Not many know that she was only a few years older than most of the actors she played mother to. As far as I'm concerned, my camaraderie with Reemaji was crackling.
I first met her first during the shoot of Maine Pyaar Kiya in 1987. Everyone knows her as a phenomenal actor, a beautiful woman. But no matter what you say about her, it wont suffice to describe the person that she was.
What really struck me about her was her kindness, sensitivity and non judgmental attitude. When you walked into a set and saw her, she radiated such great warmth.
Actor Mohnish Behl (left)played her favourite son in Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999
I don't know a soul who didn't like her. She had a different aura and charm. I hadn't met her in years unfortunately, because I haven't done much cinema; whatever little I have done wasn't with her. That's a regret I will always live with.
I am certain people will feel the void more when a director like Sooraj Barjatya puts together a film about families and they find her missing from a space that she rightfully commanded.
"I have lost a mother again today. Everytime I worked with her, I learnt something new. Her demise has left a void," says Sanjay Dutt, who played her son in the iconic Vaastav
Reemaji used to live in a building bang opposite mine. On several occasions, I would wake up to find my wife, Aarti, waving out to Reemaji from our balcony. They conversed through gestures.
I wouldn't comment on her acting prowess. That would be chhoti mooh badi baat, but I loved her in Vaastav. Her repertoire is filled with exemplary works. She is an actor of immense calibre. But there are things in a person which often go beyond their professional capabilities. I would miss her as a friend.
"Before I directed her in Tu Tu Main Main, she told me she wants to break away from her mother image," says Sachin Pilgaonkar, who worked with her in Hindi and Marathi cinema
She always wore the smile of an understanding, older friend. There was no forewarning of her demise and it has come as a rude shock.
"I put her out of a self imposed exile, asking to be in Naamkaran. She was committed and shot for 12 to 14 hours a day," says Mahesh Bhatt, who brought her back to TV
As told to Mohar Basu
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