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The Cast

  Kariena Kapoor
  Hrishitaa Bhatt
  Rahul Dev
  Subhashini Ali
  Raghuveer Yadav
  Gerson Da Cunha

Behind the scenes

  Author, Making of Asoka
  Costume Design
  Art Decor

'I'm a limited actor. I cannot outgrow myself'

Kshama Rao

Shah Rukh Khan has his fingers crossed.

His second home production, the Santosh Sivan-directed Asoka, releases worldwide on October 26, 2001 and expectations are soaring.

The mandatory press, television interviews and the occasional controversy the star has to swat off (a producer who's taken the actor to court for refusing to complete his film) are de rigueur for this star turned producer. 24shah.jpg - 4056 Bytes

We met King Khan or SRK (call him by any name and like the proverbial rose, he is just as good) at his Dreamz Office. Post a dal-chawal lunch, SRK is game for a tete-a-tete, only after a 10-minute break to pick his son Aryan from school.


On the media hype surrounding Asoka

I've only begun with the interviews. But, it's not important to me, to talk about every film I do. Asoka is like any other release.

Every film takes a part of you. But how many people really expect that. *Taking a CD in his hand, he pontificates* How many of us really think about what went into the manufacturing of this CD? Honestly, who respects what goes into the making of any film? Nobody gives it a second thought. You don't, I don't and why should anybody? It's the final outcome that matters.

On the highlights of Asoka

Santosh Sivan has directed it. And he's done such a good job that the biggest star of Asoka is the film itself. I don't know if the film will appeal to the audience. We made this film because we had a story to tell and we have done our bit to the best of our abilities.

I have never believed in saying 'Meri film ki yeh baat logon ko pasand aayegi'. When television interviewers ask me to give a message to my audience I have never said, 'Come and watch my film.'

Cinema is a strange combination of art and commerce. While we have made the film keeping the art, the aesthetics in mind, the methodology by which it is going to be judged would be different. It will be how much money it makes and how commercially successful it is?

On playing Ashoka

Was this a case of perfect timing?

I don't know. I'm the same actor, the same person. I still feel the same, have the same experiences and live like I always did. I've never made a concerted effort to do something different.

I'm a limited actor. I cannot outgrow myself. As an actor I can only make the best of what I have. This is what I have and this is only what I can do.

I don't know if other actors could have done a better job as Asoka or other actors could have been as good as me. Fortunately or unfortunately I'm Asoka. And the matter ends there.

On whether he ever dreamt of Emperor Ashoka during the making of the film and whether Ashoka would like the film

*Laughs* I don't have dreams, I manufacture them. Yes, I think Emperor Ashoka would have liked the film. Definitely. He would have been happy with the songs and dances. And the romance, of course.

On the lessons learnt with Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani

I don't know why people think we made mistakes while making Phir Bhi… just because it didn't do well commercially. It was our first production and it will always be our cherished baby.

Did we make a mistake making Phir Bhi...? No. Were there lessons to be learnt? No. If we had to make Phir Bhi... again, would we make it the same way? Yes, we would and 10 times over.

If people think Phir Bhi... was a mistake, then, Asoka, our second production, would be considered a bigger mistake. Nobody would have made something like Asoka.

On working with both the Kapoor sisters - Karisma and Kariena

Karisma is like me, Anil Kapoor and Aamir Khan -- hardworking, dedicated and conscientious. She has worked hard. She proved her worth.

Kariena is like my son Aryan, Abhishek Bachchan, Akshaye Khanna, Hrithik Roshan - the world was waiting for them, waiting to see them and no way did they belie that trust. The sense of responsibility and to be able to match up to people's expectations is an equally difficult task.

As for similarities, they both are fair and beautiful and light-eyed. Both are talented and are strangely fond of me. I say strangely because I haven't worked much with them like I have with say Juhi or Madhuri but we get along real well.

I am very fond of their family too. People think Karisma and Kariena are amazing. I'd say their mother Babita is the one who's helped them get to where they are.

On 'SRK' as a brand

SRK has become a brand because of my track record as a responsible person, as someone who has handled his professional life responsibly. Entertainment is not just the films any more. Because of the profession I'm in, I'm able to invoke a following; so people will approach me as a marketing tool for their products.

But SRK as an actor is not for sale. I'm proud to say that I've never acted in any film purely for money. If I have done a film, it's because I wanted to be in it.

I'm happy because I'm able to demarcate the two SRKs. I'm also not apologetic about my financial status, my well-being, my life-style. That has materialised because of SRK the brand. The satisfaction I derive comes from my work as an actor. It's a good mix.

On who's the reigning superstar

Strange, that I should be asked this question. I've never spent time on finding out who is Number 1 and who isn't.

I don't know where I stand. Why must I concern myself with others?

To me, Amitabh, Aamir, Salman, Saif, Fardeen, Aftab, Hrithik, Abhishek, Akshay, Sunil, Sanjay, Ajay and Akshaye Khanna are all tops. They are all amazing in their own way.

I can't rate them with numbers. God bless them all. In any case, it's the media who plays these games.

On his next film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

The film talks about loving one's parents, fond memories of parents and the relationship with kids.

When I think of my parents, all I can recall is their kindness. They taught me to fend for myself. My father taught me about nature, my mother taught me to survive.

I think the education I was given held me in good stead because of the way people react to me when we meet. They feel nice about me and that makes me happy.

As a parent I'm trying to impart the same values to my kids. We have a lot of fun and games and I give them all the freedom they want. And the education they will get will serve them well. We are Hindu-Muslim parents, so naturally it becomes all the more important for me to teach my kids the importance of all religions and a need to respect them all.

PS: A photo frame in his office reads 'A father is someone who carries photos where his money used to be.'

India News Feature Service