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Saturday, September 18, 2021

After 15 years together, Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan announce divorce

Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan's plain-spoken statement assures that they will continue collaborating on work and pet projects.

Written by Alaka Sahani | Mumbai |
Updated: July 4, 2021 9:02:37 am
aamir khan kiran rao divorceAamir Khan and Kiran Rao tied the knot in 2005. (Express Photo by Dilip Kagda)

One of Indian cinema’s power couples, Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan, announced their separation in a joint statement on Saturday.

“In these 15 beautiful years together we have shared a lifetime of experiences, joy and laughter, and our relationship has only grown in trust, respect and love. Now we would like to begin a new chapter in our lives — no longer as husband and wife, but as co-parents and family for each other,” said Rao and Khan, who have a son, Azad, together.

The marriage of Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan — they tied the knot on December 28, 2005 — has been one of the most creative associations of Indian cinema, bringing together one of its biggest superstars and a cinema lover who aspired to make her mark as a writer-director.

They met on sets of the Ashutosh Gowariker-directed Lagaan (2001), one of the most commercially successful Indian movies, where the former was an assistant director. Their romance, Khan said in some interviews, bloomed later when the actor was going through the process of legal separation from his first wife, Reena Dutta. Khan and Dutta, who have a son, Junaid, and a daughter, Ira, together, divorced in 2002.

Kiran Rao was a co-producer of several critically acclaimed as well as commercially successful films made by Aamir Khan Productions. These include Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na (2008), Peepli Live (2010), Delhi Belly (2011), Dangal (2016) and the documentary Rubaru Roshni (2019).

When Rao wrote and directed Dhobi Ghat (2010), Khan appeared as one of the protagonists. In 2016, Rao and Khan also co-founded a non-proft, Paani Foundation, that works towards making rural Maharashtra drought-free.

Rao has also been a champion of independent cinema. She presented Anand Gandhi’s acclaimed directorial feature Ship of Theseus (2013) and promoted it tirelessly. In collaboration with other prominent film personalities, she attempted to create an eclectic hub for cinema in Mumbai, where one could experience and engage in a diverse array of films.

When the Mumbai Film Festival ran into financial trouble in 2014, and veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal stepped down as chairperson of the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI), which organises the annual event, Rao took over. Under her leadership, the festival experienced a second wind, found new sponsors and worked on its programming. That year, during the closing ceremony, actor-producer Salman Khan said in a lighter vein that “after marrying Aamir Khan, this is the most important decision Kiran Rao has taken”. It was believed that having Rao as the chairperson helped the festival bring many major stars to its red carpet. In early 2019, she stepped down as MAMI chairperson, with actor Deepika Padokone replacing her.

Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan’s plain-spoken statement assures that they will continue collaborating on work and pet projects. “We began a planned separation some time ago, and now feel comfortable to formalise this arrangement, of living separately yet sharing our lives the way an extended family does. We remain devoted parents to our son Azad, who we will nurture and raise together. We will also continue to work as collaborators on films, Paani Foundation, and other projects that we feel passionate about,” they said. Announcing Azad’s birth in 2011, the former couple had shown similar forthrightness when they mentioned that he was born after “a long wait” and “through IVF-surrogacy”.

They ended their statement saying: “A big thank you to our families and friends for their constant support and understanding about this evolution in our relationship, and without whom we would not have been so secure in taking this leap. We request our well wishers for good wishes and blessings, and hope that — like us — you will see this divorce not as an end, but as the start of a new journey.”

With the extended Khan family, including Dutta, celebrating many special occasions together over the years, this doesn’t seem too unlikely.

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