'My dad Mahesh Bhatt never treated me like his own child'
In his recently launched book, Headley And I, co-authored by Hussain Zaidi, Rahul Bhatt outlines his relationship with LeT operative David Headley.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt's only son, Rahul is an aspiring actor and was a part of Bigg Boss 4.
In an interview with Subhash K Jha, he talks about his famous father who, he says, was never around; it was this need for a father figure that laid the foundation for his friendship with Headley.
In your book Headley & I, you have described yourself as a 'super-bastard' child. What does that mean?
(Chuckles) That's because my father Mahesh Bhatt never treated me like his own child.
It's the raw uncut truth about my relationship with my father in the book. I've exorcized my demons. It's a closed chapter after this.
I had a story to tell about my experiences with this man named David Headley. With the help of a friend, I got in touch with author-journalist Hussain Zaidi and we wrote the book.
This book is not just about Headley and you. It's also about your relationship with Mahesh Bhatt.
Yeah, they are inter-connected. Perhaps if Mahesh Bhatt had been a father to me, I wouldn't have become friends with Headley.
My childhood insecurities and the lack of a father-figure during my growing years were things that Mr Headley used to win over my confidence. I was vulnerable. There was no one to guide me.
Image: Rahul Bhatt
'I feel like Andy Garcia from The Godfather 3'
So you hold your father responsible for the Headley episode?
No, I blame myself. We all have our own crosses to bear. If mine became unbearable, it's my problem. Having said that, I maintain my father has always been indifferent to me. I felt like Andy Garcia from The Godfather 3.
Apparently, Bhatt wanted to name you Mohammed when you were born?
Yeah. But my Anglo-Indian mother put her foot down on the insistence of her Maharastrian neighbours. Besides, if Mr Bhatt thinks of himself as a good Muslim, he should've treated all his children equally.
But his mother was Muslim.
Yes. But I had no interaction with that side of my family.
Image: David Headley
'Mr Mahesh Bhatt has never done anything for me'
You seem to have come out with details of your interaction with Headley so vividly after all these years.
It was all documented. I kept a diary.
That was my mother's idea. She asked me to maintain a diary about my life. Thankfully, I listened to her and so the story of my interaction with Headley was stored.
How did Headley change your life?
Because of that episode, people at least know me. Before that, nobody even knew Mahesh Bhatt had a son.
I became infamous after the episode. I got a chance to be on a reality show (Bigg Boss). Mr Bhatt didn't recommend me. Not that I expected him to. He has never done anything for me.
Why do you keep coming back to your father when this book is about Headley and you?
I am not playing the victim's card. Nor am I trying to generate interest in my book by talking about him. But I believe what happened to me with Headley has its roots in my past.
Image: Book cover of Headley And I
'Mr Headley and I had a mentor-pupil relationship'
What was it about Headley that appealed to you?
Common interests. A good sense of humour. He was well-travelled. He had a broad worldview. I am basically a loner. I don't make friends easily.
What made you befriend Headley?
Pataa nahin. I make friends instinctively. Duniya kya bolti hai bhaad mei jaye (to hell with what the world thinks).
Mr Headley offered a good friendship. It was a buddy-buddy thing where we discussed girls and guns, and a mentor-pupil relationship.
He struck me as an action guy, a swashbuckeler.
I saw him as an American adventurer who had seen The Godfather repeatedly. So had I. I could never guess what his real intentions were.
Image: Rahul Bhatt
'I am not glorifying Headley'
In the book, you describe your first impressions of Mr Headley in poetic terms. You particularly wax eloquent about his eyes.
Please don't give it a homo-erotic interpretation. There was no such thing. The most striking thing about Mr Headley when anyone met him for the first time were his mismatched eyes.
Looking back, that too was a measure of his multiple personality disorder.
This guy was one of his kind. There was a contradiction to his personality. He loved children and dogs. But then he did what he did.
How painful was it to piece together the events associated with your friendship with him?
It wasn't painful but it was labourious. Hussain Zaidi and I stayed up for hours and hours. I'd speak into a dictaphone randomly. And he would put it together.
Do you realise the book will open up a Pandora's box?
I don't care about what the world thinks of me. I know what I am. I know what I am doing in the book.
There are three perspectives in the book: mine, Headley's and the law enforcement's. I am not glorifying David Headley. Nowhere have I said what he did was right.
David Headley came to me in Mumbai. I didn't go anywhere with him. My vulnerabilities could have easily been used to his advantage. I am the victim here. I was never aware of his Machiavellian schemes.
You never got an inkling of what he was up to?
None at all. We judge a book by its cover. Headley was a Caucasian American. I had no idea of his Pakistani ancestry when I befriended him.
Do you want the book to be made into the film?
Yes, and I should play myself. That would be my only pre-condition.
Since no one is coming forward to offer me roles, I should at least be the hero of my own story.
I've done a reality show. I've written a book. Ab kam-se-kam ek picture to karne do (Now let me do one film at least). Give me an opportunity to prove myself.
Image: Mahesh and Rahul Bhatt