Showbiz / Up Close: Shah Rukh Khan

Up Close: Shah Rukh Khan

Showbiz Jun 10, 2013


?ANOKHI sits down with superstar Shah Rukh Khan to talk about life, love and the secret to his success

*In My Name is Khan, Shah Rukh Khan stars as Rizvan Khan, an unconventional hero who embarks on an incredible journey across America in order to win back the love of his life, Mandira played by Kajol. Along the way his unique brand of goodness and humanity touches the lives of many and inspires a nation. My Name Is Khan is directed by Karan Johar, written by Shibani Bathija and distributed by Fox STAR Studios, 20th Century Fox International and Fox Searchlight Pictures.

SRK: Hi Hina. I hope you are well and thank you so much for having me.

HPA: Thanks for taking the time out for this interview our ANOKHI readers will be thrilled to hear from you.
SRK: Yes I saw the magazine. It's beautiful. You have beautiful women and beautiful clothes.

HPA: So let's talk about your upcoming film, My Name Is Khan. It has a very interesting storyline. How did this film come about and what was it that piqued your interest to be a part of it?
SRK: Since our experience with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Karan [Johar] and I are always trying to look for stories that are different from the last project. We are always looking for a change. There were a couple of ideas; the first one was a social interaction with disabilities like Autism or Asberger's Syndrome. Karan started writing and he met some people and then wrote this character by the name of Rizvan Khan who is afflicted with Asberger's syndrome. Another idea was 'can we do a love story up against a real background'. Normally we would have a fictional love story between Kajol and myself as the protagonist against a fictional background but this time we wanted to have a fictional love story up against a real background. We said, 'okay, let's think of an obstacle that you wouldn't find in a usual love story and how it could affect us'. So we put 911 as the real background and how 911 became an obstacle in the lives of these two lovers. So with these two aspects joined together, we worked on for three years with Shibani Bathija the writer and we put together this story which I have been encouraging Karan to try to do and it is something that I wanted to do.

HPA: Would you say that the 911 scenario is another character in the film itself that drives your character?
SRK: No I wouldn't say that it is another character. It is something that has affected the whole world. It could have affected America as a country or as an economy in one way. It could have affected a country in another way. It is about what could happen to two normal people-it could have been a restaurateur, or a poke player or a businessman. [This film is] just about two people Rizvan and Mandira who are living in America, and how could this incident have affected them. So it is not a character per say but it is an incident, which changed many lives and how it has changed the lives of these two characters.

HPA: You shot the film in the United States correct?
SRK: Yes we shot the film in San Francisco and the surrounding areas. The beginning of the film was in India. Some special effects were done in India as well.

HPA: Taking into consideration the storyline, how was your shooting experience in San Francisco?
SRK: Fantastic! It was one of the first few Indian flagged films which is one of the reasons that Fox came on board and they are helping us distribute it worldwide and in a different way then any other film has been done before. So that is very kind of Fox to do that. It was extensively shot in America unlike past [Bollywood] films. Normally, you would shoot just the pretty songs with a pretty backdrop in America. This time we shot in the interior places of America and it was quite an experience. It was very cold in January when I was shooting there.

HPA:Congratulations on the fact that this film is being shown at the upcoming 60th Annual Berlin International Film Festival. How did you find out, and what was your reaction when you heard the great news?


L-R) Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, and Karan Johar

SRK: I've been to the Berlin International Film Festival for Om Shanti Om, not as an official selection, but because of all the people who liked it in Germany, it was one of the biggest events that I have attended. When they saw My Name Is Khan, they selected it officially for the festival. The festival is outstanding as everyone from Europe attends it. Last time I was there I was given the nicest ovation and welcome that I have ever had in my life and I'm really looking forward to being there with Karan and Kajol and the whole team. I think that people around the world and in Berlin would really appreciate the effort we put into that film. It's really, really exciting and a big, big honour actually.

HPA: I want to talk about you and Kajol. You have quite a memorable cinematic run with your first hit Baazigar all the way through Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum and so on. I equate your on-screen coupling with the likes of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Why do you think that audiences are riveted by this particular on screen coupling?
SRK: I think for me, Kajol and I have known each for so long and we have worked together for so long. The scripts we shared, the acting we shared, and we are friends. We love each other as colleagues; we love each other as family. We are successful when we work together. So when we work together that turns into love on screen. So when people see it they call it "chemistry" or when "sparks fly". But Kajol and I are absolutely not conscious of the fact that we are film stars. We work together. We are both middle class people who have found success of a very high order. We help each other and it translates on screen. It's love, admiration and appreciation, which turns into a nice pairing. I get very excited to work with Kajol whenever she agrees to do a film.

HPA: The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards are coming up and I must ask you about your experience as a guest and presenter last year. I know for one, having attended the Golden Globes previously it is quite a surreal experience. How was it for you?
SRK: The people of [The Hollywood Foreign Press] were extremely kind to me. I think they watch a lot of Indian films as well. And with my friends there, like A.R. Rahman, Frieda Pinto and Anil Kapoor, I felt that I should be there as well. Slumdog Millionaire was such a great honour as it was shot in India, and it was about a show that I hosted. I was so happy for Danny Boyle. I was shooting My Name Is Khan at the time. In the beginning I wasn't sure if I was able to attend or take time off from shooting. So everything fell into place. I went [to the Golden Globes Awards] and saw some of the most beautiful people in the world under one roof cheering for each other. I was sitting at the table with Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) so my daughter thought that was the best thing of the night. I met so many people there. All of them were so kind to me. They speak so graciously about your work even though they are such well known celebrities. I love the humility of the Hollywood actors and actresses.

HPA: At the end of the day we are all fans of everyone's works of art. Was there anyone in particular that you were looking forward to meeting and was surprised at how wonderful that experience ending up being?
SRK: All of them! I saw Brad Pitt. I got to meet Angelina Jolie. There were so many people I didn't know where to look (laughs). So many people that I grew up watching. I also got to meet Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz and so many others.

HPA: Having seen that part of the world and that particular industry up close, has that piqued your interest at all, in terms of crossing over to Hollywood?
SRK: No I don't think so. I don't think I'm so talented. My life's ambition is to work in Indian films. I am very happy with that. You would have to write a film for a 40+-year-old brown Indian man as a character (laughs). There are outstanding and amazing and good-looking actors in the West and there are other actors India who can do it. Actually for me I have to remain in India and do Indian films.

HPA: That is your priority and that's your love.
SRK: It's the first and last thing, yes.

HPA: Through your career the cinematic treatment of Bollywood films have changed from Baazigar all the way up till now. I remember visiting the Devdas set and was awestruck by the level of production. Of course that film being an exception, do you think that now, with the economy being the way it is, and how people are rethinking their world, do you think that particular film making is in the past? Or do you feel that production levels for these types of films are an important part of the whole escapism philosophy that has become a trademark for Bollywood films?
SRK: I don't think that it's a matter of escapism but I think that cinematic experience has to be larger than life. Whether we do it like Star Wars has done it, or whether we do it like Titanic has done it. We must do what it takes to make it larger then life whether it's the effects, the dancers, and costumes or set designs. You have to do it, whether there is a recession or no recession. People are trying to leave behind their realities when they come to see a film so you to give them an experience which is worth their time it took for them to line up and buy their tickets. When times are bad, people may hold back a bit but they still want cinema.

HPA: What are you working on now?
SRK: I'm shooting another film in Miami called Raone. It's a super hero film. I want to do it so my kids can watch me as a super hero before I grow too old (laughs). I am eager to do that film. Then will be taking a break for a month for the summer holidays. Then I'll be shooting Don Part 2, which is an extension of the Don franchise. I'll be shooting and discussing a couple of films which are really wonderful. Trying to do something that is different from a normal action thriller.

HPA: You are doing Raone for your kids then?
SRK: Yes I'm doing it for my kids and the kids of the world. I love children. I have to do a Superhero, as that is my first love-is to be a Superhero (laughs). I love Superheroes and followed them in films and comics so I think now I'm in a position to be one, before I get too old (laughs).

HPA: Well then, I have to ask. Who is your favorite Superhero?
SRK: I like Batman and Superman. They are the best.

HPA: Rumours are circulating that you will be touring here in North America. Let's set that record straight shall we?
SRK: I am coming to America; I think Fox has a plan to do press for the films in the beginning of February. Then I'll be coming back to Miami for the Raone shoot. Just press stuff and introduction to the movie, but I won't be doing a show.

HPA: Let's talk fashion. Do you have any favorite designers?
SRK: I know nothing about fashion (laughs). Karan Johar designs most of my clothes and Manish [Malhotra] stitches them. I have different designers creating clothes for the films I do. I'm completely fashion illiterate. But I love shoes. That's the only thing I know about.

HPA: I asked friends what to ask you and the most popular question had to do with your hair. So on behalf of your fans, what is your hair care secret?
SRK: My hair stylist always tells me never to say this ever in public. I rarely use shampoo or soap. I usually wash my hair with just water. Only when I'm shooting an action scene or leaving the country or if I'm on the beach with my kids, then I use shampoo. I don't use any product while bathing my hair at all. I know I probably don't smell good. Sometimes I use gel when I'm supposed to look decent (laughs) otherwise I look indecent and unkempt most of the time (laughs). There is no fixed hair product.

HPA: My Name Is Khan is set to release February 12, 2010 and of course that falls around Valentine's Day. Which begs this question: You have a pretty solid relationship by Hollywood and even Bollywood standards. What is your secret to marital success?
SRK: I think that you should give space to each other. It's a very clichéd sounding thing but that's how I can describe that. I am always very excited to see my wife. I treat her like my girlfriend. She is very sweet you know, being an actor's wife. She has never complained. I also have no reason to complain. There are a very few times when I'm doing interviews at night where I should be with here. I normally don't bring my work home. When we want to do anything like take a holiday tomorrow, I'm like 'let's go'. These are the benefits of being a star where you can take your wife and kids with you on location. One thing is that you cannot think of [marriage] as something special. It should be as normal as breathing and as normal as eating. People say you have to 'work' at marriage. I find this the funniest thing. I don't think that you have to work at a marriage. If you have to work at a marriage then it's not a marriage (laughs).

HPA: How do you keep yourself grounded in the industry?
SRK: I have nothing to feel special about. I just work. The only thing different with me is that I'm 44 and I wear makeup in the morning (laughs). That is nothing to feel special about. I work on my lines and sometimes I screw them up. When I go home at the end of the day, I think about the work that I've done and always feel that I should do better. The feeling of having to do better work in spite of having success or failure keeps you grounded because I have to do nothing else but to do better. I don't do anything special. I don't work for posterity and I don't work towards what the future is going to be. I just get up in the morning and try to do better. A lot of people don't understand it. But I have a sense that I should do better every morning.

HPA: If you weren't acting in films, then what career would you have taken a crack at?
SRK: If I hadn't gotten injured I would have loved to be sportsman. Cricket, soccer or field hockey. I would also like to teach.

HPA: Do you play these sports in your spare time with your friends or your kids?
SRK: I play soccer with my son and we have a bunch of my fellow actors who get together and play some sports. I play some soccer and teach my kids. So I've become a sportsman and a teacher.

HPA: Well then, the role in Kabhi Alveda Na Kehna is quite close to what you wanted to do because he played an ex-sportsman correct?
SRK: Yeah but he was a coach and was cynical. I'm not cynical and I don't coach. I just play (laughs).

HPA: In Luck By Chance you were giving advice to that young star who had his first big break. What advice would you give to budding filmmakers, producers, directors, and actors?
SRK: I would tell everyone don't think of the Indian film making style in terms of culture and music. Do pay a lot more attention to screenplay writing. Learn the scientific method of screenplay writing that is offered up in America and bring it here to India. Learn the technology and bring it to India. Make Indian films with the technology and screenplay stylings of the western world. I think that is the call of the day.

 

Sources: Twitter, dharma-productions.com, and IMDb.com

Hina P. Ansari

Hina P. Ansari

Author

Hina P. Ansari is a graduate from The University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario). Since then she has carved a successful career in Canada's national fashion-publishing world as the Entertainment/Photo Editor at FLARE Magazine, Canada's national fashion magazine. She was the first South Asian in...

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