He has had girls and women swoon over him for decades. Besides that, Shah Rukh Khan has always stood apart for his insurmountable energy levels. As the superstar completes 25 years in Bollywood, HT catches up with him about his ‘energetic’ avatar, Salman Khan, and more.
Way before Ranveer Singh appeared on the scene, you were the original ‘Mr Energetic’. How have you managed to keep such energy levels for over two decades?
I don’t think I was ever as energetic as Ranveer is (laughs). God bless him; he has a lot of energy. I don’t know why but I have been given various reasons for my success, except for the fact that I can act well (laughs). Energy hai, lucky hai, gaane bade acche hai iske, directors acche mil gaye ise, NRIs ki filmein bahut bana li isne…acting nahi aati par baaki sab kuch aata hai. Energy is one of the things that I actually dislike being among the reasons for my success. I think everybody is like this [energetic]. We all like to compartmentalise, take on one aspect of a person and say, ‘this is what he or she is about’. So, I think that since I wasn’t good-looking enough, wasn’t a good enough dancer, or didn’t have a good enough body, energy has been highlighted. I honestly think that all of us have the same energy.
But your energy levels have often been spoken about by your colleagues…
Creative process requires that kind of dedication and stamina. I really want to say that the kind of stamina actresses have is 10 times more than male actors. They come at 7am, dress up for two-and-a-half hours and then shoot the entire day. Once I dressed up as a girl in a film and I remember the eyelashes used to trouble me so much, and then there was the corset, ghagra and wig. I wanted to kill myself. So, girls have a lot more energy than any guy or all the men put together. So, please don’t overrate me because of anything (smiles).
Every few weeks, you are in the news for something to do with Salman Khan…
I think now people overreact to Karan-Arjun coming back. We have come back so often. Sometimes, I feel how many times will Karan-Arjun keep coming back? By now, even Rakhee ji would have felt bad that Karan and Arjun are coming back so many times; itna bhi nahi bulaya tha maine (I didn’t call them so many times) (laughs). I find it odd. In a certain sense, there’s a sense of seniority (between us), not in terms of age, but the positioning when we came here (industry). I was new for four years, while he had been working. We both are hot headed; all of us are. We all have our own issues and they will stem up from time to time. Till next time when we have a public fight, its good (laughs).
You have always been a favourite with women. What’s the secret?
Actually, girls want simple things in life. They don’t want elaborate flowers and chocolates. If you allow them to be themselves, are dignified and respectful towards them, and hug them once in a while (smiles), there is nothing else in the world (that is required). It’s as simple. The quality question is how dignified you are towards a woman. I handle men and women alike. Men don’t understand that; it’s so simple to be nice to a girl.
You have always emphasised that Salman Khan and his family was supportive of you at the start of your career?
Yes, I have always maintained this and I always will. Salman’s family was beautiful to me when I came here. I was new. I considered Chunky Pandey’s and Salman’s family as my own and I always will. There will always be respectability towards Chunky, Salman’s and even Juhi’s respective families. I was new, so in a way they adopted me. I would stay in their houses and eat there. I could even leave my friends and my wife there; I was so confident. Even when Salman and I had issues, our families used to go and meet each other. Uncle (Salim) used to come and we would chat. Gauri and her sister would meet Salman. There never was an issue just because we had our problems. That won’t change.
Talking shop, the popular perception is that SRK is a very spontaneous actor…
You know Raghuveer Yadav? He is one of the finest actors this country has, and I am fortunate to have worked with him for years. He used to rehearse a lot, and you would feel he is doing things on his own. I would ask him, ‘how much do you rehearse? Doesn’t it become mechanised?’ And he said, ‘First, it becomes mechanical and then it becomes a part of you and comes naturally.’ So, I know that process and rehearse a lot in the bathroom, in my van and in my individual space. But I respect actors a lot, so I ask them if it’s okay if I keep rehearsing. On the set too, I rehearse like 40 times. So, it’s not completely spontaneous, but you have to do it to an extent that it seems natural. Like all actors, sometimes I succeed; and sometimes, I don’t. When it comes to performing, you can have workshops, have discussions, can underline things and can even change a few lines, but what you ultimately create has to happen in, what I call, an alone space.
You told HT earlier that you want Aryan and Suhana to finish their studies first before they enter the industry?
Yes, I would really like my children to be minimally qualified, which is to be graduates from a good school or a good college because I can afford it. My parents could not, but still they put me in the best of schools and colleges and so, I have the best of education that a lower middle class family could get. If I could afford education and not give it to my children, I’ll really feel like a small parent (sic).
Suhana has already impressed everyone with her talent…
My daughter has this (love for acting) and I know that for a fact. She really wants to act and also understands the world (of acting). She will be a good actor, but I don’t know when it (film debut) will happen. They (his kids) should hone their craft and then whenever they want to or wish to (make their debuts).