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After 5 years in coma,Pamela Rooks dies

Beautiful,talented,vivacious -- just some of the words with which family,friends and fans describe National Award-winning filmmaker Pamela Rooks.

Written by Dipanita Nath | New Delhi |
October 3, 2010 4:42:01 am

Beautiful,talented,vivacious — just some of the words with which family,friends and fans describe National Award-winning filmmaker Pamela Rooks,who passed away in the early hours of Friday after five years in coma following a car accident.

A prolific documentary maker and writer,she is best remembered for her film Train to Pakistan (1998),based on Khuswant Singh’s novel,which was screened at several international film festivals and won an award at the National Film Festival. Her other award-winning films were Miss Beatty’s Children (1992) and Dance Like a Man (2003).

Rooks,52,suffered a cardiac arrest around 4 am on Friday and died at her Defence Colony house. This is where she had lain in coma for the past four years,ever since she was brought back from hospital.

In November 2005,the filmmaker was returning home from the IGI airport after a visit to Amsterdam,where Train to Pakistan had been screened. “At Vasant Kunj,a Maruti Alto collided with her Toyota Landcruiser,leaving her with serious brain injury,” says her mother Gudi Juneja,82. Rooks was cremated at Lodhi Road crematorium at 11.30 am on Saturday.

Arif Zakaria,the lead actor in the critically acclaimed Dance Like A Man,remembers that he was hesitant about his role as a Bharatanatyam dancer “but Pam had the quality of handling people well,apart from etching out her characters and script very minutely”.

He joins the chorus of friends calling Rooks a “vibrant person with a zest for life”. “She was widely read and well-travelled,and I would joke that she was wasted on films. I’d tell her to look for another avenue for her talents,” says Zakaria. Dance like a Man won a National Award for the Best Film in English for 2003.

Rooks was born in Kolkata to army life thanks to father,Col A N Juneja. “But it was in boarding schools in Nainital and Shimla that she became truly independent and concerned about social issues as well as dramatics,” says her mother.

Later,while studying mass communication in Delhi,she became a part of the Delhi theatre circuit. It was as a journalist that she went to interview filmmaker Conrad Rooks of Siddhartha fame,whom she would subsequently marry. “They fell deeply in love though we were opposed to their marriage because she was very young. But Conrad was a very intelligent filmmaker who taught her many things,” says Juneja. The two have a son Ryan,29.

Interior designer Bronwyn Latif says,”Physically,Pam was tiny but she was bubbling over with life.”

Bronwyn says when her husband Salim introduced Rooks,now divorced,to Richard Holkar of Maheshwar,the two of them hit it off immediately. They had also started a resort in the Ahilya Fort in Maheshwar,counted among the 100 best hotels in the world. Holkar was accompanying Rooks during the accident.

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