Jeetendra on J Om Prakash's demise: Omji only shot in natural light, considered it lucky
Jeetendra, the leading man of several J Om Prakash films, remembers the filmmaker and his endearing quirks
I did five movies with Omji —Apnapan (1977), Aasha (1980), Apna Bana Lo (1982), Arpan (1983) and Aadmi Khilona Hai (1993). I remember him as a dedicated and hard-working man who knew his job well. He started out as a production manager with Mohan Segal, and then went on to produce films with Mohan Kumar as the director. What struck me most about him was that he had an ear for music.
Abhishek Bachchan, Jeetendra, and Sussanne Khan with kids Hrehaan and Hridhaan. Pics/Sameer Markande, Yogen Shah
The first movie that Omji directed, Aap Ki Kasam (1974), had such beautiful songs. Every song from that film is hummed even today. Similarly, his first production, Aas Ka Panchi (1961) had so many hit songs. While Omji was a successful producer, I believe he was also a brave director. Aap Ki Kasam with Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz was such a different film. Instead of making a formulaic movie, Omji decided to create an emotional film for his directorial debut. That was a brave choice. Normally, every new director wants to do a commercial film, but he dared to be different.
In the course of our five films, we grew fond of each other. He used to shoot all his films in Kashmir, in the outdoors. Our families too would accompany us on the outdoor shoots. While we would shoot, our wives would play cards. Interestingly, Omji's wife [Padma Rani Om Prakash] would tell him to shoot only in natural light as she considered it lucky. On some occasions, we would return to the hotel and Omji would tell his wife that he didn't shoot as there was no light. I would always tease his wife before stepping out for the shoot, saying, "What do you want — light change ya luck change?" And she would reply, "Both." It was our inside joke.
Over the past few years, he had become fragile. He couldn't recognise people during the last stages. Last year, on Ganpati, I went to Rakesh Roshan's house. They told Omji that I had come and were hoping that he would recognise me. But he didn't say anything. So, I went close to him and said, "Light ya luck?" He promptly said, "Light." Everybody was surprised. I remember this precious moment today as I bid farewell to him.
As told to Upala KBR
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Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan pay last respects to Hrithik Roshan's granddad J Om Prakash