CHILD OF THE WILD

Pooja Bhatt’s Pains And Pas­sions

Stardust (English) - - MOVIE MAIL BAG -

It’s not easy be­ing Ma­hesh Bhatt’s daugh­ter! And who would know this bet­ter than a pretty young girl called Pooja Bhatt. Her child­hood (not that she’s any grown up now) she spent in a whirlpool of trauma. While papa Bhatt went around mak­ing state­ments like “I am a bas­tard…!” It was his lit­tle baby doll who had large ac­cus­ing eyes glar­ing at her. Then again, she was a si­lent spec­ta­tor to the rag­ing fights at home be­tween her two strong but con­flict­ing par­ents. The fi­nal straw was when Ma­hesh Bhatt de­serted his wife Ki­ran, daugh­ter Pooja and younger son Sunny for another woman – Soni Raz­dan! Who he ex­pected them to ac­cept as a new part of their fam­ily. As coolly as if he was adding a new wing to his happy home! Amidst all this the daugh­ter grew up! At first con­fused and un­sta­ble, trapped in a co­coon of lav­ish love and at­ten­tion. But trapped all the same. Then, like a new sun­rise on the hori­zon, ma­tu­rity dawned in Pooja’s bright young mind. A kind of precocious learn-by-trial-and-er­ror in­stinct that she blos­somed in. Still, the need for a strong emo­tional an­chor in Pooja’s young, sen­si­tive life per­sisted. But maybe she went about it the wrong way. For I was quite taken aback to hear of her jump in and out of var­i­ous re­la­tion­ships, per­haps to find a man who would make or­der out of her dis­or­derly life. The more I heard about Ms. Pooja Bhatt the more I wanted to meet her. Af­ter all who goes through so much in life and then comes to terms with it as if it’s all part and par­cel of liv­ing? Grand­mas of ninety, maybe, but not a slip of a girl who reached the peak of her ex­pe­ri­ences at four­teen and has now set­tled down to a calm life­style at seven­teen! Whew! Only to­day all those ex­pe­ri­ences have made Pooja a stronger per­son. Ready to take on any chal­lenges that life might throw at

her. She stands proud. At the thresh­old of her new filmi ca­reer (with her de­but in her papa’s film ‘Daddy’) this li’l nymphet is hap­pi­est at her par­ents’ rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Also she has found in a dash­ing young twenty-oneyear old, a life part­ner. A ship-pie by pro­fes­sion and Shi­raz by name (she prefers call­ing him Shilu), this lover boy has been a ma­jor ‘sta­bi­lizer’ in Pooja’s life. I met the pretty teenager at her house where she sat cross-legged com­fort­ably clad in skin tight black den­ims and a loose black T-shirt. Now I do con­sider my­self a man about town who isn’t eas­ily im­pressed. But even I gasped for air when I saw the gor­geous seven­teen year old seated non­cha­lantly across me. In­no­cent sen­su­al­ity at its best. Pooja re­minded me of a walk­ing talk­ing-liv­ing-doll (with cour­tesy to Mr. Cliff Richards). An al­most per­fectly chis­elled face, rosy red cheeks, in­tel­li­gent sparkling eyes and a mane of black hair all added up to a prod­uct guar­an­teed to make any guy (from nine to ninety) go weak in the knees. Even the chipped tooth be­hind the ruby lips added to her charm. But be­hind the child-woman vis­age lay a keen and ma­ture mind. Al­ways watch­ing, al­ways crit­i­cal. I be­gan by teas­ing her about be­ing a snob and a spoilt brat. And Pooja, play­ing with her hair, re­tal­i­ated, “I’m not a brat at all. I know peo­ple say I’m a snob, but I’m not. It’s just that I don’t talk to any­body and ev­ery­body. So maybe that’s why the gen­eral im­pres­sion has been formed. And as for be­ing spoilt,” she blushed. “Yes, I’m cute spoilt! Right na?” she asked seek­ing my ap­proval. Nod­ding in re­ply to her big, ex­pec­tant grin, I asked her of her trau­matic child­hood. With­out so much as bat­ting an eye­lid she dream­ily rem­i­nisced, “I’ve been very lucky that I’ve not had a re­ally trau­matic child­hood. Okay, Mom and Dad used to fight and there would be ut­ter chaos at times at home, but I would only be a si­lent spec­ta­tor to all this. I was too young to do any­thing about it. Of course, it did have some psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fect on me, but then I guess I was grow­ing up and learnt to ac­cept it as part of my life. My par­ents never hid any­thing from me. They saw to it that I didn’t suf­fer be­cause of their dif­fer­ences and I got the best of both the worlds. So where’s the trauma?” asked Ms. Bhatt. Be­fore I could even an­swer, Pooja be­gan talk­ing in a tor­rent and there was no stop­ping her. The only in­ter­rup­tions were the oc­ca­sional tele­phone bells which the Bhatt babe ran to an­swer ex­pec­tantly (she was ex­pect­ing a call from dear Shilu from Italy) only to hop back dis­ap­pointed. “You know,” she con­tin­ued, “What spoils a mar­riage or a re­la­tion­ship is per­ma­nence! When one starts seek­ing per­ma­nence in a re­la­tion­ship then that’s the end of it. Noth­ing ever re­mains the same! One has to ad­just to the chang­ing times. I do not blame only my Dad or my mom for that mat­ter for their split. Both are equally to blame for their soured re­la­tion­ship. For it takes two hands to clap. “Some­times when I look around and see mar­riages break­ing up I get very dis­il­lu­sioned by this whole in­sti­tu­tion. But then I think it is up to the in­di­vid­u­als to make a mar­riage work,” she rea­soned. She ob­vi­ously would have minded shar­ing her fa­ther with a woman other than her mother. Didn’t she hate her fa­ther for de­sert­ing her mother and her for Soni. Im­me­di­ately Pooja went on the de­fen­sive, “Why, my fa­ther didn’t desert us. It’s just that my par­ents parted ways be­cause they thought they couldn’t live to­gether. They are still the best of friends. My fa­ther still comes over to our house and sup­ports us fi­nan­cially too. Ini­tially, I did re­sent my dad for leav­ing my mother for another woman. I also used to hate Soni for snatch­ing away dad from us. In fact, there used to be times when I used to flare-up at the very men­tion of her name. It was my

What spoils a mar­riage or a re­la­tion­ship is per­ma­nence! When one starts seek­ing per­ma­nence in a re­la­tion­ship then that’s the end of it.”

mother who made me un­der­stand and think prac­ti­cally. She would tell me not to re­sent or hate my fa­ther for any­thing for ba­si­cally he is a good man at heart. And who should know this bet­ter than her who has spent the best years of her life with him? She would say, ‘Just be­cause things didn’t work out be­tween us doesn’t mean he is a bad man. He’s a ter­rific per­son and an in­tel­li­gent, won­der­ful be­ing’. Now that I’ve come to terms I re­alise that I love my dad a lot and I don’t know what I’d do with­out him. “Now I know that he is the man in my life. We were great pals right from my child­hood. In fact, even be­fore my par­ents sep­a­rated he used to con­fide a lot in me. He never hid any­thing from me. “Once I was fast asleep and at around one-thirty in the morn­ing he woke me up from my deep slum­ber and told me, ‘Pooja I’m see­ing another woman. I’m hav­ing an af­fair with her and I want you to know first’. This was even be­fore my mom knew of it. So that shows how open and hon­est he is with me. “As a fa­ther he is the most lov­ing and un­der­stand­ing dad one could have, I re­mem­ber, once we were all sit­ting and jok­ing when dad jok­ingly asked me, ‘Baby, would you marry me?’ I said no. I’d rather be his daugh­ter than his wife. For, Ma­hesh Bhatt makes a lousy

I’d rather be his daugh­ter than his wife. For, Ma­hesh Bhatt makes a lousy hus­band and a ter­rific fa­ther.”

hus­band and a ter­rific fa­ther. I wish that I could al­ways have him as my fa­ther in all my fu­ture lives,” she prayed. She sure had taken af­ter her fa­ther, hadn’t she? I queried. And Pooja nod­ded, “Yes, I think I have. My fa­ther has been a big in­flu­ence on me. He has taught me so many good things in life. The re­al­i­ties of ev­ery­day liv­ing and the fruit­less­ness of cer­tain things we hold dear. Peo­ple even say I talk like him and am in­tel­li­gent. I like it when peo­ple say such things be­cause I’m proud of be­ing his daugh­ter. Frankly, I wouldn’t have done this film ‘ Daddy’ if it wasn’t for daddy him­self. Only he could con­vince me to do the film,” re­vealed the new­comer. Talk­ing of ‘ Daddy’, had the daugh­ter bagged any other of­fers? “Nope,” she shrugged, “I only want to do films with my dad. And if I get a good of­fer I might do an out­side film. But I’m not rush­ing my­self. I don’t want to sign films by the dozen. I won’t deny the fact that like the other ac­tresses in our in­dus­try I’m here for the money. I def­i­nitely want to make my share of it, but not by de­ceiv­ing any­one, nor by sign­ing any and every film that comes my way with­out do­ing jus­tice to it. I think I will do one, maybe two films a year with dad, that’s if he takes me in his films. Oth­er­wise, be­sides money, what is there in this in­dus­try? Glam­our? Gosh! Where is it? They say there are gor­geous men here in Bol­ly­wood; where are they? Are these men (point­ing out to a copy of ‘Star­dust’ and the stars in it) re­ally dash­ing? Oh! Where are the

Tom Cruises and Patrick Swayzes?” she ques­tioned. Hol­ly­wood, I replied, and we both burst out laugh­ing. Com­ing back to Ma­hesh Bhatt I couldn’t help but en­quire that had been formed be­tween his two ‘fam­i­lies’. How did Pooja rec­on­cile her­self to this pe­cu­liar bond of friend­ship? With a log­i­cal look in her eyes the in­tense young lady replied, “In the be­gin­ning, like I said, we (Soni and I) were to­tal strangers and she was my en­emy. But they say na, that time heals all wounds. It healed my heartaches as well. We be­gan by say­ing hi, hello and then onto mak­ing small talk. It took off from there and now we are good friends. It’s just of late but mom too has started speak­ing to Soni. Dad and I didn’t try to make them friends. It was on their own that they did so. Done mu­tu­ally on their own. Now they get along fine,” smiled the perky young ac­tress. But be­ing friends was one thing and pos­ing as one big happy fam­ily was quite another. Didn’t she her­self find it weird and un­usual? “True, it is un­usual and may sound weird,” quipped the bub­bly young girl. “But then

I don’t think that be­ing one big happy fam­ily is ab­nor­mal at all, if the end re­sult is hap­pi­ness and nor­malcy.”

you also for­get that we are re­ally very happy with the sit­u­a­tion. To­day peo­ple might call it funny but don’t you think that it is bet­ter to be happy like this than have ten­sion and bad blood like in other re­la­tion­ships? I don’t think that be­ing one big happy fam­ily is ab­nor­mal at all, if the end re­sult is hap­pi­ness and nor­malcy,” was her log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion. I would have loved to be­lieve that but a Ma­hesh Bhatt wasn’t an av­er­age man by any yard­stick. Nor­mally? Who makes state­ments like ‘I’m a bas­tard…!’ in print and shrugs off the reper­cus­sions. How did she re­act to that? Pooja went red and then choked with laugh­ter, “My dad does this all the time, most of the time for ef­fect. He loves shock­ing peo­ple. I was also quite shocked and em­bar­rassed by his state­ment, but I didn’t pay much at­ten­tion to it. I did ask him very ca­su­ally about it and he said that he hadn’t said it so many words. He was asked, whether he was a b - - - - - - and all dad said was ‘yes’. That’s it. But then it was as good as say­ing it all. Any­way, I pre­fer to think he never said it at all for I love him too much to be­lieve peo­ple. “As for my friends, no one ridiculed me. They were very un­der­stand­ing. They never poked fun, they never teased me about my fam­ily prob­lems. Of course, they knew that I would scratch their eyes out if they said any­thing about my dad or mom,” she laughed. Which brought me to her mother

Per­son­ally I wouldn’t want her to marry again.”

Ki­ran? Af­ter all she was a woman and an at­trac­tive one at that. Didn’t she seek com­pan­ion­ship else­where? Hadn’t she ever con­sid­ered re­mar­ry­ing? At first Pooja didn’t like the ques­tion very much but be­ing the in­tel­li­gent young girl she is, she rea­soned, “My mom is a very at­trac­tive woman and a lot of men call her up and ask her out. She does go out at times to par­ties and din­ner, but that’s it! No emo­tional at­tach­ments for her. She is quite happy the way she is and doesn’t want to mess with mar­riage once again. Also I per­son­ally wouldn’t want her to marry again,” she averred. My, my, I joked. That cer­tainly was pos­ses­sive­ness. But that didn’t mean that lit­tle Ms. Bhatt had the lib­erty to have a chain of boyfriends her­self. And that too at the ten­der age of thir­teen on­wards. “You make it sound like I have hun­dred boyfriends!” she chirped. “I’ve never had any se­ri­ous af­fairs ex­cept for the one I’m hav­ing now with Shilu.” To jog her mem­ory I re­minded her of dancer Ar­shad and model Deepak Mal­ho­tra. Two of her ex-steady dates. She made a face, frowned a lit­tle and then re­fused to talk about the for­mer. “The less said about him the bet­ter.” About the lat­ter she con­fessed. “Yes, I did go around with Deepak for a month. But then I de­cided to break up with him. I dated him only to spite my boyfriend Shilu from whom I had sep­a­rated for a while. Any­way, Deepak is too unim­por­tant for me to talk about now. I’ll talk about Shilu in­stead!” And boy was she ready! “Oh, he’s a ship­pie, we met when I

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