It is always great catching up with Mumtaz who set the screens on fire during her entire tenure in Bollywood. This time was no exception. Here’s ETimes talking to her at length about some very interesting happenings in her professional and personal life. Read on:
We discussed in your last interview with us that you were reluctant to don a bikini for Feroz Khan’s ‘Apradh’?
I thought I had fat thighs but men didn’t think so. And, I even had a complex about my thighs. It was only because Feroz said that I reserve the right to get it deleted if I don’t like it, that I agreed.
Yes, you had said just that. Taking that further, did you lose any film for refusing to wear a bikini?
No, that never happened. I didn’t lose any film because of that. I wore a swimsuit instead whenever I was asked to wear a bikini.
How much did money mean to you? Did you lose any film when you quoted your market price?
I wasn’t from a crorepati family but I was brought up with a lot of dignity. But when my mother got divorced, I decided that I will keep my mother happy. Money is not everything, but it is important. I always wanted to be the best. So, I didn’t want to change my market price for any filmmaker. Acting is not aloo-baingan (vegetables) that you bargain for. Aaj bhi, I am like that, if a filmmaker or a show can afford me, well and good, else khudahafiz.
Which actor always came late on the set?
Shatrughan Sinha even when he was doing ‘Ek Nanhi Nummi Ladki’ with me (smiles) and Rajesh Khanna. Shatru always said ‘sorry’ and he said it so sweetly that Allah bhi maaf kar deta (even God would forgive him). But Rajesh never said ‘sorry’.
Was there a film where you were promised a lot but the celluloid had nothing much to depict?
‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’. Dev saab said that I would be doing the main role and the Zeenat Aman track of the hippies is only a side story. But it went on to become the opposite.
Did you at least ask him about it?
Kya poochti? (What could I ask?) He was such a sweet man, always saying ‘Mumzy’ and showering love and care. He used to even call me and ask to choose which coloured handkerchief he should tie around his neck.
The movie went on to become a super hit and in hindsight, I can say that he did it for the betterment of the film; there was a selfish motive.
Which actor was the best dancer?
Jeetendra and Shashi Kapoor, unn dino mein aur dancers nahi the (there were not many heroes during my times, who danced).
Let’s jump a little. Let me ask you if you would’ve done a ‘Helmet’ talking about condoms or a ‘Pad Man’ talking about sanitary napkins if they had come to you in your times?
It’s quite a hypothetical question. Go to see, such subjects were not even attempted in my time. So I cannot answer this question. But frankly, I never did bold stuff. Like, I never kissed on screen. Aaj kal to pata nahi kya kya karte hain (Nowadays, almost every limit has been crossed). Ab jo log ye bold kaam kar rahen hain, woh kar rahen hain. Main nahi kar sakti (Those who are comfortable doing it, are doing it. Those who can’t, can’t). I am quite orthodox. I don’t think the Madhvanis would have accepted me marrying Mayur if I had been bold on screen.
You haven’t done a facelift, right? It’s so common in today’s times…
Iranian skin does not wrinkle. It’s hereditary. I fought cancer and won. I apply little to no makeup. I had a lot of miscarriages. Over and above, recently, I lost a lot of weight which I wanted to lose. I don’t lie. I don’t hide things. I am 74 today, so my mini-lift is not a big deal in today’s times when people are doing so many cosmetic changes raste pe chalte chalte (very frequently).
We spoke about Shammi Kapoor wanting to marry you and you told us why you didn’t. Feroz Khan too wanted to marry you, right?
The world wanted to marry me but I had to decide who I shall remain happy with. Shammi Kapoor was very loving and caring with me. Nobody would believe that we were in love. Nobody believed that I had said ‘no’ to him for marriage because Shammi’s status in riches was higher; they said ‘how can Mumtaz refuse Shammi?’. Today when I am married to Mayur Madhvani who by the grace of God has money, people believe that I had refused Shammi.
Still, all said and done, I don’t think I have ever experienced so much love as Shammi gave me.
You spoke about why you didn’t marry Shammi Kapoor in our last interview. My previous question actually meant that, what was the reason you said ‘no’ to marrying Feroz?
Feroz never offered me marriage. He had a girlfriend, an Anglo Indian beauty, from the days of ‘Main Shaadi Karne Chala’. She was a very beautiful girl and she loved him immensely. But I don’t know why they eventually separated. So Feroz and I had become very good friends and he shared almost everything with me. He was a man who would never share anything with anybody; he was a proud man. But I have seen him even with tears in his eyes.
Okay now let me tell you that any woman would fall on Feroz and Shammi. To marry Feroz Khan was like jumping into a lake. It was asking for a heartbreak. I had one with Shammi Kapoor and I didn’t want another.
So I kept our relationship as a friendship. If it had gone the other way, it would have broken and even the friendship wouldn’t have remained.
Our children went on to marry each other, and our friendship remained till he died. He loved me a lot and trust me, Fardeen and Natasha (Feroz’s daughter) are very happy with each other.
In Mumtaz’s earlier interview done by this journalist and published on ETimes on December 27, 2020, Mumtaz had explained the reason why she didn’t marry Shammi. For those who’ve come in late, we reproduce Mumtaz’s words- “Kapoors didn’t like it if the bahus in their family were in the film line. Shammiji told me that if I wanted him to be happy with me, I would have to give up my career. Now at that young age I was very ambitious and wanted to reach somewhere. I wanted to settle my family as well. Just to sit at home didn’t go down with me.”
You did a lot of movies with Rajesh Khanna. Weren’t you’ll attracted to each other?
You can’t fall in love with everybody. Rajesh Khanna had a steady woman in his life, Anju Mahendroo for 10 years. We all thought he would marry her but one fine morning he announced that he’s marrying Dimpy (Dimple Kapadia) and shocked everybody.
The director(s) you miss working with?
Mehboob Khan, Bimal Roy and Raj Kapoor. Well, Raj Kapoor wanted to cast me as a trapeze artiste in ‘Mera Naam Joker’ (the role consequently done by a Russian girl). He had even taken my pictures. But Shammi Kapoor forbade him by asking how he’d sign me when I was going to marry him and become a Kapoor bahu. I tried my best to convince Raj Kapoor by telling him that I was not marrying Shammi. I was looking so pretty in those pictures. But Raj Kapoor wasn’t sure that I was telling him the truth, he somehow thought that I still might marry Shammi.
Your film which you felt won’t run at the box-office?
‘Loafer’. I thought kya hai ye, nahi chalegi (What is it all about? It won’t click). But I was wrong. Audience is unpredictable.
Did you have someone in your team who called up the media to fight when you had a problem with any story on you?
I never bothered about stories whether I am doing a film or not. I never bothered about people who even wrote I was unlucky. But one of them crossed the limit. Film Columnist Devyani Chaubal had written that mere baap ka koi thikana nahi hai (there are no whereabouts about my father). She used to write certain things and a hero had apparently even slapped her. She had no idea how my parents had separated and where my father was. I called up my Dad; he was in Hyderabad. He happily came down to Mumbai. I was engaged to Mayur then and we took Devyani to court. We made her apologise thrice in three successive columns.
Any co-star you didn’t get along with?
I got along with all my heroes. Recently, I visited Dharmendra. We spent a lot of time in nostalgia and revived many old memories.
What about the heroines?
Barring Waheeda Rehman who I got along very well with, the heroines never spoke to me- they just pulled up a chair and sat afar- not even a hello. I have no idea why they did that. But I used to happily sit with my group dancers and share lunch. I enjoyed my work. I did not sulk; in fact I never sulked.
Most pleasant memories?
The experience of ‘Tere Mere Sapne’. Also, I love the way Hema Malini is still working. I miss working in the industry. It was so much fun.