Why Shah Rukh Khan is a star for all seasons
Khalid Mohamed recounts his interactions with Shah Rukh Khan over the years
Right now, reports have been claiming that Shah Rukh Khan's next project will be directed by Rajkumar Hirani. The title and the film's theme have been kept under wraps. Talk has also circulated that he's keen to act in a no-punches-barred actioner but there's been no update on that.
Ever since his films Dilwale, Fan, Raees, Jab Harry Met Sejal and Zero have performed underwhelmingly at the cash counters, Shah Rukh Khan is being evidently extra-cautious. At this juncture of his 28-year-long career, which kicked off with Deewana in 1992, he cannot afford to disappoint his fan base that remains rock-firm. Meanwhile, he's been producing web series for Netflix, the Emraan Khan-starrer Bard of Blood and the upcoming Class of '83, featuring Bobby Deol.
Of all the three Khans, SRK is known to be the most instinctive one and capable of springing surprises. Aamir adopts a methodical, perfectionist approach, while Salman Khan continues to be the one-man muscle army. As it happens, their projects fetch a premium rate in the market.
Shah Rukh, who has become an astute entrepreneur, while preserving his on-screen charisma, is also the most articulate and media-savvy of the Khan trio. A sharp sense of humour, sarcasm and high energy are his calling cards. For this week's column, I collate his quotable quotes darted at me through the course of endless conversations.
On unusual roles
Since I began my film career - after doing TV serials - with the unusual, that has become usual. After Baazigar, Darr and Anjaam, I finally became the normal, romantic hero with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and a bit of an action hero with Karan Arjun. With Raam Jaane and Chaahat, I even did the sort of roles which were associated with Anil Kapoor. So, see, with your permission, I can call myself an all-rounder.
To be honest, I do feel pressured by the demands of stardom. I have to get into cliched situations and dialogues, because the financial stakes involved in filmmaking are so high. I can play any part, even turn into a child because everyone still treats me like a kid. I'm a spoilt brat who smokes too much, talks too much. But whenever I become introspective, I can be quite mature. I remind myself that I'm an adult.
They're a law of nature. I would have liked a 100 per cent success track record but that's like asking for the moon, isn't it? Setbacks happen to me because I'm a good guy. I have never given grief to anyone knowingly. I don't interfere, I don't behave bossily, whether at work or home. I don't know if it's the correct thing to do, but I don't even look after the house. It runs on its own. I have a wonderful wife, beautiful children, food in the 'fridge... and quite a few award trophies in my living room.
On being restless
I can't ever sit still, I'm always hyper. Still, I can delude myself into believing that I'm chilled out, lie down on the sofa and lift my hand only for a cola. I've tried many times but I can't nap in the afternoons. Even at nights, I psyche myself to doze off for three to four hours. In fact, Mahesh Bhatt once told me I suffer from workaholism. That's okay by me. When I'm not in front of the camera, I read a book, repair the roof, tinker with the airconditioner or the doorbell.
I can never feel low or worry myself sick. Life is too short, I've only just begun. I feel as if I've just come out of kindergarten and entered the first standard of school.
What competition? No one's competition for me.
On comparisons with other actors
At the outset of my career, I'd use pauses, silences, a halting style in delivering dialogue and bring about a certain intensity to the most ordinary script situations. It was said I was aping Dilip Kumar. If that's true at all, I think I did a terrific job. Seriously though, I don't like comparisons with A, B, C or Z. Moreover, such comparisons belittle a great actor who was beyond extraordinary, especially in Devdas, Ganga Jamuna, Ram Aur Shyam and Shakti.
However, if you ask me, my hero is Amitabh Bachchan. My generation grew up on his films. Frequently, I can't believe this is happening to me. The crowds that used to queue up for Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan are now queuing up for me. I'm proud of the fact that I became an actor. Perhaps one fine day, some directors will say, "Okay, let's do this scene the Shah Rukh Khan way." Right now, whenever an actor has to do a scene full of anger and rage, it's said, "Let's do the scene the way Amitabh Bachchan did in Deewaar."
On unpleasant rumours
I react very sharply only to blatant lies. My wife, Gauri, is from an orthodox family. It's enough that she married outside her faith. And I'm an actor to boot. That's a deadly combination. We try to keep away from the buzzing grapevine. Gauri doesn't even react to my films.
That said, frankly, at times, the gossip does get to her. She gets all shaken up. For years, I still had to reach that stage of indifference. One lawyer had even suggested that I go to London to file a case against a publication. I didn't because it would have been a waste of time. Kuchh to log kahenge, as the song goes, and we've learnt to believe in that.