After brother Saif Ali Khan married the love of his life, it seems like the coast is clear for Soha Ali Khan! Check out the actress' palpable chemistry with beau Kunal Khemu in an exclusive photoshoot with HT City.
They never thought they would even be friends, leave aside being in a relationship. Now, after dating for approximately four years (approximately because the couple doesn’t remember when their friendship developed into a relationship), they say they are already family to each other. She balances his cheque book. He cooks. He writes songs for her while she plans their holidays. The couple reveals all this and more as they sit down for a chat at Soha’s Vasant Vihar home in Delhi.
Q. What was your first impression of each other?
Soha: When we did our first film, Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge, we didn’t speak much at all. I thought we would never be friends, forget being in a relationship. Then we did 99 and we got closer. I was immediately attracted to him. I thought he was a very attractive man. I noticed his eyes and his smile. He was quiet, silent and mysterious in many ways. He kind of drew me in.
Kunal: My first impression was that here is this Oxford graduate and I don’t know why she is acting in films. When I met her on the sets, she was writing an article on her laptop to send to Oxford University for their magazine. So, I thought this is serious stuff, I should think before I start a conversation with her. We didn’t speak much. I respected her as a professional. It was only towards the end of Dhoondte... that we happened to spend some time on the sets. It was very interesting because she’s had an upbringing completely different from mine, so the stories of her life were very different — hers were about Oxford and mine were about local trains. But even then, we used to have a lot of healthy debates and that’s how we got talking. Gradually it developed into a relationship.
Q. Did one of you have to make the first move?
Kunal: I don’t think either of us started off our friendship with this at the back of our head that it will be a relationship some day. So there was no proposal from either of us. Even when the press had started speculating during Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge that we were going for press screenings and dinners together, we were doing all that, but it was just two people hanging out. Besides, we had friends with us. As time progressed, we did understand that we really enjoyed each other’s company. So there was no moonlit candlelight dinner or proposal … fortunately or unfortunately!
Lovebirds Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Khemu
Q. Is Kunal a possessive boyfriend?
Q. Is Soha possessive?
Q. How do you deal with insecurities considering you are both surrounded by glamourous faces?
Kunal: It’s tough. But when you spend time with a person, and the more you know a person, the trust gets stronger and you become relaxed and insecurities take a backseat. Possessiveness is important in every relationship. If there is no possessiveness from either side, it’s time to worry. It means the person doesn’t care about you.
Soha: When it comes to jealousy and insecurity, I have realised that nothing is worse than your imagination, what you imagine ... thinking Oh! he’s working with this hot actress, he’s gone to Bangkok with a bunch of male friends ... what could be happening...(smiles)
Kunal: Really? You said that? Oh My God! (laughs)
Soha: I’m saying imagination can wreak havoc. It’s important to understand that.
Kunal: I’ve never made a trip to Bangkok with friends.
Soha: It’s legitimate to go to Bangkok. (laughs)
Q. How did you tell your parents about each other?
Kunal: When you say Bangkok, it sounds cheap. I may have been shooting in Thailand.
Kunal: I didn’t make it an event. I told my dad first and my mother later. Even in college, I didn’t discuss my girlfriends with my sister or my parents. When we were seeing each other for 8 or 9 months, I thought I should tell them because it was in the papers and they’d asked me before and I said it’s not true, because initially it wasn’t. Then there were more articles in the press and I thought I should tell them that I’m seeing this girl. It was quite casual and informal and I think they were slightly uncomfortable, especially my dad, because it was the first time I was telling them that I’m seeing a woman.
Soha: I would’ve never told my father directly because we didn’t have discussions about boys. I relied on my mother to tell him. I must’ve told her and she is very liberal and trusting of my choices and not overtly concerned. She met Kunal on the sets of 99 and unfortunately he was doing a scene in which he had to wear a pink bathrobe.
Kunal: White bathrobe!
Soha:Yeah! White bathrobe with shorts.
Soha: She liked him immediately, and he is very good with mothers.
Soha Ali Khan
She shows her affection by balancing his cheque book.
She is more organised. She plans all their holidays.
When she first met Kunal, she thought they would never be friends
She thinks he is very moody.
She tried to cook a meal for Kunal but first asked him how to turn on the gas.
He writes poems and songs for her.
When they first met, he wondered what an Oxford grad was doing in films.
He thinks their completely different backgrounds helped them click.
Soha is the first girl Kunal has told his parents about.
He is possessive about her and thinks it’s a way to show you care.
‘We are too lazy to be romantic’
Actors Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Khemu open up about their most romantic gestures, fights and family
How would you describe your relationship?
Kunal: I would describe it as very easy ... for the first time, it’s very natural. I don’t feel any effort, it’s been almost four years that we’ve been together. Initially, there’s a lot you get to know about a person and then you find yourself at peace with that person.
Sometimes, it doesn’t go well and within a year you feel you are trying too hard to match upto the likings of the other person. But in our case, we talk about everything. She still is my best friend. I feel very comfortable around her. It’s peaceful.
Soha: It’s very important for me to respect the person I’m with. More so for a woman, when she looks at a man. Our relationship is strong because I respect Kunal for various reasons. He’s a self made man. (Pauses) It’s weird to compliment
someone when they are sitting right there. I like that he is capable, I like to be looked after. Whether it is riding a bike or driving a car, being good at your job, being athletic or lifting weights, he holds firmly into the male category and that allows me to be a woman.
Who is more dominating?
Kunal: We are both very strong-headed individuals. We have healthy debates about everything. It’s not very easy for us to be okay with some things.
So when you both fight, who makes up?
Soha: That’s because he is the cause of the fight (laughs).
Does it ever get ugly? ‘I don’t want to be with you’ kind?
Soha and Kunal got candid about their relationship and much more
Soha: I really wonder why his or my guards have never come knocking, asking if someone’s been murdered in the flat. I really wonder why no one comes. It does get loud and passionate and maybe it’s a by-product of two actors who get into a very melodramatic state. I do have a lot of pride and it takes a lot for me to accept that I’ve done something wrong and that’s something I’m working on. Kunal feels bad immediately and says I’m sorry easier than I do.
How do you guys get time together considering you are shooting so often?
Soha: It is important to make time. If he’s shooting, I try and visit. But most actors would agree that to be on a film set where you are not working is the most deathly boring thing you can do. You spend a lot of time when you can, you work it out.
Kunal: When you spend time away from a person, you value that person more and come back wanting to spend more time. Sometimes, it does happen that you are sitting in each other’s space forever, and you may get bored or you may snap about something and the other person may react. So it’s good to do your own thing and then come back and spend quality time together.
Kunal, do you pamper her with gifts?
Kunal: There are very few things that she likes. She’s not a gadget person, so it’s not like she wants this new phone ... I have been begging her to change her phone.
Soha: Yes, it’s very old. I want someone to give me time and attention, care and concern rather than things. I don’t think buying things is a gesture of attention.
Who is more romantic?
Soha: I think that we are equally romantic. We display it in different ways. We are romantic at heart and thought and not in action.
Kunal: We are too lazy to be romantic!
What is the sweetest thing you have done for each other?
Kunal: Very early, I gave her a folder with poems and her baby pictures on Valentine’s Day. That was the only Valentine’s we celebrated.
Soha: He would write songs for me and play them on the guitar. He also writes poems. He is very good at it, he can write them in five minutes.
Kunal: She almost tried to cook a meal for me and then asked me, ‘how do I turn on the gas?’
Soha: I don’t think I can show my love for someone by cooking food for them. I’ll balance his cheque book. That’ll be my way of showing affection.
Kunal: She organises things very well. So, if we plan a holiday, I can trust her to book the right hotel and make sure a car will pick us up.
Soha: I’m a bit of a control freak!
Soha, how often do you meet Kunal’s family?
Soha: A lot, because they live in Mumbai.
Kunal, how well do you get along with Sharmilaji, Saif and Saba?
Kunal: I’m very fond of Saif bhai as I call him now. Anybody can get along with him because he is a very entertaining person. I respect Amma (Sharmila Tagore) a lot. She’s a legendary actress and initially I was very nervous around her. Saba is a very real person. Initially, people asked me, ‘you must be hanging out with Kareena and Saif,’ but that’s not the case because they are busy and it takes time for people to have their own relationship with somebody.
Have you guys discussed about moving in or marriage?
Soha: We are really comfortable with where we are. We live in separate houses but we spend a lot of time together so there is no pressure on us to take it to the next level.