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Urmila Matondkar: A sprightly girl, a birthday tribute by Jyothi Venkatesh

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Today Urmila Matondkar who shot to fame with her films like Satya and Rangeela turns 47 today. While I wish her a happy birthday on behalf of bollyy.com and Mayapuri, I recollect having met the cute and smart young lass for several times right from the time she was working in Nari Hiba’s video films.

Rishi Kapoor had played her elder brother in Bade Ghar Ki Beti

It was at the outdoor location of her film Shreeman Ashique in Ooty where she was teamed opposite Rishi Kapoor that I really got to know the girl better, who was then just 19. That was the time when Rishi Kapoor and I ganged with one another to rag her a lot in between takes, remembering the times when Rishi Kapoor had played her elder brother in Bade Ghar Ki Beti. Though I had not met the child star when she was shooting for Shekhar Kapoor’s Masoom, I remember having been introduced to the sprightly and cute girl when she was shooting for a Video film called Range Haath. The camaraderie that Urmila Matondkar and I had developed continued till she had signed on N Chandra’s film Narasimha which starred Sunny Deol and Dimple Kapadia where she was teamed opposite newcomer Ravi Behl.

I knew the real Urmila when I was instrumental in introducing her to a Tamil movie mogul T. Rajinder who had come down to Mumbai to cast a new girl as the leading lady in his maiden Hindi film. Not only did I take Rajinder to Urmila’s house in Andheri where she was staying in a modest middle class house near Lokhandwala but also put him in touch with Jeet Upender, who later married starlet Deepshikha as well. Riku Rakeshnath had suggested a newcomer called Poonam Jhawar to Rajinder.

Sameer rang us up in the evening only to tell that he was not in a position to come

Urmila matodkarHow Urmila was signed on for Rajinder’s Hindi film makes interesting reading. In those good old days when Urmila had not signed on Narsimha, there were no mobile phones and after seeking her appointment on the landline, I managed to take along with me Rajinder to her house for a dance audition. I had told Rajinder that Urmila was an excellent dancer and he was keen on finalizing her for his film.

On the appointed day, Urmila flew into Chennai along with me on an Indian Airlines flight. Jeet Upendar was also there with us in the same flight. The car took us to our three star hotel in Chennai where measurements were taken of Urmila for the shoot the next day. In the meanwhile I had contacted lyricist Sameer to write a duet to be recorded in the voices if S.P. Balasubramaniam and S. Janaki the very next day in the morning before the shoot could begin. Unfortunately for us, Sameer rang us up in the evening only to tell that he was not in a position to come with his song for the recording and asked Rajinder to ask someone else to write the song, which was not possible at the eleventh hour. Guess what? The onus as well as the responsibility fell on me and Rajinder asked me to write the song which was the Hindi version of the Tamil song which he had already recorded since he wanted to make the Tamil version also later on.

Urmila belonged to a conservative middle class Maharashtrian household and hence she was not allowed to show her breasts

With trepidation, I decided to not go with Urmila and Jeet when they invited me to go with them for the local discotheque in the evening to forego my quota of three pegs in the night and sat down in the hotel room to pen down the Hindi lines for his song. The first line was O Haseen Sultana Husn Ka Main Deewana. Then I penned lines like Sultan Bhi Kya Hain Kya Hain Kya Hain Kya Hain Saltanat Bhi Kya Hai, Kya Hai, Kya Hai. After sitting through the whole night, I was really proud that the song penned by me was ready for writing.

Alas! Though it was my ever recorded song (and perhaps the last too) as It was not picturized by Rajinder for his film because Urmila’s father who had accompanied his daughter for the shoot refused to let his daughter wear a cleavage-showing outfit for the title song. He argued with Rajinder that Urmila belonged to a conservative middle class Maharashtrian household and hence she was not allowed to show her breasts when the song would be picturized. Rajinder called me to his room in the hotel before the shooting could commence and requested me in desperation to convince and cajole Urmila’s father Shrikant Matondkar to see reason and allow his daughter to shoot for the sequence.

Urmila does not even prefer to shake my hands like in the past

Urmila matodkarWhen Shrikant tass se mass nahi huwe and since he had already packed off Poonam Jhanwar to Mumbai, he had no other alternative and hence T. Rajinder angrily proclaimed that he was shelving the film rather than put up with the tantrums of his leading lady who after all he was all set to introduce in Hindi films as a leading lady. It must be remembered that till then Urmila had not shot for N Chandra’s Narsimha. Now it was the turn of Shrikant to tell Rajinder that instead of shelving the film, he could shoot with Urmila as he will have no objection to let her show her breasts, but it was too late. T. Rajinder was not ready to bow down to the whims of his leading lady’s father

Urmila matodkarWith the shooting having been packed off, Urmila flew off to Mumbai with Jeet Upendar, while I stayed back for a day to visit my friends and relatives. After I came back to Mumbai, somehow sadly the relation between Urmila and me had strained though I was my normal self whenever I met her but I am happy Urmila ended up becoming a star to reckon with in Bollywood with films like Satya, Rangeela and Daud to her credit. However, after the T. Rajinder incident, she has started keeping her own distance from me and no longer does she spontaneously hug me, like in the good old days. Why? Urmila does not even prefer to shake my hands like in the past and just does a Namaste but never mind, I am happy that she has now been inducted into the Shiv Sena after she had a bad experience with Congress earlier after she was defeated by BJP’s Gopal Shetty in Mumbai’s Kandivali constituency, where I too live.