| Shah Rukh with his son at a cricket match in Mumbai. (PTI)
Shah Rukh Khan did it. Aamir Khan did it. Hrithik Roshan did it. Salman Khan, too, did it — almost.
If our hottest stars are good at selling colas and cars, they are even better equipped to sell communal harmony. All they have to do is point at their spouses.
The personal lives of the actors, much-discussed, though not for this reason, are a glowing example of the Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai unity that Bollywood may have turned into a cliché, but is becoming more desirable every day in the nation’s life.
Shah Rukh married Gauri Chibber. Their son is called Aryan. The actor says his five-year-old practises at least three religions. He started off by worshipping Allah, following Shah Rukh, but then Gauri’s Ganpati was introduced to him.
“When Ganpati came in, Aryan was told Ganpati is God, He’s Bhagwan,” says Shah Rukh. “I didn’t know that he knew about Ganpati, so I asked him once, do you know who this is' And he said, yes, I know, this is Ganpati Allah. Ganpati Allah, I hope he remains that way all his life.”
Aryan is not only Hindu and Muslim, but a bit of a Christian, too, beginning his bedtime ritual every night with a “Thank You” prayer he learnt at his playschool, says the actor.
The revelations are part of a book to be released on Independence Day. Called Colas, Cars and Communal Harmony, it has been written by Bharati S. Pradhan, managing editor of a film magazine.
“It was a book waiting to be written,” says Pradhan. It is a tribute to the “unpublished” secular colours of the Hindi film industry, she says.
Pradhan lines up a host of other instances: Hrithik-Suzanne Khan, Malaika Arora-Arbaaz Khan, Aamir-Rina (they have filed for divorce now, but religion didn’t have anything to do with that decision), Sunil Shetty-Mana, Aditi Gowatrikar-Muffazal and the great Salim Khan parivaar.
Hrithik was a little stunned when he told his mother about Suzanne, the daughter of actor-producer Sanjay Khan, then his girlfriend. “I blurted out to my mom, ‘She’s a Muslim’. It was more like I was sounding her out about it. And my mom said, ‘So'’ That was it. That’s all she said!” exclaims Hrithik in the book.
Malaika, a practising Roman Catholic, married Arbaaz in two ceremonies — a nikaah and a church wedding. Their son, Arhaan, born this year, was baptised. He was also circumcised within 72 hours of his birth. The child will later decide what religion to follow. Arbaaz has his father’s example to follow. Salim Khan’s first wife, Arbaaz and Salman’s mother, is a Hindu. His second wife, Helen, is Christian.
Salman’s affairs of the heart with beautiful women, including Aishwarya Rai, are well known.
The examples pile up. “Did you know that young actor Aftab Sivdasani is the product of a successful Hindu-Zoroastrian marriage' Or that renowned architect I.M. Kadri dotes on his star son-in-law Sunil Shetty'” asks Pradhan.
So perfect that it is filmi' Shah Rukh preempts the raised eyebrow. “Our prayer room is going to be like Amar Akbar Antony. Actually, I have Allah and Om in my room. Karan (director Karan Johar) says it’s like a Hindi film scene!”