Mumbai: Animation director, ad maker and feature filmmaker Bhimsain Khurana, who died aged 82 on Tuesday, was a true artiste, says actress Zarina Wahab who worked with him in the film "Gharaonda".
"Gharaonda", released in 1977, was the first feature film by Khurana, considered a pioneer in the field of animation filmmaking and remembered for his animation film "Ek Anek Ekta".
His "Gharaonda" was about the housing problem in Mumbai and how one couple -- essayed by Zarina and Amol Palekar -- decides to solve the problem by getting the girl to marry into money.
Bold and well ahead of its times, the film was a path-breaker. Recalling the experience of making the film, Zarina said: "Is Bhaimsain really gone? You know, it is so sad and shameful that once our film was complete, I barely met him two times in his entire life. Today I miss him and I wish I had kept in touch. Bhimsain was a true artiste.
"His background was in animation films, so he could divide shots in his head and then put it down on a paper frame by frame. We shot 'Gharaonda' in 22-23 days. We had no idea it would turn out to be such a talked-about film."
The beauty of shooting "Gharaonda" was that it was shot entirely on actual locations.
"My co-star Amol Palekar and I had already done a hit film 'Chitchor' together. That was directed by Basu Chatterjee. 'Gharaonda' was an equally memorable experience. We shot the film in actual locations of Mumbai. We were never mobbed. Neither Amol nor I was that kind of a star.
"A lot of the shooting was done in Bhimsainji's own house in Mahim. Then I remember there was a chawl where my character's home was supposed to be. We shot in a chawl. We were on the streets constantly, somehow trying to complete the film on the meagre budget that we had."
Zarina was paid a pittance for "Gharaonda".
Brushing away the money factor, she said: "A role and a film like 'Gharaonda' comes once in a blue moon. It was priceless. We all took a pay cut to ensure the film was made and released."
While she was already comfortable with Amol, she had never worked with theatre and film legend Shriram Lagoo.
"He played my husband in the film. And it was such an honour to face the camera with a legend like him. Everything in 'Gharaonda' just fell into place, including Gulzar saab's lyrics and the late Jaidevji's compositions."
To sing Jaidev and Gulzar's unforgettable songs in "Gharaonda", Runa Laila was called in from Bangladesh.
Zarina said: "The songs like 'Tumhe ho na ho mujhko toh itna yakeen hai' and 'Do deewane shaher mein' were such a craze. I feel honoured to be associated with such a film and such songs.
"Bhimsainji offered me a role in his second feature film 'Dooriyaan' in 1979 which had Uttam Kumarji and Sharmila Tagoreji in the lead. But I was committed elsewhere and couldn't find the time to do it. But I will always remember 'Gharaonda' with much fondness. Bhimsainji turned it into a magical experience."