Perception delineates Gauri as the wife of the country’s superstar Shah Rukh Khan, and her credentials do not extend beyond being the Queen of Mannat (the Khans’ sea-facing home on Bandra’s bandstand) or perhaps being the toast of the lavish party circuit.
Over the years, her prima donna bearings have only added to the opinions that abound. Her brief roles — a TV host, an amateur painter, part-time costume and interior designer or a business partner with friend Sussanne Roshan — were never taken seriously.
Gauri predominantly remained the quintessential glamorous wife of a superstar. And what’s more, she enjoys every bit of that life.
But beyond the power, glamour and richness, lies a strong woman of substance.
As Shah Rukh is conquering newer career heights, Gauri has been meeting and beating other personal and professional challenges. It is Gauri’s Zen-like composure which reassures Shah Rukh every day.
She has made their beautiful home, raised their kids, looked after him and his family, and given him security and peace of mind. Naturally, he derives his core from her. She is the bigger hero. He is, because, she is.
Media-shy and soft-spoken, she is the perfect picture of elegance. Be it her passion for her new ventures, her deep interest as a homemaker or her definite stand in certain matters, Gauri has unmistakably emerged as her own today.
We met at her store, in town. Clad in tight denims and a beige shirt, sans make-up, Gauri looked like an involved entrepreneur. After a brief inspection of her store, we drove down to Mannat for a chat.
What took you so long to step out on your own?
I was like, ‘okay, I’m done partying, I have looked after my kids (Aryan and Suhana), I have done up my homes (in Mumbai, Dubai and London), now what should I do?’ I started feeling suffocated.
But, I also understood that nothing comes before or after it is due. I must admit that I was always scared to venture out on my own because I have an issue of getting bored of things. My attention span is very short. I like to start and give up halfway.
Let me share a story here. Years ago, Shah Rukh and I bid for a store, which is now Fab India in Pali Hill. I wanted to open a store which would have an eclectic mix of stuff, like the right clothes, furniture etc. But the bid never came through and I lost interest. Then I did Shah Rukh’s clothes for Darr (1993) and a few more movies with him, but soon I lost interest. I was with Sussanne, who was very encouraging of me, but I didn’t have the guts to start something and then shut shop. I didn’t want a reputation like that.
Did you have confidence issues when it came to working?
Not at all; I am a very confident person. It’s just that I get disinterested in things. But I think as you grow older, you learn. Now I’m sure of my intentions. I have no regrets. I think everything comes and goes in time. So, you are never late for anything in life.
Would you say you were never a career woman as such?
Everyone doesn’t necessarily have to be a career woman. You can also sit back and enjoy life till you wish to.
Not many people know you, the real Gauri Khan. How will you describe yourself?
I’m comfortable in my own skin and surroundings. I don’t think I get overshadowed by my husband or his personality. I have a stronger personality than Shah Rukh. He is an entity on his own and I don’t consider him a superstar when I’m with him in the house. He’s just my husband and I respect him as that.
The new chapter in your life looks very promising. So have the old ones taken a back seat?
I don’t look back on anything; I’m always looking forward. If I had any small issues within myself, I’ve sorted them all out. You need to look ahead, grow in life, think of the future, your kids and your family.
How difficult or easy has it been to be the wife of Shah Rukh Khan?
I’ve had an exciting, fulfilling and complete life. I don’t think I could have married someone in Delhi and lived there. It would have been a dull and boring life. Every marriage goes through its ups and downs but that’s part of the growth. I think I have got comfort, beautiful kids, I can do whatever I want, travel around the world… I know it’s sounding very materialistic but it’s been a comfortable life. I’m also doing something that I enjoy today. I have become a pukka Mumbai girl.
How much have the ups and downs brought you and Shah Rukh closer?
We’ve always been a very close-knit family, so there’s no question of being closer. We’re in a space where we can only thank God for whatever he has given or not given us. We feel blessed for living a privileged and healthy life as compared to so many people who don’t have it. Touch wood! People go through so much in life — financially, physically, mentally and emotionally. So I don’t look at the ups and downs as anything but a negligible area.
How is Shah Rukh reacting to this new, busy and independent Gauri?
He’s happy that I am doing something constructive and that I’m out and travelling for work, which I do once a month and then I’m back with my family. Usually, I’m home by 6 pm. And when he comes home, he always finds me there. He has been to my store too.
Who do you think is the most important in your life?
My family, obviously — my parents, my brother and his wife, my sister-in-law (Shehnaz Lalarukh), my husband and kids. I can’t say that one person is less important than the other. I give them all equal importance.
How old is AbRam now?
(Showing his picture) Ten months old. He’s so cute, look at the dimples. He looks a lot like Shah Rukh and Aryan. I bring him over to the store as it’s very convenient for me.
Oh, he looks beautiful and naughty. Is he like his dad?
I’m no less. He’s like both of us. He’s the centre of everyone’s attention. Shah Rukh wakes up with him; he has to see AbRam the first thing in the morning. Luckily, he has more time than before, so he’s enjoying it.
Who have Suhana and Aryan taken after?
They are talented, bright and sorted. They are as ambitious as their father. Aryan is very ambitious; he wants to top everything he does in school. Suhana, on the other hand, is a little shy but she also does well at school.
Who for you is the woman of substance?
I appreciate all women achievers who have done or are doing great jobs in their fields. So there could be Mother Teresa, who’s touched everyone’s lives in some way or the other, or Margaret Thatcher, Marilyn Monroe or Madonna. They are all women of substance. Personally, I have no role models who I emulate or wish to be like.
We’ve heard that you have handpicked everything in your store, The Design Cell.
Yes, I have. It feels nice to provide such a platform to young and upcoming designers. I have a lot of culture in my store. It essentially showcases a lot of collectibles. I’m very fond of good artists and I look at their works so that I can give them a place here. I’m looking for good galleries. I would love if any young, upcoming designers want to display their products here. If they can’t afford to open their own store, they can do it here.
Will you do more ads?
Yes, if I get good work that compliments my sense and sensibility.
With your looks and figure you can easily pass off as a movie star. Are you open to films?
No, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. I don’t have the talent, patience and interest. I just told you that I hate going through the gruelling process of dolling up myself, and in movies, you require that.
Do you watch movies?
I am quite a Hindi movie buff. Once a month, we have a screening at home of the latest movie release.
Do you cook? Have you cooked for your husband?
I know how to cook, but I don’t have the inclination to do so. I think the kitchen is well taken care of by experts. They don’t need me to mess things up there. Years ago ,I must have made him an omelette and tea.
You chose to step out in jeans and a simple kurta for your store opening instead of your usual diva-esque outfits.
Now I only want to wear comfortable clothes, like jeans, T-shirts, pajamas and chappals. Heels torture me. I don’t like to wear make-up anymore. That’s why you’ll not see me at events nowadays. Going out involves doing your hair, make-up, clothes etc. It takes too much effort and I can’t do it. I’m in a space where I choose my occasion and dress up accordingly.