All of a sudden, Hrithik Roshan seems to have become a dial-a-quote guy. The actor, who once stayed away from interviews unless he had a movie on release, seems to have realised that the long gaps between his films are keeping him out of the front pages. What other explanation can you offer for the following?
For years, long before he became an actor, the Roshan family spent every Maha Shivratri on Hrithiks grandfather, J. Om Prakashs farm in Panvel. It was a tradition that was religiously — and quietly — followed every year. But this year, there was a photographer present with the family to record every move made by Hrithik, his wife, his dad, his mom, his sis and bro-in-law too. What was so special about Maha Shivratri this year that such a private puja was well photographed and sent out to every publication?
Before Maha Shivratri, it was Sussannes new store. In February, Hrithik and Sussanne gave interviews all over the place to coincide with the opening of her new home store. You know the hes-my-support-system and its-my-turn-to-let-her-follow-her-dreams kind of quotes. Fair enough. It is a commercial enterprise and the media attention on the couple and on the celebrity guests who came for the inauguration gave the store the thrust that any new business warrants.
But Hrithik went one step further. While the couple gave umpteen interviews, he kept the name of the store a big mystery, wanting to unveil it like a new bride. But sadly, that didnt quite fetch him the headlines he probably wanted because nobody made a big deal of the name The Charcoal Project when it was ultimately made public. What was the big mystery Hrithik was going to unravel with a name like The Charcoal Project? In any case, this was not even the original name for the store. Heres what Hrithik himself had told me one year ago, after swearing me to secrecy:
It is Sussannes time to come out. Weve decided that weve got our two babies, Im quite settled in my work, so this is the time that she can start flying now. She needs to get back to her first love which is her work, her career. Shes opening a shop soon, its more like a mall. Im not supposed to divulge many details. Its a very good location in Andheri. Its something thats going to be unheard of. Its going to be much more than just interiors. Its got a cafe inside, its got clothes, its got everything that youll desire to make a house, its got designers from all over the world. All the stuff is coming from Paris, from regional parts of India where all the artists are. Its a collaboration thats going to invite talents from all over the world. Shes doing it alone, shes got that much talent and passion for it. Its a huge Rs 25 crore property!
And he told me with a huge smile that the name of the shop would be, 26/10, 26 is her birth date and 10 is mine. This was decided about a year-and-a-half ago.
Why he wanted me to keep the story about the new store off-the-record was because, Sussannes got all these people, these advisors in her company who help you draw out your entire plan until it starts. Well have to ask them if I can talk about it.
It made sense to go along with the secrecy until Sussanne and her company felt it was the right time to talk about the store. But by the time they decided to talk about it this February, even the name had changed. That too is understandable. But what was the big mystery behind not revealing the name The Charcoal Project until its inauguration?
As it turned out, while the store itself was awe-inspiring (Sussanne does have great style and an eye for some fab decor) and the celebrity turnout was expectedly impressive, there was no ripple over the name.
By the time the excitement over the store began to wane, the Aruna Shanbaug case gave Hrithik a chance to put his two bits on euthanasia in the headlines. Yes, Guzaarish was effective in throwing open a discussion on euthanasia instead of sweeping such an important issue under the carpet. But trust the PR machinery to swiftly sniff the topicality and put Hrithiks opinion on euthanasia in the headlines!
As observed earlier, Hrithik has mastered the art of staying in the news.
Bharathi S. Pradhan is editor, The Film Street Journal