Shagufta Rafiq is one such name of people who worked behind the curtains of the film industry. But her struggle story is very painful. She is an Indian film screenwriter. Shagufta gained initial success when she joined Mahesh Bhatt’s production company, Vishesh Films, where she wrote her next eleven films. She is currently working on an action thriller, which will be her directorial debut.
A very few people know that the writer of superhit film Aashiqui 2 became a prostitute when she was just 17. Once in an interview, she revealed that
“At the age of 17, I became a prostitute. Losing virginity to a stranger is heart-wrenching. Till the age of 27, I went to one man to another. My mother knew it that I was in prostitution.”
Shagufta never met her biological mother. She was adopted by Anwari Begum (yesteryear actress) whom she considered her mother.
“I don’t see myself as a writer anymore. I want to see my own images on celluloid. Bhatt Saab tells me you’re a closet director. People expect the latkas and jhatkas of Rakhi Sawant from me. They’re disappointed I don’t dress like a bar dancer. I’m not tits and ass person.”
From a bar dancer to a baton wielder, Shagufta’s womb-trembling story could make trivial even the starkest bestseller. Read her story through her words, she narrated in an exclusive interview with Filmfare:
Confusion with Identity
“I lived in a confusion that who was my mother. Through time, I was given three different versions of my origin. One was that I was Saeeda Khan’s (late yesteryear actress, wife of late director Brij Sadanah and mother of actor Kamal Sadanah) illegitimate daughter, she is in love with someone before her marriage to Brij Saab. The second was that my mother, a destitute, had a relationship with a rich man, a barrister and I was their illicit child. The third was that my parents were from a jhopadpatti (slums) and had thrown me off somewhere from where I was picked up. But the strongest rumor was that I was ‘my sister’ Saeeda Khan’s love child. I was two when Saeeda got married to Brij Saab. Often when people from the industry spotted me with Anwari Begum they’d say, “Nani ke saath jaa rahi ho!” This left me perplexed.”
I was like an animal, given birth and abandoned
I was called the haraami girl. It made me a weepy and lonely child. One industry friend of Saeeda apa had the audacity to say, ‘Meri saheli kisi haraami ko janam nahin de sakti.’ Unmindful that I’m human too. There was so much suspense around me that I turned brutal. I quit school. I fought with everyone not because I hated people but because I felt hated. Then I thought why should this woman, who’s too scared of her husband to own me, be my mother. Bachcha toh ek kutta bhi paida karta hai. I was like an animal, given birth and then tossed away. I resigned myself to the fact that Anwari Begum was my mother; she was the one who was constantly with me. Anwari Begum’s second husband’s name was Mohammed Rafique. That’s how I became Shagufta Rafique.
Brij Saab hated me
Brij saab hated me because he was not sure who I was. Also, because we (Anwari Begum and Shagufta) were financially dependent on him. Brij saab was justified in his anger. He probably felt that when Anwari Begum had a son why should he help us. He was a bundle of confusion, his films were flopping and that’s why he did what he did.When the tragedy happened (on October 21, 1990 Brij Sadanah shot his wife Saeeda, daughter Namrata and then himself with a revolver under the influence of alcohol), the maid came rushing home to inform us. Saeeda apa lay bleeding on my lap in the car as we drove to the hospital. She kept saying, ‘Namrata’s dead, I don’t want to live’. I was 25 when Saeeda apa died. I was attached to her as a sister, motherwala roop toh maine nahin dekha. But yes, the way she used to stand for me, cry for me, fight for me… was a little different from that of a sister. Once, my mother Anwari Begum put it cleverly, “If anyone asks you, is Saeeda your mother, say yes.” On being told this, I went into a flashback about Saeeda’s Apa’s affection towards me and tried putting the pieces together. My relationship with Kamal (Sadanah) has been good. He’s been generous and responsible. He helped us. I had reassured him, ‘once I get work I swear I’ll not bother you.’
How I became a dancer
I could have gone into drugs and alcohol. But the one thing that kept me stable was the realization that my mother Anwari Begum loved me and had stood by me. She had once seen wealth. When I saw the same woman selling her bangles and later utensils to survive, it was heartbreaking. Since I had trained in Kathak, I took to dancing in private parties when I was 12. These parties, held in shady flats, had the atmosphere of a brothel where respectable men came with their mistresses and prostitutes. They were high ranking officers – cops, ministers, income tax officers! I’ve these vivid images of picking the notes and collecting them in my jholi. I’d be exhilarated with the money. It was more like giving back to the family that had looked after me. I did it till the age of 17.
The pain of losing virginity to a stranger
At 17 and a half I turned to prostitution. To lose your virginity to a stranger is traumatic. And it went on from one man to another to another… right till the age of 27. My mother knew I’d taken to prostitution. I’d become the man of the house. But it gave me happiness that I helped my mother get off the bus and travel in a taxi. We could afford chicken curry, prawns… from just haddi ka salan (gravy cooked with bones). I bought her gold bangles. For years I had seen her wearing glass ones. Being troubled about the life I was leading, I took to namaz to hold myself. It helped me through the dark times.
Then when I was 27, someone suggested that I should go to Dubai, where I could make 10 times more money by becoming a bar dancer. There I sang everything, right from Latabai’s (Mangeshkar) songs to Ashabai’s (Bhosle) songs like Dum maaro dum, Aao huzoor tumko till her numbers from Ijaazat. This was better than going around with men in Mumbai with the fear of the hotels being raided and earning just about ` 3000 per night. I stayed away from prostitution in Dubai because I was scared of the Arabs. But when my mother fell ill with the cancer of the colon, I returned and continued doing shows in Bangalore and Mumbai. She died in 1999.
Career in Bollywood
I had gathered a lot of data about life and relationships after having met many girls from Philippines and Russia. I had slept in chawls, on dirty pillows; on dirty mattresses, where several girls had slept before and entertained multi millionaires… I wanted to write it all down. I believed I had a career in Bollywood. At the age of 36, around 2002, I told Mahesh Bhatt saab I wanted to write. I didn’t get a chance to write till 2006. After writing two scenes for Mohit Suri’s Kalyug I got to write Woh Lamhe and then Aawarapan, Raaz 2, Jism 2, Murder 2, Raaz 3 and now Aashiqui 2.