This month’s post is a part of the interview transcript. There is a lot more to the tape but I have sort of presented just a snippet here. AG are my initials and sometimes I refer to my grand father as PA (Papa Ajoba) or then RT (his name Ram Tipnis). He speaks mostly in Marathi and so while translating it I have tried to retain the flavor of his speech, so some sentences seem oddly constructed in English.
Also please scroll down to the older post, there are some old pictures on location.
AG: Papa Ajo how did you first meet Shammi Kapoor?
RT: You know what happened that time, a film called Aanand Math was on and there was a sequence where Papa Prithviraj ji, who is everybody’s guru in the film, is riding on the horse for propaganda. So then there was a shot where he had to ride on an elephant through the forest. So then that time we… you know today’s Jija Matoshree Garden, in the old days it was called Ranicha Baug. So we decided to shoot there… he was to sit on the elephant and all. So then Papaji told me that, “Dada now we have to come to Goregon for make up and then we will have to go to Parel, instead of that why don’t you come to my house? I live in Parsi Colony.” So I said okay, then I took all my material and went to his house the next day. We were shooting in the Rani Cha Baug for two days. On the first day I did my make up and I left. Then after the pack up, I came home. On the second day I was doing the make up, so that time his lanky son came and said, “Papaji”
AG: Talk in Hindi no.
RT: (Papaji mein wahan Aspi Irani ki yahan test ke liye jaa raha hoon) I am going to Aspi Irani’s for a test. So I need your blessings. So papaji, as usual gave him his blessings and then said to him, “that look Shammi, you know this man’s dad, he is also an good artist… he is a drama artist…; stage artist”
AG: (interrupts) did he know your father?
RT: (Ignores me and continues) … he is an artist, he knows of my father Madhavrao Tipnis and that time in Mumbai one contractor had put up 2 shows of “Agrahoon Sutka” (Shivaji’s Escape from Agra) so Papaji had seen one show.
AG: Were you acting in it?
RT: My father was acting in the play as Shivaji.
AG: Which year was this?
RT: That only... 49 or 50 at Shreerang theatre.
AG: Agra hoon Sutka?
RT: Agrahoon Sutka! So he had seen it. So that time once he suggested, “I want to meet your father Tipnisji”. So I said, “Okay” … So then…
AG: Which year was this Agrahun Sutka?
RT: 49, 50.
RT: Must be 50, ‘So in that Agrahun Sutka I want to play Aurangzeb and your father will play Shivaji, so tell him that we will do a play like that,’ said Papaji to me. So I organized for them to meet.
AG: So then what happened when they met?
RT: Later that contractor who was to organize the play did not do anything.
RT: He just didn’t do anything… there must be something.
RT: So then Shammi Kapoor Saheb had come, he took blessings from Papaji and then Papaji introduced us, so he touched my feet also and then he left. After that, I saw one thing in Papaji, the two days that I went there, to his house, I saw on both days on both sides of the staircase, there used to be people sitting. Papaji helped them so much.
AG: People? Which people?
RT: Poor people, needy people and then…
Ag: In need of money or acting parts?
(He ignores me and continues)
RT: Listen! Then papaji would ask them” I had given you a letter did you get the job?” “What happened with you? And you? Did your child get medicines?” He would continue asking the people till the end of the stairs. So I asked him, “papaji forgive me but how do you remember all of this?”, so he said, “Nothing Tipnisji, if we help someone, you remember who needs what help… so according to that” That’s the big thing about Papaji, he helped the poor people a lot.
AG: But tell a little more about when Papaji met my great grandfather.
PA: No, no nothing much, they talked a bit, I was not with them but there was Morey Dada who was a make up master who used to work with Papaji in Prithvi Theatre also.
AG: Morey make up master.
PA: Yes, Morey Dada he was in Bhau’s (my great grand father) Maharashtra Natak Mandali (silence) and he was a good astrologer.
AG: So he worked in our company as well as theirs?
PA: huh? He was… he was.
AG: He was in Maharashtra theatre company also and Prithvi Theatre also.
PA: Later, when Prithvi Theatre started, he worked there.
AG: But Prithvi theatre started more recently.
PA: Ya exactly, so that time he told Papaji, you do this… that and then he specified an auspicious time. That’s why the first few plays that took place in Prithvi Theatre … plays like Shakuntala and for all those plays Morey dada was the make-up man.
Then after that we shot there for two days , then after that I met Shammi Kapoor in Xavier’s college, there was a variety program. (Changes to Hindi) So the college people had called me there for make up. So I went. So there was a skit called Bhoot.,.. Bhoot … It was called Bhoot. It was being done by Shammi Kapoor and Rajendra Nath… the comedian. Understood? So then Shammi Kapoor told me “Arre Dada aap toh mujhe Papaji ke saath ghar main mile the”, I said “Haan sahib mila tha main aapko” Toh oos time se pehchaan thi. After that Shammi kapoor Sahib and I met directly at Filmistan. Filmistan…
AG: Rajender Kumar or Rajender Nath?
PA: Rajendra Nath… comedian. In Filmistan a film was being made called Hum Sab Chor Hai so in that I.S.Johar was the director and actor and with him there was Majnoo, both of them were comedians and Nalini Jaywant was the heroine and Shammi Saheb was the hero… so that time I met him again for the second time … during Hum Sab Chor Hai.
AG: Was that his first fillm?
PA: No he had done about 5-6 films before that.
AG: So what did you think of him when you saw his first few films? Did you think that, “hey, I know this guy”
PA: Ya, but what was the big deal? I knew all the actors. All the people were known to me. So that was the first film Shammiji did with Filmistan. The second was Tumsa Nahin Dekha…
AG: That was hit no?
PA: Oh that! That was a super duper hit.
AG: So you had done the make-up in Hum Sab Chor Hain?
PA: Ha, ya… Hum Sab Chor Hain, Tumsa Nahin Dekha, understood? It was a hit film. Amita and Shammi Kapoor and it was Nasser Hussain’s first film as a director.
AG: Tumsa Nahin Dekha?
PA: Tumsa Nahin Dekha was a hit. Amita was the heroine she was also beautiful, I worked with her also. Prakash’s film Goonj Uthi Shehnayi, she and Rajender Kumar, I was the makeup artist for that one, it was a black and white film and Filmistan…
AG: Was this a Filmistan film?
PA: No… Goonj Uthi was Prakash’s … Prakash film Company the ones that made Ram Rajya and Vijay Bhatt, a very big producer and director, the owner of Prakash Studio and he was a very good man and I think his son is a camera man and his grandson is a director, that Bhatt. So that’s when I shot with Amita in Mahableshwar, Panchgani for Goonj Uthi Shenai so I did that and that’s when I met Rajender Kumar and then I met Rajender Kumar again…
AG: Rajendra Kumar?
PA: Yes, Kumar, Kumar the hero, the ones they call Silver Jubilee hero… all the films he did were Silver Jubilee hits. So when Mere Mehboob in colour started around 1961 I met him then that time I used to go there for Sadhana’s make up.
AG: Wait wait we were talking about Shammi Kapoor
AG: So then what happened after that? What happened after Tumsa Nahin Dekha?
PA: After Tumsa Nahin Dekha … he slipped out and he became a hit… then afterwards…
AG: Dil Deke Dekho?
PA: That was later he acted in a few Filmalaya films. Then he acted in Subodh Mukherjee’s Junglee. There, the make up man was an old assistant of mine, Dinu Indulkar, he was an assistant somewhere else. But in 1949 Kishore Sahu started his own company and Kishore Sahu and I had very good relations, because of a film of his called Sindoor was a produced at Filmistan and I did the make up for that and that time the wigs, the wigs that one wears on the head were not there. So then Sahusaheb said “Kya karne ka?” So I said, “Nothing I will apply the hair”, So he said “Yes?” Then I put hair and showed him.
AG: How did you put the hair?
PA: We have a method! (Irritated)
AG: What is the method?
PA: With spirit gum, that method has no name.
AG: But what did you apply that on?
PA: You apply spirit gum to the forehead… forehead and you take patches of hair and stick them on. Its good work, rather delicate and he had liked it and that time I was acting in plays and also painting. Sahu Saheb himself was a very good painter that’s why he and I used to gel along after I put the hair he was very happy with me.
AG: For which films?
PA: Sindoor, It was a Silver Jubilee film.
AG: Which year?
PA: I don’t remember the year.
AG: But Filmistan?
PA: Filmistan. And what happened with Sahu Saheb was that he had a very good opinion of me. There was another reason for this, Shobhana Bai Samarth, she is my wife’s cousin sister. When he got to know that, I rose in his eyes. Then later when Sahu saheb started his own company he said “Tipnis you will never leave Filmistan as you have a good salary and status there so you come and do my make up and go and then keep some juniors over here, that’s when I called Dinu Indulkar, at that time when he was staying with someone at Kamathipura”.
AG: At Kamathipura?
PA: Dinu knew someone and he was not married then. So I put him onto Sahu Saheb and then there was another boy called Ram Patrivar, who was also an assistant there.
AG: What was that company called?
PA: I don’t remember but the picture was Rim Zim. Sahu Saheb and Ramola, a famous actress from Punjab was acting in that film. I would go there put the hair and come. Then later, one day when I had gone to Shobana Samarth’s house, she had just returned from America. So then she had bought a wig, gents, it was for Moti Lal because Moti Lal had given her the measurement or something. So she showed it to me, she said it’s a gents wig, we don’t get this here. I told this to Sahu Saheb, while Rim Zim was going on. I said to him that you have good relations with Shobana, you take the measurement for your wig and send it. According to that we sent it. While Rim Zim was half way through, the wig arrived. So then we started putting that wig for him.
AG: You were saying about the wig on a thin net or something.
PA: In the old days we didn’t get a nicely finished wig for men. There is something called the fine net so that wigs are made on that and when stuck in the front so one cant see it because it is so fine. This net we saw there for the first time. Then there was a make up man called Jimmy Vining, from England for Jhansi Ki Rani and Zanak Zanak Payal Baje with V. Shantaram that was a color film, for that. So he had brought it.
AG: The wig?
PA: The net! So we had seen it. Then later a wigman from Calcutta had come to me and said, “I like this, I am a wigman and he used to do good work, his name was Rashid, because in Calcutta there is a wigman called, Abdul Bari, he has 5-6 shops in one line all wig shops. But he didn’t know about that fine net wig. So we looked all over Bombay for fine nets and we found it and gave it to Rashid.
Then he made a wig for Kishore Shau and seeing that wig our S. Mukherjee, Filmistan’s managing director and he was a big producer, he asked “Sahu Saheb did you bring this wig from foreign?” He replied saying “no no you know, that wig man from your company, he made it.” So Mukherjee Saheb called me to the office and asked me who our company’s wig man was? I said I have someone and then I introduced Rashid to him and he was really good, he used to make good wigs and beards so quickly, that don’t ask. Then after he left our company he went to Chennai… and he was with Shivaji Ganeshan’s company. There he showed the people the technique of fine nets and then there also fine net wigs started being used.