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THE INCREDIBLE STAR



Shah Rukh Khan, `Badshah of the Box Office,' is trying out something new. He and his son are lending their voices to the animated characters in "The Incredibles," renamed "Hum Hain Lajawab." He talks to CHITRA MAHESH about the venture and his staying power.

HIS VOICE is very familiar. And it is a much loved one too! People, within the country and outside, identify with it especially when he is such a special person for them. And they know him so well from his films. An enchanted world where he beckons and makes people fall in love with him.

It is only natural then that he would be someone who wants to explore new frontiers. Do something not done before. Try a venture that gives a whole new dimension to the actor in him. Like lending his celebrated voice to animated films for instance. Any guesses on who he is? It is Shah Rukh Khan!

It has been in the news for sometime now. About how the `Badshah of the Box Office' is lending his voice to the Hindi version of Disney / Pixar Animation Studio's "The Incredibles" produced by John Walker and directed by Brad Bird.

A children's venture that will reach Indian shores with its Indianised title "Hum Hain Lajawab." Apt for the Khan and apt for the character he is giving voice to!

The English version has already opened to a stunning record in the U.S. and it is hoped that the magic will be recreated here in India when it releases on December 17.

What is even more `incredible' or `lajawab' is the fact that Shah Rukh's son Aryan is also lending his voice to the character, Tez, who happens to be Lajawab's son. Such combinations are compelling when it comes to the realm of interest and popularity.

The Khan makes time to talk over the telephone one evening as part of the publicity for the film and organisers are emphatic that he has only ten minutes.

It didn't seem like a lot of time to ask a whole load of questions that one would normally like to. Yet conversation flowed and in those few minutes Shah Rukh managed to say his bit willingly and as always, charmingly. Excerpts:

Why did you decide to do this? Is it something you always wanted to do?

Very simple. The movie is in the genre of children's films and if I can in any small way be responsible for popularising and marketing such ventures I am happy. If such projects get a response then it is progress for the world of animation. Besides I have seen and heard a lot of top Hollywood stars lending their voices to animated films and I thought why not try this out.
It is really an exciting proposition. We keep doing films that are of one kind. It is nice to be able to do something different for a change.

How has the experience been?

Very exciting. Because I have been yearning to do something for children and I think kids like me a lot and this is a really sweet child-friendly film. Besides my son really wanted me to do this.

How was it to work with him?

Oh I hardly worked with him. He had his own schedules. I just made sure that the people who were doing the dubbing got him to do what he had to do. And after seeing what he has done I think I am privileged. It is a great performance!

How different is it to do a film like this compared to the ones you are used to?

See, in regular films the character is already given. It is something I have done and I am doing it again. You have done the role, the scenes and you have an understanding of what has already been done. You have to recreate the scene. But here there is no recreation. You have to depend and mould yourself on a three-dimensional or two-dimensional figure which is actually the character.

It is difficult the technicality of trying to string a character and sync English dialogue to Hindi ones with the right flavour and meaning.

So were you given any guidelines about the character or did you evolve it yourself?

I tended to play it straight. Whenever I think I am in danger of spoiling a character I tend to play straight. Besides I don't want to be responsible for ruining this amazing character of Mr. Incredible. So I kept it true to the script and screenplay I was given.

Would you like to do more such ventures in the future?

I hope I'm chosen for things like this only on the basis of talent not just star power I bring to such animated ventures.

What do you think is your USP?

(He laughs) I don't know. If kids and other audiences can think of me as Mr. Lajawab then that is the USP. It is about a family man a character I'm not entirely unfamiliar with. Ideally, I would like to do a character sketched even before it is animated. But that is a long shot and I don't think it would work that way here.

You like doing happy, happy roles?

Umm, I like doing action films!

How do you like it when you are called the `Badshah of the box office?'

(He laughs again) See, I am not in any way responsible for the business of films and I say this not out of modesty or humility. As an actor I do the best I can and try to turn somebody's vision into a reality on screen. I am very lucky, very blessed. I think I have been at the right place and at the right time to be able to be the `Badshah of the Box Office.'

What do you think is that special quality about you that allows you this staying power in Bollywood?

This is my 15th year and I don't know how long that kind of luck lasts. It could be because in all these years audiences have decided to be a bit short-sighted and extra loving to someone like me. They decided to love someone actually not so wonderful!

So what would you like to tell everyone?

I would like to say the same thing to everyone out there reading about me or hearing about me please be happy! And if in this lifetime you can get happiness hold on to it tightly. It is the greatest gift God can give!