“From Ek Vivah Aisa Bhi to Hollywood, your secrets have kept me alive Raj Babu”
Prashantt Guptha pays homage to Rajkumar Barjatya with this open letter below:
Respected ‘Raj Babu’.
Whilst you were physically on Earth. I never had the courage nor extended proximity to address you most endearingly as Raj Babu. But I take that humble liberty today as that is how best you were known. I’d love that to be my last addressing of you. I called you uncle and sir the few times I met you and worked with you, and I take this opportunity today to publicly thank you for the role you played in my life.
Raj Babu, you gave me my first break in Mumbai and the secrets and lessons you taught me have stayed with me since. I was destined to meet you through a chain of referrals. With my family having close proximity to your son-in-law from New York days. I reached out to him within the first 3 months upon my arrival in Mumbai, and he graciously connected me to the famous and wonderful PK Gupta ji in your office, who then called me in to meet.
Above all, that was my first ‘blessed’ day in Mumbai. Little did I know what it would lead to. I recall you briefly stepping into Gupta ji’s office. That’s when I saw you, touched your feet and said I am the one who came through your ‘daamaad.’ When you took me into your office, my life changed. In my head, I started thinking this room must have had every legend once enter in the last 65 years. You read my mind. Told me that it was here where young aspirant Amitabh Bachchan was brought in to meet your father, the legendary Tarachand Barjatya.
How can I ever forget your physical mannerisms and vocal sweetness.
When I mentioned that apart from acting I sing too, you sat back and said, “sunao kuch”with a fist under your chin listening attentively. My rendition of a Talat Mahmood classic was well appreciated by you. You told me about the industry, Rajshri films. I remember you asked me an interesting question in the presence of Gupta ji. “Toh aapne hume kis vajah se contact kiya.” I nervously said, “sir woh mein ah kya hai uh actually kyunki.”. Then I cleared my throat and head, told you that I read in a magazine recently that Rajshri’s are making 3 films. You said, “dekha Gupta ji (to PK Gupta), hum 60 saal se filmein bana rahe hain, lekin abhi bhi out of sign out of mind nahin ho sakte.“
Furthermore, the words of wisdom began.
You asked me, ‘what is the story of Sholay and who is the main character in it’. I told you as best I could, but my answer was wrong. It was you who taught me that every story needs to be able to be conveyed in 2 sentences, or it is off. That the story always needs to be conveyed from the perspective of the character, “jiski garaj pe kahaani tiki hui hai.” Hence clarifying that Sholay is not about Gabbar, Jai or Veeru, but about Thakur. It was you who taught me that as I work and rise in this city. Not to only be nice to the people I need, but everyone. Not just producers and directors, but also the light-men, spot-boys and labourers. Explaining that “stardom duaon se milta hai, aur woh duaayein tumhe yeh crew ke logon se milegi.”
Raj Babu, one last time but forever. Thank you for EK VIVAH AISA BHI, and whilst we were shooting at the Karm Kutir bungalow in Juhu, thank you for talking to my father on the phone and telling him that “aapka beta talented hai aur mei toh kahunga aap isay waqt dijiye yeh zarur kaamyaab hoga.” Indeed sir, it took time, but I am getting there. May the gates of Heaven open for you the same spectacular way cinema halls opened to your films.