I am twenty-five years old. This thought gives me a strange feeling, a strange and sudden realization that I have lived through twenty-five long years, through summers, winters, monsoons, and springs, laughed and cried and hoped and struggled, without ever feeling the weight of the years that were fast slipping away.

I have never believed in celebrating birthdays; that may be one of the reasons why I never felt the burden of the years and never took life seriously.

Things shaped themselves and, like an unwilling and unknowing factor, I was tossed around in the scheme of things without making a conscious attempt to evaluate my life.

Has it all been worthwhile? I wonder. Most people will probably be envying me at this moment.

In their eyes, I have achieved all that a girl can dream of. I have become a famous film star in the second-largest film famous industry in the world.

I have rubbed shoulders with the greatest figures of our time. I have appeared in nearly fifty films, many of them still fresh in cine-goers memories.

I have millions of fans; I have money and comfort and friends. What more could one ask of life?

Yet, I often feel that something has been lacking all the time. If I were to define that “something” in one word, I would say “Peace”.

I have had everything except that and Peace is as essential for the life of a person as it is for the life of a nation.

For instance, in 1950, shortly after my mother died, I signed eighteen film contracts and almost all the films went on the floor simultaneously.

The day had twenty-four hours, each hour had sixty minutes and each minute had sixty seconds, as ever.

But for me, the dial of the watch had no meaning anymore. Every second had to be spent perforce in the studios.

Work, work, work! Work by day and work by night. Ceaseless, seemingly endless work was my lot.

For days and weeks and months I had no sleep. There was no time to eat, no time to rest and relax, no time to see friends and read the morning paper.

I could not bear it. I yearned for peace and rest. After six months of this continuous work I collapsed.

I was taken seriously ill. I went to the hill station of Panchgani to recoup and rest.

I thought that there, away from the studio lights and with all the time at my disposal, I would have peace.

But even there I finally I actually yearned to get back to the film world and to work again on the sets.

So, it has always been. Whatever the circumstances and the time, I have always been restless, wanting to do I knew not what, seeking peace everywhere and everywhere and not finding it.

I have suffered heartbreaks and wept like a child because I thought often that I was miserable.

Now, however, when I look back on those days I think most of the misery was due to my own wrong approach to life.

I have lived a hectic life where every day has been packed with incidents. I don’t think that too many incidents are good for the physical and mental health of a person.

I have had too many friends and hundreds and thousands of fans professing their affection, friendships, love, and admiration for me.

I now think it is better to have a few genuine friends than to have thousands of them, not knowing which one is a true friend and which is drawn by your fame and glamour.

I now think that I have wasted my life in too many unnecessary sufferings and small worries which were not called for.

I have always been a very sensitive person; the smallest act of unkindness or the smallest insult from any quarter has been enough to make me weep for hours.

I now wish I had not taken such notice of the small things in life and that I had presented a placid face to people’s nastiness and criticism.

What would I do if I were given the chance to live my life all over again?

First of all, I would ask God to give me a happy childhood without any emotional frustrations or miserable days.

A happy childhood, in my opinion, is not only the birthright of every human being but absolutely essential for a satisfying adult existence.

Then, I would ask to be made a film star again, knowing well the drawbacks of this profession.

I know, of course, that a film star is not given due recognition by society and the Government.

I also know that a film artist has a short life and that his or her work is forgotten soon after retirement from the screen.

Despite these facts, I would again wish to be a film star for the simple reason that I love it.

The films are in my blood, so to say, and the love for this art was bequeathed to me by my mother.

I have been brought up in the film atmosphere and, now when I come to think of it, I do not think there is any other profession in the world which could give me the sense of pride and belonging I derive from film acting.

If I were given the chance to relive my life again, I would probably work in fewer films and put greater labour into each and every role.

I have always been worried by the thought that a film star’s work is forgotten very soon by the public.

If I had all the past years at my disposal again, I would try to find out why film achievements do not leave such a lasting impression as outstanding works of literature, science, and painting.

I would do my best, through my work, to make people realize that film acting is as serious, difficult, and significant an art as writing, painting, or scientific research.

I would also see to it that from the very beginning I plan for myself a happy and peaceful home life, which, in my opinion, is absolutely essential to a person’s mental peace and happiness.

In the past, my home life has been a negative factor, at the most a place of refuge from the world of glamour and make believe, a means of escape from the hard realities of life.

Given the chance again, I would plan my home life on more positive lines, so that every day I could look forward to going home after a day’s hard work and relax in the happy and informal home atmosphere.

More than anything else, if I were to relive the twenty-five years of my life, I would stop bothering about so many things and dedicate my life to the service of mankind, and lead a simple and peaceful existence unmarred by the tremendous trifles and the recurring emotional frustrations which make up the tragedies of today at which we laugh tomorrow. – Filmfare 1954

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *