The bond between a father and daughter is special. A daughter will always be her Dad’s little angel… whether she is 4 or 44 years old. A father is ever protective of his daughter and likewise she always looks for his qualities for the man in her life.
My bond with my Papa was nothing like it is today. The warmth and the laughter that we share now was not so initially. Through my growing years, Papa for me was “Hitler”, because he was a strict man. One look from him was good enough to scare me out of my wits not only during my childhood but even now. If Papa ever scolded me for anything, be sure you would find me trembling like a fish. It is true that childhood experiences leave a lasting impact on every child, it definitely did for me. Papa started his acting career when he married mamma so when I was born, he would not be around since he was always traveling and was away for shoots most of the time. As a child, I would never understand why he was not there with us for family gatherings or our annual holidays. Why he was not able to spend time with me all through my early childhood to my teens? My mind would be in constant questioning mode.
Another thing that holds true is, what you resist always persists. I was never academically inclined and would end up with not very high marks. So I would hope that Papa was away and I could easily get my way around with Mamma to sign the Report card without much fuss. But, it was an unspoken mandatory rule that only Papa would sign our Report card and not Mamma. So as my luck would have it, he was particular about being home before I reached with my exam results each time, every year. You can’t even imagine how I use to dread this day of my life as I always ended up getting scolded for my average marks.
Our parents ensured that me and my brother were well mannered and disciplined kids. They would cater to all our requirements without ever letting us realise the stresses they were going through to make it big, to make a mark and achieve the aspirations Papa had and the dreams they had for us. Papa had already transitioned from the role of an actor to becoming a producer before he actually got into direction. I still remember a conversation I had overheard as a little girl, on the back seat of our car. Papa was driving us to the Premiere of his directorial debut movie ‘Khudgarz’. He was sounding tensed, and telling Mamma that if he fails in this, as a director, we will lose everything and that he will have to look for another job outside the entertainment industry. That conversation somewhere left a deep imprint on my mind forever and I for the first time realised the pressure my parents were going through. I am glad he made it big as he did… otherwise Indian entertainment industry would have never got one of their biggest Director nor would we have got some super-hit classics Papa has made in his career.
Papa’s success did not make any difference in disciplining rules. As a teenager, I had to follow some strict set of instructions. I could go to a Discotheque only on weekends that too with my brother in tow and I had to be home before the 12-midnight deadline. Those days I use to be irritated out of my wits (like any emerging young adult across the world does) not realising that Papa knew better and of course now I know it was only for my good that he was so protective. Papa has instilled great values and taught us to be ethical always, by being an example. He doesn’t preach, he sets examples himself so that we understand better. I have seen Papa being a loving and supporting husband, an obedient and loving son to his parents and an amazing son-in-law to my maternal grandparents respecting and loving them equally and always being there for them. He has never deprived us kids nor his grandkids of any luxuries but, at the same time he taught us to treat everyone and everything with respect. On sets, as a child and now too, I have seen Papa even sweep the floor himself, if need be because he says, no work is menial and each person has a role to play in the system. It is important to work hand in hand to maintain a balanced ecosystem hence we should treat all as equals. When I started working with him and specially as an asst. director on the sets of Krrish 3, I saw him treat everyone alike, be it cracking jokes or being stern with a chaiwala to a spot boy to a technician to a senior star to a junior artiste or his assistants, with same respect and love.
Papa has been the fearless one, standing by his principles and ethics, even at the cost of being brutally attacked by the underworld. His resilience and strength unknowingly made us siblings also pick up the same traits to face all adversities in our lives. My Papa has a strong intimidating personality and wherever he goes, he commands respect but, at times he does unnerve the people who interact with him. However, behind that “Hitler” like mask lies a butter soft-cuddly heart, ready to melt away at the sight of his grandchildren. They can get away with anything and everything. When I have been majorly unwell a few times, I too have seen the weaker side of him. The concern on his face when I was diagnosed with Tuberculosis Meningitis, endlessly visiting me in the hospital for days balancing his work and the travel all the way to Breach candy hospital, morning and night. He would cover the light bulbs in my room, with paper so that direct light didn’t fall into my eyes as direct contact with light was painful for me. I have seen him go through hell when he saw his only daughter go through the pain of chemotherapies during my treatment to defeat Cancer. I have seen him tirelessly sit through my sittings, days on end to ensure I got the best of treatment and emotional support when I needed it the most. He stood like my pillar of strength unshakeable and compassionate. Mamma told me much later how he would sob each night at the fear of losing his daughter. He has shielded and protected me as much as any father can, from all my pitfalls in life be it emotional or physical.
Every child who has strict parents, ends up distancing from them and I was no different either. I would never be able to talk to my Papa directly. If I was in the same room as him, I would try and escape at the earliest without speaking a word. If he would question me at all, I would be tongue-tied. If I had to tell him something I would look at Mamma for support and talk to him without making any eye-contact. It was only much later when I started working with Papa on films like Krazzy 4, Kites and Krrish 3 that I even sat in the same space as him. He allowed me complete freedom to learn all aspects of production without interfering at all. However, that did not still remove the fear of communication with him. Until one day, my life coach gave me a task of taking my Papa out for Father’s day dinner, alone. In fact, only when I successfully conditioned my subconscious mind over and over, to spend a dinner date with Papa, did I manage to thaw the ice between us and not only convinced him to come out with me, but also had a fairly good time with him over laughter, random conversations and his favourite dinner. Today, Papa and I can sit and have non-stop conversations discussing work, cracking jokes since we share a great sense of humour. My fondest memory with Papa though, is the Dinner date he invited me to, over champagne to celebrate the mega success of Krrish 3, a film I had worked on with Papa. He had chosen to share the joy with me over everyone else. It will always be my favourite Date 🙂
I love the fact that Mamma says, I am my Papa’s replica in many ways. The things I do or say or like are so similar to his choices. I think I draw my strength through him as well. If he had not lead by precedent, maybe I would have crumbled long ago instead of beating all my downfalls and coming out as a winner in life. I am truly blessed to be born to such lovely parents who still pamper me with love and I know, they always will. For me they are my living Gods. I revere them, I love them and I respect them. I Thank-you Papa, for my disciplining and teaching me the rules of life most importantly for teaching me the value of money. You taught me through your own example that “Tough times don’t last but Tough people do”.
My book ‘To Papa with Love’ was my gift of love to you and through this blog I want you to know that, I am proud to be your daughter and I hope that I continue being strong, following the values you have taught me. I love you loads…