J.D. Majethia

Actor, Producer at Hats Off Productions

I met Arunbhai during the making of the Gujarati tele-serial, Katha Sarita, based on Gujarati short stories. He was scouting for new talent when I happened to meet him. He recognised the thirst of doing good work in me and cast me opposite Shefali Shah for one of the short stories. I was a raw actor then and he saw immense potential in me. He turned the raw energy of mine into a fruitful performance.

Arunbhai was a man who could gauge what an actor was capable of, and extracted the best from him. It is known that there is always a script that’s ready prior to starting the shooting. But Arunbhai’s art of soaking in the script himself and explaining exactly what he wanted out of the actor was commendable.

Arunbhai was an exceptionally gifted and a talented man. I never was interested in doing television… Television was not even a lucrative choice those days. But I did this episode only because of him.

Once I had invited him for a play of mine called ‘Chakravarti.’ After watching the play, Arunbhai came to the green room and said something that no one had said before. He said, “You have created cinema on stage.” (He was a cinematic man himself). He went on to tell me that my performance could be compared to any of the stage stalwarts. It was during this time that he was in talks of directing a Gujarati film. I had already burnt my fingers in Gujarati cinema and was on the brink of quitting when I was offered the lead role in “Rangai Ja Ne Rangma.” The producer of the film called me to say that Arunbhai insisted that I should be cast in the film. I couldn’t refuse the offer.

Again, it was a wonderful experience to work under him. Not because he was an exceptional director but also because he was open to healthy discussions which I had with him on many occasions while shooting. A man of his stature would easily become egoistic and shun a newcomer like me but he was pleased with my attitude and knew he could make me perform to the best of my ability.

Another aspect and the most important of them all was his sense of music. He had a flair for good music. People still call and message to tell me how good the songs of “Rangai Jaane Rangma” are. I was a bad dancer but Arunbhai advised to me to get into the mood of the song and that the steps would come naturally after that. It was because of him that my performance overshadowed my dancing skills! 

I loved working with him and wanted to do a lot more work under him but unfortunately he passed away while making the film. Today, whenever I watch this film on TV I remember only one man and that’s Arun Bhatt. He was a treat to work with and above all, a very fine human being. I wish I had met him earlier in my life. From all the work that I’ve done till now, the work done with him, I consider it most special.

As told to Pauravi Bhatt on 25th August 2020