A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Raj & Raj

Suppose you had been separated at a very young age from your parents and one or more siblings, and didn't get a chance to meet them in twenty or more years. You and your brother (s) knock the hell of the responsible party, bash him like there's no end and take him to the edge of a cliff. Just as you are about to deliver the killer punch that would send him rolling down the hill, thereby providing you with the immensely satisfying revenge you had dreamt of all these years, there's a ruk jaao! or thehro! in a familiar voice.


Suppose you were a breathtakingly honest and indomitably strong police inspector. You cannot be bribed or intimidated. So the thakurDon or bhai takes the obvious route: he gets your father killed (but spares your mother to continue with your endless supply of kheer and gajar ka halwa), gets the house demolished, kills your siblings (if it's a sister, rapes her for a bonus point), tries to get your woman raped (Shakti Kapoor always did these himself; the ones with a lesser libido asked a rape-specialist goon  for such purposes) and gets you suspended and puts you behind bars. When he has checked off everything on this checklist he meets and humiliates you verbally.

Now, you plot revenge. You start eliminating his army, one by one, in ascending order of the sufferings they've inflicted on you. You reach the last step, find him disarmed, take out your gun, aim at him, and then you hear a gunshot, and the tell-tale kanoon ko apne haath mein mat lo! in an authoritative spurt.


In both these cases, the spoilsport person is invariably the same. Jagdish Raj's IMDB and Wikipedia profiles both say that he is right there in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most type-cast actor: he was a police inspector in (hold your breath) 144 films over a staggering span of forty years, thereby earning the tag of the longest tenure of being unpromoted in the history of mankind. Inspector, I repeat. This does not include constables, DSP or Commissioner of Police.

He was not Iftekhar, and hence did not have an army of fifty people, and didn't get to announce in a megaphone police ne charon taraf se tumhe gher liya hai, hathyar phek do aur apne aap ko kanoon ke hawale kar do. He got two, at most three subordinates, but have always played the noble act of stopping the hero from committing murder (hence providing conjugal lives to heroines, well-guided childhoods to children, candidates for the ubiquitous kheer and gajar ka halwa for mothers and turning out to be budhape ka sahara for their fathers).

His most famous performance, though, came in Deewar, in which BOTH Iftekhar (whose waistsize in was substantially less than couldn't match his voice in decibels) and he acted as underworld guys. And still people remember Deewar for someone's refusal to pick up thrown away money and someone else's proud declaration that he has a mother.

When Australia toured India in 1986 (and came back in 1987) one of the most familiar sights was the 6'8.5" Bruce Reid fielding at long leg. In fact, long after Australia left the country, whenever a batsman leg-glanced, I half-expected Reid to field it, even if we were playing Pakistan.

You see, tall people, even those who weren't exactly angry young men, always attracted attention on screen. This was what made me notice Anita Raj. Like Jagdish Raj, she (certainly) has an entry in the coveted Guinness Book as well: I have no idea in how many films she has acted in, but I can't remember a single one where she was not raped, or at least had a rape attempt on her, or at least an attempt to molest her in some way or the other. In the rare cases where the director was reluctant to fulfill the checklist, she always got a bathing scene, whether in the shower or in the rain or in a fountain under a mountain.

Her Wikipedia page says Anita Raj is a former Bollywood actress who was popular in the 1980s. Exactly among who she was popular is not very clear to me. She Her career high, though, was the fact that just like Manoj Kumar, she also played a clerk in Clerk, and as the film progressed, she (yes, you've guessed it right) got raped, that too by Om Shivpuri, that too in a remote temple inside a forest amidst heavy rain, when for some reason unfathomable to everyone, her 9'4" structure couldn't outrun the older guy.

She did act in the delightful Zara si Zindagi against Kamal Hassan, which despite being a good movie, didn't do well. She had a significant role in a good Basu Chatterjee movie called Lakhon ki Baat, also casting Sanjeev Kumar and Farooque Sheikh. She was also supposed to touch and immortalise Raj Babbar's song with her lips. But generally, she was the one romanced by Mithun and Sanjay Dutt between their bashing up of Shakti Kapoor and team. She did act with Jackie Shroff in a 2008 movie called Thoda (something) Thoda (something), but I've forgotten what the somethings, or for that matter, everything about the movie. And neither do I know anyone who hasn't. Lastly, she's the only known actress to have acted in two movies with the initials KKK (Karishma Kudrat Kaa and Kaun Kare Kurbanie).

So why the two of them in the same thread? Let me recall a story. In the words of The Ostrich herself, I recall once being stopped by a policeman for breaking a signal and he told me, “Aap Jagdishji ki beti hain. Aap ko aise nahin karna chahiye!"

They are, indeed, father and daughter. I swear.

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