As a divorced Bollywood dad, Hrithik’s scoring an extraordinary number of brownie points. Everybody, but everybody knows, he’s a doting and hands-on parent, 5.2 million people follow zealously on Instagram how he’s “a man on a mission to live the best life possible come what may”. And the best life is the photo-ops he’s snatched with his kids and proudly put up on social media each time he’s kicked back and had some fun with them. It’s a cheerful sight to see father and sons celebrating togetherness, they’re doing push-ups in the open, shooting arrows on a wildlife safari, sharing ice-cream cones, having a pillow fight, dancing in tuxes and dark glasses, posing before the Burj Khalifa, outside a pizzeria on a cobbled street in Madrid, acting cool before a private jet, like it’s not Hrehaan (10) and Hridhaan (8) with Hrithik, but Abhay Deol and Farhan Akhtar in his 2011 coming-of-age, comedy-road drama Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara .
When asked what new values Hrithik was bringing to his sons. he said “I’m just having fun with them teaching and learning at the same time, They’re at the age when their model of the world is built for the rest of their life. We as grownups are so afraid of being judged, we live in the minds of other people. My lessons in life for Hrehaan and Hridhaan started early. One boy came crying to me because a friend had called him ‘stupid’. I asked him, ‘What’s the truth? Are you stupid?’ He said, ‘No!’ I told him, ‘Then there’s no need for you to react at all!’ He realised I was right in a second.” Was it difficult doing this alone as, say, a divorced father? Hrithik shrugged, “All I can say is that I can’t see my life with my work and my kids being any other way but the way it is now. Three years ago I would have been convinced of the opposite.”
to the question on how much his own growing up experience as Rakesh Roshan’s son helped in raising his kids. Hrithik struck the philosophical note in his reply. “We are all products of the degree of evolution of society that determines our own individual state of mind,” he said. “When I was growing up, society said a lot of things were taboo for children. I remember watching Superman with my father. He asked me to shut my eyes when Superman kisses Lois Lane! Being told kissing is bad, intimacy is a no-no, creates a negative emotion in growing kids. They become determined to see more of it or do it themselves secretly. This causes fear and anxiety in their relationships. They believe they’re doing something bad or wrong when they’re with a girl. I tell my kids kissing is a most beautiful thing and they should not be hidden from it. There’s no need to protect them from visions of love. Yes, I would not allow them to see any depiction of love in a crude way. Or if it was vulgar and abusive. But Spiderman kissing his girlfriend upside down is beautiful, it’s meant to be enjoyed, not be restricted.”
Not just realisation, Hrithik is also teaching his sons acceptance. “My ultimate happiness is in them being the best versions of themselves,” he said. “But at their age, this is not easy to understand. So I point out how easily they do somersaults and remind them of all the gym classes they didn’t want to go to. I believe in the philosophy that every single drop makes an ocean. Once this is ingrained in their minds, this discipline will serve Hrehaan and Hridhaan all their lives. So now when they are learning something new, they know that they aren’t good at it. I tell my boys, ‘Accept that you’re not good but keep doing it, the word we use is synapse. I taught them what it means so we say “don’t stop trying, the brain is synapsing!”.’ When they are running a race at sports day in school, I say, ‘My condition is not that you come first. It doesn’t matter what you come. But do your best and run to enjoy yourself. And if your effort is truly even one millimeter more than last time, you’re a winner. But for that you’ve got to put in a lot of effort. Not effort out of fear, but out of love – because you want to be the best you can be. Your actions will flow and you’ll be in alignment with the universe’
Who’s your sons’ favourite hero?
And their crush?
At their age, they dislike girls. But they’re in denial.
You’re a strict parent or a bumchum?
Both. I make sure they take responsibility for their decisions. I guide them but I don’t stop them. I want their decisions to be their own. I’m there to pick them up. One of our greatest weaknesses is our inability to take strong decisions. I’m making sure they develop that strength.
As a hands-on father you changed nappies?
They say magic happens when you lay eyes on your newborn. Nothing of that sort happened with me. Our relationship began when they turned two. I started understanding their character was in sync with mine. I saw us in a relationship of choice. We like each other as persons. Not because we’re father and sons. I like my sons and don’t just love them. I like them for the people they are. I appreciate and admire their characters.
What are the privileges of being Hrithik Roshan’s kids?
It’s not a privilege to be born as a rich and famous man’s kid, mostly it’s a disadvantage. You tend to become lazy and complacent and used to luxury. Where Hrehaan and Hridhaan are privileged is in their being born to a father who has experienced ups and downs and acquired a humble sense of life and the world. And if you have space, these few additions are also great.