You can count on the king to be different, and different he was when he flew down to Jaipur on Sunday to launch the Carerra range of wristwatches from Tag Heuer. Clad in a light grey suit and white shirt, 39-year-old Shah Rukh Khan looked as youthful and was as animated as someone half his age.
But, surprise, surprise, Shah Rukh likes to let it be known that he is 40! Now why is that? “I find being 40 sexier than being 35 or 39,” he replies. But even that is not the real point, as he soon explains.
“I find a shift in my fan base towards Amit saab, because he is older. I hope with my being 40, more of the older women will find me appealing,” he quips, adding for good measure, “I will stay 40 as long as you keep taking my photographs and come to see me.”
When Sushmita Sen, who was present at the launch, voted Shah Rukh sexier than Amitabh Bachchan, his comment, “I won”, did not sound entirely like a joke. The hunger to be at the top is still obviously burning in Shah Rukh Khan.
It is a hunger that has paid rich dividends. At a time when big-budget films are bombing nearly every week, SRK films continue to make waves, and every performance is praised by critics.
“To be modest, I think I’ve had the best writers and filmmakers backing me. With all of that, I don’t think there was much to worry,” says the superstar. Then again, “To be pompous, it is all because of me.”
Shah Rukh is an irresistible mix of star aura and pragmatism. His definition of what he does is simple and straightforward. “I am an entertainer. At the end of the time that people spend with me, I want them to feel entertained. Acting has given me an opportunity to fulfil my mission and passion.”
Christmas is round the corner, and Shah Rukh’s good deeds would please the most demanding Santa. But if one does not know much about it, that is because he likes to keep news of his charity work to himself.
“The kind of lifestyle that we actors have makes us lose sight of the real world, but there are organisations like Unicef that come along to remind us of our obligations.” Shah Rukh has worked in some of the documentaries made by Unicef to promote social justice.
He has high hopes for his children, especially now that his son Aryan is becoming a familiar figure, first with his brief act in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and now with his voice for Tez, in the Indian version of The Incredibles. Does he want his son also to become a Shah Rukh Khan? “Of course. There is nothing better than Shah Rukh Khan, is there?”