Soon after my birth in Mumbai I was sent away to Delhi to be with my grandmother. My parents [cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and actress Sharmila Tagore] were leading a more retired life then, so I was not exposed to the glamour and glitter in the way that perhaps my brother [actor Saif Ali Khan] was. My upbringing was normal. We were taught the value of tolerance, secularism and money. Our pocket money had to last the week, so we had to prioritise our wants. We celebrated all festivals. We didn’t have imported cars or fancy gadgets. We did have a massive garden to play in and that is something I know to be a luxury in Mumbai today.
Mumbai is now my hometown and I am passionate about it. Passion has elements of love and hate. What it doesn’t have is indifference. There are things I love about the city and things I dislike. I love the resilience of the people, the colours and flavours, the energy and spirit, and I hate the filth, inequality, squalor, corruption and smell.
Gulzar’s wonderful song Logon ke ghar mein rehta hoon from the 1979 film Griha Pravesh likens living in rented apartments to walking around in a pair of socks. That has always been my criterion of what a home should not feel like; it should be something that rests you, relaxes you and that you are comfortable with. It need not be a house, a fixed address; it is possible to have a home and yet not have a fixed address.
Home is any place where you are comfortable in your skin. Roots are much deeper. They involve a certain aspect of one’s lineage and ancestors—these are something ingrained, an intrinsic part of you, separate from your home and your house. You carry your roots with you even when your home is elsewhere.