The rather dull beige walls of the Dharma Productions office, where Shah Rukh Khan has settled down behind a large bare desk could not be more in contrast to his feisty mood.
The topics at hand are marriage, infidelity and his purported animosities. Dressed in a dark blue T-shirt, the once chain-smoking Khan lights up just once through our 30-minute chat as he talks about Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, his first release since Paheli.
He's also wrapped up Farhan Akhtar's Don and starts Yashraj Films' Chak De on August 15. As ever, Khan does not mince his words or dodge the ball. That's a new one for you — football coach with a limp. Yes, but the film does not dwell on football.
I'll always be on top of my game, whether my films do well or not, says Shah Rukh
Dev's life is about the game but just when he thinks it is his life, tragedy befalls and he becomes a cynical bitter man. The film is also about infidelity and second chances, right?
As an actor I keep running after other people's women – like in Darr, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dil To Pagal Hai. But successful and unsuccessful marriages are wrongly perceived from the outside.
I'm an actor with a happy marriage and nice children, but marriages need communication, clarity and hearing opposing points of view.
I play a character in an unhappy marriage and I can understand the situation, but some scenes like when I'm sms-ing while lying next to my wife or having an affair with someone else's wife made me uncomfortable.
I've seen people go through bad marriages and they are not as easy as is depicted in KANK. It is correct to call it a second chance because holding onto something makes more people unhappy.
Coming to your alleged bust-ups, like with Ram Gopal Varma, what happened Time with Machine? A director calls me, we negotiate a meeting, he narrates the story to me, we make an agreement and then they change their minds and tell the press. So I say OK. Ramu and I went through this and then he called me and said 'I don't think you trust me. I think I should go ahead with the project with someone else'.
I can't force him to work with me, it's his choice. I do three films a year. I reject about 12. I only think about the three I am doing and don't give a damn about the 12 I am not. What about issues between yourself and the Bachchans? The story is the figment of a journalist's imagination. Why should we cater to it? We can say we love each other; we are comfortable with each other.
But that I hate them makes better headlines. Why get into something that does not exist? We work together, we are friends and I'm honoured to be working with Mr Bachchan. It's unfair to compare me with Mr Bachchan and it is disrespectful to him if you do that.
What about competition with Abhishek? Why does everyone compete with me? First Hrithik (Roshan), now Abhishek. I'll always be on top of my game, whether my films do well or not. I have been here 16 years – when will people get it? Why pitch youngsters against me and put that pressure on them? There's no competition between Abhishek and me.