He called in the morning to say, "Beta, I have prepared chicken curry, especially for you." His voice was warm and affectionate. My mama (maternal uncle), Deepak Bahry has been a renowned film director of his times, having directed super-hit films like Tarana, Agent Vinod back in the 70s.
I remember when we were kids, we used to be in awe of him when we visited his place in Mumbai during vacations. We all would be mesmerised when he used to come back home from shoots, looking forward to hearing his day’s happennings. He would speak to stars like Dharmendra, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar on the phone and we used to all sit quietly listening to his conversations. He was a star director!
I remember going on his sets to watch shooting. We, as kids, used to love watching shoots and meeting actors. On the shoot of Tarana, Mithun Chakraborty had lifted the little me up and playfully asked, "Will you be my heroine, little one?"... and I nurtured a dream...of becoming one.
Years later, we attended mama’s new film’s premiere, starring Salman. I had specially dressed up for it. I had this dream of being in movies too, but I dared not say that to mama. We were all scared of him. He was a strict disciplinarian. And, I wondered whether he'd encourage me getting into movies.
My mom finally broke the news to him that I had been selected in the Stardust talent hunt contest. I was still in awe of him. I couldn't share with him that time that I’d love to be directed by him some day.
Mama is a quiet person, unlike me and ma. A man of few words. So, all my life I shared pleasantries with him. Nothing beyond. Unless he had some interesting anecdote to share, which I loved listening to but didn't dare share even that with him.
When I was established as an actor, one fine day, mama called ma that he would like to direct me in an ad film. That, for my mother was a very special day. Her two loved ones working together. I was a bit conscious of working with him for the first time. But he introduced me so beautifully to his team that soon I felt the warmth of working with my "mama".
Gradually he started chatting with me and I realized that we got along very well. He would come home and chat more with me and I totally loved that.
Yes, with time, a beautiful bond had been created. He loved to cook for me and bring it for me. I now was comfortable to tell him how much I loved listening to his filmy anecdotes. He loved narrating them to me too. The awe and fear was replaced by bonding and warmth. How time changes equations beautifully...
After ma, it's been a double bonding with mama. I also play ma’s role in his life now. On Rakhi, I called him... "I have to tie a Rakhi to you on ma’s behalf." There was a pause, and I heard an overwhelmed voice on the other side of the phone. "Main aaonga beta. Kya bana kar laon tere liye." I choked too with that warmth.
Yes, it's been years... from a little girl who could barely muster courage to say hi to mama, to actually bonding with him like a friend. A friend he is proud of...
As I tied the Rakhi to mama, I knew ma must be smiling somewhere... to see her two loved ones together.
(Dutta is a Bollywood actress)
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