Neelima Azeem, mother to Gen-Y stars Shahid Kapoor and Ishaan Khatter, is more than just a name. She’s considered a legend in the world of Indian kathak, given the laurels she earned as a teenager in the 70s. But a hasty decision and a love marriage made her come face to face with reality as she battled her first-ever rejection. After an early marriage at 20 and embracing motherhood a few years later, her marriage with veteran actor Pankaj Kapur went kaput.
Neelima was just 20-year-old when she married Pankaj in 1979. The couple welcomed their first child Shahid Kapoor in 1981. Three years later Neelima and Pankaj were divorced. In a candid chat on Bollywood Bubble’s Her Story, the veteran actress opened up on her divorce from Pankaj and how she dealt with it.
Revealing if her failed marriage with Pankaj hit her in any way Neelima said, “Of course it did hit me. Because you know I was in my own opinion God’s favourite child. Because I got everything so beautifully at the age of 15 I debuted as a Kathak exponent and there was no looking back. Then I became the highest in demand dancer and everything was so wonderful. Then I had this wonderful friend who I got married to. Everything was just beautiful. My parents were wonderful. I had a great crowd around me. Toh mujhe yeh pata hi nahi tha ki zindagi mein aisa bhi hota hai jismein paun fisal jaye aur aap gir jaayein.”
“Aur rejection ka toh koi sawaal hi nahi hai because everybody used to love me and follow me around. It was the first time when I actually experienced grief, sorrow, rejection, anxiety, pain and fear of the unknown. And a whole lot of insecurity. And also a sense of feeling claustrophobic that I have to stay with my parents now and raise the child on my own and how I am going to be moving towards being the independent girl that I always wanted to be and in many ways was. Because I used to travel the world for my performances. So I used to see the world, interact with people. Everything was hunky-dory before the divorce happened. So this was the first time when I actually slipped and fell on my face so to say,” she added further.
You can check out our entire conversation with Neelima Azeem below:
The actress also shared that she doesn’t see it as a terrible thing that happened to her. Revealing what helped her bounce back, Neelima said, “But I don’t see it as the terrible thing that happened to me in life. I just simply think that I needed that bump. We all must understand that we are not extraordinary or entitled. We are simply human beings who can be rejected. And it took me about a year and a half to put myself together and there Phir Wahi Talash did a lot for me. Lekh (Tandon) ji came along with it. Revati Saran Sharma had written this character Shehnaz which was so dynamic and so vivacious and full of life that when I played that character it became cathartic for me. And I think that brought me back to life. So I have had a good life. I don’t have any regrets. I have had a lot of pitfalls. I have fallen and gotten up. I am the perennial jack in the box. Pop I come up again. So that’s who I am. Because I have a lot of gusto and I have a lot of love for life.Lustre for life. And I am very grateful to God that I have been born on this earth. And I have had such beautiful experiences. Thanks to my Guru Pandit Birju Maharaj, he had a huge hand in it. He has given us so much joy and purpose and meaning in life. So I don’t see any pain or misery.”