It was humour that brought scriptwriter/director Honey Irani and writer/lyricist Javed Akhtar together and humour, which helped them remain ‘best friends’ long after their divorce. She loves Javed’s lines Chahe jo tumhe poore dil se, milta hai woh mushkil se from the title song of Kal Ho Naa Ho.
A FILMI BACHPAN
Honey’s tryst with the movies began when she was merely two-and-a-half years old. She appeared as a child artiste in films like Santan, Talaq and Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan in the ’50s. “My mother had ambitions of being an actress. She realised her dreams through us,” says Honey, whose older sister Daisy Irani was also a child actor. She was closest to the late Meena Kumari, who often played her reel mother. “Meenaji would take me home, feed me with her hands, bathe me and put me to sleep. She was more of a mom to me, than my own mother.”
JAB SHE MET JAVED
Honey met Javed on the sets of Ramesh Sippy’s Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), which he was writing with Salim Khan. “I liked his sense of humour, he liked mine.” She narrates how he proposed to her. “He was losing in a game of cards on the sets. I said, ‘Let me pull a card for you’. He said, ‘If it’s a good one, I’ll marry you’. The card was good. He declared, ‘Chalo, chalo let’s get married,” she laughs. Interestingly, Javed asked Salim Khan to take his proposal to Honey’s mother. The two got married on March 21, 1972.
HONEY OVER THE MOON
Honey, who was just 17 when she married the struggling Javed, had many adjustments to make. “We didn’t have a place. My elder sister Maneka, who was married to filmmaker Kamran Khan (Farah and Sajid Khan’s father), had an extra room in Juhu. It was used to store shooting props. She cleared it for us. We stayed there for a year.” But within a year things changed dramatically when Zanjeer happened. A string of blockbusters like Sholay, Yaadon Ki Baarat and Deewaar made Salim-Javed a winning team.
While his professional life was rocking, Javed’s personal life soon hit rock bottom. Rumours of his closeness with Shabana Azmi fuelled feuds at home. “We separated in 1978 as things had turned bad. There were fights and ugly scenes. But we ensured the children (Farhan and Zoya) weren’t around. While their divorce came through in’84-’85, Javed and Shabana got married in 1984. Shabana has enjoyed a warm equation with Farhan and Zoya over the years. But she’s candid about her rapport with Shabana. “I have no rapport as such with her. I go to Javed’s house on his birthday. Shabana and I greet each other. It’s cordial. There’s a lot of respect. That’s it. But it’s not as if we are sahelis. Not at all.”
STORY MEIN TWIST
After the breakup, while Javed was providing a certain amount, Honey says it wasn’t enough with growing children. “I started embroidering sarees. Reena Roy, Mumtaz and others would buy them. I had written some short stories but feared they’d be dismissed as Javed’s.” Then she narrated the concept of Aaina (1993) to Pam Chopra for a TV serial. But husband Yash Chopra chose it for a film instead. “Later, Yashji asked me to develop a ‘five minute’ idea which he gave me. Soon, I wrote the script and read it out to him. But he just got up and left. An hour later, he returned after having completed his pooja. He hugged me saying, ‘I was so moved. It’s fantastic.” That was Lamhe (1992).
Honey, today, is enjoying her children’s success with Farhan and Zoya being the industry’s hotshot directors. Though it was tough being a single mother, she says she’s no martyr. She adds, “Today I have my grandchildren (Shakya 12, and Akira 5), my friends and my work. Of course, you do feel lonely. But I can’t go through the pain again. At this age what you need is a companion, someone to share, to travel with…” She laughs aloud, “There again I’m being a romantic.”AainaDaisy IraniFarah KhanFarhan AkhtarHoney IraniInterviewsJaved AkhtarLamheMeena KumariSajid KhanSantanSeeta Aur GeetaTalaqZoya Akhtar