Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s career got a new lease of life with blockbuster success Munna Bhai Movies. But even before that, the veteran director-producer had carved a niche for himself and earned praise like no other. He has sworn everyone in the film world since his first venture. The first student film he made as a student of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Murder on Monkey Hill, Went on to win the Best Short Experimental Film at the 24th National Film Awards in 1976. This victory is common knowledge, but many are not aware of that hilarious episode when Vidhu Vinod Chopra went to the stage to receive his award. This marked the beginning of his illustrious friendship with senior politician LK Advani. Vidhu Vinod Chopra narrates the incident in the book Ed Unscripted ‘Pen’ written by Abhijeet Joshi, which is released today.
In this book, the filmmaker revealed that he was told that he would get prize money of Rs. 4000 when he will collect his National Award. When his name was called, he took to the stage and was welcomed by the then President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and Information and Broadcasting Minister LK Advani. The President gave him a gold medal and a brown envelope. Vidhu, apparently, hopes to have banknotes later for Rs. 4000. Instead, it included a postal bond that could be encoded in seven years.
Any other person would first get off the stage and then try to resolve it. But the way Vidhu Vinod Chopra is, he decided to confront Mr. Advani directly at that moment. He asked why he was not being given the cash he had been promised. At first, Advani tried to convince him that this bond would get him money later in life but when he came to know that Vidhu would need cash immediately, he asked to meet him tomorrow.
Vidhu, however, argued that if he withdrew from the stage, he did not know whether he would be able to meet the minister the next day. Meanwhile, President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy also joined. Vidhu explained the situation to him. An irritated Lal Krishna Advani once again assured him that he would give him money the next day. When Vidhi was still not convinced, the President persuaded Vidhu and told him that Mr. Advani would not return.
The next day, when asked by Lal Krishna Advani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra met him at Shastri Bhavan. Advani was angry and rebuked him for his misconduct. He also said that he wants to complain to his father about him. Vidhu gave her father’s phone number to him and also asked him if he had breakfast. When Advani nodded, Vidhu said that he had no money. He also said that he had spent Rs. 1200 from his friends, hopefully with Rs. 4000 that he will meet at the National Awards ceremony, he will be able to return the loan amount.
On this, Lal Krishna Advani’s heart melted. He immediately ordered eggs and parathas for the filmmaker and received Rs. 4000 on the spot Rs. and that’s not all. Lal Krishna Advani also helped him in future. Knowing that Vidhu Vinod Chopra is not financially sound, he made him a member of the FTII Governing Council, though he was just a student of the institute. As part of this council, he received Rs. 880 for airplanes to attend meetings. However, Vidhu traveled by train in a third class compartment and saved the rest for himself.
Then on April 9, 1979, just a few days before the 51st Academy Awards, Vidhu Vinod Chopra learned that his short documentary An encounter with the face Has received a nomination. The filmmaker did not have the money to attend the event in Los Angeles and, moreover, did not have a passport. With no other option, he approached Lal Krishna Advani. As expected, the philanthropist minister got the passport arranged in just two hours without police verification. He gave them an economy-class Air India ticket for three days and $ 60, courtesy of the Government of India.
Their engagement continued and it still exists today. Last year, during a special screening of the film directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Shikara (2020), one of the guests was none other than Lal Krishna Advani. He was one of the first people to see the film and loved it so much that he could not control his tears. A video of Vidhu Vinod Chopra greeting an emotional LK Advani was also released on social media by the film’s team.
– Vidhu Vinod Chopra Films (@VVCFilms) 7 February 2020
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