Miss Goody Two-Shoes

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By BHARATHI S. PRADHAN
  • Published 16.09.07
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After disrupting Raj Kapoor’s family life (which had just about returned to normal post the Nargis upheaval), then following it up by completely breaking up the peaceful Dr Bali home, Vyjayanthimala now has the gall to come out with an autobiography where she paints herself white as the driven snow. Only the halo is missing from her Mother Teresa impersonation. Personalised fiction, anybody?

If the philandering Raj Kapoor’s stoic wife, Krishna, finally moved lock, stock and barrelful of kids to Natraj Hotel to protest against hubby’s physical sangam with Vyjayanthimala, Ruby Bali, the beleaguered spouse of RK’s personal physician, had to live through the humiliation of a divorce and watch her doctor-husband preen for the cameras with a new trophy wife by his side. Unlike the 60-plus former actress who hasn’t stinted on taking potshots at the dead, we won’t pass moral strictures against the fawning role later played by the Vyjayanthi’s doctor-husband since he isn’t around to defend himself. But yes, it was rumoured then that Vyjayanthimala had ‘bought’ herself a husband by paying the hefty alimony that Dr Bali had to give his wife to get a divorce.

Of course, Vyjayanthimala had denied it then and has stuck to her stance ever after. Ruby Bali and her three sons were too private to come out with their version of events and the famous danseuse-actress got away with tweaking the truth. But this time Vyjayanthi has made the mistake of taking on Raj Kapoor himself. Unlike the quiet and unknown Bali family, RK has left behind a brood of celebrities and his sons are not going to sit around taking a retired actress’ tirade against their dead dad.

In her quest to paint herself in virginal white, Vyjayanthi’s new autobiography describes Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar as two huge rival egos while she herself was the victim sandwiched between them. Apart from portraying herself as the innocent professional who had no clue what politics was brewing in the studios (she was unceremoniously replaced by Waheeda Rehman in Dilip Kumar’s Ram Aur Shyam), she claims that there was nothing on between RK and her. Fine, if she is in denial. Vyjayanthi could’ve chosen silence over the truth but she plunges further and remarks that it was only the PR machinery of RK that manufactured and put out stories of a romance between them.

The normally placid Rishi Kapoor who is fiercely protective of his mother, Krishna, would’ve never uttered a word about his dad’s dalliances. But the charge that RK had actively abetted the creation and promotion of an imaginary affair with Vyjayanthimala only because he was so obsessed with publicity, has got the Kapoor bhais vociferously vocal. Rishi Kapoor has gone public with his father’s affair with Vyjayanthimala and has confirmed that his mother had moved with all of them into a hotel.

Actresses down the ages have been known to whitewash the truth to portray themselves as virginal. But in the process you don’t mess with the reputation of the patriarch of a celebrity family, especially when he’s no more. That’s where Vyju’s delusions of purity have made her tread tricky territory.

Frankly, give me the more spirited Nargis Dutt any day. Even though husband Sunil Dutt was alive and by her side, not once did the Dutt couple deny her RK relationship. In fact, Nargis and Sunil Dutt would gamely counter, ‘Which young girl doesn’t have affairs?’ One doesn’t have to give salacious details of a past romance but by not denying it one can keep one’s dignity, which is how the Dutts handled it. Even Sanjay Dutt won’t deny his family’s RK connection. In fact Sanju was ecstatic that he had been signed by the RK banner to work in Prem Granth; this was a few years ago when his father was alive and supportive of the project. (Rishi Kapoor had to later replace Sanjay Dutt in Prem Granth when the latter was incarcerated and couldn’t do the film.) Apart from not denying it, years after she had her own family, Nargis Dutt had even had the sensitivity to go up to Krishna Kapoor at a party and apologise to her for hurting her in the past. Such was the grace of the late actress that to this day, the next generation of Dutts and Kapoors can be buddies without embarrassment.

That way, Hema Malini, who has impressionable young daughters and a hefty he-man for a partner, has also dignified her relationships by being straightforward about them. While the more sexually adventurous Zeenat Aman was busy sketching herself as the victim of gossipmongers, Hema Malini had perkily told Karan Johar on his show that all the stories about her had been true! Recently, she did a repeat on Rajat Sharma’s Aap Ki Adalat by not denying either the Jeetendra or the Sanjeev Kumar chapters of her life.

Ah, what a break from the Vyjayanthimalas of the film world.

Bharathi S. Pradhan is managing editor ofMovie Mag International