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'It's a miracle I was still alive'

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By Adnan Sami, after a do-or-die effort, is feeling much lighter now. By Subhash K. Jha
  • Published 17.11.06
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Adnan Sami has lost 85 of his 200 kgs. He intends to lose at least 40 more kgs in the coming month. Says the suddenly slimmed-down Adnan Sami, “I was living in denial for years, not facing up to the fact that I was obese. When wellwishers would warn me I’d brush them off as being melodramatic. Would you believe, when I was in the university I was sporty? I was the captain of my squash team. But when I went through my divorce (with Pakistan actress Zeba Bakhtiar) I was devastated by the end of the marriage and I lost custody of my son whom I completely adored. I began to look towards food for emotional sustenance. It soon became a habit, even when I put my life together the habit remained. I was gaining weight constantly. Food became an addiction. Soon my weight become an obstruction in my life. But surprisingly most of my faculties were in order. I did have high blood pressure. But that’s a genetical problem.”

Luckily the avoir-dupois didn’t come in the way of Adnan’s singing. “Surprisingly, I didn’t become breathless while singing, though I did become asthmatic. Then the doctor panicked my family by saying I’m a walking time bomb, that it’s a miracle I was still alive. He gave me six months more to live. I hated the man. I never wanted to see him again. The doctor said, ‘Within six months your family will find you dead in a hotel room.’ That was my reality check.”

Adnan’s last meal before the diet began? “It was a huge potter-house steak with mashed potatoes with butter and a huge New York cheese cake to top it all — on June 6, 2006. I ate it all on my own. Then I just gave up the food. And now I hate the sight off fatty food. It’s been three months since I turned vegetarian. I’m on a high-protein diet — no bread, no rice, no sugar, and no oil of any kind. I’m allowed to eat any kind of meat. But I just don’t feel like it. My meals are salad for lunch and a bowl of daal with no tadka in the night. For snacks, I’ve popcorn without butter. And I can have as many diet drinks as I want.”

Adnan breathes a sigh of relief. “I’ve got my sleep back. I had reached a point where I couldn’t lie down flat on my back. It was so ironical. I’d be staying at the most beautiful presidential suites in the world. And I couldn’t use the damn beds! I had to sit upright and doze off. At the tail-end of my obesity I was using a walking-stick and a wheel-chair to remain mobile. I had forgotten how to balance myself on my own two feet. It was a nightmare. I’d walk in constant fear of losing balance. Believe me there’s no nobility in immobility.”

He stares back in incredulity. “I never imagined God could swing this back for me. There were other occasions in the past when I resolved to lose weight, and I failed miserably. But this time it was do-or-die. I thought I was going to die. Today I’d tell my fans there’s more of me to love because I’ve bought extra-time for myself by losing weight. Of course, I can drop dead any time. But the chances of dying have lessened drastically. I feel like a new man. I feel born again. I feel so thankful to all those people who expressed their concern for my weight, at the risk of getting their head bitten off. I feel it very difficult to share my pain. That’s why I resorted to food…and refused to face up to my eating problem.”

People close to Adnan still refuse to believe he has kicked off his food mania. “I was coming back from the States. On flight they got me loads of food. My staff told them to just get vegetables and daal. They were aghast. Now everyone’s tuned in. I feel amazing now. I now realise what all I’ve been missing out on all these years. Now I take nothing for granted. I work out for one-and-half hours everyday. I go out and enjoy myself. I enjoy travelling again. That had become a nightmare.”

So is Adnan ready for love? “Oh, yes! I’m ready to give love another try. Perhaps, marriage too since I love babies. There’s less of me today. But the heart is just as big.”

Meanwhile, Adnan’s new album is almost ready. “It reflects this new lighter phase in my life. It’s a very feel-good energetic album. My albums have always been reflective of my state of mind. My new album is very positive in mood. And that’s how I feel about life. I feel musically fertile. Personally too I’m happier.

I’m allowed to meet my son Azaan. His mother and I have found a comfort level. She’s an amazing mother. I’m so happy and impressed with the way she has brought him up. He’s a wonderful child with a great sense of humour. And he looks just like me.”