It was the early 80s. I was just experiencing the first pangs of romance – a ‘hero’ was vaguely taking shape in my head – sometimes it would be Jeetendra, sometimes it would be Dilip Kumar or even Manoj Kumar! Well, after all I was exposed to films that my mother watched! Thanks to DD we all watched old Marathi films too and thanks to the advent of video-cassettes, we all watched a lot of English films with any real choices! I don’t remember exactly when I started idolizing ‘Raja Paranjape’ but his funny yet heartwarming roles in films like had made a tiny dent in my world of romance.
So you can imagine my complete shock and horrified embarrassment when I almost bumped into him in my own house! I remember my father was the municipal commissioner of Pune then, as I was.. well an idiotic teenager. He came out of my father’s home office, whistling, humming and alternate singing some song, his step light and happy – when he brushed past. I stood rooted to the spot, barely able to balance. Once I had collected myself, I rushed into my father’s office and after having confirmed that it was indeed my ‘hero’ demanded to know why I hadn’t been introduced! I went on and on about how I had watched his movie over and over again and how I was almost in love with him! My father was vaguely irritated and brushed me away with “arre ho! Next time ala ki bolawato tula,”
The next time didn’t come for weeks or was it months? My romance focus had now shifted to a spiked haired boy in my school – and I was daydreaming about him when my father’s voice shook me out of it. I rushed downstairs again to almost bump into my father’s guest – none other than Raja Paranjape himself!
My father’s words while greatly embarrassing me – proved to be equally amusing to Raja Gosavi himself!
I remember him asking me whether I wanted an autograph! I rushed upstairs again and he signed I think as least four times in it! All with a personal message! Don’t have that in hard copy today, but its forever etched in my romance hard drive!