Ali Peter John's "Personal Encounter" With Raj Kapoor
By Ali Peter John, MovieTalkies.com, 07 April 2008
I had and will always have the highest regards for Raj Kapoor, the film maker, but some how to my misfortune, bad luck or call it what you may my personal encounters with him were of a very strange kind. I had seen him being treated like a spoilt brat by my 'guru', Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. He was like any other human being in that simple apartment which was Abbas Sahab's office and whenever he was face to face with Abbas, the man who was responsible for making him popular as the tramp, the symbol of the disillusioned man struggling his way even after independence and all the lofty promises made by all the mahaan leaders.
But it was only after I came out of the world of Abbas Sahab that I realized what the magic of Raj Kapoor, the showman was all about. I heard the story about his grand party and how some of the most popular celebrities were willing to loose anything to be a part of them. I had also heard of the grand Holi celebration at his famous R. K. Studios. I tried to imagine what they would be like and was inquisitive more than interested. I wanted to be a part of them atleast once. And my opportunities came and what a way they came!
I was very excited when I was sent to cover the Holi celebrations which was a common job for all trainee reporters. I hated the festival but I decided to go because first of all it was my job that mattered and secondly because I always wanted to have a feel of what the most talked about Holi celebration in Bombay was all about. I reached the gates of R. K. Studios and before I could look up I was welcomed with three buckets full of coloured water. I did not expect this, I was almost blinded when Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and two other man carried me and flung me into a pool of coloured water. I stumbled and turned thrice in the pool, gasped for breath and called out for help but no one was listening. I was finally pulled out by Rishi Kapoor who pushed two bottles of beer in to my hands which I finished in twenty minutes flat and then nothing mattered. I was a brave man willing to face any problem. Raj Kapoor was sitting with his wife, Krishna, completely drunk before noon, all covered with colour of every kind, embracing people whoever they were, dancing with the well-known Kathak dancer, Sitara Devi and generally having a good time with all the women around. I went up to him to seek his blessings. He embraced me and ruffled my hair without knowing and caring to know who I was then called for man and asked them to throw me into the pool again. I wanted to cry but the beer inside me gave me all the courage this time. I was not scared, in fact I was thrilled to know that I was celebrating Holi at R. K. Studios with Raj Kapoor and the entire industry. It was only the next morning when I felt my entire body ache and my body shivering with fever that I decided not to have anything to do with the Holi at RK. I later celebrated Holi with Subhash Ghai and Amitabh Bachchan but I never went back R.K. I had developed some kind of a Holi phobia when it came to celebrating it at a place where I felt I could have almost died so many years ago. Then Raj Kapoor died in 1987 and there has been no Holi celebrations at R. K. after his death. That pool still stands there as a witness to some great moments of joy and a day I can never forget in my life.
Some time later Bombay was playing host to the International Film Festival of India. Filmmakers, artists and technicians from all over the world had descended in Bombay. I was not interested in the festival and I was not invited to Raj Kapoor party, after all, who was I to be invited? But I wanted to be at the party some how. I thought of various ways of getting or gate crashing into the party even though I knew it was a very big risk. As luck would have it, I was invited to the shooting of a film called 'Phaansi' at R. K. Studios. I was told that the studio would close down for all work at two pm because of the party to be held that evening. I decide