By Monisha G Kumar Last Updated:
Zakhm, the 1998 drama, directed by Mahesh Bhatt was set during the Bombay riots. A film based on the country’s communal compass was awarded the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration. But not many know that the film was partially based on Mahesh Bhatt’s real life.
In an interview with ETimes, the lead actress and the producer of the film, Pooja Bhatt revealed why it was terrifying for her to take the role. Pooja, who played the character of ‘Noor Hussain Khan’, portrayed the role of her own grandmother, Shirin Mohammed in the film. The actress asked her father, Mahesh Bhatt to cast someone else to portray the character, but he didn’t listen.
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Recalling that it was her grandmother’s saree that she wore in the popular song, Gali Mein Aaj Chaand Nikla, Pooja shared:
“Frankly, I was terrified to take on the responsibility of playing my grandmother and tried hard to suggest to my father we cast another actor in my place but my father gave me no choice. He said 'I am not asking you Pooja. I am telling you that you are playing this part.' That was the end of the discussion. The rest is history. The privilege of playing my grandmother - that was her personal saree I was wearing in the song."
In the same interview, Pooja also revealed that the home where the film was shot was an exact replica of the home where her father grew up. Sharing details about the same, Pooja said:
“It is something I will always be grateful to my father for. The 'mangalsutra' I wore in the film also belonged to my grandmother Shirin. And the set of our home was a replica of the home my father grew up in as a boy. Those days and that space I shared with Kunal (Kemmu) in front of the camera are some of the most magical times of my life!"
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Mahesh Bhatt, born out of wedlock to a Muslim mother (Shirin Mohammed) and a Hindu father (Nanabhai Bhatt), once revealed that a large part of the film, Zakhm was based on his own life. Once in an interview with the Hindustan Times, Mahesh talked about the absence of a father figure from his life and called himself a bastard child. In his word:
“I don’t know what a father really is. I never really had one. I have no worthwhile memories of my father, therefore no idea of what a father’s role should be. I am the bastard child of a single Muslim mother, of Shirin Mohammed Ali.”
In December 2019, Pooja Bhatt took to her Twitter handle and recalled the day when their film, Zakhm got censored. Revealing how her Muslim grandmother would take her to temple and church, she tweeted:
“15th December 1998 is when our film #zakhm got censored. A film where I had the privilege of playing my grandmother, Shirin Nanabhai Bhatt-a Muslim woman who took me to Siddhivinayak temple every Tuesday & to church every Wednesday & Friday. That is the true spirit of India.”
For the unversed, actor Ajay Devgn won his first National Award for Best Actor for his role in Zakhm.
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