"Smriti Z Iraani gave me a tough time when I attended her talk show Kuch Diil Se" : Bobby Darling

How could we have bypassed an extremely unusual face on the small and big screen both? Our sleuths inform us that he is a gay who does not go by his actual name Pankaj Sharma but calls himself Bobby Darling. Big deal!

What surprises, sorry, shocks us is the additional information that he is screaming from the rooftops about his deviant sexual behaviour. We track him down on his mobile and he invites us home. I express that it would be better if we catch up at a food or a coffee joint. He laughs, "Are you scared?" We have been challenged.

An hour later, we are ringing his doorbell. It's pitch dark inside. No one attends. We are about to return. Just before we turn back, he comes roaring from behind, in a sleeveless T-shirt. "Hi," he nearly shrieks. As we enter his flat, we start straight-away. We are feeling slightly uncomfortable and would prefer to finish this fast.

Here's an excerpt of what transpired between indiantelevision.com's Vickey Lalwani and Bobby Darling:


Being a gay, how did you get into films?

Why? Bollywood hasn't closed it door to gays, has it?



But what makes you go so open?

See, I have had a very hard time due to my homosexuality. I am a man's body with a woman's soul. I don't want to fritter away my life. Life is God's greatest gift to mankind. And why should I bother about what people will say? Today, I want to make it in the glamour world at any cost. So, why not throw my weakness card into the ring and try making it into my trump card?



Rolling backwards. When and how did you realize that you were a gay?

I was always different from my classmates. At school, I used to feel shy of boys and loved playing all girlie games. In seventh standard, I sensed that there was something wrong with me. In the eighth standard, I started feeling that I was an eunuch. Whenever I saw eunuchs, I trembled. By eleventh or twelfth standard, I finally realised that I was gay as I was getting sexually drawn towards males in a very strong manner.


What happened when his parents came to know?

They were flabbergasted, to say the least. They took me to psychiatrists and sexologist, but they told them exactly what I was trying to convey to them.


And then?

I fell in love with a guy, Nomy. He used to treat me like a girl, and I used to treat him like a boy. I started dreaming that we'll get married to each other. We had decided that I'll go in for a sex-change operation. I completely lost interest in studies. I was in 12th then.

Imagine, I was a science student and my dad was a professor! Under the pretext of going to college, I used to land up at my boyfriend's place every day, and we used to go to his secluded flat, nearby.


And did you appear for your 12th exams?

Are you crazy? How could I? I hadn't studied a word! At this point of time, he and I decided to elope. We went to Hong Kong and then traveled to 12 countries including Switzerland, Korea, Seoul, Taiwan, China, Russia among many others. Nomy helped me arrange my passport in four or five days through his contacts. And he carried ample money with him, he was filthy rich.



Why did you come back?

Things didn't work out much. Actually, I was in constant touch with my mom wherever I went. One day, she told me she was terminally ill. I returned, looked after her for a month, and then she died.

"I've been considered for an entry into The Limca Book of Records for doing 18 roles as a gay at the age of just 23"

How are your relations with your family?

Bad. My father considered me to be a stigma to the family. Things are better now, but the crack in the glass is still there. My sister's marriage ran into a few problems when her in-laws came to know about my homosexual tendencies. If we ever meet, she visits me as I can't go to her in-laws place.



What happened to Nomy?

Don't ask. He gave me a 440 volts shock. He got married. I realised that he was bisexual!


And then?

I swore that I'll prove to this guy that I can become something in life without him. I wanted him to regret that he ditched me. I came to Mumbai. I started going to producers' offices. Thanks to Subash Ghai, the ball started rolling in Bollywood. He gave me my first role in Taal.

Then I did N Chandra's Style, then I was there in Na Tum Jano Na Hum where I danced in G-strings with Hrithik Roshan and Saif Ali Khan. Sohail Khan's home-production Maine Dil Tujhko Diya, Shah Rukh Khan's home-production Chalte Chalte followed. Akbar Khan has signed me for a beautiful role in his forthcoming film Taj Mahal and Atul Agnihotri's next is also in my kitty.

A few days back, I completed my work on Vinod Chhabra's film Shaque... Mysteries. Recently, I did two films in the role of a normal guy - Imtiaz Punjabi directed Fun2shh and Aruna Raje directed Tum. In Tum, I play Netanya Singh's obsessive lover. In fact, I am quite enthu about playing a normal guy from here on. There's a film called Shadow that I've just bagged where I am playing a double role - a normal guy and a gay.

Plus, I am doing Govind Menon's forthcoming film starring Dharmendra. Would you believe if I tell you that I have got an entry into 'Limca Book Of Records' for doing 18 roles as a gay at the age of just 23? And now I am being considered for the Guiness World Book of Records.

And how can I forget television which gave me some very good breaks? I did Balaji Telefilms' Kitne Cool Hain Hum, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kaahin Kissii Roz. I also did Dipti Bhatnagar Productions' Kabhi Aaye Na Judaai. Not so long ago, I did a DJ Aqeel's music video Are Deewano, Main Hoon Don with Jackie Shroff. Now I am back in Kyunki...



Has the film and television industry treated you well?

In a way, yes. Like, recently I was interviewed by Shekhar Suman and Rajiv Bajaj. There have been difficult moments too. Like, I got my money from Sohail Khan and N Chandra's office with tremendous difficulty.


Three of my scenes in Chalte Chalte were cut off at the editing table. But now I have made it a point that I won't do any project without signing a contract. Earlier, I had no guts to even request a producer to give me a contract. But today, I have reached somewhere; I have a small flat of my own. I am getting several small offers but I don't want to take them up.

A few days ago, I refused the happening TV serial Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin; they were offering me fluff and I want meat. I wish there are more of the likes of Imtiaz Punjabi and Aruna Raje. They have treated me very well.


Go on.

Then, Smriti Z Iraani gave me a tough time in Kuch Diil Se. The discussion was centred on gays and I was a part of the talk show. She refused to understand that why I had adopted a peculiar look. She said that gays don't go around applying lipstick and putting a feather in their hair. I had a hard time in trying to convince her that I had to do something to get noticed as I always had an inclination in me that I was talented enough to be an actor.

Believe me, I even used to get my arms, underarms and legs waxed. I badly wanted to make an entry in television and films. I had decided to use my weakness as my strength and I am sure there's nothing wrong in that.

I had been thrown out of my house and my untapped creative instincts were giving me a heartache. In order to fill my stomach, I have even dressed up as a girl and danced in bars. Producers used to meet me for casting, but my feminine actions used to spoil it all.

"I decided to use my weakness as my strength and I am sure there's nothing wrong in that"

Have you been attracted to any female in Bollywood or Tellywood?

(Blushes) Hmmm... I think it happened when I was working with Aishwarya Rai in Taal. But then Aish is so very beautiful, who wouldn't be attracted to her?



Have any males from the glamour industry made overtures towards you?

Many. If I tell you their names, there'll be a 'tehelka' - models, actors, secretaries of actors and actresses... I know for a fact that some of them are petrified that I'll leak their names! The other day, a well-known music director chased me at a party... for reasons best left unsaid.


Do girls get attracted to you?

Lots. But I don't want them to waste their time. I won't be able to give them what they're looking for.


Will he ever go for a sex-change operation?

If I settle down into proper male roles, maybe I won't. Otherwise why not? There 'are' guys who get married to 'such' girls. One of my friends did the same in Delhi, and he (now a she) is leading a happily married life.



Who are your male fantasizes?

Akshay Kumar and Yuvraj Singh. Aren't they hot, hot, hot?



Almost an hour has passed. We remember our earlier discomfort and laugh at ourselves... Lesson learnt: 'Never have preconceived notions about any person.'


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