Once she memorized her lines she never looked back to the papers again, says Sanjay Leela Bhansali recalling his work association with the centenarian actress
.Talking to Dibyojyoti Baksi, the filmmaker fondly remembers the veteran actor who was always full of life.
"I was very fond of Udai Shankarji's dance, though I never met him, and Zohraji used to dance in his group so I shared a very close relation with her. Whenever she used to work with me I used to ask her about him. She used to share her experience and even show me how she used to dance," Bhansali says.
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He adds, "When she came to work with me in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)in 1996, she was 84 years old and later when she came to work in Saawariya (2007) in 2006, she was 94-year-old but there was no difference in her personality, in her memory, in her energy and in her fiery spirit. When she used to call me for any meeting, once it's done, she used to say, 'It's time for my wine so Sanjay you get out'. She was very clear in her mind and we used to love her a lot. She used to come to set memorizing her lines by heart. I have never seen such an actor."
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"She used to remind her co-actors what lines they are supposed to say. Once she memorized her lines she never looked back to the papers again," he further says.
Bhansali further says, "When she came to shoot for Saawariya she called Ranbir and said that she has brought some photographs to show him. She had a picture of her with Prithviraj Kapoor where she lead opposite him. She said Ranbir that see I am now working with you and there was a time when I was heroine of your great grandfather. She gave Ranbir a big kiss and then they started shooting. She was a great lady else who would bring photographs to show Ranbir that she had once worked with Prithviraj Kapoor."
"Every time she came for the shoot, she first asked about my mother, how is she doing. She never accepted any change in line in the last minute. The clarity, the authority, the fiery temperament and the positive attitude that she used to command is unbelievable. She was a fantastic woman. May God bless her a lot and I will love her till the end of my life," the filmmaker concludes.
(As told to Dibyojyoti Baksi)