow of music director Naushad , bungalow of Yash Chopra and B R Chopra and the huge bungalow on Yari Road called “Dariya Mahal”.
If the builders have their way , we will soon only see a jungle of cement and concrete and we will have to literally fight our ways of we even have to have a glimpse of our stars and film makers who have made this industry what it is.
THE HOUSES JEETENDRA LIVED IN.
Ravi Kapoor was the second son of Mr. Amarnath Kapoor who was a supplier of artificial jewellery to some of the leading film makers. He always carried a photograph of his son , Ravi in his purse when he had to visit film makers.
He was a regular supplier to the pioneer film maker, Dr. V Shantaram . He was once talking to the film maker when he casually showed him the photograph of his son , Ravi. The film maker asked him to send Ravi to him the next day and he asked Ravi to report to the studio the next day from where the unit was to leave for Jaipur for the shooting of ” Sehra” . Ravi was a face in the crowd in the film.
There was something about Ravi that appealed to the film maker and he gave him his first break as a hero in his film ” Geet Gaya Pattaro Ne” with his daughter Rajshri as the heroine, but he changed his name from Ravi Kapoor to Jeetendra . The new hero was then living in Ramchandra Chawl near the Central Cinema and studied at the St. Sebastian’s High School ( where incidentally , his contemporary Jatin Khanna who was to be the superstar Rajesh Khanna also studied ) .
Jeetendra had made enough money to live in Usha Apartments in Colaba where he had Prem Chopra as his neighbour and they traveled by train to the studios in the suburbs. He became a bigger star and shifted into the building in Bandra where Gulzar and his wife , Raakhee lived…
He grew richer and bought two entire floors in ” Gautam Apartments” and then built an underground bungalow in the compound of the building.
He became a very big star in the South and was forced to have a bungalow of his own in Hyderabad.
He kept making money and his wife , Shobha and daughter Ekta planned to give him a big surprise when he returned to Mumbai they had built a massive bungalow all in white called ” Krishna” and they had also started ” Balaji Telefilms” .
Jeetendra who is seventy seven now has only two travel from his bungalow , “Krishna ” to his office at “Balaji” only to sign some important documents.
But in spite of all the progress he has made , he has not forgotten that room in “Ramchandra Chawl” in Girgaon where he returned once in a year during the first day of the Ganpati festival and confirmed the Pooja and immerses the idol of Lord Ganesh at Chowpatty.
If there is an actor who has confessed that he is not even an average actor but who had still made it very big , it has to be Jeetendra and no one else.
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