Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Celeb Talk :Somy Ali- I will never return to Bollywood!

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A former Bollywood actress of Pakistani-American origin, Somy Ali, remembered as the love interest of Salman Khan back here is lashing out at him on various occasions. And now she is running an NGO in the US and helping victims of rape and domestic violence. Despite walking away from Bollywood, she ended up becoming hugely popular on social media, and let’s get to know her past a little bit more in this week’s edition of Celeb Talk as The Pioneer’s Shikha Duggal converses exclusively with the actress.

Born to an Iraqi mother and a Pakistani father, former actress Somy Ali is a mix of two beautiful cultures. But after studying in Karachi until age 11, she moved to South Florida with her mother and brother. Being very tactful with what we write now, Somy was actually sexually abused at the ages of 5 and 9 by her household staff while living in Karachi. This agony didn’t end there, because when she shifted to Florida, she was bullied at school and raped by a neighbourhood boy at the age of 14. Not just this, her mother was also a victim of domestic violence in Pakistan that she and her brother would have to witness! All we know now is that she’s a survivor.

“I was an extremely shy child, but I was obsessed with learning new words; thus, scrabble was my favourite board game, and playing cricket with my dad’s office staff would always get them and me in trouble (she laughed). I literally had three best friends, and coincidentally, even at this age, I still have only three very close friends. I always believed in quality over quantity,” Somy says of her childhood.

When her interview talking about a leading man and her former relationship news came out, it instantly went viral in our country, and even Somy’s brother could not believe what just happened. That’s how every news channel and publication is catching hold of her, and there we get to learn about what a wonderful Samaritan she is. “I left India in 1999 and drowned myself in education. I am a human rights activist now, and I would love to come back and eat Pao Bhaji at Shivsagar but not make a comeback in Bollywood. A special request to the honourable Prime Minister, please give me a damn visa (she laughed hard) because I am extremely mad at Lord Mountbatten for separating our cultures, man, because I miss India so much!” she added.

As you read, she is a history buff, so for her, it is really beyond devastating that the countries separated, and due to the separation, it caused countless wars, spread hate like wildfire, and we lost an astronomical amount of lives! She asserts, “To this day I believe Sir Louis Lord Mountbatten should and could have handled things differently, including the whole Kashmir situation. I do not see myself as a Pakistani, an Indian, or, for that matter, even an American. I belong to each of those countries! And a part of me belongs in all of those countries and always will.

My mother is from Iraq, and my father was born in India, as were his parents. All I know about Karachi is that there are good and bad people everywhere, but what these terrorists are doing to little boys and now even girls by brainwashing them is awful. If I had the power to do so, I would destroy Al Qaeda and the Taliban in a heartbeat. They are the quintessential terrorists, not Muslims! They are brutal and heartless people and need to be put away in prison for life. They are using faith to mislead the world about what Islam truly means, and they are creating discriminatory thoughts towards Muslims. I find them disgusting. However, I am not ashamed of being born in Karachi; it’s not like I had much of a choice in the matter. I miss my childhood friends and my school, and I do have some good memories too. But I reiterate: there should never have been a Pakistan.

We are one people who are all the same. I remember I once had the pleasure of meeting with Manoj Kumar, and we talked for hours about his family being from Lahore. Similarly, my beloved Rishi Kapoor and I talked about his forefathers being from many parts of India that now solely belong to Pakistan. So, we have a lot in common, but why are we different today?”

She is still perplexed as to how she completed 10 films, beginning with Salman and ending with Govinda. She shares, “Mithun Chakraborty was the most patient with me. But I had zero interest in acting! I still remember a dance sequence with Mithun Da. It was my turn to do the shot, and Mithun Dada goes like, ‘I am going for a nap. Wake me up when you’re done, Somy,’ because he knew I was going to take hours and hours. It all basically started when I had a dream one night of marrying Salman Khan, and my mother cracked up. My mom was like, ‘Who is Salman Khan?’ My mother told me to stop laughing right away! I then talked my dad into visiting famous monumental places in India, and here I was. The irony is that I still haven’t seen the Taj Mahal (she laughs).”

Growing up in a 28-bedroom mansion in Karachi, her father, who is a film producer, director, and cinematographer, had a studio on the first floor. She saw how the films were shot for the cinema! In some way or another, she got connected to the cinema, and then came the ban. Somy was disheartened: “The ban is absurd, just as absurd as the separation of the countries. Kapoor and Sons was a brilliant film, and to forcefully deny the harmony of actors like Fawad, Mahira, and others in Mumbai is unfair. And for what? A fight over religion and land that has been going on for over seventy years, just like Israel and Palestine! It’s childish that politicians from both sides would not work harder at bringing friendship and love to one another rather than spewing hate.

The only solution for Israel, Palestine, Kashmir, India, and Pakistan is to share the land now. We have tried everything else, and it has only led to more and more deaths, including children.”

While working on her autobiography, she calls her journey bizarre. She recalls, “When I was sexually abused three times in the servant quarters, the admissible actions were taken, but my parents asked me not to tell anyone. Sadly, I continued to feel it was my fault. Later on, I understood that my country’s culture is very image-conscious. My parents were just trying to protect me. Three years ago, I realised I was a hypocrite: on the one hand, I was rescuing human trafficking victims, but no one knew my story. With more time, I realised I wasn’t a hypocrite, but rather a woman who needed time to process her pain. The first case was the darkest moment of my life and left such an imprint that I still remember the cook’s smell. It’s sickening!”

Another moving anecdote she shared was when she received enormous backlash on social media for disclosing how the Biggie of B-town practised domestic violence with her. “I had to turn off my comment box; the saddest part was that most of the comments were written by fellow women because they idolise him.Those women weren’t uplifting me at all! Fame can lead to many atrocities; consider the example of Hervey Weinstein.

Because of the fame the hotshot has, he got away with it.The comments were deemed to be very hateful, to be precise. They called my torture a publicity stunt and shameful. Dating Salman was enough publicity! My organisation is receiving awards from George Bush to Barrack Obama; what publicity will I acquire from a perpetrator? This won’t stop me from telling the truth,” shares the philanthropist.

Rapid Fire

.The weirdest habit you have: Everything should be kept in a specific space
.Your favourite film: Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham
.The one thing you would like to change about yourself: Work less and have some more me-time
.One thing you just won’t eat is: Pork
.One celebrity you love stalking: Shah Rukh because he never says anything stupid and one can only learn from his wisdom

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