By Kalash Khurana Last Updated:
Veteran actress, Neliima Azeem's personal life was not a bed of roses as she faced a lot of struggles and challenges in her life. The actress had got married thrice, but being unlucky in love, she finally settled with her third hubby and renowned musician, Raza Ali Khan. Neliima single-handedly raised her children, Shahid Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter like a proud mother.
Now, in an interview with The Indian Express, Neliima Azeem opened up about her love for dancing. Talking about the same, she shared that she has been a student all her life and has been pursuing dance since the late 70s. Neliima also stated that her passion for dance helped her sail through the flow of life and added:
“I started as a child. I must have been three or four when my father came to Mumbai, he was the editor of Blitz, and then we shifted to Delhi where I learnt Kathak from Smt Uma Sharma’s school. However, I started seriously pursuing dance in the late 70’s. Once I was with Maharaj ji from the age of eleven, it was like my dream came true. I’d say we’ve been learning from Maharaj ji for the last fifty years; I have been a student all my life. I was passionately into dance, there was a time in my life when I would get great offers from big productions but I was so dedicated to my dancing that I turned down many acting opportunities as gracefully as I could.”
Neliima has seen her fair share of challenges and tough turns in her personal life. First, it was her failed marriages with actors, Pankaj Kapur and Rajesh Khatter, and vocalist, Raza Ali Khan, and then her being a single mom to her sons, Shahid Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter. However, in the same interview, Neliima shared that her parents gave her the much-needed support so that she could continue her work and provide for her children. In her words:
“Though my marriages broke up, my parents were so amazing and so supportive that there wouldn’t be a better cushioning for me to recover. I went back to dancing and Shahid was always with me wherever I went. And later when I shifted back to Mumbai after doing Phir Wahi Talash, which became a stepping stone for me and helped me return to films and television. When I was in Delhi, I was in an enclosed cocoon; but in Mumbai, I saw so many challenges that, as a human being, I would say I learnt. All I can say is that it’s been a crazy ride and the best part about it were my parents and my family, largely my children. And today my child’s children, my grandchildren make such a beautiful part of my life.”
Reflecting on her tumultuous journey with lots of halts and relationship struggles, Neliima shared how she managed to emerge as a phoenix after every fall. She credited her son, Shahid Kapoor for being with her every step of the way and supporting her whenever needed. Talking about the same, she said:
“I had a lot happening at a very early age. I had a beautiful career in dance and in theatre, and then I married young and became a mother at a young age. I was just stepping out of girlhood, and it was the most beautiful phase when Shahid came.”
Further, Neliima talked about being under constant media scrutiny and shared that she never paid any heed to it. She also mentioned that she's so busy fulfilling her personal as well as professional commitments that she never had the time to bother about what people think about her. She concluded:
“I didn’t really have the time to assimilate what lens people were looking at me with. I didn’t give attention to it very honestly. I’ve always been immersed in everything that I think is very important to me, whether it comes to my family or friends or work. So I don’t get very affected by how people see me. But I’ve also been very fortunate that every time I turned around, things improved. So I just see the struggle period as something that made me the person I am today.”
On the work front, Neliima Azeem has set up a Kathak school dedicated to her dance teacher, Pandit Birju Maharaj.