RANJEET “Heroes have nothing to do ”

This interview with RANJEET by JYOTHI VENKATESH had appeared in Free Press Journal dt 19, November, 1977, exactly 40 years ago
By Jyothi Venkatesh

It was Ranbir Singh, the man who is currently co-producing Shalimar with director Krishna Shah who had
brought Ranjeet to Bollywood a decade ago. Ranjeet was signed by him to play the lead in Zindagi Ke Raahe opposite Radha Saluja. Imtiaz was assigned the job of directing the film. The cast was reshuffled and later on Ranjeet was replaced by Sanjay Khan. Ultimately Imtiaz dragged in Sanjeev Kumar to play the lead opposite Alka. Ranjeet was relegated to the sidelines to play the villain. But unfortunately for Ranjeet, after a few reels were canned, the film was shelved because when Imtiaz was stripped off his portfolio of direction, and also Sanjeev walked out of the film.

Shortly afterwards, Ranjeet was signed by Sunil Dutt to play the key role in Reshma Aur Shera. In fact, it was Sunil Dutt who suggested the screen name of Ranjeet. His original name was Gopal. Even today his friends call him Goli affectionately.
When I met Ranjeet for this tete-e-tete last week at his palatial bungalow in Juhu, I asked whether he did not regret having made his debut in films as a villain in Sawan Bhadon in spite of having aspired to make it in films as a leading man.
Ranjeet sipped his tea, relaxed on the bed and quipped rather arrogantly. “Look here. I never had any phobia of becoming a hero in films, especially the kind of films that we make today where the hero has practically nothing to do. Even I used to be under the wrong impression that film actors looked extra - ordinary. I considered myself to be a very ordinary looking seedha saadha man and thought that I stood no chance of making it on the screen.”
According to Ranjeet, luck plays a very vital role in shaping an actor’s career. “To click in show-biz, luck is a must. Where is Rajesh Khanna today? There was a time not long ago when he reigned supreme as a super star. He had even threatened to throw me out of films after we had a confrontation on the sets of Bundelbaaz. The provocation was that I had walked out of the sets after waiting for him for six hours.
“Take the case of Kabir Bedi. Right from the first film Hulchul with Zeenat Aman to the latest Thief of Baghdad with Sulakshana Pandit through Maa Behen Aur Biwi and Manzilein Aur Bhi Hai with Prema Narayan, he has been a big ham of an actor. Yet he became an overnight sensation and is today a super star abroad thanks to his luck.”
Ranjeet has finalized his plans to become a producer. “A stage has come in my life when I want to do something different. To tell you the truth, I am fed up of playing the routine villain in every other film. I have registered my banner as Ranjeet Movietones. I intend to produce two films- one with Dharmendra and Hema Malini playing the lead and the other with Danny and myself leading the cast. For all you may know, I may even jump into the field of direction.”
Very few directors in the industry have impressed Ranjeet. His favorite director is naturally Sunil Dutt. “I’ll always remain indebted to Duttsaab because I cannot ever forget the fact that he was the first producer to sign me for a film other than Ranbir. Among the current crop of young filmmakers, Ranjeet is all praises for Subhash Ghai and Mahesh Bhatt. Ranjeet re-iterates firmly, “Both Subhash and Mahesh are bound to make a name for themselves as directors.”

After his bit roles in Amar Akbar Anthony and Khoon Pasina, Ranjeet is wiser today. “I did both Khoon Pasina and Amar Akbar Anthony only because of my relationship with Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai. I wasn’t paid my normal price and also my roles weren’t worthwhile. In future, I shall accept only weighty roles where my talent is not wasted.”
That’s Ranjeet for you - free, frank and fearless!
Cinema Quiz
1.With which film did Ranjeet make his debut as a villain?
2. From which sets did Ranjeet walk out of after waiting for Rajesh Khanna for six hours?
3. What is the title of Ranjeet’s debut film as the hero opposite Radha Saluja which failed to take off?
Send answers to starbbmag@gmail.com and the four lucky winners will get a DVD of a film.

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