Bollywood's Favourite painter Prithvi Soni is not only famous in India but abroad as well. He has spent more than 47 years in the film industry. When he looks back at the past, he feels happy about the fact that he has worked with all the big actors and directors. In his interview with Sonika Mishra from Oneindia, Prithvi Soni shared some interesting facts about superstars Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan.
Tell us about your initial days in Bollywood.
I started my career by painting movie banners. I got my first opportunity when after seeing my work Sehgal brothers asked me to sketch for their movie Sangam. And for this they game me one rupee.
I made banners for films like Ram Aur Shyam, Aarzoo, Waqt, Kajal etc. Tilak Raj was my mentor and I used to get inspiration from him. I came to Mumbai in 1969. At that time Rajkumar was a big artist, who used to do art direction for all most of the films. I worked with him in Jyot Jale. He liked my work.
Later Raghunandan made Chambal Ki Rani with Amjad Khan and told me to be the art director for the film. But since I was not the member of the Art Director Association, I thought of moving back to Delhi. But Raghunandan stopped me from doing so and suggested that I should start acting as I have a good voice and personality. After that I did many films and serials. I acted in Kalinda with Dilip Kumar and also did art direction for the same.
Dilip Kumar inaugurated your first exhibition. Tell us about that.
Dilip Kumar was very artistic. He always used to motivate me. He once I asked me why don't you exhibit your paintings? So I decided to keep an exhibition at a hotel. The hotel staff told me that I can hold the exhibition at their hotel only if I will invite a popular chief guest. Than I asked Dilip Kumar to inaugurate my exhibition and he happily agreed. After that day my art started getting recognised even in foreign countries. I mixed modern art and fine art in my paintings and got praised by everyone for my work. And today every gallery knows the name of Prithvi Soni.
It is said that from Amitabh Bachchan to Shahrukh Khan, every hero tries to be like Dilip Kumar. What do you have to say about this?
Every person has an idol. Till the time you don't have a mentor, you cant learn anything. Dilip Kumar has made a name for himself. Rajendra Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Kumar entertained people with their brilliant acting. After Ashok Kumar, raj Kapoor and Dev Anand established themselves in the industry. Today actors are taking inspiration from them. So it is oblivious to see their reflection in young stars.
Who according to you is the most brilliant actor today?
Shahrukh Khan is a brilliant actor. Rest are also good.
You family is also related to the industry. Tell us about them.
My daughter is a professional singer. Both my son and daughter do painting. Even my wife loves to paint.
Rajesh Khanna Used To Wait For Me
Rajesh Khanna was also my very good friend. He was like a family member. He was a real artist and was a very emotional person. He used to love me a lot. Whenever I went to meet him, I always found him waiting for me outside his door. I miss him and feel bad that he left so early.
Santoshi Wants Perfection
When Rajkumar Santoshi made Damini, he said that I want the film's art to be perfect as this would be Meenakshi Sheshadri's career's best film. So he chose me and sat with me for one month as he wanted everything to be perfect. He had that passion in him.
Mala Sinha's Poster
We made Mala Sinha's poster for the film Aankhen. The face in that poster was 17-18 feet long. We made that on a plywood and got lots of praises for it. We made some get ups also like Mogambo for Amrish Puri, Sanjay's get up for Khalnayak and Amitabh's for Toofan.
Today's Films Are Technical
Earlier, films used to celebrate silver and golden jubilee. But now films are not made like that. Today they are more technical than emotional as we be try to be like Hollywood. However, Yash Chopra's and Subhash Ghai's films still stay in theatres for a long time.
Yash Chopra Waited For The Reel
I have done many films with Yash Chopra. Once I had a show in Nehru centre. I invited Yash Chopra for that show. Instead of coming on that day, he came on the next day. At that time, there was no cameraman present at the event. I told him that I am waiting for my camera's reel. So, he also waited for it but luckily I found one cameraman outside the venue and asked him to take our pictures.