MUMBAI: Shammi Aunty ,84, lost her only sister the legendary dress designer Mani Rabadi leaving a void in the hearts of mythical actresses of yesteryears Vyjanthimala, Waheeda Rehman, Sharmila Tagore and Asha Parekh that they would find hard to fill.
Grief-stricken and barely able to speak, Shammi Aunty said, “She was the older one, and she went first. She complained she had a swelling in her leg .So I met her on Sunday. Then she was gone.”
Sharmila Tagore, who worked extensively with Ms Rabadi, recalled her association with the dress designer very fondly.
“I was very close to Mani Rabadi. She not only designed my clothes in some of my films, she was also a personal friend and guide when I was new to Mumbai. I worked with three designers in my heyday: Bhanu Aathiya, Shalini Shah and Mani Rabadi. Of them Mani was the least assertive and aggressive.I remember Bhanu used to be quite insistent and particular about her fees, etc whereas Mani was much too soft-spoken.”
Recalling the film where they worked together, Sharmila said, “Mani did my clothes in Humasaya, Dil Aur Mohabbat and My Love. I do remember these films, there were others too. Mani had a developed sense of fashion and makeup. She gave me tips on facials, eye makeup, etc.At that time I was new to Mumbai and Mani was a dear friend. I spent a lot of time with her.”
Sharmila still has many of the sarees designed by Mani Rabadi. “Yes, I’ve kept her sarees.You see, she used real zaree in her sarees. Now of course no one uses real zaree .It’s too expensive. Only the synthetic kind of zaree is used now. I am particularly fond of a navy-blue zaree saree that Mani designed for me.It holds a pride of place in my wardrobe. I am going to wear it again one of these days.”
Adds Asha Parekh, “What I remember the most is how wonderful a person Mani was. It didn’t matter whether we worked together or not. She was there for me. Her sister Shammi Aunty is my closest friend, so I always ran into Mani.”