Ranjeet has starred in over 500 films, often playing characters with grey shades. In an interview with indianexpress.com, the actor opened up about his showbiz journey.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
You have been in the industry for over five decades. How has the industry evolved over the years?
Back then, it was a different atmosphere. What I have heard is that during the era of Raj Kapoor, films were shot during the nights because it used to be too hot during the day.
Then, there was an improvement in technology. The working condition also got better because ACs were introduced. We used to love shooting at Nataraj Studios because of these facilities. Other studios such as RK Studios, Raj Kamal and Mehboob Studios did not have such luxuries, but of course, they made great films. Then, vanity vans came into the picture. Back then, all actors had the same van, but now, I see every actor has an individual van.
We used to sit under an umbrella or sit under the shade. It used to be like a family. That era was so different. ‘Ab drama jyada hai, filmmaking kamm hai’. I remember producers used to lose their cool because big actors would give 30 or more retakes (laughs).
What have you learnt over the years?
I never considered myself as an actor. I am a normal human being who was friendly to everyone. What I have seen is that now people hardly do any work, but they have a lot of attitude. Ever since the corporates have entered, the films lack emotions. They only concentrate on making money.
I have enjoyed my work. After every shoot, actors would chill at my house. Be it Jeetendra, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna or others, they would hang out at my house, drink, eat, chat, and sometimes even play badminton. In those days, you would find Reena Roy cooking paranthas, Moushumi Chatterjee making fish and so on. Even on the sets, actors would discuss their scenes together. Back then, writers were equally important, which I miss in today’s time, to be honest.
You rose to fame as a villain. How did the journey start?
I never planned. I kept doing whatever came my way.
Did your on-screen avatars have an effect on your personal life?
When I was not married, the image never bothered me. However, back then, people would believe that you are what you play. I remember I used to go to Delhi to visit my daughter on weekends. We would go to restaurants. So, everyone (in the restaurant) would give me weird looks because I was old and I was with a woman half my age or of my daughter’s age. I had to place my order as loud as I could to make it clear that I am with my daughter. I didn’t want to give people stupid ideas.
When I did my first grey character in Sharmeelee, I was thrown out of my house. I come from a very orthodox family. They (parents) thought I got into some stupid profession where I hurt girls and abuse them (chuckles). While I played this crude man on screen, after the shot, we all used to make fun of it.
Did nepotism exist back then too?
Nepotism was always there, so was the rivalry. I remember Parveen Babi was supposed to star in Silsila, but the producer thought Jaya Bachchan would look better. I remember Danny was offered Sholay, but because he was busy, I was offered the role, but I refused because he was my good friend. Eventually, the role went to someone else. So, such things happen. I was in no group, but I had a good bond. I earned love and affection from everyone.
Is your son interested in becoming an actor?
Beta aayega. He is preparing himself. I don’t interfere with their choices. They are more intelligent than me.
Do you have a to-do list even now?
Darling, an actor is never satisfied. I want to keep being a part of films because there is nothing else that I know. I want to keep celebrating cinema. You have a to-do list only when you are not satisfied, but my journey has been rewarding. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to keep yourself on your toes. Keep working. I have shot for back to back films, back to back shifts. I am happy where I am.
Lastly, you share some great memories with Sultan Productions, which just completed 50 years. Tell us something about your collaboration with filmmaker Sultan Ahmed as well as the production house.
I met him through Sunil Dutt and became friends with him before I worked with him. He was a very interesting man. Later on, I worked with him on a couple of projects. One thing that I was very fond of was the fact that I never had to ask my remuneration. Today, you have to ask or remind, which is quite embarrassing. He was very accommodating and clear. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him.
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