Memories of Chunauti

We were all such such babies during Chunauti-( tho i look like an overgrown baby hulk as i see it now ha ha)

I still miss Sanjiv Bhattacharya the director- who died too young many many years ago in 1998 aged 37. What a tragedy. Bizarrely Sanjiv still appears in my dreams ever so often -even today. Chewing his paan and smiling that sweet ‘ I told you so ‘ smile

I remember fighting and begging my parents to allow them to do me this one role that had fallen into my lap for a lark 2 months after my ICSE. Of Vandana the vernacular medium school girl in the Tv series Chunauti- back then in the late eighties.

On Doordarshan- on the days before media in India was still controlled by the Government and not allowed privatization.

I promised Amma and Nana i would never consider showbiz after this one time and concentrate & excel in my studies as all brainy Southies are meant to be ,( doctors and engineers and and MBA’s but they HAD to allow me this opportunity .

My parents relented after many arguments and way too much persuasion

I remember the shock at signing my 1st autograph. Of young fans standing below my window chanting ‘Vandana. Vandana”
Huh? Was that really me?” Just because i’m on TV?

I had shown my school id card at this audition for Chunauti i was called for. Whilst all the other girls were pulling out their professionally taken portfolios. I didnt even know such a thing existed.

I remember Nana ( my daddy dearest) landing up on the sets (at Wilson College Chaupati )randomly at 2 am just to ensure his baby girl was not being molested by ogres as all people in showbiz in those days were assumed to be. All the while pretending that he just happened to be driving by the location. Really? Who are you kidding Mr Krishnamoorthi? 🙂

But Nana was determined- He smiled the same sweet smile as Sanjiv that clearly said- “Dont mess with me. Dont you know who I am -and thats my baby!” 🙂

And then after having met Sanjiv and the crew a few times & feeling assured that i was in safe hands , Nana taking me after an excruciatingly hard days work to buy that pink nightie for the painting sequence where i am painting the posters for Ramakanth- a.k. a Arif Zakaria ( in the link below)

Pssst…The minute Amma and Nana heard it was a night scene( even though they had decided to support my one time adventure and all-) they HAD to select the nightie personally to ensure it was modest and all covering and all . “My baby DEFINITELY cannot show cleavage. Aiya ya ya yo. Thats Sacrilege!”

” Why would my charactor call a guy called Ramakanth –Mr. Ramkanth? Please Sanjiv. Are you crazy? Why would i address someone as Mr? Even if he is my senior?

“Its because I say so” Sanjiv would laugh – ” and you better not call the producer Rakesh either. Please call him Mr. Choudhary or Rakeshji”

Call someone Ji? Oh puhlease. Thats so not me” And Sanjiv would laugh again and say ” Get used to it. Thats the way of the industry”

I remember falling asleep & refusing to wake up whilst shooting Chunauti ( we had to shoot at nights after Wilson college the primary location closed for the day)

andSanjiv would very sweetly tell me “Just give me one smile and go back to sleep”

And i would refuse to wake up & crib and Sanjiv would laugh and cajole and persuade me to not only wake up but learn dialogues and deliver them just the way he envisioned my character Vandana (the vernacular medium school girl!!!) to say them as well.

Considering i was a Napean Sea road bred South Mumbai snob it was a huge and committed effort on his part

And I so remember Sanjiv’s hearty laugh when he used to tease me saying “heroine banogi?”
And i used to shriek and say “Eeeeks! No way! And besides my parents would never allow me to act in movies by the way. I intend to do my MBA”

And so Sanjiv would smile and ruffle my hair again and say “Theek hai baby. Its Ok. We’ll see”.

And Madan Puri the speckled faced sweetie Associate director – who would still smile kindly through gritted teeth & sheer fatigue ( being totally exasperated by my lack of commitment to the task & wondering why on earth i landed the role at all) ” Bas ek shot dekar wapas so jaaao”

I miss you Sanjiv Bhattacharya. Am sure you’re reading this wherever you are.
And You were right –

man ek seepi hai, aasha moti hai, har par jeevan ka ek chunauti hai


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