By Akanksha Gupta Last Updated:
An actor and Kathak dancing legend, Neliima Azeem, who is also a mother to Gen-Y stars, Shahid Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter, had found her first love in her early 20s and by mid-20s, she had battled her first-ever rejection. Before making her name in the Hindi film and television industries, Neliima met her first love, Pankaj Kapur at the National School of Drama, where the two creative souls were working towards accomplishing their dreams. In 1979, the couple decided to tie the knot and five years and a kid later, things went kaput between Pankaj and Neliima. While struggling with the emotional turmoil and baby Shahid by her side, Neliima found love again in Rajesh Khattar, only to be separated after a few years of marriage. With Rajesh, Neliima became a mother to Ishaan.
Neliima Azeem and Pankaj Kapur separated and were granted divorce in 1984, three years after the birth of their son, Shahid Kapoor. Neliima and Rajesh Khattar were married for eleven years before they got divorced in 2001, six years after the birth of their son, Ishaan Khatter. However, they have managed to be one big happy family despite separations and second marriages. Despite the separation of his parents, Pankaj and Neliima and their respective second marriages with Supriya Pathak and Rajesh Khattar, Shahid, being the eldest child, handled the situation quite maturely.
With her failed marriages, Neliima Azeem came out as a victor of these tough life situations. Years, in fact, decades later, Neliima recalled her experience with 'grief, sorrow, rejection, anxiety, pain, and fear of the unknown' when she divorced Pankaj Kapur. In an interview with Bollywood Bubble, Neliima said, "I had this wonderful friend who I got married to, everything was just la-la-la-da-di-da, my parents were wonderful, I had a great crowd around me, toh mujhe ye pata hi nahi tha ke kuch zindagi mein aisa bhi ho sakta hai jisme pav phisal jaye aur hum dhap kar ke ghir jaaye. Aur rejection ka koi sawaal hi nahi hai because everybody used to love me and adore me and follow me around. So it was, in that way, when you're young and full of beans, it was the first time when I experienced grief, sorrow, rejection, anxiety, pain, and fear of the unknown and a whole lot of insecurity."
However, she feels that her second marriage with Rajesh Khattar would have lasted long if there was more control. Elaborating on this, Neliima Azeem stated, "The second marriage would have lasted if certain things didn't happen which were difficult to encounter... It was difficult, it was an impossible feat. I think it would have worked out if there was more control and more logic and sense it in. But it went, it flew out. And it happens in Bombay with all the struggle and with all the pressures, sometimes people succumb to it. But I have the ability to get up and start walking again, and I have these lovely boys in my life, my sons, they were a great inspiration for me and a source of so much happiness and encouragement."
Neliima Azeem shares a cordial bond with her ex-husband, Rajesh Khattar and credits his now-wife, Vandana Sajnani Khattar for the same. She remarked, "I'd like to give Vandana the credit here because Vandana is somebody who has always seeked me and I would say she has taken the initiative to be a friend of mine. And she respects me like as I am an elder in a family. She’s just always respected me and admired me and encouraged me to be there for her. I feel comfortable with Rajesh because of that."
When Shahid Kapoor and Ishaan Khattar had featured on Karan Johar's chat show, Koffee With Karan season 6, the former had revealed that it was actually him, who pestered his mother for a brother. Shahid had said, "When my mom got married for the second time she was pretty clear she didn't want a second baby because she felt like, you know, it was pretty late, she got married in her early 30s. I kept pestering her saying that it is not fair, I deserve a sibling. And she literally had Ishaan for me. I begged her for two or three years. And finally, she gave in and said 'Alright, I am gonna have one'."
Despite the bumps in her journey, Neliima Azeem has beautifully shaped her life and is making the most with her kids and grandkids.