Photography: Relive the ‘80s

In a new photo essay, a senior film magazine editor presents snapshots from memorable moments from Bollywood in the 80’s
Anil Kapoor on the sets of Eeshwar (Dinesh Raheja)
Anil Kapoor on the sets of Eeshwar (Dinesh Raheja)
Published on Dec 26, 2021 01:38 AM IST
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ByDinesh Raheja

Ihave unearthed some more images of Bollywood personalities I had shot in the 1980’s and early 90’s, arguably the most impassioned times of Hindi cinema. (To read the previous essays, head to <> and <>)

Anil Kapoor updates every few years

I was a headline-seeking cub reporter when I bluntly asked Anil a question about the failure of one of his earlier films at the mahurat of Love Marriage (1984, co-starring Meenakshi Sheshadri). We snapped at each other then, but later became friends.

This photograph was shot in 1988 during the shooting of the K Vishwanath-directed Eeshwar. I remember interviewing Anil when Eeshwar, in which he played a naive villager modelled on his idol Raj Kapoor’s simplicity, was released within weeks of his tapori roles in Tezaab and Ram Lakhan. Since then, like Microsoft, Anil presents a new version of himself every few years.

Abhishek grows and grows ...

Bappi Lahiri, Romesh Sharma, Jackie Shroff, Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan, and Farha
Bappi Lahiri, Romesh Sharma, Jackie Shroff, Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan, and Farha

I clicked this picture at the mahurat of Diljalaa in 1986, which makes Abhishek Bachchan all of 10 years old then. Later, I would meet Abhishek at Amitabh’s annual Holi do and find him a few inches taller each year. Over the years, he has grown tall as an actor (Guru, Bob Biswas), too. Abhishek has a sardonic sense of humour.

Also in the picture are Bappi Lahiri, Jackie Shroff, Romesh Sharma, Amitabh Bachchan and Farah. Farah’s porcelain-doll-looks belied a boisterous attitude and colourful vocabulary. Once, she climbed on to my motorcycle, and said, “Chal, ek chakkar lagate hain Film City ka. Ekdum fast chalana.”

Madhuri Dixit, the party girl

Madhuri Dixit on the sets of Ram Lakhan
Madhuri Dixit on the sets of Ram Lakhan

Three actresses were present at the outdoor shooting of Subhash Ghai’s Ram Lakhan in 1988—Raakhee, Dimple and Madhuri. But they barely exchanged more than a hello while I shot this picture.

I found Madhuri friendly, if rather formal. She always graced my magazine’s parties. At one of those, she wore a tight-fitting, shimmery, golden top. She fled, however, minutes before the clock struck 12, probably before her car turned into a pumpkin, as a colleague joked.

Madhuri invited me to her farewell party, where Randhir Kapoor quipped, “I have seen heroines attend many parties but I don’t recall any other heroine ever throwing a party.”

 Not at the Nukkad

It’s challenging to shoot a group photograph but the cast of the popular TV serial Nukkad (1986) sportingly posed at a deserted railway station en route to Matheran. From top to bottom are Dilip Dhawan (who played Guru, the central character), Suresh Chatwal, Sudhir Khakkar (Khopdi, the irrepressible drunkard), Pavan Malhotra, Rama Vij (remember her as Teacherji?) and Sangeeta Naik.

Dilip Dhawan died at 45 from a heart attack, and the others have faded into near oblivion. Only Pawan Malhotra (Jab We Met, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag) has retained a hold in the elusive world of showbiz.

Dimple preferred an

honest appraisal

My first off-screen glimpse of Dimple was while I was on my honeymoon in Pahalgam in 1983. She was shooting for Nasir Hussain’s Manzil Manzil. A year later, I was formally introduced to her on the sets of Zakhmi Sher.

After my interview appeared in print, she said, “Thanks, I loved your piece, especially because you wrote I was chewing gum like a nervous cow chewing cud.” She added, “All the others wrote about how confident I was; you were the only one who observed that I was nervous as hell.” Dimple became my camera’s favourite muse.

Vinod Khanna made up for giving me acidity

I captured this candid picture of Vinod Khanna on the sets of his comeback film, Insaaf. His return proved hugely popular and I planned a cover story with him. For some reason, the photo-shoot was scheduled to be held at lensman Gautam Rajadhyaksha’s house early in the morning, and that gave me an attack of acidity because the actor was not traceable at that hour.

Finally, however, he turned up, and Vinod, looking dashing in a moody mid-shot, had the girls swooning.

Moushumi Chatterjee

and Malibu

I shot this candid picture of Dharmendra, Moushumi Chatterjee and Danny during a lunch break on the sets of Aag Hi Aag.

An excellent raconteur, Moushumi had once told me over a glass of Malibu, “I was compared with Jaya Bachchan because both of us had the girl-next-door image. Later, I was also pitted against Rekha by critics because I did maximum two-heroine films with her—Daasi, Prem Bandhan, Bhola Bhala, Maang Bharo Sajna. But I never had issues with my female colleagues. Instead, I had to put up with the ego of some male colleagues.”

 Three Anands in one frame!

The three Anand brothers were so busy in their independent ventures that they rarely came together publicly. So I grabbed this rare photo opportunity and shot the Anand clan (Dev, Chetan and Vijay, with Dev’s son Suneil) and Meenakshi Seshadri at the mahurat of Main Tere Liye in the late 1980s.

Dev (he insisted I call him by his name) and I shared a fantastic rapport. I admired Vijay Anand classics like Guide, and have told him so. And I had the privilege of meeting Chetan Anand on the lawns of his quaint shack overlooking the Juhu beach. 

The secure Seshadhari

I shot this picture of Meenakshi and Rati at the launch of Ketan Desai’s Allah Rakha. When I organised a cover shoot with Meenakshi, Padmini Kolhapure and Poonam Dhillon for a feature titled ‘In Search Of An Eligible Bachelor,’ Poonam and Padmini gabbed with each other, but seemed to ignore Meenakshi. Recently, when I spoke to her about this, she shrugged. “I was never insecure.”

Now a mother of two and a wife to investment banker, Harish Mysore in the USA, Meenakshi is still one of the finest persons I have known in the film industry.

 Brooding Jackie Shroff

I shot this picture of Jackie Shroff at an outdoor location of Subhash Ghai’s Karma. I’d first met Jackie for a feature on models. He was arrestingly handsome but endearingly easy-going, though I had to pry the answers out of him.

In the interval of the pre-release show of Hero, my wife conspiratorially whispered to me, “Jackie is going to be a big star.” The rest is history.

Dinesh Raheja is a reputed film historian, columnist and TV scriptwriter who has been writing on cinema for over three decades.

From HT Brunch, December 26, 2021

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