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Exclusive: Renuka Shahane remembers good times with screen mum Reema Lagoo

The Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! actress recalls some intimate moments shared with Lagoo.

Keyur Seta

One of Reema Lagoo’s memorable performances came in Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! (1994). Renuka Shahane, who played her daughter in the film, shared a great bond with Lagoo as both were part of Marathi theatre. Shahane, who found it difficult to come to terms with the news of Lagoo's sudden demise, shared some memorable anecdotes with Cinestaan.com.

Lagoo is known as the adarsh (model) mother in Hindi films. But Shahane believes her real talent remained unseen by Hindi film audiences.

Reema Lagoo (1958-2017): The new-age Mother India

“I don’t think the Hindi film audience knows her talent," she said. "She never got the kind of roles commensurate with her talent, except maybe in Vaastav (1999). But apart from that she never got too many strong roles. She had such versatility. But she was always relegated as the sweet, understanding mother. I have seen her in Savita Damodar Paranjpe and Ghar Tighancha Hava. These are shades she has expressed on stage, which are outstanding. People never explored that aspect of her on screen, which was a shame. Yet, she was never really upset about it.”

Shahane vividly remembers the first time she bonded with Lagoo. “There was an after-play party at her house for which she had invited few people. She has such a legacy as an actress on the Marathi stage that I was awestruck. But she served us with her own hands. She had made the food. That was the first time I really spoke to her and met her properly.”

Their bond was such that Lagoo even had a protective shield around Shahane. “She was very protective of me. During Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! we used to share the make-up room and had the same tiffin box. The whole day we were together. There was this incredible bond with her. She was a very loving person. Her on-screen persona was exactly how she was off-screen. She was simple and gentle. I never saw her raise her voice. She never took her talent for granted.”

Renuka Shahane

Their bonding was so deep that Lagoo couldn’t stop actually crying when Shahane’s character died in Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!. “She could switch on and off with ease. But during the sequence when I die in the hospital, it affected her so deeply that she couldn’t stop crying even after Soorajji [Barjatya] said 'cut'. It took her a long time and I got up and hugged her very tight and said I am alive. Her emotions in the sequence were so real.”

Their relationship had funny moments too. “There was this running joke that she always understood a joke slightly late. We used to have our group [on the set]. There was Satish Shah, Laxmikant Berde, Anupam Kher and all these guys very good with jokes and mimicry. The rest of us would get the joke and immediately laugh but after five minutes we would hear Reematai laugh. She always used to say, ‘Meri tubelight thodi late jalti hai.’ But once she got into the loop of laughter, it was difficult for her to come out of it.”

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It was this laughter that once forced a director to reshoot a scene. “I remember playing her daughter-in-law in the Marathi film Aapli Mansa (1992). It was a very serious scene. There was one sequence with Dilip Prabhavalkar who was playing a slightly funny character of Reematai’s father-in-law. He was so funny that it was difficult for us to keep a straight face. He did something and Reematai wanted to laugh, but she couldn’t as we couldn’t afford too many retakes. So, she held a plate in front of her face and laughed. The director said this is an unusual way of stopping a take from going waste because it would have gone waste anyway as he couldn’t have her holding a plate on screen.”

Shahane also expressed shock at Reema Lagoo's passing away so early. “Really, 59 is so early," she said. "It’s very difficult to accept. She was always fresh and charged up to work and did a good job. So, it’s really shocking.”