Why did you decide to be part of such a strategy?
Ponds is a big brand. When they wanted to re-launch, they approached Malaika and me. They were looking for people with a strong image who represented love and togetherness. There was a clear concept, strategy and script in place where they spoke about Malaika renewing our marriage vows at the end of the event. The stuff about the 'other woman' in my life and Malaika leaving me was concocted.
Both of you have been projected as publicity hounds.
Malaika and I don't need to resort to such cheap publicity. I had my reservations about the concept right from the beginning but Ponds said they had it all covered - they'd protect and back us. They were supposed to do damage control on the same day as the break-up rumours but somehow that didn't happen.
A lot of people feel it was because of the big money (Rs 1.5 crore) offered to you both that made you say yes to such a stunt...
That's not true. Why would Ponds take people with strong images to tarnish them in the media? Nobody is blaming the marketing strategists that came out with the concept. It's like in bad films, people blame the stars but not the director. Malaika and I did goof up and we are very sorry about it. We accept that it was our fault but it will never happen again.
Did Malaika and her family know that the break-up story was just a marketing strategy?
No. Our families are very upset and hurt. We didn't keep them in the loop but we never thought that our images would be destroyed and we would be affected so badly. We regret that we did it. We apologise to our families for hurting them. It was just a strategy, which we thought was cute but we never thought it would get so ugly.
In the process, we became the scapegoats. It's an eye-opener for all celebrities today so that they too don't get taken in by a publicity strategy of a big company. We fell prey to them - but that will never happen again.