There is an age-old Chinese saying that goes: “When the wind of change blows, some people build walls, others build windmills. Bollywood’s biggest superstar’s Shah Rukh Khan’s life seems to be somewhat dictated by this one. King Khan has constantly taken the winds of change and successfully built several windmills turned around his life…until recently. Bogged down with a less than stellar movie, a private life that had tongues wagging, and fans screaming for their idol’s big comeback, Shah Rukh, had clearly built a wall around him in the last two three years.
But walls are also meant to be broken, so goes another saying. With efforts from those who care for him and the superstar’s own attempt to reach out to the people, SRK slowly managed to break-free from the old shackles and bounce back into the sunshine—a little wiser. With Chennai Express ready to take off this Eid and more reasons to celebrate at Mannat, King Khan takes us through his moments that he had quietly lived through especially in the last 3 years.
Nursing an injured hand, SRK these days is spending a lot of quality time at home. If not reading, he is swimming and when he is out of the water, there are official stuff, meetings etc. that has to be tended. Amidst the bustle, we catch up at Mannat, almost after a year.
How would you arrange this in priority today—power, money and family?
My three priorities would be only family. I have never felt powerful nor did I chase money. I have got money. I have only been after goodness and friends who’re like family.
Do you believe in good time and bad time?
I don’t believe in astrology. I believe no exterior force can give you a bad or a good time. Whatever good or bad happens to me, it is because of my actions. In every religion, the biggest thing taught is acceptance of God’s will. If I accept His will I don’t need to bother about `Shani halka hai or bhaari hai’ (whether my stars are going bad or good!). I’ve seen my worst days when my parents expired--nothing can be as bad as that. My only prayer every night is that my children should be healthy. Beyond that I don’t need anything. Having said that, you’re not an achiever if you can’t deal with things that go wrong!
You have been single-handedly ruling Bollywood for the last two decades. Today with so much competition around do you feel your position being challenged?
If I had thought that I have been challenged, then I would have acted accordingly. But luckily, my thoughts are never like that. I don’t compete with anyone and I don’t think of being challenged. I read about my own achievements and let downs every few days and take it in my stride. I have lived with it for 22 years. Having stardom is very easy but sustaining it is difficult. There are other people who believe I have some magic and I can do anything. It could be delusional or poetic, but strangely, I believe what they say and I make it happen. I am not a logical chooser, I’m instinctive. My instincts have gone right so often that people think I’m calculative. They feel I plan a lot, but you spend five days with me and see how I function, you’ll know the reality. I just do my work and meet people and nothing else. The rest all follows.
You have been little low for past couple of years. By choice?
Actually I haven’t been interacting with lot of people from the industry, that’s all. Otherwise I have been busy all through in my sphere. I work wearing horse blinkers and that is why I never compared myself with anyone. Besides, I have a simple logic in my life-- if I don’t like something, I step back. I find I’m becoming a little more of my own person. I don’t know what the reason exactly is. I think it’s high time I get to know myself. And I am finding, I am good company to keep.
You mean you’re taking it easy?
Not work-wise. I’m doing what I used to do. But time has changed in aspect of the profession and outside it. I’m not able to comprehend. And if I don’t understand something, why would I do it? So, every time I go out or not go out, there’s a certain reason given to it. I can either spend my time clarifying why I do what I do or I can spend time knowing fully well why I do what I do. I have closed down little a more I think rather than having slowed down. I think now I don’t need to make people happy. I would rather be happy myself.
Do you regret any choice you’ve made?
Everything that happened to me in last three years (as you’ve mentioned), or the last 22 years, it’s because of the choices I made. Maybe I made the choices by mistake, but I made the good choices. I chose this job and I can’t be complaining about it. I chose to be a movie star and God has been kind enough to grant me that. I’m sure that there must be one billion people who want to be in my position. If I had not been Shah Rukh Khan may be I would have been the one who wanted to be Shah Rukh Khan. I’ve got awards, recognition, everything but I’d had to pay a price…willingly.
What is the price you paid?
It’s no big price. I would love to live the same life all over again! I want to be Shah Rukh Khan again I think it’s a great life. There have been some losses in terms of personal friends, but who doesn’t have losses in life?
Professionally, where do you see yourself today?
I don’t analyse it like that. At 47, I still wear make-up in the morning and go to shoot, get excited about having some fun on the sets and make a film. I find it as entertaining as I used to find when I did the very first film of my life. There is nothing else that I do. And there is nothing deeper. I enjoy like a 16-year-old would in whatever I do. I have to do two-and-a-half films a year that are of my repute. Basically, I just enjoy my work. I have a very innocent lifestyle with my kids.
People say Ranbir Kapoor will fill in Shah Rukh Khan’s shoes as the next superstar shoes. How do you see it?
Stardom and superstardom are individualistic. It’s not fair to call me a superstar when there is Mr Amitabh Bachchan. There can’t be someone like him or Rajesh Khanna, or for that matter Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. Similarly, there cannot be anyone else like me. Superstardom will always be defined with a new person. They would be bigger, better and nicer or just different.
As for Ranbir, people shouldn’t put such pressure on anyone, it’s really unfair. He should work lot more and be the next Ranbir Kapoor. He has got the capabilities and the films. He is very sweet and a very well brought up child as I know. That’s an achievement that he could come out of the shadows of his famous father and make something on his own….and I am sure his father is proud of that. I am and should not be part of that equation even media wise let alone seriously.
How do you see Salman Khan’s recent phenomenal rise, considering both of you more or less started together?
I can’t comment on the phenomenal rise because he has been a star two years (Maine Pyar Kiya 1989) before I came in the industry (Deewana, 1992). And like I say, sustaining stardom is a bigger phenomenon than gaining it. If I am not mistaken, professionally he had more downs than anyone else and still been able to sustain himself and his stardom. Everyone can’t do that. That’s amazing! It’s an achievement. You can belittle his years of hard work by only counting the last few years. Many people got lost in the industry but people like Salman and Aamir (Khan) have come back with dignity. There is something special about people who can do that.
You’re back on Twitter again. How come?
I’d stepped back from it. I find nameless, faceless people abusing me all the time. So much of my words are misinterpreted. So why serve them? If I do a public comment like ‘India won the world cup. Congratulations!’ it’s not misinterpreted. But if I do a personal comment, I fear my personal feeling will be misinterpreted. I don’t feel like bracketing my expressions. I’d been given opportunities to take money and tweet professional work, which I refused. Whatever I do it’s from the heart, I’m very sensitive. Now I’ve resumed it but I’m going to be selective in my expressions. I won’t talk anything personal again except my work.
There’s a feeling that your friends--Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar, Juhi Chawla etc. are not as close to you as before. The famous SRK-KJO coterie isn’t there anymore. True?
The mistake was people thought it was a camp and in reality it was never like that. Karan, Juhi or Adi, none of us ever said that we have a camp. I meet Adi when I do a film with him. I am not someone who gets angry with supposedly my friends when they are doing things with others. I never told my wife whom she should be friends with. It demeans my self-respect to tell a friend of mine to choose his friends according to my relationship with that person. Because I don’t do it some people think it’s bad and it apparently shows that I’m weak and can’t hold on to my friends. But I like to believe that I’m large-hearted enough that I won’t judge you on who are you with and why are you with him or her. I think it has become fashionable to say I have lost my friends. As long as I know and my friends know, I am fine. Actually I have a problem: I don’t clarify. I keep things inside. I have never spoken about what happened with Shirish (Kunder) or Farah (Khan). Certain things should remain in the heart. When it comes to public domain it becomes nasty. I have seen and heard my friends talking about their friendship in public domain. I didn’t stop them nor will I comment on it ever.
There was a report that SRK controlled and blacked out screens at the Eden Garden T-20 match when Akshay Kumar was in Kolkata?
Honestly I’ve nothing to do with that. I wasn’t told Akshay was coming there. I don’t know his connections. It was my first match and I was quite tense. The organisers of T-20 have a simple rule; they don’t do publicity of a film if they are not tied up with. These are cheap marketing thoughts. I’m much higher than all this. The intent about such an article is very petty. Last time during Rowdy Rathore (2012), I was in Pune. I went up to him and danced with him on his song ‘Dhinka Chika’. I had also promoted his film Joker (2012) at my house in Mannat. I’m an achiever of a different sort. I think of building studios of international scale. I think very big. My marketing is of a different level and I need not be saying that. Everything was different whether it was doing television after Om Shanti Om (2007), whether it tie up during RA.One (2011) — my thoughts are only bigger and different.
Today is Father’s Day. What’s the significance of it for you?
I think of my own father. For most of the people their father is their hero…mine was the gentlest…sweetest handsomest father…without being recognised for it. I can still smell him around. He died of cancer and the last few months all I remember of him are his eyes. The gentleness in them and the hope that his son and daughter are taken care of. I believe whatever I do and will do…is because he is somewhere far beyond reaching out to me and making it happen.
How do Aryan and Suhana celebrate it?
I take my son on the terrace of my house on Father's Day and pray together. I pray he gives strength to my beautiful son that he becomes as gentle as my father. True strength lies in being gentle. My daughter always makes a lovely card for me on father’s day and warmly hugs me and that makes me feel extremely special and warm and fuzzy.