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GEETA BALI

Geeta Bali

Geeta Balli and Shammi Kapoor in heir marriage.She was 24. I was 23. We were working together in a couple of movies at that time. She was past her prime, career wise. I was nowhere near it, likewise career wise. I was doing a film called "Rangeen Raaten" for Kedar Sharmaji. She was his protege. As we were going to be doing the outdoor stints of the movie at Ranikhet, an ancient Army based hill-station in the Kumaon region, she asked to be included in the Unit and hence got to do a cameo role in the film. We left on the 2nd April, 1955 for the location. It was destined.

We fell in love with the climate, the scenery, the hills and dales, the rustic hill folks and their music, the mornings, the evenings; and each other. We returned to Bombay on the 21st of April and could'nt live without each other. She had worked as the heroine opposite my brother, Raj Kapoor in "Bawren Nain", and had co-starred in a film "Anand Math" with my father, Prithviraj Kapoor. How would they react.

She was hesitant. I was adamant. It was four months of agony, tears, cajoling, pleading, non-togetherness, desperation and---

On the night of 23 August, we were together in my room at the Juhu Hotel, where I was staying because there was no one at home, my parents being out of Bombay on tour with Prithvi Theatres, and she said O.K. its now or never. Can we get married now. I asked her did she mean like right this moment and she said yes, tonight. I said we shall go and ask a common friend, Johnny Walker, who had only the previous week eloped with his girlfriend and got married. He was happy for us but could be of no help. "I am a Muslim you are Hindus, go to a temple and get married". That made sense. I went to my friend, Hari Walia, producer and director of "Coffee House" a film in which both Geeta and I were working. He had had a similiar experience. He took us to the Banganga Temples, a famous site near Napean Sea Road, Bombay, which houses some 92 ancient Temples. We went to a big temple where the Priest informed us that the Gods have now retired for the night and if we wished to get married we should come back early morning at 4 o'clock. So we went back to my parents house at Matunga, made my personal Geeta Bali and Shammi Kapoorvalet Hari cook a meal which we indulged in and then waited.

It was raining heavily as we arrived at the temple at 4.30 in the morning and with Hari Walia as the sole witness, the Pujari (priest) performed the ceremonial rites of Hindu marriage as we took the seven rounds around the holy fire and were declared husband and wife, at which Geeta took out a tube of lipstick from her purse and asked me to apply it on her maang (a hindu ritual which is performed by the wife applying a red powder on the parting of hair on her head as a mark of her marital status). We went home to my place at Matunga, took my Grandfather's blessings, rang up my parents who were out of town and informed them that I was a married man now and then went to her parents place to tell them of the best thing that had ever happened in the lives of two people in love.

On 9 January, 1965 she took ill. She died on 21 January, 1965.

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