MOUSHUMI CHATTERJEEANUJ KUMAR

How it happened

I made my debut with Bengali film “Balika Badhu” (1967). I was in fifth standard and must have been around 12-13. One day while coming back from school, director Tarun Majumdar noticed me. He came home and put the proposal before my father. I come from a conservative family. My grandfather was a judge and my father was in the army. They were against the very idea of working in films. Tarun da sent his wife Sandhya Roy (who was also a noted Bengali actress) to convince my parents. Finally they relented that I will do just one film. I was very naughty and Tarun da twice contemplated changing his decision! But somehow the film got made and turned out to be a diamond jubilee.

How it felt

I was too young to notice what was happening around me. Hemant Kumar composed the music of the film. He liked me and decided that I would become his daughter-in-law. He also recommended me for “Parineeta”. Meantime my education continued largely from home. When I was in high school, my uncle who was suffering from blood cancer became seriously ill. As I was the last kid in the family, he wanted to see me married. So I got married to Jayant Mukherjee and moved to Mumbai. There Shakti Samanta who was a good friend of my father-in-law offered to launch me in Hindi films with “Anuraag” (1972). Again my mother was against it but my in-laws and my husband pushed me to give it a try. When Shakti da told me it is the role of a blind girl, I said I can't do it. I don't know how a blind person behaves. He said it is not an issue as he would take me to a school for the blind to understand the mannerisms. We went to the school only one day. Next day he said I have to do the mahurut shot because then we won't have an auspicious day for a long time. I again said how could I do a shot without any rehearsal. He convinced me by saying mahurut shot need not be included in the final cut. You just do it and we can shoot the film later. But when I gave that first shot, he was so convinced that he wanted me to do the entire film with similar expressions of the blind girl. There must be something in me but at that time I had no clue what was happening. “Anuraag” also turned out to be a hit. I got a Filmfare nomination for the best actress and the film went on to win the best film award. Sachin Dev Burman's music was a rage but I didn't know what the songs like “Neend Churay Chain Churay” were trying to convey. I was happy with my husband and the kid. Now when I see my films, I wonder how I did it.

How life changed

I was flooded with offers with all kind of roles. I was the first and probably the only actress who started her career after marriage. But my conservative upbringing didn't leave me. Money was not an issue for me because I had a big car when I was just 19. I started accepting mature roles quite early because I didn't want to turn up in revealing outfits. People would say I cry quite naturally on screen. Some would say my smile was bewitching. I still get phone calls for “Angoor”. To begin with I worked with actors quite older to me. Biswajeet, Raj Kumar… It was only when I did films with Rishi Kapoor that I realised the joys of working with people of your age-group.

I feel God has not only been kind but partial to me.