Friday, September 22, 2006
Today's generation might identify her as Fardeen Khan's mother-in-law but some three decades back she ruled the silver screen as one of the most prolific actresses of Indian cinema. We are talking about the gorgeous Mumtaz who made many a hearts skip their beats when she appeared on the silver screen. Mumtaz started early as a child artist at the tender age of 12 and went on to make a great pair with actors like Rajesh Khanna, Dev Anand and even Mehmood. The graceful lady who currently resides in London visits India once in a while.
Tell us about your entry in the industry
My sister was working in Pyaar Ka Sagar when Devendra Goel spotted me. I began my career at the age of 12.
You started at a young age and have also played some child artist roles. Tell us about your early days.
As I said I began at 12. There were films like Mujhe Jeene Do and Gehra Daag. I got used to working at such an early age and it didn't matter. People start working at the age of 5 nowadays.
You made a great pair with Mehmood and matched his comic timing in the early days in films like Pyaar Kiye Jaa and more. Tell us something about working with him.
He was very sweet and co-operative. He thought that I had a lot of potential. Not many people know that I got the role in Ram Aur Shyam because he recommended me to Dilip Kumar. I am very grateful to him. I got a lot of films like V Shantaram's Boondh Jo Ban Gayi Moti, Bandhan and Do Raaste because of him.
Your first film with the lead role - Khilona won you a Filmfare Award. Was it a good boost to your talent?
I was shooting for Hare Rama Hare Krishna when I came to know about it. Lots of people thought that I couldn't pull off emotional roles. I was really happy that the audience accepted me in the film. Initially Waheeda Rehman was considered for the role. The writer insisted on her but my producer L.V Prasad wanted a fresher face so he got me this role.
You made a great pair with Rajesh Khanna in the 70s. Saccha Jhoota, Apna Desh, Dushman, Aap Ki Kasam, Roti, Prem Kahani all were big hits. Tell us about your chemistry with him.
Well, sometimes it just happens. I guess we were lucky for each other. I believe that we are the only pair in the industry who have not given a flop despite being in so many films together. We understood each other and I think that was a plus point. The only other pair with a good success ratio is Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol who have given very good films together.
Then there was Feroz Khan with whom you were quite a hit. And now he is your daughter's father-in-law. Tell us about your association with him.
We were always family friends from the beginning. I knew his mother who was half Irani. We also had an Irani background so we were quite close. We did a couple of films together. Even Fardeen and Natasha knew each other from childhood.
Which actors from your era did you enjoy working with?
I was a tomboy in my younger days so I gelled well with all my heroes. I had absolutely no problem with any of them. Even my younger daughter Tanya is just like me.
Which directors from your time do you think made great films?
There are quite a few who even came before my time that I always wanted to work with. There was Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan, Bimal Roy, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, V Shantaram and Yash Chopra. Yash Chopra is still a big director today. I also believe that L V Prasad was very talented. He taught me a lot during Khilona.
Post marriage we saw very little of you in films. Was it a conscious decision to stay away from films?
Well, my husband was not from India. He still doesn't stay in India even today. I finished all my pending films and gave preference to my married life. I am blessed with two beautiful daughters. I concentrated on my marriage but all marriages have their ups and downs.
After more than a decade you made a comeback with David Dhawan's Aandhiyan in 1989. How was it to play an elder character in that film?
It was not an elder 'elder' character. I played the mother of an 18 year old boy. I really enjoyed on the sets with producer Pahlaj Nihalani and director David Dhawan. Somehow the film didn't do too well. David offered me another film after that but I didn't want to work in any more films then.
Any plays to make a comeback in films now?
It all depends on the role. Hema Malini got a very good role in Baghban. I am free now since Natasha is married. My younger daughter Tanya travels with her father regarding business so I have nothing much to do. But if I ever accept a role, it has to be very strong.
Don't you miss all the adulation you used to get as a star, now?
I have no complains. Even now the affection is there. People love me. They don't have to but they do. When I walk on the streets people recognize me. I always considered myself lucky. I can't expect more after 33 years.
Weren't your daughters Natasha or Tanya ever inclined towards movies?
No, maybe that is the way they were brought up. They always got offers but they refused. My husband did not want them to enter the film industry.
Finally from your vast repertoire of films, if we ask you to select 5 of your favorite films which would they be?
You know, some of my favourite films include the ones where I had very small roles. I really like Do Raaste even though my role was quite short. Other movies include Khilona, Tere Mere Sapne, Roop Tera Mastana, Aap Ki Kasam and Aaina.
Who do you consider your most favourite co-star?
I really can't choose. They were all so nice to me. Feroz Khan, Devsaab, Dharmendra, etc were very good co-stars. I can't pinpoint to one person. Even today's stars are so nice to me. Shah Rukh Khan is so nice and respected me so much.
Who is the one director who you would like to work with today?
I like films which are different. I really liked Krrish, KANK and Lage Raho Munnabhai. So people who make such kind of movies are really good. I don't like monotonous films. The subject should be really nice.