Writer and writer Gulzar recalled how the late actor Meena Kumari was persuaded to make his directorial debut, Mere Apne (1971), even though she was seriously ill at the time. In an interview, he said that she was in the last stage of her illness when the movie was shown.
Written by Gulzar, it was just my son a remake of the National Award winning Bengali film Abangan, directed by Taban Sinha. It was one of Mina Kumari’s last few films before her death at the age of 38 due to cirrhosis of the liver.
In an interview with The Quint, Gulzar said, “Chhaya Devi portrayed the old woman in Apanjan, she was fluent in Hindi, and she could have replayed the part. But Sippy Saab was keen on choosing Niemi…With due respect, I disagreed and insisted that Chhaya Devi would be more appropriate. He told me to think of someone else, and that’s when I suggested the name Mina Kumari. NC Sippy’s eldest son Romo, who preferred to be on the production side, was instrumental in convincing Minagi to be on the project even though she was Very ill in those days.”
“The movie very closely shaped the way I envisioned it. Only we couldn’t shoot a single song, Roz Akeli Aaye Roz Akeli Jaaye, Chand Katora Liye Bhikaran Raat…on Meenaji. She wasn’t in a position to come to the set, she was in The last stage of her illness. As far as I know, Mere Apne was the last movie she filmed. She often joked with young actors, “This director pushes you so hard, at least you can ask him to host a beer party for you.” Unfortunately, that party never happened. Because she’s gone.”
Read also | How did Gulzar react when two girls showed up at his house, praising him for a poem he never wrote
The movie which was a huge hit, also starred Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha in the lead roles. The film stars Deven Verma, Asit Sen, Asrani, Danny Denzongpa, Keshto Mukherjee, AK Hangal, Dinesh Thakur, Mehmood and Yogeeta Bali.