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Still strong, still going...

An actor who epitomised the bad man with his chinky looks, Danny Denzongpa is all geared up for his second innings



Danny Dengzongpa's latest venture 'Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Sathiyo' is all set to release — Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

NO, DANNY Denzongpa'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 result of a style but because he "did not have time to cut them". 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 the armed forces. So he applied in FTII knowing his skills as an actor proved through his stage shows at his Birla School in Nainital and college in West Bengal. He was selected among 50 short listed candidates in the audition at FTII by a panel of Satyaji Ray, Kamini Kaushal and Professor Taneja because "all others were copying one or the other actors" while he was natural.

Multi-talented man

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 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 his depression period that he saw B.R. Ishara looking for him while entering in 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 Dunia Naye Log, which never got released. It was later when he acted in Mere Apne and Jewel Thief that people noticed 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 one will see him in the soon-to-be-released Ab Tumahre Hawale Watan Sathiyon by Anil Sharma, "in black shade". Dharam Production's Devdhar, one Osho Raja and Devyani, a murder mystery in which he is playing an investigative officer, are his other releases.

Nostalgic trip

In a nostalgic mood, Danny recalled days of N.C.C, his struggle, 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 the looks of a Nagaland man. 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. One shouldn't disturb...

RANA SIDDIQUI

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