‘I was the highest paid actress’

‘I never had any nakhras, never threw tantrums, so I got along with all my heroes.’

IMAGE: Jeetendra and Mumtaz in Roop Tera Mastana.

Jeetendra and Mumtaz were both excellent dancers, so it was inevitable that they would be cast together.

Mumtaz, who had a small role in V Shantaram’s Sehra┬áin 1963 and a leading role in his Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti four years later, went on to match steps with Jeetendra in a number of films, including Jigri Dost, Humjoli, Himmat, Ek Nari Ek Brahmachari, Roop Tera Mastana, Kathputli and Naagin.

In 1974, she married businessman Mayur Madhvani and soon after, quit films to focus on her family. But the memories of the duo dancing to the tunes of Dil Ki Baatein Dil Hi Jaane, Raat Suhani Jaag Rahi Hai, Phool Hai Baharon Ka and Dil Mein Kya Hai remain even after half a century.

On April 7, Jeetendra turns 82.

Mumtaz flashbacks to their films together, and tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, “We did lots of songs together. Most of them were romantic songs with us either playing girlfriend-boyfriend or husband-wife. And as is usual in most Indian films, they were usually shot in a garden, in the rain or came in a dream sequence.”

‘Jeetuji was very jolly, always laughing and joking’

Jeetuji and I did around six-seven films together but it’s been nearly 50 years since I left the industry, so the memories are somewhat blurred.

What I do remember is that he was a good-natured, happy-go-lucky, down-to-earth person, and a strong one.

He was required to lift me in quite a few of the songs and I used to be quite heavy then.

But like a breeze, he would just sweep me off the ground.

I was always very professional, never had any nakhras (airs), never threw tantrums, so I got along with all my heroes.

Kakaji (Rajesh Khanna) and Jeetuji were the two I did the maximum films with and while the former was somewhat reserved, Jeetuji was very jolly, always laughing and joking, and was like a friend.

‘I’ve been very lucky with my songs’

IMAGE: Jeetendra and Mumtaz in Himmat.

When we were filming V Shantaramji‘s 1967 drama Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti, one of my first films as a leading lady, it was all work.

Jeetuji had worked with Shantaramji earlier, having done small roles in Navrang and Sehra before being launched as a hero opposite his daughter Rajshree in Geet Gaya Patharon Mein.

Rajshree had been signed for Boond Jo Ban Gaye Moti too, but she got married, quit films and settled down in the US with her husband (Greg Chapman).

Shantaramji knew my mother, had seen me since I was a child, and so decided to sign me for the role of the village belle in love with Jeetuji‘s school teacher who helps him prove his innocence after he is implicated in a murder by his brother.

Shantaramji was a strict disciplinarian…Time pe aao, kaam karo aur jao(come to the studio on time, do your work and go home).

There was no place for hansi mazak (laughs) on his sets.

But the film has some lovely songs, including Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya.

I’ve been very lucky with my songs, most of them were big hits.

Even the ones I didn’t like much went on to become popular with the audience.

And we are what we are because of our fans, they are the ones who make and break us.

So, if they say yes, I have to agree too.

‘Since Jeetuji and I were good dancers, we did lots of songs together’

IMAGE: Jeetendra and Mumtaz in Jigri Dost.

Since both Jeetuji and I were good dancers, we did lots of songs together.

Most of them were romantic songs with us either playing girlfriend-boyfriend or husband-wife.

And as is usual in most Indian films, they were usually shot in a garden, in the rain or a dream sequence.

Raat Suhani Jaag Rahi Hai in Jigri Dost was a dream sequence, beautifully choreographed by Master Hiralal.

He was very talented and strict too, like his brother Master Sohanlal who had worked with me in Bandhe Haath, and gave me some Bharata Natyam moves in the songs.

Since I was not trained in the classical dance form, they were a challenge, but looked beautiful on screen.

It is one of my favourite songs and Jeetuji and I collaborated beautifully.

Whether you are in the office or on a film set, sab ko mil ke kaam karni chahiye (one should work in sync).

After I got married and quit the industry, milne ki ittefaq nahin hui (there weren’t too many occasions for us to meet and interact).

All these years, I have juggled between my homes in Uganda, Kenya, London and Mumbai.

I don’t come to India too often, and when I do, I don’t socialise much.

I am a little reserved and have only attended the occasional award function.

The last time I met Jeetuji was at my daughter Natasha’s wedding with Fardeen (Khan); he came with his son (Tusshar).

I want to wish him all the happiness in the world (for his birthday).

May God give him a long life and a good one.

‘I was the highest paid actress’

There have been offers over the years, but I have only done one film since I got married.

Since I have maintained my figure, my fans thought I looked too young to play the mother of a grown-up son.

Aandhiyan, which released in 1990, wasn’t accepted, and I did not accept any role after that.

I’m open to good offers, but I must get my due remuneration.

It’s not that I’m short of money, with God’s blessings I have everything.

But I’m not going to work for free.

When I was working, I was the highest paid actress and I have to maintain that standard.