A diva for the world, but behind closed doors, Parveen Babi was a helpless girl, uncertain and unsure personality, looking for answers which weren’t there. She was struck by a mysterious illness — schizophrenia.
He was a struggler back then and she a big-time actress. He left his wife to live with her. In an interview with a popular tabloid, Mahesh Bhatt remembers his once girlfriend, the late Parveen Babi.
At the peak of her career, Parveen Babi fell head over heels in love with the then struggling filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, who was already a married man. Their love blossomed in 1977. Leaving his wife, Mahesh moved in with his lady-love. Life couldn’t get better and love couldn’t get stronger than theirs.
Two years later, on one fateful evening, Mahesh Bhatt encountered a scary sight, which also became the biggest truth of his life. A sight that continues to haunt him forever. He found Parveen all decked up in a filmy coutume, sitting in one corner, curled up, holding a knife in her hand. She asked Mahesh to shut up. “Don’t talk! The room is bugged. They’re trying to kill me; they’re going to drop a chandelier on me.” she said. At times she would feel the AC had a bug, at other times she felt their car had a bomb and she could hear it ticking.
This became a routine and Parveen was diagnosed with one of the most dreaded disorder – paranoid schizophrenia. She was uncontrollable. She refused medication and forced Mahesh Bhatt to eat first just to check if he had added medicine into her food and drink.
And while Mahesh Bhatt stood rock solid by her side, doctors and well wishers wanted her to undergo ‘electric shocks’ treatment, something which Bhatt was totally against. Meanwhile, the filmmaker was tagged as a ‘user’, trying to get popular using Parveen Babi.
There was a time when Mahesh took Parveen to Bangalore thinking that a peaceful life would bring her back to normal. It didn’t work. Parveen’s philosopher in Bangalore advised Mahesh to stay away from her as his presence was only worsening her condition. Mahesh Bhatt then returned to his wife and it was during that period he had started writing ‘Arth’, a film which was totally inspired by his own life. Nevertheless, he couldn’t stop thinking and caring about Parveen, who by then had returned to Mumbai.
One night, as the two were about to make love, Parveen asked him to choose between her and her philosopher UG. She knew he was in touch with UG, who was against her returning to films. UG was the voice of sanity, which she didn’t want to hear. Mahesh was silent. In his own words: “I didn’t answer. She understood my answer. I saw a tear trickle down her face. I got up and dressed. She said, “Put off the AC it’s cold!” Silence exploded in the room. It was raining outside. I walked through the dark passage. I heard her call, “Mahesh, Mahesh!” I didn’t turn back. Neither did I wait for the lift, fearing she’d come and take me back. I took the stairs instead. I heard her run behind me… stark, bare… I heard her even take a few steps down the stairs… I wanted to run back and tell her, ‘Look, you can’t come out in this state!’ But instead I walked on and out… into the rain.
In 2005, Mahesh Bhatt was flooded with messages, Parveen Babi is dead. Her body remained unclaimed at the Cooper Hospital. “By offering to bury her I felt a sense of closure. As they were laying her to rest on January 23, 2005, I wondered what I’d have been without this woman. She had brought some ‘arth’ to my existence! “