In an anguished outburst Saif Ali Khan cries out, “I love my Dad?and my kids, and I want them to be happy and healthy.” [Saif is in Delhi. His father Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi has just been released on bail. And Saif is a much relieved son, at the time of talking.] After expanding on the dignified way his dad handled himself in the arrest case, Saif’s voice drops to a hurt whisper about his own immediate family.
“My wife and I have gone our separate ways. I respect my wife’s space. But why am I being constantly reminded of how terrible a husband I was, and how awful a father I am? I’ve my son Ibrahim’s photograph in my wallet. Each time I look at it, I feel like crying?I miss my daughter Sarah all the time. I’m not allowed to meet my children. They aren’t allowed to come to visit me, let alone stay with me. Why? Because there’s a new woman in my life who’d influence my children against their mother? That’s so much hogwash and Amrita knows it. Right now my kids are growing up with Amrita’s relatives and maidservants while she’s out working in a TV serial. Why does she need to do that, when I’m more than willing to support my family?”
Saif shocks you with the revelation that he’s settled for the most extravagant post-break-up financial arrangements ever. “I’m supposed to give Amrita Rs 5 crore, of which I’ve already given her approximately Rs 2.5 crore. Also, I’m paying Rs 1 lakh per month until my son becomes 18. I’m not Shah Rukh Khan. I don’t have that kind of money. I’ve promised her I’ll pay up the rest of the money, and I will, even if I’ve to slog till I drop dead. Whatever I’ve earned from doing ads, stage shows and films is being given for my children. I’ve no money. Our bungalow is for Amrita and the kids, and never mind the relatives who’ve joined her after my departure. Rosa and I stay in a pokey two-room apartment. Still, I’ve never been more at peace with myself. After a long long time I feel my self-worth has returned. It isn’t nice to be constantly reminded of how worthless you are and to have taunts, jeers, insults and abuses thrown at your mother and sister all the time. I’ve gone through all of it. Now I feel healed again. Today, if I’ve found someone who actually makes me feel I’m worth something, what’s wrong with it? Earlier, I had hit such a rock bottom with my self-esteem that I’d be shocked if someone complimented me for my looks! Today if someone says something nice, I say, ‘That’s fine. Stars are supposed to be complimented’.”
His happiness at the thought of his Swiss girlfriend Rosa is palpable. “Unlike Amrita, Rosa is not from the film industry. Sure, I liked being put in touch with the industry’s bigwigs by Amrita, having dinner with Karan Johar, etc. But in hindsight I’d have been better off finding my way through the industry. There’s a theory that I became whatever I am because Amrita took me by my finger and led me through it all. She has played a big hand in my growth as an actor and human being. But it’s a blessing to be with a woman who has nothing to do with movies. Even Shah Rukh’s wife Gauri keeps out of his career. I’d like to keep it that way.”
Saif pauses to ponder his predicament. “I really want my kids. But I don’t want to put up a constant fight over them. If they are to be taken away from me then let Amrita call them Sarah Singh and Ibrahim Singh. Let my daughter become 18 and ask me, ‘Where were you Dad, when my brother and I needed you?’ Let me die of shame. But please don’t kill me with a feeling of constant guilt just because I’ve had the courage to finally walk away from an impossible relationship to find some solace.” Saif adds bravely: “I want no confrontation with Amrita. She was, and will remain, an integral part of my life. I want her and my kids to be happy.” ? SKJ