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01-14-2013, 04:02 AM #1
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- Sep 2011
I have great reverence for women: Mahesh Bhatt
Mahesh Bhatt, 64, learnt his lessons of life from his mother who was the only person he pitched his films to. He stopped directing when she died. While he got married a second time to Soni Razdan, he continues to be responsible for his first wife Lorraine Bright, whose hand he had held when she was 17. He opens up to TOI. Excerpts:
Do you respect women?
Yes, I have great reverence for women. I was perhaps lucky to be born in a single-parent home, where my mother, Shirin Mohammed Ali, was the sole figure I revered. My father's absence in my life in my formative years exposed me to only one person, who was my source of learning the lessons of life. So to me, listening to a woman and her worldly view is almost automatic. While the male wants to conquer the world, the woman has a take on her immediate world that is so sparklingly refreshing that the male cannot even think of it. Most of my learning was by shutting up and not talking and what I was listening to was what my mother was talking, be it interpreting mythological stories or interpreting the world or teaching me the basics of survival.
Your mother was a big influence in your life? Tell us about her?
There was a time upto when I was totally dependent on my mother psychologically and emotionally, till I had to be weaned away from her. It took me a lot of time to grow out of the mother influence. Her life was unusual. She was a single parent, closet Muslim, living a challenging life and that too, on her own terms. She fell in love with my father, Nanabhai Patel, a devout Hindu Brahmin from Porbander, Gujarat. He could not give us a legitimate status, as his mother, who was a dictatorial figure, forced him to marry a girl from his own community. Our house was the house of sins, the other home. My mother was by the world standards, living in sin with my father, masquerading as a Hindu, in Shivaji Park. She brought us up as Hindus and sent us to English schools.
Like other fathers, who came home and took their shoes off, my father came home in passing as he had to go to his legitimate home. He was a decent and fair man who practised his own faith and did not force her, but it was her need to fit in and not taint the origin of her children with the narrative of anything that was looked upon as the other faith. My father was an emotional and economic support system.
For him, it was two homes and he oscillated between the two. I would go for Durga Puja in Shivaji Park and revere how Ma was always in control. Then I would go to Mount Mary Church with my mother as someone had told her that if you go to Mother Mary and ask for a wish, it would be granted. She prayed to her and got pregnant and I was born. She would take me to the church and put me on her shoulder and touch the bleeding foot of Jesus Christ and spend hours seeing Christ. She would also send me in the matam during Muharram as it was the time to dedicate to the search of justice. She was the only person in the auditorium to whom I pitched my films. After she died in 1997, I stopped directing.
My mother would spend endless hours at the balcony waiting for my father's car to come. I would fall asleep counting cars kindling hope that after the 100th car the next would be hers. I felt the world through her eyes whether it was a place of worship or her trauma or the anxiety of money at home. So listening to the heartbeat of a woman was not difficult for me.
You too have two homes. Have you become the man you grew up lamenting — your father?
My first wife Lorraine was an orphan from Bombay Scottish, whom I married when I was just 20 and she 17. Her life was a parallel of my mother as the idea of a solitary woman was a pattern I was drawn to. I saw her beautiful face in the window as I used to pass by and would spend hours looking at her. She would sneak out letters through the tailor, who went there to measure uniforms. She was thrown out of her orphanage as I jumped over the wall to meet her.
Lorraine and I married at Arya Samaj and she too changed her name to Kiran to fit in. I almost became her boyfriend, husband, father and looked after her. I put her up at YWCA and taught her stenography so that she could get a job and got married and became a father at 21 with Pooja. I was drawn to solitary women, as it pandered to my childhood narrative of looking after someone who did not have a male around.
Again, I was 27 when I met the glamourous Praveen Babi, who was again a solitary woman and had the extramarital affair that became the fodder for Arth. She subsequently cracked up which left me completely shattered. My friend UG Krishnamurthy told me when the industry was hell bent on giving her electric shocks to recover and were putting pressure on her illiterate mother and ganging up with the doctors as there was so much money riding on her, electric shocks are given to satisfy the needs of society and not the patient. If you care for her, rescue her and I ran away with her to Bangalore at 29.
As she was limping back to normalcy, UG again told me 'if you really want to help her you must get out of her life as you are part of the problem'. I came back to a broken marriage after two-and-a-half years and had no money. That is the time I wrote Arth. I tried to make another beginning and had a son Rahul but could not turn the clock back. I then married Soni and have been married 26 years since. Even today they are both my homes.
Emotionally and financially I am still responsible for that girl whose hand I held when she was 17. The words responsibility and commitment do not require the Gods and the policemen to make it live. Human race runs on that.
Also, somewhere in my fantasy, I wanted to play the role of a saviour. Officially, I am still not divorced from her. I had to use the Muslim route to marry Soni to give it an external legitimacy. Soni had to come to terms with this aberration of mine. If I had left Kiran, I would have left her too. But the thing is unwittingly, I had become somebody who I hated as a child - a man who had two homes. My son has the same lament that I had.
Salim Khan said in an interview that the success of Arth made you compassionate. Is that true?
Arth was born at a stage of my life when I had gone through an emotional wasteland. My mother told me that I gave her the joy that no son could give her and made her proud. When Arth became a hit, she blessed me and said 'nobody can now deprive me of the right to call myself Mahesh Bhatt's mother'. My mother died in 1997 and subsequently my father in 98'. I spent a lot of time with him after my mom died and understood by then that he was not the demon that I imagined him to be. I started making peace with him after my success. Salim sahab is right that my bitterness flowed out after my success. It's the failures that are brutal. Success makes you understand life differently.
01-14-2013, 04:03 AM #2
thanks 4 sharingDo you know Richard Cheese?