Are oh “Sambha”, Kitne Admi the re: Gabbar Singh’s left hand in the film Sholey

While growing up in Juhu in the 70’s & 80’s, bumping into movie actors was a regular feature. No, obviously not the big and popular stars who stayed in their fancy bungalows and exclusive gated estates.
But one did run in to plenty of character actors who stayed in the hood. Mostly they would be seen at Juhu beach in the mornings or evenings where they would take walks. Often in groups.

Then you at times prayed along side with them at Mukteshwar Mandir or Sukhmani Gurudwara.

At times you saw them at Juhu fish market or at Chandan cinema or in the bus line with you at Juhu bus depot..

Few of them you saw at your school during PTA. Their kids studied with you.
And at times you met them at the doctor’s clinic.

Those days, the whole of Juhu was divided between two GPs. Dr. Seth or Dr. Jain.
We were the Dr. Seth loyalists.
When i was seven or eight or nine, I remember it was raining cats and dogs, & Ma had taken me to Dr. Seth’s clinic for some high fever or such.

Unlike other kids, I loved going to the doctor cause I must be the only child in the world who fantasied about becoming a compounder. Never a doctor.

In Dr. Seth’s clinic, the compounder sat in a small cubicle that looked like the cinema ticket window of Chandan cinema next door. And for some strange reason, I found the compounder’s job the coolest. Just mix different kinds of tablets and powder. Dispense out that horrible sweet red tonic. Give curt instructions, take the money and then that is it.

And read pulp fiction when there are no patients.
So on this visit, on that rainy day, there were many patients I guess due to the climate. As ma and me settled there was just one chair next to me at the reception and there he came and sat down. This gentleman in the picture He was Sambha from Sholay.
Everybody in India knew him. He lived in the hood. He had a cold and his prominent nose was red. He looked unwell and drowsy.
With his arrival, there was a kind of buzz in the room. Everybody pretended to be casual. My mom just sat up straight and pulled me a bit closer to give the man more ease. Discretion was never my cup of Horlicks. And the high fever probably had made me a bit loony.

I exclaimed rather loudly to her, in Konkani, ” Ma! This is that Abe O sambha! Pachaas hazaar fellow!”.
Embarrassed, ma pulled me tighter to herself and hushed me, smiling apologetically at Sambha. I think she was afraid of him too. After all he was a daaku n her head.

He just smiled and looked at me and raised his eye brows. I raised mine back. He had a kind , sad Laurel like smile. ( Laurel and Hardy wala Laurel. The thin guy).
For the next few minutes he chatted with me. I don’t remember all the details as i was delirious with the fever with a sense of achievement of having a convo with Sambha daku.

But I distinctly remember he had a very sophisticated way of speech and he spoke the Queens English. I remember him asking me what do I want to be when I grow up. I had pointed with my eyes towards the compounder’s cubicle and whispered ,’Compounder’. I remember my mother almost slapping my thigh to shut up. He had almost burst out laughing and had ruffled my hair.

I never became a compounder but became a writer.
And later I learnt, Sambha, whose name was Mohan Makhijani (Mac) wanted to become a professional cricketer but instead became a assistant director and then actor.
He acted in in over 200 films. Most times as B villain and often as villain’s side kick with a soft heart. But yeah, he became immortal as Sambha from Sholay.

Today is Mac Mohan’s 9th death anniversary. A post by somebody reminded me of him. He was 72 when he passed on due to illness.
Where ever you are, Om Shanti Mac Mohan urf Sambha.

– Charudatt

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