August 07, 2020
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In Residence

Mumbai: in Juhu at Iris Park.

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In Residence
Abhijit Bhatlekar
In Residence

I came to Mumbai about 60 years ago, in ’43. I’ve lived in Juhu at Iris Park for over 40 years. In the early days I was a tramp, I lived anywhere, with whoever I knew. I lived with Khwaja Ahmad Abbas for a few days, also with Raja Rao. I’ve even lived in a chawl in Parel for a few months. Before I moved to Juhu I lived in Bandra, in almost the same spot where I have my office, dubbing studio and penthouse now. I lived in a rented place in the beginning and our apartment had been lived in by Mr Toubro of Larsen and Toubro.

A number of us used to share the place—my brother Chetan Anand, Zohra Segal and her husband Kameshwar Segal. It used to be fun, setting out each morning, looking for work with hope in our hearts. World War II was still on. I built my Juhu house in ’50. Juhu was a small village then and there was total wilderness. I liked it because I’m a loner. Juhu has become very crowded now, too full of people, especially on Sundays. It’s not the same beach any longer. My Iris Park residence doesn’t have a park anymore, there is a school and four bungalows bang opposite my place. I’ve spent all these years raising my walls for privacy, otherwise the neighbours can look straight into our rooms. Our exclusive road is not exclusive any longer. I can’t enter my house because the lane is crowded, there are crowds outside my door. Often I have to drive past quietly and tell the watchmen not to let people know I’m in.

(As told to Lata Khubchandani)

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