After David Dhawan’s Aankhen they were the Jodi No. 1.. like the Dostana dudes, John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan, today.
And when there were talks of an Aankhen sequel, we thought it would be something of a coup to bring the two together. It was easier said than done. Despite their apparent camaraderié on screen, their competitiveness off it, made it difficult to bring them face-to-face. Unwilling to quit on our brainwave, I formed a team of two with another colleague, and separately we pursued the errant duo.
Chunky Pandey was assigned to me. I didn’t envy my colleague her Chi-Chi chase, not after I’d heard stories of journalists landing up at Govinda’s doorstep at 6 am and if they were lucky getting their interview post-midnight.
If luckless, they joined the growing queue that was at least a mile long. Chunky on the other hand was always ready for publicity. Not this time though.
It took a good couple of weeks of relentless persistence to pin them down. On the appointed day, I landed up, an hour early, at our rendezvous—photographer Jagdish Maali’s studio. Chunky didn’t want a chaperone. He had promised he’d be there at the dot of noon. He wasn’t.
Pehle aap, pehle aap
After 30 minutes, I buzzed him. Chunky was still at home. “I was just leaving,” he replied. “Is Chi-Chi there already?”
Unwisely I told him that Govinda had yet to arrive but was on his way.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be there before him,” Chunky reassured me and rang off.
No stranger to the ways of showbiz folk, Maali laughed when I reported the conversation to him. “He won’t move out of his Bandra home till Govinda lands up. The next time you call, tell him Govinda’s threatening to leave,” he advised.
Soon after my colleague called enquiring about Chunky’s whereabouts. Govinda, who lived just 10 minutes away, had announced that he would step out of his home only after Chunky stepped into the studio. This pehle aap, pehle aap chakkar could go on forever. I had to beat them at their own game.
I called Chunky and told him Govinda was in a tizzy because he couldn’t find him. “I’ll be there in a jiffy,” he promised.
Twenty minutes later, I gave my colleague a tinkle to say that Chunky was hunting high and low for Govinda. “We’re just leaving,” she said, making a dash for the door.
Minutes later, Chunky stalked in. “Where’s he?” he whispered. “In the make-up room,” I told him in a hush hush voice. “I’ll duck into the next room,” he said, and vanished.
The timing was perfect because a second later Govinda strolled in. “Chunky?” he asked, raising his eyebrows. “That room,” I
murmured, pointing into the distance. He disappeared too. And I heaved a sigh of relief.
A quarter of an hour later, they reappeared dressed in their Sunday best. And greeted each other like long-lost buddies.
Before either could let the cat out of the bag, I announced excitedly, “How well you compliment each other? The wait was worth it, right?”
Both flashed me conspiratorial smiles and exclaimed, “But, of course!” Maali’s camera started rolling.. And Chunky and Govinda turned into Bunnu and Munnu once again. Encore!
Aankhen 2 is still to release.. But we got our eye-catching cover story. And everyone agreed that it was just two much!