Shah Rukh Khan: I don't mind people criticising my films
The last time I interviewed Shah Rukh Khan was in New York where Fox Searchlight, the distributor of his film My Name Is Khan had organised an interview following a press conference.
By that time the interview was slotted, the guest suite had been occupied, and there we were, Shah Rukh and I in a dingy room chatting for about 15 minutes.
This time, it was a phone interview with the superstar, and it got postponed three times over an hour and half. But Shah Rukh did not stop the interview after the allotted six minutes. He spoke heartily and without any meditations before he answered the questions.
Click next to read what he said about his new film, Don 2.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Don 2
'Sometimes it is more fun to play a villain'
Don 2 surely is a bigger film than Don. What did you find most exciting about the project?
In the first film, my character was negative. I was a villain. Yet, we thought we should not mess around too much because the original Don is a film many people still remember. I grew up watching it many times. When our Don became a hit, we (writer, director and producer Farhan Akhtar included) knew that people liked to see my badness.
Now we had the freedom to make the character even more bad, make him pure bad. There is no effort to justify what he does, no stories of a bad childhood or being exploited by someone. Sometimes, it is more fun to play a villain.
The bottom line is people should like or hate the villain. People are fascinated by a bad character. Perhaps it is because there is a bad side in each one of us.
I feel it is also unusual in India to make a film where the main character is a villain, and then make a sequel.
Image: Priyanka Chopra and Shah Rukh Khan in Don 2
'When I sign on a film, I don't ask too many questions about the story'
This is the second time you have worked with Farhan Akhtar after Don. What do you find special about working with Farhan?
Farhan, Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra are younger than me but they have grown up in film families. They have been surrounded by the movies from age three or four. They were born with movie spoons in their mouths.
To me, old movies mean the films of the 1980s. These guys can go back to the films of the 1970s. Their knowledge of cinema is vast. Whatever they do, they bring an extremely new language to their films.
Farhan is not only a writer, producer and director but also an actor. At the end of the day, I love chatting with him about how the film is progressing, and how the characters are evolving.
When I sign on a film, I don't ask too many questions about the story. There are times I may not look at the script even. Everyone working with me, including my wife Gauri, had read the script of My Name Is Khan but for me, an opportunity to work with Karan again was good enough. Even Karan told me, 'Look, everyone has read the script, could you glance through it at least?' (chuckles)
So when a film is offered to me, it is extremely important to know who is going to produce and direct it.
With Farhan and directors like him, I find a whole openness. There is no question of stepping on anyone's toes while working with someone like him. Directors like him do not boss around. They are in their late 30s or early 40s, about six or seven years younger to me and I feel I can discuss anything with them openly.
With an exception or two, I may not find such openness with someone who is in his 60s. And I know Farhan (and others like him) will want to make a film excel because of their own sensibilities and visions. I feel very comfortable in their company.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra in Don 2
'For 20 years, I have had the luxury of being appreciated by the audiences unconditionally'
Ra.One has become quite a hit. Even the box office publications that did not like the film say it is a success. Abroad, it has grossed in excess of $8 million. And yet, there are some people who just cannot acknowledge it is a hit.
(Chuckles) I don't feel persecuted by their attitude. For 20 years, I have had the luxury of being appreciated by the audiences unconditionally. As for the success of the film abroad, it is yet to be released in South Korea (which is becoming a major market for Hindi films, where My Name is Khan grossed nearly $5 million, and 3 Idiots grossed about $3 million).
I don't mind people criticising my films. But when things get personal, I don't like it. I know for every 50 people in the industry who don't like my film for personal reasons, there are 30 million people out there who love it.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Don 2
'I will be learning a few things from Anushka and Katrina'
What is next for you?
In a few weeks, I will be shooting for Yash Chopra's film. I am really looking forward to it because this is a love story and Yashji is a master of love stories. The challenge here is to create a love story that sounds and looks different. All love stories come with a baggage. There is always the danger of boys or girls losing their lovers and then fighting to get them back.
You cannot reinvent the formula and yet, it will be interesting to see how the film will shape and how we can make the love story different. It is also exciting to work with (AR) Rahmansaab and Gulzar. When I work on a film like this, it is not work. It is a holiday.
And I am working with young actresses, Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif (chuckles). They being much younger than me look at the world differently. Their sensibilities are different and they bring a different approach to acting. I will be learning a few things from them.
Image: A scene from Don 2