Zayn grew up on a diet of Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan, and will recommend Shah Rukh Khan’s Devdas (2002) to you, any chance he gets. “Before I can even remember… [Bollywood films were] on the TV,” he says. “Bollywood is so impeccable. If you ever get a chance to watch a good Bollywood movie, watch Devdas! Have you seen Devdas? It’s got Shah Rukh Khan in it. You know who Shah Rukh Khan is?” Thanks to one specific record-breaking selfie, the world knows he does.
Zayn and Khan met in November 2015 at the Asian Awards in London. Their selfie, posted to Khan’s Twitter, reportedly received the highest number of retweets of all time from an Indian account. “I personally wasn’t a huge fan until I met him. I realised how humble he is. Really showed a different side to him. He always came across as slightly arrogant in the movies to me, but when I met him in real life, he was so nice. He just completely changed my opinion of him.”
For now, Zayn’s gaze is trained on what lies ahead, with no time for what he calls “negative shit”—be it the rumours that mired his exit from 1D (that he no longer cared about his fans or making music), or the “macho world of male aggression” he had to deal with, as a cog in the machinations of pop, an aspect he addressed in his book, Zayn, (Penguin Random House, 2016).
Excerpted from the February 2018 issue of Elle India. To subscribe, click here.
All the photos from the Zayn Elle Interview
Photos: Ricardo Abrahao
Fashion Editor: Rahul Vijay
Styling: Jason Rembert
Hair and make-up: Larry King/ Streeters
Tattoos: Megan Massacre/ Studio Grit N Glory
Production: Isabel Scharenberg
Assisted by: Divya Gursahani, Kirsten McGovern and Maurice Diallo (styling)
Location: Lotte New York Palace, New York