‘Junior Mehmood was so popular, producers would plan movies around his dates’
When I joined the film industry with ‘Parichay’ (1972), Junior Mehmood was already a big star.There was a huge craze about him. Then we worked together again in Deewangee (1976) where he playedShashi Kapoor‘s friend and I was a child artiste. He was such a big star and so busy that the producers had to wait for his dates to shoot. If he wasn’t available, they would use a duplicate because Junior Mehmood used to be busy with his shows. There was a time when the producers would take his dates first and match it with their lead actors’ availability.
He is the pride of all child artistes and he was the first popular star. Before him, there were Daisy Irani and Sachin. They were popular, but Junior Mehmood was truly a mass child actor star. He was so influential with his popularity that he was the one who elevated the status of child artistes and managed to raise the fees of all child actors. Before his time, child actors were treated like kids. Producers quite often, used to say, ‘Yeh toh bachcha isko itna de do’.
Amid his battle with cancer, Junior Mehmood wishes to meet his old friends and co-actors Jeetendra and Sachin Pilgaonkar
‘His influence changed the status of child artistes in cinema’
You know, when I started charging one lakh rupees in late 70s, at that time, one could buy a flat in one lakh in Bandra. People would tell me, I was expensive and overpriced. But Junior Mehmood used to charge a fee of Rs 1 lakh in the 60s. He was a child actor and yet he used to travel around in an Impala. He had a whole floor in Dara Villa. he made a lot of money and name for himself.
During the 80s, I started living in the same lane where he used to stay. Bandra was all empty back then and we would play cricket on the street with Mithun Chakraborty, Aditya Pancholi and Mahesh Anand would come join us.
‘Not all old actors are poor. Junior Mehmood is a rich man’
It hurts to see Junior Mehmood in his current condition. It’s one thing if a person dies of an heart attack but then in case of Junior Mehmood, so much tamasha is done, like people end up pitying you. Everyone feels that yester year actors are always poor.
Even in my case, people think and say, ‘Arre bechara!’. I have to tell everybody that my father was a CA, my mother was a teacher and my wife was a teacher. My finances have been managed well. Even if I don’t work, everything will be looked after so don’t pity me. I am a busy actor even today. I have my own celebrity management company and I direct ads. I am going to start a film soon, which I am directing as well.
When I posted about Junior Mehmood, people asked me, ‘Does he need help?’. He is a rich man and both his sons are working and Johnny Lever is with him. We all are with him. This perception of pitying old stars happened because of certain people in the film industry like Tun Tun and Manorama.
‘The media turns the misfortune of old actors into a tamasha’
I know, not every old actor is well to do, but people assume, which is not good. Their assumptions always end up in the conclusion that, ‘Where is Bollywood now?’
What hurts is that the misfortune of yesteryear stars becomes content for people. Like it happened in the case of Raju Srivastav. He fell off the treadmill and died, story over. But here, in the modern world of Bollywood and social media, it becomes a tamasha.
Once Junior Mehmood’s senses become weak, he won’t know, but people around him and his family will suffer. The media doesn’t bother about the old actors until tragedy strikes. No one tracks us otherwise. The media is more interested in Urfi Javed.