Pooja Bhatt REVEALS what made her BANISH alcohol from her life – The actress opens up on what prompted her to take that decision…
It's been 67 days since Pooja Bhatt, decided to go sober and banish alcohol from her life starting from December 24. She sailed through Christmas, New Year and her 45th birthday celebrations on February 24, shunning alcohol.
Pooja doesn't shy away from talking about her personal struggles in the open. Speaking of her catharsis to Mumbai Mirror, she said, "I want to bust the stigma attached to alcoholism in our country. Women particularly are discouraged from seeking help because it's a matter of shame for the family. We don't share our pain or frailties, we cover our weaknesses and it becomes a cancer."
Pooja confesses that in her case, it was a chat with her father that led to this decision. On December 21, Mahesh Bhatt messaged her and discussed the political scenario in the country, as the conversation came to an end, he signed off saying, "I love you kid." She responded, "I love you too pops. As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing else worth loving in the world," to which he replied, "If you love me then love yourself because I live in you," added the report.
Bhatt Sr had never pointed out to her problem, but the text urging her to love herself, prompted her to turn things around. Pooja promised him that "from this moment I'm going to be the best 'me' I'm capable of being," and after the conversation ended, thought if going out with someone and indulging in a bottle of whisky was loving herself. A vehement 'no' was the answer.
Reportedly, Pooja, who is Christian by faith, put her phone on silent and stayed put in her apartment on Christmas day. "I ate dinner and went to bed at 11.40 pm, sober. At midnight I heard the bells of the four churches ring and felt rejuvenated," she reminisces.
Later, she went on a vacation to Lahore, Delhi and other places. Unlike in her past, when she would spend the evenings by herself, with a bottle of wine for company, in some café, this time she stayed away from alcohol. She resisted the lure even through New Year celebrations.She felt peer pressure to have a drink as her birthday came closer, toying with the idea of taking one drink. "But then I asked myself if I needed it, and if I did, why stop with one glass? Why not drink the whole bottle of champagne because as somebody said, 'One drink is had with the enemy.' I called my friends to my farm, we swam at 2 am, we did many fun things, but I didn't drink," she recalled.
Pooja puffed her first ciggie at 23, has never done cocaine but she was drinking by the age of 16. She grew up in an Anglo-Indian environment, where it was normal for wine to be passed around the table. Also, in the film industry, people would drink merrily.
She ended her marriage, two years ago. When the 10-year relationship ended, she didn't give herself time to mourn, she moved on with alcohol by her side. "I was born to a man who has never done anything in half measures and I inherited that. So when I drank, I drank copiously. Your appetite increases even as the alcohol does terrible things to your body, clutters your mind and colours your judgement of the people you're hanging out with," she said.
Pooja has witnessed what alcohol did to her father and it's effect on his marriage. She was in a relationship with an alcoholic, and she lost a friend at 40 to alcohol as well, and drank to mourn her. But when her father had urged her to look after herself, she looked into the mirror and realised she had a problem at hand. "I was 45 and if I wanted to give myself 10 years of living, I had to quit now before I drank myself to the grave. I had to reclaim the sharper, brighter me which had got watered down," she explained to the tabloid.
She further adds, "Luckily, I pulled the plug before it became impossible for me to stop. I'm in the pink of health except for the weight I put on because I'm now a stressful producer. But being the daughter of an alcoholic makes you four times more susceptible to becoming one," she says.
Unlike most, Pooja didn't need to go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as she had her dad and her director friend Kaustav Narayan Niyogi, who acted as her support system. Though she's quit alcohol for good, she doesn't have an issue being around people who drink, plus she has a well-stocked bar at home and pours drinks for friends. "If I can't be around alcohol and resist it, it means I'm not in control. Each day strengthens my resolve as I realise I have more hours to a day now. Even when I drank till 4 am, I'd be at work at 10 am but I was burning myself out. Today, I feel lighter with the excess water gone. All the drama alcohol brings is eliminated from your life," she says.