Bollywood director and producer Mahesh Bhatt is celebrating his 73rd birthday today. The filmmaker has had a rather tumultuous career where he has managed to churn out movies like Saransh, Arth, Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke, Gumrah, Sangharsh but also movies like Mr. X, Love games, Raaz 3D, Jism 2, and last but not the least, the chastening mess of Sadak 2. While every filmmaker has their series of hits and misses, it is Mahesh Bhatt’s life outside the movie world that has tarnished his legacy.
Mahesh Bhatt and his pot of controversy
During his 45-years of odd filming career, Bhatt has been involved in a handful of scandals. In his heydays, he was known as a flashy playboy who had a knack for getting incessantly paired up with the actresses of the time. It is also worth mentioning that Parveen Babi and Mahesh Bhatt had an extra-marital affair and several industry insiders attribute Parveen’s mental problems to be Bhatt’s doing.
Shame on this #MaheshBhatt , Mukesh Bhatt gang that's gone so shallow that they're now calling #SushantSinghRajput schizophrenic like Parveen Babi. Kameenepan ki bhi koi hadd hoti hai yaar. Feeling so fcuking angry right now. AH BC.
— Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj (@DeepikaBhardwaj) June 15, 2020
At the time of Bhatt’s affair with Parveen Babi, he was married to his childhood sweetheart Lorraine Bright, who was later rechristened as Kiran. Bhatt dated Parveen from 1977-1980 even while being married to Lorraine aka Kiran Bhatt. During this period, Parveen’s mental health issues started coming out and it is alleged that Bhatt only let them flair up. When things went south, he left Parveen, divorced Kiran, and a few years later got married to another Bollywood actress, Soni Razdan.
Mahesh Bhatt and Pooja Bhatt kissing
However, the biggest controversy of Mahesh Bhatt’s career has to be the picture of him kissing his daughter Pooja Bhatt passionately on the lips for the cover of Filmfare magazine in the ’80s. To make matters worse, he remarked after the infamous kiss, “If Pooja wasn’t my daughter, I’d have loved to marry her.”
His actions brought widespread criticism as everyone from the media to the film industry frowned upon Mahesh’s act of indecency and an even lewd statement.
Defending terrorist Zakir Naik
As reported by TFI, Mahesh Bhatt is a radical Islamist who is a self-confessed fan of fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik. Bhatt in the past has also defended Osama Bin Laden and Islamic terrorism.
In of the viral videos that routinely traverse the realms of social media platforms, Bhatt can be seen passionately defending Zakir after he was banned from entering the UK.
“At the onset, let me salute Dr. Zakir Naik for daring to lock horns with the mighty British Empire… I salute his audacity which comes from his Imaan… If he had any grey spot in his heart, he wouldn’t have risked locking horns with these bullies… The world is becoming the most entertained and the least informed one… We, as Indians, owe it to our brother (Zakir Naik) who is national pride, (and) a prized treasure.” said Bhatt.
Mahesh Bhatt praises Terror funding accused & accused of inciting terror, Zakir Naik, for his bravery, and he also says that he will make a film on Zakir Naik's life
No wonder Bollywood is always Anti-Hindu. pic.twitter.com/27uTBrMUDn
— Amit Kumar (@AMIT_GUJJU) June 30, 2020
Bhatt dares to address Zakir Naik as the pride of India while completely ignoring how he radicalizes Muslim youth. Crossing all limits of devotion, Bhatt urged the Indian government to defend Zakir Naik and allow him to preach in the UK.
He said, “They call Dr. Naik the warmonger but history knows who is the warmonger. Are you going to believe in the opinions of those people who have the means to lie, buy wordsmiths, get newspapers, have TV networks by their side to market lies and hang a man like Dr. Naik? I will say No.”
Appearing on the banned channel, Peace TV, Bhatt claimed, “The life of Zakir Saheb is a fascinating story in itself. It contains material for a feature film. I don’t know whether Zakir Naik will want to play the role of a hero in the movie. We can find someone to play his role, provided he gives me permission to do so. Please get the idea approved from him and then only I can make a film.”
Controversy and Mahesh Bhatt: a fatal concoction
In February last year, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria in his autobiography ‘Let Me Say It Now’, had also mentioned how he had asked Mahesh Bhatt to warn Gulshan Kumar about an apparent death-trap set by the underworld criminal Abu Salem. Throughout his career, Bhatt has been linked up for his alleged connections with the underworld.
Mahesh Bhatt’s son Rahul Bhatt has also been involved in ugly affairs. Rahul was the friend of Lashkar-e-Taibab (LeT) spy David Coleman Headley aka Dawood Gilani. Although he was let go of by the police, his connection with Headley brought a lot of negative spotlight on both the father-son duo. Headley later told a court in Chicago that he liked Bhatt and had hoped to recruit him as an agent for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
After Sushant’s death, the name of Mahesh Bhatt had been actively doing the rounds in several conspiracy theories suggesting Bhatt had a hand in pushing Sushant to the edge.
He might be a decent artist knowing his way around a camera lens and working on a film set, but as a human, the public image Bhatt has carved for himself certainly pales all the good work he has put up on the big screen during his decades’ long career.