When I travelled to the South to perform, a critic called Subbudu had done a beautiful review speaking glowingly of my singing. Since there were already a few Jayashris around then, he decided to call me Bombay Jayashri. Later it came to be the moniker people know me by. Given how special Bombay is for me, I doubt I’d have it otherwise.
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Actually Ntasha is a short form of Nikki Tasha. The reason being that my parents were in America and we were told that having a Russian name in US may create some problems, so my name became Ntasha. Even my sister is Tanya which is an abbreviated form of Tatanya!
“After briefing the meeting on the presidential election, Sonia Gandhi bid me an emotional farewell…Thereafter, with a mischievous smile she looked at me and said ‘Along with that, of course, I will miss some of his tantrums’,” Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee writes in his book.
Once we were shooting on the outskirts of the city, the place resembled a haunted haveli and I decided to play a prank with the cast and crew. I scared everyone by telling them I’ve heard ghosts stories about this place, Charlie played along and both of us decided to play a prank. At 12 in the night, Charlie acted like she was possessed by a ghost, I acted all scared and went and told everybody about it. People got scared and freaked out. It was a lot of fun.
In 1975, during the outdoor shooting of Ramanand Sagar’s Charas (1976), we were to be in Malta for weeks. And since I (Hema) was to be shooting with him (Dharmendra), my father insisted on coming along with me. Often, the cast and crew had to travel together in a car. My father was not happy with this at all. He would order me in Tamil – so that Dharam-ji would not understand what he was saying – to sit in one corner while he would try and sit in the middle. But Dharam-ji would make up some clever excuse or the other to get in from my side, so that I would end up sitting in the middle and he would be beside me!