CURTAINS FOR ALL BUT FAREWELLS FOR FEW!
We have often heard in filmlore that grand funerals were accorded to the titans of the industry like Balraj Sahni, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Amjad Khan, Raj Kapoor, Panchamda. But the glaring end of the queen of tragedy, Meena Kumari who died in penury and was bequeathed a sad rainy farewell is also another tale. Different people, different strokes... For instance superstars Rajesh Khanna, Vinod Khanna, Shashi Kapoor and now Sridevi were accorded grand funerals with a large turnout and their chauthas too had a lot of celebs who came to pay their last respect. But what about actors like Om Puri, Reema Lagoo, Shammi ji and directors like Kundan Shah and Neeraj Vohra who made people laugh with their films? Their end was tragic and tearful and not many in the industry came to pay their grand respect. It’s indeed a sad state for lesser known actors and people behind the camera and technicians. Poor Neeraj Vohra had to be supported for his hospital bills by the largesse of producer Firoz Nadiawala. But such dariyadil producers are very few in the industry! Superstars and bigger stars in B-town except for Big B never seem to attend public funerals. We spoke to a cross section of the industry to know more.
Anupam Kher says, “There isn’t any such bias on the part of the stars and no such instance of anybody from the industry being ignored deliberately after passing away at the funeral or a chautha. But sometimes a person is busy, is immersed in urgent work or hard pressed for time, so he can’t make it for a funeral but it doesn’t mean that the person is showing a disregard for the person who has left us.”
On the contrary, producer director Mehul Kumar rues, “It is the sad plight of the film industry that today, everything is about money or business, and there are no emotional attachments like before. If you have money or you are actively making films, everyone will join the bandwagon but if your film fails at the Box office on Friday, all your so-called friends will disappear and you will be stranded alone. It is the stark truth but one with which we all have to reconcile. I can give you the instance of star actor Jaani Raaj Kumar, with whom I worked in three films- Marte Dam Tak, Jungbaaz and Tirangaa. He was widely considered as an eccentric star but he knew the ways of the industry and he told me that upon his death, no one from the industry should be informed and only close family and friends should be informed.”
If your film fails at the Box office on Friday, all your so-called friends will disappear and you will be stranded alone.” — Mehul Kumar If one can’t make it for a funeral, it doesn’t mean that the person is showing a disregard for the person who has left us.” — Anupam Kher
Superstar Bachchan always makes it a point to attend funerals and pay his respect to all the people who have passed away in the film fraternity.” — Sudha Chandran
Veteran artiste Aruna Irani dismisses such an argument, and says, “It is the prerogative of the person who wants to come and pay his respect rather than it being a forced one. It’s respect for the person who has passed away that will be the criteria for him or her to come to their funerals or chauthas. There is a thin line between the stars, character actors and directors. Stars will always be given a large funeral and there is a clear line of demarcation between them. Anyway, what difference does it make for a star or an actor who doesn’t get respect after he is dead. But yes, if in his lifetime he hasn’t been given the due respect, the person will feel bad.”
Dancer-actor Sudha Chandran seconds Aruna Irani, and opines, “By and large, the film fraternity has always been there for the industry people who have passed away and if there is any lack of presence, it might be because of work related pressures. In my opinion, Reema Lagoo too was given a very respectful farewell by big stars like Rishi Kapoor. But the biggest instance of respect is from superstar Bachchan himself who always makes it a point to attend funerals and pay his respect to all the people who have passed away in the film fraternity.”