“I met Rajesh Khanna for the last time on June 22, when he agreed to act in a film I’d titled Old Wine. It was a mature love story with Sharmila Tagore. He wanted in on the script, and then shoot it in one go,” recalls writer-director Ananth Mahadevan, adding that Khanna’s secretary called him 20 days ago saying he’d given the actor a new lease of life.
Ananth had met the star six months ago and told him that he wanted to make a film like Anand (1971) or Khamoshi (1969) with him. Khanna had started calling him bhai (brother) and wondered why Ananth didn’t return with a script. “Kaka(Rajesh Khanna) didn’t fit into Gaur Hari Dastaan, a film I was working on, so I started surfing for ideas and stumbled upon the true story of a 60-year-old American whose friend places a matrimonial ad for him without his knowledge. The woman who answers the ad for her friend, surprises him, but, slowly, a relationship begins to develop between them. With his charisma, he’d have pulled it off. Now I can’t see anyone else doing it,” he sighs.
Ananth first met Khanna 15 years ago at the Taj Mahal Hotel, introducing him as TV’s newest star. “He’d shot a few episodes for Dinesh Bansal’sMulk but then broke his exclusivity contract, and Dinesh canned his partition drama,” he recalls.
“When we met again, he asked me, ‘What can you do for me?’ I wanted to make Old Wine for him and give him the joy that he gave all of us.”