It was mentally impractical for me to confront Salman Khan for infidelity: Somy Ali

Actress Somy Ali made headlines for her previous relationship with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, who she reportedly dated for about eight years before quitting in 1999. Somy’s film with Salman Khan, Buland, never saw the light of day, but their off-screen love affair was the talk of the town in the early 1990s. Lately, the Pakistani-born celebrity has been talking about what led to her and Salman’s split, and why she left India despite a decent film career. We reached out to Somy to talk about what made her want to re-discuss the past and about her possible comeback in Bollywood.

What made you start talking about the past?

The scars, both physically and emotionally. Talking and talking about what one has endured is the best form of healing and therapy.

Do you feel that many people have wronged you?

Yes, but I also wronged them because I was not properly guided and controlled by a person who would allow me to do things that would hurt people’s feelings. I wasn’t perfect either, so I’m not a saint.

Why would you suddenly disappear from Hindi films?

I went there to fall in love and when I ended the relationship there was no point in staying there. I had to finish my education and going back to Miami was the next logical step.

So many actresses have made a comeback in Bollywood over the years, even after disappearing from the big screen for more than a decade. Would you like to get back to showbiz when the opportunity arises?

No, because I don’t feel like I fit into this world and I just don’t have the talent. As simple as that.

You said in a recent interview that the actor Salman Khan “betrayed” you. Why would you say it now Was that when you tried to confront Salman?

I also said it 20 years ago and there was no point in confronting him as the relationship had already taken its course, regardless of infidelity or not. It was not mentally feasible for me to stay there or be logical to confront him. Here is a perfect quote to describe the ending: “As soon as I run to you, now I run from you.”

Do you see yourself getting better with Salman in the near future?

We didn’t speak for a year after I broke up with him. Then we talked back and forth here and there, but now I see no reason for it. I wish him all the best. He and I both moved on and I’m in a very peaceful place now.

You also stood up for sexual assault survivors and did so much work for them through your No More Tears Foundation.

This is the most selfish thing I could ever have done as it is therapeutic and it helps me heal a bit every time I save a woman, child, and man. We need to take advantage of the abuse we have endured and make something positive out of it. We can’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. We have to be strong and find ways to heal. At least that’s my thinking process and my philosophy of life.

Did people believe you when you shared your sexual abuse story with the world?

It was all over the tabloids in the 90s as there were multiple public incidents so everyone knew about it. It wasn’t a big, deep, dark secret. However, three years ago I found my voice to talk about childhood sexual abuse and rape when I was 14. Also about the abuse I endured in India. The last time I was trolled and bullied on social media for thinking it was a publicity stunt that is bizarre as a lot of the nasty comments came from women. I think fame and power blind several people. It’s okay, it won’t stop me from sharing my story. Victim blame is not a new concept and I don’t see this resolve anytime soon.

Was one of your partners abusive for you?

Only one. The few others I’ve dated in the United States have been extremely healthy.

Do you think the situation of survivors has changed since the outbreak of the MeToo movement – from the way we treat those who speak up about sexual assault to the response of the defendants?

No. We still have a long way to go, more in our culture than in the West, because society again blames the victims. If that doesn’t stop, nothing will change. Wherever there is a male-dominated society that spans pretty much the world, this stigma of blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator will prevail. Yes, women speak and have done so in India and elsewhere, but where are we now in that regard? Where is the accountability and what are the consequences? It all fizzled out because it was never initiated. Another aspect is that women need to support each other instead of overthrowing each other. We have to believe survivors. I blamed myself for a long time when I was in an abusive relationship and now I know that I don’t even have to bear a bit of that guilt on my shoulders. My voice finally gave me the freedom I have longed for for over 20 years.

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