By Jyothi Venkatesh
After Ranbir -Alia’s wedding, Senior Journalist JYOTHI VENKATESH recalls the time when Alia’s mother Soni had come to visit him at his office to invite him to her wedding with Mahesh Bhatt.
When my dear friend Rishi Kapoor married his sweetheart Neetu Singh, both of them did not bother to invite me for their wedding though I was a regular fixture at all holi parties at the sprawling R.K Studios. My interview with Neetu was her last interview before she plunged into marriage a week later and she had then promised to invite me for her wedding. When I met Rishi and congratulated him on his marriage, he scowled at me for not having bothered to attend his wedding and it was my time to retaliate and shout back at him and tell me Ulta Chor kotwaal ko daantha hain.
Rishi did make up for not having invited me for his wedding by inviting me over to his bungalow where like his father Raj Kapoor, Rishi also used to wine and dine me sumptuously on several occasions later on as I had met him for the first time even before Bobby was released for the first time. I remember it was at the Turf Club at Mahalakshmi that his father and the greatest showman India has ever produced till date Rajji who used to come regularly every Sunday to gamble on the horses had introduced me to him.
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Cut to Soni Razdan and Mahesh Bhatt. I had sat with Mahesh Bhatt many times in the drawing room of his Bandra apartments in the 80’s for a drink or two when Mahesh used to get sloshed. I remember Madan Jain, who played the lead opposite Soni in Rajshri’s Saaraansh had come with her to Hotel Oberoi Sheraton where I was working at that point of time in the Accounts Department to invite me for Soni and Mahesh’s wedding. I remember it was on April 20, 1986
I had attended the wedding of Soni and Mahesh at Malkanji Badi in Juhu and had lunch with the couple. For those who are uninitiated, Alia Bhatt is none other than the daughter of Soni and Mahesh Bhatt. Soni was overjoyed when I rang her up after Alia was introduced to me by Karan Johar who told me that she was being introduced in films with his film Student of The Year ten years ago. When I told Alia that I was a good friend of her parents Mahesh Bhatt and Soni Razdan, she was also happy.
However, I did not receive any invitation for the wedding of Ranbeer from Neetu or for that matter from Mahesh Bhatt or Soni Bhatt when both Ranbir and Alia opted for a private marriage where only the closest friends of the couple as well as family members were present at Vastu, the new abode of Ranbir and Alia. I am neither angry nor disappointed that I was ignored because times have changed and there is no point in just recalling the good old days when things were not no mercenary.
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Today we miss the personal touch that we used to have in the good old days when journalists used to mingle with the celebrities, because the celebrities had not still turned into celebrities and it was us journalists who used to turn the nobodies into celebrities by writing about them constantly in magazines like Star & Style, Cine Blitz and Filmfare every now and then.A damn good actress, Soni who was born in Birmingham, in U.K has been seen in films like Page 3 and 36 Chowringhee Lane and had turned 65 last year. She was last seen in Raazi with her daughter Alia.
It was interesting how I was introduced to Ranbir by his father and my good old friend Chintu Kapoor. Once when I was sitting and drinking with Chintu Kapoor at his bungalow, Chintu summoned his young son Ranbir who was just around 14 then and asked him to touch my feet after introducing him to me and Ranbir had followed suit obediently.
That was the first time. Once again Chintu introduced me to him at the party Sanjay Leela Bhansali had thrown to unveil his new film Saawariya at the JW Marriott Hotel where Chintu told Ranbir that I would call him the next week to interview him before the release of Saawariya. When I rang Chintu to fix up the time for the interview, he reprimanded me by telling me that he was not the secretary of his son and suggested that I call him on the same landline after he woke up at 12 noon. I called on the landline once again and Neetu Singh picked up the phone and gave it to Ranbir when she came to know that it was me after exchanging pleasantries with me after a long gap of time.
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Ranbir very politely told me that I could interview him on the next day over lunch by 11 am and I said okay. The next day, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a call on my mobile. It was from Ranbir himself. While I thought that it may have been for telling me that the interview was cancelled, I was pleasantly surprised to know the reason why Ranbir had called me. It was to tell me not to come by 11 am but by 1.30 pm since he was stuck up at his dadimaa Krishna’s bungalow at Deonar where he had gone the night before.
I met him at 1.30 pm and after the interview, we had a sumptuous lunch. If Chintu had been there, he would have organised some chilled beer but Ranbir perhaps out of reverence for me especially as I was of his father’s age, did not offer me beer. Also he was all alone at his place since Chintu and Neetu had gone to town.
After the premiere of the film Saawariya was over, I congratulated Ranbir and wrote ravingly about him in an evening newspaper. Chintu called me personally after reading the review and thanked me too. Today I recall Chintu and bow and pray to God to bestow a long and happy married life to both Ranbir and Alia.