By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: The legendary filmmaker Kamal Amrohi’s property is embroiled in an ugly legal dispute involving his two sons the late Shandar Amrohi and the younger son Tajdar , and believe it or not, Preity Zinta whom Shandar had “adopted” as a daughter.
But in a startling turn of events, Tajdar – who admits to sharing strained relations with his brother Shandar – says Preity was never interested in the Amrohis’ property.
Speaking with candour, Tajdar says, “My brother always felt I was parents’ favourite child. Even in adulthood I got all the media attention. They came to me for anything people wanted to know about my father. Shandar felt complexed by the fact that I was the face of the Amrohi family. My brother and his wife had no children. From out of the blue he took a fancy to Preity Zinta. I guess somewhere somehow he wanted a strong support system for himself. Otherwise if he needed a child why not adopt an orphan? Why Preity when she lacked nothing? My brother embarrassed her with his attentions. She would be in an IPL meeting or shopping in Colaba, and Shandar would call her home urgently. The poor girl would leave her work and rush home. But he never called him her dad or anything. Shandar resented that she didn’t reciprocate his feelings.”
Tajdar gives Preity a clean chit.
Praising Preity profusely, he says, “The girl was unnecessarily dragged into all this. Preity was persuaded into being nice to my brother because he kept showering her with flowers and other gifts. Preity and her mother wondered why was this man was being so generous to her. When Preity finally met Shandar, he broke down and wept about his loneliness. My brother’s wife Shahida Bhabhi is a great cook. She’d make great food and Preity would sit on the floor in the traditional way and eat with them. Preity knew all the top lawyers whom she lent to my brother to fight with me and to fight those who claiming rights over our property.”
Tajdar says the right with his brother dates back to the time when Shandar got into wrong habits and started secretly selling off property and shares belonging to both brothers.
“He was always in need of money for his vices. Some people exploited his financial needs and tried to become a director in the film studio owned by the family. I single-handedly protected our father’s studio and property from all kinds of greedy elements. Eventually Shandar and Rukhsar sold off their stakes in the studio. But I held on. It was my father’s last legacy. All kinds of pressures were put on me to sell out. I agreed to sell off. By this time Preity Zinta had come into the picture. She was a blessing in my brother’s life. Shandar declared he’d make Preity his rightful heir. Aisa kuch toh hua nahin. So why drag her into the matter?”
Tajdar confesses he too was close to Preity. “She came close to me and my family, albeit secretly as she didn’t want Shandar to be hurt. Even after my brother passed way two years ago, she kept up warm relations with me, my wife and my two sons. Preity is warm, outspoken, jokey and we love her for that. She’d watch television with my wife and children, get her nails polished in my home…She always wondered why we two brothers couldn’t see eye to eye. The thing was, I was showered with Choti Ammi (Meena Kumari)’s attentions. She openly declared I was her favourite. Naturally that didn’t go down too well with my brother. She never treated me like a stepson,and to me she was as precious as my biological mother. Both my brother Shandar and sister Rukhsar resented my closeness to Choti Ammi. To her credit, Choti Ammi being an accomplished actress pretended to love my siblings as much as me. But her partiality towards me couldn’t be concealed. When my brother and I were in boarding school in Dehradun, we’d receive gifts from Choti Ammi. The parcel only bore my name. Feelings can’t be forced. If Choti Ammi favoured me, what can I do?”
Until 2003 Tajdar and Shandar stayed in the same home Rambrandt Apartments, albeit in a divided apartment with a plywood wall separating the two brothers. “We were separated in the house by a token wall. But we could hear all the conversation on both sides.In 2003 my wife, children and I shifted out.”
One disputed property Cozihom, says Tajdar, was inherited by both the sons from his parents Kamal Amrohi and his second-wife the actress Meena Kumari.
“The people claiming property rights over Cozihom have dragged poor Preity Zinta into the matter. They’ve already lost the case once and the honourable court has ordered them to hand over the property peacefully to me. But they’ve gone into appeal.I have offered to re-develop the property. I am being absolutely fair to them. But they are trying every means to delay. Bringing Preity Zinta into the picture is their latest trick when she has no interest in our property.”
Says Tajdar, “The trust formed by my father and Choti Ammi clearly stated that after their demise the property would go to my brother and I. The trust didn’t even mention our sister. After my parents expired, the land was transferred in the name of my brother and I. Allah knows I’ve given Shandar and his wife every penny that is rightfully theirs. And Shandar’s wife, my Bhabhi has admitted this in court.”