Bhagyashree Reveals She Had Initially Refused Maine Pyar Kiya, She Wanted To Study And Not Do Films!
Judge them all you want (I know I do) but the Rajshri films of the 90s continue to remain a source of entertainment even today. Sure, they endorsed regressive patriarchy cloaked in sanskaar and parivar tropes, but we’re now super woke and know what is up. And yet, if Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!, Hum Saath Saath Hain, Vivaah are playing on TV, I’ll plonk myself on the couch and watch, with the whole fam joining in. Rajshri movies definitely did a lot for the careers of Salman Khan, Mohnish Behl and Alok Nath. But what Maine Pyar Kiya did for Bhagyashree remains unrivalled. Despite not working in more than 3-4 films post her debut in 1989, she remains popular amongst the Bollywood audience even today.
Bhagyashree married actor Himalaya Dasani in 1990, pretty much within the year of Maine Pyaar Kiya’s release. Post marriage, she did a few films, most of them opposite her husband, and eventually quit movies. But her role as the beautiful and innocent Suman stayed with fans long after Bhagyashree stopped doing movies. She did a few in the South and North, and sparse cameo roles in movies like Humko Deewana Kar Gaye, even a few TV shows. But soon, we’re going to see her return to the silver screen in the Prabhas and Pooja Hegde starrer Radhe Shyam.
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During one of her interviews for the film, Bhagyashree was asked about her unexpected foray into movies and equally unexpected withdrawal from it. Before MPK happened, Bhagyashree had already worked in a small role in Amol Palekar’s film Kachchi Dhoop, but it was a fluke.
“Amol uncle (Palekar, actor) was my neighbour and his daughter and my younger sister were good friends. One day, just before the shoot of the show was set to commence, he came to me in a panic, asking me to help him out. The actress he had finalised had run away with her boyfriend last minute and since a set had already been erected in Nataraj Studio, shooting had to begin at once. When I told him I knew nothing about acting, he told me to be my usual self.”
Apprehensive at first, Bhagyashree revealed how her father insisted that she learn the craft out of respect for the hard work and money invested by the people associated with the film. Moreover, he wanted her to hone her craft in the off chance that she got interested in pursuing acting as a career. She impressed Amol Palekar enough that he declared that she would become a heroine someday. And that’s exactly what happened!
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Clearly, Bhagyashree never wanted to be in movies in the first place. In fact, she revealed in the interview that she wanted to study further, even go abroad for it. Something that her conservative family might not have been down with. But the offer to do Maine Pyar Kiya swooped in and swivelled Bhagyashree into a totally different direction.
“If today’s generation reads this, they will think I was out of my mind because who refuses a film like ‘Maine Pyar Kiya!’ But I didn’t want to do it. Instead, I wanted to go abroad for higher studies and had also secured admission. However, my father wanted me to complete my education in India itself and we were arguing over it when ‘Maine Pyar Kiya‘ came my way.”
But even after Sooraj Barjatya offered her a dream debut, Bhagyashree refused him some 7-8 times before finally saying yes!
“I actually told Soorajji (Sooraj Barjatya) that I didn’t want to work in films, a fact he couldn’t understand. The subject was beautiful and I liked what he narrated to me. But, at the end of it, when he wanted to know if I would do the film, I told him that despite liking the script, I wouldn’t be able to take it up. He returned to me seven times, with changes in the script to please me, and each time I would come up with a new excuse. But on the eighth time, I couldn’t make one up and gave my nod to the film.”
Maine Pyar Kiya remains a cult romance film for the Indian audience even today. The fame that must’ve come with the film’s success would’ve been hard to let go, especially when her phone began ringing off the hook with movie offers. But Bhagyashree, who was barely 19 then, has no regrets about her decision to get married and start a family. She is a mother to two children, and her son Abhimanyu Dasani already getting acclaim for his unconventional debut in Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota.
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Now that she is returning to movies, she was asked how her husband, Himalaya, feels about it.
“Poor man, he must have been cursed by all the fans who were upset that he had whisked me away from Bollywood. Everyone used to abuse him; I think at that time only I loved him (smiles). But both of us were young and in love with each other. I understand now that it’s easy to give in to jealousy and not want your girlfriend or wife to be the cynosure of all eyes.”
NGL, that does sound like a closet patriarchal move, to let jealousy and insecurity get the better of you and stem your spouse’s career for it. But feminism means respecting choices and showing solidarity as well. And it sure seems Bhagyashree was happy with her decision. Now that she is back in the movies, we do wish her all the best and hope to see more of her!