Call him a superstar, rockstar, King Khan, Raj, Raees or Harry — it doesn't matter. After 25 years in the industry, he wears his stardom with casual, unfettered pride, but when it comes to cinema, there is nothing casual about SRK.
Ask any director who has worked with him, they will unanimously tell you that he's the most giving actor. For him, every shot is as big as the whole picture. When we met up for this interview at his sprawling home, before the release of Jab Harry Met Sejal (JHMS), the actor looked upbeat and relaxed. "AbRam has learnt to hold his breath underwater for three seconds, we both were dunking our heads in a tub right now," he tells me. Well, even superstars have to keep their heads above water and hold their breath, right? Shah Rukh Khan has done that for long and almost mastered it. Who says superstardom comes easy. SRK tell us all about that and more. Read on...
You have been in the industry for 25 years now. Highs, lows, friendships, heartbreak — your journey from an actor to a star has been fascinating. At the same time, it's heavier for a superstar to bear the cross of a failure. Did you ever crack under the pressure to succeed?
I think it would be foolish for people who have been working for so long to not know the limit of success each product has. It would also be silly to assume that after working for so many years, I would not know where this is headed.
Of course, in this case, there could be two scenarios; one, it could be way beyond the disaster that you thought, or it could be way beyond the huge hit that you assumed. Like 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' was a shocker and so was 'Fan', though the latter was not a shocker because we assumed it would do `200 crore, but because I thought it would be more liked than it was.
While these two scenarios are beyond calculation or assumption, the third scenario is what most of us know. When I crack a joke at an award show, I know how far it will go. It is seldom that there's complete silence, likewise, it is seldom that people guffaw and fall down laughing. As an entertainer for years, you are never delusional about your success, and if you are not, chances are rare that you will crack under pressure of wanting to be successful.
I remember I did a film with a famous director-producer and as we watched the first 30 minutes during the premiere, everyone knew that something had gone wrong. I went to the bathroom and the producer was there, washing his face. It was a very awkward moment. He turned to me and said, 'You know k ya hota hai yaar, jab sab kuch khatam ho jaata hai phir bhi jisne film banayi hai na usko 10% hope hoti hai. Ab wohi reh gayi hai, toh main woh dhone aaya hoon .' We smiled and left. Of course, I believe that a long-running actor knows somewhere that he will get it right sometime or the other.
Was there any make or break phase for you?
I wasn't from Mumbai, so I didn't understand the parameters of a successful star in this industry. Also, I wasn't launched in a way many other actors made their debut.
For instance, if Aryan (son) is being launched today by friends (which he is not), there would be a thought behind it. Like his first film could be a love story by uncle Karan (Johar), then he could go on to work with the finest directors like Rajkumar Hirani and Imtiaz Ali, so that he has a line-up of three big films and hopefully then, he will do a cola ad (laughs!).
I never followed any system or pattern. So, I didn't realise what success meant for many years and I think that was the best phase of my career. As strange as it might sound, I realised that I have done well only 15 years into my career.
Talking about Imtiaz Ali, you are working with him for the first time in JHMS, and you recently said that you would like to do a film with him every year...
Imtiaz's writing is simple, beautiful and heartfelt. I haven't seen any of his films from start to finish; I've only seen portions of 'Socha Na Tha' and 'Rockstar'. There are two kinds of filmmakers — one who gets completely corrupted by filmmaking as it is a business, and the other who is semi-corrupted.
I don't use 'corrupted' as a bad word. I think it is important. Some are completely mind, some are completely heart. The first kind could be extremely manipulative and successful; the second type could be extremely heartfelt and unsuccessful.
Then, there are some filmmakers who figure out the middle path. Imtiaz is like that, he is all heart and still very successful. Every actor in the industry openly says that they are dying to work with him. I don't know if it's his films or the way he is personally.
He is a great guy to work with, of course, but being nice is no criteria to work with someone in this competitive field. Imtiaz writes and directs beautifully and I think that makes a great combo. I am hoping that I've made him think a little bit, as being a writer, he's all heart. You will see that in JHMS. So yes, I think Imtiaz and I make a good combo, and I would like to work with him more if he wishes to work with me.
Twenty years ago, you took far more risks. You defied the archetypal Bollywood hero by doing films like 'Darr', 'Baazigar' and 'Anjaam'. Do you think that today, you would be able to pull off films like those?
I will be honest; when I was doing those films, there were people from the industry and outside who told me, 'you are finished'.
I was not knowledgeable enough, and I always say this to people that the greatest thing going for me when I started off in Mumbai was that I didn't know how to be a star. If I can remain like that, I will always be a star, because then I will do things that are radically different without being calculative. Yes, I think that even today, I can do those roles fantastically. They haven't written a role like that for me in a long time.
A character like 'Don' was androgynously sexy, you had to love him. That wasn't really a negative role, it was James Bond gone rogue. I would love to do a character like Dexter (US television show). Well actually, I feel scared to say these things in an interview as people will think it is my state of mind.
They will say, 'Look at what kind of person he is, instead of doing a patriotic film he wants to be a killer.' As an actor, there is amazing potential for such roles, and I think that I am among the most fortunate actors in the film industry who have had the chance to essay roles with such contrasting shades.
If someone offered me roles like what we see in Breaking Bad and Dexter, I think I can pull it off. More often than not, I am told that people want to see me playing the good part, but c'mon, a bad guy could have shades of goodness, too. If I made a film from Gabbar Singh's (from 'Sholay') point of view, I think you would really love Gabbar.
Irrespective of your hits and misses at the BO, or the kind of films you do or don't do, your fan following and stardom remain undiluted. All superstars talk about humility and modesty, but at the height of stardom Shah Rukh, how humble can you truly be?
I read this saying somewhere, and I would keep saying it till about 10 years ago that I am not yet great enough to be humble. Now, I really feel that I am great enough to be humble.
I am truly humble. I am being honest, not pompous. In life, you sometimes reach a level of achievement where humility should be at the forefront —you will see this in most achievers. I will not say that I have achieved the most. I am not saying that I am the biggest superstar.
I still believe there's a long way to go and I love superstardom. I wear it on my sleeve and I enjoy it. I am a rockstar and I really believe that I am a cool guy. I'd rather be this than anything else. I want to have a private jet and I want to enjoy all the trappings of a movie star.
I want to come late on the set and make movies the way I do. And I say all this without any cynicism. I have never said this to anyone from my team, 'Oh, he can wait for me'. I am just unfortunately and unfashionably late, but that doesn't mean that I disrespect anyone or their time. It's like bachpan mein maa bolti thi ki jis ped par zyada phal hote hai woh jhuk jaata hai. I n fact, my kids joke about me being a star (in a nice way). If they see me telling my team that, 'Guys, this has to be done by 9 pm!' suddenly, Aryan will say... 'Ohh...S..R..K!' They know that I don't take stardom seriously, so they can make fun of it. They don't say it, but I know that my family is bothered about my future. Like Aryan says, 'You have to be a big star baba, because AbRam should not be bereft of it. He is so young and he has not seen your stardom yet, we have seen it'.
He tells me that I should work hard and AbRam should have the same upbringing that they had. He says, 'You have to work harder, as you doing all this isn't the same as me doing well, or mama doing something well or Suhana doing well. It's not the same when baba does something well. So, you have to look healthy and strong.'
That is really sweet. So, I think that my family is attached to my stardom, but we are not sold out to it. I believe that when you are a superstar, you have to let people listen to your heartbeat. You are not supposed to tell them... ' Aye, yeh karo, woh karo' . They will give you the best things in life if they believe that you are a superstar. If ONLY you believe that you are a star, you have to scream it out aloud. It has been long since I actually screamed, so I must have been a star for many years (smiles!).
You were just talking about Aryan; how does it feel watching him grow into a good-looking boy, building muscle, talking about movies et al...
He's learning how to make movies, which is something I am still doing 25 years later (laughs!). Gauri and I often sit down and ask each other... 'Kaun hai yeh bade bade log joh hamare saath rehte hai and are roaming around the house?' I see my daughter (Suhana) all dressed up, hanging out with her friends and going out partying.
We are liberal parents. Aryan is a tough guy; he does Taekwondo and he's building muscle, but he very sweetly tells me, 'Baba, you can still beat me'. It feels like Gauri and I are stuck in a time warp, where we are living with these two people (Aryan and Suhana), we know them, but we don't associate them as our children who have grown up.
I think the beauty of our children is that they will look after me rather than me looking after them. They are smarter and more balanced than me. I come across as normal, but I think that I am the most imbalanced person in the house and my family knows that. I guess you become that way when you are dealing with all that I deal with every day.
Sources : indiatimes
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