One of the most anticipated movies of the year is ‘Chennai Express’ with the perfect trio: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and Rohit Shetty. The trailer of the film has already been released and unsurprisingly this action-comedy with the traditional SRK effect is a visual delight. As it happens to be the first association of Rohit and Shah Rukh , Dainik Jagran Film Editor, Ajay Brahmatmaj had an exclusive chat with King Khan on his next.
Q. You had initially planned to team up with Rohit Shetty for remake of Angoor. Then how ‘Chennai Express’ comes in?
Ans: Yes, it’s true. Actually, Rohit first approached me with the proposal to work on ‘Angoor’ remake 4-5 years back and I too was excited to do it as the original ‘Angoor’ is close to my heart. He narrated me a couple of stories including that of ‘Angoor’ and ‘Chennai Express’. Since, Rohit wanted more time for Angoor remake, he offered me ‘Chennai Express’.
Q. We have heard that ‘Chennai Express’ has many dialogues in Tamil. As you hardly understand the language, how did you agree to join the project?
Ans: When we were discussing the script, I realized, even if the dialogues have Tamil influence, they would have a mass appeal. When Rohit was narrating me the story, the entire unit of Chennai Express was also present. There were many who didn’t understand the language but the best thing was that the Tamil dialogues made everyone laugh as it was easy to comprehend them.
Q. The official trailer of ‘Chennai Express’ has already set the celluloid on fire. Tell us more about the story?
Ans: ‘Chennai Express’ is the story of a 40-year-old man Rahul who leaves Mumbai for Rameshwaram to immerse the ashes of his 99-year-old grandfather. During his journey, he comes across a gorgeous South Indian girl (played by Deepika) and as expected he falls head over heels in love with her. Then follows the action, drama, comedy and a lot of twists and turns in Rahul’s life.
Q. What is the best thing about ‘Chennai Express’?
Ans: We live in a country with vast regional and cultural diversity where the people speak many languages and follow different cultures. This is the message what ‘Chennai Express’ gives us. I live in Maharashtra but cannot speak Marathi. My children speak Marathi very well. My mother knew Kannad and my father was fluent at Pashto and Persian. There was great diversity in my family too but we still lived together happily. ‘Chennai Express’ beautifully gives us the message that it’s not the language but the bonding, love and affection that make relations.
Q. The new benchmark of judging the performance of a Bollywood film, is the famous '100 crore club'. In such a scenario buzz is all around that if ‘Chennai Express’ fails to make its mark then what will happen to the ‘Baadshah of Bollywood’?
Ans: What will happen? I will give up everything and will probably open a grocery shop … I find all these rumours and speculations worthless. They make me laugh sometimes. In the last 20 years, I have come across such questions so many times. Whenever a new comer performs well then people start making speculations about my ouster. If any of my contemporaries give a hit, people start gossiping that the era of SRK is finished. I don’t know why people co-relate me every time with wrong things. Perhaps, they love me so much so, they care for me a lot.
Q. As ‘Chennai Express’ has a complete South Indian flavour, it must have been a totally different film for Shah Rukh Khan?
Ans. ‘Chennai Express’ is a unique film and despite a touch of south Indian language, it is easy for anyone to comprehend its dialogues. Some of them are in Tamil but the audiences are bound to burst into laughter while watching the film. All credit goes to Rohit Shetty and the team. As I said earlier, ‘Chennai Express’ beautifully sends us the message that it’s not the language but the bonding, love and affection that make relations.
Q. Do you think, language plays a pivotal role for the audience in accepting a movie?
Ans. Let’s take it this way. Many of my audience are from non-Hindi regions as well as other countries. But they like my movies and appreciate my work. I had the same experience in England. People loved me there too. Surprisingly, the youths, who are our third generation and who hardly follow Hindi, also like my movies. This shows people love one’s work and performance, no matter what the language you know.
Q. How did you find South India for an actor of Hindi cinema?
Ans. I have a huge fan following from South especially from Kerala. Shooting in South India was an unforgettable experience for me. The people accepted me whole-heartedly. While we were shooting in Munnar, I got the opportunity to interact with the locals on several occasions. The crowd was very friendly. I interacted with some elderly women while shooting in a tea garden in Munnar. I narrated the dialogues from my movies and conversed with them in Hindi. They hardly understood me but interestingly, we had a memorable time.
Q. Do you enjoy meeting with your fans?
Ans. With the passing age and time, I enjoy meeting with my fans and well-wishers more. But I hardly get opportunity to converse with them in public as things often go wrong due to heavy crowd and poor management.
Q. We have heard that your association with Rohit Shetty has been quit a personal affair. Tell us more about it?
Ans. Well… Like I earlier said, Rohit had first approached me with a proposal for remake of Angoor which was released in 1982. I was too eager to do the movie so I gave my commitment. My selection for the movie was not because it can go well in Bihar or London or any other region. I chose it just because it is close to my heart.
Q. What’s the story behind Angoor?
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Ans. My connection with ‘Angoor’ goes back to my childhood days. It was the favourite film of my mother (Lateef Fatima). We have many precious moments of life attached with the film. Those were the days of the VCR. We used to watch movies on the VCR. My mother suffered from pain in her legs. So every night, I used to sit by her side and gently massage her legs while watching Angoor. I still remember the dialogues of Dilip Saab. She loved Dilip Kumar and thought I looked like him.
Q. Is that the reason you went for Devdas?
Ans. Well…I had no interest in serious movies like Devdas in my teenage days. We grew up watching films of action and romantic heroes like Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Vinod Khanna. We never thought that serious characters like Devdas can ever be meant for our generation. When Sanjay Leela Bhansali offered me Devdas, there were many who strongly suggested me not to take up the project. Some even termed it a career destroying movie. But Sanjay had faith in me. He told me that my eyes speak about the emotion and pain of Devdas and I am perfect for the role. At that time Aziz Mirza and Juhi Chawla were also there. I accepted the movie and now everybody knows it was a great movie.
Q. Tell us more about the movies which you would love to remake?
Ans. I have already done a lot of remakes that have been close to me. Don, Devdas, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Shree 420- all were great. But if I get the opportunity I would love to remake Chupke Chupke and Angoor. I would cherish to do movies of Amitji and Dilip Saab. Rafoo Chakkar and Aan are my personal favourites.
Q. And what about Namak Halaal?
Ans. I don’t think people will accept me in the role. I find myself quit unfit for Namak Halaal.
Q. You have shared the silver screen with the finest stars who played your reel parents. Who resembled the most with your real life parents?
Ans. DDLJ’s Anupam Kher and Om Shanti Om’s Kiron Kher. Both the roles are close to me. The cute, silly and innocent mother played by Kiron ji in OSO somewhat resembled my mother. The awesome sense of humour of Anupam ji as a father in DDLJ, the way he encourages the moral of his son when he fail in his graduation and accepts his defeat is speechless. Both the characters gave endless love to their child without putting any condition.
Q. Would you like to see Gauri working in movies?
Ans. I can never imagine Gauri or even my children working in movies. She is a good house wife.
Q. What are the lessons you have pass on to your children that you got from your parents?
Ans. Acceptance and patience are the two things I have learnt from my parents. My friends consider my patient attitude as my weakest point. My father was a very tolerant person. I believe one should be what he is. I have taught my children sense of competition. I, Gauri and our children, all of us live like friends. Like friends we point out mistakes of each other and pat each other’s back when we have done something good.
Q. We have heard that you don’t take money for your film projects.
Ans. Yes this is the truth. I don’t take money for films as it is my passion and not business. I still remember what Deven Verma has once told me. Once we were having a good time together, he told me, “Take up a project in your life time just for your shake, just because your heart allows it.”
Q. If that is the case then how do you manage your livelihood?
Ans. I dance at award shows and high profile marriages and do advertisements to mend my ways.
Q. But this has earned you severe criticism?
Ans. I simply don’t bother over such worthless criticisms. I feel my heart is clean and soul is pure as I have not done my films as part of my profession. They have emotional connection. It’s my passion. I never compromise with my films. Whatever project I take up I do it sincerely without pondering over how many crores it will fetch me. See, it’s not that my directors and producers don’t offer me money. They do. But I never bargain with them. Whatever they give me I take. This is why they love me.
Q. It’s like an era since you have been in the film industry. Any regrets?
Ans. Well…may be two or three. Everyone has regrets in life. But the best part is that my work and my busy schedule never allow me to think over regrets.
Q. You have done ad for an alcohol brand. Don’t you think that an actor like you, who is the role model for many, should shun such endorsements?
Ans. Well, if alcohol is legal then why not. Newspapers, media do endorse it then why not me. After all morality is not only my responsibility. I have never endorsed drugs, cigarettes. Producers pay us for doing such endorsements.
Q. You are considered as the ‘Baadshah of Bollywood’. You have a huge fan following. You enjoy the kind of female adoration that any other actor would envy. Does Shah Rukh Khan ever feel lonely?
Ans. If I am at the top, I have to pay for it. But I guess people now-a-days are talking much about my decline. So, now I do find some people to chat. Hahaha…Jokes apart, I am extremely lonely. But I have chosen this for me. After giving 22 long years to the industry, I find myself totally disconnected from the basic, normal life. This doesn’t mean I have high class friends only but now I have lost the art of making relationships. My hectic schedule, long working hours doesn’t allow me to engage with people. I think I have inherited this in my personality.
Q. Along with personality, how far you blame your profession for this?
Ans. I don’t know exactly. I believe I am not good at making friends. Yes, I do have friends from Bollywood and from outside too. But I hardly get engaged with them. I really miss such things but I guess I am pretty old now to involve in such things. Yeah, I also don’t have time to do so.
Q. Companion of your solitude?
Ans. I read books and sometimes I write too. I have started penning down my autobiography but it’s still waiting for being completed. I feel I will complete it this holiday as I am recovering well from my shoulder surgery.
Q. Your fans and well-wishers die to have a glimpse of SRK. Do you ever try to meet them?
Ans. Yes, I use to go for outing on weekends whenever in Mumbai. During this I try to meet my fans. But things often go wrong as the crowd gets out of control and situation gets worse. So, we ought to avoid this. I still remember the days when we were shooting for Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Na Kahna in London. The crowd over there was very awesome. We used to shoot at night on the railway station. The people used to wait for us the whole night in that bone-chilling winter. After the shoot, I used to meet them. I guess these are the people who inspire us and encourage us to do better.
Q. People love you and want to share each and every moment of SRK. Have you ever tried to develop a way to stay connected with your fans?
Ans. Yeah, earlier I used to tweet for my fans. But there I found many irrelevant comments that were painful. I am quit an emotional person. So, I cannot digest such rubbishes. Moreover, my tweets were often dragged into controversies. I remember once during the shoot of Jab Tak Hai Jaan in London, we got a day off due to heavy raining. I was enjoying the off with the awesome weather and hot coffee. I felt like expressing my happiness on twitter. Unfortunately, that day India lost to England in ODI. I found media reports suggesting that I was celebrating India’s defeat in London. It was very painful. So, I stopped tweeting. Now, I am thinking of developing an interactive website where I will share my life moments, my interviews with my fans. I am planning to record my precious moments.
Q. Many writers have tried to define Shah Rukh Khan and his persona in their writings. How many of them have succeeded?
Ans. Well, I haven’t read any of them so far. Once Bhatt ji had told me never read books written on you as no one else will understand you more than yourself. But if you ask me there was a thin book written by Deepa Mehta, I have read that. I have also heard about Anupama Chopra’s ‘King of Khan’. But I haven’t read it.
Q. Who has understood SRK as an individual?
Ans. People often find me unreal. Initially when they meet, they appreciate me as a person but later on they start finding me weird. I am quite a different person. I have a different thinking. I am frank, open-hearted and emotional. Like everybody I also get angry, I also feel pain. Many times, my stardom also does not allow people to understand me.
Q. How would you like to be remembered?
Ans. I wish people remember me by my hard work and determination. If ever a day come when I will be no more then I want people to realize the fact that Khan had tried a lot in his life. At my grave, I would like to be written ‘Here lies Shah Rukh Khan and he tried.’ I don’t want people to count my accomplishments but my hard work. My hard work is my accomplishment. It’s easy to count achievements, even easier to find faults but the one that is hard is to realize the hard work and labour.
Q. Shah Rukh Khan is one word, it is a sentence in itself as well. Your association with the entertainment industry is like an era. But don’t you think you have limited your appeal to metros and overseas?
Ans. Well, it’s purely a matter of choice and taste. I don’t know about others but I do films that suit my personality, thinking and moreover my comfort. It’s not like I have limited myself to any genre. I have done action films, negative roles in the early phase of my career. With time and experience, an actor comes at a stage where he can choose different roles. This is the time, when we often go for the roles that describe our inner self. And as far as my audience is concerned, till date, I have not been able to figure out who my audience is and where my films work.
Q. Then what sort of roles does SRK love to take up?
Ans. I go for roles where I think I can fit it. I can work for formula films which have mass appeal and can fetch good business, but I prefer myself in decent, cultured and high class roles. I still remember when Madhuri Dixit asked me to do ‘Hum Tumhare Hai Sanam.’ I have heard it has done good business in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. See if I would have known the formula, I would have
adopted these in my future films too.
Q. If we talk about your films, you have limited yourself to a few directors. Why such limitations?
Ans. I have been working in the film industry for 22 years and we have become a family. We have special bonding with each other as happens in a family. I work with only them who I am comfortable with. I have worked with Karan Johar, Aditya Chopra and also with Farah Khan. We have a great chemistry. I take up two to three projects a year and so I don’t find it necessary to go outside.
Q. What’s on your mind when you take up any project for Red Chillies?
Ans. See till now I think, feel and choose projects as an actor. My inner actor never allows me to think like a producer. As I have earlier said, films are my passion and not business, I take up projects which I relate to, irrespective of the project’s budget.
Q. Will we see Shah Rukh working with new age directors like Anurag Kashyap and Tigmanshu Dhulia?
Ans. Yes, why not? We have been friends from our days in Delhi. Kashyap has been pressing me to work in his films. Hopefully, we will work together if something good comes my way. And I have already worked with Tishu (Tigmanshu) in Dil Se. The film is very close to my heart. I have many offers from other directors, will probably take up some of them. You must have heard that I was working with Vishal Bharadwaj in Two States. But Vishal was looking for a younger actor for the role, so I left.