Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt's son Rahul Bhatt, who came into the limelight when his name cropped up in connection with 2008 Mumbai terror accused David Headley, has bared his heart out about his troubled relationship with his father.
The aspiring actor has come up with a book "Headley & I", co-written by Hussain Zaidi.
"My father Mahesh Bhatt never treated me like his own child. You know how it is. You've known me from the time I was a child fighting for my sister against Ranvir Shorey, to 'Bigg Boss' to the book," said Rahul.
"It's the raw uncut truth about my relationship with my father. I've put it all in the book. I've exorcized my demons," he added.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: This book is not just about Headley and you. It's also about Mahesh Bhatt and you?
A: Yeah, they are inter-connected. Perhaps if Mr Mahesh Bhatt had been a father to me I wouldn't have got into the friendship with Headley . My childhood insecurities,the lack of a father-figure in my growing years were lacunas in my life that Mr Headley used to win over my confidence. I had no father to guide me in my growing years.
Q: So you're blaming the Headley episode on Bhatt saab?
A: No, I blame only myself. We all have our own crosses to bear. If mine became unbearable it's my problem. Having said that, I maintain my father was always been indifferent to me.
Q: Apparently Bhatt saab wanted to name you Mohammed when you were born?
A: Yeah,that's what Mr. Mahesh Bhatt wanted to call me. But then my Anglo-Indian mother put her foot down on the insistence of her Maharastrian neighbours arguing that he should keep his notions of secularism for some other occasion. And besides, if Mr Bhatt thinks of himself as a good Muslim he should've treated all his children equally.
Q: But Bhatt Saab's mom was Muslim?
A: She was. But I had no interaction with that side of my family. Can you imagine what would have happened to me if I was called Mohamed? Do you think I'd have ever come out of the Headley episode?
Q: You seem to have come out with details of your interaction with Headley so vividly after all these years. Photographic memory?
A: No, it was documented. I kept a diary. That was my mother's idea. She asked me to maintain a diary about my life. Thankfully, I listened to her and so the story of my interaction with Headley was stored.
Q: How did Headley change your life?
A. Because of that episode people at least know me. Before that nobody even knew Mahesh Bhatt had a son. I became infamous after Mr Headley. I got the chance to be on a reality show. Mr. Bhatt didn't recommend me. He has never done anything for me.
Q: Every parent is preferential to one child?
A: I am not a bitter person. I think I am better person because of Mr Bhatt's treatment. I believe what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I grew up with these feelings of anger and resentment which could've easily be harnessed by Mr Headley. I think I escaped miraculously from real damage.
Q: What attracted you to Headley?
A: Common interests. A good sense of humour. He was well-travelled. He had a large view of the world.
Q: What made you befriend Headley?
A: I make friends instinctively. Mr. Headley offered good friendship. It was both a buddy-buddy thing where we discussed girls and guns, and a mentor-pupil relationship. I could never guess what his real intentions were.
Q: In the book you describe your first impressions of Mr. Headley in poetic terms? You wax eloquently on his eyes?
A: There was no such thing. The most striking thing about Mr. Headley, when anyone met him for the first time were his mismatched eyes. Looking back that too was a measure of his multiple personality disorder. This guy was one of his kind. And aren't the eyes the window to the soul? There was a contradiction to his personality. He loved children and dogs. But then he did what he did.
Q: How painful was it to piece together the events associated with your friendship with Mr. Headley?
A: It wasn't painful. But it was laborious.
Q: Do you realize the book will open up a pandora's box?
A: I don't care about what the world thinks about me. I know what I am. I know what I am doing in the book. There are three perspectives in the book: mine, Headley's and the law enforcement's. I am not glorifying David Headley.
Q: You never got an inkling of what he was up to?
A: None at all. Headley was a Caucasian-American. I had no idea of his Pakistani ancestry when I befriended him. And he spoke sense. The kind of sense that one comes across on the intelligence-forecasting websites.
Q: Do you want the book to be made into the film?
A: Yes, and I should play myself. That would be my only pre-condition. Since no one is coming forward to offer me roles at least I should be the hero of my own story.
Q: What impact do you think the book will have?
A: It's a historical document. Whatever I had to say, I am done with it. I'd like the book give me some career opportunity.