What we see today is an extremely successful woman, but not many know that you had a very difficult childhood.
My father Kamran Khan was a successful producer, director and actor in B-grade films. When I was born, we had three flats and were well-to-do. I was a pampered brat who used to go in an Impala to Linking Road to pick up a new LP every day. Mine was literally a ‘riches to rags’ story.
When I was five years old, my father made a film Aisa Bhi Hota Hai with Ayan Mukerjee’s father which was a big disaster. What we did not know at that time was that he had put all his money including our three flats at stake to make this movie When the film flopped, life changed overnight for us. My mother’s jewellery had to be sold, as also two of our flats. But the worst part was that my dad took to drinking and everything started to deteriorate.
My father stopped working and began to stay at home. He had always been the benefactor who looked after his entire joint family and was generous and helped people all the time. However he was also a very proud man who refused to go and ask people for work. His pride came in the way of his getting work. My mother was too young to handle his failures at that time and had too much self-respect. When I was 13 years old, she decided to move out of my father’s home taking Sajid and me along with her. She learnt typing and shorthand and for ten years, worked as the housekeeping supervisor of Hotel Sea Rock. We stayed in a 100 sq ft store-room in my aunt Daisy’s building for the next four years. During this period, we travelled everywhere by bus.
It is due to my childhood insecurities that even now my biggest security means having a house. I don’t care for jewellery and fancy clothes. Even in those tough times we had a lot of fun. My mother was very close to both her sisters Honey and Daisy and they helped us a lot. Honey aunty lived very close to where we stayed, and thus Farhan, Zoya, Sajid and I used to have a great time though I must say that we were the poor cousins.
Sadly, when I turned 17, even the store-room we stayed in had to be given away and so Sajid and I had to come and stay with my father leaving my mother to stay in a PG (paying guest) accommodation. Sajid and I were always together and luckily no one separated us. My dad used to rent out our house at ` 30 per day for people in the building to come and play cards. Due to his excessive drinking, our father developed cirrhosis and died within a year of our coming to live with him. Unlike me, Sajid never saw the good times at all. Today when both of us look back positively and not as a tragedy, my life is truly like an exaggerated script.
Shah Rukh and you have been best friends who fought and are back to being friends again. Is it at all possible to get the relationship on the same footing? Our friendship is even better than it used to be as we do not take each for granted. It’s a bit like your relationship with your sibling where you may stop talking to them for a while but you can’t ever sever ties for life. In the days that we were not talking, Shah Rukh was very disturbed even though both of us put up an act of being nonchalant. I can tell you that I, for one, spent several sleepless nights before we broke up. Recently, he showed me a chapter from his book which he has written about me and as I read it, I began to cry.
It talks about the time we did not talk to each other and he has written , “I want to somehow catch her and tell her to come back to me and make movies and to also ask her ‘Why did you go away?’.” Both of us had certain issues with each other which had been festering for a while but I have known Shah Rukh from before he became a big star. We worked together in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. In a sense we have grown up together. He may not be there for all sorts of small things but I know whenever I really need him, he will be there for me. Perhaps we both needed that bucket of water to be thrown on our faces.
Shah Rukh and Shirish are not the best of friends, neither are Gauri and you. How do you cope with that?
I am close to Gauri now. She really initiated and played a big role in restoring our relationship. She knows I genuinely love Shah Rukh. Its like when you are newly married, you always try to get your mother and your wife to be best of friends but with time you come to terms with reality. I know Shah Rukh and Shirish will never be best of friends but they know that it is me they both love. I will now never force them to become best friends but only want them to be comfortable with each other. Today they have an understanding.
What attracted you to Shirish?
He is a very talented man and that is what I respect most about him. He is principled at the cost of being self destructive. He is very stubborn, and insists on doing things his way. His bluntness is mistaken for arrogance. I never knew I would be marrying the most misunderstood man in the industry. He has a great sense of humour. While everybody is scared of me, he is the only one who tells me things to my face and also lets me be myself. It was he who encouraged me to take up a leading actor’s role in Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi. I am a diplomatic goddess in front of him. I fight a lot with him but I will never give him up. We don’t need to hold hands in public and display our love to tell people how comfortable we are with each other.
Daisy Irani Farah Khan Farhan Akhtar Honey Irani Interviews Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa Sajid Khan Shah Rukh Khan Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi Shirish Kunder Zoya Akhtar
You are a successful choreographer, director and actor. Which is your favourite role?
Personally, I love being a mother the most. I dream of taking holidays with my three kids. I want to take my kids to beaches, gardens, the farm, malls everywhere. Professionally, I like doing one thing at a time and enjoy directing the most. I would happily retire from choreography, but I still end up doing it for friends and family. Once I take it up, my competitive nature pushes me to do it to the best I can. I don’t think I will act again as I don’t think I will get something as good.