The last dialogue we ever heard Narendra say on-screen was: "Life is unpredictable. Who knows about the next Friday?"
He sad this in 2016 – THE END, which released towards the end of last year.
Narendra was a fabulous actor and always reminded me that I never did anything about it. Apart from mentioning him in my film reviews, I never got down to actually praising Narendra. This is one devil who never got his due. We were too busy chasing stars.
Actor Narendra Jha, 55, died early on Wednesday following a heart attack.
It is ironical that Narendra died on Aamir Khan's birthday. Aamir is everything that Narendra could have been if only success had smiled down on him.
But Narendra remained divorced from stardom despite polished performances in Rahul Dholakia's RAEES, Sanjay Gupta's KAABIL and most notably Vishal Bhardwaj's HAIDER where his role as Tabu's suspected terrorist-husband was the best thing about the film.
"Yes! But what good is it to say this to me if you don't write about it," Narendra once said again reminding me of the chasm that existed between critical perception and public acknowledgement.
Last year, Narendra was part of both the Republic Day releases RAEES and KAABIL — and he was equally engaging in both. We were too busy writing on the clash between Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan.
Reacting to Narendra's sudden demise, Dholakia said: "Very sad, shocking! Too young, a very strong personality. Had fun shooting with him in RAEES. He was very involved in his character and was also very appreciated for his role as Musabhai."
Rakesh Roshan, who produced KAABIL, said: "He was not only a very fine actor but also a dignified human being. Quiet, restrained and graceful… Shocked to know he is no more."
One of Narendra's last appearances was in 2016 – THE END, an ominously titled film. Its director Jaideep Chopra can't believe Narendra is gone.
"In the climax of my film, he had to say a dialogue, ‘Aaiye aaj mein jeena shuru karte hain, pataa nahi yeh duniya kab khatam ho jaye, ho sakta hai yeh aapki aakhri film ho ya meri, next Friday ka kya bharosa aaye ya na aaye.'
"Narendra didn't want to say these lines. But I pushed him to say that dialogue. He was worried ki ‘kabhi kabhi Saraswati hoti hai zubaan par'. Who was to know my film 2016 – THE END would be his last release?"
[By Subhash K. Jha]