“I now know I can speak my mind freely, that freedom of speech does exist in our country and we"ve a completely dependable judiciary." she said from Chennai on Sunday afternoon. There"s more a sense of relief than triumph at Bollywood child- star turned Tamil superstar Khushboo"s residence in Chennai after her much –misconstrued comments on pre-marital sex which in 2005 provoked 22 criminal cases against her, were defended by a special bench of the Supreme Court last week. In a historic verdict the honourable Supreme Court opined that two people living together are not an offence.
Speaking from Chennai, Khushboo is elated but guarded to begin with. “My family has seen what I"ve gone through. Though I remained calm and collected throughout .Till the judgement is not given I can"t speak too much on this. But yes it has been a trying time. I"d like to say the whole controversy erupted on a very wrong statement attributed to me. I never said it"s okay to have pre-marital sex. My statement was that if two people have consensual sex they must use protection. The statement was twisted and distorted for the convenience of whoever chose to make an issue out of my genuine concern for the health of youngsters today."
Says Khushboo defensively, “I stand by what I had said. What was wrong in my saying, if you have pre-marital sex you have to safeguard yourself? I never said its fine to indulge in pre-marital sex. My words were twisted, and padded up to suit the purposes of various individuals and political organizations. I didn"t try to correct the distortions because those were misrepresenting my words wouldn"t have listened to me."
Khushboo things it was a gender bias that generated a sense of outrage at her harmless statement. “They probably don"t expect Indian actresses to have a mind of their own and the courage to express themselves freely. Just because it was Khushboo and she made sense, they couldn"t take it."
Khushboo was present at the Supreme Court hearing for the latest verdict. “So far I had only seen courtroom"s in films. I was there for five hours for the hearing. At the end of it, what a relief it was to hear what the honourable Chief Justice and his honourable colleagues had to say. I realized there"s an absolute sense of justice in this country. It was heartening."
Khushboo now feels she has an extra social responsibility. “I feel now I"ve to be even more careful in my conduct and statements. People are looking at me and up to me. What I say has to make sense and in public interest. As for those who attacked me they were just some self-motivated people paid by a few political parties to malign me. And those who protested against me were definitely not my fans."
Contrary to reports Khushboo says the temple in her honour built by her fans still stands in Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu. “The temple is very much there. My well-wishers don"t need to worry. Lately I haven"t been doing too many movies. Since I got married ten years ago I"ve been rather laidback about my film career. Now I"ve my own television production company and we also produce movies. Our production house has to its credit one of the longest-running game shows in Tamil."
Says the actress, “I make sure I"ve time for family. In the last ten years I"ve done just 3-4 films. Ghar mein do betiyan hain. And I wouldn"t like to travel for outdoors away from home for too long. I"m happily married, touchwood, with two growing daughters. They are prettier than I could ever be. Yes, it has been quite a journey from being a child artiste in Hindi, to a leading lady in Mumbai then Chennai…I"ve never had time to look back except to take stock of my mistakes. I started looking after my entire family at the age of 16 because my parents separated. I took care of my mom and three older brothers and that too on my own terms. So being uncompromising in my thought and actions comes naturally to me. Of course I"ve made mistakes. But I"ve learnt from them."
Khushboo says very few of her colleagues from Mumbai have kept in touch with her. “Except of course dear old Govind(Govinda). Me and Govind are bum-chums. I turn around to his wife Sunita and say, 'I"ve let you have him for 26 years. I can still run away with him." We"ve kept up our long-distance relationships. We"re just a phone call away from each other I"ve also kept in touch with Madhoo and Rajeev Kapoor. Not many people know about my friendship with Rajeev. From the time I was a child till today we"ve kept in touch. I never did a film with him. I was supposed to when I started playing a heroine. But he felt I was too young."
And now Khushboo is all set to return to Hindi films with a film to be directed by Revathy Varhma. Says Khushboo, “I can"t remember the last Hindi film I did …Oh yes, it was Deeewna Mujhsa Nahin with Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit."
Adds Khushboo, “My husband Sunder has been a pillar of strength throughout my fight for justice. The main reasons why I stood up and fought against elements who distorted and attacked my statements on pre-marital sex were my daughters. I cannot show my girls I"m weak. I didn"t want them to feel that their mother caves in during times of pressure. I had to tell them that their mother is strong and they should be proud of her."
Khushboo is poised to return to Hindi cinema, after three decades. After the historical verdict of the Supreme Court in defence of her statement on premarital sex, Khushboo has never felt freer and more liberated from gender biases.