Monday, March 19, 2012

On Mukherji Sahab and his son Joy Mukherjee

I have been thinking a lot about S. Mukherji , the founder of Filmalaya and one of the major influences in my career. I was witness to the care and love he lavished on his son Joy Mukherjee. He wanted to see Joy scale great heights as a star. It was not just a loving father’s desire to see his son shine as a star on the screen; it was the conviction of the man who had spotted, groomed and launched some of the more adored stars of Hindi cinema besides writers, directors, technicians, singers and composers.

Mukherji Sahab was very particular about physical fitness and he was keen that his son follow a strict physical regime to achieve attractive features like a good physique, chiseled facial features, flexibility in body movements etc. He would tell me: “Yousuf, tell him( Joy ) how you keep yourself fit with your game of badminton and soccer whenever you find time. You must also tell him how you don’t put yourself to great strain in acting. You just become the character you play”.

For Joy’s physical fitness and part of his ‘gyming’ Mukherji Sahab had hired a wrestler, a tough pleasant guy who knew his job well with oiled curly hair falling over his forehead. A wrestling ring was created a regular sand ‘Akharda’ and it was the wrestler’s duty to see that Joy and his brothers took regular lessons from him and went through the requisite regime like body massage etc. Joy had no option but to obey his father and I guess he knew what his father expected from him. Joy became one of the heart throbs of the nation after his debut and I could see the pride in Mukherji Sahab’s eyes.

It saddened me to see Joy when I last met him at our dinner here at home last December. He was unable to walk without help as his weight had increased. The neglect and indifference towards the physical fitness his father had insisted on began after Mukherji Sahab’s passing away. The void was hard for the sons to accept, especially for Joy, I am sure.