Interview: Kiran Rao misses anonymity, cooking!

It’s remarkable to see Aamir Khan’s petite wife Kiran Rao holding power in her name, in view of her non-relationship with Bollywood. Be it her passion for her work (filmmaking), her deep interest as a homemaker or her definite standings in some matters, Kiran is unmistakably a woman of today.

Her intentions are also noteworthy. Whether it is propagating the concept of surrogacy through practice or backing small time filmmakers like Anand Gandhi (Ship Of Theseus), she is certainly an emerging force.

You think you can set a trend of sorts for others to follow?
It’s exciting that there is an interest in each other’s work and a lot of sharing between the young filmmakers today. And I see it translating into a common goal. That’s the only way we can grow as filmmakers. I’m not on social media but I hear that people who are there are even more connected, and this includes filmmakers. Onir, had come up with a petition on indie cinema and a lot of us had signed it. People are making indie cinema country wide and are facing issues on distributions and exhibitions. So, these are things that we actually should be crashing out and try to solve these problems together. So yes, I foresee a change.

Any advice to girls who dream of marrying movie stars?
I feel the desire of having a child with a film star or marrying one is fairly a teenage dream. Hope they’ll grow out of it. I understand millions of girls out there want to marry Ranbir Kapoor and I don’t blame them, because he’s so desirable. But, I would like to tell them that look around and you may find someone not as famous as him, but someone who is equally handsome and who would want to share his life with you. That fact should be given more importance than whether a person is rich and famous. As you go along in life, you realise that all marriages and relationships, whether it’s a film stars’ or otherwise, go through their personal struggles. So, one should not aim to marry a film star, but enrich oneself internally. I also feel that it’s important to first find happiness and a sense of fulfilment within yourself, else the dream of being fulfilled only through marriage or children sort of looses its significance.

Aamir becomes a recluse when he is shooting. Does it bother you that you don’t get to spend enough quality time with him?
Ever since Azad was born, he’s been incredibly busy. First with season one of Satyamev Jayate, and then prepping for Dhoom 3 and Peekay. Now, he’s caught up with the research of Satyamev Jayate 2 and wrapping up the two films. So it’s been crazy. That’s why Azad and I went to Chicago for three months when he was shooting for Dhoom 3. Later, we went to Rajasthan and stayed with him for a month during Peekay. It’s difficult for me, but we know it’s just a phase and hopefully life will be slightly ordered once the movies are over.

How does he make up for it?
I realise he also misses it, but he doesn’t have much of a choice. If he comes in late from the shoot, he’ll go to Azad’s room, pick him up from his sleep and cuddle him, because he hasn’t seen him the whole day. Sometimes we do a few things that are impromptu, like we sit up the night, watch a movie or a match together. That aside, we try to take a quick swim together on a Sunday.

Do you miss your previous life?
I love this question. Yes I do, especially a few things. Being anonymous, not being able to bagpack as and when I want to or indulge in lazy cooking are few things I really miss. I’d a great time when I was single. Nobody knew me or cared what I did. I suppose everyone who gets into a structured life of marriage and family misses that freedom of doing things your way. Yeah, you sometimes get lonely when you’re single, but I don’t miss that part.

But don’t you cook in your house now?
Ever since I got married, I didn’t get a chance to cook. And if the family you’re married into is larger and stays together, you have to cater to their different needs. For this, you need trained cooks. I cook on rare occasions. But, I love collecting cook books; it’s my obsession. I read them at leisure.

What binds you with Aamir?
Our honesty. We have decided that if we want to be together, we must be honest with each other. And that’s how you truly show respect for a person.

After eight years of marriage, do you finally feel like an insider?
I certainly feel much more at home today as people are welcoming, warm and inclusive. Even though I’d worked with established filmmakers in the past, I preferred being at the fringes. I would have remained there had I not been married to Aamir. Thanks to him and people’s love for him, I have seen a nice, warm and happy side of the industry.

Before marrying Aamir, what were your thoughts on film stars?
I think I was marginally snobbish myself. But, not those shallow kinds who would judge a person on the basis of their labels. My opinion would revolve around creativity. I would be patronising and little dismissive about some kind of work because I thought they were not cool. I would also keep away from film stars, because I’d assumed they were of a certain breed — self-obsessed, narcissist and not that smart. But after interacting with them, I realised they have world views and are very warm and affectionate. I was a classic film school snob and considered that sort of snobbery as cool. Today, with age, I’m much more open-minded than what I was earlier.

How’s Aamir’s family towards you and Reena (Aamir’s ex-wife)?
I’m relieved that everyone in his family is remarkably matured and open. It’s great to feel this sort of naturalness about the relationship all of us share. I’m happy that I got married into a family, where Aamir’s two lovely kids (Ira and Junaid), Reena and her wonderful family came along. His family includes Reena in everything they do even today. Because that’s natural and she would always be a part of this family, whether or not she is married to Aamir.

Is it easy to accept such a thing?
When two people are divorced, their relationship cannot end overnight. Especially if they’ve lived and grown up together, spending twenty-five years in each other’s company. I wouldn’t think that we should deal with it in any other way. In fact, if people had sort of cut off from Reena, I would have found it most strange.

Doesn’t it bother you?
Reena has been closer to Aamir’s family more than me. Aamir’s siblings have seen them grow up together. There are many things that still bind Aamir and Reena together. Aamir has always been open about the fact that he cares for Reena and how she’s an important part of his life. Honestly, there’s no ounce of insecurity.

Is Reena your friend too?
Oh yes, a dear friend! Knowing well that I was an outsider, not everybody would have accepted me as warmly as Reena did. She is affectionate, welcoming and a very nice person. She’s always made the effort to know me better and has never made me feel left out. I was always included in all her lists, whether her Christmas presents list or an invitation to her house for a meal. That was a big gesture on her part. There was never a rancour. I’m happy that I have these people in my

Aamir’s mom is a good cook. Have you learnt anything from her?
My sisters-in-law (Nikhat and Nuzhat) and I did try to learn some dishes like three kinds of kheemas – patile ka pasanda, aloo ghost and sukhander ghost — from ammi. But I’m yet to learn her trademark biryani. She’s an amazing cook. Her cuisines are nuanced and fine that it’s truly worth documenting.

Having set a trend with surrogacy, what do you have to say to Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan who recently opted for surrogacy?
The arrival of a new one at home is a beautiful feeling! And they have been parents before, so I’m sure I don’t need to tell them what joy it is to be new parents. I wish them all the best.

What are your thoughts on surrogacy?

Surrogacy doesn’t always work. It should be treated as a last resort, not the first. One just hopes that it doesn’t become a money making racket, sort of an inter-womb scam. And most certainly, it shouldn’t be used as an option for people who want it easy and don’t want to play with their figures. In the past, there have been some cases like this. Certain women do not want to go through the childbirth pain and the hassle that comes along. I feel those are shallow reasons for opting for surrogacy.

Did you lose hope when you went through a miscarriage and the post complications?
At that point, I mentally prepared myself that I won’t have a child and eventually, accepted my fate. And because there were Aamir’s children, Ira and Junaid, I didn’t feel the need to adopt. That would have been an option otherwise. When you are trying too hard to have a baby but fail, you tend go through so many pains. But time is a great healer.

Any advice to those who cannot conceive?
You have to make peace with the fact that life can be complete without kids. There’s so much life has to offer. You find other ways to fill that vacuum.

Everyone’s appreciating Ship Of Theseus. But why choose a movie with such little market viability?
I feel filmmakers who have some say in terms of influence, should take it as a duty upon themselves to create opportunities for different kind of films .... I understand such filmmakers don’t have money to push their film in big cities. 


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