A lazy Mumbai summer afternoon turned delightful as we managed to get an appointment with Bindiya Goswami, the effervescent 1970s actress who is still remembered for her sweet presence in films such as Gol Maal, Khatta Meetha and Shaan.
Though she has been involved with aspects of filmmaking, thanks to her director husband JP Dutta, Bindiya has been away from the screen for three decades. And as we entered the hustle bustle of her office for one of her first interviews in close to 25 years, we were excited. Her onscreen persona hinted that she would be an easygoing person, but we have seen many instances where the real-life person does not sync with the onscreen image. The apprehension was however proved unwarranted because Bindiya Goswami-Dutta has retained her bubbly charisma. Excerpts from the interview.
Tell us about your disappearing act. Why did you just quit acting after doing famous films with Hrishikesh Mukherji and Ramesh Sippy?
We (JP Dutta and she) got married in 1984 and I wanted to start a family immediately. During my time, we actors used to work in multiple films at a time, and do two shifts a day. I felt that I had done a lot of work and was ready to settle down. But later I started helping JP with his productions and from Kshatriya onwards, I officially started doing the costumes for his films. So I was still connected to films; I had not disappeared.
You didn’t miss being in front of the camera?
No. I don’t know if it was a master move of JP Saab but he always kept me involved so I never missed going in front of the camera.
You could have done roles in your husband’s films.
I don’t think he ever wanted me to work. He never asked me to, at least. And I never wished for it too. I have been offered TV shows but it did not entice me.
Looking back at your career, one feels you were never quite in the rat race.
That’s because my entering films was never a planned move. Hemaji’s mother saw me at a party when I was all of 14. I was running around with other kids. If someone asked me back then what I wanted to be, I would say an air hostess, because my elder sister was one. Once I started acting, all I wanted to do was good and fun films. Shaan, Gol Maal and Hamari Bahu Alka were wonderful.
Your resemblance to Hema Malini led to comments that you were a less expensive replacement for producers.
That’s what the talk was back then. And it all fell into place as it was Hemaji’s mother who had introduced me. She did feel there was some resemblance and wanted to promote me as an actor.
Today, your elder daughter Nidhi is all set to turn an actress with her father’s production.
It is her dream. It is in her DNA. Her grandfather (filmmaker OP Dutta), father and mother have been connected to films. She worked with JP Saab on Umrao Jaan and went through the grind and the ragging. I wish my daughter gets what she wishes for. Even if it means she takes two film or five films to get established, it does not matter.
What would be your advice to her?
I would like her to be like me. If she is sure about a film that is offered to her, she should do it. I never thought that I should have an entire film focused on myself; even four good scenes were enough. I tell her to look at a film in its entirety.
Will we see the mother-daughter pair on screen?
You never know what the future has. I would love to work with Nidhi onscreen, it would be fun. It would also be déjà vu.
Because of her resemblance to you?
You know I had never looked her like that … till we did her first professional photo-shoot. I have to be honest, I am really pleased. I don’t know about off screen, but in pictures she has an uncanny resemblance.
The film is being made under a new banner JP Gene. What is the genre?
It is quite on the same path as my films — just set in today’s generation. It is a fun film about friends. We have chosen this script because it has a very youthful appeal to it. Even before Border 2 was put on the backburner, we had decided to do a youth-based film. The kids are growing up and we wanted to bring out a smaller branch of JP Films. I wanted to do something that is lighter and easier for me to work on, and something which could involve Nidhi and Sidhi too. So JP Gene was launched. We are looking at wrapping the shoots of the first film by September and release it by the end of the year.
You have cast Nafisa Ali’s son Ajit as the lead opposite Nidhi. How did you select him?
I have known Nafisa for 30 years and have seen Ajit grow up. We had auditioned him for Border 2 and he was supposed to be a part of that film. But the film was kept on hold as JP believes it was not viable at that time. Since Ajit was already with the production house we decided to rope him in for this film.
The film is being directed by debutant Binoy Gandhi. Why is JP Dutta not directing his daughter?
I love Binoy. He is capable and has worked with Yash Raj. But yes there was always this wish that Nidhi would be launched by JP himself. I would not be honest if I didn’t say this. Maybe he will direct her later.
-By Noyon Jyoti Parasara, Bollywood News Service