Shahrukh Khan is the young turk who seems destined for success. One of the rare TV actors to make it really big in mainstream Bollywood, which at the time was done without any patronage from the film industry. Khan\'s movies made by Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra always seem to hit the mark with the audience. True, he has had a couple of disasters over the years, but more or less, his instincts have been sound.
So far, this year has been good for Shahrukh Khan. Main Hoon Naa was a huge commercial success, followed by his latest release Veer-Zaara where has received some rather gushing reviews. Next, in line for the actor is Ashutosh Gowariker\'s Swades, expected to release on December 17. Shahrukh plays a NASA scientist Mohan Bhargava, who returns home to India to his roots. CNBC-TV18 spoke to Shahrukh Khan in an exclusive interview on his character of Mohan Bhargava in fis forthcoming film Swades.
Q: The website of Swades says that your character Mohan Bhargava, is a complex protagonist of strong individualistic beliefs. What is your take on this character? How much have you lived up to this description?
A: It\'s a very complex character because whenever decisions become very difficult to make, a lot of complexity gets involved in those decisions. And here is a person who has reached, perhaps, the zenith of his life and at that point in time in his life, there is a realisation, and it\'s a personal realisation. It\'s not an external force, a voice from inside or what we call the internal conscience calls out to him, that whatever he has, is perhaps not enough and not material. It is a more spiritual and emotional calling. And at that point of time, to make a turnaround and perhaps reject what he had worked for all his life and accept something else and be happy in it, is very important, very complex and a very emotional journey, which may not seem the right one to make. The character arrives at this position because there are very strong beliefs attached to it. So yes, the character is quite complex and it is complex because of the kind of beliefs he has.
Q: Is there any kind of personal identification? The person who discovers his calling and then turns his back on everything that he has built up?
A: It\'s a difficult thing. I think that\'s why heroes are heroes. I don\'t know if I could in real life be so heroic. The fact is that, this is a protagonist. It\'s a heroic character, most certainly, more so than in normal Hindi films. But the heroism is that he does thwart something within him, which was pulling him in one direction and accepts the other or goes to the other. I am just a miracle. We are only doing a job. I really don\'t know how many of us are really heroes, externally or internally like Mohan Bhargava of Swades.
Q: You had the script of Swades and it was Ashutosh Gowariker, but it wasn\'t the post- Lagaan, Ashutosh Gowariker. You know the person who has made Lagaan, which was nominated for Oscar, who has proved himself as a brilliant filmmaker, but still the script has interested you so much?
A: I know Ashutosh Gowariker since the beginning of his career. As a matter of fact I think I did his first film. If I am not mistaken, I even put some money in his film, because they needed the money to make the film, Pehla Nasha, and my birthday was celebrated on his sets and he was very excited about making his first film and shifting from being an actor to becoming a director. And our relationship is not all about this, I could easily have told him no for his (first) film. We very nearly did Lagaan together but couldn\'t get a producer. And I could very easily have turned around and told him no for Swades also and it would never be taken personally. Our relationship is very friendly and very nice and I just thought, that he has time to make a film like this. It was a smaller film and it was a thought that he had been nurturing. Actually when we met, we met for a different film, with perhaps Aamir Khan and me in it. We started off on that but due to some circumstances, my neck and the timings, it was not happening. So we said okay make a smaller film in between. Actually Ashutosh said, even if you guys are doing this film together, I still want to make Swades first and then make that. So I said okay lets do Swades first and get this monkey off your back and then we will do the other movie. So I would have done this either way.
Q: Rs 30 crore plus is hardly small?
A: Is that the budget? I didn\'t know. Oh yes that\'s hardly small.
Q: So you are open to working with new directors or new scripts, new people but perhaps no body of work to recommend..?
A: I have.. but body of work doesn\'t mean that you are a carpenter and you start making a film, or you are a share market genius and you start making films. I would then need to know what you are making. But yes, I have worked with so many newcomers. I don\'t know if they would have made their first film if I hadn\'t said yes to them. Farah Khan has made her first film with me. Aziz Mirza has made his first film with me. Nikil Meswani has made his first film me with. Rajiv Mehra has made his second. Abbas-Mastan have made their second. There are so many newcomers that I have worked with, but I can\'t help it if they become very big directors after that first film and people forget that they were new newcomers just last Friday.
Q: Coming back to Swades, how do you as an actor prevent it from becoming too ponderous, given the theme?
A: I don\'t. I just do what the director tells me to do and I have an opinion, which I mouth when I am signing the film.
Q: And did you voice it?
A: Yes, I write it down and I give it to each of my directors, I put an envelope and give it to them and say this is what I feel about the film, \'jo aacha lage, use apna lo. Jo buraa lage use jaane do.\'
Q: Can you tell me what that opinion was or is it classified?
A: No I don\'t even remember, I give it in writing because it\'s very instinctive. So for Swades, I might have done it and then I don\'t even know what changes have happened and all. I forget it, because I have done my duty, I have said yes to a film and now it\'s up to the director to make it the way they want to. So I have no hand in the success of a film and I am fully responsible for the failure of a film.
Q: This year, you have three releases. So which one of these do you think, you are going to get all the awards for because there doesn\'t seem to be any competition?
A: I really don\'t know. I mean normally I believe that the awards that I get are mostly the popular awards. They are not really critically acclaimed awards and it\'s for the popularity of the work or the body of the work that I have done in a year and I take it like that. So whatever film I get it for, Main Hoon Naa, Veer-Zaara or Swades, I hope that if I get it, as long as I get it, it would mean that the body of work was entertaining for this year. If I don\'t get it, I will just try harder next year.