Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak form a formidable actor couple in Bollywood. Talented and committed, the couple is also among the most well-known couples from the Hindi film industry. On Naseeruddin’s birthday on Tuesday, here’s a look at their love story.
Naseeruddin and Ratna met in 1975 when both worked in a theatre play called Sambhog Se Sanyas Tak, directed by Mumbai theatre veteran, Satyadev Dubey. In no time, the two started dating and after being in a relationship for seven long years, they married in 1982.
A report in Zoom, quoting Ratna from a leading daily about their romance, said: “One day we were not even friends; the next day we were going out together.”
But just as simple as it may sound, the union wasn’t that easy. Naseeruddin Shah was a married man when he met Ratna and had a daughter too. He was also 13 years her senior.
Naseeruddin had married a Pakistani woman, studying at the Aligarh Muslim University, where Naseeruddin was also a student. An HT Brunch story detailed how a 19-year old Naseeruddin fell in love with a 34-year old Purveen Murad, half sister of late Surekha Sikri, and how they ended up marrying in 1969. However, the marriage could not last as Naseeruddin, in his autobiography And Then One Day, said how he was “insecure and ill-adjusted” for the union.
Naseeruddin moved to Delhi after he got admission to National School of Drama, while Purveen gave birth to their Heeba, 10 months later. The two only grew more distant and eventually Purveen left for London with Heeba and Naseeruddin would meet his daughter only 12 years later.
Back to Ratna and the actor’s love story, though Naseeruddin and Purveen were separated, they were not legally divorced.
Undeterred, Ratna and he continued to date but theirs was a romance that happened over modest dinner dates and conversations. Speaking on AIB podcast, Ratna had narrated a funny incident from their courtship period. She mentioned how, back in the day, when they started out in their careers, they also had to be very price conscious.
“These fancy restaurants once upon a time used to have two menu cards. One for the women and one for the men. The one for the woman didn’t have the prices and the one for men did. The first time we went together we had like ₹400. We went for this dinner and we just started out in life and we hardly had any money. By mistake, I got the menu card with the money and Naseer got the menu card without the money, so he was ordering left and right. With facial expressions, I was trying to warn him about the bill. And finally, when the waiter went away I told him and then we started counting our money.”
The couple then decided to have a live-in relationship as Naseeruddin’s divorce case dragged over alimony issues. They finally married in 1982.
And how was wedding like? As per Ratna, it was simple and solemn affair. A report in ScoopWhoop quoted Ratna as saying: “We had a quiet registered marriage at my Ma’s (Dina Pathak) place. Only our family and immediate friends were present. We didn’t tom-tom about it because we both felt that there are certain things which are extremely personal, and marriage is one of them. But it was great fun. I think ours was one of the few marriages where the bride and the groom enjoyed as much as the guests!”