Tarun Bose (Part 3): The soft-hearted villain

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

45 Comments to “Tarun Bose (Part 3): The soft-hearted villain”

  1. That is a lovely third part. It is getting better and better. Keep the memories coming, Shilpi.

  2. A gentle Villian Tarunda for sure.

    I must check my print of Umeed with Joy for the unfort incident, Joy is quite a big chap so I can imagine the tragedy that could have happened, from reel to real life. It sure has it’s hazards.

    Lovely reading Shilpi, lagate raho and thx a lot.

    Cheers .)
    P.S. Getting soon 2 more of Dada’s movies, not listed as far as I can see

    1.OOS RAAT KE BAAD-1970
    Cast: Sanjeev Kumar, Tanuja, Sailesh Kumar, Aruna Irani, Madan Puri

    MD Hemantda


    Nirmaan (1974)
    Anoop Kumar, Navin Nischol, Anupama, Bindu, Sachin, Sudhir, Sulochana, Rehman

    MD LP
    Look fwd to seeing him in both, as not seen b4, by 1969 I had left home and missed many phillums.

    Shilpi, what can yu tell us of Nirmaan .)


  3. Joy M. must have felt very bad about that incident!!!

  4. I loved Tarun Bose in Gumnaam and please tell us something about his performance in Anupama. It was just awesome. Thanks Shilpi for sharing these stories with us and thanks Memsaab for making it happen :)

  5. This is SO fascinating to read!
    Thanks so much, Shilpi, for sharing all this with us. This gives us such a wonderful insight into your dad’s real character, not just the one in front of the camera.
    And the pictures are terrific too.
    I now want to see these movies you mention. Shama, Benazir, Ummeed… :-)

  6. I haven’t read the first two parts yet…saw ur blog update on facebook and coulnd’t resist not coming here, though it’s quite late already.
    Like Sharmi I would love to hear something about his performance in Anupama.
    He was a real soft-hearted villian. Thanks memsaab and Shilpi for introducing us to his real character.

  7. Great as usual Shilpi, :-)

    It would be wonderful to read about all his different kind ofroles, as a villain, as the handicapped person in Kohraa, as a father holding grudge in Anupama etc

    I can’t seem to recall if he ever played a sad role.

    Thanks. Looking foward to more.

  8. I keep reading stories like Mr X. It seems the child actors were often exploited. Some like Sarika never went to school (she is the little boy in Satyakam). And they had to do things they didn’t like. I read a story of Meena Kumari, who, as a child, had to kiss a cat or something. And she was scared but she was even more scared of her mother’s beatings if she refused.

    • Women and children…perennially exploited :(

    • I saw an interview of Honey Irani recently, where she talked about her child-star days and was shocked to hear that when they were required to cry, her Mom would just slap her! And if Mom wasn’t around, anybody else handy would do the needful!!!! I am glad that films don’t use child actors much, anymore.

      • My mom would smack us when we already WERE crying, to make us shut up :) (it never worked)…Truthfully I think a lot of kids these days would benefit from a tight slap now and then, although kid actors who need to cry for a scene are not included in that general observation :D

  9. I like that pic from Shama – looks quite suitably rakish.:-) Shama has a rather ridiculous plot, but a superb soundtrack.

  10. Shilpi – Thanks for sharing this special side of your father as a soft hearted villain. My view is that as a villain not only did he possibly have a greater scope to perform but the roles themselves might have been more substantial and critical to the plot, than some of the other kinds of roles he played.
    I would love to hear about his other films and his views on directors and actors he worked with.

  11. Brilliant write up Shilpi. I guess Joy Mukherjee must have thought that he was fighting a real villain after your father’s convincing portrayal in Umeed (1962).

    It reminded me of an article that I had read of Amjad Khan years ago. Even he had a similar feeling when he had to ‘molest’ heroines in movies. It was mentioned that he developed rashes before the picturisation of the rape scene for the movie ‘Barsaat Ki Ek Raat’ (1981). The heroine in question was Rakhee.

  12. Am loving this! More please!!! :D

    he found it difficult to rough up women and children” I actually find his villains a lot more scary because he did not indulge in typical fimi-villain theatrics. A villain need not always resort to rough-house and bad language to show his wickedness, as Tarun Bose’s performances clearly show.

  13. Another touching and interesting write up Shilpi. It is good to know about the humane side of actors we admire on screen. Keep the parts flowing!

  14. I remember, the first time I watched Anokhi Raat and Tarun Bose appeared in his first scene as the villain, I kept thinking there would be some denouement that would result in it transpiring that he wasn’t really villainous, or that there was some very valid (and forgiveable) reason for him being the way he was! Somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to accept dignified and so very likeable Tarun Bose being the villain. ;-)

    Thank you for a lovely write-up. Can hardly wait for the next instalment!

  15. Thank you for sharing :)

    I’m sorry to hear that people like Mr.X exists but it is good that you never tell the name since this will probably turn me off his films.

    • Surprisingly I also saw this same film maker bonding quite well with older children and teenagers. It is quite likely that he later made amends with the kid he slapped , he seemed to lack the patience while dealing with small children. My father was a very patient man, I will be touching on that in my later posts.

      • While I do not endorse this kind of behavior, I feel in those times slapping or disciplining children was an accepted thing. I agree that such behavior might indicate a lack of patience or understanding of the child’s mindset.

        Interestingly, one notices many such scenes in many older films where slapping has a magical effect, making the ‘slapped’ person fall in line or even fall in love with the ‘slapper’.

  16. Thank you everybody for the lovely response. I have some more interesting nuggets, hope you enjoy them in my later posts.

  17. Thank you so much Shilpi for sharing these wonderful nuggets. Waiting for your next post.

  18. Thanx Shilpi – very nice once again.

    One thing I’ve wondered about for long is that most villains (onscreen) are actually the very opposite in real life. I hear that of Pran (his children have also put up a website tributed to him and his biography was launched a couple of years ago by Big B who also wrote the foreword for it which is quoted on the website), Prem Chopra, and the ever evil Amrish Puri whom I simply adore. He was last the last true villain – the current ones are all just different breeds of terrorists and they don’t make them like Amrish Puri and Pran anymore. And Danny Denzongpa is another towering villain with a thunderous voice – and memorable roles in Agneepath, Ghatak, Hum – and Dhund (1970). I don’t know a single villain of today who stands out like these guys.

    • My 2 cents – I was really in awe of Mukesh Rishi due to his performance in Gardish (1993). However, no such powerful roles came to him eventually. Sometimes, its just that these villains got such powerful breaks that their subsequent work paled in comparison to their debut.

      Same was the case with Amjad Khan who had the most unforgettable debut in Sholay (1975). His subsequent roles just paled in comparison.

  19. Am looking so forward to hearing more about your father!

    I am also curious as to your thoughts on various peformers who you may have met along the way and who in the industry your father considered friends, if any.

    Thanks again Shilpa for taking the time to tell us these valued stories!

  20. Folks just managed to load the SS of Dada having a mishap whilst shooting for Ummeed, yu can see how shattered he looked.

    Sry SS are duplicated, will remove after I get some help.





  21. Right folks
    here some more NOT so scary SS from Ummeed, hv a look the veterans, and more of Dada, and tell me do yu see our Ramu Kaka in any of them ?

    He has only one scene but we can not miss him .)

    Two links-

    Cheers .)

  22. Those were good shots, dad looks young and handsome.

  23. @Memsaab – talking of villains, you must do a review of Lootmaar -another of Dev Anand’s films. That movie includes the who’s who of 70s Bollywood villainy.

  24. Reading Shilpi’ s reminiscences about her late father gave my heart a real twist! We acclaim a memorable role but to get to know the man behind the performance was for me a priceless and unforgettable experience! Thanks Shilpi for bringing me up close to a person I have long admired! I don’t think I have seen a mediocre performance from Tarun Bose

  25. Daughter or not some bits come across as typical bollywood ‘pheku’ stuff.
    There was no need. Tarun Bose was a hugely respected actor.
    We remember him fondly and with resect.

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