‘Madhuri Dixit was very scared to do a rape scene with me in Prem Pratigyaa. After the shot, she said she couldn’t even feel me touching her.’
‘I was a villain in films, but not in my personal life.’
Ranjeet gets candid about his ‘villainous’ career.
IMAGE: Ranjeet at his bungalow. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
Ranjeet‘s bungalow looks like the sets of the many masala movies he has starred in.
The interiors have a Mediterranean feel, with white-washed cubist structures, terracotta floors and a cobbled pathway leading up to the terrace. The terrace has a swimming pool as well as a garden.
Ranjeet, whose real name is Gopal Bedi, has starred in more than 200 films, with some of the biggest names in the movie business.
The actor made a successful career playing the villain, and was refreshingly candid in this chat with Sonil Dedhia.
I was born in in Amritsar, the eldest of the four siblings.
My father Dwarakaprasad Bedi had an electrical accessories factory in Delhi.
Growing up, I played soccer and wanted to be a sportsman. During college, my friends joined the air force. I filled up a form as well and got selected. I started training as an air force cadet.
While studying, I got romantically involved with the instructor’s daughter (laughs) and was immediately expelled. So I returned home.
During the same time, I met a UK-based film enthusiast named Ronnie Singh at a party in Delhi. He offered me a role in a film that he was planning to make. Since I didn’t have any work, I agreed.
He asked me to accompany him to Mumbai. My father was orthodox. I knew he would not let me work in the movies. So I lied to my parents, saying I was going to Mumbai for sightseeing.
‘I was in awe of Nargis’
IMAGE: Ranjeet poses against his beautiful terrace swimming pool. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
My first night in Mumbai was very memorable.
Ronnie was staying at (director) Chetan Anand’s home and took me there. It was a sea-facing bungalow in Juhu (northwest Mumbai).
I was chatting with Chetan Anand, when I heard a woman’s voice. It was Priya Rajvansh. It was the first time I had come face-to-face with an actress. She was fair, tall, and very beautiful. Anybody could have fallen in love with her.
The next day, Ronnie put me up at the Sun ‘n’ Sand Hotel in Juhu.
In the evening, he asked me to meet him in the hotel’s pool-facing restaurant. There were a lot of beautiful girls, lying on the sun beds wearing bikinis. I couldn’t get my eyes off them.
After some time, Sunil Dutt, who was in the swimming pool, joined us. He had a flamboyant personality and looked very charming.
Duttsaab took us home in his sports car, an MG convertible. I was really impressed with his luxurious lifestyle.
Duttsaab took us to his terrace, where a party was just about to begin. He changed into a blood red lungi and kurta, and looked very handsome.
Drive away mosquitoes, dust and bacteria easily
A lantern that not just provides light
Solar Lantern Set
Duttsaab chatted about movies with his guests. I remember feeling like an outsider. I would laugh when they laughed.
At around 1 am, a servant called us for dinner. Duttsaab told him that they were still having drinks.
Then, around 2.30 am, I heard a voice, “Duttsaab!”
Everyone stood up and said, “Namaste bhabhiji.”
It was Nargis Dutt.
“Duttsaab,” she said, “the food has been warmed three times.”
I was in awe of Nargisji. I had only seen her in films. I heard stories that actresses were very snobbish and would not do any work. But Nargisji was in front of me in the middle of the night, happily serving food that she had cooked and entertaining guests.
Partying with Raj Kapoor, Sanjay Khan
The third day in Mumbai was also very memorable.
Ronnie said he would take me to a film studio. I was excited. We went to RK Studios.
Raj Kapoor had a great personality, and one of the most humble men I have ever met. I still remember his style of dipping rusk in tea and eating it.
He took us to a private theatre and showed us a song from Mera Naam Joker. While watching it, suddenly, Rajsaab said, “Stop it. Reel nikal ke mere paas lao.”
I saw a small solution bottle in Rajsaab‘s hands. He took the reel, cut out some part, applied some solution, pressed it with his hands, stuck the reels again and then gave it back to play. I was wondering what he was doing. He played the song again and said, “Haanji abhi song ka tempo thoda fast ho gaya.”
He had edited some part out.
Later in the evening, he invited us home for dinner and drinks.
Randhir Kapoor made the first round of drinks. The drinks continued way passed midnight.
A servant came and asked whether he should warm the food. Rajsaab said, “Haan tum khaana garam karo tab tak hum sharaab khatam karte hai.”
After an hour, the servant came again. Rajsaab told him to wait.
Around 2 am, the servant asked whether he should serve food. By then, Rajsaab was drunk. We finally had dinner at 3.30 am.
As Ronnie was driving me to my hotel, I asked whether it was a fashion amongst celebrities to drink every night and eat very late (Laughs).
Life went on like this for a few days. Every day I would meet a new star.
Then, one day, Ronnie said he had fixed up a meeting with a young actor at the Taj to finalise him for a film.
After waiting for almost an hour, I saw a young boy walking towards us. He removed his slippers and sat on the sofa with folded legs. I was shocked as the ambience at the restaurant was very sophisticated.
He had a lisp and stammered.
It was Jeetendra.
One day, I received a call from Sanjay Khan, inviting me home for a party.
The party was something I had only seen in Hollywood movies. There was exotic food and foreign liquor. Girls were mingling with the guests.
After a while, I saw Feroz Khan swaggering in with his girlfriend.
‘In the mornings, there would be script reading sessions. In the evenings, there would be parties’
IMAGE: Ranjeet in Feroze Khan’s Dharmatma.
Ronnie decided to rent a four bedroom bungalow in Juhu and convert it into an office to work on his film, Zindagi Ki Rahein. The rent was Rs 1,200. I started living in the house.
I was supposed to the play the lead and Jayantsaab (Amjad Khan’s father) was cast in a supporting role.
In the mornings, there would be meetings and script reading sessions and in the evenings, there would be parties.
But the film’s financers backed out. So Ronnie decided to return to London, arrange for finance, and come back to make the film.
I was left behind alone, with the entire bungalow at my disposal.
Ronnie did not return for almost a month and the bills were rising. I was under a lot of pressure. One day, I told Duttsaab about it. He told me to pack my stuff and shift to his guest house.
I stayed there for some time, then moved to a paying guest accommodation. My meals were sorted, as I would either eat at Duttsaab‘s house or with Sanjay and Feroz Khan.
At the same time, I was introduced to Dilip Kumar and his younger brother S N Khan. One day Dilipsaab asked me where I was staying and I told him.
He asked me to move in to his sister’s vacant bungalow in Bandra. So I did.
One day, I decided to pack my bags and return to Delhi, as I was not getting any film work.
Later, I realised this happened because Ronnie introduced me to stars as his friend and not someone who wanted to become an actor.
‘How I got my first film Reshma Aur Shera‘
IMAGE: Ranjeet in Reshma Aur Shera.
One day I was having lunch in Bandra (northwest Mumbai). A friend of mine from Delhi met me there. Like me, he had come to Mumbai with the aspiration of working in films, but he did not have any luck.
He knew I was close to Duttsaab and that Duttsaab was making Reshma Aur Shera. He asked me to put in a word for him.
As I reached Duttsaab‘s office, his manager came running to me and said, “Arre, Goliji (Ranjeet’s pet name is Goli) kaha ho aap?
He said Duttsaabwas looking for me, as he wanted to cast me as Waheeda Rehman’s brother in the film.
I was shocked.
Reshma Aur Shera was supposed to be directed by Sukhdev. Bhanu Athaiya was the costume designer. It was very surprising to see a woman taking my measurements. During the filming, we became good friends.
After my first costume trial, she had told me to call her for the final trial after a week. When I called her, she refused to take my calls.
I went to Duttsaab‘s office, where I learnt that I was out of the movie!
I wasn’t aware that Sukhdev had a problem with casting me in the film.
That evening I met Sanjay Khan and told him I wasn’t doing Reshma Aur Shera. He asked me to accompany him to Pune for a race. So I went with him.
Meanwhile, Duttsaab was furious that I did not attend the dress rehearsals. He wasn’t aware that my name had been removed from the cast.
The next day, I decided to go and complain to Duttsaab that I was thrown out of the film. When he saw me, he held me by the collar and said, “Who do you think you are? I offered you a film and you don’t turn up for the rehearsals?”
I explained myself and he was stunned. He called his manager and told him that I was doing the film and no further changes were to be made in the cast.
This is how I got Reshma Aur Shera.
‘I signed Sawan Bhadon for Rs 1,500′
IMAGE: The different shades of Ranjeet in Sawan Bhadon.
I signed Sawan Bhadon for Rs 1,500. After a week of shooting, I was given a cheque of Rs 250. I kept it for a long time, as a memento.
Duttsaab was very generous. He paid me Rs 12,000 for Reshma Aur Shera.
I signed my next film Sharmeelee for Rs 1,500. I immediately rented a bungalow for Rs 500.
The first rape scene
IMAGE: Ranjeet in Sharmeelee.
Reshma Aur Shera was shot in Jaisalmer. I shared a tent with Amitabh Bachchan, Ali Raza and Thapa.
I really had a good time working on the film.
Raakhee was impressed with my acting and told me to meet director Samir Ganguly, who was making Sharmeelee. She had already signed the film.
I was offered the role of a molester, and I agreed.
I invited my entire family for the film’s premiere in Delhi. When they saw me trying to rape the heroine, they walked out of the theatre. My parents were furious. When I returned home, my mother told me to get out of the house.
To calm them down, I requested Raakhee to meet my family and assure them about the profession. That helped a lot.
Since then, filmmakers started casting me in negative roles. Producers and distributors would demand a rape scene in the film to increase its viability. I never thought I would become so famous.
I laugh it off when people call me a rapist. I was a villain in films, but not in my personal life. It was just my job.
The most difficult rape scene was with Reena Roy in Sunil Dutt’s Daku Aur Jawan.
Duttsaab had conceived the scene in a temple. There were lamps lit all over and a slight wrong step would have had the oil spilling on us. We were so scared to do the scene that we almost decided to scrap it.
I remember Madhuri Dixit was very scared to do a rape scene with me in Prem Pratigyaa. After the shot, she said she couldn’t even feel me touching her.
I would do my rape scenes very gently. I would always give cues to actresses during the scenes.
‘Women were scared of me. They often found me creepy’
IMAGE: Ranjeet in a scene with Rekha.
Women were scared of me. They often found me creepy.
Parents refused to marry their daughters to me.
At the same time, I had some crazy fan girls. I had my share of link ups and affairs too.
I had a live-in relationship with a girl, who was my friend since I started my career. We got married, but a year-and-a-half later, she walked out. We had known each other for 12 years. It was a tough phase in my life.
‘I wasn’t enjoying the kind of films that were being made’
IMAGE: Ranjeet and Viju Khote in Inquilaab.
During the mid-1980s, I felt my work was getting monotonous. I was shooting continuously, sometimes for 25, 30 films at a time.
I was so busy that I couldn’t attend my brother’s wedding.
I was doing 80 films when I decided to call it a day.
I wasn’t enjoying the kind of films that were being made. Kader Khan was writing most of the films and almost all had double meaning dialogues.
‘Rekha requested if I could shoot my film in the mornings as she wanted to spend the evenings with Amitabh’
IMAGE: Ranjeet, Kajol and Aashif Sheikh in Karan Arjun.
After I quit acting, I wrote a script and decided to direct a film with Dharmendra, Rekha and Jaya Prada.
Rekha and I were good friends since I gave the first shot of my life with her in Sawan Bhadon.
The entire first schedule of Kaaranama was an evening shift. One day, Rekha called and requested if I could move the schedule to a morning shift as she wanted to spend the evenings with Amitabh Bachchan.
I cordially refused, so she left the film and returned the signing amount.
I had to delay the film and Dharmendra got busy with other commitments. He suggested Anita Raaj instead of Rekha.
Ultimately, I made the film with Farah, Kimi Katkar and Vinod Khanna. It did average business (when it released in 1990).
Later, I made Gajab Tamasha) (1992) with Anu Agarwal and Rahul Roy, but it failed.
‘I met my wife through Chunky Pandey’s mother’
IMAGE: Ranjeet with his wife Aloka. Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar
I met my wife, Aloka, through Chunky Pandey’s mother, Snehalata.
In those days, actresses and aspiring girls would go to her for beauty treatment.
I was initially hoping to cast a fresh face in Kaaranama, so I had asked Snehalata to look for a newcomer actress.
She sent this beautiful girl and I immediately finalised her for my film.
But circumstances were not in my favour, and that’s why I had to change the script and the cast.
She accepted that, and instead assisted me on the film. My parents liked her and asked me to marry her. I married her in 1986.
My daughter Divyanka is a successful fashion and jewelry designer. She currently works with Manish Arora and is planning to launch her collection soon.
My son Chiranjeev was keen to become a Formula One driver, but unfortunately, the sport isn’t big in India. He is finding it very hard to find sponsors. He has shown an interest in acting, so I am planning to launch him soon.