In many ways, he is like a Jack-in-the-Box. Every time the media decides it is time up for the actor, he springs back with rejuvenated energy. He has been doing this for almost four decades. His career, his personal life and even his medical history is the stuff best sellers are made of. He has travelled from B&W [black and white] to colour films, from Dolby to Sync sound, from single screens to multiplexes. From small budget movies to multi-starers and English films, and from working with older to younger co-stars and directors. the list of his accomplishments is endless. In his career spanning 40 years and 182 films, he has played all kinds of roles, donned all kinds of costumes, befriended different animals—tiger, falcon, an Alsatian, even a dolphin. He has walked on fire, rolled in mud, flown over a carpet and jumped over bombs. He has played urban, rural, young, old, the good and the evil.
He is the first to be regarded a sex symbol in his autumn years. The first to stage concerts of international standards, his celebrity status transcends national boundaries with fans in every corner of the globe. And this, without having to go through Hollywood.
He is the sole survivor of his contemporaries—the only actor to be discovered at every turning point of Indian cinema.
Conversations with the legendary patriarch.
What kind of a child were you?
Normal.I would say, quite reserved and not particularly argumentative.
What do you recall of those early days?
It's strange, but early memories remain vivid even after so many years. There are times when I'm not able to recall what happened ten years ago or sometimes, even ten days ago but memories of childhood are imprinted on our psyche. Probably because life at that time was much slower and little moments left an impression. Today, everything occurs so swiftly and rapidly, that it's impossible to recapitulate events. I have vibrant memories of my childhood.I remember the various homes we lived in, our daily routine, our conversations at the dinning table.
Was growing up turbulent?
Not much turbulence. To a large extent, the sobriety of living life on an even keel came from the family. All our problems were referred back to mom and dad. The first major conflict came soon after completing college. It was the beginning of the uncertain phase—of not knowing what to do or where to go. These are conflicts everybody has to go through.
Can you share some of the early memories with your father?
Dad was always either at his desk, or away at work. My predominant memories of him are of him behind his desk, writing. He was very focused, very disciplined and spent most of his time in the study. He worked 12 to 14 hours every single day and the discipline continued even when we shifted to Delhi and I began to attend college. Or even many years later when I started working in Calcutta and then shifted to Mumbai. There were times when he was consumed by his writing and totally shut out from the rest of us for days at a stretch but no matter how busy he was, he was always accessible to us.
To read the whole interview, grap a copy of the May 2009 issue of Complete Wellbeing
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