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Interview with Shahrukh Khan on BBC World

 Source : Indiatimes TV Guide

" I believe that if I have to even brush my teeth, I should do it with so much vigrour as if it is best of brushing that is happening in the world at that point of time. "

Karan Thapar speaks to Shahrukh Khan on BBC World’s talk show, Face To Face


He is a man of many faces, countless voices and not just on the silver screen. His friends and admirers say he can change his appearances very easily and just as quickly as the rest of us change our clothes. So how is he going to present himself today as we met India's most famous actor of the day, Shahrukh Khan. Shahrukh there is a line in one of your recent movies, there is a song in which you say I am the best does that apply to you.
It applies to actually lot of complexes I have the kind of insecurities that I have as an actor as a person. I have a little story which I tell everybody. It was about a little boy who was standing next to a huge wall and he had written I am great and then he said that you know my brother has achieved lot more, my sister is a pilot, my father was a big freedom-fighter. My mother was a politician and she is a minister. I make this stronger. He rubbed it off and wrote I am the greatest. So it stems from that kind of complex that kind of insecurity and just the once to be like and I have to keep on convincing myself that I am the best, otherwise I would succumb to all these insecurities.

You appear as you are a driven personality that almost everything you do, everything you have has to be the best.
Yes, I believe that if I have to even brush my teeth, I should do it with so much vigrour as if it is best of brushing that is happening in the world at that point of time.

So how long does the toothbrush last ?

It does not long last too long, neither does my teeth actually. I have to keep going back to getting them checked but the whole point is if I have to do something then you give it your best chance because I really have a belief, it sounds too much philosophy at times but the atmosphere has …….. that I would say, we believe in Islam that God is one day going to ask us when you go back there, I send you down on earth to do things did you do that ? I want to turn around and say, I know, you send us to do lot of things, it would be easier for you to ask me what are the things you did not do.
So I want to put in the best in to everything that I do and may be I would lose my goal what I was sent for but at least I would have done whole lot of other things.

When you were in school you were embarrassingly good at everything. You were Captain of Hockey, Captain of Football. You were top of the class. You won the sword of honour. Every body must have hated you.
Yes, they hated me so much they made me a film star. Yes I would like. I really believed that if you are doing something, you should give it your best shot. It's not wanting to be best shot it's not wanting to be best at that but you should give it your best shot. My best shot would vary from your and it would vary from somebody else and but we all have to try our best and leave it and then let's hope that it's done well.  

There wasn't always question of just trying your best. You had group of friends in school. You called them the Sea gang and you were up to pranks most of time. Weren't you ?
Yes, we were and we were finally suspended from School and very nearly were expelled but they allowed us to stay there for exams. But well it was always in good fun. We had a gang called Sea gang. We used to take out from, Maruti 800 cars had just come up and 800 part had zero's which were Square and we would cut it half and make a sea out of it and stick it here. The video cassettes used to have a, b, c, d lettering on it; the alphabets. So we used to write gang here. We had shirts. We would only wear blue jeans and while shirts, Nike Shoes with grey skews on it and we had this little walk which waas like you were walking with ….. and scary things like hang loose, stay loose, cool and we just used hang out together, we used to go to parties like that and we would never asked girls out because we thought - we were like Dennis the Menace.

No Girls !

You can't ask girl for a dance and we did fell in love and then made friends with girls and none of us told each other for quite some time and it was just……


Well those days, you used to stay with your parents your mother, I believe, was Magistrate, your father was former freedom fighter and owned a restaurant. What sort of childhood was it ?
What I remember was it was, it was very nice and easy and it was lot of freedom. I have an elder sister too. You were never told what to do and what not to do.

So family allowed you to grow up as you wanted.
As I wanted really.

Was it a liberal family ?

Very liberal family as a matter of fact even religious teaching, functions, studies, career, everything was you just do it as you want and just be happy about it. Do you best.

Religious observance or duties and tradition wasn't important you could be yourself.

I could be myself. I was told that it was nice to go and read the namaaz. So I would go and do it. The way it was told. So we felt like doing it. All my life I wish I could bring up my children like that where you made to respect without being scared of anything that is told to you by your parents even to the extent of when I was choosing my career, my mom said, "I would, look, I would like you to go into Sciences". I said, OK. I could take na exam. But I would like to take up economics because I had finished my sciences from School and she said, Ph! You want to shift over to economics but can you do the IIT entrance. Can you do this engineering entrance. I said, "I can". She said, Ok, show it to me. So I did it and I passed and I showed her I passed. She said OK you don't need to take it now go and do your economics.

How do you remember your mother ?
I remember her now I remember her as a star. I have a star in my house in Bombay. Whenever I feel very lonely and feel said, I just go there and I look at one star and I sort of pinpointed it now and especially I miss her when I am very happy. Now I wish she was here.

Her death I know was a traumatic experience for you. The saddest part is she never lived to see your fame and your success.

Ya, she did not, which is very unfortunate. I remember, I was shooting for Maya Memsaheb in Shimla when I was called down to the hospital here that she is not going, she is unwell. We never knew that she is not going to live because she was absolutely alright before I left. My new series I just made an episode on Circus which was a big thing that was done in Bombay with the directors like Sayeed Mirza, Aziz Mirza and Kundan Shah. I really wanted her to see it so we got a special permission and put a television and a VCR and she could not make out, we put it on for her but she could not make out and she was very …………….. and she would confuse me with the other people sitting there and it was sad, but then I told someone that I would like to make it so big on the small screen that I would like screen to be come bigger and become 70 mm so from up in the heaven she could see you in the same.

And if she was here to see the tremendous success here today. What do you think she will say to you ?
She will say, Beta, Khana Aur Khao Bahut Patle Ho Gaye Ho.

After your mother died you left Delhi and you went and lived in Bombay. I gather you never took any of her things and possessions with you, Why ?
I didn't take anything. I just felt that if she wanted me to take things owned by her, she would stay here and let me use them and she would have liked that I would be able to stand on my own feet and …

And that's what you are doing this was symbolic of that.

Yes and I just took one television she gave me. The television is from Videocon Company and I still remember it she had bought that for me after I finished my first series, Fauji. I had bought it from my own money but she went with me to buy it. That's the only thing I had brought with me.

Did you keep it with you. Is it a treasure for you ?
Ya it is. It is in my house, I keep it with me.  

In the years that followed you married your childhood sweatheart Gauri. You remember where and how you first saw her.
Yes, I remember I saw her at a party in Safdarjung Enclave. I just saw her from the back. My car parked and she got up from a car and she insists that it was a blue dress. I remember it as a grey and she got off and she want and she had this huge french bun kind of hair. I never talked to a girl before you know I mean I had spoken to girls but never with the thought of going out with them you know. But it's called going out or having an affair now. I asked my friend. I was too shy then, I still am. I said would you go up to her and ask can I dance with her because I am very scared that I can't go up to a girl suppose if they refuse. My friend went there and asked her. She said I am waiting for someone. I was like quite heartbroken because I liked her. I liked her at the physical appearance because that's the first thing that I saw. And I say she will beat me up, when she see's the programme but I liked her backside and I went, I said she's got a boyfriend then I got to know later she was waiting for her brother so I thought O.K., here's the chance and then I went up to her and she's the first I asked for a dance and she's also the last one.

Did she says Yes ?

She said Yes and she talked a lot and after about 2 years. I sort of told her that I loved her.

It wasn't easy though to get to marry her because her parents didn't want to have the marriage at all.
Ya, now I look O.K. I wear shirt and my hair have gone back. That time I was (audio overlap) worse than what I look in my films even and I had hair all over here and I was from the different religion. I wanted to be an actor. So discombination if somebody came up to me and said like if I had a daughter and somebody said, look my head is like this. I am from a different religion and I want to be a film star, I would say just pack your bags and get out of the house or I will kick you out. So I think they were completely right in not wanting me to marry their daughter. And they have a very close knit joint family, where everybody is a kid of every one. They have been brought up like that.

Today of course you get on brilliantly with your in laws but in fact when you did eventually got married to Gauri, it had to be first of all a secret marriage.
Ya, it was, Ya there was going to be a hassle in terms of if we were going to marry in the Courts. You have to put it across for a month and when you do that there were some institutions like who took up offence that I am marrying a girl who was of different religion.

You approached ……………….
Yes, I approached ……………….. Fortunately Id didn't have a house in my name so I gave my friend's address instead of them throwing stones at me, they were throwing stones at my neighbour. My friend Sanjay called and said they are throwing stones at my house. So that happened. We had to keep it under wraps and get it done.

Gauri never wanted a husband who was an actor but now that you have become perhaps the most famous actor in India today, she has reconciled to it.
No, its not that. She didn't want someone to be an actor. I was always acting. I was acting in theatre with Barry John and then I was doing it in school. Then I was doing it in television when I met her. I mean I met her already but I was doing television and stuff but… I think any body would be little wary because what you ready and what you understand and what film industry is like. And you are in different city going down there. Her parents were really scared so all this put together can make you little sacred but I told her. Just little before we got married we did a walk in Greater Kailash and I said we will just stand by each other and we will stick to each other if not out of love at least out of righteousness so that promise I make to you and let's go down and start a new life and it didn't turn out so bad and now she says OK though she still doesn't like me as an actor.

She would rather know that you are one.

No she doesn't like me how I act.

She doesn't approve of your acting.
No she doesn't.

She is a lady of film accuracy.
. I think now I realize that perhaps when she said she doesn't want me to be an actor what she meant because she still thinks I can't act.

You now have a young son. Does it make a big different ?
I do find, I have loved kids always. I have also done theatre for kids and I think I am also quite a kid myself. I am 34 years old but I just feel like a kid and I behave like a kid everyone tells me that and I really enjoy with him because here there is one person who doesn't know who I am and where I come from. What I stand for. Whether I am good or bad or I am ugly. How I am related to him also perhaps but he just loves me unconditionally.

That makes you feel good.
Oh that makes me feel so wanted and he is one person. I don't have a complex with. I don't want to be wanted by him because he just wants me so much on his own.


So Aryan a little boy is answer to your insecurities.

He is the answer to my prayers. He is the answer to wanting to be close to my mother I think.
                                           
Shahrukh I gather that the first commercial thing hat you ever did on screen wat the "Anny get your gun in Delhi". Now I saw that production butdon't remember seeing you. What role were you playing.
Strangely as strange as it sound it sounds very strange to me but I was the principal dancer. I was taken for my dancing abilities though I just can't dance really and I had one line in it that where I come to Anny with a letter and tell her I have a message for you and she takes that and I think it is a message from her boyfriend or something where he is not being nice to her. She just throws it on my face and says get out.

Your big moment on television screen came in Fauji but I believe it happened almost where you were supposed to play a small part and ended up on heroes.
Yes I had a small role. I think Karan Kapoor's son Bobby was supposed to play the main role. He was also the Cinematographer of the series. At then last minute they decided he can't do both the jobs and they called upon me and ask would you do it. I said I would love to do it and then they cut my hair and then I was doing double shift because by that time I was doing another serial. Dil Dariya so I was doing double shift right in the middle of that.

And the big break come up when in a year later in Aziz Mirza's Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and after that there has been absolutely no looking back but if you were to look at it how would you explain to yourself your incredible success and popularity.
I don't know I am more shocked myself than any body else other actually because my friends and my co-actors and actresses you know they know I am quite easy going and fun to work with you know I remember lot of actresses telling me when we first saw you. We went EEKs. He is the hero and now also they find it very strange they are still working with me. 9 years - 10 years laters and they say God how did you became the hero.

They think it's a miracle.
It's more than a miracle I think its God's blessings. My mother's blessings. It's love of the audience. Its so many things.

If we really tried on explaination. How much of it is due to the fact that you deliberately challenged the sort of conventional roles that the other actors have played. Your's have been pretty non-confirmed. Yes, they have been because I have been getting little bored coming from the theatre and I really didn't want to do the regular thing just be nice and sweet.

Just run around trees.
I shouldn't say. A guy loves running around trees. I feel its great to be doing that and at 34 it is even better but I wanted to be bad because I think that its one of the element which every one has but they don't show it and just played Baazigar and Anjaam. I had nothing to lose and I just went ahead and I guess it just sort of hit the right chord. May be the timing was right. I believe that perhaps I was not absolutely the right kind of person but I had been there at right time.

What about something else. How much of your success is due to your uniquely energetic style and manner.
I am criticized for that lot of time but I believe that till I have the energy I should use that form of acting because I have the belief that there is nothing like underacting and overacting. I think especially in Hindi Cinema where every character has to break in to a song. So you cannot really have your own character. You can't have steady characters and so what you need to do is to just enjoy yourself and let the others enjoy themselves and I like to what an old actress said, "Hold up a mirror while I am acting and tell the other guy look I am playing you that all". I don't like play any thing else. I don't go deeply into acting. I don't believe in that kind of stuff and the energy is because I want to fill the space. I don't want to be a part of the space. I don't want to be the part of the atmosphere. I want to be the atmosphere that.

It stands as if you don't so much as act as actually perform.

Yes, yes. I tell it to everyone. I am an entertainer. I am a nautanki, I am a Bhand. I am just supposed to go ahead and make people laugh.

So you are deliberately larger than life. You deliberately go over the top because that's what you want to do.
I would like to tell any one who knows even little about acting that you know when critics and every body writes that man in this film is underplaying, overplaying and over the top they are just speaking complete and utter nonsense because there is nothing like a right way to do a scene and a wrong way to do a scene. There is just a way to do a scene. Your way, my way and any way could be right and if I believe it right, I could go overboard and if I believe loose fit is better than the tight fit so go over the top. So if any body wants to hang it a little, they can do it and chop it a little they can go ahead do it but I don’t like just performing it.

Are you scared of yourself sometime.
I am scared of being alone with myself. Yes I get scared of myself I don’t like myself liking too much and I think that's when you be come as actor not because people normally say you love yourself that's why you have become a star. Yes may be you become a star that way but I think you become an actor when you don’t like yourself.

So acting in a sense is a way of escaping from yourself you are becoming someone else because you don’t want to be Shahrukh.
Its so ironic there are lot of people who would tell me they would like to be Shahrukh and Shahrukh is here wanting to be a Ramesh or Rahul or Raj or a Batman or Superman.

Any one but Shahr