Here, daughter Shilpi reveals the real man behind the villains Tarun Bose played so convincingly!
The soft-hearted villain: that is what I call dad, soft-hearted being the literal translation of the Hindi ‘Naram Dil’.
He was a very affectionate man; he bestowed fatherly affection on everybody without discrimination. I once asked him, “What kind of role do you like playing the most?” “The villain; a villain’s role provides you with a greater scope to perform”, he said. But given his nature, it was not surprising that although he loved playing the villain, he hated roughing up his female co-stars or any of the child actors.
When I say rough up what I mean is molesting the heroine. In Bollywood it is almost mandatory for the villain to molest the heroine. Dad was not at all comfortable doing such roles and he therefore avoided them. He did play the villain. In films like ‘Shama’, ‘Benazir’ and ‘Anokhi Raat’ he had his evil eye on the heroine and if I may add, he was very convincing as the ‘Chhata Hua Badmash’ as they say in Hindi (how does one translate that into English—‘a real villain’—I guess you get the message). He did all his villainy by keeping a more or less safe distance from the heroine and if at all he touched her, it was not that bad. My personal favourite of him as a villain is ‘Shama’. There were two heroines in this film, Suraiya and Nimmi, both in love with the hero Vijay Dutt. While Suraiya played dad’s sister, Nimmi was the lady he wanted to marry. I loved his performance in this film; unfortunately both ‘Benazir’ and ‘Shama’ did not meet with much success at the box-office.
There was a dance sequence in ‘Umeed’ starring Joy Mukherjee, Leela Naidu and Ashok Kumar. It was directed by Nitin Bose. In this scene he is shown to be totally drunk—as villains usually are in such scenes—while the dancer entertains him. My mother says he was not comfortable doing the scene but he had to; an actor cannot keep refusing to do scenes he or she is not comfortable doing.
He shared a wonderful rapport with kids. Once I remember, he had to go to Khandala—a hill station near Mumbai (it was Bombay then)—for an outdoor shooting schedule. It was a weekend so he took us along. There were two kids shooting with him. I noticed how he chatted with them; he loved to hear their cute childish talk. He asked one of the kids, “Tumne abhi kya kiya?” (What did you do now?). The child replied, “Maine do show diya” (I gave two shows). What he meant was “I gave two shots”. He was little more than a toddler and could not pronounce the word ‘shot’. My father loved to hear this baby talk and therefore asked him that question just to hear him say ‘show’ instead of ‘shot’.
It was during this schedule that I was shocked to learn from one of the kids that he had once been slapped by a director (this director is no longer alive) because he was unable to cry for a scene. Obviously a slap would immediately bring on the tears. My father told me this director (I will call him Mr. X) had this habit of slapping child actors. This kid was a tiny thin fellow, one almost felt sorry for him. The poor kid must have been much younger when he had worked with Mr. X; I almost wanted to throttle Mr. X. In sharp contrast my father was quite uncomfortable when he was required to slap a child for a film. This film was a Sanjeev Kumar-Jaya Bhaduri starrer. The film was never completed partially due to the untimely deaths of my father and Sanjeev Kumar. Only a few scenes were shot. The director told my father not to fake the slap too much as the camera was not placed at a distance. Much against his wishes he did it, taking care not to hurt the child. But soon after the shooting he gifted the child a bar of chocolate.
Although he found it difficult to rough up women and children, he himself was strangled by a hero with quite serious consequences. The film again was ‘Umeed’ and the hero was Joy Mukherjee. In this scene Joy Mukherjee had to strangle my father—the villain. He was so engrossed in his performance that he got a bit carried away and actually strangled my father. My father was in severe pain and was struggling, throwing his arms and legs around. He desperately wanted to shout “Cut” but was unable to do so as he was choked into silence. The director and other unit members did not think anything was amiss; after all my father was required to struggle for the scene. Finally the director said the magic word, “Cut”. Only then did they realize the seriousness of the situation. A doctor was called and when he reached home my mother was shocked at the way he looked. To make matters worse he was not able to speak for some time. So these are some of the perils of film acting.
I did mention (in the comments section of Part 2) that he had a childish streak. This was reflected in his dislike for being handcuffed. He loved playing the villain but—‘No Handcuffs Please!’ I was surprised, I remember telling him, “You like playing the villain, you do all the wrong things and you expect the police to garland you”. He gave me a mischievous grin and said, “No not garland me, just kill me, shoot me or something”. As long as I live I will never forget that mischievous but very endearing look on his face as he said that.
In Part 4 you will read about this soft-hearted villain’s experience of shooting in the dacoit-infested Chambal Valley for ‘Mujhe Jeene Do’.
Photographs courtesy of Shilpi Bose and family