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Entertainment

Updated on: Friday, July 23, 2021, 10:56 PM IST

FPJ Anniversary 2021: Kabhi Carter Road, Kabhi Linking Road... Raveena Tandon talks about Mumbai of her growing up years

For people with stars in their eyes who dream about the film industry, Mumbai is the place to be, but it’s not going to an easy ride
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I’ve been born and brought up a Mumbaikar; I consider myself Maharashtrian. These are my roots. My grandfather was a High Court Judge and his last posting was in Agra, so my father (filmmaker Ravi Tandon) was educated there. But he came to Mumbai to join the film industry and stayed on. My mum was born into a Sindhi family in Karachi, who came to India from Pakistan during the Partition. Our family has been in Mumbai for over 70 years now.

Festival celebration was very big in our neighbourhood, but I see it waning these days in Mumbai. For Dussehra, all the kids would bring their art and craft abilities and build a huge Ravan; at least six feet tall. We would collect newspapers, rope and bamboo, hammer it together and paint faces. Even now, I have kept up the Dussehra tradition but our Ravan has come down in size. There’s so much air pollution, we are recycling, reusing; and burning things is not on my agenda. The kids enjoy painting Ravan’s faces; making his bow and arrow, his sword and shield, a shiny silver belt. My daughter’s friends come over in the evening and we write notes on all the negative things they want to give away in their lives; and destroy the notes with Ravan.

Holi was also celebrated well in the building I grew up in. It was so much fun. We had the dholwallas, loud music, DJs, dancing. Now I am particular about using less water and organic colours with no harmful chemicals. In my house we do rain water harvesting so I definitely allow my children to play with a little water. Earlier, after playing Holi, our families would walk on the beach and play there too for a while. Those are some of my best memories.

Chandan ke Samosey!

We went to cinema halls a lot, and we still do — before the lockdown. In Juhu, we frequented Chandan Cinema, an iconic landmark known for its fabulous samosas! Gaiety-Galaxy and Bandra Talkies were our other favourite places where papa used to take us.

Though I grew up in the Juhu area, I am familiar with all of Mumbai’s landmarks. We went on school picnics to Elephanta Caves, which was not well-maintained in those days; it stank. Now I believe they’ve really beautified it. We also went to the iconic Juhu Garden, which had a big model of an Air India aircraft. The school organized picnics to Aarey Milk Colony every year; it was the only green in Mumbai. And Chhota Kashmir — where I have even shot a song for my first film Patthar Ke Phool. If this last bit of green is stolen from Mumbaikars, where are we going to go? Development should happen hand in hand with the environment. Ultimately, we all need clean air to breathe. The pandemic was such a sad lesson to humanity — ironically so many died for lack of oxygen.

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In love with the beach

Since I literally grew up next to the beach, Mumbai’s long coastline and the sea is very important to me. But while it’s stunningly beautiful to have a beach view and the air is relatively polluted, the kind of damage the salt air does to the machinery in your houses is very expensive! When I was really young, the beach had a stretch of green creeper ferns. Now you don’t see even one of those. But at least our beaches are cleaner than they were 10-15 years ago. The Juhu associations maintain them well so it’s pleasure to sit by the sea again.

I started working very early — at 17. Our hangouts were Pizza Parlour and the very first Open House on Linking Road. We also frequented Shiv Sagar and the famous Rasraj restaurant. We used to go to Carter Road to drink juice in the evenings. All the boys and girls would hang out there or drive around blasting music — the typical teenager thing to do in college. It reminds me of my song Kabhi Carter Road, kabhi Linking Road… those Mumbai streets were my geographical boundaries in the teenage years.

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If I go to a restaurant now, nobody harasses you — there’s complete ease and comfort. Mumbai has always been a comfortable place for our stars to move about; Mumbaikars are so used to seeing shootings at every nook and corner. Yes, a lot of tourists gather outside Amitji’s and Shah Rukh Khan’s house — it’s wonderful to receive so much love and appreciation.

Shopping at Linking Road

We shopped a lot earlier at Linking Road, which had the latest clothes and a lot of imported stuff. As teenagers, it was Fashion Street. When Patthar Ke Phool became a hit, my friends from college told me that my hoop earrings from the film became very popular at Fashion Street. ‘Raveena ka skirts aur tights le lo’ was the sales pitch. I shopped at Elco Arcade frequently with my mum when I was young and we would eat the chaat outside. Today, of course, Mumbai has such amazing restaurants and malls. And once I became an actress, the stylists or designers chose clothes for me.

Mumbai is definitely the city of opportunities for a lot of people but it’s also not an easy ride. It’s a city that can either make you or destroy you. The way it gives people chances is fantastic. For people with stars in their eyes who dream about the film industry, Mumbai is the place to be. But, I repeat, it’s not an easy ride.

As Told To Dinesh Raheja

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Published on: Saturday, July 24, 2021, 07:00 AM IST
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