Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Congratulations. Your sister Meena’s biography “Mothi Tichi Savli” has many revelations about you.
A. Who would know me better than my sister? She has been a part of my life almost from my birth. Meena’s daughter Rachna is very close to me. Rachna has accompanied me to many concerts. She is doing the English version of my biography which will be out soon.
Q. It will be out in English?
A. And Hindi too. We are thinking of (journalist) Ambrish Mishra for the Hindi translation. I would want the book to reach out to the maximum number of my well-wishers, supporters, and fans.
Q. I believe the book has many undisclosed nuggets about you? In one chapter, Meenaji reveals that you once threatened to cut a lyricist (Naqshab Jarchvi), into pieces?
A. (Laughs) Not exactly. the poor chap is no more. But he had it coming. He was spreading rumours about him and me which had no truth to it. I confronted him. When I was young, I had a temper. No one could mess around with me and get away with it.
Q. That’s truly inspiring for the MeToo movement?
A. I truly believe a working woman must be given the dignity, respect, and space she deserves. If anyone denies her that space, he must be taught a lesson.
Q. There were many books written about you. Why are you dissatisfied with them?
A. I am not happy with any of the books that are written about me. These authors have not even asked me if they can write books on me. And then they have written whatever they wanted, without confirming or cross-checking facts. Some of these books have been offensive and we have even considered legal action against them.
Q. Is it possible to tell the entire truth in biographies?
A. Not really. Not the entire truth. Because there are lives of others and their families involved. One has to consider the sentiments of those whose lives are affected.
Q. Maybe that’s why icons like you, Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar refuse to write an autobiography?
A. Perhaps. But the solution is not to lie. But to be honest with restraint. To not disclose certain areas of one’s life is not dishonest. It is being discreet. But you’re right. There is a scarcity of good biographies on the greats of our cinema.
Q. Whom would you want biographies on?
A. Oh, so many… Kundal Lal Saigal, Dilip Kumar, my father Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar.
Q. You are a fantastic photographer. Whom would you like to click?
From the past, Meena Kumari. From the present, Hema Malini.