Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sadhana Shivdasani - my imaginary guru

I was three years old when my dad took me to the movie theatre, in Mbeya, Tanzania, where we lived. I discovered how grand our world was through the Hindi Cinema. It was magic. I was mesmerized with the songs, colours and language as I watched the movie Rajkumar, starring Sadhana. I was completely in love with the actress. She was a beauty—her voice, her hair, her smile, her fashion—everything about her was a reflection of what I wanted to become. I can go on forever speaking of this beauty queen.
By age five I was certain that Sadhana and I were destined to be together. So I asked my dad if he could marry her.
“I’m already married to your mother,” Dad said.
“But Sadhana is so beautiful,” I said.
"So is your mother."
Now let me make it clear that I love my mum very much and she is a complete beauty as well. But Sadhana was someone I desperately wanted to meet. Sure enough my scheme of splitting my parents and having my dad marry Sadhana didn’t work. So I captured her in my imagination, think up a dialogue then act and pretend to be her. She became my imaginary guru.

When I watched her in Waqt, a Yash Chopra production, released in 1967, I wished I had a piano to play music and sing like her. Instead I danced and swirled my body around a curtain and sang the song, smiled, played pretend. My family would laugh at me. But I did not let my imagination die, because Sadhana kept me alive.
I remember every Sadhana movie and where I'd watched it. Such as Ek Phool Do Mali at Shan theatre, in Nairobi, Kenya. Or many more memorable movies like Intequam, Arzoo, Mera Sayaa, Mere Mehboob, I’d seen them in Dar es Salaam with my parents, mostly at Empire Cinema or Avalon theatre.

I had not seen Woh Kaun Thi, which was released in 1964. Mum had told me the story and I’d dreamed to watch it one day. Then finally, it was showing at Cameo Cinema when I was around eleven years old, but it was rated as not suitable for children due to a ghost story. I was really mad at my dad when he could not convince the ticket master to allow me to watch the movie. I cried and cried. Then at age thirteen, when I lived in Arusha, Tanzania, Woh Kaun Thi was showing at Metropole Cinema, a special Saturday afternoon show. No one realized how important this movie was for me. I could not convince any one to go with me, but my aunt gave me money for the admission. So I walked to the theatre, got myself a ticket, and finally watched the movie—alone.

Though, Sadhana quietly disappeared from the Hindi Cinema in early seventies, she remained my imaginary guru.

Rest in Peace, Sadhana Shivdasani (September 2, 1941 - December 25, 2015)

(video clips shared from various You Tube channel)

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