Shah Rukh Khan
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The new generation’s best reference point to Ranjeet may be his act in Housefull 2, when Akshay Kumar kept mimicking him. But that reference point originated from countless movies that Ranjeet did as a villain, making him one of the most feared and hated villains of Bollywood. But the actor, one of the best known on-screen baddies of Indian cinema, had come to Mumbai with other dreams.
As Ranjeet turns 70, we bring you some facts about him that might completely surprise you! Here goes!
As a young chap he had taken the National Defence Academy entrance exam and got selected. He was training as an Air Force Cadet when he got romantically involved with the daughter of his instructor. He was forced to leave!
While at a party in Delhi he met UK-based businessman Ranbr Singh, who wanted to make films. Singh offered Ranjeet the lead role in his soon to launch film Zindagi Ki Rahen. The film got shelved and Ranjeet was left without work. He struck a friendship with Sunil Dutt around the same time. He almost decided to give up his movie dream and head to Germany, where his father’s business partner was starting a pharmaceutical factory. But the very same day got a call from Mohan Segal to be a part of Sawan Bhadon, which incidentally was also the launch of Rekha and Navin Nischol. Soon, Sunil Dutt offered him a role in Reshma Aur Shera.
Born in Amritsar, Ranjeet’s actual name is Gopal Bedi. However Sunil Dutt gave him the screen name of Ranjeet to suit his character in Reshma Aur Shera. He is incidentally called Goli by his friends, including Rekha.
Though Reshma Aur Shera did not work, he was recommend by actress Rakhee Gulzar to play the baddie in Sharmeelee. The film became a huge hit and overnight Ranjeet was flooded with similar villainous roles. He never refused any role as he was just happy to do as much work as possible. Soon he was a favourite with filmmakers like Prakash Mehra who offered him plum roles in films like Namak Halaal, Sharaabi and Laawaris. His scenes were such a hit that producers apparently used to tell Hrishikesh Mukherjee, one who never made run of the mill films, to insert nightmare sequence that featured a Ranjeet rape scene.
By the late ‘80s Ranjeet found his work monotonous. He would shoot for multiple films on the same day. He was so busy that he missed family occasions like his brother’s wedding. He decided to slow down and made his first film as a director. Kaarnaama released in 1990. Then he made Gajab Tamasha in 1992. Both films failed.
By Noyon Jyoti Parasara
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