There’s no denying that actor Manoj Bajpayee is a ‘family man’ in real life. In his recent interview with DNA, when the actor was asked what comes first for him, his family or work, he promptly replied, « Family comes first. First I have to fulfil all the expectations and the requirements and only then can I get out of my house. And if there is any call of my daughter falling sick or my wife not feeling well, it disturbs me completely. I can’t function. For me, family’s happiness is of utmost priority. After that, you can work well. Then you don’t care if you are hurt and you are nursing or wound on the shoot, it really doesn’t bother you. The family has to be happy for you to work. »
This statement goes on to show how much he loves his family — wife Shabana Raza and daughter Ava Nayla.
But did you know that Manoj Bajpayee’s wife is an actress too and that her screen name was Neha?
Manoj’s wife, who made her Bollywood debut with Bobby Deol starrer ‘Kareeb’ in 1998 and thereafter featured in Hrithik Roshan’s ‘Fiza’, Ajay Devgn’s ‘Hogi Pyaar Ki Jeet’, was forced to change her name from Shabana to Neha, unlike some other celebrities who voluntarily ditched their original names and opted for stage names.
Back in the day, she had spoken about it in a 2008 interview with Rediff.com. She mentioned how she was ‘forced’ to change her name to Neha before stepping into Bollywood.
« I was never Neha. I was always Shabana. I was forced into changing my name too. I was not okay with it at all. My parents proudly named me Shabana. There was no need to change it, but nobody listened to me. I have matured a lot since I entered the industry. I was very apprehensive about everything before but I understand better now », she was quoted telling the portal.
On why didn’t she go back to her original name after ‘Kareeb’, Shabana said, « That is the sad part. Nobody would listen to me when I wanted to go back to my first name. That is why working with Sanjay and the whole team of Alibaug has been the best experience of my life. I told Sanjay that I want to go with my real name, and he was okay with it. I had lost my identity and now, I got it back. »
It was in the 2008 film ‘Alibaug’ that Shabana finally managed to use her original name.
In 2016, when Manoj Bajpayee was asked about his wife’s comeback to acting, he told Rediff, « She will be, as soon as my daughter grows up a little. Right now, she is open to doing ads and other short-term stuff so that she can concentrate on the child. »
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