Reema Lagoo has been the quintessential onscreen mother in Bollywood. Having played mom to Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and many more top actors, she was the go-to actor to play the role in 90s and 2000s. Rajshree and Sooraj Barjatya especially chose her as the mother and the mother-in-law in their films. And in these films, Mohnish Bahl would be on the other end of the spectrum, playing her son or son-on-law. The blockbusters Hum Saath Saath Hai and Hum Aapke Hai Koun being the two examples. They worked together in Maine Pyaar Kiya and Vaastav as well.
When indianexpress.com spoke to Mohnish, he sounded shocked by the news. “It’s very shocking to hear about her death, really, I believe she was working till yesterday,” he said. Bahl also shared a few memories he of the late actor, “I have done a lot of films with her, and so we have spent a lot of time together on the sets, she has played my mother in most of the films. Despite being a senior actor, she was very approachable. You could drop in and say hello, sit down and chat with her. She was a very warm and welcoming person. She was one with whom you never felt a social barrier. In fact, when you walked into the studio it was very normal for us to inquire if she was in and pop in and say ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ Certainly, she was a very good looking person, and a very gracious human being.”
Ask him about memories from the film sets and he says, “Whenever actors work together, there is a huge body of work that every actor has. And when this actor comes on set, they come prepared, so frankly we never discussed work with each other, since these are the technicalities of the craft and the director puts them forward for you.”
Mohnish, who lost him mom and veteran actor Nutan early in his life, also said, “You form opinions and special bonds with certain people, she was one of those. I feel like I have lost a special friend. I have not met her recently because I haven’t been working so much recently. But one comes to a realization that one will not meet someone like her again.”
The thought of a Rajshree Film without Reema Lagoo makes him sad. “If Sooraj Barjatya makes a film, and if he casts all of us again, we know that she will not be there, and that’s a saddening thought. Look at the work she has done, she played Sanju’s (Sanjay Dutt) and my mother and Shivaii Satham was our father. And that’s just another aspect to an actor who has survived in the industry for so long, she was perfect at her craft. She has left a void personally, and professionally,” the actor said.
When we asked Bahl if he had any specific memory with his on-screen maa, Reema Lagoo, he said, “I’ll share something with you which is not from the sets. She used to live in a building in Versova, and my family had a flat in the adjoining building in the same complex. I have lived all my life in South Mumbai, but I used this Versova flat when I had an early morning shift or overnight shoot. So I used to tell my family to go across the city and stay there for a couple of days, ahead of a heavy schedule coming up. And every time I got up in the morning, I would see my wife waving out at Reemaji across the building from the balcony, and they used to have a conversation in sign language. They’ve known each other independent from my relation with her. My wife has worked with Reemaji in Vansh and Vaastav also. These are the little things that filled up our mornings there with joy. I am quite certain that when we go there, I will miss seeing her standing in her balcony and waving at my wife. But that’s how life is, I have lost a lot of people in my life and one of them is she.”
Reema Lagoo passed away early morning on Thursday due to a heart attack in Mumbai.