When we met Shah Rukh Khan at his residence in Bandra (W), he had already been giving interviews for over two hours. We thought he would be exhausted, since he had been talking constantly. But we were surprised to see the star so relaxed. “I know I’m being disrespectful, but I’m really hungry,” he said, as we settled for a chat, while he sat to eat his meal. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
You’ve known Aditya Chopra (film-maker) for over two decades. How has your equation evolved?
We take each other for granted. In a way, we’re very similar. Hum jab ek doosre ke saath kaam karte hain, tab bahut pyaar hota hai (When we work together, we love each other). And when we work with others, we concentrate on our equations with them. Par jab hum firse milte hain, tab wahi milte hain jahan pichhli baar choda tha (But when we meet again, we start from where we left off). We’re both extremely sensitive and detached. And both of us understand that about each other.
Tell us more about your friendship with him.
We meet a lot during vacations. We play games together and chat all night long. When we’re not working together, he comes over to my place, once in a while, to play with my kids, or I go to his house. We love and wish well for each other. We have an amazing relationship. He’s got this strange love for me, where he says that he feels responsible for my stardom, not by virtue of having made me a star. He wants to make sure that I retain it with the work he offers me. I think that’s a very sweet way to be a friend.
As an experienced actor, how does it feel to work with new directors? Do you give them suggestions?
I never say a word to a director. They ask me if I’m okay with a scene, and I say yes. Then comes the question, “How [are you okay with the scene]?” To which I say, “Because you’ve written it.” I’ve never questioned a director, or gone to an edit room unless I’m called. After that also, I’ve never said that something is too long. It’s only the director’s vision. I never participate in any conversation with a director about any scene. Once I’ve said yes to a film, you (the director) just tell me what to do.
But some projects may not match your sensibilities as an actor…
I find it stupid for an actor to turn around and say, “Mera motivation kya hai?” (What motivates me about this film?) Your motivation is simply the fact that you are doing that movie. If you have to ask for what your motivation for a scene is, you don’t know what you are doing. You’ve said yes to a film, you know the story, and so, you figure out what your motivation is. Sometimes, I tell directors to tell actors like these, “Because I say so. That’s your motivation.” I don’t ever question anything. It’s my duty and my job to try and figure out the vision directors have, and give it to them. The second part is: can I bring my own secret to the table, as an actor, and surprise them? And even surprise myself maybe in the process? The more acting you do, the more you realise how little you know. For me, 25 years have made me understand how little I know about acting.
Is your thought process as a producer different?
Not at all. I’m not a hands-on producer; my company is. I’ve maintained this for years — I’m not the producer here. I have a team that does all that. I’m actually told not to get into production because I’m too extravagant. Whenever the production team has an issue, and they want more money, my other team gets angry if I’m approached. They say, “Why did you go and tell Shah Rukh? Now he will increase the budget.” Even Adi (Aditya Chopra; producer) gets angry. Every film that I do, I try to do it as an actor, or a star.
How has your new film shaped up finally?
I saw it recently. It’s quite overwhelming. But it’s really awkward for me to say whether it’s a good or a bad film. [But] I think it’s a very nice movie. When I say that, I’m not peddling it as a project that people should watch. I genuinely feel it’s nice. On many fronts, it’s a difficult film. It’s a difficult one for a producer to believe in, for the VFX and make-up [teams] to participate in, for an actor to essay the role in, and for the director to stick to a vision. It took us a year [to make]. I think it’s an extremely fine movie, and it’s quite special. I’m glad I could do it.