Shah Rukh Khan recently had a live Twitter chat and his witty responses were the toast of the Internet. To a fan, who said he was his first crush, SRK replied “good choice.” To another, who asked how does it feel when all he says is hello and the audience goes wild, he replied, “it’s nice to have you at hello.”
Such a charmer, you would say. But do you know that he holds steadfastly to his first love, and credits her with bringing companionship and a sense of security to his life? If you already haven’t, read this absolutely endearing and candid interview that has Shah Rukh Khan talking about his wife, Gauri, and his take on relationships.
How romantic are you in real life?
I can vouch for my love and I will express it in all the ways I can. Candlelight dinners are passé for me. That’s not romantic anymore. I am so romantic that I can go for shopping for shoes with the girl I love. I can do it over and over again and I would never get bored of doing it.
Do you believe that behind every successful man there is a woman?
In some ways, my life has been led by women. Gauri has been behind me like a force in everything I do. To be able to handle a household and keep it detached from my profession is the job of a superwoman, and Gauri does it effortlessly. I still don’t know how she does it.
Gauri has been my first and last girlfriend. I have never been with any other woman in my life. I believe in having long lasting relationships. Relationships cannot be just turned on and off. I belong to the middle class school of thought and still love Gauri like the way I loved her during my twenties and am still as much happy to be with her as I was when I hadn't married her.
Have you ever gifted her anything special lately?
Earlier, neither me nor Gauri could afford good gifts for each other. There was a time when we couldn’t even afford flowers for each other. We did not have money to go to hotels and afford a chola bhatura (when he was struggling).
Even when we were students, we just exchanged cards on birthdays that we made for each other and I thought the cards that I had made (for Gauri) were very creative. Those were the best gifts I ever gave anybody.
What are your biggest gains from companionship? What are the losses?
The biggest gain from Gauri is that I have got a superwoman in my life. Had she not taken charge of my house, I couldn't have concentrated on my professional life. I am here doing all my stunts in front of the camera because I know Gauri is there to take care of the rest. Gauri is my professional partner as well because she has produced my films. This is the biggest gain from companionship: you know that somebody is there no matter what. The feeling of security in a family is the most important feeling in the world.
Losses? Nah, I don't see anything that can be defined as a loss. If you are married to the girl you love, what can be the loss? It's too heavy a term to use.
What is your biggest fear regarding your spouse?
Again fear is too strong a term to use. There is no fear. The biggest fear is that one might lose your spouse but that is the inevitable, isn't it? You have come alone and you will go back alone. From dust to dust. It's not fear. There cannot be fear. You cannot be afraid of life or the inevitable.
Jackie Shroff said that you are very lonely on the top?
You do things that give you happiness and I chose this line for myself. When you reach a certain level of achievement or success, you do start feeling lonely. What I am doing no one can. You don’t have too many people like that. It’s not that they are not talented but very few reach that level. When I think or do things, I think life has brought me to this stage just because I will be able to deal with the pitfalls that come with it.
I don’t have many people to explain why I am doing something or what I am doing. Sometimes, things may not happen the way I want it or my ego might come in the way. I am not comparing myself but for example when Sachin Tendulkar used to go out to play, there were such massive expectations riding on his shoulders, but with whom can he talk about it? There are not too many people who can empathise with him. It’s difficult to explain.
Who is your support and strength when you are at that stage?
There’s no one. They can console you but you have to deal with your life at that stage all by yourself. It’s a difficult place to be in and you are never satisfied. I don’t talk about a lot of things. Sometimes, people think that you are ungrateful. There are lot of things unexplained. At that moment, you should leave things unexplained because that is the way it is meant to be.
Do you look to your family or children at such difficult times?
I think it’s difficult to be the family of a film star. I don’t want them to be worried every Friday. I can’t tell them about my shootings. I have kept them away from films and I have made a rule in my family that nobody discusses my work.
When I am disturbed at a personal level, they are always there but my work is out of their purview of discussion. I don’t take my work or worries to my dining table. I can’t involve the lives of my children in a super star’s life. The life of a super star can be very lonely. I try and keep it normal at home.
There is a lot of pressure on Aryan to be a hero too…
Now, that my son is grown up into a handsome young man, everyone tells him that he will become a star. Long-time back, he asked me, “Papa will I become a hero?” I asked him whether he really wants to become one. He said, “No, I am a little confused.” That’s why I have sent him away to study. Let him educate himself, grow up, play games and let him have his option where he can decide what he wants to do. No one in London asks him if he wants to act. I got disturbed by the fact that he was being forced into acting through peer pressure. There is a lot of pressure on him even now.
I can realise what pressure children of famous people are facing. Like Sachin Tendulkar’s son. I realise how much pressure Abhishek (Bachchan) must be facing all the time. It’s a difficult place. I made this choice of becoming a recognised actor and I won’t hide behind dark glasses, I want people to see my face but at the same time, I don’t want my family to be under that kind of pressure.
Let me tell you a story, I had an uncle, who was into acting in tamasha (the street plays). He was a handsome man and he never married. He would always tell us, “You should not have a family if you are a public figure.” I realise that now. My problems should be mine because I have chosen acting as a profession. I cannot pass them on to my family. Never.