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Gauri and Sussanne: Two fabulous peas in a pod

Remember the gang of cool girls in school you secretly wished you were a part of? Best friends Gauri Khan and Sussanne Roshan remind you of that exclusive, privileged clique.

Khan is the reclusive wife of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan and Roshan is the estranged wife of movie icon Hrithik Roshan. Both exude that kind of effortless sophistication, but unlike movie stereotypes they are not mean or vicious. Yes, their personalities are strikingly different but they both come across as real and accessible women.

In a lengthy interaction with tabloid! on Thursday, we discovered that Shah Rukh’s wife was happy to let Roshan take the lead. They were in Dubai to launch their pet design project Naira, a posh 12-villa project in the Indian state of Goa developed by real-estate company Emgee Group. While Roshan was gregarious, Mrs Khan, who is notorious for being media-shy, lets us in on a secret.

“I don’t go out at all. You don’t see us together often because I am anti-social and I like to be at home,” said Khan. She claims that she likes to party only if there’s a reason to it all.

“If there’s no purpose, I had rather be sitting home and watching some television,” said Khan, adding that she’s looking forward to the Naira launch party at Dubai-based businessmen Rekha and Mahesh Tourani’s residence since they would be drumming up excitement for their latest business venture.

Roshan, whose personal life has been under the spotlight ever since her actor-husband announced their joint decision to separate in December last year, claims that both lead “normal lives”.

“I love enjoying new places, dining at new restaurants and travelling. Right now in Mumbai, my work and my children keep me busy. I only go out more to mall when I am travelling. But I love enjoying new cuisines and like meeting interesting people. Their minds make me curious,” said Roshan.

So, naturally, her gregarious nature makes her prime candidate to be the face of Naira, unlike Khan who comes across as relatively guarded. But don’t mistake her reticence for lack of passion for Naira. Each customised sea-facing villa costs at least Dh5.9 million.

“It all started because we enjoyed what we were doing. For the love of design we are in this profession. It’s not a task for us and it gives us tremendous joy. It’s not a job and I know it may sound unprofessional, but I have always believed that hard work comes naturally when you are passionate about something. You just move quicker and faster,” said Khan. She adds that she’s more interested in the artistic element of Naira than the financial side.

While they have been friends for over a decade, their idea to collaborate for interior designing sprung when Khan discovered that she derived immense joy from decorating her Mumbai sea-facing mansion. Her efforts were duly noted by her best friend Sussanne, who had already ventured into professional designing with her company The Charcoal Project by then.

“But it was one step at a time … It was happening slowly for me,” said Khan. In the past, she has always walked under her highly articulate, bankable and witty husband Shah Rukh’s shadow. While she has always smiled for the cameras on the red carpet, she never sought out the media and restricted her interviews to foreign glossies. So is Naira her attempt to shake off that Bollywood’s superwife tag?

“There is no agenda or motive that I am doing this because I have to stop them from calling me this or that. I don’t care what X calls me or Y calls me. It has nothing to do with it. It all started with what we enjoyed. There is passion there, there is creativity and our love for design … . So, I won’t go like after I finish this design line, I cannot be a star wife,” said Khan. Her best friend Roshan is clear that their bond is not defined by their backgrounds.

“It is not about who you are … It doesn’t matter what your surname is or what your maiden name is. It is about how we are. That is how we connect,” said Roshan, adding that there’s not a single calculative bone in their bodies. And their formula to success is pretty uncomplicated.

“We both don’t have any egos. We are both like-minded. We are calm and open to criticism from each other. When we are innovating, we welcome each other’s involvement. That synergy between us is a nice thing. Lots of people who are partners, I find that their egos are too big … We are two important people but we don’t allowing anything to come between us,” said Roshan.

– Gauri Khan and Sussanne Roshan should be the poster child of multitasking. While Khan has three children, Roshan has two sons. So how do they manage:

Sussanne Roshan: “The main thing is time management. From the time you wake up to the time you sleep, I know what I am going to be doing. I divide my time. My priority is children and work and the question is how do I divide that. Everything else just filters in after that. I also do a lot of work in the mornings. I enjoy it.”

Gauri Khan: “I agree with her. And, motherhood doesn’t mean that you have to be 24/7 with the child. They have school, activities to do. They are as busy as us.”

– Sussanne Khan is looking to buy a home in Dubai just like her friend Gauri who owns a mansion in Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. The hunt is on.

– Gauri Khan defines themselves as the “dinner with a few friends and a glass of wine” type of women and not the wild partying type.

– The two plan to check out the Design Days Dubai on Saturday before attending their Naira launch party. [The annual fair showcases modern and contemporary works, from bespoke furniture to art installations.]

– “He’s the cutest, adorable boy” – Sussanne Roshan about her best friend’s third child AbRam.

– “Absolutely, he’s totally supporting me,” Gauri Khan when asked if Shah Rukh is proud of her latest project with Sussanne.