Parveen Babi passes quietly


Parveen Babi, a screen rival of Zeenat Aman, passed away prematurely a couple of days ago at home in Bombay. The actress from Ahmedabad, a Gujarati Muslim, starred in Amar Akbar Anthony, Deewar, Namak Halal and Shaan opposite Amitabh Bachchan, made the cover of Time magazine, filmed a serial in Italy with her lover Kabir Bedi and lived in New York for many years.

Hailing from the nawab family of Junagadh, Parveen Babi did her schooling from Ahmedabad… Deewar personified the new Bollywood woman through her — smoking, drinking, not shying away from a live-in relationship, and yet desperate for the sindoor in her maang. If the film made the coronation of Bachchan as the “angry, young man” official, it also established Parveen Babi as the new western face — and figure — of the desi silver screen. [Telegraph]

Her hour of glory came when Time featured her on the cover [in 1977], much to the consternation of her screen rivals. A product of the flower children, yoga, Beatles and the students’ movement of the 1960s, Babi remained an outsider in Bollywood. Her cinema career came to an abrupt end amidst reports of alcoholism and drug abuse. [ToI]

She lived in a fishbowl, reportedly suffered from schizophrenia and then turned recluse:

Some claimed it was… the release of Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth (a semi-autobiographical look at his extramarital relationship with Parveen) and her disturbed state of mind that prompted her to abandon everything. [Rediff]

[Babi] led the life of an absolute recluse because she was afraid people were trying to kill her… Babi was afraid of doorbells and phone calls. [Telegraph]

In Arth, Shabana Azmi played the wife and Smita Patil, the mistress:

The film received more than a fair share of the media glare, thanks to Bhatt’s rooftop declarations of autobiographical ambitions. Parveen Babi naturally took great offence to being portrayed as a shrieking whining harridan. [Stardust]

She sounds like quite the wild child:

She was the first heroine to openly take drugs and talk about it. Like many in her generation, Babi openly advocated free love. She gave candid quotes about her affairs with married men like Danny Denzongpa, Mahesh Bhatt and Kabir Bedi, whom she even ran away to Italy with…

When she returned after an extended stay in New York… Babi lodged a complaint with the Bhoiwada police station against 34 parties, including actor Amitabh Bachchan and former US President Bill Clinton, who, she accused of conspiring to kill her. [HT]

Rumors of a breakdown at JFK Airport:

New York, 7 April 1984. A disturbed and distraught Parveen Babi landed in the New York International Airport. She was asked to show her identification papers by the Airport authorities. Something in her snapped. She is said to have acted difficult and was handcuffed. When she put up a frantic struggle, she was also ankle-cuffed and carried by four policemen to a public hospital. An Indian doctor recognized Parveen and came to her aid…

When [Krishnamurti] landed in New York, he found Parveen in a general ward with thirty other mentally disturbed patients. The Indian Consul General, who had been informed of the unfortunate incident, had personally come to visit Parveen at the hospital. [Mahesh Bhatt]

Her life ended alone:

Her body was taken to Cooper Hospital, where it lay unclaimed till evening. “We will wait for seven days, then it will be disposed of in the regular way,” said Gupta. Soon after, filmmakers Mahesh Bhatt and Ashok Pandit offered to perform the last rites if there was no claimant. Bhatt, with whom she had been in a relationship, said he was out of touch with her for long, but their relationship was a very significant part of his life… [Telegraph]

Her relatives were eventually located:

“People said that Praveen Khala has stopped opening door for any one, but she will always remain our loving aunt, who warmly insist that we come and visit her. The last time when I was in Mumbai, she called me over and showered my children Murtaza and Ahtesham with love and gifts. She was the best”, said a teary Nasreen Babi, whose mother Rahim Sultan Bibi and mother-in-law were Parveen’s cousins. [ToI]

If anyone has an image of that Time cover, please send it my way, I can’t seem to find it on their site.

I’m sitting here snowbound in New York peering through a keyhole into this wide, rich river. If I were there right now, my uncle with the jug-handle ears would be filling our heads with the gossip of years. He’d be pulling out old movies and pointing out Babi’s performances. I’d be sitting on a razai, hot chai in my belly and stories burning in my ears.

Update: Turbanhead just posted a video clip of Parveen Babi dancing to ‘Jawani Jaaneman’ from Namak Halal. Watch the clip.

Update 2: The cause of death appears to be complications from diabetes.

35 thoughts on “Parveen Babi passes quietly

  1. Friends we all feel sad when one of our favorite stars passes away. Parveen, Amrish Puri,Mabhubala, Rafi and the list goes on..

    When will we really learn to appreciate these lost talents. Don’t u think.. its high time that the Indian Cinema come up with Museum dedicated to these legendary stars..

    Generation fater generation will come and no one will remember who Dada Saheb Phalke was who was the pioneer of Indian Cinema. .May be u and I will know .. but not the next generation to come.. Its sad and makes me upset when such legeng leaves these materialistic world.. Why can’t we not learn from the Americans or the British Film Industry..

  2. I have been collecting some photos ever since she passed away. Let me know i can email the photos to you

  3. I met Parveen in the mid “80″s when she lived in Houston (USA). I am not from India and so I was not familiar with her movie star image/past. She showed me a cover of Time magazine with her photo on the cover. I was very sad to hear of her recent death. She was very kind and lot’s of fun!!!

  4. We will dearly miss one of India’s greatest Flower Power icons. In her haydays, she made us proud by keeping in tune with the revolutionary changes in lifestyles in the world in the 70s. The bohemian image, the proponence of free love, the inclination to get “high” and averriding boldness towards life – all the virtues of the 70s were imbibed in her.Erratic as she was, probably such eccentricity was the norm of the day of the decade she belonged to…

  5. Hi, I am from Junagadh and i am really very proud to say that i am from a city where Parveen Babi was born.

    She was really a hearththrob of her era and i always admire her.


  6. Parveen Babi has been my favourite actor since i was maybe 5 or 6.. I dont think I have ever seen a woman as beautiful and perfect as her. I have seen a lot of her films. She was extremely talented and had an amazing screen presence. Her style and sense of dressing were impeccable and very classic. She was the epitomy of sofistication and sensuesness. It is heartbreakingly sad how her life got spoilt because of her mental illness and how she always yearned for love and a partner till her end. May her soul rest in peace.. If anyone has any recent or old pics of hers or any unknown information tit bits, please email me. Thankyou.

  7. iam from suriname, south america and parveen babi has been one of my favourite actresses i have seen all her movies so far

  8. like babi a lot………….reminds me of marilyn monroe…………a real sad life….i wish her soul rest in peace..

  9. Well d very beautiful n sexiest of all heriones of her times…she was really a gem

  10. I fell in love with her when i was 14 and once when i happen to see her in person after 3 years i fell in love with her more, well she remains to date my best actress ever so beautiful and so loving on screen. i pray for her soul and will always remember her all my life. God bless her soul in peace.

  11. I just dont know what to write?She was an awesome actress. I haven’t seen much of her movies but recently i saw Woh Lamhe. If what ever that is shown in that movie is true i feel like crying. May her soul rest in peace.

    Any news related to her life or death.Feel free to post it to me. I m waiting.

  12. no comment at the moment. Will try to get a copy of the times Re pitchure of Parveen babi. I remember when copy of times appeared on the shelfs of news agents 70”

    parveen Ismail from UK.

  13. I just want to know if I can find biography of parveen babi. I would love to know about her in more details.

  14. ..On the above, I see lots of people are interested in the times as there is a picture of Parveen babi.I think she was the most beautiful actress in India. I have just spoken to the Librian and he has given me an Email address,which is Get on that and see what happensand please let me know what happens.

    My personal opinon is Parveen babi died of a broken heart.Kabir badi.

    Bye for now.

  15. My comments are not printed some reason, what am I doing wrong.

    Parveen Ismail.

    Re:Parveen babi’s picture on the Time magazine.


  16. ref to cover picture of parveen babi,search us times magazine. I came accross past covers but there was none of parveen babi.


  17. I think Mahesh Bhatt is an asshole who used her for her own gains and is still trying to capitalise on her, till this date. No doubt Woh Lamhe is an amazing and very touching subject beautifully portrayed. But where was this Mahesh Bhatt when she was living alone for past three years since 2002. Where was he when she was in Newyork for past ten years. Mahesh Bhatt is an evil that if allowed to spread into your social norms can collectively cause harm to a lot of generations. How many people bring their home affairs to the table to be published in news papers and make movies out of it. He did, he always does. Lemme ask everyone if you really love a guy or girl, i mean madly, deeply in love, would you make all your affair public and talk about her every bad habit, psychologically you just make them more miserable, more insecure and more vulnerable and thats what he did made Arth that might have Triggered Her Schizophrenia which contributed to her break down, which eventually, led her to go to newyork. If he really loved why he did not get in touch with her after she came back and tried to help her out with her illness why did he not marry her in the first place instead he made movie ARTH at that time. This Mahesh Bhatt is the biggest maligned joke of the century that i would continue to hate everyday……

  18. its very sad but too late to comment anything. I feel Mahesh Bhatt is too good but no body really knwos what exactly had happended that moment when the 2 were in intense realtion. one cant judge that situation now. who know;s that mahesh did try to help her out but as she was suffering from Schizophrenia she never wanted a help.

  19. Praveen Babi….that name somehow conjures up an image of beauty and grace. I have been an ardent fan of hers since the AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY Days. Who could say a person who had it all ; had really nothing at all…? She was so traumatized with her illness Poor girl !. I feel such intense disgust for the all the people who used and abused her. The FILM industry literally abandoned her and let a body lie in the morgue unclaimed for seven days…How callous can one getÂ…? I read some where that towards her last days she found forgiveness and deliverance from all her torment through her faith in Christ ? .Thats wonderful .!

  20. Praveen Babi….that name somehow conjures up an image of beauty and grace. I have been an ardent fan of hers since the AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY Days. Who could say a person who had it all ; had really nothing at all…? She was so traumatized with her illness Poor girl !. I feel such intense disgust for the all the people who used and abused her. The FILM industry literally abandoned her and let a body lie in the morgue unclaimed for seven days…How callous can one getÂ…? I read some where that towards her last days she found forgiveness and deliverance from all her torment through her faith in Christ ? .Thats wonderful .!

  21. Well I recently saw WOH LAMHE ….though the movie is well made . I did not like the scene where SANA AZIM (character based on Parveen Babi) throws her underwear at the hero …to prove that she had a care a damn attitude ! Well now that she is dead ; we are supposed to respect the dead ..that scene was uncalled for.. I read Mahesh Bhatt once stated that she did remove her bra from under her T-shirt …but this scene was cheap . The movie is inspired by PARVEEN BABI illness and rash behavior. But she was a very beautiful & dignified actress on screen. What she did in her personal life is none of our business. Liked Parveen immensely in NAMAK HALAL and BHANWAR.

  22. I recently saw “Woh Lamhe” this movie portrayed Praveen Babi as how her life was but they didnt include the year gap from where Mr. Mahesh Bhatt lost contact of her. But she cut herself beacuse of the life she was living, she was fed up.It showed they lived together until one day she died. Which is very sad because they shared real love even though he was married. The man that she was with before Mahesh Batt appeared treated her like a dog. I just want to say that this movie is really good but they should have shown her whole life. No one should have to go through that much pain in life. People should live peacefully with each other because you never know when it will be their last.

  23. I do not believe Parveen was manic depressed etc. Her fears of being killed are now understandable now that her tapes to mahesh have been made public. She tells him in it how her mother had just described to her the murder of a relative. I think we all would be apprehensive about our safety if such a thing had happened to a family member of ours. UG guided mish wrong when he asked him to leave her and such a bozo he was to even listen to him. Mr bhatt can you really think that was your happiest day. But it was her happiest day as she got to be alone and never fell lonely ever again. When she was amongst her so called friends she was always lonely. And mish after revealing so much about your girl why don’t you reveal the names of those evil people who tortured her?

  24. hi folks well i was reading the postings and its very sad that some poeple write about others friends lets not forget we all are having those basic animal instincts and its only till the time when one is not known openly by the society (obviously dobiuos one i feel)are exposed well no matter how bad a person was,but after the person is no more with us we treat them with them with full respect and dignity .We all have emotions and at times we do take some steps in life that we think at that point as correct or rather i would say needed .When u regret about it then yes its a mistake but when u live ur life with all those memories then it becomes the basis of ur existance .Its a very very different philosophy which i can go on and on but what makes me a better human is understanding those emotions and respecting them for what they are in each of our lives folks pls watch “Woh Lamhe” if u really wnn to feel what the late actress might have felt or gone through its really a film that will touch ur heart god blesss her soul and indeed she was a very beautiful soul we all suffer with all different disorders some for money some for power,some for fame and some for love i guess she suffered from the disorder of love. this is my point of view regards

  25. hi, i’ve seen Mahesh Bhatt’s new movie “Woh Lamhe”..based on real storie of Maahesh B and Parveen Babi..a real Parveen B must have felt when she was suffering from Schizophrenia is being shot such that a person starts thinking about that great actress why such a punishment to such an actress who gave her best performances..i dont whom to blame..i think M.B has expressed his feelings towards P.B in this film..he must have realised the mistake done by him which he tried to make it over by making a film n expressing it to public.. a real love story or a real tragedy..