Malaika Arora: on love, life and being a passionate entrepreneur

In a heartwarming chat with Editor Nandini Bhalla, the multi-hyphenate discusses what she is like when she’s in a relationship, her definition of love, marriage, and the art of looking this good!

Nandini Bhalla: What is your current definition of love? Also, what is Malaika like when she is in love? 

Malaika Arora: “I am all about love...I am someone who revels and thrives in love. A lot of people say that love doesn’t last forever, but I believe it is eternal. Being a hardcore romantic, I believe that when there’s love, you can overcome and conquer any hurdle. As for changing in a relationship or for their partner, I don’t think I’ve ever done that. I am very liberal and understanding—growth and giving someone space are very essential for any relationship to thrive, be it friends, lovers, or partners. I adapt beautifully in a relationship, and it is important for me to grow together with my partner. Changing in love is not an essential part of being in it. While you make adjustments and sacrifices, you are not supposed to change yourself...In fact, you must retain the parts of yourself that you recognise.” 

NB: What kind of partner do you make? Are you a giver or taker? Emotional or more confident? 

MA: “I believe I am a bit of everything. I am a great sounding board and very encouraging as a partner. You can literally share all your thoughts with me—I am a very patient listener. But I also believe that all relationships are a bit of give and take, it is not healthy for just one person to be a ‘giver’, because after a certain point you feel disappointed that you’re giving away too much of yourself. I switch emotions when I have to, I am a true-blue Scorpion!” 

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NB: Since we are talking about zodiac signs, Scorpions can be a bit jealous and passionate. Do you relate to these qualities?

MA: “Most people consider being possessive a great trait in a relationship, and I resent this school of thought. I believe in giving people their space and allowing them to grow. I am extremely passionate as a person—whether it’s my work, relationship, business, friendships, or home. I am also very confident and secure as a person, and these qualities come very naturally to me. Having said that, I can also be extremely vulnerable...Certain situations do bother and upset me. I am human after all.”

NB: The definition of perfect love constantly keeps changing as we grow older. What does a perfect relationship mean to you today? 

MA: “I believe that we romanticise the whole idea of love, because, growing up, that is what we have seen in films or read in books. I am a realist and I know that there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ relationship—you need to work on it. If you are able to connect with someone and be yourself, then that relationship is worth staying in. 

To be honest, ideal relationships don’t exist. I believe every relationship is flawed and has its ups and downs...You just have to take the good with the bad, and make it work. When I was 18-years-old, I thought that I would make my relationship work for the rest of my life, but little did I know that people can sometimes grow apart. It isn’t fair to me or my partner if we can’t be ourselves and be honest about our feelings. It’s not easy, but I think certain things need to be done sometimes...”

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NB: Are there any traits that you now hold to be extremely important for a good partnership? 

MA: “It might sound cliché, but when I was very young, someone said to me that a relationship is like a plant. You plant the seed and you have to water it for it to grow...So a relationship is no different, you can’t resort to shortcuts or quick fixes. It is important to understand and appreciate each other and to communicate well, but we often forget to do that. I feel partners should also be able to enjoy each other’s silences as well as have shared interests. Acceptance without the ego-tussle is important.” 

NB: Were you always this wise or have you gained this wisdom over the years? 

MA: “I am not sure if I am wise, but I have always been aware of my circumstances. While I have made my share of mistakes, I have always owned up to them. I believe life, in general, teaches us a lot. And I have dealt with something or the other at every stage of my life, which has not only taught me a lot, but has also made me a stronger person...With every hurdle, I get wiser.” 

NB: Would you get married again? Have you thought about it? 

MA: “Of course, I have thought about it. People think that I might be cynical about getting married again, but that’s far from true. I believe in the institution, I believe in love and companionship...All of it. I can’t answer when I will get married again, because I believe in leaving some aspects of one’s life as a surprise and not planning too much. Planning things constantly sucks the joy out of life.” 


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NB: Tell me about your relationship with Arjun [Kapoor]...

MA: “He is my person, I feel lucky to have found true love. I might have had wrong notions about love all my life, but when I met him, I connected with him and just fell in love. I now know what love is about...To love someone so purely is truly fascinating.”

NB: With your busy schedules, how do you make time for each other? 

MA: “All of us have demanding lives, but that doesn’t mean that we neglect aspects of our lives that bring us joy. Irrespective of our schedules, we both make a conscious effort to spend time with each other.”

NB: We just talked about you being a thorough romantic. Who is more romantic between the two of you? 

MA: “I would like to think that I am the more romantic person...But he has his own ways of showing it, too. I believe I am more spontaneous, and he’s very expressive and vocal.” 

NB: What do you like most about Arjun? 

MA: “I think he is insanely wise for his age, and that he has a very deep and strong soul. He is someone who’s very liberated and extremely caring. I don’t think they make men like that anymore. I could go on and on, but I admire these qualities the most.” 

NB: Did the age gap bother you in any way? 

MA: “Our world is so obsessed with tags...There is an age difference, but it has never been an issue between us.”

NB: What kind of a fighter are you in a relationship?

MA: “I am an emotional fighter...And I am passive aggressive.” 

NB: Tell us about your recent entrepreneurial journey... 

MA: “It was inevitable...I wanted the world to see me in a different light and not just some sexy, pin-up, bombshell. Although, I don’t have any problem with this perception, but I wanted to add a different dimension to my life. Wellness is something I am extremely passionate about, and I decided that’s where I wanted to be.” 

NB: How are you as a mother? Are you strict or easy-going?

MA: “I believe I am a bit of both. We are supposed to have a friendly approach with children, you should crack the whip when necessary and at the same time, they should know that you are approachable, so that they can come and talk to you. I love the relationship I have with my son, we share a deep, beautiful bond. And we talk about so many things. For me, that’s the most cherished bond in the world.”

NB: What do people sometimes get wrong about Malaika? 

MA: “When you are perceived as a sexy bombshell, no one takes you seriously. And this is what people thought about me for the longest time. It bothered me how people thought of me as just a ‘great body’ and a ‘good face’. And I really wanted to break away from this image, and I worked on myself to do so as well.”

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NB: How have you changed as a person over the years? Are you more confident today, than before? 

MA: “Confidence was never an issue...If there is one thing which I have in abundance, it’s confidence. Today, I feel I am calmer and wiser...Something I certainly wasn’t growing up. I remember I was constantly dealing with internal strife. Having said that, I am a born hustler and I will die a hustler. I like living life on my own terms...It is extremely important to me.” 

NB: What does the spirit of female relationships and sisterhood mean to you?

MA: “I am all about female bonding. I am surrounded by amazing women who inspire, motivate, and push me every day.” 

NB: Have you stopped caring about what people say? 

MA: “I stopped caring a long time ago. The way I dress, my life choices, where I go, the shows I do, who I date...They’ve all been topics of discussion. I have always been trolled for my choices, but I have learnt to tune out the noise. I like minding my own business, and I have never stepped on anyone’s toes, that’s just not me. The fact that people talk about you means that you are relevant, which is great...There is nothing to hide about it. It also means that people find you interesting. I would rather evoke some sort of emotion in people, regardless of it being good or bad...I would rather have that than not having anything at all.” 

NB: I see young women constantly caught up in judgment regarding their looks. What do women need to do differently to truly own their bodies? 

MA: “You have to love yourself first. I know it is not easy...a lot of my friends are constantly dealing with body image issues, but I always tell them that they have to love themselves irrespective of their bodies. I know it is easier said than done, but you can’t live your life assuming that you are less than somebody else. Unfortunately, the profession I am in, we are constantly compared to someone younger and better, and if I let that bother me every single day, I’ll be a wreck!” 

NB: What are you looking forward to personally and professionally?

MA: “It’s a really hard question to answer, because there’s so much that one wants to do! I feel like I am in my prime right now, and I want to work like this for the next 30 years. I don’t want to take a backseat...I want to explore so many businesses, I want to travel, and I would love to set up a home with Arjun and take our relationship to the next level, because I think we both are ready for it. I am hungry, I am really hungry!”