Livewire Tanuja moves to Lonavala retreat
Chronic Sobo-ite Tanuja appears to have packed up from her Peddar Road apartment, with a spectacular view. She’s mostly to be found — but not entirely contactable — at her Lonavala retreat. That’s where her mother — the stalwart Shobhana Samarth — had anchored herself for decades, too.
Far away from the glitzy crowd, Tanuja isn’t exactly in self-imposed isolation. Daughters Kajol and Tanisha zip up to chez momma. The city does miss Tanuja though, a livewire never to mince her words, losing her cool on being denied a doggybag of the remnants of a dinner at a la-di-dah Chinese restaurant.
A voracious reader, over the years she hasn’t been generous in granting interviews, because she found the English being used in the newspapers disastrous. Yet her apartment in the high-rise Usha Kiran was open to a flock of a few media friends, for an evening drink or a Sunday fish curry, never mind the visitor’s proficiency in English.
Incidentally, the actress is among the last ones to favour Lonavala over other retreat-spots like Alibaug. Filmmaker Hansal Mehta has a house in the over-the-ghats hillspot, too, which he generously offers for a weekend getaway even if you’re not exactly his long-lost school chum. Cinematographer Kiran Deohans is believed to possess an excellent collection of books and high spirits at his Lonavala abode. And of course, the Deols — chieftained by Dharmendra — have an impressive home-away-from-home in the hilltown. There was even some talk about the Deols developing a film studio, which didn’t concretise.
The Azmi-Akhtar bungalow, described hyperbolically by one of their friends as “a virtual Buckingham Palace”, was the scene for a housewarming do last year. “If I had to do it up, it would have looked like Ankur,” Ma’am Shabana Azmi had expostulated “Since it’s Jadoo’s (Javed Akhtar’s) baby, it had to look as grand as Sholay. But whoever said it’s like Buckingham Palace, is talking nonsense. I may tell you the house has some jharokas…it’s very Indian.”
Few, however, remember that it was yesteryear’s songstress-actress Suraiya, who was first among the film fraternity to retire to Lonavala, emerging rarely for a public event. The darling of such black-and-white movies as Mirza Ghalib, however, never failed to make those brief guest appearances at Bollywood events, without sporting kilos of jadaoo jewellery. Aah, those were the years really, when stars didn’t hang around at coffee shops or pizza joints. To be elusive meant stardom. And Lonavala was where the sunset boulevards were.
I’m sorely missing Tanuja, though. She doesn’t need to semi-retire, she needs to be in the thick of Mumbai’s camera-action-lights studios.