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Rita Bhaduri was understated throughout: Satish Shah remembers his Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai co-star

The veteran actor also worked with Rita Bhaduri in popular movies like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994) and Hero No 1 (1997). 

Keyur Seta

Among the best-known projects from Rita Bhaduri’s five-decade-long acting career were movies Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994) and Hero No 1 (1997) and the television series Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai (2004). Veteran actor Satish Shah happened to be part of all three. 

Shah recalled his association with Bhaduri, who died this morning, and said she was very cooperative as a co-star. “I would be lying if I said I knew her well," he said. "But whatever I knew of her, I have fond memories. She had no airs. She was very adjustable even when we improvise, which I am notoriously famous for. She would not only adjust, but also complement it. You have very few actors like that.”

Like others who worked with her over the years, Shah, too, was impressed with Bhaduri off-screen. “She was a wonderful human being," he said, "very loving and caring; very tender. She never hurt anybody. She would go out of her way to help others.” 

Shah did notice that she wasn’t keeping very well during the shooting of Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai. “She was slightly unwell those days. I could make out that she was feeling weak. She was complaining of severe diabetes. But there wasn’t much contact later because she wasn’t working that much and she wasn’t part of the projects I was doing. So I didn’t know,” he said. 

With Ravi Baswani, Satish Shah and Shah Rukh Khan in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa

Rita Bhaduri was Satish Shah’s senior at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. “She passed two years before I did," he recalled. "She passed out and I joined. Age-wise she was younger to me, but I joined after graduation. That’s why she became my senior.” 

Shah fondly remembered watching her shooting for a Gujarati film when he was still a struggler. “In the late 1970s she was one of the top stars in Gujarati cinema," he said. "She was a hit then. There were very few big names; another was Snehlata. I have seen her shoot for some Gujarati film. I was a newcomer who was struggling. I saw her perform well. But she was always down-to-earth.”

The actor believes that because of Bhaduri’s nature, she remained low profile. “Whatever she was asked to do, she used to do it perfectly. She was a very fine actor. She was understated. Throughout her life she was understated. It was not her nature to assert herself anywhere; in real life as well as on screen. She was very nice, pleasant company and co-artiste.” 

Shah said he was unhappy to see the low turnout at her funeral but refused to blame anyone. “It’s sad that not many people turned up at her funeral," he said. "The news may not have reached many. I have missed out on some funerals that way. By the time I got the news it was too late. That happens, so I can’t blame anybody. Her lack of exposure in the last few years and correspondence could have resulted in it.”