Mahesh Bhatt Marriage: Like Father, Like Son

Mahesh Bhatt is someone who created a splendid legacy from scratch, all the while braving a fair share of ardent detractors. Raised by a single mother, Mahesh grew up following his father’s footsteps, and made a career out of movie making. He has given Indian cinema some of its finest films, while playing a real life mentor for several newcomers, who owe their very existence in Bollywood to this brilliant filmmaker.

Mahesh Bhatt married twice, and his first marriage was to Britisher Lorraine Bright, also known as Kiran Bhatt. The marriage hit shaky ground and collapsed when Mahesh got involved with the glamorous actress Parveen Babi. Thereafter he tied the knot with the actress Soni Razdan, and has a stable matrimony ever since. However, this love story wasn’t quite as straightforward, and we bring you the details of a rather complicated love:

Mahesh Bhatt – Making Movies With A Difference

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Mahesh Bhatt was born on 20th September 1948, the son of the famous Hindi and Gujarati film producer Nanabhai Bhatt, and Shirin Mohammad Ali, a Gujarati actress. Mahesh’s parents belonged to different faiths, and this fact caused Nanabhai Bhatt’s family to completely disown Shirin and her children. Hence, Mahesh was raised by a single mother. Despite his family’s stance on his marriage, Nanabhai fulfilled his role of father and was their benefactor; treating Shirin, Mahesh and Mukesh as his ‘other family.’

Mahesh had little interest in studies while growing up and was fascinated by the world of the cinema and its moving images. After the completion of his schooling, he decided to take a summer job as an assistant filmmaker, which is when he met the famous filmmaker Raj Khosla. Mahesh describes this meeting by saying “He asked me what I knew about films and I said zero. He said, ‘zero is a brilliant figure to begin with.’”

Although his initial movies as an assistant director failed, he went on to make some of the most riveting films of all time. He is often considered to be one of the few filmmakers who has given an opportunity to a large chunk of newcomers, who themselves went on to leave their own print on Indian cinema.

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Lorraine Bright – The Young Love

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Mahesh Bhatt tied the knot for the first time in the year 1968 with Britisher Lorraine Bright. Lorraine was an orphan of British origin who studied at the Bombay Scottish orphanage in Mumbai. Mahesh was still in school when on his way back home he would see her through the window of the orphanage. Soon they began to gesture to each other, and despite the glass window in between, they got to learn more about one another.

Mahesh started scaling the walls of her hostel to meet her secretly while she would smuggle letters out to communicate with him. Eventually, their romance got caught and Lorraine was expelled from the institution. Mahesh took the responsibility of becoming her sole guardian and encouraged her to pick up skills in order to be independent.

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Mahesh Bhatt with his daughter Pooja Bhatt

Mahesh and Lorraine’s relationship blossomed into full grown love, and the pair tied the knot in 1968 as per Arya Samaj traditions. Lorraine changed her name to Kiran, and called herself Kiran Bhatt thereafter. The couple had their first child, a daughter in the year 1972 whom they named Pooja, and later had their son Rahul in 1982.

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Parveen Babi – The Troubled Fling

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In the late 1970s, the Mahesh Bhatt marriage with Lorraine hit a rough patch after Mahesh got involved with the Bollywood actress Parveen Babi (b. 1949). Babi was the rising diva of Bollywood – popularly known for her bold real life image and her liberal approach towards relationships. She was in fact the first Bollywood personality to appear on the cover of the famous Time magazine in the July 1976.

Despite all the professional success she enjoyed, Parveen always waded through troubled waters in her personal life. She was first known to be romantically involved with actor Danny Denzongpa, and then later began seeing Mahesh Bhatt. It is not known how Mahesh and Parveen encountered one another but their relationship was not hunky-dory. Parveen was known to suffer from paranoia, which caused her to enter into many relationships while still being anchored to Mahesh. One widely documented fling was with the actor Kabir Bedi, and she also allegedly had a brief liaison with actor Amitabh Bachchan.

Parveen’s nervous breakdown distressed Mahesh, and created a rift between him and Lorraine as well. At one point he even resorted to drugs as means to escape reality, which is when he encountered the philosopher U. G. Krishnamurti.

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The perturbed Mahesh found respite in U. G. Krishnamurti’s preachings, and it was on his suggestion he left Mumbai with Parveen to live in Bangalore for few years. It was a ‘healing phase’ for both of them, and the two continued to live together anonymously for two and a half years.

“As she was limping back to normalcy, UG again told me ‘if you really want to help her you must get out of her life as you are part of the problem’. I came back to a broken marriage after two-and-a-half years and had no money.”
– Mahesh Bhatt on returning back to his wife Lorraine

After returning back to Mumbai, Parveen broke up with Mahesh. He later described the moment as ‘shattering.’ Two and half years was a long time, and needless to say even his wife Lorraine had grown distant. The couple tried making things work by having a second child in 1982 but the rift was too deep for them to sew it back together. A year within the birth of their son Rahul, Mahesh and Lorraine separated. The couple always stayed legally wedded since Mahesh never wanted to alienate his wife and children.

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Soni Razdan – The One For Life

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After losing Parveen, Lorraine and his money, Mahesh’s only quest was to start his life afresh. It was during this tough phase after the breakup and separation that he wrote the story of his next film Arth (1982). The movie went on to become a critical and commercial success, and provided the necessary platform for Mahesh to start his second career, so to speak.

A few years later he began work for the hard-hitting Saaransh (1984), which was actor Anupam Kher’s debut film. The film also starred the British-born actress Soni Razdan (b. 1956), who was slowly making a mark in art and parallel cinema in India. Soni was born to a German mother and an Indian father in Birmingham, UK and after her stint in theatre in London shifted her base to India. Saaransh was her fourth Hindi film, and the first with Mahesh Bhatt.

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Mahesh Bhatt, Soni Razdan and Pooja Bhatt with a young Alia Bhatt

Mahesh had been riding an emotional rollercoaster for many years, and the company of the young Soni Razdan was a refreshing change of pace. Their enticement towards each other soon took turn towards a more a personal affiliation, and by the time the film was complete, Mahesh and Soni were dating one another.

Since Mahesh was already nursing a troubled marriage to Lorraine, he did not wanted to strain things further. Therefore, Mahesh and Soni would meet secretly – during odd hours, and they did so for nearly two years.

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Mahesh Bhatt and Soni Razdan with their eldest daughter Shaheen

By 1986, Soni’s parents got whiff of the matter and raised their concerns about their daughter’s love interest due to Mahesh’s failed past relationships. He assured them though that he does not intend to toy with the relationship and is totally committed to tying the knot with Soni. Since he could not divorce and forsake Lorraine, he changed his faith to settle for two marriages. Mahesh converted and changed his name to Ashraf Bhatt and tied the knot with Sakina – Soni’s Islamic name. It was a secret wedding, and not even Lorraine knew about it. But the couple spilled the beans a few weeks thereafter, and did so in style by organising a private reception at the plush Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai. Mahesh and Soni had their first daughter Shaheen Bhatt in 1988 and their second daughter Alia Bhatt in 1993.

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Going Steady

Mahesh once shared that he has always found himself drawn towards solitary women since it rekindled his childhood memories of seeing his single mother take charge of life without the help of a man. His first flame Lorraine was an orphan and Mahesh was the sole guardian in her life who took care of her well-being. When he met Parveen, she was lone woman going through the tough phase in life. In both cases, Mahesh felt a deep moral obligation to help these damsels in distress and be their saviour.

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When he met Soni Razdan he was impressed by her sense of independence and her intellectual outlook towards life. But somewhere Mahesh slowly transformed into the same man, whom he once lamented – his father, the man with two homes.

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Mahesh has been cognizant of the fact and acknowledged that it was not good on his part to leave Lorraine. He still maintains immense sense of respect and love towards her, and has always strived to strike a harmonious chord between his two families. In more recent times, his two families have come to terms with Mahesh’s dual life, and get along very well. His children hold no animosity towards each other and are often spotted together at social events and any other family event. It is great to see that there is peace in the Bhatt households despite the turbulent past. We hope things remain that way, and here is wishing Mahesh Bhatt and his entire family the best with life and its pursuits.

Images Source: 1, 3, 8, 9, 10

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