While many of Salman Khan's love stories have fuelled gossip, nothing has matched the controversy surrounding his relationship with Aishwarya Rai. Here, the media portrayed Salman as the hero and the villain of the story all at once. It brought his tender, loving side to the public eye, but also showed an ugly and vengeful side to Salman's persona.
The Salman-Aishwarya saga began in 1997. Salman was already a superstar by then. He was dating Somy Ali after his break-up with Sangeeta Bijlani. It was a serious relationship. In the media, speculations were rife about their marriage. That is, until Salman lost his heart once again, this time to Aishwarya.
The love story of Salman and Aishwarya became known in 1999 during the shooting of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. It is said that Salman recommended Aishwarya to many producers during that time. Some say Sanjay Leela Bhansali signed Aishwarya for Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam only at Salman's insistence.
Salman was a favourite of Bhansali's; the two had worked together previously in Khamoshi (1996). Aishwarya, who won the Miss World title in 1994, had made her film debut with Mani Ratnam's Iruvar in 1997, but had no hits to her credit. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam catapulted her to new heights. She also replaced Somy Ali as Salman's girlfriend by the time the movie was completed…
Somy Ali's departure from Salman's life brought Aishwarya even closer to him. Much like his previous girlfriends, she, too, developed a rapport with his family. Soon, she developed a friendship with Salman's sisters, Alvira and Arpita. Aishwarya became an indispensable part of all the family celebrations. The intimacy between the two was growing with each passing day. But their relationship was still far away from marriage.
It was not long before news started appearing that Aishwarya's family was against the relationship. Biswadeep Ghosh has claimed that Aishwarya rebelled against her parents and started living in a separate apartment in Lokhandwala's Gorakh Hill Tower.
One November night in 2001, Salman reached Aishwarya's apartment in a fit of fury. Eyewitnesses say he kept banging the door of her 17th-floor apartment for hours. Some say he even threatened to jump off the roof of Gorakh Hill Tower if Aishwarya did not let him in. Such was the rage of Salman that none of the neighbours dared to intervene or call the cops. The drama continued until 3 o'clock in the morning; Salman's hands were bleeding by then from beating on the door. Eventually, Aishwarya had to open the door and let him in.
There are numerous rumours as to why Salman was forced to create such a spectacle. According to some sources, he wanted to extract a promise of marriage from Aishwarya. However, Aishwarya, who was rapidly climbing the ladder of success, was not ready for such a commitment just yet…
Some reports claimed that it was Aishwarya's father Krishnaraj Rai who reported the incident to the police. Salman confessed during the interview that Aishwarya was not returning his expression of love in kind, and that was what had caused him to grow violent. This spat is said to have been the turning point in the Salman-Aishwarya relationship.
The rift in their relationship was now out in the open. The fissure between the two was deepened further by a phone call from Somy Ali. Stardust reported that Somy Ali asked for help from Salman for her father's operation. Salman complied and went to the USA without informing Aishwarya. Aishwarya was furious when she came to know the reason for Salman's visit.
He managed once again to persuade Aishwarya to stay with him, but the truce did not last for long. Soon, news appeared that Salman has created a ruckus on the set of Aishwarya's movie Kuch Naa Kaho.
Abhishek Bachchan was acting opposite her in the movie. Salman reportedly went on a rampage during the shooting and even damaged Aishwarya's car…
Aishwarya Rai confirmed in her September 27, 2002, interview to the Times of India: "Salman and I broke up last March, but he isn't able to come to terms with it." News broke out around this time that Salman had created a ruckus on the set of the movie Chalte Chalte. Salman reportedly shouted at Aishwarya and wanted her to come away with him. He did not spare even Shah Rukh Khan, who was the producer as well as the hero of the movie. Eyewitnesses say Salman held Shah Rukh by the collar when the latter tried to intervene.
According to Biswadeep Ghosh's book, Salman accused Shah Rukh of having an affair with Aishwarya. However, Salim Khan denies this charge. "Nobody has seen what happened that day. These are mere rumours which are not substantiated by facts," he says.
Was it a mere coincidence that Salman rammed his Toyota Land Cruiser onto the pavement in suburban Bandra just a day after Aishwarya made her break-up public in the Times of India interview? A person lost his life in the accident, and later Salman had to go to jail for his crime. Many of Salman's friends and colleagues visited the jail to show solidarity with him, but not Aishwarya. This sealed the fate of their relationship.
|Being Salman; Penguin; Rs 599.|
Reprinted with the publisher’s permission.
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)