By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Nov 20 (IANS) The now stunningly slim Adnan Sami says he realised the seriousness of his weight problem when a doctor announced that he has only six months to live.
"The doctor panicked my family by saying I'm a walking time bomb, that it's a miracle I was still alive. He gave me six months more to live. I hated the man. I never wanted to see him again. The doctor said, 'Within six months your family will find you dead in a hotel room.' That was my reality check," Adnan told IANS.
He lost 85 kg of his 200 kg and the singer intends to lose at least 40 more in the coming months."I was living in denial for years, not facing up to the fact that I was obese. When well-wishers would warn me, I'd brush them off as being melodramatic. Would you believe, when I was in university I was sporty. I was the captain of my squash team.
"Surprisingly, I didn't become breathless while singing, though I did become asthmatic."
He says he resorted to food to cope with his divorce with first wife Zeba Bakhtiar, who played the title role in "Henna".
"When I went through my divorce, I was devastated by the end of the marriage and I lost custody of my son whom I completely adored. I began to look to food for emotional sustenance. It soon became a habit, even when I put my life together, the habit remained. I was gaining weight constantly.
"Food became an addiction. Soon my weight became an obstruction in my life. But surprisingly most of my faculties were in order. I did have a high blood pressure though. But that's a genetic problem."
Adnan's last meal before the dieting began?
"It was a huge potter-house steak with mashed potatoes with butter and a huge New York cheese cake to top it all on June 6, 2006. I ate it all on my own. Then I just gave up the food. And now I hate the sight of fatty food."
He has turned a vegetarian also.
"I'm allowed to eat any kind of meat, but I just don't feel like. I'm on a high-protein diet - no bread, no rice, no sugar and no oil. My meals are salad for lunch and a bowl of daal with no seasoning in the night. For snack I've popcorn without butter. And I can have as many diet drinks as I want."
Adnan heaves a sigh of relief.
"I've got my sleep back. I had reached a point where I couldn't lie down flat on my back. It was so ironical. I'd be staying at the most beautiful presidential suites in the world and I couldn't use the damn beds! I had to sit upright and doze off. At the tail end of my obesity I was using a walking stick and a wheelchair to remain mobile. I had forgotten how to balance myself on my own two feet. It was a nightmare. I'd walk in constant fear of losing balance. Believe me there's no nobility in immobility."
He stares back in incredulity.
"I never imagined god could swing this back for me. There were other occasions in the past when I resolved to lose weight, and I failed miserably. But this time it was do-or-die. Today I'd tell my fans there's more of me to love because I've bought extra time for myself by losing weight. Of course, I can drop dead any time. But the chances of dying have lessened drastically."
After shedding weight, the singer, who sang hit numbers like "Meter down" in "Taxi No. 9211" and the title song of "Salaam-e-Ishq", feels like a new man.
"I feel born again. I am so thankful to all those people who expressed their concern for my weight, at the risk of getting their head bitten off. I feel it very difficult to share my pain. That's why I resorted to food and refused to face up to my eating problem."
People close to Adnan still refuse to believe he has kicked off his food mania.
"I was coming back from the US. On the flight they got me loads of food. My staff told them to just get vegetables and dal. They were aghast. Now everyone's tuned in. I now realise what all I've been missing out on all these years. Now I take nothing for granted. I work out for one and a half hours every day. I enjoy travelling again. That had become a nightmare."
So is Adnan ready for love?
"Oh yes! I'm ready to give love another try. Perhaps marriage too as I love babies. There is less of me today. But the heart is just as big.
"I feel musically fertile. Personally too I'm happier. I'm allowed to meet my son Azaan. His mother and I have found a comfort level. She's an amazing mother. I'm so happy and impressed with the way she has brought him up. He's awonderful child with a great sense of humour. And he looks just like me."