WHEN Meena married producer-director Roop Shorey in 1949, little did she know that she was in for the most gruelling jobs of her life. In his first comedy, “Ek Thi Larki”, he made her drive a motor-launch at more than 50 miles an hour in the storm-tossed waters of the Jhelum in Kashmir. In the second film, “Dholak,” he demanded that she skate on the ice in Simla. She came through with a collection of major and minor bruises.
But the worst for Meena—and the best for the audience—was reserved for “Ek Do Teen”, the third picture of the series. In it Meena is shown escaping in a train, a trolley, a truck and a tractor at different times. “I found it easier to drive a train than a car”, she said. “You just press a lever and off it goes.” She found driving the trolley more difficult. Then she had to drive a tractor, which jolted merrily along. After that she was made to drive a truck for a chase scene, and smash it right into a tree, incidentally escaping from plunging into a gaping chasm.
The train sequences proved to be the most expensive for director Roop Shorey. “We had to hire a complete train unit for over ten days and pay the fare for all the compartments ! —about Rs. 16,000. In order to keep the line clear for normal traffic, we were allotted a fixed time for shooting, one hour in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. The story required the destruction of one of the carriages. As we could not very well destroy Government property, we had to send our art directors and carpenters a month in advance to build a special railway wagon to be smashed up later on”, Mr. Shorey said.
Meena, now back in Bombay, is still recovering from those exciting and strenuous moments. But the climax is just around the corner. After the monsoon is over, she will slip into a pilot’s cockpit and take off for an exciting air-chase—thus becoming India’s first woman star to fly an airplane. It is part of the film. (June, 1952).