Four generations to greet Chandrashekhar on 90th birthday

Mumbai, July 5 (IANS) Four generations of family members will gather here Sunday to greet grand old actor Chandraskhar on his 90th birthday and make it a memorable occasion for the legend, known for films like "Kali Topi Lal Rumal" and "Baradari".

Unlike in the past, when his birthdays were big parties with top Bollywood personalities joining to sing "Happy birthday to you", Chandrashekhar has requested a quiet affair this year.

"I can't handle so many guests and would not like to disappoint anybody," Chandrashekhar advised his son Ashok Shekhar, himself a veteran film and television personality for the past four decades.

Born July 7, 1922, Chandrashekhar worked in some 112 movies since his debut with "Aurat Teri Yehi Kahani" in 1954.

Over the years, he was seen in several prominent movies with top directors in various roles ranging from lead to character. Some of his film include "Surang", "Rustam-E-Baghdad", "Street Singer" , "Basant Bahar", "Barsat Ki Ek Raat", "Kati Patang", "Sharaabi", "Shakti" and "Ajnabee".

Later, Chandrashekhar made his own movie, "Cha, cha, cha" with Helen as his leading lady and it went onto become a musical hit. He later made "Street Singer".

He also portrayed the character of Sumantra in Ramanand Sagar's epic tele-serial, "Ramayan", and appeared for his last role in "Khauff" before retiring from Bollywood, son Ashok said.

Since then, he occasionally watched the black-and-white telecast of his earlier movies as a hero on various television channels.

"He regularly chats with people like Dilip Kumar or Pran and reminisces about the good old days... He feels very upset whenever he hears of any of his colleagues passing away, like Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Yash Chopra, Rajesh Khanna ans others," Ashok said.

Though frail, Chandrashekhar continues to be a disciplinarian in all aspects of life and maintains his good health.

"But, he loves to indulge in a leisurely six-seven course full meal lasting upto 100 minutes, which he savours watching TV or reading," Ashok smiled.

Another favourite hobby is writing letters - postcards, inlands, airmails - to family members, old friends, admirers and even casual acquantainces.

"My father does not use a mobile, and is not comfortable with emails... So, one of our biggest household expenses is on stationery and stamps for his dozen-odd daily letters. Nobody minds as it keeps him happy and 'in touch' with everybody," added Ashok.

Chandrashekhar felt very sad when his wife of 72 years Pushpa died in 2010 and wished she was alive with him to celebrate the platinum jubilee of their marriage this year.

Now, his name in the industry is carried forward by son Shekhar, grandsons Shakti Arora (currently seen as doctor Onir in popular TV serial 'Pavitra Rishta') and well-known ad filmmaker Vishal Shekhar.

During his heydays, Shekhar saab, as he was revered by all colleagues, was one of the industry leaders taking part in various social-charitable-community initiatives during natural or manmade calamities hitting the country.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)

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