Bye bye, Bina

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  • Published 13.12.09

What an eventful location shoot it has turned out to be for Karan Johar in Australia! Early this year, he had practically finalised spots in and around Sydney for the filming of Love You Ma, the Hindi version of Stepmom, when the racial killings in the country forced him to head back to his favourite shooting location, New York. But when the good old Punjabi-Sindhi in him did a precise calculation, he knew that New York would inflate his budget and lessen his table profits. He is so used to making money on his projects before release (yes, even on a total flop like Kurbaan) that it was unthinkable for Karan to put in more than he could fetch on the table. By then, we as a country had got over the shock of being targeted in Australia and so it was back to the more affordable Sydney for Love You Ma with Kajol and Kareena Kapoor.

Coincidentally Love You Ma, which is being directed by Siddharth Malhotra (son of Cinevista head honcho Prem Kishen who is called Junior by all and sundry), has a scene with racial discrimination in it where Kajol spouts lines like, ‘We have to teach these gorasa lesson!’ And they’re shooting that scene smack in Australia!

Siddharth and his team had barely settled down for their shoot when Karan and his mom Hiroo Johar (she is officially the co-producer of all Dharma Productions) wanted the director’s parents, Prem Kishen and his wife Sunita, to fly down and join them in Australia. As mentioned before in this column, Karan’s mom Hiroo and Siddharth’s ma Sunita are close buddies, they’re part of a close card-playing group of ladies who must meet, play several hands, have lunch and exchange notes every week. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hiroo and Sunita were all set to hit the casinos or set up card tables in their hotel rooms in Australia!

But fate willed otherwise. Junior and Sunita had just about given a hug each to Siddharth and Karan when they got a call last Sunday that Bina Rai (the late actor Premnath’s wife) had passed away suddenly. Prem Kishen is Bina Rai’s eldest son and he was so close to his mother that he had stayed back in Mumbai to oversee her cataract operation, ensured that she was safe and sound at home (her second son Monty lived with her in her sprawling south Mumbai apartment) and only then did he make the trip to Australia.

Prem Kishen and Bina Rai had a Sunday ritual for years. Every Sunday, the former actress would motor down to her elder son’s house in Bandra and spend the entire day with her grandson Siddharth and her great grandchildren. The last time she went out with Junior and family was on November 8 when the whole clan was invited by yours truly to a private screening of Ranbir Kapoor’s Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani. It was my son’s birthday that day and since it was a Sunday, Junior and Sunita had brought Bina Rai along to the screening. How unfortunate that no photograph was taken that day of Bina Rai’s last outing.

When Bina Rai died last Sunday and the call was made to Prem Kishen to take the next flight back to Mumbai, it was almost like she was keeping her Sunday ritual with her son.

There was one very happy moment for the retired actress who gave the mahurat clap for her grandson’s film Love You Ma two months ago in Filmistan Studio, Goregaon, Mumbai. It was both an emotional moment and nostalgia time as Bina Rai recalled that it was at the very same studio that she had shot for the classic Anarkali (she played the title role and was Anarkali much before Madhubala in Mughal-e-Azam) more than 60 years ago!

For Siddharth Malhotra, the show had to go on in Australia and he couldn’t make it to his grandmom’s funeral. But he’d got her blessings all right when Bina Rai gave the mahurat clap for his first film.

Her funeral and chautha in Mumbai found the Raj Kapoor family in full attendance. Bina Rai was Krishna Raj Kapoor’s bhabhi — Premnath was Krishna’s brother. Prem Chopra’s wife Uma is also part of this family. And so they were all there — Krishna, Prem, Uma, Randhir, Rishi, Rajeev, and Neetu Kapoor too. To bid goodbye to an actress who was once renowned as the beautiful Anarkali but stayed home after marriage to a flamboyant and unpredictable actor called Premnath.

Bina Rai got the farewell she richly deserved but never demanded all her life.


Bharathi S. Pradhan is managing editor, Movie Mag International