Bollywood actress Neelima Azeem and Pankaj Kapur tied the knot in 1975 and had welcomed Shahid Kapoor. But, their marriage did not go down well and the couple parted ways a few years later. She later married Rajesh Khattar, with whom she had Ishaan Khatter. However, things went downhill for the ex-couple and they had parted ways in 2001 and she had then married Ustad Raza Ali Khan.
In a recent interview, Azeem addressed broken marriages and said the failure of her first marriage hit her hard. She went on to reveal that she never thought of being rejected.
“Of course it did hit me. Because you know I was in my own opinion God’s favourite child. Because I got everything so beautifully at the age of 15 I debuted as a Kathak exponent and there was no looking back. Then I became the highest in demand dancer and everything was so wonderful.
"I had this wonderful friend who I got married to, everything was just la-la-la-da-di-da, my parents were wonderful, I had a great crowd around me, toh mujhe ye pata hi nahi tha ke kuch zindagi mein aisa bhi ho sakta hai jisme pav phisal jaye aur hum dup kar ke ghir jaaye (I wasn't aware that one could slip in life and fall flat). Aur rejection ka koi sawaal hi nahi hai (there was no question of rejection) because everybody used to love me and adore me and follow me around,” said Neelima in her recent interview with Bollywood Bubble.
She continued, “So it was, in that way, when you're young and full of beans, it was the first time when I actually experienced grief, sorrow, rejection, anxiety, pain and fear of the unknown and a whole lot of insecurity."
Shahid was three-and-a-half years old when his parents separated and his mother raised him single-handedly after his father moved on. After his divorce with Neelima, Pankaj Kapur married Supriya Pathak and has two children - Sanah Kapur and Ruhaan Kapur with her.
Speaking about the idea of living with her parents and raising a child single-handedly felt claustrophobic. "This was the first time when I slipped and fell on my face so to say. But I don't see it as a terrible thing that happened to me in life. I just simply think that I needed that bump.”
“We all must understand that we are not extraordinary or entitled, we are simply human beings that can be rejected. It took me a year-and-a-half after that to put myself together," she added.
The actress then addressed her second marriage with Rajesh Khattar and hinted that it would have lasted if certain things didn't happen. But her second marriage went out of the flow and Azeem maintained that sometimes people succumb to it as there are a lot of struggles and pressures in Bombay.
However, despite such twist and turns in life, the 62-year-old actress revealed that she has the ability to get up and start walking again due to the presence of Shahid and Ishaan in her life.
"The second marriage would have lasted if certain things didn't happen which were difficult to encounter... It was difficult, it was an impossible feat. I think it would have worked out if there was more control and more logic and sense it in. But it went, it flew out. And it happens in Bombay with all the struggle and with all the pressures, sometimes people succumb to it” Neelima Azeem said in an interview with Bollywood Bubble.
“But I have the ability to get up and start walking again, and I have these lovely boys in my life, my sons (Shahid and Ishaan), they were a great inspiration for me and a source of so much happiness and encouragement," she added.
Today, Neelima is on cordial terms with Rajesh. She said that she shares a friendly bond with him and credited his wife Vandana Sajnani.
"I'd like to give Vandana the credit here because Vandana is somebody who has always sought me and I would say she has taken the initiative to be a friend of mine. And she respects me like as I am an elder in a family. She's just always respected me and admired me and encouraged me to be there for her. I feel comfortable with Rajesh because of that," she said.
Besides, Shahid's stepfather and Ishaan's father Rajesh Khattar turned father to baby boy Vanraj in 2020 and he even shared pictures of the baby on social media.