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I want to bust the stigma attached to alcoholism: Pooja Bhatt on her battle with the bottle

In her latest interview, the actress-filmmaker spoke about her battle with alcoholism and admitted that if she had not quit drinking she would have 'drank herself to the grave'. 

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Shriram Iyengar

In a lengthy interview with Mumbai Mirror, actress turned filmmaker Pooja Bhatt has opened up about her long and arduous battle with alcoholism. The actress admitted that if she hadn't quit alcohol, she might have 'drunk herself to the grave.' Bhatt, who turned 45 on 24 February said, "I was 45 and if I wanted to give myself 10 years of living, I had to quit now before I drank myself to the grave. I had to reclaim the sharper, brighter me which had got watered down." 

The actress revealed that she had now gone 68 days without drinking, abstaining even on Christmas and her birthday. She admitted that it was a conversation with father, Mahesh Bhatt, that put her on the path to quitting alcohol. Pooja described how her father had texted her "If you love me then love yourself because I live in you," and she perceived it as a message warning her against the ills of alcoholism. 

While admitting that alcoholism was indeed a serious problem, Pooja Bhatt also implied that it is particularly difficult for women. She said, "I want to bust the stigma attached to alcoholism in our country. Women particularly are discouraged from seeking help because it’s a matter of shame for the family. We don’t share our pain or frailties, we cover our weaknesses and it becomes a cancer." 

Bhatt admitted that the presence of support systems and friends do help in tackling the problem. She pointed out that her father and director of Cabaret, Kaustav Narayan Niyogi, were among the 'shining lights' that she looked up to during her battle with the drink. In fact, Pooja Bhatt made her debut in Daddy (1989), a semi autobiographical film on Mahesh Bhatt's own battle with alcoholism. She said, "I didn’t think that the girl who’d counselled her father in Daddy would one day council herself." 

However, Pooja Bhatt said that she no longer feels addicted to the drink, and has managed to learn to celebrate without it. On her sister Alia's win at the Filmfare awards, she said, "I messaged Alia saying normally this would have been an excuse for me to crack open a case of champagne first thing in the morning. But this time I celebrated by not drinking." 

Pooja Bhatt has always displayed courage by speaking her mind. This confession is further evidence that this is a woman of power.