This morning is indeed sorrowful. My close friend Kalpana Lajmi passed away due to renal failure. The filmmaker and I had kept in touch for long and today, let me take you back to the first time I met her.
It was early 2000s, when me, a rookie back then, was assigned to get an interview from her. Kalpana was riding high on the success of her recent release, Rudaali, making it difficult to get in touch with her. Persistent that I was, I kept calling her on her mobile phone and after incessant calls, she finally picked up and in an intimidating tone told me, “You are hounding me.” I was determined to get an interview and by the end of the conversation she agreed to meet me at Madh Island where she was shooting for her next. She asked me to turn up at 1.30 pm the following day.
With a twinkle in my eye, I reached on-set at 1.25 pm, but couldn’t muster the courage to approach her. Kalpana was occupied with the shoot. It was not the times where the PR took you to the celebrity and shoot umpteen instructions alongside – don’t ask this, don’t ask that, stick to the film, finish it in 10 mins, the list goes on.
Rudali Poster Featuring Dimple Kapadia
She was sitting on a platform on the edge of the lawn. The location was a bungalow. I could see that she was strict with the actors (all newbies) on-set and would do repeated re-takes until she got the shot she wanted. This further intimidated me, however, I was there for a purpose so I mustered the courage and began taking steps to where she was standing and unintentionally came in the field.
Kalpana cut the shot, looked at me glaringly so as to hint that I should move away but I didn’t understand that at that point. I didn’t move an inch. She went back to the shot thinking I would have moved away but, as you must have guessed, I stood right there. She yelled, “Mr, can I throw you out of my set? You continue to remain in my frame but you are not part of my movie.” I realised the blunder I had made and moved away. She continued post that and it was only after a good 30 mins did I see her walk towards me. Surprisingly, she had figured that I was the journalist who had called her multiple times.
“Thank god you moved away, else this interview wouldn’t have happened,” she said with a smile. This proved to be the ice-breaker and Kalpana and I kept in touch ever since. Recently, I spoke to her once she returned from the ICU at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and before that in November 2017.
I still remember she frequently telling me that I should drop by one of these days to meet her and realise the immense longing she had to bounce back and make a film. Also, nobody was ready to help her finance her projects since a very long time, much before her kidneys got adversely affected.
It had become immensely difficult, almost impossible, for her to even meet actors for discussing the idea of casting them. Such is life, dearies! Rest in peace, my friend.
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