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Posted: 15 years ago
Kangana Ranaut and Shiney Ahuja play doomed lovers Parveen Babi and Mahesh Bhatt in Woh Lamhe, directed by Mohit Suri, due to release on September 29
In 1977, Parveen Babi's days were packed with Bollywood, Mahesh Bhatt and Bhagwan Osho Rajneesh. But she continued to feel empty. By the time the actress finished recording the second tape, her faith in all three was fractured. Her nightmares pointed to her disturbed state of mind. Sadly, no one, not even Parveen herself, recognised these warning signs. Eventually, she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia
Parveen tries to reach out

She switches the tape on, her voice is soft and low
Mahesh, it's around 11 o'clock in the night now. I've booked an urgent call to you. I've worn Bhagwan's gown and I'm sitting on my bed, talking to you. I knew your phone wouldn't come today. And I know that I want to speak to you. Evening was spent with Koonkie and Kunnu, talking about Bhagwan (Osho Rajneesh). And now I'm alone. I want to speak to you on the phone.

She takes a long pause

We want to feel wanted, do you? I don't know what you're going through Mahesh and… I care to know what you're going through. I hope I can find you on the phone. I think now I'll sit and wait for the phone.

She switches the tape off.

Next morning…

Good morning love. Tried to ring you up like at 4:30 in the morning. Last night, it didn't come. So I'm trying now. I'll be leaving for Calcutta in sometime. And that's it.

She switches the tape off, and starts re-recording after reaching Calcutta; her voice sound soft and low

Her anxiety about Mahesh increases

I've arrived in Calcutta, staying in Grand 401, a black and white room, feeling lost... and empty. It's a 1970 design. All steel, glass, leather. I'm at home. Bhai came with me, Haribhai. He's staying at Park. I rang up Omi and Ami and they're coming over for lunch. I met Vijay and Oscar and Teresa on the plane and spoke about your film with them. Pretending I didn't know a thing. And then I wanted to send something to you today. And I didn't know how to.

And I know Vinod is coming tomorrow and I'll be sending this tape and the gown and everything tomorrow. But I wanted to send something today because I know they're going to reach there in the evening. And I said, "No no how I can I send it with Oscar, you know?" And then Calcutta came and we got off the flight…And I hope you're going to ring me up tonight because I think you're going to shoot somewhere else. I don't know where to contact you.

That's what you told me on the phone that in the evening you would ring up and tell me the number of where you're shooting tomorrow. And you didn't ring me up in the evening and I don't know where you're shooting today. Anyways, so that's so much for now.

I wore Bhagwan's gown and slept last night. And I slept a very deep sleep. Tonight also probably I'm going to wear it and sleep. Or maybe I'll pack it for you – I don't know what I'm going to do.

Crazy fantasies

And uh… (pause) last night, I somewhere went through weird things you know, where I closed my eyes and I kind of saw myself, you know, uh… getting inside my head and trying to knife my brain so that it would stop!

And then I said, by knifing the brain, I was actually in my head, you know, physically, it was like I had opened the skull and I had gone inside and I was trying to knife my brain because I wanted it to stop. And then I thought you can't stop the brain by beating the brain, you know.

You have to get into your heart! And I kind of came out of the brain and opened my heart and plonked myself into it. And, uh… I actually did it, you know! I saw myself physically doing it. And then I slept – it was like a womb, you know, in the heart. And then I slept. So that's so much for my crazy fantasies. See you later.

She switches the tape on again later

Congratulations! Just spoke to you (laughs sarcastically) — yeah I didn't know Kiran was there. It's better that I didn't know Kiran was there (sarcastic). Otherwise probably I wouldn't have been able to sleep nights. And you had mentioned fleetingly once that Kiran wants to come and I told her to come with Shaku or Gurmeet. And you had asked me for my reaction. And I had not given the reaction. Uh… but you never told me that she was coming with you. So don't even lie.

Her tone changes

But it's fine ma. I'm not uh… getting uh.. this thing, very uptight about it or very insecure about it you know. Slight thing is there you know, I mean you would feel it too if you were in this situation. But it's cool, I guess.

And you've been sounding so different – that's what I can't get over, you know. And when I asked you if there is anybody around you first day, I just got the feeling that maybe Kiran was there. And you said, "No there's nobody around." So I think I'm going to speak to you again now and I'm feeling nice, I must admit. Ok? See ya.
When she starts recording again later, her tone is flat

Love becomes hurt

I sometimes wonder if one man is different from another or are they all same? Don't they all think? I don't know. And sometimes I feel why shouldn't I do my own thing too? Just a thought.

She switches the tape off; later she starts recording a message to him in the bathroom; her voice echoes a bit and sounds bitter. But her tone is still  low

I've just spoken to you. There are people sitting outside; I've come into the bathroom to tell you that Mahesh, I'm feeling sick upto my guts with your lies. I don't know why you lied to me, I don't know why you lied to me. In the morning, you told me, 'Didn't I tell you Shaku and Kiran were going to come with me'. You gave me the impression that Shaku was there. You gave me the impression that you were staying in Mt Everest…

The tape goes blank at this point.

401 at Oberoi Grand today

In 1970 things were black and white. At least in Suite 401 of the Oberoi Grand, better known as the Grand Dame of Calcutta. What was then all metal, glass and duotone is now warmer, brighter, softer and better fitted with all the modern things – fax, CD player and so on — that you'd expect from a premium hotel suite.

It's an executive suite and so 20 per cent larger than the typical multi-star hotel suites with the Oberoi motif reflecting both its colonial and Indian heritage.

The teak floors, king-size bed, two balconies and a walk-in closet, a sitting area with cigar table are an upgrade from the relative comfort of the time that Babi occupied it.

What's stayed constant however is a sense of calm and serenity, something perhaps that may have helped its residents, or not.
Saurabh Dhanuka

The story so far...

Parveen Babi began her relationship with Mahesh Bhatt when it ended between her and Kabir Bedi.

She had taken a break from her successful Bollywood career to be with Kabir when they were both offered a television serial in Italy. But after their relationship soured, she left him in London and came back to Bombay to several film offers. And to Mahesh Bhatt.

She did Manmohan Desai's Amar Akbar Antony in 1977 that was a stupendous success. In it she played Catholic girl Jenny, Anthony's sweetheart, who Amitabh Bachchan wooed in the famous song My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves.

The actress starting getting more film offers, among them Ramesh Sippy's Shaan, Ravi Chopra's The Burning Train, Yash Chopra's Kaala Patthar and Manoj Kumar's Kranti.

Despite it all, Parveen was "restless, frantic, empty". It was during this period in 1977 that she started recording tapes for Mahesh Bhatt, who was away on a month-long shoot to Darjeeling for Lahoo Ke Do Rang, starring Vinod Khanna and Shabana Azmi.  

Part of their circle of friends was Vinod Khanna, who knew of Parveen's clandestine affair with the married Mahesh. Parveen wanted to send the tapes she recorded through either Vinod or her other friend Danny Denzongpa to Mahesh. She talks of Vinod in the tapes fondly.

Parveen, like Vinod, was fascinated by the philosophy of "Bhagwan" Osho Rajneesh, the cult spiritual guru in Pune.

While describing the premiere of Manmohan Desai's Parvarish in the tapes, Parveen recalled bumping into Shabana Azmi and complimenting her on her role in the film, though Parveen felt the two shared cold vibes.

After the period of the tapes, Parveen's insecurities and loneliness increased and she had her first breakdown. Recognising the signs of her schizophrenia, Mahesh says he ran away with her to Kodaikanal so that the electric shock treatment would not be administered to her.

There she found solace in philosopher U G Krishnamurthy's advice, that she confirms in excerpts of her autobiography printed in The Illustrated Weekly. Parveen came back and did a few more roles, but left in 1984 for America, where this picture was taken by her of U G Krishnamurthy. She returned to India only in 2002.

Bar singer turns write


Shagufta Rafique and Mahesh Bhatt
Shagufta Rafique is a writer with an unusual past. Her career as a singer took off in the murky beer bars of Mumbai and Dubai, where she would belt out numbers till the wee hours of the morning.

But the spirited 41-year-old refuses to be fettered by her seemingly squalid past.

Today, she has broken free and found an unlikely support system in filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. Besides having written Woh Lamhe, she is writing two more films for the Bhatts — Pooja Bhatt's Dhoka and Vishesh Films' Awaarapan. The singer-turned writer talks about her past.

My family...

My sister, Sayeeda Khan, was married to Brij Sadanah (Kamal Sadanah's father). When they died, it left a big vacuum in my mother's and my life, as Sayeeda was a big support for us. We went through financial problems. Though Kamal gave us financial assistance, it was sporadic and not steady. I didn't want my mother to go begging to him so I took up a job as a singer in beer bars and dingy hotels abroad. I felt it was more dignified earning a living for both of us than asking for help from people. I would rather people call me a whore than beg for help.

My hellish past...

I was a young girl, working from 9 pm to 3 am every night, earning sometimes Rs 100 and sometimes Rs 3,000. I would feel very scared while returning home. It was a hellish experience… the way people would look at you.

The good things about bars here is that they have bouncers and bodyguards. If you want, you can sell yourself, the choice is yours. Also singers and bar dancers in red light areas face that kind of propositioning. But if you don't want to, like I didn't, nobody will force you.

Experience in Dubai

The situation is scarier abroad, especially in places like Dubai. The organisers would take away our money and passport for three months. Then you would have the underworld watching you and sometimes showing interest in you.

They would start asking questions and then you were trapped. Sometimes they would get aggressive, even violent, and start pushing the girl around if she said no. I was frightened. Before the situation became worse I stopped singing abroad and returned home. I didn't want to get gang raped or be physically abused.

The past can haunt you

My mother wanted me to be an actress like my sister Sayeeda, but I always wanted to be a writer or a director. I came back to Mumbai and decided to write. But there I faced a bigger nightmare when people wanted to see my CV. Every time I told them the truth, I was rejected. How could I tell them they were pushing me back into the hellhole I was trying to come out of?

Broken free

Three years ago, I met Bhattsaab. Before Zeher, I wrote a love story. But because we felt that Mohit's debut film shouldn't be so dark, we decided to shelve it. Maybe Mohit felt he owed it to me, but in February this year, he called me and said he wanted me to write Woh Lamhe. Since then, I have put an end to singing in beer bars.

Journey with the Bhatts

I had worked for him 13 years ago as one of his assistants, but when I met him again he couldn't remember me. Today, Bhattsaab's family is my only family. I owe it to him and Mohit for giving me a new lease on life.

All alone

My mother died three years ago. I had to take care of her. I was an illegitimate child and she adopted me despite opposition from her family. Sayeeda and my mom were the only people who loved me in this world. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but my mother is not there to hold my hand and share my joy.

Mahesh Bhatt speaks

Shagufta's past doesn't bother me. I look up to her because she is extremely decorous in her behaviour, besides being an Islamic scholar. She has gone through a lot in life and those experiences enrich her writing.


Chopra unhappy with Sarkar

Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Pradeep Sarkar

Here's another mentor-protg jodi that couldn't stand the winds of change. Rumours are rife that Pradeep Sarkar and his 'big daddy', Vidhu Vinod Chopra, are on the verge of parting ways. In spite of contributing to Eklavya (releases on January 26, 2007) in his capacity as visual director, Sarkar's name may be scrapped from the end credits list. It is believed that maverick director Chopra isn't too happy with Sarkar's efforts.


"Yes, I have worked on Eklavya and contributed in my own way. But whether any credit should be given to me or not can be best answered by Vidhu," says a hesitant Sarkar.

Sources suggest that the duo is no longer on talking terms after Sarkar walked into the Yash Raj camp.

A crewmember of Eklavya (the cast includes Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan, Sanjay Dutt, Jimmy Sheirgill, Raima Sen and Sharmila Tagore) says, "Mr Chopra values all his crewmembers. But when Pradeep joined hands with Aditya Chopra, it did create a lot of confusion."

The same source further adds, "One cannot deny the fact that without Mr Chopra's guidance and backing, Pradeep Sarkar could have never completed Parineeta. We all are ambitious human beings, but the way Pradeep dumped us wasn't expected."

Yeh khamoshi

Vidhu Vinod Chopra, however, maintains a stoic silence. "No comments," is all he had to say. A source from his office, on condition of anonymity, says, "Pradeep Sarkar has worked on Eklavya. But releasing the start and end credit list before the movie releases is not a practice here or in the international circuit. It could only be an assumption and we wouldn't want to encourage that."

Ask Sarkar about his possibility of working with Chopra in the coming year and he says, "Presently, my hands are full as I'm working on the script of a film (cast includes Saif Ali Khan, Rani Mukerjee and Vidya Balan) under the Yash Raj banner. As for the future, I really have no idea."


Kushal gives tips to Chi Chi

Kushal Punjabi

Kushal Punjabi is known for his obsession for fitness and workout regimen. So it comes as no surprise that while shooting for Nikhil Advani's Salaam-E-Ishq, he made a friend in a recently fitness conscious Govinda.

Says Kushal, "Chi Chi is a great guy to work with and we bonded well. He has lost a lot of weight and is looking really good. We were constantly talking about fitness and I gave him some suggestions on how he can lose some more weight by following a particular diet plan."

In top form

A fitness freak himself, Kushal says it's important to respect your body if you want to look good.

"There are so many times when you want to indulge in drinks and get wasted, but then you have to remind yourself of your priorities. At the moment, I've decided to go off smoking and alcohol. My aim is to get in the best possible shape and use that to get some interesting work," says Kushal.

Talking about his experience on the sets of Salaam-E-Ishq, he says that he owes it to Nikhil Advani for believing in him. "I was hanging out with Salman Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Priyanka Chopra, Ayesha Takia and Govinda on the same set. It was mind blowing to watch so much energy and talent in one place."

Floored by Akshaye

In fact, Kushal is all praise for another co-star, Akshaye Khanna. "Ayesha (Takia) and me would be constantly floored by Akshaye's brilliant scenes. He is so talented. Be it comedy or drama, Akshaye is so efficient and natural that he makes it look so effortless. But after working with him, I've realised what hard work is all about!"

Even though he doesn't have a lengthy role in the film, Kushal is looking forward to the film's release. "Salaam-E-Ishq is a hot film, and I can't wait for people see it."




Edited by sheetald - 15 years ago
Posted: 15 years ago
isnt it too big to read Tongue

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