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I can still clearly recall the Coolie episode. It was an action scene that we were filming in Berngaluru way back in 1982. Bachchan was meant to throw several punches at me and I was supposed to return the favour. We practiced a little bit. Our seven or so rehearsals went quite well. But Amitji would always pause at the table during the rehearsals. When the real take occurred, Amitji was far tenser. As instructed, I (mock) hit him and tossed him onto the table. However, Amitji leaped, turned around, and tumbled off the table. Mujhe lag gayi hai, Amitji said. There was guilt at first. After all, this was my first movie. Bachchan then remarked reassuringly, ‘Calm down, these things happen while shooting’. It was only a practice fight. Then he rose and walked away. After that, we kept shooting. We became anxious when he failed to show up for the shooting the following day. At the time of the accident, we were unaware of how bad it was. The situation concerning Bachchan was only becoming worse. The procedure required 72 hours. He is an amazing man. After visiting Bachchan at Breach Candy Hospital, my spouse gave blood for him. I was terrified and believed I was to blame for everything that had occurred. I was paranoid since the press had written a lot of negative things about me. Bachchan was almost divine. He told me, ‘Puneet, relax, I experienced it too’. It happened by mistake. You meant no harm. The media treated me as though I were some sort of Nathuram Godse. However, Jayaji and his whole family were all very kind to us. I was thrilled for Manmohan Desai and Amitabh Bachchan since Coolie was a huge hit. However, it was not beneficial to me on the professional front for some time. I was almost a social pariah. I became a monster larger than life because of the press. Despite my fourth-degree black belt in martial arts, all of these advantages turned into disadvantages for me. For three or four years, I was unemployed. After that accident, I fought for six years before others began to come forward to collaborate with me. I was cast as Duryodhan in the Mahabharata television series by B R Chopra.

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