I’ve had two Basud in my life. One of them was Basu Bhattacharya, who died in 1997. The other was Basu Chatterjee, who died last Thursday at the age of 93. Coincidentally, Chatterjee cut his teeth while filming the film as Bhattacharya’s assistant in Raj Kapoor Tesri Kasam.
Both loved me as much as I did, and both treated me with great love and affection. I miss them both very much.
The two bassudas were introduced to me by my husband, Om Puri, who worked with them during his long career. But the reason he introduced me to them almost 25 years ago was that they were able to bring balm to my missing phase in Calcutta in the form of Cha and Adda sessions in Bengali. It goes without saying that I took full advantage of her. Including all the Bengali food they served me!
Mr Zoom Chatter
I often used Basuda (Chatterjee) as a courier to bring warmth and chivda from Mumbai to my mother in Calcutta (when he was driving between two subways) and from there to bring sand, stolen peat and other similar delicacies. Before there was a video chat, he gave her the whole choir on me for hours. Don’t forget that Basuda did this with pleasure.
We’ve all seen his films, so I won’t go into detail. We grew up with Rajniganda (1974), Hatta Meta (1978), Rajani (1985), Kakaji Kahin (1988) and many more of his works. But the best thing about Basud is they never sat on it. He was a simple, cheerful, loving heart.
Popular films from Basu Chatterjee include
My husband Om Puri played the role of an ambitious and corrupt mediator in Kakaji Kahin, a political satire based on the play by Manohar Shyam Joshi Netaji Kahin, one of Basuda’s masterpieces for Indian television. According to Om (in his hardly heroic biography: Om Puri): Basuda was a business manager, used a lot of zoom (often called Zoom Chatterjee) and made smart compromises in this area. Despite the fact that he wasn’t very smart in the field of film dramatics, he was enthusiastic about the producer. One day, when Kakaji Kahin walked out of the auditorium, he filmed the rest of the play, bringing us actors up close on a black background!
And maybe it’s one of those directors who, if he says he needs you for 3 hours, chances are he’ll let you go for 1 hour.
wrote Om Puri in his biography: Basuda was an economic director, he used a lot of zoom and compromised the place. He made the producer happy!
I became aware of this during the filming of Triyaharitra (1994) in Allahabad in 1994. In addition to Om also Rajeshwari Sakhdev, S.M. Zahir, Nasiruddin Shah and Deepak Kazir can be seen in the film. They put us in a small house, and I have a phobia for carpets. Especially the dusty kind. So I’ve decided that the next day, when the machine starts running, I’ll take the carpet out of the room. Said he’d be back by 5:00, and I had to do it before he came back. In the middle of the distance of the dusty carpet I heard voices in the hallway. It was one o’clock in the afternoon. I opened the door to find Rajeshwari, and when I asked her why she had come back so early, she was happy to tell me that the shooting was over. And then I saw Grandma chasing her!
And at this rate, the shooting ended a week ahead of schedule!
Basuda and his wife whom I called Mashima (a strange equation, brother and aunt in Bengali) came to Delhi and asked grandma and me to go with them to enjoy the winter in Delhi. We have a deal. The train journey to Delhi is unforgettable.
Basuda and Mashima slept on the upper docks, while Om and I slept on the lower docks. A few minutes later, the men were snoring. We women continue our conversations by whispering. Eventually I decided to go to sleep and I told Mashima. She said her husband tended to get up in the middle of the night. She was afraid he’d fall during the raid. I assured him something like this wouldn’t happen. But she insisted. Every time I fell asleep, she repeated her fears. Eventually I fell asleep and woke up with a huge, overwhelming sound. I thought the train crashed! We all woke up and realised that Basuda had really fallen!
He put our worries aside and went to the bathroom without worrying. To quickly take the upper bed to prevent further disasters. Basuda returned to the lower pier after a long cajoling session. I told Mashima to go to sleep. Yes, I will, she said. See, I told you Basuda would fall. Now I can sleep. Good night! Good night! Oh, really?
Thank you, Basuda, for so much fun, laughter and happiness. I’m gonna miss you.
(Author biography: Nandita Puri – Author, chairman of the Foundation Om Puri and wife of the late actor Om Puri).
From 7. June 2020