Shah Rukh: Girls just love me in romantic characters
While Ajay Devgn is quite upset with Yash Raj Films, Shah Rukh Khan thinks the controversy is very 'silly and amusing.'
Khan gives his side of the tale, and defends the makers of his much-anticipated Diwali release, Jab Tak Hai Jaan.
He also tells Sonil Dedhia how the meaning of love has changed over the years.
Do you feel disheartened about the ongoing issue between Yash Raj Films and Ajay Devgn happened after Yash Chopra passed away?
It is sad that Yashji passed away but I would have been disheartened if this would have happened in his presence.
I find it very silly and amusing. Everyone knew a year ago that our film would release on Diwali 2012. They too must be aware of it (referring to the makers of Son Of Sardaar). My logic is if you are worried that you have less number of theatres, then you should have booked it earlier. Because your business house has not done it and we have, why are you holding it against us?
Reports suggest that Yash Raj Films forced exhibitors to JTHJ.
The onus lies on the buyer. It's a free market, not a monopolistic one. The star system in our industry exits because we have a free market.
Is someone going to tell me not to release my film on Friday? It is a personal choice of the exhibitors. They can take whichever film they want. The exhibitors represent the consumers to me. I cannot assume that anything has been put on anyone by force. Our logic is our film has come out, the consumer is the king, and they want to watch it. The exhibitors represent the consumers and they have decided to take our film in a certain number of theatres. It's up to the people, if they want to watch our film or go watch the other one.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif in Jab Tak Hai Jaan
'The film shouldn't be a big hit just because Yashji is no more'
You have worked with Yash Raj Films on numerous occasions. Was there something special that you found while working on JTHJ?
Every film that I do is very special for me. I don't do films just for the fun of it or to make them a big hit. I do them because somehow I enjoy that part of my life. I am sometimes criticised of working with my friends, but I work with people I enjoy working with.
I have always loved working with Yashji. Our track record has always been good; people have always appreciated what we have done together. I feel a little poignant about this film because Yashji is no more, but I don't think the film should be a big hit because he is not here.
How are you coping with Yashji's sudden demise?
It makes you realise that no one is immortal. No matter how big a man is, no one can escape death. It makes you realise that even good people have to pass away.
I am happy that I was in touch with his life. He passed away without any pain. If it were for my father, I would wish him the same.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Yash Chopra
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
'I don't think I have done any romantic characters that are similar'
You can probably sleepwalk through romance now. What was the toughest part about doing another romantic film?
I don't think I can sleepwalk through romance (laughs). I pay a lot of attention to it. When you say that I have done romance earlier, I have to make sure that I have to do it differently, which becomes a little tough.
For example, let's say I haven't done a character of a hockey coach. I just cut my hair a little short, grow a beard, wear a jacket and... it becomes a little easier to believe. Novelty itself has more appreciation.
Consciously, I don't think I have done any romantic characters that are similar. The emotional side of all the characters that I have portrayed so far has been very different. The clothes or my styling might be the same, but these things do not make a character. These are just crutches to help me find my way. The character is much deeper.
If you ask me, every Hindi film has a love story. It becomes a little difficult to bring in newness into my so called 'lover boy' image. I keep praising Katrina Kaif and Anushka (Sharma, his JTHJ co-stars) that they bring such different things to the table that I try to do things the way they do. I always ask for their reactions.
Image: Anushka Sharma and Shah Rukh Khan in Jab Tak Hai Jaan
'I would rather be called a King than the King of Romance'
You have been known as the King of Romance. How important is it for an actor to have an image?
When I do films that are not romantic and they don't work, this tag helps as an excuse that I don't fit into any other character (smiles). I can proclaim that girls just love me in romantic characters. With all due to respect, I would rather be called a King than the King of Romance.
I am an actor I have done 75 films and have spent 21 years in the industry and would like to believe that I have done things a little differently. If you see a good cricketer bat and score centuries, they may all seem the same, but the conditions are very different. For us a century is a century. It is similar for actors, too. Each movie is different. I'd hate to be just the king of romance. I would like to believe that I tried doing different characters and some were liked more than the others. I enjoyed doing Don. I loved the way I approached my role in My Name Is Khan.
I don't want to sound pompous, but I must have something in me as an actor that people come and frequently watch my films. Even my parameters are so commercial. I am not trying to do different films and still hold the attention of my audience. I would like to be remembered as an actor who is trying hard in a commercial setup. How is it that I see films of a lot of other actors, which look the same, but nobody asks them this question? I take it as a compliment when you ask me this question (smiles).
Over the years, has the meaning of love changed for you?
No. I am just getting to romance my heroines in smaller and stranger places like telephone booths, small pubs. I have exhausted all the (other) locations to romance (laughs).
On a serious note, I don't think it has changed. Love for me has always been the same. It sounds odd that men and women discuss both SMS and PMS, but I find it strange. I find it odd to talk to a girl about such topics. When I see my son or kids of his age talking to girls I always wonder that I wouldn't talk to a girl like they do. I hate when boys treat girls like boys. I always believe that woman should be treated with love. I don't think love can be defined.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif in Jab Tak Hai Jaan
'I wish I could get one day of my life for myself'
As busy as you are, do you miss spending quality time with family and friends?
My work takes up most of my time. I feel most of the time my life is dedicated to my fans. I wish I had the time to go and sit with friends, but when I go somewhere there are so many people who want to meet me. So, I have to dedicate that private time to public. I can't disappoint my fans.
My family doesn't take me with them to watch a film. They tell me you get disturbed and so do we. I wish I could get one day of my life for myself, but who do I take it from. Even when I am free, I can't expect everyone to spend time with me, because his or her lives are going on, so at times I do get lonely.
After more than two decades in the industry, have you had thought about slowing down or even retiring?
I love to act. I have been enjoying it since 20 years. I don't think I will stop soon. Till the time I get happiness, I will do it. Very few people get the chance of doing what they want to do and very few get the chance of doing new things everyday. I get play a romantic hero, dance with beautiful ladies, do some stunts, go and see new places. I cherish these moments. I get excited and this shows on screen. I will try to make something of whatever job has been given to me.
Image: Gauri and Shah Rukh Khan with Aryan and Suhana
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
'The fear of failure is perhaps the biggest motivator for me'
Do you at any point fear of losing your stardom?
I think it will take some years. I am fortunate to have got so many years of work behind me. I remember someone close to me had told me that you make your place in the heart of people by giving consistent performance for four to five years. I have been working for 20 years and I believe that I have made a cozy place for myself in the heart of the people.
For me, things have gone beyond my work. It's not only the stardom or being a superstar that is exciting for me...
The fear of failure is perhaps the biggest motivator for me. I don't think anyone should lose that. At the same time it should not overtake your life. If I don't worry about failing, I will not excel. For me it always exists and that is why I try to work harder.
To be honest, I know I am a star and I can relax spend time with my family, make two movies a year and earn enough money. I don't do it as I have dedicated my life to this job. I don't mind letting down on business or practical things, but I can't let down my fans.
Image: Katrina Kaif and Shah Rukh Khan in Jab Tak Hai Jaan
'I genuinely wanted to be an army officer'
You play an army officer in JTHJ and you started your career as an actor playing an army man in Fauji. Has life come to a full circle?
I was very young when I did Fauji. I enjoyed the fact that I could train like an army man, and would be able to see guns and bombs. When I was young, I genuinely wanted to be an army officer.
When I did Fauji, I didn't even know where I was heading. The only nostalgia that I carry since my Fauji days is that I always make a film with a feeling of not heading anywhere.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Fauji