Ladies Study Group hosted Shatrughan Sinha on a sultry, sunny afternoon at the beautiful setting of Hyatt Regency. Moderator Malavika Banerjee, described him as “a man wearing many hats… iconic film star, political leader, social crusader, Rajya Sabha member etc”, and President Abhilasha Sethia remarked, “you can love him or hate him but you cannot ignore him…!”
Shatrughan Sinha said that in every profession you go through four phases, Upahas (people will make fun of you), Upeksha (people will ignore you), Tiraskar (people will abuse you), and Daman (people will try to stop you by force or power), and when you cross these four stages, you get Samman!
Asked how Shatrughan Sinha became a name in the era of Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand, his tongue in cheek response was that there are two types of actors, the Perspiring, like Raj Kapoor and Dharmendra – who made you “perspire” at the very thought of seeing yourself on the silver screen and the Aspiring type, who made you think if they could be have made it there so could you.
He faced two problems after FTII graduation: one was with his name – he tried with SP Sinha etc, and finally settled with Shatrughan. He even shared hilarious jokes on how people mispronounced his name. His second challenge was how to make his mark? He chose to become different from the rest — as better than the best was not an option! He finally attained ‘stardom’, “the majority (vote) being given to him by the public”!
Malavika pointed out how rural settings had become so rare in Hindi movies, and he said references to rural stories are still there but they are “sugar-coated”. He felt well made, balanced films with rural themes could also be commercially successful. One such good movie is Bajirao Mastani!
It was wonderful to listen to him narrate in great details the story of how he met his wife.
Bihar election and consequences on his political life brought serious retrospections from Mr Sinha, and he explained why he joined politics at the peak of his film career. He ended saying “some” people in his party BJP do not want him to succeed or work. He mentioned we are going through a “Leadership Crisis”, and that we need to find good leaders soon. He was clear that he does not want the State CM post but wanted to work at the Centre to be able to do good work all over the country!
He answered questions from the floor on his fitness funda, whether his daughter Sonakshi would ever shoot ‘item numbers’, his biography, anti-tobacco campaign, being a cabinet minister, all with great humour and honesty. On asked about his greatest regret in life, he mentioned that he terribly regretted standing against Rajesh Khanna in the Mumbai by-elections. Rajesh Khanna stopped all communications with him after that and Mr Sinha never got the chance to apologise and mend relations.
He ended by saying “good, bad and ugly; I am the ‘Khamosh’- and this originality is important!”
The afternoon rolled into evening with lots of discussion, photography, book signing and generally a great feeling of a successfully conducted programme.