A distant child

Were cine star Smita Patil alive she would have killed if anyone pointed a finger at Prateik. Ofcourse Destiny did not give her time to either raise or protect her son. He was fourteen days when she died: untimely because had she agreed to go to hospital when the fever first came on, maybe things would have been different. There were two reasons why she refused to leave her house and move to hospital: one she wanted Raj Babbar, the man she blindly loved, to take a decision on whether she should go to hospital and the other she did not want to leave her new born at home: “If I go to hospital who will breast-feed him?” she argued. It is another matter that even before he turned a month she left him in other people’s hands: orphaned. Yes orphaned because Prateik grew up parentless. Raj had a family of his own, wife Nadira and two kids: one among them currently spitting venom at Prateik.

I recall that the only solution—and home—Raj had then suggested for Prateik was to send him with his parents to god forsaken Tundla, a little ahead of Agra if I am not mistaken.

Smita’s sisters, fiercely loyal to her, ofcourse would have none of it. They put their foot down and took Prateik under their care. So if Prateik says today that his aunts are everything to him, he is not off the mark. Particularly, Manya Patil, who chartered the course of his career. Smita’s mother, Vidyatai, as her peer group refers to her, brought up Prateik: something she would have done even if Smita was alive. Smita often said that she would want Prateik to be brought up the way her mother brought up Smita and her two sisters: Correct, proper and with an inbuilt value system, if I may use the term.

His grandparents put the world at his feet; his aunts dote on him yet Prateik was a child torn apart: motherless and with a father who had little time for him dividing it between his films, politics and family. I don’t grudge Raj his family responsibilities; nor do I the fact that he put children from his first marriage before he did Prateik. What I do is the ownership which Aarya,technically his half brother and a struggling actor, displays at this point in time. And worse still hits out at him.

For those who do not follow film news, here is the low down:

Prateik is reported to have told the media that he considers Abhishek Bachchan his elder brother.

This irked Aarya, who I refrain from calling his elder brother, given that he has suddenly appeared on the scene to claim a bloodline.

Aarya is reported to have said and I quote: “Next I hope he does not say that he has found a new father, now that he has found a brother in Abhishek. We have seen him doing all kinds of things for publicity. First it was getting sympathy votes in a cheap manner by using his late mother Smita Patil’s name. Then he dropped his Babbar surname insulting his father and family and now he has aligned himself with the Bachchans and got himself a big brother. I mean what is he thinking?”

I don’t know what to say to this but I will take this one by one. The first about getting “sympathy votes”. I feel sorry for Aarya’s vocabulary. Prateik is not contesting an election so the question of getting votes does not arise. He is an actor and a bright one at that, just like his mother, and is not cashing in on any sympathy. If he did, he would not have dropped the suffix Smit to his name. As a child he was named Prateiksmit, after his mother, as his dad Raj Babbar had then said in a television interview which he gave within a day of Smita’s death. Where and how Smit got dropped I do not know and how and why Babbar came along, even that I do not know.

But now Prateik is simply Prateik. He has, contrary to what the other Babbar says, Aarya to be precise, not dropped Babbar: it was a surname which I don’t think was ever his. He was always a distant child to his father.

And Aarya’s contention about Prateik using his mother’s name, I can only feel sorry for the way he thinks: more so for the relationship he must have had with his parents. For it can only be a sick mind who can think in terms of “using” one’s mother’s name. A parent’s name is a child’s identity and part of his being: it is born with him and grows with him so the question of using it does not arise. And as far as Prateik is concerned he remains Smita’s child in flesh and blood, only Smita’s and later her family’s for it is they who gave their ageing years, love, nurturing, care and protection to their daughter’s child. Left to Raj, Prateik would have been a nowhere child, playing second fiddle to his father’s children. So giving up the Babbar name which never was Prateik’s is something which he should have done much earlier. More so because it links him to alleged siblings who can stoop to the level of saying the kind of things they are saying about Prateik.

I think all this hullabaloo has something to do with Prateik having arrived as a good actor. The intense, silent, shy, introvert kid, whose childhood passion was cricket, has made it. And he did it without a struggle. Like his mother who was handpicked by Shyam Benegal, I think, to act in his film. She never looked back. Neither will Prateik much to the chagrin of Aarya who has yet to make a mark as an actor. Despite being a Babbar.

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