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'I needed to go easy, now I am finally doing it'
Subhash K Jha | April 21, 2003 10:24 IST
"I needed to look after my health, to be with my kids [Shah Rukh and Gauri have two children -- a son and a daughter]. I have a chance to do all the things I never had time for, like computers. I am catching up on my reading. Over the years, I have been collecting books I hoped to read one day. I have just read the whole history of Russia -- I am particularly fascinated by Rasputin. I am reading up on Islam and the Middle Eastern crisis. I am also learning film editing on my own. I needed this time off."
It is very rare for an actor in the film industry to command the kind of loyalty Shah Rukh does from his friends. They were in London to be with him during his surgery. Says Shah Rukh, "I did not want too many people there. Some took me by surprise. I did not know Juhi [Chawla] was coming. She is expecting a child [her first child, a daughter, was born on February 20 last year] and travel was cumbersome for her. But I would do the same for them. It would be as ridiculous as my wife asking me if she should come to see me. Even if they did not come to London, I would still love them just as much. My oldest friends from outside the film industry did not come. But my feelings for them remain the same."
Back home, Shah Rukh has already started dubbing for his next release, Aziz Mirza's Chalte Chalte, a marital drama costarring Rani Mukherji, which releases in June after the actor returns from his month-and-a-half-long holiday in London with his family.
Save for assignments with Ashutosh Gowariker (Swades) and, perhaps Subhash Ghai (Homeland), Shah Rukh has not taken on any new projects, nor is he listening to new scripts. "Since my prior commitments have been postponed by two to three months, it will not be fair on my part to make any new commitments without completing the old ones. My own production, Chalte Chalte, which Aziz Mirza is directing, is nearly complete. Then I have Karan Johar's Kal Ho Na Ho and Farah Khan's Main Hoon Na to complete. For Karan's film [being directed by his associate, Nikhil Advani], I shot a day before I went into surgery. I told him to get someone else if he wanted. Because of me, he had to cancel a 40-day schedule in New York."
Directors are willing to wait until the actor recovers completely. "Yes, Yashji [Chopra] is like family. He is very keen. We would have started his film in May if my surgery had been postponed to February-March 2004. He came to London after my surgery and kindly offered to postpone his film. Yashji, Karan Johar and Ashutosh Gowariker can easily adjust my dates among them. Even Farah's film [Main Hoon Na] is partly my own production, so no problems. Anyway, it is a matter of only three to four months before I am on my feet."
Right now, Shah Rukh is taking no chances with his health. "My doctor told me I can go back to work in May. But I will hold on till June, maybe even later. The previous surgery on my knee did not go well because I did not give myself a chance to recover properly. I went back to shooting for Mohabbatein [directed by Aditya Chopra, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Jugal Hansraj, Jimmy Shergill, Uday Chopra, Preeti Jhangiani, Shamita Shetty, Kim Sharma]10 days after surgery. I don't want the stress of going back to surgery. I am not rushing into anything. My kids are my primary responsibility. I want to be able to play with them again. I have done enough work. If I were a regular 10 to 5 guy, I would be back at work by now. I guess I am enjoying the benefits of being self-employed. I needed to go easy for the last two years and, now, I am finally doing it."