Your relationship with Helen really shined on your talk show. Have you always been comfortable with her, considering your family dynamics?
We have been together for a long time now and are very close to Helen Aunty. Actually now so many years have passed with Helen Aunty but we still call her Helen Aunty because she is like that. But she of course she is our mother. She is now an integral part of our lives and when it all started we were very young. So, we’ve been kept away from some of the drama that must have happened in my parents’ life. But very early on, we realized before we were adults that she had been introduced to our family. And my father only asked us one thing. He said, ‘Dekho, I know you may be on your mother’s side. You may love your mother more than anything. You will probably never be able to love her (Helen) as much as you love your mother. But one thing I expect from you is to respect it. Show her the same respect, because you have to accept that she is a part of my life. And if you have love and respect for me, you should accept that this is the reality now.’
How has your relationship with Helen evolved over the years?
She was wonderful. She never tried to do anything that would upset our family like that. She had her time with my dad. My father spent her time with her. She has never neglected or abandoned us because she had another person in her life or another woman in her life. And it wasn’t easy for my mother and neither for us. But it is very difficult to understand how things happened or why they worked.
Do celebrity families learn to solve their problems because of public glare or image?
It has nothing to do with whether someone is a popular person or a rich person. We went through our baptism by fire. We’ve had our struggles. We’ve had our problems. But we have found a way to overcome it. We have now accepted it and embraced it. It’s a different scenario right now. Helen Aunty is someone who is there as part of everything we do as a family. She has equal space just like our mother. We give her the same amount of love and respect. And she does the same with us. It’s a nice equation.
How have your family dynamics influenced your views on relationships and marriage?
In my father’s day, fathers could still struggle to cope as they got married. My father’s career hadn’t started, but he already had three children. My parents didn’t own a house, we kids had problems with how and where we would go to school. Imagine getting married to such a person in the present day. People today worry about owning a home, having a stable income, knowing the school facilities before giving birth to a child. Today couples know which school their child will enroll in, even before the child is born.
Today no one is going to get involved or marry until they realize what they are getting into. People did things blindly out of love. In the past, fathers never had time to spend with their families or children because they were still making their careers. Today, there is no way a man who is not yet settled in her career would ever think of getting married, let alone whether the girl wants to marry him or not. No girl will marry a man unless she has direction on what she is doing with her life, if she doesn’t have a steady income.
Are you saying that love alone isn’t enough in today’s times?
Love is on one side, but you also need to know that you are going to live with a person and have a future with them. So, you know, love will go out the window if the man is not focused in his life or not responsible in life. Previously, people used to take risks. People actually used to vow that, ‘I love this person. No matter what, I will wrestle with him, make my life with him, raise my children 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 key thing is that when two married people separate, they go their separate ways due to their personal differences, right? It doesn’t matter why they split. It could be that they have drifted apart or are not contributing to each other’s lives in the way they expect. I’m not talking about Malaika and me. I’m talking about relationships in general. When a married couple has a child, regardless of whether the two adults have countless problems with each other, they will never have problems with their children. I’m right? Different couples may have different problems, there is always water under the bridge.
Malaika and I bypassed all of that too. We have forgotten the past and realized that our whole life is ahead. She moved on, I moved on. Where’s the animosity or anger or frustration or something? There is no more. At least for the sake of your child, you can band together and create a much-needed scenario. He is our son. We brought it into this world. It is our responsibility to take care of him.
For all the hosannas there are always bricks too. How do you feel when sometimes you and Malaika get trolled?
It doesn’t matter what the world says. People say they’re acting, they’re doing this, they’re doing that. Honestly, we don’t have to deal with these people. People talk based on what they see us doing outside on camera. These people are not present with us in our house, to see what we do there. It’s not that we act a certain way when we’re in public. Let’s celebrate Arhaan’s birthday together. I constantly talk to Malaika about my son’s job, his career or his responsibilities and needs. I am in constant contact with her. Why not? Why should anyone be surprised if I talk to my ex-wife about my son’s college life to keep her needs in check. 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 separated and that we will only take care of ourselves. It doesn’t happen like that. If the separated parents stop talking to each other, it could end up causing trauma to the child, perhaps to some degree. Thankfully, our family doesn’t have that fear. Arhaan has accepted that his father has moved on, his mother has moved on. He’s 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 spotlight. As I said before, we are doing all of this for our son. There’s no denying that Malaika and I have gone our separate ways. We are very friendly to each other. We are on excellent terms. But mostly we are still together for our son. And we will continue to do so. We have only one son.
Coming to your talk show, what was the idea behind staging these conversations with cinema icons?
I have always been very fascinated by my father. We have so many people like my father who are legends, who have had such great contributions and such a body of work. But if you look over the years, sadly, some of them have died. Many of these legends have not really been documented in the right way. We 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, from whom we would learn so much. But nobody really went ahead and documented them, recorded their conversations. There are so many who have faced personal problems, financial problems, public humiliation, being sad, being pushed aside, faced failure and all those stories deserved to be told 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 asks this question. But yeah, it’s a big project and it will happen soon.