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Ashoka The Great in Cannes!

BBC was all prepared to buy the English rights of Dreamz Unlimited's Ashoka The Great, the only hitch was, as Shah Rukh said, "When we spoke dialogues in English, it sounded very strange! So we have decided to release the film with English subtitles." The film has also gained entry at the Cannes Film Festival. After Terrorist and Mali, this is another project that the Santosh Sivan is all charged about. Meanwhile Shah Rukh Khan, who, what with the foray of the hot 'n' happening Hrithik Roshan had literally been written off by the media, has had the last laugh what with his latest release Mohabbatein going great guns! In fact the masses are going ga-ga over his performance!

Shah Rukh Ashoka Khan!

Guess what Shah Rukh  Khan is up to these ays? Well he's busy pumping  iron, to build his body for his home production  "Ashoka -the great". Wanna know where? Well  at  a  gym called  the  "Health Spa" at turner road. Wanna know the name of his personal trainer? Well its Vinayak and wanna now with whom? Well all  that we are allowed to say s that it's with a close friend. Shah Rukh is so dedi-cated  that  he doesn't  miss a day going without fail  at  [here's the  interesting part] 10.00 in the night. For obvious reasons he doesn't want to be spotted in the day, coz  people  seem  to lose all sense of civilized behavior in his charismatic presence.  "Ashoka - the great" is to be directed by ace cameraman Santosh Sivan and Kareena Kapoor has been signed to  play  the  female  lead. The film is scheduled to be released by the end of the year but wait a minute the film is desti-ned for greater things like an international release. Wooing the int-ernational audience, seems to be on the cards.The film's definitely going be worth a wait, since its Shah Rukh's first attempt at period drama and Khan seems to be really kicked about it.

I am not as good or as bad as they write

Shah Rukh Khan is backc this time in an action flick called One Two Ka Four. And to add icing to the cake, he looks years younger in the film. Dressed in a black tight polo neck and jeans, Shah Rukh unravels the secrets about the film and his upcoming venture Asoka The Great.

By Sabrina Menezes

You are doing an action film One Two Ka Four after a long time, how did that happen?
When we had started the film I had thought OTKF would be an action film. But all the people who were making the film have an inherent streak of comedy in them so the film hasn't really turned out to be an action action film. It has its dose of action but it's more fun family kind of film. We wanted the film to be about police and cop lives. We wanted to bring a Hollywood flavour to the film with gun straps and holsters etc. I love doing it. I have never played a cop and it was my desire to play one. I though it would be a tough cop in the film but I end up being no-so-tough cop as there are these four kids in the film and Juhi are always mistreating me in the film. (Laughs). So we even changed the title from an action one something on the lines of like Kartoos to One two ka four.

You started your career with action and psychotic but gradually shifted to romantic ones. Do you miss doing action?
I miss action. Personally I feel if you are very childish at heart you love doing action. I still play with my son like that. I do boxing, play with guns, falling downc it's good fun. I wanted to do action right in the beginning but as I don't have abs or muscles I don't look like an action hero. But I did try it in my own way like roles in Darr and Anjaam. I feel action is a inherent a very personal thing. You don't need to manifest it into cars and guns and stunts you can physical show it. You can keep it inside yet show that the guy can be very violent. Karan Arjun, Raam Jane, Koyla, my favourite, were over the top action oriented kind of films. I had these kinds of films for the first 4-5 years I enjoyed them but found that others too were doing the same thing. So I wanted to be different but for me different became what people3 do at the beginning of their career ie love stories. And the ones I did fortunately clicked in a very big way. Now even if I want to do action people turn around and say no we like to see you in romantic film like Mohabbatein or Dilwale or KKHH or DTPH. Otherwise I am still trying to mould myself into a proper action hero I don't have the looks so till them I will play these kiddie kind of action hero.

How was it working with Shashilaal Nair?
I have known him since a long time. We met on the sets of king uncle one of my initial films through Jagguda and he said Anna, as we call Shashi, wants to do a film with you. We kept on the looking for scripts for the next couple of years. Most of them were serious stuff on the lines of Angaar etc. and our producer Nasir Ahmed is such a patient guy that he would just say get your team and script and I am ready. He was such a sweet guy and we kind of misused the freedom he gave. We kept changing the script every couple of months. Finally the film One Good Cop, which talks about the hardships faced by cops and how the public doesn't know anything about it, inspired us. We think cops treat you badly but never think about the reasons for the same. We wanted to talk about their money problems, living conditions, and personal lives but in a funny actually entertaining manner. We took two and a half years to make this film normally a film takes just a year and a half. But it was the better of the film. Shashi had for the first time made a wholesome family entertainer commercial film.

How does it feel with two kids at home?
I was waiting for kids so that I have a reason to behave like one. I buy lots of toys saying it's for my son. My daughter though is too little and hasn't really started playing with me as yet but in another four five months she will be ready. But my son is quite a monster. I have a great time with them. The whole day I look forward to spending time with them.

Why do you think the media went against you after Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani's release?
I have been working for nine and a half years now and next year will be my tenth. I have seen lot of things happen as far as work is concerned. I have seen my growth as an actor, improvement in cinema technologically, growth of lots of my friends professionally and lots of other things. What I do get time for seeing an aspect of life which is a deep and integral part ie the press I never felt that it is something I have to master. I try to make my interviews funny nice and sweet for people to enjoy when they watch to or read it. Why certain section of people would decide to say x about you y about me or z about someone else is something I have never tried to follow. I can't go and catch every one. When I was new I would take on people get angry with them, abuse them or even pick up a fight with them. That time I was new and very small. My parents taught me one thing, pick people your own size. In the last nine years I have become so big I find no one who is my size.
While giving an interview, I like to give a glimpse of myself. I hope the nicety remains. People do write rumours and gossip and they write wrong but it is up to people who read it to believe it or not. I always say one thing, I am not as good as they write and I am not as bad as they write.

You are producing Asoka a period film. Don't you feel you are taking a big chance?
Oh yes they are but as an actor I can take chances. While I am doing an Asoka and a Devdas I have a Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam coming up too. it is a very big risk to the producer and director. Hats off to them people like Adi, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Karan or Mansoor who are ready to take risks and make films like josh where I am not the hero but play the heroine's brother. Everyone said the film will sink but we won. So if they being producers take risks, it gives me the courage to do the same. Hence Asoka.

Tell us more about Asoka.
When we produce a film we leave it to the prerogative of the director how he wants to talk to about the film. At this point of time I can't say much other than that we have finished most of it only 10% of the film is left. Which entails doing the film. It's not about trying to promote Shah Rukh Khan as the star. It is a film made by Santosh Sivan who has a credible film Terrorist on him. This is the biggest film he has done to date and it was his biggest dream. He told me while we were making chaiya chaiya, on top of the train. It's completely a different film form the films made today. And it is a commercially viable film, hopefully. Kareena Kapoor is outstanding in the film. There is Danny Denzonpa, Rahul Dev and myself in the film as well. Asoka is a mix of a love story and a story about war. The log line sent by Santosh is only the dead have seen the end of the war, Asoka the love story. It is a historical film, which touches upon the romantic interlude of the life of Asoka. We do talk about the war but the love story is the main focus.