‘Aditya & I started dating only post his divorce’
Rani Mukerji, 36, has never ever spoken a word about Aditya Chopra. Despite being insinuated of being a home- breaker, she maintained an elegant silence.
While the media and her fans assumed that she was keeping mum as she was either guilty or did not want to share her personal life, in reality, she was only protecting people around her so that they would not have to be answerable for her relationship at a point in time when the relationship itself was evolving and growing.
The most shocking revelation of her interview was the fact that she, in fact, started dating Aditya Chopra only three years back, post his divorce. And that to me is a mark of a woman with substance, who not only protected her near and dear ones, but silently lived by her truth taking the blessings of both, her own and Adi’s parents. Rani opens up for the very first time in her life about the man she fell in love with and who today is her husband. Excerpts:
Why did you duck the question of Adi for the past so many years?
Being an actor, I understand that for my fans, reading about my personal life makes for an interesting read, but I too am like any other regular girl who wants to protect her life not because she wants to hide it, but because I didn’t want to put my parents, who I am very close to, through the turmoil of talking about their daughter’s life. I had decided that I would talk when I get married as then you can talk with that much more confidence. But all this time I was neither hiding nor was I ashamed, but I needed to guard my personal life as there were too many people involved. Also, you need your relationship to grow so you can’t talk about it when it is in a nascent stage. I couldn’t convince people about the fact that what they thought was happening from a decade was not true. I had to live with my truth and wait till I could speak.
Adi is the Shiva of my life
How long have you known Adi?
I first met Adi socially when I was doing Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, through Karan. Though Adi tells me that after my first film Raja Ki Aayegi Baaraat, he has a very vivid memory of seeing me in Sampan restaurant, where much as he had expected, I did not walk up to him to say a hi even though DDLJ had already released and he was already Aditya Chopra. Since actresses would usually walk up and introduce themselves to him, he found it strange. And you will be surprised that he was also instrumental in me getting Kuch Kuch Hota Hai as he saw my first film and told Karan Johar, ‘I think you should take this girl as she will be the next big star.’
So it’s quite an uncanny thing that even without being a part of my life, he has been a part of my life since the beginning. He calls a spade a spade and when anyone seeks advice from him, he will never mince words. He has been a strong influence in my career too. At a time when I was going through a low in my career and he wanted to sign me for Mujhse Dosti Karoge, he had told me, ‘You are not doing the right films and you should make yourself exclusive and do films that you believe in as an actor.’ I started refusing films and did Saathiya, Chalte Chalte, Hum Tum and Black post that.
How long did you see each other before getting married?
We saw each other for the last three years though we were very friendly much before that. It’s strange that he and me bonded at a time and started seeing each other when both of us were going through a low and that is what also made our relationship so special. He was just out of his divorce and I think he was in no mind to see someone.
Were you romantically inclined towards him before his divorce?
I could never look at Adi romantically while working with him, as he is such a working personality that with him all you ever speak is work. But, I guess, he liked me in a way that I was different than the rest and so he would speak to me a little more than the others. While Adi and I knew each other for a long time, it is surreal in a way that due to the rumours doing the rounds that we were seeing each other, we actually started seeing each other. So, in a way, the universe around us is responsible in bringing us together by insinuating us. Luckily, since both of us are not media friendly, we did not get appalled by the rumours.
So, contrary to all rumours, I started seeing him only when he was out of his divorce and was not my producer. I started seeing him at a point when I was not working with him as dating your producer was not my cup of tea. My last three films in the past three years — No One Killed Jessica, Talaash and Aiyyaa were not with him as the producer.
Why did you not speak all these years against so many stories painting you virtually as the home-breaker?
The sources of those stories whom I don’t want to name were obviously people with agenda, but today I have the wishes and blessings of so many people around Adi and my family due to my not speaking even once. Just because Adi was divorced doesn’t take away from the fact that he also deserves to have a happy life. I knew all along that even though my name was getting maligned, everybody around me was protected. And today, my marriage with Adi is a testimony to the fact that all that they wrote was rubbish. I am a believer in karma and know that I will never be able to live with myself if I have harmed anyone intentionally and that is also a quality that Adi loves about me. He respects me tenfold as I never felt the need to explain myself when people were maligning my name left right and centre.
You talked about your low period three years back. Who was your emotional anchor?
I guess at that time it was important for me to hold myself together and come out of it. When you are down, God always says that you have to pick yourself up and only when you help yourself can I help you and that stuck to me. No matter how difficult my time is, I will never show it as I am very strong and I feel that it will make me weak the day I start talking about it. I was my own emotional anchor. Though, through my worst, Adi has been there throughout with me like the Rock of Gibraltar. He would tell me, ‘We are blessed and our problems are nothing when you compare them with those of others.’ And he would help me laugh it out.
What made you fall in love with Adi?
There have been certain criteria in my heart and mind just like every girl has that I want to have a man like this. And I think everything that I had thought, Adi is completely that which I discovered through knowing him and now post marriage. He and I think alike. He loves and respects his parents. My entire world is also my parents. He is not a negative soul and will never harm anybody. He is a person who is always thinking for the good of people and will always see the goodness in people. It’s important that when you are in love, you also respect the person. My respect for him has only grown seeing him in the way he conducts himself. He is a self-respecting person, is an achiever and is intelligent. Even though I too am bright, he is even brighter. In the industry I started off when I was 17 and I have seen all kinds of people. So for me, to respect a person is a very difficult thing. I always wanted to fall in love with a person whom I respect. And Adi is one such person.
And my respect for him was my biggest clincher. While we are both sensitive, I am probably more emotional than him as a person. He is a great human being and it gives me great satisfaction to know that I fell in love with a person who is a better human being than I am. For me that is of utmost importance in my life and I always prayed to fall in love with a man who was a good human being. I have too much love, respect and fondness for people who are good. And as a human being, you can grow when you have a partner who is good. With Adi I have grown as a person. He is the Shiva in my life and with him I have become much calmer. Like they say in Bengali, to calm the Shakti you need Shiv and he is my Shiv. Just like Shiv, he is calm, composed and is a one woman man who loves me as much as Shiva loved Parvati. And, of course, I am the Parvati in his life who can’t see beyond him. My parents are too thrilled to have him as their son-in-law as only he can control and love me the way he does. I love the fact that he really respects my parents and takes so much care of them. And that is also a quality he loves about me, seeing the way I am with my parents. I feel that too triggered some emotions in him about me. The only difference between us is that while he is emotional for particular people, I am emotional for the whole world. With me, you have to give love to get love. He likes the quality that I am so unabashed. When I met him I discovered myself and when he met me, he discovered himself, which is very important in a relationship. We both love films, food and travel. Every girl wonders who will be that man in her life. I am in that very happy space at the moment as when I look back at my life and my space with Adi, I feel that God has really been very kind to me.
Between the two of you, who shared your feelings first?
Of course he said it. I would like it the traditional way. On my first date, Adi came home and asked me out in front of my parents. For me, nothing could have been more beautiful than that.