A diva, enigma and marquee queen, Parveen Babi lived a life riddled with a debilitating mental illness, leading to a somewhat isolated existence and eventual death on this day in 2005. Regarded as one of the finest actresses of Indian cinema, Babi was known for trailblazers like Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Suhaag (1979), Kaala Patthar (1979), The Burning Train (1980), Shaan (1980), Kranti (1981), Kaalia (1981) and Namak Halaal (1982).

On the personal front, the actress struggled to maintain romantic relationships, owing to her being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, that often led to violent, uncontrollable episodes.

Mahesh Bhatt, who dated her for close to three years, also carried out her last rites, as a way of bidding her a dignified farewell that she so deserved. Woh Lamhe…(2006), that Mahesh wrote and produced, was loosely based on Parveen’s relationship with the director, starring Kangana Ranaut in the lead role. On her death anniversary today, Mahesh looks back at his relationship with the troubled late actress…

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Describing her essence, the filmmaker said, “Bollywood is a fairy tale. Learn that lesson, and you’ll never be hurt. This is the essence of my life of wine, roses, and tears with Parveen Babi, the ‘70s superstar known as the Time magazine girl. Hailing from Gujarat’s Junagadh, she blended global fashion trends with inherent simplicity.”
Talking about his relationship with her, Mahesh penned heartbreaking words. He said, “In our two-and-a-half-year relationship, I witnessed her crumble into dust during the first severe encounter with a mental ailment and the subsequent collapse phase. Parveen became the springboard for ‘Arth,’ the film that rebirthed me. Our passionate romance and the ensuing tragedy shattered me, providing insights only pain can offer.”
Reminiscing her tragic death, Mahesh said, “I vividly remember the day her body lay unclaimed in Cooper Hospital’s morgue. With my friend Ashok Pandit, I declared, ‘If no one claims her, I’ll ensure she gets the dignified death ceremony she deserves.’ “

Mahesh wrapped up by paying homage to the actress, who ruled millions of hearts, “Thank you, Parveen, for touching my life. Where would I be without you?”, he said.

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