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Arbaaz Khan: Malaika was somebody I couldn’t live without

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Arbaaz Khan: Malaika was somebody I couldn’t live without

The last two years for Arbaaz Khan weren’t the best years of his life mainly because he has been making headlines for his personal life rather than his professional life. As we all know, Malaika Arora and Arbaaz Khan have had an 18-year-long marriage and have now decided to go their separate ways. Arbaaz Khan recently shed some light on coping with his recent single status, about dating and why he doesn’t see himself committing to anyone anytime soon.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation: 

What is your state of mind currently?
I am in a good space at this point in time. Everybody has their scenarios, challenges, ups and downs, happiness and disappointments… I am not saying that any of those are completely washed away. There will always be a sense of things you want to achieve, where you want to be, a sense of disappointment, a few regrets here and there. Those are always going to linger. How you cope with them and how you move on is what your life is about. Right now, I am in a better space because I am able to cope with whatever challenges are thrown at me.

Who are you closest to in your family?
In terms of having to share anything, I’m closest to my dad. I go to him without any hesitation. And I know I might not always get to hear what I want to hear, but it will still be a very honest opinion. Salman, I have always admired and he is in many ways like my father. If there is anything I need, he won’t even ask what, where, why or how and just do it. Dad is there for advice and guidance, and Salman is always there for anything you need.

How do you brothers all manage to stay so close when you all live separately?
That’s because of our parents. They have inculcated that culture in us and I hope that, God willing, it stays forever. My parents are old now — God give them a long life — but we have to maintain this forever. When our kids are also grown up, we should not lose that and feel that only our parents are binding us together. They are not the only reason, but they make a big effort. It is great we are a close-knit family and always there for each other. Despite the fact that we do our own thing. We do manage to spend a lot of time in terms of lunches or dinners or on the farm. We also don’t interfere in each other’s life. We give each other the freedom and the right to take our own decisions. But if there is the need, we rally around each other. No questions asked. Today, if I tell Salman, ‘I want this to be done,’ he won’t bat an eyelid and will do it. He has done a lot for us, he has done a lot for his family.

You would have done that if you were at Salman Khan’s position.
Yes. Also, none of us has never tried to misuse his name or connection or the fact that he is family, and he knows that. He has done a lot, even for people who are not his family. And all of us, woh responsibility leke acha kaam karne ki koshish ki hai like Sohail did Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, Baby did Bodyguard with him and I did Dabangg. It is not that we have got the opportunity to have him in the film and let him down.

You are doing more work now than you have in the last few years. Is that a conscious decision?
When you are younger, there is pressure on you to play the main leads or the hero roles. But now, there are more opportunities for actors like me at a particular age. There are a lot of character roles where I could fit in. You know… whether it is a cop’s role or an elder brother’s role or a gangster’s role. Whichever roles are there, I am ready for them and I can experiment since I have not been completely typecast in any slot. It is a good chance for me to experiment with the kinds of roles I want to do.

You have played negative characters very early on in your career (like in Daraar), but you didn’t get typecast.
I have done my bit of negative roles and all for a long time. That transition many actors have made from negative to positive to comic. I am looking more for the serious or the negative roles I have done. I think I slip into those characters pretty easily.

You are pretty good in funny roles too. Hello Brother comes to mind.
Doing funny roles is something I enjoy as I am like that in my personal life. As much as like you would like to believe that I am a serious or no-nonsense guy, I am quite a funny guy and I have friends who are funny, I want to translate that onto the screen.

What are you working on presently?
I might have three releases this year. Some films are complete, one or two are on floors. Some have released — Freaky Ali, Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai and one film in Telugu. I have three more films releasing sometime this year. For me, it was important as an actor to keep myself engaged and busy. These are not necessarily films with very big banners, but they are films with people who seem excited about making a good film and they had a role to offer me. I am also doing a film called Jack and Dil and Tera Intezaar with Sunny Leone. There is a film I have done with two youngsters, one is Endreata from South, and with Vikas Verma, the guy who was in Yaariyan. It’s a thriller, a murder mystery.

Why did you take the big break from acting?
In the last three or four years, Dabangg and Dabangg 2 came close to each other. While I was producing and acting in Dabangg, I had grown a moustache. Post that, I got a signal that Dabangg 2 might also happen. So for those four years, I did not take up any work. I also ended up directing Dabangg 2. Actually, it just happened out of circumstance. I had offered the film to Abhinav, in spite of our little professional differences, (they were insignificant ones), but he had other plans. He didn’t want to do a sequel. Then, I felt, who else would do it? Certain names popped up and then I told Salman realistically, I have been born and brought up in the film industry and I have been acting for such a long time, I started my career as a director, I have been closely associated with Dabangg, so I could do it.

We always thought Salman pushed you into direction.
No, he was very accepting when I suggested that I wanted to direct Dabangg 2. He was very fair. He said, ‘You feel confident and feel good about it, then do it. I am there to support you.’ I had been closely associated with Dabangg’s music, casting, scripting and pre-production, so I understood the project better than any new person that would’ve come on board. It was important for me to deliver as a director and I am grateful that we had a successful film and it got the kind of recognition and appreciation it did.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I am quite meticulous and extremely punctual — those are my best traits. I am lazy when I get down, so that’s my bad thing. I need to be pushed. But when I get on to something, I am a stickler for details and good at getting things right. Punctuality is like a disease with me. I will go to my dubbing, my previews, shootings and even casual meetings on time. It comes from my father. I don’t need anybody to remind me. My person, who is managing my work, has to just send me one SMS. ‘On the 16th, there’s this or that on the 17th and say that this is at 8 o’clock, this is at 10 o’clock, this is your flight here and this is your ticket.’ After he has told it to me, no boy or secretary has to remind me.

You don’t like depending on people?
I do depend on people. I am dependent and I don’t know anybody who is not, but people like to believe they do not need anybody for anything, it’s not true. Everybody needs somebody for some reason. Coming back to my relationship, I had come to a stage where I needed Malaika in my life.

You mean, like your spouse becomes a habit?
No, not in a negative way. Needed her in a way like you need water. It’s not whether you like it or not, you need it, like air. If I don’t get it, I’ll die. So, there comes a point in your life that somebody in your life — your parent, brother, sister or colleague — you need them like that and you should never look at anyone like that. You give someone the importance that they become so valuable in your life. Imagine somebody taking water or oxygen away from you, how would you feel? That’s almost what I felt for a while. Of course, you get used to it. Life goes on, you move on, and you have to make sense of what’s happened and you somehow find that. You cannot always get answers. I look back and see 22 years of togetherness — five years of courtship and 17 years of marriage and a child. And I wonder why this and why that and what could have been corrected. And if there were mistakes from my end or her side. We just couldn’t work around it. We did our bit of counselling… What I am saying is that you should never be embarrassed when you say you are dependent on somebody. I am talking about a genuine need where you feel good/bad/ugly, I cannot do without you. If the air is bad, will you not breathe it? If the water is dirty, will you not drink it? Somebody creates a scenario; you try and live with that. I was in that space where Malaika was somebody I couldn’t live without, under any circumstances. You know, I can never completely deal with it.

Sometimes you have to let go.
You have to just let go, what do you do? It is not easy. We are on good terms. For a while, I wanted her to stay away from me. When you live together and are not together and yet you are together in so many ways, it gets complicated. I said, ‘Just live your life.’ I wanted a gap. The first year, it was, aise nahi ki itna gap de do ki, genuinely, she or I don’t want it.

So you moved out of your house.
Initially, I moved out. Now, she has moved out of our house. She has got her own place and stuff. I am living in this whatever — you know, usika hai jo bhi hai — jab mera nayaa ghar hoga, main shift karunga.

Do you feel like a bachelor now?
Not a bachelor, but I feel single.

Are you in a relationship?
I am not in a relationship. As of now, I am like…

There is speculation about you dating the woman in the pictures on your Instagram account.
Which one? If you are talking about Yellow, she is just a friend. She is somebody who I meet when I go to Goa. She owns a restaurant.

Is she Romanian?
No, that’s another girl — Alexandria. That’s my friend. I am dating, yes. But we are not… As of now, there is still a long way to go.

Most people after being married for long, don’t want marriage a second time and are happier in casual relationships. Agree?
(Smiles) I feel there is a time and an age for sowing your wild oats. I had that phase before I was 26 when I met Malaika. Before that, I was playing the field. I was not in committed relationships, I had a number of girlfriends. When I met Malaika, I felt the need to get married and after four years of dating, we got married when I was 30. I really don’t know whether I have it in me at this point to go through the entire scenario of commitment and giving it everything. The mindset right now, is that if somebody comes in my life, I will see it then…. Maybe even let it go on the way it is, rather than making any promises or commitments.

Any chance of you two getting back together?
I feel, if we had to get more time, we would have got back by now. The fact that we haven’t, means it is not meant to be. I wouldn’t want to speak for her. I kept my option open despite us parting ways, and I gave it a little time, whether it was a year or two years before I moved on in certain ways. Even as far as dating somebody is concerned. So I guess if that was to happen it would have happened in the first six months, or one year. It didn’t and it’s been almost three years now…

How did your son take the separation?
He is quite smart. He turns 15 this year. He is a great boy. In fact, in the years that we have been apart, my son has focused on his studies, on his health, athletics and whatever else he is doing. Which is very credible because he could have very well used our separation as an excuse and said, ‘I don’t feel like studying’ or got into bad company. My son has excelled in everything. We have realised that he knew that there was a situation in the family and he put his focus into his activities and full credit to him. There is a parenting that still happens and we are more careful with him. He has got into great hobbies, has started doing card tricks, he learned them on YouTube. He is very good at cards and some tricks have taken him eight months to master. That is very impressive.

We sure do hope Arbaaz enjoys his single status more than anything else!

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