Longish hair bordering on the unkempt, carefully maintained roguish stubble in place, natty jacket - a wicked jet black - actor Shah Rukh Khan, who was in town to promote his latest film Don 2: The King Is Back, dropped in at the HT office on Monday, looking every inch the Don, but sounding every inch the astute and charming superstar.
In a freewheeling conversation with HT editors, SRK flew from subject to subject with characteristic speed, not hurry, quotable quotes tripping off his tongue faster than the pen could capture. Sample one: "I work neither for posterity nor for prosperity. I have reached both." Sample another: "Success cannot be taught as an uttaradhikar."
He spoke about Don 2 being a wish fulfilment of a film allowing him to indulge his "pent-up bad side", of Delhi trips inevitably wrapped in nostalgia, stardom and its "longevity" in the age of social media, his IPL mantra and his payback to the film industry.
"I wake up every morning with this guilt that I owe so much to this industry and the audience, who have given me so much and made me what I am," he said, sounding every inch the impassioned superhero.
With 20 years of acting success in his kitty, the mega star claimed he was eyeing newer territories to conquer."I want to do something in the area of technology. I want to conceptualise movie studios as Hollywood has."
Khan's responses were imbued with references to Korea, the lokpal bill, Kafka and Saddam Hussein, "Amit ji" and Al Pacino, and every once in a while he let slip his admiration for "today's" breed of educated actors, as he did his irritation with the media for allowing itself to be "used" by some stars to promote "salacious gossip".
"Kuchh stars besharam se ho gaye hain. It is good to be in the news, but with some sanctity. We have families to go back to, after all."
Speaking of family, he confessed that SRK the father spent hours in the bathroom fretting that his children should not have to live in the "shadow" of his fame.
He also admitted that his first two years as part of the IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket were fraught with difficulties but not regrets.
"It has actually made me stronger. I will only think of leaving once we win the trophy."
Don ko samajhna mushkil hai bhai...