- A TELEGRAPH EXCLUSIVE
- Superstar No.1 SRK speaks to Lokendra Pratap Sahi
The following are excerpts
Q Your thoughts and emotions leading up to the first home match this season, on Sunday?
A The same as they were two years ago, in the IPL’s first season... With all the controversies and the issues that we’ve had, the one thing consistent has been the support of Calcuttans... When people love you so much, then you want to give them reasons to smile... That’s an obligation... Hopefully, there will be reason to smile across all centres, not just in Calcutta, during this IPL.
Did you intentionally not attend the opener, in Navi Mumbai?
Except Calcutta, I usually don’t go for matches anywhere... I sense that everybody in Calcutta loves the team the most and, so, I also come for the team... The team is more important and that is how it should be... It’s not that a film is being released and the focus has to be on me.
But you remain the biggest draw... There’s you and the captain, Sourav Ganguly...
It’s a misconception that I’m the biggest draw... If that indeed is so, then it has to be changed... Perhaps, we haven’t given enough reasons for the people to believe that I’m not the biggest draw... However, I appreciate the love and affection showered on the Knight Riders. I’ve been touched.
Do you get asked about KKR during your interactions with the media, or the public in general, overseas?
Recently, I was in New York and in Berlin... People do ask questions... Somebody asked me about the LA Lakers and I said that nothing in the world matches the atmosphere at Eden Gardens... I’d say that even if my team didn’t have an association with the ground... For me, there’s no place in the world to match Eden Gardens.
Third season as the principal owner of an IPL franchise... How do you look back on this experience?
I never look back... It’s over and done with... What can you do by looking back? I can’t do anything about the past, so why get into it? Be it successes or failures, I don’t dwell on the past... Obviously, it took me a few weeks and months to get over the fact that we didn’t play well enough (in the first two editions)... It took time because I’m passionate about what I do... (After a pause) A lot of people live on their successes and victories, I don’t... That’s the way I’ve lived my life and will continue doing so... I’m through with my films on the Monday after they’ve been released... Of course, it took me a little longer than a Monday to get over the KKR disappointments... I got over it before this season got under way and I’m sure the team got over it, too.
Looking ahead, then, is the mantra?
You know, I often get the feeling that we, as a people, lack positivity... I reach out to the youngsters and tell them failure isn’t fatal and success isn’t final... While I’m not looking back, I’m definitely thankful to the sponsors who’ve kept faith in us... I’m thankful to my business associates, like Jeet (Banerjee), too...
Frankly, when you made the investment, did you expect the IPL to make such a huge impact?
If you believe in something, go for it... Look, I’ve experienced enough successes and failures in the business part of my life... I don’t know number crunching... I’ve done things because I’ve believed in them and I’ve enjoyed doing them... I’m thankful that we’ve made money, but I’m not into numbers and figures... I see myself as a sportsman and sportsmen try to win... Of course, you can lose in sport, but you don’t have to be a loser... The other day, an interviewer asked whether I’d like the franchise to win or for it to make money. Obviously, if I had to choose, I’d like KKR to first win... I mean, that’s why I and the other co-owners have got involved.
But some did question your primary motive...
From the outside, yes, I’ve heard a lot of crap... ‘Shah Rukh does it because of this’ and ‘Shah Rukh does it because of that’... I know the reason why I’m doing this and my God knows why I’m into this... That is all that matters... There was no need for people to put the team down... Yes, we didn’t play well in the first two editions, but have put in everything to do better... The happiness didn’t go out of the team and we still partied with our friends.
For the past couple of months, you’ve been in the news almost everyday. There have been controversies over the IPL auction... Over My Name Is Khan...
(Laughs) That’s because I’m a superstar!
Accepted... But is there something you’ve learnt in this period?
If you’re going to do a good job in your field, then there will be a lot of people trying to (run one down)... I get 97 per cent goodness in my life everyday... I have more people (well-wishers) outside my house than I deserve... I have more benefits in my life than I deserve to have... I have more appreciation by way of awards, money, fame and name than I probably deserve... So, 97 per cent of it is good... If I’m going to lead my life by the three per cent, then... You’ve got to choose what makes you happy... It’s not a question of whether this period has taught me anything or not... I need to follow principles and I need to believe in what I’m doing... I don’t need to wear it on my sleeve... Don’t need to show off to people what I’m doing... From the outside, you can’t understand what I go through... Only I know that... Believe me, one gets numbed by success and failures.
What drives you?
The fact that I’m not sure I’ll get it right all the time. When I make a film, I don’t know whether it will succeed or not... I want it to, but don’t know...
When you start a venture, is there a fear that things may not work out well?
Why must your question be on what may not be right? Just because you don’t do well, to begin with, doesn’t mean that its worth has to be questioned. Sport is also about losing, it’s not only about winning... That being so, what’s wrong with losing? People say things from the outside and make money too! Last year, there was this blogger, who made money out of my team... A lot of people sit on the shoulders of those who’re famous and work relentlessly to make their own name. There are people who see the glass half empty, I see it as half full.
You’ve promised a change in KKR’s attitude. Will you spell it out?
I’d like the Knights to be like me... I want the players to be happy... Dada (Sourav) is instilling that... Work hard and have a good time... I enjoy the process of working hard and I want the players, too, to enjoy the process... Internal reasons, not external, contributed to the team’s attitude not being what it should have been in the first two seasons... I heard something about the coach, something about a communication gap, something about the multiple captains bit... However, we tried... We failed trying new things, we haven't failed trying the traditional things...
The Knights, you feel, should be like you... How would you describe yourself?
I cut out the negative things and look only at the positives.
Unlike in 2008, when the biggest signings from overseas left after a few matches, the top guns will be there for the critical stage of this year’s IPL. That must be making you comfortable...
I’d be happy to have all of them for the entire six weeks... That would be the ideal situation, but that isn’t always possible... It would, after all, be great to have choices right through the tournament... The IPL brass is working towards a window and I’ve been told something could indeed be done from next year.
Being candid is one of your strengths... At times, does it work against you?
After saying something, I realise I shouldn’t have said it. But the next morning, I get up and say the same thing. (Adds laughing) I can’t hold back. I speak my mind and I speak the truth... My children (Aryan, Suhana) are grown up and I wouldn’t lie to them... When my son’s 21, I wouldn’t like him to tell me that I’d lied... There are certain basic truths in life that we stand by... For example, I’m a Muslim and my (entire) family should know that... I’m not going to force my religion on them, they should love and embrace it, if they so wish... The only time that I may lie is when I don’t want to belittle anybody... That’s the one time I hold back.
The traits you’ve inherited from your late parents...
A lot of things, but patience and a sense of humour is at the top... If you don’t have patience, then you aren’t going to lead a happy life... As for having a sense of humour, it helps you deal with a lot of problems.
Finally, do you have long-term plans or are you actually a spur-of-the-moment man?
I don’t plan and I’m very disorganised... I do whatever I feel like doing at any given moment...