India woke up today to the terrible news of Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s sudden demise. The reputed investor was just 62 years old when he passed away early morning on Sunday, August 14. He had earned a fan following his achievements in the fields of stocks and investing. However, many are not aware that Rakesh Jhunjhunwala also had a Bollywood connection.
EXCLUSIVE: “Rakesh Jhunjhunwala had the vision to back a film like English Vinglish at that point in time when many in the industry didn’t have the confidence to do so” – R Balki
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala has been credited as a producer in four films – Sridevi-starrer English Vinglish (2012), Amitabh Bachchan-Dhanush starrer Shamitabh (2015), Arjun Kapoor-Kareena Kapoor Khan starrer Ki & Ka (2016) and Akshay Kumar’s social drama Pad Man (2018). Incidentally, all the four films were directed or backed by R Balki.
In an interview to a news channel a few years ago, Rakesh Jhunjhunwala had revealed how he got involved into the movie business and his association with R Balki. He had said, “I find films very interesting and I happened to meet Balki, and really liked his movies, Cheeni Kum (2007) and Paa (2018). More than that, I felt he’s a very fine man.”
He had also stated, “We judge a company, buy the stock and leave it to the management. I like the man, I liked his movies, he comes from the corporate world. I’m not afraid of losing money, I’m afraid of sour relationships. I know the film industry is not a very healthy place to be in. I intuitively liked his skills, his approach and intuitively trusted him.”
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala is also a part of two more films of R Balki, which are unreleased. One is Chup, starring Sunny Deol, Pooja Bhatt, Dulquer Salmaan and Shreya Dhanwanthary. The other film is Ghoomer, starring Abhishek Bachchan, Shabana Azmi and Saiyami Kher.
When Bollywood Hungama exclusively contacted R Balki, he spoke about his memories with him, “He was a great partner. I met him at an event after the release of Cheeni Kum. He gave me his card and told me that he’d like to work with me. I had no idea who he was. It’s only later I found out!”
R Balki further said, “I was looking for a co-producer for English Vinglish. That’s when he came on board and our film was able to roll. He had the vision to back a film like English Vinglish at that point in time when many in the industry didn’t have the confidence to do so.”
English Vinglish marked the directorial debut of R Balki’s wife Gauri Shinde. It was also the comeback vehicle of the late Sridevi, and was a success at the box office.
R Balki revealed, “Rakesh Jhunjhunwala didn’t even hear the script of English Vinglish before backing it. He just said, ‘If you are making it, I am on’. I asked him, ‘Won’t you like to hear the story before coming on board?’. He replied, ‘No. If you are making it, it has to be worth it, right?’. That’s the kind of equation we had with him. He never questioned me. He didn’t really make a lot of money through films and yet, he was in this business for the passion of cinema.”
When asked when he last saw him, R Balki replied, “I last met him a few weeks ago. He was not keeping well but his mind was as sharp as ever.” He continued, “Gauri and I would miss him a lot.”
Rakesh Jhunjhunwala also had another filmy connection. During Diwali, he used to have a chat with Bollywood heroines on the ET Now news channel. Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, Nargis Fakhri etc have appeared on these shows and have quizzed and have been quizzed by the Big Bull of Dalal Street, as he was fondly called.
We at Bollywood Hungama extend our heartfelt condolences to the Jhunjhunwala family.
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