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10 facts you should know about Mahesh Bhatt

Mahesh Bhatt's films have borrowed so much from his life that the two are practically inseparable. His directing career in Bollywood started out with a few duds before taking off with Arth in 1982. He
India TV News Desk April 28, 2016 11:31 IST
India TV News Desk

Mahesh Bhatt's films have borrowed so much from his life that the two are practically inseparable. His directing career in Bollywood started out with a few duds before taking off with Arth in 1982. He proceeded to make a series of critically acclaimed films that will never be forgotten.

Then, after the release of Kartoos in 1999, he inexplicably took off his director's hat. Instead, Bhatt put on a producer's hat on top of the writer's hat that he continued to wear. A series of forgettable films have followed.    

But Bhatt still makes headlines because he is not afraid of speaking his mind even if it invites brickbats. He rubbed many people the wrong way by saying last year that he did not want Narendra Modi to be Prime Minister.

Here are ten facts you need to know about Mahesh Bhatt:

Film direction runs in the family. Mahesh Bhatt's father Nanabhai Bhatt was also in the same profession. The senior Bhatt's directing career lasted 40 years from 1942-1982 and he was best known for making mythological and historical films like Lal Qila on the life of Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. And now, of course, Mahesh's daughter Pooja is a director too.

Bhatt directed Helen to her only Filmfare acting award. Best known for her sizzling dance numbers and her role as the vamp, Helen finally achieved recognition as an actress with Mahesh Bhatt's Lahu Ke Do Rang in 1979. She won the Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actress for this film, which also starred Vinod Khanna, Shabana Azmi and Danny Denzongpa.

Saaransh, directed by Bhatt, was India's official submission for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985. One of the cast members was Soni Razdan, who would go on to marry Bhatt a couple of years after the film was made.

Bhatt also made several forays into television. He directed the TV series Swabhimaan and Kabhie Kabhie and also co-directed A Mouthful of Sky, the first English TV series to be produced in India. It was written by the celebrated author, Ashok Banker.

Apart from his personal life, Bhatt has also borrowed liberally from many Hollywood films, leading to charges of plagiarism. Kabzaa was based on On the Waterfront, Dil Hai ke Manta Nahin on It Happened One Night, Sadak on Taxi Driver, Criminal on The Fugitive and so on. 

"I owe everything that I am today to my brief association with this magnificent woman," said Mahesh Bhatt in 2005. The woman was Parveen Babi and Bhatt wrote these words after her death. Their relationship lasted for two and a half years, ending in 1980 after Babi's descent into paranoid schizophrenia. Bhatt's first few films had been failures. Then he made Arth about his affair with Babi and success finally beckoned.

Bhatt is related to actor Emraan Hashmi and director Milan Luthria. His mother was the sister of both Hashmi's grandmother and Luthria's grandmother. Hashmi and Luthria, incidentally, have worked together in Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai and The Dirty Picture.

Mahesh Bhatt co-owns the film production company Vishesh Films, along with his brother Mukesh Bhatt. The company is named for Mukesh's son Vishesh, who is now a film director. In fact Vishesh has directed a film for the company named after him! The film, Murder 3, was written by none other than Mahesh.

Bhatt was a follower of the philosopher UG Krishnamurti (not to be confused with Jiddu Krishnamurti). Bhatt even wrote Krishnamurti's biography titled "U.G. Krishnamurti, A Life" in 1992. Later, in 2009, he wrote another book titled "A Taste of Life: The Last Days of UG Krishnamurti". Bhatt was at Krishnamurti's bedside when he died in Vallecrosia in Italy and had his guru cremated.

Bhatt made his debut as playback singer this year in the Emraan Hashmi starrer Mr X, for which he sang the title song. As Bhatt explained, “Every time before we record a song first I sing it. I was doing the same for Mr. X when Jeet's (one of the music directors of the film) eyes shone up like a child who had found a rare gift. He said, you are going to do it. I didn't see a reason, why not! Perhaps, the song was made for me.”