Saturday, July 08, 2006
On her childhood
My real name Pankaj Sharma. My father (Bobby is not comfortable naming her family members) was an English professor and a bank employee. My elder sister is a perfect housewife, while my younger brother is a fashion designer. Even as a child, I was an introvert and would only play with girls. The first time I dressed up like a girl was when I was in the eighth standard. I would often apply lipstick and wear saris from my mother's closet. By the time I reached class 12, I had a serious relationship with a classmate. My parents were alarmed and took me to various specialists including a sexologist and a psychiatrist. My father used to beat me for my sexual preference too. But I don't blame my parents for it. They weren't to blame.
Moving to Mumbai
I was aware that if I did anything to affect my father's social status, he would kill me. To avoid such a situation, I eloped with my boyfriend just before my exams. We travelled like a happy couple all across the Asia and Europe. It was very exciting. After two years, I got a call from my dad, saying that mom was unwell and she wanted to see me. I was by her bedside when she died due to kidney failure. Just four days after her demise, my boyfriend called our relationship off saying that he had to fulfil his responsibilities towards his parents. He got married, and now he has kids too. I headed straight to the bathroom and emptied a bottle of phenyl down my throat. My father saved my life. Constantly teased by friends in college, I left Delhi, with Rs 8,000 in my pocket. I decided to move to Mumbai.
Life in dance bars
As the train entered Bombay Central, I began to feel scared. I had heard odd stories about Mumbai. I knew no one in the city. For 15 days, I lived in railway stations, sleeping on the platforms. People would often taunt me and call me names like 'chakka', 'hijra', 'chikna'. It made me cringe. Later, I managed to find a roof over my head and moved to Malad, where I stayed in a house with four girls who used to work in a bar. They informed me that a gay dancer in their bar was earning enough money to sustain himself. Luckily I found employment there. My features are like a girl's, so very often customers would get confused and make indecent proposals to me. But soon, I began to feel stifled and started to look for roles in TV serials. I would walk down from one office to another the whole day. At 5 p.m I'd go to work at the bar. I never went to bed before 1.30 a.m in those days.
Becoming Bobby Darling
The initial days were very humiliating for me. I still remember how Makrand Deshpande had laughed at me. I realised that in order to find work I would have to re-invent myself. Is dhande mein dikhoge nahin to bikoge kaise (if you don't look good, how will you sell?) I was ill-treated by many filmmakers. They would call me gur (meaning jaggery, a slang used by Mumbaikars for gays). Bobby was my pet name. Director Lawrence D'Souza suggested that I add 'Jaan' after my name. Other names recommended were Bobby Chikna, Bobby Sexy, Bobby Hot. Once, when I went for an audition at N Chandra's office, he asked me my name. I said, "My name is Bobby Darling". His eyes lighted up immediately. He liked my name and promised to give me work.
My first film was Subhash Ghai's Taal, in which I played the role of Aishwarya's make-up artist.They shot for 19 days with me, but when the film released I was barely there. I felt bad, but what could be done about it? Later, I worked with Hrithik Roshan in Na Tum Jano Na Hum. He was very sweet to me and always greeted me with a hug. Recently, I met him at a party, and he doesn't seem to have changed at all. Even Salman Khan is very fond of me. I am also grateful to Moon Moon Sen and her daughters for all their help.
I am in the process of undergoing a sex change. I am taking hormonal injections which will develop my breasts. I am counting on laser surgery to remove my body hair. I am not yet sure where I'll get the surgery done. In India, it will cost me Rs 4 lakh, but in USA the cost will be about Rs 10 lakh. I would prefer the US, as such surgery is done there on a regular basis.
Life after films
Things are looking better for me. Now, my father talks to me. I am getting better roles. I have my own apartment in Oshiwara, and I have recently bought a car. I feel secure. Now, I am focusing on my sex change. I want to live like a woman. Plans after sex change After my operation, I will not return to India. I will quit Bollywood, because I am sure that people will make a mockery out of me. They will say, 'Pehele gay tha, ab heroine ho gaya hai! (Earlier he was gay, now he is an actress)'. I don't want to get humiliated after spending so much money. Perhaps I will become a pole dancer. I know I will have to start from scratch, but then I have never been afraid of challenges. . The initial days were very humiliating for me. I still remember how Makrand Deshpande had laughed at me. I realised that in order to find work I would have to re-invent myself. I was ill-treated by many filmmakers. They would call me 'gur' -
source: Mumbai Mirror, India interview by Ram Kamal Mukherjee