if at all he decides to walk down the aisle with his long-time girlfriend Rani Mukherji,” reveals one of his relatives on the condition of anonymity, when asked about Aditya Chopra’s marriage plans with Rani. “Yashji (Chopra) and Pamela had to accept Rani as a part of their family because of Aditya. He was very clear about his special bonding with Rani, and after so many years, he doesn’t want to compromise on his liking,” adds the relative. Rani’s closeness to Adi (as he is fondly called) started almost 10 years ago. Though it started on a strictly professional note, slowly and steadily, they became very good friends. Though Adi was married to Payal Malhotra and Rani was dating actor Govinda, they remained friends.
“Adi is an introvert. He doesn’t open up to people. With Rani, he found some sort of solace. Rani would bring joy in his mundane life. He would laugh and enjoy the silly things she would do. Rani was like a whiff of fresh air, to an otherwise claustrophobic atmosphere in which Adi was living for years,” adds the relative.
Needless to say, Adi’s marriage to Payal Malhotra was not the best thing that happened to him. It was a call, which Yash and Pamela took when Adi was young. “Adi disconnected with Payal immediately after their marriage. All friendships are not to be culminated in marriage. But just to keep his parents happy, he adjusted. He played the role of a perfect son. Though his parents could understand that their son was not happy, they would still not like to encourage him for a divorce,” reveals a source close to the Chopra family. But finally, after five odd years of marriage, Adi decided to call it off. “It came as a shock to the Chopra family. Payal was also taken aback. But she would not settle for anything less. She was very clear about her social standing and was aware of the kind of property and financial position the family enjoyed. She demanded a hefty alimony, and initially, Adi was not prepared for the counter shock,” reveals the source.
It was earlier reported in the media that Adi had filed a two-pager petition in the court seeking a separation from his wife Payal. In a statement given to the family court in Bandra (Mumbai), Adi had mentioned, “Their married life of five years was heading nowhere.” The court had suggested a mandatory six-month wait after filing a divorce petition. After three joint meetings with their lawyer, they advised Adi and Payal not to mention the terms of settlement in the court documents and instead opt for an out-of-court arrangement. Incidentally, Adi’s family was not too happy with this decision.
Undoubtedly, it was the toughest phase in Adi’s life. He started staying in a five-star hotel and would not return home. Pamela would try to convince him, but he was not willing to listen. “People blame Rani Mukherji for the divorce. But that is completely baseless; she was never the reason. We know how unhappy Adi was. He wanted someone with whom he could connect and Payal was definitely not the one,” says a very close relative of Adi.
It was reported in the media that Adi moved out of his parents’ house in Juhu to stay at the Grand Maratha Sheraton Hotel till the clouds cleared. Finally, Payal agreed on signing the divorce papers after she was given a sum assurance of ` 25 crores, jewellery worth ` 5 crores and a lavish apartment near Prithvi Theatre in Juhu (which used to be the guest house for the CEO of Yash Raj Films). And after all these, when Payal demanded a luxury car, Adi immediately gave away his Mercedes Benz to her. “Adi just wanted to get it over with at any cost,” says the relative. Incidentally, Payal was an interior designer by profession and she was instrumental in designing the state-of-art Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai’s suburbs. Now, she stays alone, but is still considered the bahurani in the Chopra mansion. “Yashji and Pamela are very fond of Payal. They treat her like their daughter. Maids and drivers still address her as bhabhiji and she earns the same respect she earned as Mrs. Aditya Chopra,” reveals the source. Thankfully, the couple didn’t have a child. If they had one, it would have made matters more complicated.
Aditya Chopra, who turned 41 this year, is not bothered about social status and stigma. He is far beyond; he is a name that people reckon with. Currently, he stays in a separate refurbished wing on the first floor of his parent’s bungalow in Juhu. “That house has been designed by Adi’s childhood friend Shabnum Sagar (grand-daughter of veteran director Ramanand Sagar), who has been Adi’s close friend. Adi is happy in his own space. Rani often visits him, even stays with him. They are adults and they understand where to draw the line. The family has finally accepted Rani as a part of their family. She is an integral part of thier Diwali puja and Holi. While Adi invites her for his special dinner during Durga puja (Navratri), Rani always wanted Adi to visit Mukherji Parivar puja (which is organized by Rani and Kajol’s family), but Adi is extremely shy and doesn’t want any media attention. He always avoids such social gatherings,” says a close friend. A few months ago, Rani was spotted with Aditya and his family, returning from a vacation. It is heard that Aditya’s family, who had an objection to Rani and Aditya’s wedding, have finally given their nod.
Initially, the Chopras had issues with the Mukherji family. The cultures of both families are different. Payal was more like a housewife, while Rani is an established actor and she wouldn’t like to give up her career as an actress, even if Adi proposed marriage to her. “Rani is very clear that she doesn’t want to quit films, even after marriage. She knows that Adi will understand her. She is the sole bread earner for her family. She takes care of her family and even her brother’s family. She has sacrificed her entire life for her family, but she is not complaining. Rani is extremely close to her parents, Ram and Krishna, and treats her niece, Mishti as her own daughter. She is supporting her brother, Raja, who wants to be a director and shares a very warm relationship with her sister-in-law, Jyoti. She can’t quit films because she is the only financial support of the family. And she doesn’t want Adi to support her financially. Rani is too egoistic to seek help from someone else. She will work for life and will never give anyone a chance to point fingers at her,” says the relative.
Considering the developments, we can assume that Rani will announce her wedding date soon. Recently, on Simi Garewal’s chat show, her father, Ram Mukherji said that his daughter will settle down in a year. Like other parents, they too want their daughter to settle in life. Mother Krishna wants Rani to have a proper Bengali wedding; but they won’t be inviting the industry people. In fact, Rani even shared with her favourite designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee that she would like to wear something really authentic from Bengal for her wedding.
This year, Rani brought in her birthday with beau Aditya. It was reported in the media that she took a break from the shooting of Talaash and flew down to London where Adi was shooting with Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif for Yash Chopra’s untitled film. “Rani doesn’t like to talk about her personal life. She has no choice, because Adi will never speak and she doesn’t want to talk about Adi,” says a friend. But of late, we can observe that Rani, who was always closely guarded when it came to her personal space, is now allowing the paparazzi to peep into her personal life and click her photographs with Adi at the airport. “I guess that’s the smart way to tell the media about her relationship with Adi,” says a friend. This is probably the classic case of Dharmendra and Hema Malini, who never spoke openly about their affair or their marriage.
Adi has come to terms that marriage is not the ultimate form of social acknowledgment. He will marry Rani if they feel the urge. “Adi wants Rani to get actively involved in Yash Raj Films. He is waiting for the release of Talaash and Aiiya. Post that, Rani will be taking an interest in various creative aspects of Yash Raj Films,” says our source. Marriage will happen anytime early next year, if everything goes off well. “Adi is still recuperating from the fact that he had a not-so-pleasant experience from his first marriage. He is not talking about marriage and neither is Rani forcing him,” says the relative.
We tried to get in touch with Rani Mukherji for her version, but she was not available. We tried to get in touch with her father Ram Mukherji, but after repeated calls and SMSes, he didn’t respond to us. Aditya Chopra doesn’t interact with the media, and currently, he is shooting abroad with Shah Rukh Khan for his father’s film. We tried to get in touch with his manager from Yash Raj Films and we are still waiting for a response from their end.
“People blame Rani Mukherji for the divorce. But that is completely baseless; she was never the reason. We know how unhappy Adi was, he wanted someone with whom he would connect, and Payal was definitely not the one” — A relative of Aditya Chopra
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