Salman's Family's Cry!

Cineblitz 2001 June

The Khan clan is a closely-knit one, fiercely protective of one another. Which perhaps explains why they've apparently reached the end of their tether, where Salman is concerned...
Sources close to the family insist that the Khans cannot stomach the fact that Salman is allowing Ash to get away with calling him 'just a good friend'. They cannot understand why their son is swallowing this public humiliation, when they accept Aishwarya as a virtual bahu of the family!
"Salman looks like a fool when Aishwarya brazenly denies him in public," reveals a well-wisher. "He openly displays his love for her while she continues to deny him in print. The general feeling is that Salman should make it clear to Aishwarya that he will not stand to be denied. However, the Khan ire is directed towards Salman and not Aishwarya. Salim maintains that it's not the girls failing, but Salman's.
"Salman has always been Salma and Salim Khan's pride and joy," the family friend continues, "and they would obviously like the same pride to be reflected in his woman's voice. Ash's quotes such as..'Can't two colleagues be friends?' are corroding their patience. More so, since they are so fond of her! They cannot understand her hesitation, as an admission on her part would curb the unhealthy speculation."
There is no denying that the Khans have been extremely patient with the whole affair. They have consistently demonstrated that all that matters to them, is Salman's happiness. Salim Khan has even gone so far as to say.. "I don't blame Aishwarya's parents for not accepting Salman. Their attitude is 110 percent justified. If you constantly hear bad things about a certain brand of toothpaste, would you try it? An average person takes everything written by the media seriously. So have they!" Yet the Khans were naturally pained when stories about Salman's midnight ruckus at Aishwarya's door hit the headlines. Apparently it hurt that not even once did Aishwarya admit that it was she who had called Salman home. The distress was obvious when Salim revealed.. "When Salman banged on Aishwarya's door it became big news. But he did it out of concern for Aishwarya. She had called him over but when she didn't pick up the phone or respond for an hour, Salman got worried. He called out to her and banged on the door to find out whether she was all right. Faced with a similar situation, anyone would have panicked!"
Salim Khan tries to rationalize Aishwarya's deafening silence.. "Ash is still attached to her parents. She won't marry until her parents agree to this match wholeheartedly." Salim had also confided to a friend that, "Had a woman denied me the way Ash denies Salman, I would have walked away from the relationship. Salman is totally besotted with her, which is perhaps why he is even ready to take this kind of treatment from her. He loves her so much!"
What truly perplexes the Khans is that in private apparently Ash is virtually an integral member of their family. As the family friend reveals, "She constantly comes over to Salman's house, spends time with the family at their Panvel farmhouse, and even went along to Goa on the Khan family vacation. Why all this denial? Kaho naa... pyaar hai!"
We hear that the senior Khan was so disturbed by the status quo, that he asked Salman's mother to request him not to visit Aishwarya's sets. "He didn't want Salman to be with her at her workplace, when she shies away from admitting her feelings for him," the friend claims. "Should she visit his set, she will get all the respect she deserves. Yet if he arrives on her sets, people are bound to say, 'Lo, phir se aa gaya.' Salim believes that Salman must maintain his self-respect. He does have a point because with Salman spending so much time on Ash's sets, it appears like he's chasing her!"
Being instinctively sensitive, the Khans are apparently refraining from putting too much pressure on Salman. They realize that a tough stand could hurt their son. As Salim confessed "I have never interfered in my sons' affairs. They are grown-up, mature people. Besides, how can you stop people from loving each other, when they are working in such close proximity? I have reared my kids to be independent, to make their own mistakes and learn from them."
Salman has surely done a fair bit of learning since the start of his relationship with Aishwarya. Many have wondered what could have possessed the decorous Miss World to get involved with stormy Salman. Whether out of over protectiveness towards Ash or a biased opinion against Salman, practically everybody went hammer and tongs for the Khan, the moment their affair became public knowledge. from being called a woman beater, to a black magician, Salman has faced a barrage of notorious tags. Naturally his father is agitated.."Salman has always been a very loving boy," Salim had told us. "He must have been in love many times, been on intimate terms with his girlfriends but he has never spoken ill about any of them. Salman respects women. and to think that he was accused of beating Ash! She has been Miss World. She is an educated girl with a mind of her own. She is not with Salman out of any compulsion, but because they like each other. Salman never ever hit her! I promise you that my son was wrongly blamed!"
Apparently the family is upset that when the so-called Ash-bashing episode occurred, the Rai family remained mum. "Aishwarya's folks didn't clarify that the incident had actually happened in their own house and Salman wasn't even around. In fact, Salma Aunty even went over to Ash's house to see her after that unfortunate incident," the family friend reveals. This is where Salman's family feels shortchanged. Apparently, Salim often says that he does not expect Ash to scream out her love for Salman from the rooftops or to make a public spectacle of their romance. "It's when false, baseless stories slandering Salman are published, that Salim expects Ash to speak up," the family friend avers. "They don't doubt her love for Salman, even for a moment. They know she is a genuine person, with real feelings for him. Yet in their heart of hearts, they do expect her to be there for their son in his hour of need!"
It's difficult not to be moved by the Khan family's sentiment. Yet, it's equally difficult to see Ash as the villian of the piece, a cold schemer. Fact is, Ash is in a deep predicament, suffering considerable anguish herself. In her own dignified way, she has tried to fob off the rumours, even if there has never been a direct attempt to clear the controversies. From the moment she stepped into the world of glamour, Ash has made a conscious effort to ensure her private life remains private. "I don't want to discuss my private life in public, she had stated at the onset of her career. "I don't want the intimate details of my life to become common knowledge. I agree I am a public figure but I am not interested in discussing what I wore yesterday at home." This is the stand she began with and it is one she has continued with till date.
"Ash has always conducted herself with envious dignity," maintans an Aishwarya loyalist. "No slandering, no gutter sniping, In the bargain, if she has managed to stay clear of the muck, she has also risked being termed a heartless ice queen." It must be said in Ash's defence that if she has never admitted to the presence of any man in her life, how is she supposed to fly to his defence in print? Can one still think of laying the blame at Ash's door? Wouldn't any heroine in her shoes toe the same line? We are in circa 2001, but affairs of the heart are still frowned upon in Bollywood. A heroine, who admits to a steady relationship suddenly finds herself on unsteady career ground.
Strangely, Salman's previous relationships seem to have followed a loosely similar pattern.. Sangeeta Bijlani, it may be recalled, kept denying Salman's existence. Ten years later, when her career went kaput, she was apparently ready to marry Salman. But by then he had begun to have second thoughts. The scenario was repeated with Somy Ali. Till she nursed ambitions of making it as a film star, the girl wouldn't contemplate marriage. When she realized her career was going nowhere, she wanted to tie the knot but by then Salman had also moved on. "None of Salman's girls put him first, " the friend says. "They had nine other priorities before Salman! Unless Ash proves to be an exception and marries him one cannot guess the outcome of the relationship."
A dire warning lurking in there? Salim Khan himself takes a rational tone.. "If their relationship has the emotion strength it will survive but if it is just a matter of convenience (they are both good-looking, young, successful stars), it will not"
Three years of togetherness, of heady intensity and the occasional tempest, Aishwarya and Salman are still going strong. One hopes that Ash's silence on matters concerning the love of her life, eventually does prove to be golden!

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