Prateik Babbar Has Fought His Demons and is Back in Business

The actor, a spitting image of his mother Smita Patil, is taking baby steps back into the entertainment industry.

Published25 Jun 2016, 02:09 AM IST
Entertainment
4 min read

A familiar face popped up on the television screen recently, taking us by surprise. Accompanying cricketer MS Dhoni in a mobile phone commercial was Prateik Babbar, who was last seen on the big screen nearly three years ago in a film called Issaq.

Often while watching re-runs of <i>Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na </i>on TV, one would wonder where Prateik  had disappeared off to. (Gif Courtesy: tumblr.com)
Often while watching re-runs of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na on TV, one would wonder where Prateik had disappeared off to. (Gif Courtesy: tumblr.com)

Often while watching re-runs of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na on TV, one wondered where he disappeared to. The reason for this hiatus was revealed recently when Babbar came out about his drug problem and how that had completely taken over his life. His is the latest in a series of confessions by Indian actors about their personal battles – whether it is Deepika Padukone’s struggle with depression or Richa Chadda’s battle with bulimia.

It’s good to be back.
Prateik Babbar

The smile in his voice is apparent as we chat on the phone. Words flow effortlessly as he talks about a dark chapter in his life, which he firmly believes is behind him now.

Several times during the interview, Babbar reiterates that he is now focused solely on making his friends, family and fans proud. Telling the truth is just one step towards that.

I believe that my story with drug experimentation is over. I have been clean for sometime now. So, I thought why not reach out to everyone and speak the truth.
Prateik Babbar

The smile in his voice gives way to a more sombre tone as he talks about the guilt of leading a double life – the idea of portraying a “fun”, “happy” person when he was actually grappling with self doubt and negativity for the past few years.

I felt that I was letting my friends, family and admirers down. They had a beautiful picture of me in mind. But I wasn’t fun or happy. I wasn’t doing the right things. It was wrong of me to make them believe that I was the perfect guy. I have had ups and downs, caused pain and have struggled. People needed to know that.
Prateik Babbar

He was hailed as the next big thing when Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na released in 2008: a young boy with a velvety voice and a spitting image of his mother, Smita Patil. His next few releases, Dhobi Ghat and Dum Maaro Dum, didn’t exactly set the Box Office on fire, but they did get him noticed. And yet, Babbar wasn’t happy.

The conflict with his father, Raj Babbar and siblings Aarya and Juhi, had clouded his mind, so much so that he dropped his last name.

I was finding reasons to isolate myself. I was always ask, ‘Why me?’ I turned to substance abuse and self destruction.
Prateik Babbar

Babbar’s first stint at rehab was at the age of 14. Film and advertisement offers petered away after he repeatedly went to work high on drugs. Today he is in a happier place, with his father and siblings standing by him. And one can see that “Babbar” is attached to his name once again.  “My family has been nothing but supportive,” he says.

The turning point in his life was the demise of his grandmother last year. The process of coming to terms with her loss, while being extremely painful, imbued him with a sudden clarity of the wrongs he committed in the past. “That jerk, shock changed my perspective. I see things much clearer now,” says Babbar, who relinquished drugs in favour of studies – he did a course in method acting recently. “I am very deep into my craft now. That’s my obsession 100 percent,” he says.

Babbar is happy taking baby steps back into the world of entertainment – commercials being the stepping-stone. “My first goal is to work on myself- healthy mind, healthy body. It’s all about loving oneself. I want to be there for my family and friends and do good things. The right things,” says Babbar, who relates very closely to Sanjay Dutt, who fought a similar battle with drugs in the past. So, is he getting a lot of queries from young actors about dealing with personal and professional struggles? He laughs: “Earlier, I was in a mess. So all the advice I gave was rubbish. But now I am in a better place to give pointers.”

(Avantika Bhuyan is a freelance journalist who loves to uncover the invisible India hiding in nooks and crannies across the country.)

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