Hema Malini on Baghban’s 20th anniversary: “Amitabh Bachchan ji used to be jovial then… though I wasn’t ready to play a mother at the time.”
Actress Hema Malini discusses her cult film Baghban, which celebrates its 20th anniversary today, October 3.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of a film that almost every young Indian has avoided watching with their parents. Baghban, an emotional story about children abandoning their elderly parents, struck a chord with moviegoers in 2003, and its impact can still be felt today.
Hema Malini played the lead opposite Amitabh Bachchan in the film, and she is surprised when we contact her about it. “Aisa lagta hai hum abhi shoot karke aaye hain,” she chuckles. However, she was hesitant to accept the role.
“I wasn’t doing too many films at the time; I had cut back.” Actually, I was just sitting there doing nothing. That’s when Ravi Chopra (director) approached me and explained the situation. I was skeptical because I had to play the mother of four elderly boys. I was feeling very awkward, thinking to myself,’main aisa kaise karun, maine aise mother ka role kabhi kiya hi nahi kisi film mein’ My mother then told me, “If Amitabh Bachchan can do it, you can do it, no problem.” “He is opposite you, so I said yes,” the 74-year-old says.
Malini was assured that she would not be made to look like ‘an old woman with white hair’ and would instead be presented as she was in real life. Malini recalls shooting romantic scenes with Bachchan, particularly the song Main Yahaan Tu Wahaan. “To make this film, it was BR Chopra sahab’s (producer) dream.” Before the shoot, he gave me a narration. He had been watching every scene since the beginning. I believe this was the romance he had at home with his partner. “He wanted to bring all of that out,” she explains.
During the filming, one thing that stood out for her was Bachchan’s upbeat personality. She narrates, “Sabne khushi khushi kaam kiya iss film mein,” having previously worked in films such as Sholay (1975). When Amit ji entered the set, he would bring so much light that all the workers would light up and say, ‘arre Amit ji aa gaye’, unko lagta tha ab koi mazaak karenge. He used to be such a happy, fun-loving person. I don’t believe he is like that any longer. Pata nahi, aaj kal thoda serious ho gaye hain.”
Appreciating the music and lamenting the loss of the man who created it, late music composer Aadesh Srivastava (along with Uttam Singh), Malini adds that she knew the film was a success when her daughter Esha Deol worked with Bachchan’s son Abhishek in Dus. “They would keep telling me picture hit ho gayi hai, mujhe lagta tha mazaak kar rahe hain, but it turned out to be a fact,” she says with a grin.