Zarine Khan on Hrithik Roshan: I think he's in the wrong profession
A mother-in-law speaks about her superstar damaad, the present-day Adonis she fondly remembers as a shy, stuttering boy.
Her forays into interior designing have earned her a Who's Who roster of clients. Art is her excuse for globe trotting and picking up decor items that end up in A-list homes. Yet she is better known as Hrithik Roshan’s ma-in-law.
He is almost undoubtedly Bollywoood's best dancer and one of its finest actors. His roles have carved for him a niche, and show off his amazing range.
Zarine Khan talks with rare candour and affection about her favourite damaad – and how her daughter helped a shy, stuttering young man become a Bollywood mega-star.
What was your first impression of the man who was to be your son-in -law?
Our family has been friends for very long time. The first time I saw him, he was a little boy. My young son came to us saying, "Dad, I want a cycle like the one Hrithik has." Hrithik came over to show Sanjay (Khan) the cycle. He was quite a whiz at doing tricks on it, loved showing off. But even then, there was something very focused about the way he did things.
So you saw him all through his childhood?
His mother, Pinky (Roshan) and I are pretty good friends, and I used to visit her quite often. I would see this good-looking boy dashing in and out sometimes. In fact, Kunal Kapoor, Abhay Deol, my daughter Sussanne, all grew up almost together, and Hrithik too was part of that. Sussanne was going through her worst teenage phase then, with braces on her teeth. But the story goes that he saw her and declared, “See that girl? I am going to marry her.”
So is that what happened? It was a childhood romance?
Not really. She went off to study interior design in the US, and they lost touch. They met again exactly as in Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, at a traffic light in separate cars. Kunal was the go-between. He called Sussanne and said, "Why don’t you ring Hrithik?" She did, and one thing led to another. There was no idea then that he would become a film star.
He was really, really shy. He had a stutter of sorts because of it. Sussanne pushed him, gave him the confidence that he could be an actor, a star.
What was your reaction to their decision to get married?
We have given all our daughters a lot of freedom. When the romance went on for one or two years, my husband called Hrithik, and asked him: What was happening? Was he serious about Sussanne? Hrithik said, "Mr. Khan, I promise you one thing. I promise to marry her after my film is completed.”
And, the film – Kaho Na Pyaar Hai – was a hit, it made him the star overnight! Did that change things in any manner?
Well, everyone told us, "He’s so big now, he won’t keep his word." But he did. His friends, some of his family advised him to wait. He had just hit stardom. You know how they say that a married man's star value dips; he loses sex appeal for the masses. But he just went ahead and got married.
What would you say of him as a son-in-law, as a human being?
I think he is in the wrong profession. His heart is so gentle. He is so human and forgiving. He would have made a great spiritual leader. He never holds a grudge, never gets angry. Only extreme injustice against someone can make him really angry. Otherwise he just lets things go, even if someone wrongs him, or does something that upsets him.
And as an actor?
He is very, very hard working. He was not Mr.Perfect. He had to work at it. Sussanne pushed him, worked with him at it. I say my daughter is lucky to have him, but he is lucky, too. She is his guiding light. But he is talented. I always tell him, "Your mother-in-law is your biggest fan."
Then does it worry you that he is not Number One? Surely that is a dream any mother wants for her daughter’s husband?
He is not a cut-throat person, he is not hungry for grabbing every role. But I think sometimes he makes bad judgements on the pictures he lets go. Also he is not good in the PR department.
Does he never have his bad moments? He chooses his films carefully, but then when they don’t do well...
He does get hurt. He worked hard at Guzaarish. He put on weight, lived the part off screen to play it well, but the film failed. He becomes very quiet. Inward. Analyses what when wrong, why the film got rejected, what could have been done differently. It takes a long time for him to understand this, but he knows he has given his best and he finds solace in that.
Could you share any little-known side to him?
He's not a party animal, goes only when he must, and is very happy to come home as soon as he can. But there are times when he lets his hair down. It’s rare, but it happens. When my daughter Farah got remarried to Aqeel Ali, there was Hrithik jiving away to glory, having the time of his life. Most other times, he tends to be a rather serious kind of person, reserved about letting go.
Do you think Hrithik has fulfilled his full potential?
Not really. I think he should aim for Hollywood. He has it in him. But he does not try hard enough. He does not have an agent, does no networking. He says, "Mama, whatever you may say, I think the Americans give themselves the best roles. I may get one good role, maybe two, then... I’d rather be number one in India than an "also-ran" Indian in Hollywood."
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Hrithik Roshan has two bought sea-facing apartments in Mumbai, in a reported Rs 97.50 crore deal, with the intention of integrating them into one.
Pinkie Roshan, who tested positive for the coronavirus, is currently quarantining at home