Your rapport with Helen really shined on your talk show. Were you always comfortable with him, given your family dynamics?
We have been together for a long time and very close to Helen Aunty. Actually now it has been so many years with Helen Aunty but we still call her Helen Aunty because it is like that. But of course she is our mother. Now it is an integral part of our lives and we were very young when it all started. So, we were kept away from some of the drama that would have happened in my parents’ lives. But very soon, she was being introduced to our family before we even realized she was an adult. And my father asked us only one thing. He said, ‘Look, I know you can be on your mother’s side. You can love your mother more than anything. You may never be able to love her (Helen) as much as you love your mother. But I expect one thing from you that you respect him. Give him the same respect, because you have to accept that he is a part of my life. And if you have even an iota of love and respect for me, you must accept that this is the reality now.’
How has your relationship with Helen evolved over the years?
She’s been amazing. He never tried to do anything that would hinder our family in that sense. He had his own time with my father. My father made up his time with her. He never ignored us or he never left us because he had some other man in his life or some other woman in his life. And it was neither easy for my mother nor for us. But it’s very difficult to put a finger on how things work or why they work.
Do celebrity families learn to work out their issues because of the public glare or image?
It has nothing to do with whether someone is a popular person or a rich person. We have gone through our own baptism by fire. We have had our own struggles. We have had our issues. But we found a way out. Now we have accepted it and we have embraced it. It’s a different landscape now. Helen Aunty is one of those who are a part of everything we do as a family. They have the same status as our mothers. We love and respect them equally. And she does the same with us. This is a good equation.
How did your family dynamics affect your views on relationships and marriage?
In my father’s time, fathers were still struggling to make it when they were getting married. My father’s career had not yet started, but he already has three children. My parents did not have their own house, we children were faced with the question of how and where we would go to school. Imagine marrying such a person in today’s time. Today individuals are concerned about owning a house, having a stable income, knowing about the facilities of the school before giving birth to a child. Today, before the birth of the child, the couple gets to know in which school their child will get admission.
Today, no one is about to get engaged or get married unless they realize what they are doing. People used to work blindly for love. In the past, fathers didn’t have time to spend with their families or children because they were still pursuing their careers. Today, there is no way that a man who is not yet established in his career would ever think of getting married, leave alone whether the girl wants to marry him or not. No girl will marry a man unless she has some direction as to what to do with her life, if she doesn’t have a stable income.
Are you saying that in today’s time only love is not enough?
Love is on the one hand, but you also need to know that you are going to be with one person and you are going to build a future with him. So, you know, love is going to go out the window if the man is not focused in his life or he is not responsible in life. Earlier people used to take risks. People actually swear, ‘I love this person. No matter what, I’ll fight with her, I’ll build my life with her, I’ll bring up my kids with her. We’ll see what happens’. But things are very different in modern relationships.
You and Malaika Arora often get a lot of love on social media for co-parenting your son Arhaan.
The bottom line is that when two married people separate, they find ways to make up for their personal differences, right? It doesn’t matter why they split up. It could be that they have drifted apart or that they are not contributing to each other’s lives in the way that they are expected to. I am not talking about Malaika and me. I’m talking about relationships in general. When a married couple has children, they will never have a problem with their children, despite the fact that there are countless issues between the two adults. Am I right different couples can have different issues, there is always water under the bridge.
Malaika and I have bypassed all that too. We have forgotten the past and realized that we have our whole life ahead. She has moved on, I have moved on. Where is the animosity or anger or frustration or anything like that? He is gone. At least for the sake of your child, you can come together and create the scenario that is so much needed. He is our child. We brought him into this world. It is our responsibility to take care of him.
For all the hosannas there are always bricklayers too. How do you feel when you and Malaika are trolled many times?
It doesn’t matter what the world says. People say – they are staging a drama, doing this, doing that. Honestly, we don’t need to deal with these people. People talk on the basis of what they see us doing out in front of the camera. These people are not present with us in our house to see what we do there. It’s not that we behave a certain way when we’re out in public. We celebrate Arhaan’s birthday together. I am constantly talking to Malaika about our son’s work, his career or his responsibilities and needs. I am in constant touch with him. Why not? Why should anyone be surprised if I talk to my ex-wife about her life to look after our son’s needs at university. If his phone is busy, the next person I call is his mother, my ex-wife.
People are really naive if they think that Malaika and I have parted ways and we will only take care of ourselves. This does not happen. If parents who have separated stop talking to each other, it may traumatize the child, perhaps to some degree. Thankfully we don’t have that fear in our family. Arhaan has accepted that his father has moved on, his mother has moved on. He is also doing well.
Are you comfortable with the co-parenting process?
It is very clear that co-parenting is happening, as both Malaika and I are in the limelight. Like I said earlier, we are doing all this for our child. It cannot be denied that Malaika and I have parted ways. We are very cordial towards each other. We are on very good terms. But we are still together mainly for our son. And we will continue to do so. We have only one child.
Coming to your talk shows, what was the idea behind staging these conversations with cinema icons?
I have always been greatly influenced by my father. We have so many people like my father who is great, who has such a great contribution and has so much work to do. But if you see over the years, unfortunately some of them have passed away. Many of these legends have not really been documented properly. We had Raj Kapoorji, Dev saab, Guru Dutt ji, Dilip sahab, RD Burman, Lata ji and I can name hundreds of people who were great legends from whom we would have learned a lot. But nobody actually went ahead and documented them, recorded their conversations. There are a lot of them who have faced personal issues, financial issues, public humiliation, being depressed, being sidelined, facing failure and all those stories are worth chronicling on video. I felt the need to do it now. That’s why we made the show.
What is the update on Dabangg 4?
Inshallah it will happen soon. Everyone is asking this question. But yes, it is a big project and it will happen soon.