On April 28, Shah Rukh Khan became the first Indian actor to deliver a TED Talk (in Vancouver, Canada). And his speech — about humanity, fame, love, India and his work — has been widely appreciated for its message, warmth and appeal. As people across the country respond positively to the talk, HT caught up with the actor to chat about the speech, India, love, and more.
Your first-ever TED Talk has got a great response in India. You must be really happy.
I’m extremely glad that people liked it. It was more than just a talk; it’s something that I’m trying to convey that I believe our country teaches us. Or at least, what my life in my country has taught me. If I get so much love, then obviously, love does exist in our country. Hamaare desh ke logon ka dil jo hai woh pyaar se bhara hua hai (the hearts of the people in our country are full of love). If you are able to translate that for the rest of the world, that’s fantastic.
In that sense, do you feel the world ought to know about the real, modern India?
Absolutely. We have such amazing things happening around [the country] in all the fields. If that feeling of love and all these developments go hand-in-hand, we’ll make a better and happy place for ourselves to live in. If people, especially those who attend TED Talks — and they’re amazing achievers, thinkers and innovators — can get that message, that’d be great.
You’re considered the king of romance. Did it feel natural to talk about love?
I feel that as an actor and also as someone who’s known for romance and love, I think it was very important for me to speak about love instead of just talking about Indian films or Bollywood, or only chat about how an actor thinks. I wanted it [the talk] to be more universal in its appeal instead of being about what I do as an actor.
You get invited to so many global platforms to speak your mind. What does it feel like?
I truly believe that when I go [for such talks], I represent 1.25 billion people. I represent them not because I’ve been given that mantle or I’m the best choice, but because I have had the love of all those people, and that has made me the star that I am. I think it all comes from your heart when you are loved so much by 1.25 billion people. So, you are gracious, grateful and thankful to the motherland that you are born in and belong to. The bottom-line is: there is no country better than India.
If given an option, would you like to take on the mantle of ‘India’s global ambassador’?
I think not just me, each one of us, when given a chance, choice or moment to represent our country, are global ambassadors for India. I have been fortunate to have been provided with platforms and opportunities to speak about my country or talk about my work through which also I will always speak about India. I think it’s the duty of every Indian to do so.
Do you feel every Indian should be proactive about spreading a positive word about our country?
Yes, when you go abroad, you need to show things in the most positive light and talk about all the good things that your country has to offer. One should open the gates and people’s eyes to [help them] get over the one-sided comments that anyone [else] may make about your country. You can be like, ‘Okay, these are the positive things. Please come and experience our country’. And if I’m ever given that choice, I would love to talk about my country and tell everyone that we are all made in India and we’re fantastic. What we do here is the best that can be done anywhere in the world.
Since your birth you must have witnessed a lot of changes in India...
Having been born here, I’ve seen India for over 50 years. I have also heard my parents’ experiences, as they would tell me how things were during their times. So, I’ve been a part of this nation for the last 70, 80, 90 or even 100 years. It’s like I’ve seen the changes that have happened. They have always been positive and for the betterment of the people. I think the world needs to know how India is [as a country].