Leela Naidu died here Tuesday after prolonged illness. She was 69.
'Long before I directed Leela Naidu in Trikaal in 1985 I had done an ad with her in the mid-60s for a fabric. At that time she was at her loveliest. Soon after Time magazine had declared her to be one of the most beautiful in the world,' Benegal said.
'I must say she was very delicate-looking and beautiful. She looked so lovely in Merchant-Ivory's 'The Householder',' Benegal added.
It didn't take much persuasion from Benegal to convince Leela Naidu to do 'Trikaal'.
'I had no difficulty at all in convincing her to do 'Trikaal'. She was very keen to do the film. She hadn't really retired from movies. But she wasn't getting the roles that did justice to her personality. She had qualities of the kind that didn't suit the Indian film industry.
'Our industry has too many parameters and restrictions. The leading lady was expected to have a certain kind of looks and abilities. They were expected to sing and dance. All that is changing now. But during her times the parameters were rigid. And she just didn't fit in.'
Benegal had a wonderful time shooting for 'Trikaal' with the lovely Leela.
'At that time she was married to writer Dom Moraes. Both of them were in Goa for the shooting. Leela was wonderful. One of her many qualities was that she took charge of the younger actors. She was very caring. She was particularly good with children. I noticed that quality the very first time when I met her. She calmed down a child who was feeling very insecure because her parents weren't around. That child stuck to Leela as though she was the child's mother. Leela was a wonderful person,' he added.