The many women in his life
It’s sacrilege, sure. But worldly women who snuff their lives out over a man don’t really get my sympathy. Sometime back it was beauty queen-turned-TV anchor Nafisa Joseph. The latest is Geetanjali whose one final act of hanging herself from a ceiling fan turned estranged husband Navin Nischol from a lover of the bottle to a cold sober man behind bars. Certainly not the kind of bars Navin liked to frequent.
Coincidentally, the last time I met Navin Nischol (at Rishi Kapoor’s daughter’s wedding this January), I was relentlessly pulling his leg about his many marriages. “Just can’t keep track of you. Every time I meet you, you introduce me to a new wife,” I’d mock-admonished and Navin had good-naturedly laughed along.
A well-spoken graduate from the FTII, Navin Nischol was once a suave actor whose weakness for women (not wine) was his real undoing. When he was still married to Dev Anand’s niece and Shekhar Kapur’s sister Neelu, Navin got romantically involved with a co-star called Padmini Kapila. It was his flamboyant relationship with Padmini that had dealt the first blow to his marriage (a love marriage, by the way). It had seemed insensitive right then that this actor gave his extra-marital equations more attention than he gave his wife and two small daughters.
However, after Navin and Neelu went in for a divorce, Padmini Kapila moved on to another married man (she was the third angle in filmmaker Prakash Mehra’s life for years) while our man moved in with a completely different woman. Pimma, the new woman in Navin’s life, had left a husband and kids in Delhi to be with the actor. Soon, in keeping with Pali Hill ethics, Pimma and Navin were accepted as a couple by his colleagues and friends like Moushumi Chatterjee, Vinod Mehra, Anil Dhawan and other Nibbana building residents. It was just as easily accepted that wife Neelu, who continued to reside in Nibbana, was his past and Pimma, his unquestioned present.
Strangely, nobody’s talking about either actress Padmini Kapila or Dilliwali Pimma who were the women on the scene when the Navin-Neelu marriage crumbled.
Pimma went back to her husband and kids, after her own daughter had a bad marriage and she realised that her place was in Delhi and not by Navin’s side. Geetanjali, the divorcee Navin Nischol was married to, came along after his live-in relationship with Pimma ended.
It’s unfortunate that Geetanjali chose to end her life so tragically and named estranged husband Navin and his brother Pravin as the guys who’d driven her to the edge. Equally unfortunate that Navin’s renowned weakness for women drove him into a prison until May 6.
Perhaps Navin’s past has eerily caught up with him. But suicide notes that vengefully take the partner down with them make me uneasy.
When actress Rekha’s husband Mukesh Agarwal hanged himself, his own psychological shortcomings were taken into account and the law did not go after Rekha or jail her until bail.
So why on earth are troubled TV anchor Nafisa Joseph’s fianc? (some unfortunate businessman called Gautam) or disturbed Geetanjali’s estranged husband Navin Nischol being hounded for the suicide of their women? The abetment charge would apply if we’re talking of an innocent victim, a helpless woman from a weaker section of society who has nowhere to go, a woman driven by her husband or in-laws to take the extreme step. But isn’t it a different story if every fianc? or husband who breaks off an engagement or asks for a divorce has to go behind bars for it?
In Nafisa Joseph’s case, her mother was at home, her fianc? wasn’t anywhere on the scene when she hanged herself. The Savvy magazine might find this anti-women and worthy of a ‘bah’, but doesn’t a man (even a scoundrel) have the right to call off an engagement if he feels it isn’t working out? Can’t a man ask for a divorce if his marriage flops? When Navin’s Neelu-Padmini-Pimma trail and his fondness for the bottle were well-chronicled, didn’t Geetanjali know she was playing with fire? And, if he’s an abusive, out-of-work alcoholic like Navin is supposed to be, wasn’t Geetanjali (who was not exactly destitute) better off without him? Why on earth end her life for a good-for-nothing errant husband?
Nafisa had a career to back her and had been in a relationship with actors Sameer Soni and Rahul Bose before she got engaged to Gautam; Geetanjali’s earlier marriage had also broken down. What’s apparent is that Nafisa Joseph and Geetanjali, the two women who ended their lives allegedly over their failed relationships, were, yes, emotionally fragile. Unlucky too. But innocent victims whose partners should pay a price for trying to call it quits? Let’s do a re-think on that.
It seems to be a pattern in the jinxed Dev Anand family. Following the many upheavals in their marriage, Dev’s wife Mona (screen name Kalpana Kartik) turned a devout born-again Christian. Dev’s niece Neelu (Navin’s first wife) got solace from Christianity and could keep her equilibrium. Few know that Anand’s other niece Aruna (estranged from actor-husband Parikshat Sahni) has also turned to Christianity for emotional comfort!
How the mighty have fallen! After Subhash Ghai was left with egg on the face when his stars didn’t turn up for the premiere of Shaadi Se Pehle, the film industry is agog with news of the latest showdown between the self-crowned showman and one of his directors. Good Boy, Bad Boy starring Tusshar Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi was on the floors when its director Ashwini Choudhry, fed up with producer Subhash Ghai’s constant interference, got into an exchange of abuses with him. The director was overheard warning Ghai, ‘I’m a Jat, don’t push me against the wall. Ulta latka doonga main (I’ll hang you upside down)!’
Bharathi S. Pradhan is managing editor, Movie Mag International