I'm very embarassed when I'm called a Superstar
Shahrukh Khan on every topic under the moon...and stars
Late evening, he's grabbing a quick bite. In between morsels, he even discusses a scene with Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the sets of Devdas. An aching back and a virtual battalion of visitors can't dim his enthusiasm to bond with everyone he encounters. Cut to his bungalow Mannat. Kids Aryaan and Suhana vie for his attention. "Papa you're looking big today," Aryaan observes. To which dad remarks, "You can also have a body like Salman Khan's if you excercise and drink milk." Instantly, Khan Jr jibes, "But I don't want to be like him, I want to be like you." The cute banter over, SRK's ready for my quiver o'questions.
You must be pleased with the response to your performance in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.
Both Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra love me too much, they think of me while writing a film. In fact, I didn't even want to hear the script of K3G because I was sure my character must have been written with a lot of love. If it fell short in terms of a performance, then it would only have been because of me. I was also the last to see the film because both Adi and Karan are very confident about their results. I know for a fact that they make films only for themselves but they write roles only for me. In K3G I had an author-backed role, I had to do it well. Some have told me that it's my best performance but the fact is that I did the film under very stressful conditions. But yes it feels great when I'm congratulated.
Would you say that you're are succesful, thanks to the Chopras and Karan.
Adi and Karan know me better as an actor. I believe in them and they believe in me and that's 90 per cent of the battle won. There's a comfort zone. I work equally hard as an actor with everyone else. I give every role my best shot. But yes as far as commercial success is concerned I'm a star because of them since the last few years. I'm a good actor, they made me a huge star. It's thanks to Karan, Adi, Yash Chopra, Abbas-Mustan and Rakesh Roshan that I'm called a superstar.
Are you comfortable with the tag of a superstar?
I'm very embarrassed when I'm called a superstar and I'm even embarrassed when I'm told that I'm no longer a superstar. Let me tell any actor who is a superstar or who wants to become one that it's not about getting it right at all... but getting it right consistently. And that's difficult. I've been a consistent actor-star for the last ten years and I'm proud of that. It's not about doing the right films, right songs or looking cool. The belief that you're doing the right thing is much more important. It takes an Herculean amount of effort to get up every morning for 10 years and say that I'm doing it right. It's all about keeping the balance too. When people say Shah Rukh Khan's better than X,Y,Zee, I don't believe them. Neither do I beleive anyone who says that X,Y,Zee is better than Shah Rukh Khan.
You don't believe that you're a superstar?
The other day somebody told me, "We're signing three superstars to endorse our product. One is you and the other two are Sachin Tendulkar and Kareena Kapoor." I genuinely believe Sachin and Kareena are superstars. I also genuinely believe I'm not as good as them. I wanted to be like Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) after watching his films. I've seen films of other actors, too, and inspired to become like them. But I've never seen any film of mine and said, "I want to become Shah Rukh Khan." So how can I be a superstar? For me it's all about getting it right all the time.
What exactly do you mean by "getting it right"?
I mean doing everything from the heart. I meet actors and actresses who come with an attitude that they're going to rape a scene or kill a scene. I can never kill a scene, I want to marry a scene. I enjoy acting more than any other actor in the country and it shows. I enjoy it without any ill-feeling, I enjoy it without any competition, I enjoy it without any malice towards anyone. I act for no other reason but to enjoy it. I like it when I make someone feel beautiful, sad or emote in whatever form. It's very difficult to keep on doing what people like but I work hard to do that.
How important has the success of K3G been for you?
Commercially it was very important because it had a lot of things riding on it, not for me but for Yash Johar. Personally, success is on a very different parameter for me now. For me Asoka is a success. I did a film like a Asoka and a character like Asoka at a stage when I didn't need to do it. I can have any role for the asking but I did something different and that is success for me.
Were you disappointed with the box office performance of Asoka?
Honestly, we'll earn money out of Asoka. It was sold cheap because I knew it was a different film. Everyone warned me that I was belittling myself by selling the film at low price... but that was the only way it could make money. It has earned money and that's good enough.
How important is money for you?
Nobody can buy me as an actor. I can be bought as a commodity or as a product but never as an actor. I've never accepted a film because of money and I never will. Yes, I will do shows, dance at weddings and endorse products for money but I won't act for money. I won't make compromises as an actor. That's why when I produce films, it's not for the money. Asoka went over-budget, if we'd finished in the planned budget Rs.5 crores, then it would've been different. Still, that's okay because the final product looked beautiful and huge.
So many trade people say that they don't understand the films you produce?
That's fine by me. I never thought that the trade would understand me either but they have understood me and they've loved me. Now I'm trying to make them understand another facet... in time they will. I've met people who've said it's okay if your film wasn't a hit. C'mon, I'm not stupid I knew Asoka wouldn't become the biggest hit of the year. I can tell you the business of the film the day I see it. I'm not a fool. I hope for the best and I wish that it earns more than it deserves. I've been part of some of the most successful films made in India and I've also have been a part of some of most unsuccessful films made in India. But I've never been a part of some of the most unitelligent films made in India. Intelligently, one has gone right or wrong. Abbas-Mustan made Badshah for no other reason apart from their love for me. I forced them to make it. I felt bad later because my beliefs made someone else suffer. It's not fair. I made both my films (Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani and Asoka) with my beliefs and I'll make my third one too with my beliefs. Making films is my way of saying thank you for putting me in a position where I can make films.
Failure doesn't disappoint you.
If there's a concerted effort to succeed, then failure can never overtake it. It's sad. But it's not the end of the road. Failure doesn't teach me anything. I'm very obstinate. I believe if I keep banging my head against a wall, the wall will break. May be I'm successful because I don't recognise failure. Recently, Anil Kapoor told me, "After K3G, you'll remain a star for the next ten years." Inshallah! But who knows really. Because it all depends on the next Friday.
Do you suffer from bouts of inseucrity?
Me? Insecure? About whom? Ha ha ha... Why should I be insecure if I've been here for 10 years? At a certain point in my career I put blinkers on. I stopped looking at what other actors are doing. If I hadn't put those blinkers on, I'd have gone wayward. I'd have started doing things which stem from insecurity, competition and selfishness.
From mid-January 2002, you're taking a break. Why?
I've done enough work in the past 10 years. I want to go easy now. May be if K3G wasn't a success and I'd have still taken a break, then people would've said, he's out work, kaam nahin hai iske pass. I'd resolved to complete all my work by December 2001, but it didn't quite happen that way. At the age of 45 when my kids are in their in teens, I don't want to say that I want to spend more time with them... as an excuse because, let's face it, I won't be getting as much work then. Believe me, the break is not an excuse. It's a genuine desire to retime-table myself. For the first time I've started enjoying something more than acting and that's playing with my kids. Aryaan's just like me that's why I feel he needs his father more because I know I wanted my parents more. I couldn't do J.P. Dutta's L.O.C because of my leg problem. In the next two-three months, I'll get my leg in order again. Also I want to sit on the scripts of the films I'm doing, both as a producer and as an actor. In 10 years, I've learnt enough to start participating in the creative aspects.
Have you changed as a person?
I haven't changed at all. I'm one hell of a self- centered dog. I've been that way and I always will be. It's part of my acting. I'm an arrogant actor. You take away the arrogance you take away the actor. Now there are days when I wake up in the morning and want a new set of bones. As I keep on acting, there's a part of me which is being eaten away. I'm not being pseudo about this. Someone wrote that I take myself too seriously. I better take myself seriously because the industry runs on me. Yes, I take my acting very seriously. I can't take it lightly becaue ten years of doing the same thing can make you jaded. People tell me I look very young in K3G. It's very strange because I've never told anyone that I'm old. Just because younger heroes arrived on the scene, doesn't mean that I'm old.
Are you still the same guy you were when you entered this profession?
I'm as emotional as I was. I still feel lonely, I still feel sad and I still cry. But now when I feel lonely, I just lie down next to my kids and I'm okay. I'm still very ambitious. I still want to come first in every race. I have only two fears: one, some day I won't be able to see myself, I'll become completely invisible. And two, my bones. I hope there's a shop which gives a new set of bones.
Are you nice because you want to be loved?
It's part of my nature to be nice. It's no longer difficult to be nice because that's the very core of my existence. What would I be if people didn't love me. I love people loving me. The greatest desire is to be loved by as many as possible. I'm successful without any form of manipulations. I've to yet go on a set and behave like a star. I inspire confidence in my director. No wonder if I tell any director that, I don't want to shoot today, that's okay by him. Halfway through Devdas, Sanjay Bhansali told me, "Shah Rukh tere ko sau khoon maaf." Even with with my co-stars, I share a good relationship. I get along better with the girls because being the opposite gender, there are no egos. I doubt if any male actor would say anything bad about me either.
Sunny Deol has a problem with you. Right?
If he has a problem with me, he has never told me about it. Anil Sharma told me that Sunny has no problem with me. I don't know what Sunny's problems are with the people he has worked with. It's not my business and I'm not going to interfere. I feel if you don't like something don't do it and if you're doing something then you better like it. It's simple as that.
Were you embarrassed when you were asked about being a bisexual on a TV talk show by Vir Sanghvi?
No, I wasn't embarrased but I did wonder why he asked me such a question. I was told I was free to cut off a question I didn't like. But I'll never do an interview where I cannot answer a question. May be Mr Vir Sanghvi just wanted to know. Maybe he'd have asked me out for a date if I'd said yes. Perhaps he had read some rubbish about Adi, Karan and me. I must be the first hero to have a casting couch for his directors. Seriously it's so ridiculous. Asking me if I'm a bisexual is as as inane as asking me--don't you fall in love with your heroines? I love my heroines but I don't fall in love with them. When I started out people said I was too energetic, then I was said to be manipulative. Then came stories about me doing substance abuse, having affairs and being a bisexual. I've been in this business too long for such loose talk to affect me.
It's believed your bungalow Mannat hasn't been lucky for you.
In the first place, to have a bungalow like this, you've got to be lucky. I don't think a place or a house makes you, you make the place or house. I'm not superstitious at all.
Would you say you're lucky?
Just yesterday Juhi was telling me that she was watching an old film of mine and I was really lucky to have acted in it. I'd like others to be as lucky as me and survive ten years on luck alone.