Bollywood veteran Danny gets nostalgic about his track to success and more.
Danny Dengzongpa. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt.
THIS IS indeed interesting. Danny's long hair in the films of late 60s and 70s, which turned out to be a trend those days and became synonymous with villainy, on and off screen, was not the product of a style but because he "did not have time to cut them".
The man says, he did not identify himself with films either. In fact, he wanted to join army. But when he saw dead bodies of Indo-China War arriving in his village at Sikkim, he felt "very upset", thinking he too would have to kill human beings once he joins armed forces. So he applied in Film and Television Institute of India in Pune knowing his skills as an actor proved through his stage shows at the Birla School in Nainital and during his college days in West Bengal. He was selected among 50 short-listed candidates in the audition at FTII by a panel comprising heavyweights like Satyajit Ray, Kamini Kaushal and Professor Taneja because "all others were copying one or the other actors" while he was natural. This painter and flute player also worked as an action and yoga teacher for some time at FTII because he didn't get roles in films. During his struggle days, he slept many nights in Shivaji Park and Juhu Beach in Mumbai where guards would shoo him away. He "did not go home for four years" for he decided that unless he is successful in films, he would not show his face to his parents. It was during this depression period that he saw B.R. Ishara looking for him while entering a studio.
"You are the hero of my new film", he said to him. He was making a film with then debutant Reena Roy titled Nayi Duniya Naye Log which never got released. It was later when he got Mere Apne and Jewel Thief that people noticed him because of his "different looks". (Incidentally Jewel Thief was the first film ever to be shot in Sikkim). Since then Danny never looked back.
And now, we will see him in soon-to-be-released Ab Tumahre Hawale Watan Sathiyo by Anil Sharma, "in black shade". While Dharam Production's Devdhar, one Osho Raja and Devyani, a murder mystery in which he is playing an investigative officer, are his other releases.
In New Delhi in a nostalgic mood, Danny recalls hisdays as a cadet of the National Cadet Corps, his struggle in the film world, S.D. Burman's admiration for him and the film that shot him to fame; Dhund with Zeenat Aman and Sanjay Khan, Golden Jubilee Fakira, Laila Majnu and many more.
"I always tried to capitalise on my chinky looks for villainous roles but it wouldn't always come to me. Once Atma Ram was making a film in which he needed a man who could represent looks of a man from Nagaland. I was sure I would get this role but he chose Sujit for it. I felt very bad. But he asked me if I could do a small role of a servant for which I also was to sing a song titled Mera Naam Chao. S.D. Burman was composing music for the film. When I sang this song to him, he got very happy," and then began his never-ending association with him. "The common ground for both of us was love for music, especially flute," recalls Danny. This film flopped but the song "remained on the top for nine months," says Danny.
And here, he seems lost in his memories.
Send this article to Friends by