(MENAFN -Khaleej Times) they are as different as chalk and cheese one very driven and out-going while the other is laid-back and shuns social events
Celebrity designersgauri khan and sussane roshan in the oberoi hotel.- kt photo by grace guino
It takes courage to step away from the shadow of a world-famous spouse to find your own spot under the sun. courage along with a passion to prove your creativity. and there’s no denying sussanne roshan and gauri khan have both in plenty.
While sussanne has been in the news of late for the grace with which she handled her estrangement from bollywood’s resident superhero hrithik roshan gauri has always been known for her mellow approach to husband shah rukh khan’s superstar status.
Both may have come to the limelight initially as ‘star-wives’ but over the years they have managed to carve out an identity that is separate from their a-list husbands.
sussanne as an interior designer - her flagship store the charcoal project was set up in 2011 in andheri mumbai - while gauri after dabbling in a few creative endeavors recently launched her own decor store the design cell in mumbai where she showcases her myriad creative impulses.
The duo who met over ten years ago have forged an ironclad bond that has lasted in an industry known for its ephemeral nature where relationships are more often as superficial as air-kisses and friendships usually last only the span of a movie.
“sussanne is one of the most creative and hard working people i’ve ever met” gauri khan tells us when we met up with the duo who are in dubai currently to promote their collaboration on a real estate project. “i started working thanks to her. the whole idea of my store came about after sussanne put up her charcoal project. that was extremely inspiring for me and today i have my own studio thanks to her!”
Sussanne is equally complimentary when talking of gauri. “when i first met gauri she seemed so attractive because she was always smiling and having a good time and there was never a frown on her face. and its refreshing to see that in bollywood” she candidly tells us.
So how do they manage to keep their relationship real in an industry which celebrates superficiality? “i think what works for us is that as designers we don’t have egos” sussanne confides. as for how much their career has been affected by the industry they belong to sussanne is quite frank.
“in the beginning yes there is a certain curiosity cause your name is so attached to an industry with such important people that obviously the whole image is of ‘star wives’” she confides. “then like i always say your work talks. your work gives you a respectability which goes beyond any labeling and that happens over a period of time. and maybe we have not yet gone completely there but i see that there are changes – people notice you differently. they don’t just put you in that category now. they see you as a design head. and i totally take pride in that.”
There is an unmistakable sense of achievement there considering she was initially known as sanjay khan’s daughter and then hrithik roshan’s wife.
“today it doesn’t matter how i look or how i dress it is the work that will eventually talk for me. that’s why i’m always focused on doing the work correctly.”
While sussanne is the more vocal of the duo – her passion and involvement in her design work evident in every word and gesture - gauri seems more subdued. “we are like mozart and salieri” sussanne laughingly tells us referring to the classical austrian and italian music composers. “she is mozart (who always gets things done) while i’m like salieri (always trying to do these mad things!)”
In real life however it is sussanne with a degree from brooks college california who leads the show. “i love what i do. i have a passion to create; i think that is what keeps me alive. i still feel i am a student and i still feel there is so much to learn in the world of design and i even want to study architecture.”
It’s an interest she credits to her genes considering her mother zarine khan was renowned for interior decoration work and one she hopes to pass on to her sons hrehaan and hridhaan who the proud mum says is already involved in her decor project. “when i first showed naira (the luxury villa project she’s working on in goa) to my son who’s 8 years old (hrehaan) and very much into architecture – he builds all these homes on his ipad - he said ‘mama can we buy all?’ he thought all of them were ours! they love to know the colour combination – they think i am too good at that. they keep telling me that” she says with pride.
I have add: gauri
For someone who confesses early on in our interview “i have add (attention deficit disorder)” gauri khan comes across as a serene presence during our hour-long chat. there is none of the excess energy or in-your-face statements people in the limelight are wont to indulge in. but looks can be deceiving since sussanne when asked to list out a couple of gauri’s less known attributes immediately tells us: “one she gets bored very easily; two she needs to be entertained; and three it’s very tough to charm her!”
“bollywood is a very tough zone” sussanne tells us early on when we ask her what she finds most inspiring about gauri. “but you know when you are confident and you know who you are as a person then you are so attractive - that is what gauri is. that is something that first inspired me – she was always an individual and never a label.”
“sussanne is a bit more ambitious than i am” gauri admits readily. “she wants to grow faster than me whereas i’m happy with my x amount of creativity. i’m just happy to be able to create even just a small space.
“i’m a bit more laid-back- sussanne is more of a designer she wants to get things done in time and keeps everyone on their toes” gauri adds.
Sussanne butts in: “i like to motivate gauri cause i see the potential in her.”
Gauri continues “i think i’m more like an artist. i don’t need to say more than that. artists are moody (you know what i’m saying?)”
At this juncture sussanne points out “yeah they may wake up one day and say ‘oh i don’t want to do this anymore’!”
“what i am trying to say is we are different personalities” gauri concludes.
Being the wife of a superstar in a cinema-obsessed country like india can be a double-edged sword. on one hand you get to enjoy all the perks that go along with being the better half of a much venerated not to mention commercially viable star. but then comes the unrelenting media glare. gauri surprisingly has managed to keep her head low and lead her own life in the midst of the glitz and glamour of bollywood. whether it is bringing up her three kids aryan suhana and the latest addition to the khan family baby abram or her decor work she has managed to fly under the radar while at the same time support shah rukh in a chosen few projects. ask her if her new venture will take her away from her family and she is quick to retort. “if you enjoy your work there’s nothing like it. and its not like i have 20 projects – i don’t want to work like that. i was always interested in design - and i’ve done all my homes – whether it was my home in london bombay or dubai. i think being creative is the best thing for me.”
As for any qualms about mixing her personal and professional relationship when it comes to joining forces with sussanne she is very clear.
“you just have to go with the flow. i believe in the present not the past or the future – i believe in the now – what’s going to happen and what’s happened has no meaning.”
She continues: “i’m not a very calculating person there’s no agenda behind anything i do. i’m doing it for now because i enjoy it and find it extremely creative - and i think everybody should have a full day and a full life. there’s no point if you just keep waking up and being aimless...your day should be planned and it should have a dash of everything – family life healthy eating a good gym plan work plan and party plan - though (with a laugh) i’m not a very social person but yes once in two-three weeks that should also come into it. i feel all those areas should be complete in everyone’s life. it should not be that you are working 9-9 everyday it should not be that you are at the gym the whole day or you are partying the whole week. not only me – i feel everybody should have a dash which makes everyone a complete person.”
What about shah rukh who has a certain reputation for being a workaholic?
“with shah rukh of course he’s very very excited that i’m working because he is extremely hard working himself. his life is 24 hours... actually his life is working morning to night… he has no dash in his life! he just wants to do that one thing. i don’t want to do that.”