“I must recall the contributions of those who rendered it timeless. Director S Ramanathan managed to tactfully and creatively shoot a predominantly travel based film, in an indoor, studio setting,” he shares.
“My brother Mehmood who played the bus conductor in the film, personally worked through the writing, casting, music and filming to add a winning streak to his ongoing successful film career. Despite being featured in almost every scene, he ensured adequate screen space was given to every other character, of which there were many!” he adds.
Amitabh Bachchan, who was until then lauded as Babu Moshai of ‘Anand’, introduced versatility through his action and dance, emerging as a superhero. Recalling an episode from the night before shooting the song for the film, Anwar says, “Amitabh was extremely nervous the night before the shoot for his first ever song. Sharing the bed with me, his dear friend, I had also introduced him to brother Mehmood and got him the role. Amitabh tossed and turned unable to sleep. When I asked him what was troubling him, he said, ‘Bhidu, tomorrow morning I will be singing and dancing before the camera for the very first time… I don’t know what will happen.’ Reassuring him that all would be fine, I fell off to sleep, but not Amitabh… who stayed awake all night, prepping for the next day. To date, one of the songs ‘Dekha Na Hai Re Socha Na’, from the film is played as a foot tapping number.”
“If ‘Bombay To Goa’ is to be summarised in a single scene, it has to be the ‘snake scene’, helmed by yours truly,” he adds. “I played the bus driver and one half of the humorous driver-conductor team! It was my turn to be stressed before the shoot, what with a live snake barely inches away from me! I had approached Amitabh for tips to enact the scene, withstanding the pressure of my phobia of snakes. Amitabh advised me to just look at the snake and leave the snake to enact the rest! (Laughs).”
“I also referred Shatrughan Sinha for the film, who went on to play a convincing 70s’ villain, a position held strongly by Pran at the time. Longtime co-actor of brother Mehmood, Aruna Irani and the rest of the fellow travellers all made it a truly memorable film,” he further recalls.
Asked if he thinks a remake would be a good idea for ‘Bombay To Goa’, he says, “I feel filmmakers are apprehensive about remakes of classics as no filmmaker can relive the same, unique, one time experience of the confluence of numerous energies and thought processes that were poured into making a film at that particular time. However, a film can be retold, depending on the skill and vision of the maker. If it is retold, I would want to see my son Akaar Ali on screen, as one of the principal characters.”