She’s in a nothing-left-to-the imagination sheer lacey outfit. Waiters at a club lounge aren’t sure to what to make of us, ushering me with concealed smiles to a French glass-fronted table.
Their glinting eyes convey.. aha whatta dirty old guy. Take a hike fellas.. Keeping my straight-as-an-arrow profile intact, I order our drinks.. she has a lemon tea (boiling hot!), I succumb to my practised poison vodkatini. Attempting to look quite the man of the world, I ask:
Is Jiah Khan your real name?
No, my name’s Nafisa. Jiah’s sexier. I got it from the Angelina movie Gia.. I changed it a bit to sound more exciting as in Ji..aah.
Okay, so how did a London girl get here?
I’m New York-born, brought up in London. Chelsea, you know. I was wild about the Bombay movies. As a kid I’d wear salwaar kameez and drive my teachers mad by speaking in Hindi.
Then I hopped back to New York to study acting at Lee Strasberg. I quit because I got a role here. They said, “Go! You have a life membership at the school anyway.” I was so inspired by Rangeela.
Oof, you’re plugging Ram Gopal Varma.
Seriously. I have a video of me dancing like Urmila (Matondkar) with my two younger sisters.. we have different fathers.. they’re as beautiful as I am, if not more.
Great! Who is your father?
I attach very little importance to my father. He’s an American Indian Muslim. He left my mother when I was just three months old. I know his name – Ali Rizvi Khan – I even know where he lives in New York. He has never bothered to meet me, neither have I. That would have hurt if he had left at an age when I even knew how l.i.f.e is spelt. I don’t have any memory of what he looks like.. but it does bother me that I still have his name on my passport.
You never wanted to meet him in New York?
The thought did cross my mind.. when I was a bit bored..
Is this Mr Ali Rizvi a wealthy man?
He’d better not be. Then I’d really make sure that he gave us maintenance money because he didn’t. Look, all men who desert their daughters should be shot. From what I know, it was with another woman. This irritates the hell out of me.. perhaps if I was a boy it would have been different. I would have missed him, we girls are tougher.
What about your sisters.. your stepfather?
My stepfather deserted us too in London. My sisters were two and four years old, I was seven. He took every penny out of the bank, also our house. We were homeless.
Mum hopped around from house to house.. subsisting on low rents. Before this, she’d hosted lavish parties.. her friends vanished into thin air. We lived on McDonald’s burgers.. which was fun for us kids.. but how long could this go on?
Why don’t you mention your mother’s name?
Rabia Amin. She writes.
Scripts for television in the UK and concepts for BBC.
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