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Bobby come back

As a 16-year-old, Dimple Kapadia seduced not just a schoolboyish Rishi Kapoor and then a sophisticated superstar, Rajesh Khanna, but also an entire nation of wide-eyed idol-gazers who for the last 40 years have been crooning, ‘Hum tum ek kamre main bandh hon, aur chaabi kho jaaye...’

entertainment Updated: Apr 04, 2010, 16:03 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

As a 16-year-old, she seduced not just a schoolboyish Rishi Kapoor and then a sophisticated superstar, Rajesh Khanna, but also an entire nation of wide-eyed idol-gazers who for the last 40 years have been crooning, ‘Hum tum ek kamre main bandh hon, aur chaabi kho jaaye...’

Well, the name is Dimple Kapadia. But for me she will always be Bobby. I met her 20 years after her dazzling debut. At 11 am sharp, I rang the bell to her Juhu bungalow. A harried household help opened it and then banged it shut on my face when told that I was there to interview Dimple. Her rather abrupt explanation was, “Madam so rahi hai (Madam is asleep).”

I refused to be shooed off just like that. Hey, I had sacrificied my beauty sleep too to get to the other end of town an hour before noon!
The same answer greeted me a second… and a third time. Finally, someone who looked like her mother, Betty Kapadia, informed me that Dimple wasn’t well and wasn’t likely to be up for an interaction. Dragging my feet, I returned to office, empty-handed.

A drive into town
Later in the day, she called to apologise. I forgave her easily, after all she was my Bobby. We set up an appointment for the next morning, again at 11 am.
This time, Dimple answered the door herself. She was all dressed up for a day in town: “You’ll want to kill me but I’ve just remembered I have to be at a friend’s exhibition at Bajaj Bhavan. Come, I’ll give you a ride. Isn’t your office in town too?”
It was an hour-and-a-half’s drive. We chatted about the weather, the traffic, the monsoons… everything but movies. “We’ll do the interview tomorrow, “ she promised. I wasn’t sure it would happen.
This time we kept it for later in the afternoon, 3.30 pm. Before leaving office, I called to ensure that Dimple was up, at home and knew I would be calling. With three affirmatives ringing in my head, I stepped out into a rainy Mumbai day.

‘You are late’
I was soaked through by the time I reached her beach house. I walked through the door to be met by an irate Dimple, “Where were you? I’ve been waiting since the last hour.”
I checked my watch, it was 3.30 pm. “Oh I thought it was for 2.30 pm,” Dimple replied with a sheepish smile and shepherded me into the nearest bedroom. It was occupied, Twinkle who was readying for her debut in Badal… or was it Barsaat?… was going through her exercise routine. We moved to the next bedroom, younger daughter Rinke was inside, on the phone. ‘That girl will be a telephone operator when she grows up,” mamma predicted with a laugh, as we sat down in one corner of the spacious living room overlooking the sea. ‘Chehra hai ya chand khila hai, zulf ghaneri shaam hai kya? Sagar jaisi aankhonwali, yeh toh bata tera naam hai kya…’ played in my head as I looked into those beautiful eyes and felt the years slipped by.
We started with Bobby and continued till Rudaali, her National Award winning performance. Lots of people walked in and out of the room. They didn’t register.
Only one face I recalled, that of the household help who had been told to get us tea. An hour later, I met him again at the gate. He was returning with milk for the tea that wasn’t served. I flashed him a smile. So what if I didn’t get garam chai, I got my interview, finally!

Lunch is waiting
Dimple moved to an apartment. She moved away from cinema to making candles. She moved away from prying journos into the heart of her family. She was a doting grandmother when we connected again. The telephonic was fixed for 11 am. When I called I was told, “Madam so rahi hai.” Sounded familiar. By 1 pm I had given up on the interview when I got an SOS to call her, asap.
A reluctant Dimple came on the line to speak about Jumbo for which she had lent her voice. She admitted she’d done the film for her grandkids. And she was looking forward to watching son-in-law’s Akshay Kumar’s Chandni Chowk To China with his son Aarav. “It seems like good fun,” she laughed, and telling me she was ravenous and that I was keeping her away from lunch, rang off.

Hello again
A few days ago, I got her on the phone again. Actually it was the director of Tum Milo Toh Sahi Kabir Sadanand who did it for me after a couple of hours of waiting because she was busy with prep for her soon-to-launch Society. “It’ll happen,” Kabir kept assuring me. I knew it would, at Dimple’s time.
We were finally patched through at 5 pm. Dimple was wary and withdrawn but warmed up when we got talking about her much-adored grandchildren, her unsung son-in-law who despite CCTC she thought deserved a National Award and sister Simple whom she had lost to cancer.
Her voiced cracked up when she spoke about Simple, but her rich laugh rang out when I told her how Akshay had admitted that wife, Twinkle, was always nagging him for not having won any Best Actor Award. “Well, the Padma Shri has shut her up,” mama chuckled. On that note, I ended our too-brief interaction.
“Did you get enough,” a worried Kabir asked. I did. I got my Bobby back.

ht epaper

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