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- Published 5.11.05
She recently turned director with her debut film Nazar. Soni Razdan, who is also known as director Mahesh Bhatt’s better half, made her film debut in Aparna Sen’s 36 Chowringee Lane. She also worked with directors like Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani and Mahesh Bhatt in such critically acclaimed films as Mandi, Trikaal, Saaransh, Khamosh and Kaal Chakra till she gave it up to turn her attention to hearth and home. Having studied acting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, however, she made it a point to return to work after her sabbatical. The film Such A Long Journey gave her acting career a fresh lease of life. Now she is into directing films, producing television serials and acting as well.
Shaheen is an 18-year-old studying in Mumbai’s Jai Hind College. She is doing her BA in Psychology and intends to pursue the subject further in the future. Inspite of her film background, she professes not to feel any attraction towards tinseltown. Razdan’s eldest daughter is glad that her star background never affected her growing years. “That’s one thing for which I have to give credit to my parents. They have been brilliant about not letting me feel pressured ever,” she says.
Our relationship is very chilled-out. I am a mother, so like all other mothers I too get after my children. But I believe that these days it is more important to be a friend to your child than just a mother. Because you need to know their whereabouts. Shaheen is a mature 18-year-old who knows how to go about things. And she knows the dos and don’ts that I have laid down for her. For example, it’s not that she cannot have a boyfriend or go to discotheques, but I have made it clear that drugs are an absolute no no and so is drinking before she is 21 years old.
I try not to judge her, because once you do that, you risk alienating the person close to you. And that’s the last thing you want to do when you know you have got to be in tune with her life.
Shaheen goes out at night occasionally for dinners and her deadline is 10.30-11 pm. I make sure she does not go out at night more than once or twice a week. But then however sensible a teenage is, she does make mistakes. It is natural too, otherwise how would she learn things in life.
At home we make sure we catch up on lost time. Last year I was very busy with film shoots. So nowadays we sit together and watch our favourite soaps Desperate Housewives and Lost.
When Shaheen was a little girl, she was very stubborn. She just wouldn’t budge from what she wanted to do. But now she is in tune with me. We come together on the creative fronts of reading and writing. In fact, I think she has it in her to become a very good scriptwriter, but the future is hers to decide. We visited a career counsellor together recently. I think she is inclined towards psychology
There are times when we used to yell at each other when Shaheen was younger. But now it has mellowed down and she is aware of my moods. I do not spoil her. Even though she belongs to a privileged background, she takes the train to reach college in Churchgate from our residence in Juhu. That’s a long distance from one point of Bombay to another. But she has worked out the transport system. I do not give her the car to use because it is needed at other places. I would rather give her a car when she learns to drive. I want her to be independent because that’s the way my parents brought me up.
Of course, Shaheen has her individual quirks. She gets up late. She refuses to work out at the gym. I want her to know that keeping trim at a later age in life is not at all easy. There are these little things that are a problem sometimes but I am happy with the knowledge that we share a strangely deep bond.
When I was a child, my father was very busy with shoots. I remember my mother mostly at home taking care of me. Initially having read Enid Blyton books such as St Clare’s and Malory Towers, I used to fantasise about boarding schools. I really wanted to go live in one. At the same time, I didn’t want to leave home because I knew my mother would be alone without me. I think it sounds foolish but it kind of stopped me.
We used to fight a lot. I was an anti-establishment kid. So I never used to study and failed in two or three subjects. My mother seemed military right then. She would make sure I was at it. I wonder how she managed to make me study.
I have this funny memory associated with her when I was four years old. My mother had given me a bowl of yoghurt and left me on a seat with it. She told me that she would be back in five minutes. When she returned she found the bowl overturned on my head. The next thing I knew was that my head was under a jet of water.
As I have grown up though, things have changed. We hang out together. We love shopping, eating out and going out for movies. At home, she cooks Continental for me because I freak out on it. She tries to understand my viewpoint and I have to say she is cool. I can discuss everything with her, even boyfriend issues. If I go out clubbing, I can stay out till 2-3 am. So I have nothing to complain about there.
Somehow, films don’t interest me at all. I know it sounds odd with both my parents into this line. My mother tells me that I am good at scriptwriting and I should explore this avenue as well before thinking of a career. But I don’t think I am very fond of it. I did write a few scenes along with my father in some of his film scripts. It’s fun but not exactly my cup of tea.