From Switzerland to Bollywood!
Karan Johar looks upon Shah Rukh Khan as his father-figure. But, he has an all-the-more special friendship with his wife Gauri. It might seem that their bond is only for partying together and traveling together but its much deeper than that. They’ve seen highs and lows of their lives together, the most recent example of the same is Gauri’s specially designed nursery for KJo’s twin babies.
He toutes to be Gauri's mentor and guide in Bollywood and feels that she takes her fame too lightly. The woman that is understood to be as distant and snooty has been the most stabilizing factor in Shah Rukh's life.
Here's the way the two met, as told by Karan Johar:
Rewind to 1994, when we were filming Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in Switzerland. Gauri was there with a friend, and Shah Rukh (Khan) introduced us. I thought both she and her friend were very aloof. Then, just because I could speak French, Shah Rukh appointed me as the person to take them around for a day in Rougemont in the French part of Switzerland. Gauri obviously didn’t believe that somebody from a Hindi film crew was cool enough to speak French, and kind of sniggered at the idea. But things got a bit better once we bought the train tickets and I was able to manoeuvre them through that day. We landed up getting along really well and by the end, I was quite a favourite of hers. In fact, we grew to becoming really close on that trip.
When we came back after filming, she followed up with me and I became her first friend from the industry, an industry that she had otherwise stayed away from because she was wary of the people in it. The Delhi girl that danced with Shiamak Davar and had thought that film industry people were not her cup of coffee. I kind of broke that mindset for her. In fact, I think that the foundation of my friendship with Gauri is in the fact that I made her love the people in the movies, people that are actually really great. She grew to realise that, and today, all her strong equations are from within the film fraternity. I’ve seen her evolve from being an apparently aloof girl to actively belonging to her husband’s world. I’ve seen her rooting for his films and being stressed and jittery pre-release just like any movie industry person’s family member would be. But in the last decade, she’s also come into her own in a fantastic way.
Besides being the Beghum of Bollywood, it was only when the Khans started building Mannat that she recognised her true potential. “The project – yes, I call it that even though it’s my own house! It took us about five years, as we had problems with permissions and paperwork,” says Gauri. “We were working with Red architects’ Kaif and his assistant Jyoti. I realised I liked every part of working on the house, whether it was doing the furniture or wall textures or space planning and layouts… I got fully into it and learned a lot from them. I even tried to get into the intricacies of it, learned everything I could when they came on site visits, from the civil work to electricals to air-conditioning. When I travelled, everything about my travel got connected to my home. I took pictures. I enjoyed the entire process.”
She was then encouraged to get into interior designing. With Gauri Khan Designs, her flagship store, and a flourishing home decor business having taken off over the last five years, she’s comfortable in the place she’s in. From never wanting to be on a magazine cover to doing full interviews. “When I avoided interviews, it was mainly because I didn’t want to speak only about my personal life,” says Gauri. “Today, I have something to share about my life which is connected to my work and I’m happy to share my journey.” She's truly come into her own!