He has been on the top of his game for 25 years now, during which he has successfully taken up different kinds of films. Even now, as Shah Rukh Khan seems to be mixing up his roles successfully, especially with his last three releases, the superstar says it “wasn’t a concerted decision”. In a recent interview with HT, Shah Rukh talks about films, cooking and more.
You have mixed and matched your film choices throughout your career. Of late too, you seem to be picking up different kind of films such as Fan (2016), Dear Zindagi (2016) and Raees.
You know, I had finished Chennai Express (2013), when suddenly, Farah (Khan; director) came up with Happy New Year (HNY; 2014), and I needed to work with her because I hadn’t for so long. So, I started doing that film. After doing two back-to-back happy-go-lucky, commercial films — regardless of whether they become blockbusters or not — I wanted to do a different film because I have always tried to maintain that in my career. And the same was the case with films like Om Shanti Om (2007) and Chak De! India (2007). So, more often than not, I try to do that (mix up films) unless there is no offer (smiles). If you aren’t offered a film such as Swades (2004), you can’t do it, so the offer has to come.
You’ve also worked almost without a break through your career.
Yes, and that’s because I can’t wait, as I like to keep working. I can’t sit at home waiting for six months because then I change my state of mind (laughs). After wrapping up HNY and Chennai Express, I really wanted to do something different. [The shoot for] Raees started but it got delayed by nine months due to my injury. Then, Fan was supposed to release in August (in 2015) but VFX took one-and-a-half year. We didn’t realise that it (VFX work) would take that long.
So, the plan was to have different kind of films coming out at regular intervals?
Yes, that’s why it [due to change in plans of all the films] seems like I did Fan and Raees back-to-back. Now, thank God for Imtiaz’s (Ali) film (yet untitled venture co-starring Anushka Sharma). It’s a love story. Else, people will think I’m doing just offbeat movies (smiles). It’s just about trying to maintain a mix. Some days, I’m really happy to do a HNY, or a Chennai Express. I enjoy them. They are great fun, and I like them because it’s not that I am a serious actor and I won’t do those films.
You told HT earlier that you like the process of cooking food and that you have some nice pans and pots?
I know it sounds very girlish (smiles). But then, I’m all for empowerment of women. I want to be equal to women. I want to go higher up to their level, instead of thinking that they have to go higher. But I genuinely want to cook. Imagine, if I open a chain of restaurants and stores, kitna business karunga main (smiles). Having said that, Juhi (Chawla) once asked me, ‘Why have you named your company, Red Chillies?’ And I was like, ‘just in case film-making fails, I’ll open a restaurant by the same name. Red Chillies Restaurant toh chalega hi (laughs).
People have enjoyed seeing you in different avatars in films like Chak De! India, Om Shanti Om and Chennai Express...
I love taking up different roles, and that’s why I love mad, comic capers too. I know they are unrealistic. It’s not like I am considering them to be anything else, but I like the entire idea of this ‘big film’ experience. So, I find films such as Now You See Me (2013) with all the magicians very interesting, because it’s over-the-top, weird and erratic. I also love [the] Die Hard [films], for instance. So, I like to be in that space, and then also do a little ‘offish’ film, which makes me happy as an actor. Both kinds of films require hard work.
Your last three back-to-back releases, Raees, Fan and Dear Zindagi, seem to have reinforced the fact that you want to experiment with your roles.
No, it [doing different kinds of films] is not like it was a planned decision. The actual line-up was supposed to be Happy New Year, Raees, Dilwale (2015) and Fan, before Imtiaz’s (Ali) film and Aanand L Rai’s next. So my plan was good, but as they say, God spoils all plans. I might suddenly seem like an intellectual, but I’m actually not (smiles).
You recently said that you work on your characters in secret and also keep your enactments a secret. Do you implement your ideas directly in your performances or do you share them with your directors?
I would definitely share something like what I did in My Name Is Khan (2010) or Suri’s voice (from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi; 2008) with my directors after I practice it innumerable times myself. For instance, I even prepared how I would mouth ‘Taaniji’ (in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi). When Adi (Aditya Chopra) thought about it, I gave him three or four options. I can act it out for my directors too — the way I did for Imtiaz. He is the kind of a director, who would like me to enact a scene. So Anushka (Sharma; co-star in Imtiaz’s film) and I rehearsed our scenes sometimes even till four or five in the morning, because Imtiaz likes it [that way]. I am ready to do whatever the director wants. A lot depends on the film as well. Farah (Khan) and Karan (Johar) have known me for many years, so they write it [the scripts] in a way that is easier [for me].
People were surprised when you told HT that you’ve started learning to cook Italian food, and want to open a restaurant.
I have been telling my friends and colleagues that once I learn cooking, I’d love to call them over and serve them, because I love doing that. I think of acting too as ‘serving’. As an actor, when you serve and present your acting, you hope people like and enjoy it as much as you enjoyed making it [the film]. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Plus, you don’t impose yourself on people and be like accha laga ya nahi? (did you like it or not?). You just serve. I like to serve people in the house.