"I am in the hospital looking after my ailing mother spending as much time as possible with her, when I get this news from you. It's all so confusing. And very hard to believe he is gone. Just some days ago when I was shooting in Punjab I got a call from Chennai asking, 'Can you come down to Chennai for a get-together on December 24?' They wanted to honour K Balachanderji and Bharathi Rajaji by inviting all the actors and technicians that they had worked with in 1970s and 80s. Coincidentally I was launched in Tamil cinema by Bharathi Rajaji and in Hindi cinema by Balachanderji. I was very fortunate to have been launched by the best. I didn't go for the commemorative event because I needed to be with my mom. Balachanderji meant so much to my career and to me as a person. He didn't only discover me for the Hindi cinema in Ek Duuje Ke Liye he guided me through the film. I remember how I got this role. My Dad was approached and we immediately agreed because the film was produced by the great L. V Prasadji and directed by the stalwart K Balachanderji. Ek Duuje Ke Liye was a remake of Balachanderji's Tamil film Maro Charitra. My dad saw the original before saying yes to the remake. But I was not allowed to see Maro Charitra. Balchanderji didn't want me to get influenced by the earlier film. So I had no idea what the film was all about. All I knew was I had a great producer, director and co-star Kamal Haasan. I remember when I first came on the sets I was really scared of Balachanderji. I wondered if he was angry with me. He had these really huge eyes which would look straight at you. But he never ever shouted at me. Not once. I was so young-just 16-and so raw. I knew none of the emotions that I had to express. Balachanderji would come up to me, whisper comforting things in my ears, and I would do the scene. I'd just follow what he said. I was like a sponge, absorbing all that I was given. Balachanderji would talk to me in Tamil, then English. Prasadji, Balachanderji and Kamalji would pull up a chair and explain the scenes to me. That's how I managed. I couldn't have done it without these three great artistes to guide me through Ek Duuje Ke Liye. Talent is all very well. But what really matters is luck. I was lucky to have Balachanderji as the director of my first Hindi film."
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