Bindiya Goswami – Interview
She sat on the bed in a mauve top, black jeans, curlers in her hair; going through some jewellery. The impersonal hotel room was full of people: her mother, a make-up man, two boys, a woman who helped her dress. Bindiya was a little bewildered, shy when I walked in, till I reminded her we had an appointment and she asked me, very formally to sit down.
Ten minutes later, at the start of the transformation of Bindiya from 20th century swinger to prototype, of Noorjehan, she was powdering her nose and telling me cheerfully, “”I’m misunderstood all the time.” Apparently though, Miss Misunderstood had scarcely another cloud in her 17-year-old life. When I took out a list of questions, she waved them away hurriedly and said, “Can’t we just talk?” and proceeded to do just that.
It has been more or less smooth-sailing for Bindiya throughout, from the time her picture appeared on the cover of a women’s magazine, through her “discovery” by Jaya Chakravarty who saw a resemblance in her to Hema Malini. Mrs. Chakravarty took her on with the vague idea of fitting her into “Swami” but Bindiya (at 14 years) looked too young. Yet she was still 14 when she acted in “Jeevan Jyoti”, a film which holds great memories for her. She ran the whole gamut of womanhood from young girl to bride to mother of two children to divorcee.
She has a whole list of films behind her, among them “Khatta Meetha”, “Mukti”, “Dada”. “Duniyadari”, “Khel Kismet Ka”, “‘College Girl”. Waiting to be released are “Gol Maal”, (with Amol Palekar), “Jaandari”, “Jai Dushman” and “Muqabla”. And there there is more to come. “Shaan” with Shashiji, “Sarhad” with Vinod Mehraji, “Virodhi” with Jeetuji and “Patthar Ke Log” with l-never-asked-ji.
And, of course, there is the film she was shooting for when I met her, called “Sansani” (meaning sensation). Which took us on to another tack. Why is she content with working in B grade films?
At once, with a lightning change of mood, there was indignation, mixed with a little hurt. “Who says I’m working only in B grade films? This one may be, but what about the rest like “Shaan” with Shashiji and….”
Then why is she working in so many multi-starrers? “Not many, just some, like ‘Pathar Ke Log’ and ‘Dada’ “. At this point her mother interrupted saying “Dada” was not a multi-starrer, she was the only heroine. Bindiya said so what, it was still a multi-starrer.
She faced the mirror, this child-woman (90 per cent child), pleased with herself, her world, her work. It is important to work all the time, else “I’ll forget all my acting.” Actually, she still has a lot to prove, still has to formulate her ambitions.
Does she have visions of herself as another Meena Kumari? Bright scorn in her face as she says “Every newcomer wants to end up either as Meena Kumari or Madhubala.” Which meant that she didn’t? She giggled and said “I want to be the best of both!” Meena’s histrionic ability, Madhubala’s looks.
And in spite of the fact that she dismisses the competition airily, saying that there is room at the top for all, the fact remains that Tina Munim and Ranjeeta and Kajal Kiran are very much on the scene, the first way ahead in the race, the others determinedly plodding behind her, with Bindiya running her own race in what seems like a different direction altogether.
Her exuberance and spontaneity are curiously mixed nowadays with a –caution that belies her years. She has no favorites, among heroes or directors. They are usually “fantastic”. Hrishikesh or Basu Chatterji, are both equally high in her estimation as directors, both equally super. And what about Ramesh Sippy? “Yah, of course, he too, look what he did for ‘Sholay’.
She doesn’t consider herself a “director’s actress”. Says she prefers to work things out on her own. But both Hrishikesh and Basu helped her immensely with their suggestions. And as I watched her do some dance steps for a two- second scene in “Sansani”, she kept asking the dance directress for instructions. “Should I do it like this?”
Her assistant buttoned up the ‘churider’ outfit in black and silver for her scene, started making her plait. She looked at it, asked her to redo it, please.
Suddenly she was serious, said she wanted to reach somewhere in her profession, and immediately spoiled the fleeting image she projected by hopping up, swirling in front of the mirror and asking if she was fat. (She is as slim as a reed).
We went back to the misunderstood bit. She was cautious, which is out of character for Bindiya, who, by her own admission, likes to talk, chatters nineteen-to-the-dozen with everybody, has no star hang-ups. “I like to talk, and this is what gets me into trouble. People deliberately misunderstand. And when I talk to my hero, I am supposed to be having an affair with him. It used to make me sick, now I don’t bother because I cannot change myself”.
And her mother said Bindiya was independent, though she shared a close relationship with her family. Her brother and sister are very possessive, stricter even than her parents. Her father is very broadminded and understanding about the whole thing, even about magazine gossip. So Bindiya flies a little in the morning, but in the evening, like chickens and curses, she goes home to roost. Her mother said there were no wolves on the scene. They wouldn’t dare with her around.
The last touches were being put to her outfit, a “nath” was fixed to her nose, there were diamonds in her hair, on her hands and feet. Bindiya the sensation acting in “Sansani”, with Vinod Mehra who wasn’t around that day. A stiff head-dress, complete with waving plume, reminiscent of history book illustrations of Noorjehan and Mumtaz Mahal, was fixed to her hair and I asked if she had friends among the younger actresses. No, she was just a bit friendly with Neetu Singh. i didn’t ask what she thought about her because, ten to one, Bindiya would have said “Fantastic”.
She got into her waistcoat, glittering with ‘jari” and her eyes sparkled as she admitted she loved wearing stuff like that, except when she had had to keep getting into them for continuity. And then she went onto the set to be confronted by an identically dressed Jayashree T. who was to dance with her. In the scene, a drunken Vinod Mehra is supposed to be watching the dancer and suddenly imagines that it is Bindiya.
“Look,” said Bindiya Goswami striking a pose. “I’m waiting for my Shah Jehan.”
But her mother said hurriedly, “Oh no, you’re much too young.” (Interview conducted by Carol D’ Souza in May 1979).