EXCLUSIVE | Arjun Kapoor: I admire Malaika for giving me, our relationship so much dignity

Bollywood Entertainment

Arjun Kapoor and Malaika Arora are head over heels in love with each other, and their social media posts are proof that they arenot seeking anyone’s approval for their relationship. After keeping it under wraps for a long time, it was in 2019 that the actors finally made it Insta official, followed by several holiday pictures and public appearances together. However, they still have not spoken much about it in public. On Valentine’s Day, Arjun, 36, for the first time opens up about his bond with Malaika, 48, and in an exclusive interview with HT City, tells us about how they’ve evolved as a couple, and what it takes to stand by his ladylove and deal with all the social media negativity that is thrown at them.

It’s beautiful the way you’ve navigated your relationship with Malaika in public and on social media. Has it been a difficult road or does love make it all easy?

I didn’t think so much about anything else except genuinely giving the relationship respect, dignity and integrity. That’s what it should be when you love someone and care for someone. That’s pretty much been my thought process. I made peace with the fact that once you come out and you’re out there for people to see and judge, you’ve to allow a bit of breathing room for people to understand and absorb and start looking at the relationship the way you want them to. You’ve to behave a certain way and allow things to shift. It’s like shifting people’s perspective and you can only do it by being honest and earnest. I never thought of it as difficult. I just knew that it takes time, and you need patience and hold your silence and dignity to make people understand that something is just too precious for you. So, you want to give it time and nurture it.

When you posted your first ever picture on social media and kind of made it official, did you both talk it through? Or did the rumours acted as a push that you felt the need to no longer be discreet about it?

The decision to come out and be open about our relationship was not something that was planned. It’s not like we spoke about it. It happened organically. As a man, I had to give space and respect to Malaika and her life decisions on whether she wants to make things public or give it more time. We knew we had to do it at some point. I think there just came a point where you kind of get tired of thinking so much about the consequences and XYZ factors. At some point, you just allow things to flow. And that’s what happened (with us). We allowed things to happen after a certain point when we felt we were solid, and steady enough to face all the speculation and all the conversation that would come our way, because that would be temporary. And what we feel for each other would eventually be seen by the audience and by the people who care about us.

Also, you’ve to sometimes look at the positives — the fact that our relationship dynamic is unique for people who have a slightly traditional outlook to love. Today, we can stand up and say we came out and spoke about us or became a public couple to encourage the thought process that age is not something that is in the way of being in a relationship. I think it was done respectfully. We never threw it in anybody’s face. And when it happened, we just decided, ‘Okay, let’s embrace it and take the journey as it comes’.

You’ve been like a rock though everything in this relationship, and always had Malaika’s back. Do you realise that somewhere, you two are among those very few celebrity couples to show that love needs no labels in today’s time?

Yes, I’ve stood by her. And, she has stood by me. We stood by each other through this relationship, facing speculation, facing brickbats, facing chatter, unnecessary at times, because of social media toxicity. It was hell for us for many days. She had to face so much because of the fact that we came out in the open, but I admire her for giving me and our relationship so much dignity. Standing by Malaika never felt like it’s something extraordinary. It felt just the right thing, the most natural thing to do.

We’re glad that we were the first of our kind where we showed age is not of any consequence when you love someone. And at the same time, I think we did it in the most decent manner, and we allowed things to happen naturally, rather than shoving it in people’s faces. If we’re being called torchbearers, people who broke the ice and shattered labels, then we’re simply humbled because we just wanted to stand by love and let people see who we were with each other. We see a lot of more relationships now being a little more open and less worried about what people speculate. I’m glad that we were one of the first few couples who took away the fear and anxiety from celebrities, perhaps from coming out.

The way you’ve always silently followed your heart speaks volumes about the man you are. How did you wrap your head around so much of negativity coming your way via social media?

I was prepared for the reaction to be extreme from trolls. Nothing prepares you except going through it. I’ve been through situations in life that have been far worse — seeing my parents split up, losing mom, having to go through seeing the upheaval of my father, losing out on a loved one, his wife Sridevi — you do realise that life is very fickle and temporary, and only love is permanent. Sometimes, you don’t have to make the grandest gestures and the loudest noises. You can actually be silent and still stand up for something or someone that you believe in. You’ve to also understand the circumstances, the complexities, and give it time. So, standing up doesn’t always mean being in your face. It sometimes is just about holding your own silently and doing your thing, living each day and not thinking so much about the negativity. What’s the worst that can happen? It hurts you temporarily and then you put perspective by realising that you’re strong enough to face so much more than nameless, faceless people on social media spewing hate. You’ve to let them be. I guess there’s so much relevance to Malaika and my relationship that everybody wants to have a say, have an opinion and you can only take that as a compliment that everyone likes talking about us!

If you were to define Malaika in one sentence, what would you say? Also, how has her presence in your life changed you as a person?

How do I define Malaika in a sentence? Very difficult. I think one sentence isn’t enough. I’ll get into trouble. Malaika has changed me as a person by allowing me to believe in myself even more. I’ve always been someone who believes in my own self, but she helped me do that even through my weakest moments. She’s always been there, making me realise that I’m worth it. She’s made me feel that phases will pass, and these are important times when you’re going through a tricky situation in your personal and professional life. If I’ve to describe my relationship with Malaika — we’re friends, we can talk about everything, we confide in each other about a lot of things that have allowed us to make decisions — big and small ones. And I think friendship is the key for any relationship to last.

Do you and Malaika believe in Valentine’s Day? What’s the plan and any special message for her?

The message I’ll give her myself because some things are best left private. And yes, we do believe in this day. We always make sure we take our time for each other and make the most of this day. In our relationship, we’ve always tried to cherish every small, big moment and Valentine’s Day is always special for us because we try to do something unique and catch each other by surprise. I love surprising her and I think today also, there’ll be a surprise or two planned.

Interact with the author on Twitter/@monikarawal

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