Sach kahun toh, Neenaji, I really enjoyed reading your memoirs.
Thank you….Kya hua, I was in my retreat home in Mukhteshwar spending time walking cooking and relaxing when a friend called and suggested that I write my book. I said, arrey yaar how many times have I started? I said to myself, let’s give it another try. So I just kept writing and writing without reading back. In that way I stopped myself from brooding over the mistakes that I might have made during the writing. Ek khuli mann se I started to write. I wasn’t stuck anywhere. I never thought, ‘I am not a professional writer. I am an actor. Yeh mera kaam nahin hai.’ After I had written a while I started making notes. The book began to gain shape. I started thinking of my past, my childhood, my NSD days, my films. I couldn’t remember the names of many of my films.
How did you solve that problem?
I went to Wikipedia to check and then I contacted people I had long forgotten…like a teacher whose name I couldn’t recall. Karte karte ek dhancha bann gaya. I made extensive notes which I referred back to constantly. And almost automatically, without much thought certain things I didn’t write about. The self-censoring process came from my heart not my head. I instinctively knew what to include and what to leave out. I didn’t have to think twice about writing about my parents. I didn’t think, ‘Who would be interested in reading about them?’ My parents’ brother Bhabhi are no more. If they were alive I wouldn’t have written about them. As simple as that. I wrote what came naturally to me. I didn’t sit and think about it.
What hit me was the brutal honesty?
Brutal honesty (laugh). I don’t like the word ‘brutal’. Honesty has its own sukh, happiness, Transparency gives you peace of mind, better sleep. Honesty gives you satisfaction and a certain power. Of course it has its disadvantages. But your conscience is happy. I am exactly the kind of person you read about in my book. I am glad people know me better. I am not saying they know me fully. But they know me better after the book. All these years so much rubbish and so many lies have been written about me. Now that I’ve told my story and a lot of people are reading it I am happy my voice is being heard.
What has the response been like?
I was worried about how people will react to it. I presumed that readers will expect juicy content from first page to last. But I started with my childhood … I am amazed at how much people have liked Sach Kahun Toh. They are saying they can’t stop reading until they finish the book. They actually loved the first and last chapters the most. It’s been overwhelming. I never expected so much genuine love. I am really touched.
Was the Masaba chapter the most difficult?
No the most difficult chapter was the on my brother and my family. I knew a lot about my father because he lived with me. My mother I hardly knew about. That’s why I say it is very important to interact with all your family members while they are still with you. Once they are gone you are left with only memory.
Would you say Badhaai Ho was a game-changer for you?
It happened late in my career. But it was the break I was looking for. I am a different person now; more confident …I could write my book because of Badhaai Ho. Success gives you confidence on another level. No matter how much you know your own value, you are not confident until you get that recognition and success. I was able to write the book so easily because of Badhaai Ho. Now my low self-esteem is less low (laughs). I am forever grateful to (director) Amit Sharma for giving me this chance. Otherwise main aise hi chota mota role karte rehti. Ya phir nahin karti (or I may have given up). That has changed for me.
When can we expect Part 2 of Sach Kahun Toh?
Abhi Part 2 ka toh pataa nahin. It will depend on whether anything significant will happen during the rest of my life. Can’t say anything about it right now.