By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: The marriage of the millennium is over. The radiant bridegroom and the love of his life are just back from paradise on earth.
Sanjay Khan’s health resort in Bangalore which was the venue for the Hrithik-Suzanne marriage has become famous for all times.
Back home in Mumbai Hrithik bashfully begs off an interview when I call the first time. “We returned yesterday and I promised Suzanne I’d spend the next three days completely with her.”
But three days later he’s ready to speak on marriage, career, controversies and Kareena Kapoor. Happy, hurt, ecstatic and bewildered, here’s Hrithik, naturally.
Q. Are you still in a daze about the marriage?
A. Not really. Three days ago it had still not sunk in. But now I’m gradually coming back to earth.
Q. Have you and your new wife had your first fight as yet?
A. Nooooo. We’ve had our share of fights. I’ve been as good as married to her for the last six years. But so far, after marriage no fights. If as you say the fights start after the honeymoon then we’re safe. We aren’t going on one.
Q. Now let’s talk about your marriage. The date was decided long before, wasn’t it?
A. It wasn’t really decided. We had thought of 2 tentative dates in December 2000 and January 2001. 20 December was found to be the best day for the marriage by the astrologers. I was very keen on 13 January. That’s the day I met Suzanne. Also, Kaho Na… Pyar Hai was released on that date last year. Amazingly we got married in the golden jubilee week of Kaho Na…Pyar Hai. Anyway I was okay with both 20 December and Jan 13. Karan had my dates during December while Mr Ghai had my dates in Jan. Dad was speaking to both about giving me a week off after my marriage. Karan very sweetly obliged. But we got to know only on the 14th that I could get those days in December off . So we had barely 6 days to get everything organized. Not that there was much to be organized. There were hardly any outsiders at the wedding. Even the photography and videography were done by family members. It was just Suzanne and my immediate family , her 9 friends , my 9 friends and my Dad’s close friends. By the 14th we knew the date was the 20th. But Dad decided to withold the date until the 18th.
Q. But everyone in the industry knew the date?
A. Yeah. But unless it comes from the horse’s mouth it still remains a rumour. The main problem was regarding the security. We wanted no hoo-ha about my marriage. But still everyday the papers kept getting me married off in some part of the world—Mauritius, the Caribbean islands, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii(laughs). They took us all over the world.
Q. How did all this media speculation about your marriage make you feel?
A. I just wanted us to be left alone. And for the first time I didn’t feel bad about feeling this way. Earlier I felt guilty when I complained about the downside of my success. But on this occasion I wanted my marriage to be a completely private affair. But after the event I was shocked to see our wedding photographs in the papers.
Q. Do you mean to say you didn’t give them out?
A. Not the ones that were out in the papers. Somebody at the wedding, perhaps a waiter, had clicked those pictures. We even caught a guy in Bangalore hiding in one of the rooms and shooting pictures. I spotted a red light behind the curtains in a dark room. He was one of the staffers at the Resort. My friends went and caught him.
Q. Congratulations, you’ve introduced the paparazzi into Indian journalism, and in the same week that Madonna married.
A. (laughs) I don’t know whether I should be congratulated for that. But in one of the pictures in the papers where Suzanne and I were caught coming out of the airport, we almost looked like one of those Hollywood couples sneaking in after a secret marriage. This kind of popularity doesn’t excite me. I’m only here to do good work. And I want my life to be happy.
Q. It will be, touchwood. But what did marriage mean for you besides inquisitive mediapersons?
A. It was just a formality ,a social sanction for our relationship. To tell people officially that Suzanne belongs to me and I belong to her.
Q. Yes, but marriage also has long-term advantages, like legal rights for your children?
A. We aren’t looking at those long-term advantages. We just wanted our relationship to be socially sanctioned. And what a dream venue it was. The Resort in Bangalore has got to be the most beautiful place on this planet. People said they had never seen anything like this in life. Suzanne’s family kept telling me it was the most beautiful thing in the world. I believed them. But I thought there biased about their own creation. When I reached there I was stunned. I just died when I saw the place. I don’t need to go anywhere outside for a holiday. I’m going straight to my father-in-law’s holiday resort in Bangalore. It’s got the largest swimmingpool in Asia, and we got married right in the middle of it. We signed the marriage register and took our marriage vows there. I always wanted to do that. I always wanted a little bit of a church wedding in my marriage.
Q. You mean, “I solemnly swear” and all that?
A. No no I changed the vows. I gave the lines a little twist. Now that we’ve returned from Bangalore I’m feeling empty. It was paradise on earth. It was really exciting to be there with friends and all.
Q. No one from the film industry?
A. No one except Uday Chopra. He was like the best man at the wedding. Then Fardeen who’s Suzanne’s cousin. The rest were Dad’s friends like Jeetu Uncle, Daboo Uncle, Rishi Kapoor and Prem Chopra.
Q. Don’t you think your other industry friends must be feeling left out?
A. If they are my true friends they’d understand. If we called our friends from the industry there would have been thousands of people from both sides .
Q. What did you think about the endless curiosity about your wedding details?
A. I think too much importance was given to it. I expected a certain amount of reaction to it, but not so much. I haven’t yet opened my fan mail about my marriage. But my fans have always extended their love for me to Suzanne. They address her as Didi, Bhabhi. They’re unbelievably sweet to her. I think it’s partly to do with the fact that I never hid the fact that I was in love.
Q. Simi Garewal is your greatest fan . She thinks you’re the most unaffected star she’s ever met.
A. She’s really sweet. Well, so far so good. But what’s all this about Nepal and Nepalis being furious with me? I’ve clue what this is all about. I’m supposed to have said in television interview that I dislike Nepal and its people! What nonsense ! The only television interviews. I’ve given are the ones with Simi Garewal and Karan Thapar. In neither interview have I said anything about or against Nepal.
Q. So where did this come from?
A. I’ve no idea. The press couldn’t have heard me saying anything like this. I was warned that stories against me were going to start. How much good things could they write about me? Talking positively about me is no longer hot news. That’s becoming boring. So now they’ll write negative stories just to give readers something different to chew on. ‘You know , Hrithik isn’t so nice after all. He’s doing all these nasty things.’ Tell me, why would I say something against Nepalis? I’ve so many fans that I love there. Now do you know, the political party with people of Indian origin in South Africa has gone against me?
Q. Now what have you done to them?
A. Absolutely nothing. They’ve gone against me because I’ve supposedly joined hands with the other political party in South Africa. They’ve used my face for their electoral campaigns without taking my permission. A part of the Indian population in South Africa now thinks I’m on the other side. I’ve had to issue clarifications, send out letters to the people in South Africa when in fact I’ve nothing to do with politics in India, let alone in South Africa.
Q. Do you want to speak about the other ugly controversy in your life?
A. Which one? The fling with Kareena? (laughs). Is it over, or what? Seriously the timing was ugly. Thankfully my friends, family and Suzanne trust me enough not to believe in such talk. Kareena is friendly with Suzanne. She also knows my sister very well. The only person I feel bad about is Kareena. I’m a man and such talk doesn’t affect me. She says she doesn’t care. She says it’s okay. But I can imagine how bad her family must be feeling.
Q. Where did this talk about you and Kareena start?
A. The first time I read about this was… let me think…oh yeah, that story about Kareena being in London just to be around the sets where I was shooting. Just consider the absurdity of the story. We were both shooting for Subhash Ghai’s Yaadein. Those who wrote these things didn’t even know that we were in London shooting together. They also wrote that her mother got angry and was banging on the door while we were holed up together in a room for 2 hours, or some such nonsense. In fact, Kareena’s mother was never in London. The absurdity didn’t stop there. Kareena was supposed to be forcing me to love her, while I was telling her to get lost. Arrey! It’s so sick. I’m sure because the whole story was fabricated they didn’t mention our names. It’s so easy to concoct malicious stories without mentioning names.
Q. And to think this story came out on the eve of your marriage!
A. I don’t feel bad for myself. I only feel bad for her. Because she’s such a sweet girl. She’s been completely misunderstood and misrepresented in the media. That’s partly because she just says anything that comes in her mind. She’s brutally honest. At heart she’s a very clean girl. Kareena has got a pure heart.
Q. On the day of your wedding, Shobha De wrote about you and Kareena being caught together on an aircraft?
A. That really upset me. Those who are respected in the media should understand their responsibilities and shouldn’t stoop to baseless gossip. I was very upset when I read Shobha De’s article about me and Kareena coochiecooing in an aircraft. Some airhostesses were even supposed to have seen us. Even if I was having an affair with Kareena, am I so stupid as to be coochiecooing with her on the plane? When I’m in a plane people from the economy class form a queue to take my autograph. I spend my time standing in the cabin-crew area giving autographs and having my picture taken with others on-board. How stupid to think I’d be coochiecooing anyone with hundreds of people demanding my attention.
Q. But isn’t it even more stupid to think you’d do such a thing on the eve of your marriage?
A. That isn’t impossible. Human beings are capable of any kind of behaviour. I don’t say I’m perfect. But please don’t fabricate stories. I’m not the kind of person who hides things.
Q. Please, I hope you never have to confess such things to your wife.
A(laughs sheepishly) I hope so too. Such stories don’t affect our relationships. But now when I meet Kareena we both have to make an effort to behave normally. It will always be a little awkward in public. It’s really sad. Because what such stories do is ruin two costars chances of being friends. Next time I see Kareena I might be tempted not to speak to her. But on second thoughts I ‘m not going to let such loose talk spoil our friendship
I feel bad that she’s being slandered on my account.
Q. Where do you think these stories came from?
A. I know where they started. It was just one person saying, ‘Oh I’ve seen Hrithik at a movie with her.’ Then someone else reacting to that by saying, ‘What’s happening between the two’ and so on and forth.
Q. You don’t think it’s people jealous of your success who are spreading these rumours?
A. I don’t want to think that way. I’d rather think of it as a harmless wind that gathered into a huge storm. I don’t think people get so jealous of each other. Or do they? No. I think it’s just one person, then ten and then a hundred people talking like this. I’m really apprehensive about my next outdoor shoot with Kareena for Yaadein. She’s the only friend from my age group that I have in the crew. Now when we meet we’ll both be very cautious. Next time I’ll have to think a hundred times before asking her out to theatre.
Q. Simple. Just take your wife along.
A. Yeah that’s the solution I have thought of. In any case all three of us are friends That won’t change. I won’t allow these gossip mongers to spoil my happiness. I firmly believe that those who do others harm get paid back in the same coin.
Q. How has Suzanne reacted to the Kareena rumours?
A. Being as much a part of a film family as me, she knows about these things. Besides , she knows the kind of person I am. So I had no problems at all. Such rumours do not affect my relationship with her.
Q. So now you’ve joined the ranks of married superstars down the years.
A. We plan to remain boyfriend and girlfriend all our lives. Even if we go on a honeymoon we’ll still return as girlfriend and boyfriend.
Q. Are you planning to stay together as one family? There’re rumours of you having bought a place in from of your current residence?
A. Yeah it’s right in front of me. But when we move into it all of us—my dad, mom Suzanne and I –will shift together. We plan to always stay together .—Subhash K Jha