Mumbai, Dec. 13: Hrithik Roshan, the star of the biggest Bollywood blockbuster till now, and wife Sussanne have decided to end their 13-year-old marriage.
The disclosure marked a milestone not because of the news itself but the way in which it was announced and because of intense speculation whether Bollywood is stepping into a season of big break-ups.
Both Hrithik and Sussanne issued formal statements to announce the separation — shirking the usual route of activating the grapevine or giving “exclusive” interviews.
The actor issued a statement from the US this evening but made it clear the decision was his wife’s.
“Sussanne has decided to separate from me and end our 17-year relationship. This is a very trying time for the entire family. I request the media and the people to grant us our privacy at this time,” the statement said.
“I do not wish this news to disempower my fans and the people about the institution of marriage in any way. I am a firm believer in this institution and respect and honour it at the highest level.”
Sussanne later issued a statement saying: “We are two individuals who respect and care for each other and have made our own individual choices. We are parents to two wonderful kids and our responsibility remains to protect and take care of them. Nothing can change that. Would appreciate if we are given our privacy in such a time.”
Over the past three months, Bollywood insiders and Mumbai’s socialite circles have been abuzz with stories about Hrithik’s and Sussanne’s rocky relationship. Some spoke of “ego clashes” while others said “self-centred natures” were taking their toll.
Some sources claimed he was still in love with Sussanne but accepted an apparent assessment by her that they had outgrown each other. The sources said Sussanne was advised by the wife of another star.
The rumours coincided with an astounding run for Hrithik at the box office. His film Krrish 3 became the biggest grosser in Bollywood, raking in at least Rs 250 crore.
But the first reports of cracks had come way back in 2009 during the shoot of Hrithik’s film Kites. The actor’s closeness to his Kites co-star, Mexican actress Barbara Mori, allegedly caused friction though it was not the first time he had been linked to a leading lady.
“What got Sussanne’s goat was Hrithik’s affection for Barbara’s family, especially his fondness for her brother Kintaro. He had taken the Moris on a secret holiday to Aamby Valley without informing Sussanne,” said a source close to the family.
Hrithik had wanted Kintaro, a struggling musician in Mexico, to sing the film’s title song. But eventually, Rajesh Roshan — the film’s music director and Hrithik’s uncle —had put his foot down.
“The track Kites In The Sky, sung by the actor, was initially written for the Mori boy. However, after listening to the scratch, Rajesh Roshan felt Mori wasn’t ready to make his playback debut. Eventually, Hrithik sang that track,” said the source, who is married to a top industrialist.
After Kites flopped at the box office, Hrithik introduced Kintaro to some Bollywood biggies and passed on his demo tapes to music directors. Things reached such a pass that Sussanne walked out of the Roshan home and returned to her parents in April 2009.
Although the couple later denied any rift, the rumours about their difficult relationship never died down in Mumbai’s socialite circles. But Hrithik’s association with the Moris continued.
“Hrithik threw a huge birthday bash for Kintaro at a posh pub in Mumbai in 2010, and though Barbara was present at the party, Sussanne was not,” said the source.
Soon, stories about Sussanne’s alleged closeness to a national award-winning, married actor too emerged — the actor and his wife often partied with Hrithik and Sussanne.
“Apart from her friendship with this actor, Sussanne, who was initially close to her in-laws, began getting estranged from them. She is a very gregarious girl and the Roshan family, including Hrithik, were not comfortable with her love for high-spirited parties,” said a doctor at the Breach Candy Hospital who knows the Roshan family well.
Sussanne left the Roshan home in September this year and returned to her parents’ place — this time seemingly for good.
“The shattered parents on both sides have been trying their best to sort out the differences but nothing has worked. Hrithik left for the UK on November 30 for some medical treatment related to his brain surgery. Sussanne did not accompany him,” said a source close to Hrithik. “And then, from the UK, he left with a friend for the US.”
Sussanne has been staying mostly with her father — veteran Bollywood actor Sanjay Khan — who is suffering from a complicated lung ailment. An interior designer, Sussanne, 35, runs her own home products store.
“She has a place of her own in suburban Versova, where she stays with her two sons —Hrehaan, 7, and Hridhaan, 5 — at times,” said the Mumbai-based industrialist’s wife.
PTI quoted Sanjay Khan as saying that the decision to go their separate ways was not a “closure” for the couple.
“Like any other normal couple, they also have some issues. Just because Hrithik is a superstar doesn’t mean he will not have personal issues. They both are intelligent and wonderful people. It’s just that they need space. Of course this is not a closure. They respect each other. To resolve issues, maybe this is what they thought was good,” he said.
The question now in Bollywood is which couple will next choose to go public with formal statements.