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HUSH pappies

History has a strange way of repeating itself. Decades back when Nutan took her mother Shobhana Samarth to court over the alleged mismanagement of her funds and property, Nutan's sibling Tanuja stood by the mother in the time of domestic crisis. It took Nutan almost a lifetime to make up with her mother and sister. The cold war gave the press ample fodder to keep writing about the best-known family feud in filmdom, nearly comparable with Hema Malini's blow-hot-blow-cold relationship with her famous Amma. And these were in the days when gossip was as mild as two flowers pecking on the big screen.

During those turbulent times in the 1970s when Dharmendra was wooing Hema at the innumerable outdoor locations, Amma would plonk herself in the middle of the desperately in-love couple. Fortunately push never came to shove between this mother-daughter pair. Amma withdraw from the three-pronged war just in time. This relationship survived.

As did Rekha's silently incriminating bond with her father Gemini Ganesan whom Rekha blamed for the split with her mom Pushpavali. Rekha says she has made peace with her father, though only in her imagination. 'I talk to him. But only in my imagination.' Others are more vocal. If only some of the other troubled celeb relationships survived the media glare.

Apparently Sharmila Tagore hasn't taken too kindly to Saif Ali Khan's rude split with his wife of many years. Now whenever Sharmila is in Mumbai she chooses to stay with daughter-in-law Amrita Singh and the kids.

In Calcutta the best known filmy feud is (or was) the one between Biswajeet and his son Prosenjit. Ever since the hero of the 60s split with his wife, the father-son pair have been in the throes of irreparable despair, though they made up a couple of years ago.

Now when Amisha Patel has made a public issue of her very personal problems, her sibling Ashmit has come out openly in support of the parents whom Amisha has damned so categorically. The point of the matter isn't so much the moral/legal and financial culpability of the parents. It's the way the media is drawn into the domestic circle that is worrisome. On one hand, celebrities complain about the invasion of their privacy. On the other, they have no qualms about washing their dirtiest linen in public.

Amisha Patel's selective outspokenness would be amusing were it not so blatantly self-serving. She has spoken out against her supposedly unscrupulous parents. But she won't speak about what role her companion and favourite director Vikram Bhatt has played in bringing her out of her parents' domain. In brief the lady wants to be a martyr and a mystery at the same time. Quite a martyr mystery, that!

Such public broadcast of domestic crises are now quite common in showbiz. Composer Ismail Darbar wants the world to know he has abandoned his first wife and children for another stab at marriage. His first wife, too, wants to have her say about her husband's change of loyalty. And she gets it. But does anyone really care about the wives and woes of Ismail Darbar' Apparently, celeb skirmishes even if they are of a domestic nature are meant to be hugely entertaining to the common man.

Darbar can be excused for making an issue out of a private matter. He has, after all, limited access to media attention. But what about Aamir Khan' Why on earth are his domestic quarrels turned into occasions of broadcasted breast-beating' First, he publicly 'disowned' his father Tahir Husain's filmmaking ambitions. Now Aamir apparently has sibling problems which have been given an utterly uncalled-for public articulation.

Aamir isn't the first Khan to have sibling problems. After his brother Nasir Khan's death Dilip Kumar's sister-in-law Begum Para had openly stood up against what she considered her powerful brother-in-law's familial arrogance. In the 1980s Sarika made a 'clean' break from her mom. Though the old lady cried in print over her daughter's departure Sarika has maintained a dignified silence on the domestic issue to this day.

Sridevi, too, went to court about property disputes with her sister. Media speculation apart, there wasn't a murmer from the squabbling sisters. There are much simpler ways to resolve domestic crises than to get between printed sheets and on camera. And that's what Shahid Kapur tells us through his now studied silence regarding his estrangement from his mother Neelima Azim. While her third marriage has driven Shahid out of her life, it has also brought him very close to his father, Pankaj Kapur, whom he had been giving the cold shoulder so far.

Incidentally, much of the same was apparent with Shahid's girl, Kareena, and her sister Karisma, who even in awards ceremonies, would give estranged papa Randhir a go-by while singing paeans to mom Babita.

Not too many know that Shahid is constantly in touch with Pankaj not because the old man wants a slice of the son's fame as claimed in the media (what fame are they talking about' Pankaj is a National Award winner). But because Shahid has always been very close to his father. The mother's behaviour has only brought the father and son closer now. When Neelima Azim gives interviews about the pain of being separated from her son she's furthering, rather than breaching, the rift. The shocking invasion of his privacy has taught Shahid lessons in discreet conduct. Whether it's being hounded by hidden cameras or by even more hidden agendas, the paparazzi will get you, anyway.

So why open the doors of your home to the press ' And if you do, please don't bicker about invasion of privacy. Your life is as private as you want it to be. Ask Mallika Sherawat.

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