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When I Enjoyed Holi with the Living Legends… – Ali Peter John


Natraj Studio was like my second home and the men who ruled Ntaraj Studio were like characters from some epic for me. It was the first real studio I had entered and had become a part of my life.    Ali Peter John 

It was like a blessing from god to me to know the mahaarathis of Natarj Studio. At the beginning of the Studio was the office of Shakti Samanta who had started life as a school teacher and had risen to be one of the leading filmmakers of India. As one walked ahead , there was the office of Ramanand Sagar who had started as a story writer and journalist and lived on to recreate the Ramayan and other major and minor epics. Bang opposite Sagar’s office was the office of Atma ram , the younger brother of Guru Dutt who could never reach anywhere near the peaks of excellence his brother had . Next to Atma ram’s office was the office of Pramod Chakravorty who was a typist in the Films division and had with his very first few films established himself as a commercial Hindi filmmaker whose graph of success could not be touched easily. And at the other end was the large office of F.C(Fakeerchand) Mehra who had crossed over from Afghanistan as a seller of dry fruits and had not only made big films , but had also owned theatres like the Minerva in Bombay and the Golcha in Delhi in partnership with Shammi Kapoor .

They were all achievers and I was not even a struggling journalist, but as luck or god may have willed it , I was soon close to all of them and I was a part of all their good times and bad times …

It was this closeness that made them invite me to all there parties , events and birthdays. And Holi was one of them. 

All the five partners and friends came together to celebrate Holi . The celebrations started at 11 in the morning with a pooja with Ramanand Sagar as the priest conducting the pooja . All the partners made it a point to bring their families and friends in the industry and outside to be a part of their celebrations. There was a feeling of goodness about their Holi party and very little colour and very little dancing or drinking even though there was a flow of bhaang for all the guests . The highlight was the food which mostly came from the house of Ramanand Sagar which was the best dishes of the vegetarian kind . The festivities continued till 3pm and they all left for their homes where they had a second round of celebrations which went on till the early hours of the next day.

I have many memories of this Holi but the Maharathis , but this one stays on my mind. A huge imported car entered the gate and from it emerged a tall woman dressed in jeans and a colourful top . All the mahaarathis surrounded her and kept praising her for her beauty . It seemed like she was known to all the mahaarathis who kept looking at her till her car left the gate. I was baffled and when the woman left, I generally asked the Maharathis who that woman was and they all looked at me ss if I was an idiot and Shakti Samanta said, ” arre bewaqoof , 18 lakh ki heroin tere bagal mein khadi hoti hain aur tum usse pahechan ti bhi nahi. Woh Hema Malini thi” that one incident gave me such a complex that I still find it difficult to recognise even the most popular and famous female actor , especially when they are not in their make up, whether it was Hema Malini then or Deepika Padukone or Aalia Bhatt today .


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