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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 33, Dated August 21, 2010
COVER STORY  
FREEDOM TO LOVE

‘Even the passport office questions our marriage’

BY AASTHA ATRAY BANAN

Kabir Khan & Mini Mathur
MUMBAI
BEEN TOGETHER 11 years
BIGGEST HURDLE Religious differences;
Mini retaining her surname also often evokes
strong reactions
Kabir Khan & Mini Mathur
MUMBAI
BEEN TOGETHER 11 years
BIGGEST HURDLE Religious differences;
Mini retaining her surname also often evokes
strong reactions

VJ MINI Mathur almost missed meeting her husband, director Kabir Khan, all because she was going to refuse a TV project, citing date troubles. Even Kabir, who was the director of photography for the project, was planning to step away. But as Mini puts it, the day they saw each other “alarm bells rang”, and they ended up completing the project so that they could be with each other. But though it was love at first sight for the couple, Mini knew it was not going to be smooth sailing. “I am a Mathur from Delhi, and Mathurs only marry Mathurs. So the fact that I wanted to marry a Pathan was going to be a hard pill to swallow for my family. So we planned to take a slightly different approach.”

Their slightly different approach turned out to be a brilliant plan. Mini slowly introduced Kabir into her home as a friend — a friend who wowed her father with his knowledge of the world. “He used to travel a lot, and would send me formal postcards. Those postcards were actually meant to be seen by my father, so that he would know what a worldly man Kabir was,” she laughs. “After a few years, my parents asked me why I wasn’t considering Kabir as husband material. My father said that ‘the difference between a Khanna and a Khan is just NA, and that means Not Applicable.”

FOR KABIR, introducing his would-be bride was simpler. His father, a Pathan, had eloped with his mother who was a Telugu. “My grandfather was a high court judge in Hyderabad and was very conservative. My parents went to America to study and got married there, and that caused problems in both families for some time. The fact that they went through such an experience made sure that in our home, we were never raised to give religion that much importance,” says Kabir who has directed films like Kabul Express and New York. The couple got married, keeping both Hindu and Muslim rituals in mind. “We had a registered marriage but I also insisted on having mock pheras, and then dressing up in a sharara for my reception,” she says. Mini admits that cultural differences are inevitable. “For example, they don’t read the namaz but I do the puja.”

The couple’s relationship came into the public eye in 2009 when the director landed up at the passport office as he wanted to visit his wife in Malaysia. A government officer asked him, “How can a Mathur be married to a Khan and how can his wife have a different name and that too from another community?” Kabir was shocked. “Who are these people to ask me that when my Constitution gives me the right to marry who I want?”

After 11 years of bliss, they are now the parents of Vivaan, 7, and a year-old Sairah whose last names are simply Kabir. “For them to understand what their last name means, they need to know what religion is. They also have the freedom to marry who they want. By the time they grow up, this will become a non-issue,” says Mini, concluding, “love is defined by intellectual and emotional bonding. What role can religion play?”

 

 

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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 33, Dated August 21, 2010

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