Bollywood friendships superficial, current lot ready to backbite, says Sanjay Khan
Veteran actor Sanjay Khan says he has enjoyed several long-lasting friendships in Bollywood but believes the equation among the current crop of actors is so superficial that they are ready to “backbite” anytime. Khan says these things existed in the industry in his heyday but there was elegance and class.
“The value of friendships among the current reigning lot pains me. It is superficial. It’s just to show courtesy. The extra hugs and the taps on the back, you can smell hypocrisy from one mile away, that they don’t have anything in common,” Khan said.
“The moment they turn around, they backbite. This is a downside of the film industry. In those days we could say it was like this too but it had elegance, some class, respect. Now there is naked aggression,” he adds.
Khan says the reason for the downfall of quality relationships between people in the industry could be “material gain”. “In those days, the parity of money was more or less the same. Today with changing times and too much of money and politics in films, (there is a) dog-eat-dog mentality.” Some of Khan’s closest friendships and other important events of his life find a mention in his autobiography, The Best Mistakes of my Life.
The Dosti actor’s life changed after a major fire accident which took place in 1989 on the sets of his TV show, The Sword of Tipu Sultan, in which he played the title role, alongside directing and producing. Fifty two people died in the fire.
Khan, 78, recalls how Dharmendra came to visit him in the hospital and was “crying like a boy”. “Two months after I came back from coma, I saw a stream of VIPs from Delhi and Dharmendra. Those people were watching me with pathetic looks, I was telling them I’ll meet them soon but they must’ve thought I am a goner and were expressing sympathy.
“But Dharmendra was crying like a boy. He kept on saying, ‘My friend, I’m with you’. That was the friendship I shared with him. I shared an extremely long and close friendship with Raj Kapoor and Sanjeev Kumar among others.”
Khan still remembers the day of the mishap. “The whole set was consumed by fire. Smoke and flames had engulfed me. I was hit on a head — with something like a canon ball, which later I was told was a tin of paint — I fell and was taken to hospital. I had 65% third degree burns, 52 of my crew lost their lives. I’ve carried this pain for a long time. Only seven months after the accident, I was informed about it.” The actor says he was told by the doctors that he could never work again but his will kept him going.
“My survival itself was rare - trauma with third degree burns, 73 surgeries, I was called ‘The Miracle Man’. But I knew I must work, otherwise I would die.”