MUMBAI: The death of filmmaker Basu Chatterjee comes as a personal loss for veteran actor Moushmi Chatterjee, who recalls the director's habit of bringing fresh rajnigandha flowers for her whenever they would meet.
So it isn't a coincidence that the veteran director, who breathed his last on Thursday, made a film titled "Rajinigandha", a true cinematic gem that along with other Chatterjee movie were about the Indian middle class.
"He was like a family to me. I would miss him dearly. He would come to my house often not just to offer me films, but to just meet and talk about life and cinema.
"He loved Rajnigandha flowers so much. I remember he had got it when he had come to sign me for a film.
Whenever he would visit me he would always get Rajnigandha flowers," Moushmi, who worked with Chatterjee on three of his films, told PTI.
She first collaborated with him for 1974's "Us Paar" and the duo followed it up "Do Ladke Dono Kadke", alongside Amol Palekar and Asrani, and "Manzil", opposite Amitabh Bachchan.
"Manzil", a rich girl-poor boy story, set against the backdrop of Mumbai, is remembered for its monsoon song "Rim Jhim Gire Saawan".
Moushmi said she was a fan of Chatterjee's work and never missed an opportunity to collaborate with him.
"There was something sweet about his films. It was my fortune that I got to work with him in so many films. I loved all his films and even TV shows and I have seen all of it. He gave me so much in life," she added.
The 72-year-old actor said she would like to remember Chatterjee for his outstanding work and as someone who was a simple and humble in his approach towards life.
"Today we have lost a genius. But he will stay alive with his creations. He was a very humble person, had no airs, he would wear simple clothes, he achieved so much success but he never looked for publicity, like other directors did.
He was a cool person, he never showed arrogance."
Sharing the story of how they shot the evergreen "Rimjhim Gire Saawan" from "Manzil", Moushmi said the director always believed in capturing real emotions on the celluloid.
"I remember while we were shooting the song 'Rimjhim Gire Saawan' for 'Manzil', it was actually raining in Mumbai
And Basu da wanted us to shoot it in the rain because he wanted the song to look natural.
He kept a car parked for us once the shot was over. We would go running and sit inside the car, till the call for the next shot came."
Watch the song here:
"The sari that was given to me, the colour was coming off and my eye liner was running due to rains.
But he managed things so beautifully, he was so much at ease," she said.
The lyrics of the song were penned by Yogesh Gaur, who passed away recently.
The actor said even while shooting for another film "Do Ladke Dono Kadke", Chatterjee asked her to not wear make-up as he wanted her to look real.
"'Do Ladke Dono Kadke' was a very funny film. He told me not to touch make up. He wanted me to look as real as possible. Generally, he believed in making things look natural and authentic, he loved reality in all his films.
He would say films are made for common man and they should feel the realness while watching it," she added.
The actor said during "Us Paar", she was seven months pregnant and Chatterjee took good care of her on the sets.
Moushmi revealed she had collaborated with Chatterjee again for a film in 2006, which she believes is unreleased.
"Last I worked with him was in 2006. I was shooting with him for a film, it wasn't titled that time, we had completed almost 85 to 90 percent of the shoot. It was a story about the reality of life. It is not released yet."
Sharing one peculiar habit of Chatterjee, Moushmi said, "He would bite a handkerchief when he would be worried or tensed and when I would ask him why are you doing this, he would feign ignorance and say, 'Nothing, just like that'."