What’s common to Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan (SRK), apart from the fact that they are Bollywood icons? They all graduated from Delhi University (DU), as did many other Bollywood stars.
Sr Bachchan, or Bollywood’s badshah as he is called, is an alumnus of Kirori Mal College, where he earned a degree in science, while SRK studied at Hansraj College.
DU’s star cast runs long. Minnisha Lamba did her B.Sc. honours from Miranda House. And do you know what inspired filmmaker Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra’s blockbuster Rang De Basanti? To hear him say, “there were many DJs (Dijeshwar Singh, or Aamir Khan’s character in Rang De Basanti) in DU in my days. College days had a multidimensional effect on our lives. Be it a political, financial or social issue, there was always enough to think about. Studying in SRCC, a college situated in a city like Delhi, was never unidimensional.”
“Those were the days of freedom. Yet we would be so busy,” says Mehra, who studied in SRCC or Sri Ram College of Commerce.
For actress Konkona Sen, who studied at St Stephen’s College, it was the first opportunity to be on her own — and she claims she took full advantage of it. “In college, suddenly the world opens up and there’s so much to do. Plus, Delhi itself is such a happening place. There were film and theatre festivals across embassies and we Stephenians would be active everywhere. Within college also, there would be debate and writing competitions. For me, college days were the most exciting days of my life.”
DU’s star cast alumni swear by the charm of its campus, spread over north and south Delhi. “I haven’t yet slept that peacefully as I would in my college classroom,” jokes anchor and VJ Cyrus Sahukar, who studied at the Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, before joining MTV in Mumbai.
“Those broad roads, rickshaws, spacious grounds and dust-lined library shelves, it all is very unique to DU,” says actor Arjun Rampal, who studied at the Hindu College.
Indeed, DU has scores of locations known by their unique names. “The V-point in Hindu used to be a lover’s point. There would be at least five proposals being offered and rejected there every day,” says actress Minnisha Lamba, who graduated in 2004.
They say if school lays the foundation, then a college enriches it for life. Agrees director Imtiaz Ali, who won over audiences with the bindaas and bubbly ‘Geet’ (Kareena Kapoor’s character in Jab We Met). Apparently Geet was inspired by the Punju girls of Delhi. “Most girls in my college group were as frank as ‘Geet’. There was this certain sense of ease about themselves, which never failed to surprise me.”
Talk college and immediately this image comes to mind: a stylish botany professor or a typical-looking Hindi lecturer. “In our college there was this professor called TP Jagtoo, whose pet one liner was, ‘I can check the nabz and tell if a student is bright or not,’” recalls Cyrus, adding, “I used to do a show with Cyrus Brocha, where my character would have a new name everyday. TP Jagtoo was my pet name.”
Last but not the least: the café or the canteen, the most happening place of every college. Agrees Shekhar Suman, a Ramjas College alumni, “The samosa and that chutney and chole, I can still feel the taste as I talk about it.” Or the bhelpuri for fashion-wary girls. “We would chomp those fried choley bhature for a week and then swear to substitute it with bhelpuri. This was a weekly schedule. Ultimately, we would succumb to the temptation,” says Minnisha.
Remember the youthful number from Shiva, where Nagarjuna and Amla sway to the number “Botany chodenge, matinee dekhenge. Jagde jagde jagde jaa”. This best defines the spirit of college. So freshers gear up as you prepare to join Delhi University. All the best.