That he's in the news is no longer news. Whether he’s making controversial statements.. acting in an AIDS awareness short film.. endorsing a hundred products.. fetching up weekdays on television.. or snazzing up the scene at a Tag Heuer do, he’s energy-packed.
Over to Shah Rukh Khan in conversation with Vajir Singh
For an SRK watcher like me, I do feel you have become very aggressive these days.
No, no, no, I’m not aggressive. Maybe you’ve come into the scene much later than I have. It’s just that I have always been outspoken. I’ve never taken any nonsense from anyone... (Smiles) And I’ve been stupid.
I’ve been around for 17 years. Initially I was a bit hard on people. Maybe that was really silly of me. Today, I’m not aggressive..not at all. I have mellowed. I’m much sweeter…respectful and courteous. Have you ever met me before?
No. We’ve spoken on the phone.
Was I rude to you?
Then why do you think I’m aggressive?
Well, that’s because in your recent interviews, you sound a bit aggressive and bitter.
Meaning the great big war of words between Mr Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan.
What? There is no war of words. You guys write anything that has been said.. as a headline. See, interviews have become a game.. I’m tired of playing the game. You’re young.. I’ve never met you before.. so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you don’t play the game.
I don’t have a war with Mr Bachchan. Both of us have said it so many times. Really, I’m bored of this war.
Okay, so is there any way to stop this so-called war?
There is none. You guys have to stop. Not Mr Bachchan or I. We meet each other.. we talk to each other..we love each other. We’ve worked together.. as far as I’m concerned we share a nice working and personal relationship.
There have been reports about a fall-out between Mr Yash Chopra and I.. Dugu (Hrithik Roshan) and I, too. Every two years I’ve been falling out with someone new.
That’s the price of being Shah Rukh Khan. Right?
Na, na. There is no price, no payment, yaar. It’s okay. This is a part of the job we chose. Earlier, I would get a bit disturbed, now I don’t. I guess, journalists sit down in their own circle and then somebody says, “Suna yaar unka bada jhagda chal raha hai.. undercover cold war ho raha hai.” I have to accept this with a smile. And when I want to clarify anything I do it with a longish chat. (Laughs) When you have a longish chat with me, you’ll be in a better position to understand.
How would you describe the Kaun Banega Crorepati experience?
Fantastic. Really, very nice. It was enjoyable.. meeting people.. asking questions. I had a great time. I think most of the episodes revealed my happiness on my face. I’m feeling sad that the first season is coming to an end.
Will you act in more remakes after Devdas and Don?
I wasn’t the producer or the director for the movies. I’ve been offered other remakes which I won’t name since I didn’t do them and they were done by other actors.
See, it’s the mix of the person who offers me the film and its story..which determines which film I do and I don’t. With all humility I would say, it was a great honour to do Devdas and Don.
It humbled me that I was offered both these films. I know very well that I wasn’t good enough to do either but people took the chance. I’m happy that I could deliver.
Doesn’t the script determine your choice of films?
I don’t think of the scripts. Obviously I know the story. I’ve the experience to understand where it’s heading.Also, people trust me enough.. they know I won’t mess around with the film we are doing.. so the people I work with are the most important consideration.
Why are you working around the clock again?
I had slowed down on work because of my back. But for the last two years, I’ve been working at this pace.. I took on KBC. And then Om Shanti Om which doesn’t only require me as an actor but also as a producer. And then you know there are months when endorsements happen.. during the summer holidays and the Diwali festival. I think that has kept me busy.
(Smiles) Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Don and Chak De India were all shot abroad. I was out of the country for too long. There, even if you pack up at 3 pm, you don’t have any work to do. So, there was a lot of work pending which I had to complete from January to March. At the end of this month, I’ll be back to normal.
How come you’re working with newcomers in both your new films, Om Shanti Om and Chak De India?
Oh ya. They’ll are new. I’m working with 17 new girls, in Chak De.., there are 16. (Happily) This must be a record. They’ve worked very very hard.. harder than me. Chak De India is not about me though. I’m the prime protagonist. It’s about the 16 girls.
And after having shot 60 per cent of Om Shanti Om with Deepika (Padukone), I can say she will make us look good.
The three models I have worked with till now — Ash (Aishwarya Rai), Sushmita (Sen) and Deepika (Padukone) —have been very hardworking and talented.. and very punctual and eager to learn.
Deepika has taught me a lot about the ease and innocence of acting. So see, 17 girls have taught me how to act over the last six months.
Isn’t your production house planning to make more movies in the coming months?
Right now, I want to get myself another office. I need space for production. I have a big special effects unit which has taken up all the space (at Khar). I’ve a big advertising unit too. I want to grow. And to make films I need to get new EPs (executive producers) and a new set of workers.
In the next two months, I’ll get the space, inshallah. Then a couple of my assistant directors of my production house, Red Chillies, will make their debut as directors. Inshallah, I’ll try to make one more big film after Om Shanti Om in the coming six-seven months. I haven’t planned it yet.. and there are two to three other very interesting projects.
This is a great time to be in film production. I want to use this to the fullest degree.. not for the business but for some really talented people like Vishal Punjabi, Sanjay, Deven Munjal and Joyeeta Chatterjee. They have been working with us for seven-eight years. I think they’ll be great filmmakers. (Smiles) Hopefully, they’ll use me as an actor in their films.
Lastly, do you look into the finances of your production house?
No. I don’t. I just ask my office if we’ve done well on a film.. a project. (Smiles) Having done well means, hope we haven’t lost money.
Whatever we gain goes back to the office. I’ve never taken a dividend from my office for the last six years. And I don’t intend doing so now. Because it’s not my money...so I don’t count.