One colourful event stands out from my campus capers. Next to our college was a hotel where film stars stayed when they came to Mysore for shooting. The Housekeeper knew us and would send word when a Star came. Maya, her friend Rekha and I were sitting in the driveway of the college when the bell boy came and told us that Shammi Kapoor was in the hotel. I was not overjoyed but Maya and Rekha insisted we go and see him. We went. He was lying in bed with a red nose and swollen face as he was running fever. Maya and Rekha spoke to him and I showed no interest. Peeved, he asked me why I was sulking and I told him he was no great hero of mine because he jumped around too much like an ape! He wagged his chubby fingers at me and said “ I am not well enough to spar with you today, but come back tomorrow and we’ll talk”. The next day, I went and he was sitting out on the balcony. He asked for a chair for me .It was ten in the morning and instead of going to class, I was sitting and chatting with Shammi Kapoor! Groups of girls came from the college for his autograph and envied my sitting with him. A film, journal, Cine Advance, carried a picture of us on the front page, !!
I sat with him till five in the evening. We had lunch and read passages from Shakespeare from my text book. He switched on music and taught me to Tango-all this on the balcony overlooking the road! He asked Security to stop the girls from coming in. It was not Shammi Kapoor the actor who fascinated me but, the person. His terrific sense of humour (yes, I love anyone who can make me laugh!) appealed to me. He confessed that he was sick of sycophancy from Fans and my candour was refreshing. He said he’d always remember this ‘interlude’ and made me write out a small sonnet on a piece of paper. He put it into his breast pocket with “it will be here near my heart”. I am sure the dhobi threw it out the next day! In his next movie, Kashmir Ki Kali, three friends of the heroine were called Chaya, Maya and Rekha, just as he had promised he would do! He wrote in my autograph, ‘hope you remain like this-lovable and detestable’.
There were various repercussions to this episode. The next day, my Principal called me and demanded an explanation because the girls, who were not allowed to meet the actor, complained that I was closeted with him. My Principal believed me when I narrated what happened since I had a reputation for being a straightforward girl. Some girls wrote anonymous letters to my father who simply tore them up. This was the other face of women that shocked me. They had contorted the truth just to get me into trouble because they were jealous. It was an eye opener and the beginning of many such revelations later. I’ve always believed in going after what I want. If someone else gets it, I wish the person well and move on to setting my sights on some other goal. The world is large enough for all of us and opportunities are aplenty. It is petty to get someone into trouble just because you can’t make it or you are not as good. I was disgusted with the meanness of my so called friends who even wrote scandalous slogans about me and Shammi Kapoor on the walls. It was like yellow journalism. Anyway, I learnt to live with such display of envy of which I was to have greater doses in years to come.