Javed Akhtar recalls proposing marriage to a French woman before Shabana Azmi, reconnecting with her after 38 years: ‘Sometimes it feels life is organising something’

Javed Akhtar recalls proposing marriage to a French woman before Shabana Azmi, reconnecting with her after 38 years: ‘Sometimes it feels life is organising something’

Lyricist Javed Akhtar is happily married to actor Shabana Azmi. His first marriage with Honey Irani lasted for 13 years. But before meeting either of them Javed had proposed marriage to a French lady Joseanne, whom he met on the sets of Rajesh Khanna’s 1977 film Tyaag.

In an onstage interview with Cyrus Broacha, Javed revealed that he had gone to the sets of Rajesh Khanna’s Tyaag to discuss the script of Haath Mere Saathi, when a witty exchange of remarks with a French woman on the sets stayed with him.

A few days later, when he went on sets of another film Andaaz, he met the same girl who was working as an backup artist in the cast. Javed said, “A few days later, we went on sets of Andaaz of Sippy films and there was a party scene, and lo and behold, the same girl was there. Sometimes it feels like life is organising something. So we became friends and after that, she told me that she along with her friends lives in Rex hotel, behind the Taj Mahal hotel. She asked me to meet her after the shoot so I went to meet her and she introduced me to other friends and we became good friends. After a few days, all her fellow boys and girls were going back but she stayed back.”

Then started the daily rendezvous of meeting each other where either of them would travel to the other one’s location, but this didn’t seem like an economical plan and started burning a hole in Javed’s pocket.

“From Taj till Bandra, the taxi used to charge Rs 14. One day I realised what was happening. So I told her either she should go back or marry me. She said ‘I will go back but I don’t have the money’. So, I said ‘don’t worry about that, I will take care of it’. Whatever money I had I bought her ticket and she left,” recalls the 78-year-old artist.

Festive offer

Javed said that Joseanne had also written a letter to him after leaving but he couldn’t reply to it and eventually lost the letter along with the only chance of staying in touch with her.

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Years went by as Javed carried on with his life and started a family and built his career. However, he was reunited with Joseanne after 38 years. “Many years later I was invited to launch the Kaala Ghoda festival and me and Shabana reached and we were going towards the stage and a voice came in my years, ‘Javed‘. A French accent is different. The way she used to take my name was different. I turned and a lady was standing there, wearing glasses. I asked ‘Joseanne?’ and she said ‘yes’. I told her to not go away,” the lyricist recalls the fond memory.

“When they asked me to speak, I thanked them for giving me this honour and thanked them that because of them I got a chance to meet a friend after 38 years and I introduced them and the whole crowd stood up and clapped for her,” he added.

The most special part about meeting Joseanne once again dawned upon Javed when he went to Paris and met her. “She told me that she has three daughters and next time I went to Paris I took gifts for everyone. Her partner, all three daughters had come to meet me because they knew about me. Then she said, ‘wait a minute’. She went inside and came back and gave me the boarding card which was 38 years old. She said I still have the boarding card with me,” said Javed with a nostalgia in his voice.

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