Khans @ Mannat
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Khans @ Mannat

Bollywood’s reigning royal couple, SRK and Gauri Khan let Sonal Kalra into their home...and their life!

entertainment Updated: May 25, 2009 19:12 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times

SRK-GauriBollywood’s reigning royal couple, Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan, are ensconced in a deeply comfortable cream leather couch in the living room of their beautiful home, casually dressed and exuding a zest for life which tells you why they command the love of millions.

We are at Mannat, a 7-storey mansion, in a living room that, with its sumptuous furniture, massive art pieces and oversized coffee tables strewn with silver champagne urns carrying imported wines, shows off the impeccable taste of the style diva that Gauri Khan is.

The Badshah of Bollywood and his film producer wife are disarmingly casual about what are clearly priceless artifacts. “When Gauri’s not here, I play cricket in the drawing room with the kids,” says Shah Rukh smilingly and we look around in alarm at the crystal, the designer furniture and the thoughtful art that could be victim to such boisterous family moments.

Moments before Shah Rukh enters the room , Gauri chats up informally, dismissing any notions of being ‘powerful’. “I have no power of my own, I’m just an extension of him [Shah Rukh].” She quietly listens to us telling her that a lot of people look up to her as the epitome of grace and style and that she’s thought of as an enigma. "If I have any individual style, it has nothing to do with the surroundings that I’m in. I'm a lot like my father —very private. It’s not that I can’t, but I choose not to open up to media glare.”

Did you know?

* Shah Rukh Khan is obsessed with collecting houses. He says his parents struggled but couldn’t own a house, so he dreams of owning as much property as he can, in every city.

* Gauri doesn’t know how to cook, not even make tea. The last thing she cooked was a biscuit pudding — in 1998. He still remembers it as the best he’s ever had

* Their home Mannat has seven floors, and while most portion is unutilized, Shah Rukh refuses to ever sell or rent it out.

Sparing the rod?
Do their kids, Aryan and Suhana, take after their extrovert dad or her? “Aryan is extremely ambitious at this age. Just like his father, he wants to be a winner. Suhana is too young but is also very strong headed,” she says.

At that point, ‘King Khan’ walks in, and after a warm ‘hi’, turns to her and says, “jaldi kuchh khaane ko do.” She quickly gets up to serve some bhel puri and roast potatoes to everyone while Shah Rukh takes over the conversation. “I love my chidren, utterly and completely. Gauri often complains that I spoil them. But since I lost my parents very early on in life, there’s this reservoir of love in me and my sister Lala Rukh (who lives with them).”

Gauri responds, “He’s a brilliant father, but he can’t say no to anything, anything they ask.” He justifies, “Why shouldn’t I indulge them, as long as no third party is getting hurt. People say they want their kids to learn hardships by flying economy class. I have a different logic. If God forbid someday we face hard times, they anyway won’t be able to afford first class, so why deny them something right now?”

He chuckles, “Anyway, Gauri tries to be strict with us but gives up after a while. We do everything she doesn’t approve of, like playing cricket in living room or eating in bed, when she’s not around.” Are their Mumbai born kids any different from the ‘Delhiite’ parents? “Not really, except when they say ‘aajoo bajoo’ in a typical lingo. It’s not bajoo, it’s bazoo, meaning bagal (armpit). But they say, “idhar, bajoo mein aa”, which is very irritating.

Compatibility quotient

As a couple, do they find themselves thinking and behaving alike? “We are at opposite spectrums,” says Shah Rukh. Gauri agrees instantly. “He is hyper-charged all the time. Wants to work 24X7. I like to travel…go on holidays, and he detests it.” “Yes I do,” says Shah Rukh. “When I’m at it though, I enjoy it. I never say no if the family wants me to go. They just have to say, “five days in London, or Delhi, and I say okay.”

Marriage Mantra

According to the Khans, the glue that keeps a marriage together is the ability to ‘let each other be’. Trying to force anything — your habits, your friends, your likes and dislikes — on your partner will only make him or her feel suffocated. Live and let live is the mantra.

He pauses to light a smoke, and she adds, “We are similar in the sense that we are both ‘home people’. If you ask us where we like to party in the city, we’ll say nowhere. Perhaps that’s why the marriage is working. If I was the kinds who would go out partying every night, he would kill himself.”

Where does Shah Rukh get his super sharp brains from? He smiles. “I’m not as bright as people make me out to be. Maybe I talk well and can converse on any topic, but that’s because I read a lot of books. I don’t know why people see this shrewd businessman in me. If Gauri and I take any decision in life, it’s for only one reason—that it makes us happy. For instance I've always been passionate about sports.

For 20 years, I looked at Manchester United as ‘my team’. I wanted Aryan to have a feeling of owning his very own team. So I bought the Kolkata IPL team because I could afford to. For the simple pleasure of being able to sit in a box with my family and be able to cheer for ‘our team’. But people looked at it as some calculated business move after much clever thinking.”

Love and hate
Ask them about what they love and hate about each other and they have loads to say. “Gauri is a queen. I think she’s the most stylish woman I’ve ever known,” he says and adds, “I’m completely unstylish. I have over hundred suits, they are all black and look the same.” She clarifies, “Style has nothing to do with clothes. It’s just that I want everything perfect and appreciate finer things. Everything I touch and feel, the cushions, the glass I drink water in, even the towel in the bathroom, everything has to be just perfect.”

He smiles, “She amazes me. I wonder, how someone can be so passionate about a candle stand. Also, while I go overboard with everything — over thinking, over worrying, over doing…even over acting — I’m utterly fascinated by her ability to remain unfazed at all times. I ask her, “Gauri, what did you do the whole day? and she replies, ‘an amazing amount of nothing’.

I feel it’s wonderfully gifted to be so content. Also, I love the fact that she has never looked at me like a star. When my statue was unveiled at the prestigious Grevin museum in Paris, all my friends — Karan, Ritesh, Pultu —accompanied me but they had to convince Gauri to come along. There was this amazing ceremony in my honour and while my friends had tears in their eyes, she looked completely bored. She’s totally detached from the image of Shah Rukh Khan, which makes me feel that she’s in love with me, the man, no matter how successful or unsuccessful I get.”

Does anything about her annoy him? “Nothing at all,” he says and she immediately jumps up. “Hey, say something because I have loads to say on what bugs me about you.” She elaborates, “He’s a hoarder, doesn’t throw anything away. It’s so annoying to see things fall from his cupboard. Also he’s late for everything —not late by hours, late by days.”

And what endears him to her? “Oh, the fact that he lets me be. Doesn’t ever impose his lifestyle, his friends on me. Imagine if he were to do that, I would have gone back to Delhi, or hanged myself,” she laughs. “Also he’s not fussy about anything, not even food.”

Shah Rukh shares an anecdote at this. “When we got married, her mother would visit us and like all typical mothers, tell her, “Tujhe khana banana toh seekhna padega”. She insisted that Gauri must learn to cook and enrolled her in a cooking class. Gauri sent our maid Chandra instead.” Adds Gauri, “It was so funny, Chandra with all those high society ladies learning to cook in a five star hotel. But mom was very happy that her damaad was getting good food.”

Power profile

Shah Rukh Khan is the reigning king of Bollywood, with his movies being the top grossers for years in the Indian and overseas market.

Named as one of the 50 most powerful people in the world by Newsweek last year, Khan has been accorded the Order of the Arts and Literature award by the French government and Knighthood (Datuk) by the Malaysian Government. Padma Shri Shah Rukh Khan has won 14 filmfare awards and is also the recipient of Rajiv Gandhi award for excellence in cinema.

Gauri Khan is a fimmaker and co-owner of the successful production house Red Chillies entertainment. A history graduate from Delhi's famous Lady Sriram College, Gauri is considered as a style icon and has been featured on the January 2008 cover of the Indian edition of Vogue magazine.

Family man

Shah Rukh says his image of a being a family man with no romantic scandals is “nothing great at all”. “That’s just how it should be. Just because I work with beautiful women, there’s no reason why I should be sleeping with them.

Also, I’m extremely sensitive about what my kids read about me. So I tell journalists clearly, “Write rubbish about me and I’ll smack your face. So no one writes trash about my personal life anymore. Anyway, now they think he’s got too old for scandals. Bachche bade ho gaye hain.”

Gauri echoes, “A marriage works, if it has to, despite and in spite of the profession. We are not an exemplary couple. Maybe a Mr Sharma loves his wife much more than he does, just that he won’t get written about.”

That said, Shah Rukh is clearly very much the romantic one out of the two, while she’s refreshingly practical. He sums up: “I love nothing in this world more than my family. I love what and who I have in my life. Allah’s been too kind, and I hope that’s how it stays.”

Did You Know?
* Shah Rukh Khan is obsessed with collecting houses. He says his parents struggled but couldn’t own a house, so he dreams of owning as much property as he can, in every city.

* Gauri doesn’t know how to cook, not even make tea. The last thing she cooked was a biscuit pudding — in 1998. He still remembers it as the best he’s ever had

* Their home Mannat has seven floors, and while most portion is unutilised, Shah Rukh refuses to ever sell or rent it out.

First Published: May 07, 2009 20:43 IST