Mumbai: One of Joy Mukherjee`s leading ladies, Asha Parekh, remembers him as a fun loving person and says shooting with him was like a picnic. Saira Banu described him as a "buddy" who didn`t take care of his health.
Asha and Joy did four films together - `Hum Hindustani`, `Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon`, `Ziddi` and `Love In Tokyo`.
"All of them were super hits. I am happy to say it was a `joy` working in these films. He was a hassle-free, fun-loving co-star, kind and considerate. But he also had a habit of coming late on the sets, which I soon got used to," said Asha.
"When we did `Hum Hindustani` together in 1960, he was a newcomer and I already had done films. We didn`t have any scenes together in `Hum Hindustani`, so we barely met. When we did `Phir Wohi Di Laya Hoon`, it was a different story. We had a ball shooting the film in the lovely outdoors. I suppose it was the picnic mood of the film and all those 10-11 terrific O.P. Nayyar songs.
"I remember when we were shooting for my solo song `Aankhon se jo utri hai dil mein`, we were running out of raw stock (film). Joy went out of the way to complete the song before the day was over," she added.
Asha says that their "Love In Tokyo" was the first film to be shot in Japan.
"Again, shooting was like a picnic. Joy and I did a lot of sightseeing. He threw a party on the last of shoot in Japan," she said.
Remembering a funny incident from the their last film "Ziddi", she said: "Joy was supposed to pick me up forcibly, and throw me on the bed. He, poor thing, didn`t realise there was no mattress on the bed. I landed on the bed with a thud. My back was gone I couldn`t get up for days. Yeh sab chalta hai. It`s all part of entertainment business."
"The sad thing is, Joy went too early. I believe he wasn`t keeping good health. He should have looked after himself. I met him for the last time in October 2011 in Kashmir. We were all there for a function. He wouldn`t even come out of the car. He screamed after me to come home. I wish I had taken up the invitation."
Sair Banu, who worked with him in "Yeh Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai", "Saaz Aur Awaaz" and "Ehsan", says they were like good friends, but rues he didn`t take good care of himself.
"Joy gone! It`s so hard to believe.. Just a week back I had sent him and his wife Neelam pictures that I had taken when they had come for the get-together at our home. He had become so overweight, he had to be carried inside. Kya ho gaya Joy ko?
"His whole family used to be so much into fitness. Joy`s father, the great filmmaker Sashadhar Mukherjee, had an akhaada (wrestling ring) in his home. I think after Sashadhar saab`s death, Joy just gave up. He let himself go to such an extent that his wife Neelam had no control over his diet. She tells me, she`d give him healthy food at home. He would then leave home with his driver to go and have all the unhealthy junk food like samosas and what have you.
"Such is life, I guess. When you are hell-bent on self-destruction nothing can stop you. I can still remember his ever-smiling face. It`s hard to believe he`s gone. Joy and I were buddies. We did so many films together that we would look at each other`s faces on the first day of shooting and groan, `Not you again!`" she said.
Saira and Joy`s successful film was "Shagird".
"Director Subodh Mukherjee made Joy go on a special fitness regime for this role, just as he made Shammi Kapoor do when we did `Junglee`. So Joy was fitter than ever in `Shagird`.
"By then I had gotten married to Yusuf saab (Dilip Kumar). So on the first day of shooting, Joy said he hoped I will learn some acting now that I was married to the god of acting. I was livid. `Joy ke bachche!`, I screamed at him. That was the kind of relationship I had with him.
"We could scream at one another and fight. But at the end of the day we were friends. I`ve seen girls swooning over Joy. I could never understand why. I never looked at him that way. Yusuf saab and I visited him in hospital just a few days ago. We were told he was on the road to recovery. And now, this," she said.