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Cheers, My Friend

Jeetendra is one of the most beautiful human beings I know. He has a heart of gold and is a true friend, who is always just a phone call away. He loves helping people. Even if you call him in the middle of the night, he will help you out. If you are in his company, you are bound to be happy as he is an extremely jovial person and his one-liners are a laugh-riot.

 In an industry where there are hardly any friends, and friendships seldom last, Rishi Kapoor, Jeetendra and I have been friends for so many years. We have actually set an example. Friendships nowadays are very superficial. Today, as soon as you turn your back, people who are your so-called friends will stab you in your back and start talking behind your back. I am very proud that Jeetendra and I have been friends for over 40 years and have never had a single misunderstanding.

 I don’t remember exactly when we became friends but we have always been on the same wavelength; we think in similar ways and that is why we connect so well. The best thing about our friendship is that there is no give and take. We didn’t become friends because we wanted something from each other.

When he was a big star and I was not, I didn’t once ask him for a favour or to help me get a film. Similarly, when I became a director and a producer, he never asked me to give him a break or anything like that. When I cast him in Khudgarz, he deserved the role and he was fantastic in the film. That’s the best part of our friendship.

As an actor, Jeetendra was such a rage during his time. He has done umpteen movies and was truly a trendsetter. He could fit any role, you could make him a police officer, you could make him a dacoit, you could make him a school teacher, you could make him a romantic guy, you could make him a family guy… he was so versatile and, as an actor, had a face that blended in every role. It was his biggest plus point.

 And what a fabulous dancer! He brought dancing to Bollywood. The Hindi cinema audience had not seen real dancing on screen till Jeetendra arrived. There was no dancing before that. People used to only move their hands and that was considered dancing! Of course, there was Shammi Kapoor but he was never a dancer. The real meaning of dancing on screen was introduced by Jeetendra. When you watch his dance numbers today, you can’t take your eyes off him.

 I would also like to point out that Jeetendra was extremely professional. He would arrive on time for shoots, regardless of how early some of them were. He was very punctual. There’s something else I realised about him down the line. After an outdoor shoot, if he went to a to drink or eat, he would always foot the bill himself. He never let the producer of his film bear his personal expenses.

 Jeetendra is one of my closest friends and I am very proud of that. We spend a lot of time together even today. We meet at least four to five times a week, we go out to dinner, we go out for movies together… We watch movies every Friday. We don’t attend trials, screenings etc., we prefer to go to the theatre to watch films.

 The best part is even our wives are good friends, so we tend to spend a lot of time together. All the three wives – Rishi’s wife Neetu Kapoor, Jeetendra’s wife Shobha Kapoor and my wife Pinky … they are good friends too, so we are like a family.

 Over the years, I have also learnt a lot from Jeetendra by just observing him. He is not the preachy kind but there is a lot to learn by just observing him. I have learnt how to face situations and how to deal with tough times. And not just that, I have also learnt how to stay fit and healthy from him. He may have turned 75 today, but he is physically fit and mentally young.

 On the occasion of his birthday, I would like to take this opportunity to wish him all the happiness and love he deserves and I hope that our friendship continues to grow strong with every passing year.

 Lots of love to him, his family, his wife Shobha, Ekta, Tusshar and Laksshya. All my good wishes are always with you, my dear friend.

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