Your rapport with Helen really shined through on your talk show. Were you always comfortable with her, considering the dynamics of your family?
We have been together for a long time now and are very close to Helen Aunty. Actually now it’s been so many years with Helen Aunty but we still call her Helen Aunty because that’s how it is. But obviously she’s our mother. Now she’s an integral part of our lives and when it all started, we were very young. So, we were kept away from some of the drama that must have happened in my parents’ life. But very soon, we kind of realized, before we became adults, that she was being introduced to our family. And my father asked us only one thing. He said, ‘Dekho, I know that you may be on your mother’s side. You may love your mother more than anything. You can probably never love her (Helen) as much as you love your mother. But one thing I expect from you is to respect her. Show her the same respect, because you have to accept that she’s a part of my life. And if you have any love and regard for me, you should accept that this is the reality now’.
Over the years, how has your relationship with Helen evolved?
She has been wonderful. She never tried to do anything that would disrupt our family in that sense. She had her own time with my father. My father made his own time with her. He never neglected us or he never abandoned us because he had another person in his life or another woman in his life. And it was not easy for my mother and neither for us as well. But its very difficult to put a finger on how things worked out or why they worked out.
Do celebrity families learn to sort out their issues because of the public glare or the image?
It has nothing to do with the fact that somebody is a popular person or a rich person. We’ve gone through our own baptism by fire. We’ve had our own struggles. We’ve had our own issues. But we found a way through it. Now we’ve accepted it and we have embraced it. It’s a different scenario right now. Helen Aunty is somebody who is there as part of everything that we do as a family. She has an equal space just like our mother. We give her the same amount of love and respect. And she does the same to us. It’s a nice equation.
How did the dynamics of your family affect your views on relationships and marriage?
During my father’s time, fathers could still be struggling to make it while they were getting married. My father’s career hadn’t started, but he already had three kids. My parents didn’t own a house, us kids were facing issues with how and where we’d go to school. Imagine getting married to such a person in today’s time. Individuals today are concerned about owning a house, having a stable income, knowing about school facilities before giving birth to a child. Couples today know which school their child will enroll in, even before the child is born.
Today, nobody is going to get involved or get married till they realize what they’re getting into. People used to do things blindly for love. Back in the day, fathers never had time to spend with their families or kids because they were still making a career. Today, there is no way that a man who is still not settled in their career will ever think about getting married, let alone whether the girl wants to marry him or not. No girl will get married to a man unless he has some direction of what he’s doing in his life, if he does not have a steady income.
Are you saying, love alone is not enough in today’s times?
Love is on one side, but you have to also know that you’re going to live with a person and you’re going to have a future with them. So, you know, love is going to go out of 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 used to take a vow that, ‘I love this person. Whatever happens, I will struggle with him, I will make my life with him, I will bring up my kids with him. 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 basic thing is that when two married people separate, they go their different ways for their own personal differences, right? It doesn’t matter why they separated. It could be that they’ve grown apart or they don’t contribute to each other’s life in the way that they expect to. I’m not talking about Malaika and I. I’m talking about relationships in general. When a married couple has a child, regardless of the fact that the two adults have countless issues between them, they will never have an issue with their children. Am I right? Different couples can have different issues, there’s always water under the bridge.
Malaika and I have bypassed all that too. We have forgotten the past and realised that our entire life lies ahead. She has moved on, I have moved on. Where is the animosity or anger or frustration or anything like that? That’s gone. For the sake of your child at least, you can come together and create a scenario that is 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 brickbats, too. How do you feel when Malaika and you get trolled at times?
It doesn’t matter what the world says. People say – they are putting up an act, they are doing this, doing that. Honestly, we don’t have to deal with these people. People talk on the basis of what they see us doing outside, in front of cameras. These people aren’t present with us in our home, to see what we do there. It’s not like we behave a certain way when we are out in the public. We celebrate Arhaan’s birthday together. I am constantly in speaking to Malaika regarding my son’s work, his career or his responsibilities and needs. I am constantly in touch with her. And why not? Why should someone be surprised if I speak to my ex-wife about my son’s life in university to keep a check on his needs. If his phone is busy, the next person I will call is his mother, my ex-wife.
People are really naive if they think that Malaika and I have separated and we will only look out for ourselves. It doesn’t happen like that. If parents who are separated, stop talking to each other it might end up causing trauma to the child, maybe to some extent. Thankfully, our family doesn’t have that fear. Arhaan has accepted that his father has moved on, his mother has moved on. He is doing fine, too.
Are you comfortable with the co-parenting process?
It’s pretty evident that co-parenting is happening, since both Malaika and I are in the limelight. Like I said before, we’re doing all of this for our child. There is no denying that Malaika and I have gone our separate ways. We are very cordial to each other. We are on very good terms. But we are mainly still together for our son. And we will continue to do that. We have only one child.
Coming to your talk show, what was the thought behind staging these conversations with cinema icons?
I have always been very fascinated by my father. We’ve got so many people like my dad who are legends, who’ve had such great contributions and such a body of work. But if you see over the years, unfortunately, some of them have passed away. Many of these legends have not really been documented in the right way. We’ve had the likes of Raj Kapoorji, Dev saab, Guru Dutt ji, Dilip saab, RD Burman, Lata ji and I can name hundreds of people who were great legends, who we would have learned so much from. But nobody really went ahead and documented them, recorded their conversations. There are so many of them who’ve dealt with personal issues, financial issues, public humiliations, being sad, sidelined, faced failure and all those stories were worth being chronicled on video. I felt the need to do it now. That’s why we made the show.
What’s the update on Dabangg 4?
Inshallah it will happen soon. Everybody is asking this question. But yes, it is a big project and it will happen soon.