Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai broke up 11 years ago, and today she is the bahurani of the Bachchan parivar, happily married with a baby girl. But from Salman's point of view, she was "the only one".
It shows up in his offscreen and onscreen photos: He looks most peaceful with Ash, with none of the brash, bluster and noise that you associate with him otherwise. That's what true love does to you: it creates blissful peace for you, even as it creates sleepless nights and agonising moments.
Maybe it was not meant to be. The couple met on the sets of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (poster above) in 1999 and their passionate affair lasted till 2001. Because he cheated on her, as he himself admitted to her, but couldn't accept her walking out on him for that reason. As is now famous, he turned up at one of her shootings, and pushed her to the floor. He raised his hand on her on another occasion. Yeah, when a woman refuses to be yours, what else can a man do? Agreed, she has a right to decide her life as well.
Months later, Aishwarya complained in a media interview that Salman Khan had not been able to come to terms with their break-up and was hounding her even though they parted ways long ago. "Though my family opposed the relationship, I stood by him, only to be let down time and again," she said. "After we broke up, he would call me and talk rubbish. He also suspected me of having affairs with my co-stars. I was linked up with everyone, from Abhishek Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan. There were times when Salman got physical with me, luckily without leaving any marks. And I would go to work as if nothing had happened." Emotional issues coupled with drink only made things worse. There were many public scenes.
Ash also reached out to God: "It's sad that I'm being projected as unprofessional and calculating. Filmmakers who have signed me know that the only healing factor in my life is my work. This is a male-dominated industry and I guess it has been difficult for many to digest a woman holding her own with dignity. Nevertheless, there's somebody up there who's with me," she said.
Want Salman's side of the story? He said at the time; “I love Aishwarya. I am not hounding her. It’s not a teenage obsession that I feel for her. It’s pure love. She’s such a traditional Hindustani girl at the bottom of her heart. The fact that she respects her parents so much makes me admire her more.” In another interview: “Call me arrogant or whatever you like. I am like this. I try and put forward myself very clearly. I am not scared of speaking the truth."
When it comes to Salman, on his birthday, I hope he has been able to get over her. It's easier for women to move on, because they get to test their emotional quotient all through their lives. For men, it's infinitely harder, although they hide it better. As was evident during the shoot of Ready, Salman was required to kiss his co-star Asin, and everyone witness to it thought Salman had Aishwarya on his mind.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Salman's recent extending a hand of friendship to Aishwarya's husband shows how much he still cares for her, albeit in a different way. Maybe, he wants to iron out any bitter memories of the past. He even said in an interview that he had a lot of respect for Aishwarya and did not want to hear any ill words about her. He was quoted as telling his friends, “Whatever happened between Ash and me is over. I’m really fond of the Bachchans. Abhishek is a buddy and I really like him. I won’t have anyone speak badly about his wife.” Meanwhile, although Salman and Katrina are not even a couple, this behaviour of his has not gone down well with Katrina.
Can't you see: Sallu is all heart...my best wishes to him on his birthday. Hope he finds someone to share his life and bring more peace than he has known for the past decade and more...