Feb 12, 2010 - 05:15 PM(Excerpts from the interview)
What drives him even today?
I think this frenzy of work is not a necessity; it is a way of life. It is like breathing. You never see someone specially sitting down and breathing, you just breathe. Stop it and you will die. I really believe acting is spiritual. I’m happiest when I’m working. Everything that is good in me comes to the fore when I’m acting.
So why did you get onto Twitter?
Karan and I were chatting one night when he asked me why I wasn’t on Twitter. He insisted I sign up and I did. Karan tweeted about this and we instantly had some 900 followers. Frankly, I was a little overwhelmed. The problem with a courteous person like me is that when people say ‘hi, how are you, so glad to have you here’ the least I’d like to do is to thank them. The next day Karan said I had 2000 followers. I didn’t know what to say. The idea was not to talk about the film, though to be honest, they did ask. But film promotion will be film promotion. It will be done. But I’m not on Twitter to put up thought-provoking statements and have people comment on them. It’s a platform to say hello. Yes once or twice I may comment on an issue like I did on hockey but basically it’s to interact with people. I feel odd talking about my movie on Twitter. I could keep at it the whole day because there are 1200 people coming in per minute. But I don’t want that. I want to take it to a level where I can create a more entertaining platform on the Internet.
How do you cope with the frenzy?
Everyone is frenzied. I’m not doing anything special. Earlier, I used to do an interview with you, you used to write it. There was a gestation period and then the magazine would be on the stands. Now I say ‘Hi’ on a channel and it’s beamed right away and people call you to say they saw you on the channel today. And I’m like I haven’t even finished my interview yet. Like it happened on my birthday, I finished an interview with one channel. Before I could do an interview with another channel, I started getting calls saying ‘We saw your interview’. Like I’m talking to you now. It will be tweeted ‘Hey I met Shah Rukh’. The information is out. The pictures are already out. So one piece has gone out even before its release. Already people know that Shah Rukh and Kajol are doing an interview for Filmfare, the shoot was great fun. Some where down the line you will have to add incentives to give information to people. Most information all around is the same, so the incentive here will be Shah Rukh and Kajol come together on Filmfare after nine years. You have to create an event. And what’s going to happen with this is that the enigmatic quality of stars will slowly fade. And I’m very happy about that.
Kajol says that even though you have a larger-than-life aura about you, when someone meets you, you are completely humble.
See, things came to me so plentifully that it’s made me shy almost to the extent of being embarrassed about acknowledging it. Like when you meet a really, really good looking person, sometimes that person shies of his good looks. He’s embarrassed about the excess he has. I tell two things to people depending on my mood and my rapport with that person. To someone like Kajol I will say that I am great enough to be humble. But if I say the same thing to someone else they’ll ask me how can you say you are the best? So I tell them I am not great enough to be humble. Thankfully, I have a good sense of humour so I cover up the things that have happened to me with a wicked sense of humour or humility that neutralises the star aura. They say your aura precedes you. And your aura should be able to make people feel intimate with you. It should not intimidate. Your aura should be such that when you meet a person, you should come back feeling elated and should want to meet him again. I remember cricketer Imran Khan got angry with me once and that left a hole in my heart. I was a kid and my mom took me to a match. I stood there for his autograph but he had an off day so he was generally screaming at everyone in sight. So it happened that while asking for his autograph I stood in the line of fire and he yelled at me. I held that against him for the longest time. Then as a grown up and as a celebrity myself, I met him, I chatted with him and I told him about the incident. He said that the team was losing, the pressures of captaincy were all reasons for the incident. Imran Khan was my God but I was shattered that day. I would never have done that myself. I’ve never been angry with a fan. You see I make fans wait, sometimes for hours and sometimes for years. But I believe if you are not worth the wait, you are not worth the stardom. I can never make a fan wait and then let him leave disappointed.
So what does stardom mean to you?
Stardom for me is not the screaming crowds, but the time when I walk out and the fans make way for me. Many years ago, when ABCL was gaining attention, I went to meet Amitji at the ABCL office in Juhu. I was a big star too. I’d had Baazigar, Darr and Dilwale… I walked into the office and people were lined up outside in thousands waiting for Amitabh Bachchan to meet Shah Rukh Khan. I went in, finished the meeting and out of courtesy Amitji came to drop me to the door and I got to know, he was leaving as well. So out of courtesy, I asked him to go first. The thousands lined outside were shouting and howling. Amitji, got into his car and as soon as the car moved a few inches, the crowd quietly parted and made way for him. Then my car came out and people were falling all over on the car, thumping on the windows and pulling at the handles. It is then I realised what true stardom is. Great stardom is when you are able to calm screaming people as you walk in.
Okay, what do you expect from My Name Is Khan?
It is a good story to tell. I have issues with the way it is told. But I have come not to trust my instincts on these things. In the past, my perceptions about what will work and what will not have been thwarted so many times that I have started questioning my own judgment on these things. There are portions in MNIK I think are not right. Like I felt there should have been more fun, but Karan wanted it to be more dramatic. Yes there were these minor differences but I also think it is one of the finest roles ever given to me. And from the bottom of my heart I thank Kajol for doing this movie with me. The strange thing is every film that Kajol has done with me, Dilwale..., Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, I have felt that the film was written for Kajol and not me. Karan has also told me that I wrote the film for Kajol and you managed to do well. But this film I can genuinely say was written only for me. And I believe this film wouldn’t work if Kajol were not so brilliant in it. I can take my performance and hang it anywhere, even on top of the Eiffel Tower but people will still first notice Kajol’s performance. Sometimes in the film, the mirror character to the protagonist needs to be strong to make the protagonist look stronger. In MNIK, what Kajol has done is brilliant. Even Karan Johar is brilliant. It doesn’t look like a Karan Johar film. I’d keep telling him, kuch alag banate hain but now he’s made it so different that even I am scared. I am glad Karan took things so seriously and put the money where his mouth is and made a big film which is different. Making a film like MNIK in Rs 6 crore is an okay feat, but to make it in Rs 80 – 90 crore is a bold decision and it takes a lot of guts. When I see the film I feel Kajol and Karan have joined hands to promote me. It’s like a whole set of people have gotten together to make Shah Rukh act in a role he’s never done before. Everyone is thrilled at what I have done. It really is a showcase for what I could possibly do as an actor. I think once and for all, people will stop saying that yeh banda acting nahin karta hai. And if they still say it, then I’ll accept that mujhe acting aati bhi nahin hai.
Did you feel the chemistry while working with Kajol after nine years?
People talk about the chemistry between us. I’ll tell you what the chemistry is. Whenever I’m giving a shot, Kajol looks at me and she’s only watching whether I’m doing it nicely according to her. And I’m only watching if she’s doing it nicely. Invariably, whenever Kajol and I have asked for a retake, it’s because Kajol has turned around and said no I think Shah Rukh can do much better, or I’ve said Kajol can do much better. She’s one of the few actors I’ve worked with who’s observing my acting more than hers. And I’m observing her more than myself. There’s a strange concern for each other. After she saw MNIK she was relieved that I’d done well. Just as I was relieved that she’d done well. We’re responsible for each other’s performance in a film. That’s the chemistry between us. One day she was very cold and wasn’t doing the scene well. So we said let’s pack up. I’ve never met an actor who’s come and said sorry for mucking up the shoot. I found that very sweet. Kajol doesn’t have to say ‘Sorry ya’. I’ve worked with actors who should be just sorry that they’re acting. But Kajol comes and says sorry. I’ve never said sorry to a director. I know she’s bothered that I hope this is a big film for Shah Rukh. And I’m like if she isn’t planning to do another film for two years then I hope this is the nicest film she’s done. I always wish nice for my film. But I don’t know how many times I’ve wished nice for someone else in the film. It’s this niceness that comes across as chemistry.
(For the full explosive interview by Anuradha Choudhary, get your hands on the Filmfare issue dated February 17, 2010)