The actor, who turns 66 on Saturday, said she was a sensitive child who would cry at the drop of a hat when she saw her favourite stars facing injustice.
“I would wait outside Rajesh ji’s house after school to catch a glimpse of him. I would dance to the songs of Rajesh Khanna’s films and would cry and get upset when injustice was meted out to him. My mother felt so bad that she stopped taking me to movies,” Roy told PTI in an interview.
She starred opposite Khanna, one of the most popular superstars Hindi cinema ever produced, in “Dhanwan”, “Asha Jyoti” and “Dharam Khanta” among others. With Jeetendra, she delivered 12 superhits, most memorable being “Nagin”.
Roy said she went blank when she met Jeetendra for the first time at the shooting of their film “Jaise Ko Taisa”.
“I was shocked when Jeetendra ji came in front of me, I was like, is this real? I was blank. He made me feel comfortable as we started shooting and we ended up having great rapport. Our first film together was ‘Jaise Ko Taisa’ and that was a superhit movie. ‘Nagin’, and almost every film of mine with him was superhit,” Roy said.
The duo also worked on films such as “Umar Qaid”, “Udhar Ka Sindoor”, “Apnapan”, “Jeo or Jeene do”, “Zamanat”, “Arpan” and “Prem Tapasya”.
Roy said Jeetendra has become a family thanks to their multiple on screen collaborations. He remembers him as being a health freak on movie sets.
“Over the period of years, we became like family. Jeetu ji is very punctual. He was very protective towards me. He would say eat limited food, do exercise. He was a health freak. We would not eat sweets in front of him but we would do that quietly in the makeup room.”
Making movies was not as systematic as it is today with actors working in multiple shifts on different projects. Roy said there never was enough time to rehearse lines or steps so one had to be quick.
“We would never get the script in advance, we would get the lines on sets and Jeetu ji would suggest some changes sometimes. We would not rehearse a lot as we both would immediately pick up the dance steps. I used to do three shifts a day, still my focus was to always to give my best.”
From Rajesh Khanna to Sunil Dutt to Vinod Khanna and Shatrughan Sinha, Roy worked with top stars of the industry at the peak of her career and looking back, the actor said she feels “content” with her journey in cinema.
“I had a great working relation with everyone as I was bubbly and talkative. There were no ego issues. I am content and happy with my journey in the film industry.”
Roy dropped out of school to pursue acting and remembers how Nargis Dutt first spotted her for a film though the project fell through.
“Without any struggle, I was selected by Nargis ji (for a film) while I was playing on the road. I feel I am blessed. They were planning to make a film for their home production after ‘Reshma Aur Shera’ but then Nargis ji and Sunil Dutt ji recommended me for ‘Zakhmee’.”
Roy finally made her debut with “Zaroorat” by BR Ishara, who had first offered her a role in “Nayi Duniya Naye Log” but the film was shelved.
Becoming on of the highest paid heroines of her time, Roy said, was a result of her continous hardwork and commitment to films.
“I was dedicated, sincere and punctual about my work. If I had committed my dates for a film, I would follow it to the T. Even if it rained heavily or I was unwell, I would make sure that I was on sets to finish my work.
“I was always a focused girl. My day would start at 5 am and end at 9-10 pm and I would get only Sundays off. The audience loved me and my films. It is all due to destiny that I got so much love and was treated well by the industry,” she said.
The actor took a break from the movies after her marriage with Pakistani cricketer Mohsin Khan in 1983. As she returned to India in 1992 after her divorce, she made a comeback in Hindi films with “Aadmi Khilona Hai” alongside Jeetendra.
She also featured in “Ajay”, starring Sunny Deol, Ajay Devgn’s “Gair”, and “Refugee”, which marked the debut of Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor Khan.
Roy has been away from work for more than two decades but she is in a happy space. Her focus is to spend time with her daughter. However, if an interesting offer comes, she wouldn’t mind acting again.
“When you work so hard for years, you feel content, you feel grateful to God for everything. I have a responsibility towards my daughter and I like to spend time with her.
“I don’t have any sad feeling that I am not working in films. I will work if I get a good role. I don’t mind working as today there are some really good subjects, besides the usual song-and-dance things,” she said.