Dimple Kapadia is perceived as a serious, intense actress. Few know that she has a great sense of humour and can be loads of fun. There is a scene in Tum Milo Toh Sahi where she puts on a hat and raps. She had such a blast doing the song though she kept asking me, “Am I getting it right?” My answer was, “You are a rock star!” She truly is.
I had worked on this script for two years. As part of my research for the café she runs in the film, I had visited almost all the Irani eateries I know of in the city that haven’t been pulled down yet. When Dimpleji heard this, she insisted she wanted to do the same and over three days, visited every café, from Colaba to Dadar to Andheri. There are two that are run by ladies, and she chatted up the owners.
It was charming watching her though she gave me a fright every time she stepped out on the road and walked down it like she was an ordinary woman-next-door.
I had to keep reminding her that she was a movie star who could get mobbed. It almost happened when she was casually strolling down Colaba with me running behind her.
A few people recognised her but since you don’t expect Dimple Kapadia to be wandering around, they were a little hesitant about approaching her. I heard the whispers, “Isn’t that Dimple?” and before anyone could react, bundled her into the car and drove away.
Fortunately for me, I connected almost immediately with both her sister and her. I guess, it’s because all three of us are blunt and mulish.
I remember Simple telling me, “I read your script and liked it. So what are you looking at? Do you want filmy or will you go for real?” When I explained what I had in mind, her response was, “In short, you want to deglam Dimple and show what a beautiful person she is from inside.” Bang on!
By the time we started working on the film, Simple was too ill to go around sourcing stuff. So we brought in a young designer, Pooja, and it was wonderful to see a newcomer and a veteran collaborating with ease.
I wanted short hair. Dimpleji refused to cut her hair so we got her a wig. The streaks of grey were her idea. The dresses and the
glasses were Simple’s.
If Dimpleji was hesitant about something, Simple would say, “Put it on me, she’ll do it.” I have rarely seen two people who are related, sharing such a great working relationship.
In the mall Simple came for a shoot in a mall that had been cleared. I asked her to come sit at the monitor and watch the scenes being shot on it. She refused and walked around the mall with a cart telling me, “I trust you. When it’s over, call me.”
By the time we finished shooting the film she had moved to another world. I couldn’t show Tum Milo Toh Sahi to her though I did show her some of the rushes on DVD. Even Dimpleji heard about this only later.
While watching the scenes I’d shot, we’d sometimes look at each other with a smile that said, “Yeah, it’s working.” Her name is mentioned in the credits but not as the late Simple Kapadia. That’s because for me she’s still around. I can see her, I can hear her and I hope she likes the film we made together.
The other day, someone who had seen the film, called to tell Dimpleji that she had made grown-up men cry in the climax. Simple would have liked to hear that, as long as her sister cried only on screen.