Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai
With the release date of RA.One inching closer, Shah Rukh Khan has thrown himself into the promotions.
In one of the many press conferences, he spoke about the film, the marketing game and why superheroes are cooler than superstars. Sonil Dedhia took notes.
This is your third media appearance in four days. Are you trying too hard to sell the film?
I recently tweeted that I am meeting the media so often that I get a sense of Deja Vu everyday. I also said that I get very little time to sleep so now I have decided that I am going to sleep with the media. We can talk whenever we want to and also rest at the same time.
Do you consider yourself a marketing guru?
These terms are nonsensical. Every actor talks about his films. I promote all my films when they are about to release, but I'm no marketing guru. The marketing may be different for different films.
I try to be unique in the way I market my films. I have made RA.One with a lot of passion and hard work and I want the maximum audience to come to the theatres and watch the film.
'Mannat is the only place I know where a superhero lives'
How do you think the process of promoting films has changed over the years?
I remember when I had started acting in films, I would actually request the media to come and do interviews with me but now we have so many media channels available to promote a film.
There are certain films which require a lot of promotion. A film like RA.One requires promotion where we have to go all out and inform the audience about our movie.
Filmmakers today promote the film on the basis of a theme. We saw Dhobi Ghat being promoted by dhobis, Rock On!! had live music concerts. What's RA.One got in store for us?
We have tied up with Youtube where they have developed a page which is completely dedicated to our film. It has a lot of special effects and no other film has been able to do that.
I feel the promotion should reflect the basic idea of the film, but that doesn't mean that I will go and shake hands with a don to promote my next film Don-2 (laughs). I am trying to find a place where superheroes live. As a matter of fact, I do all my press conferences in Mannat, my home, because it's the only place I know where a superhero lives (smiles).
'We're not showing the villian to retain the novelty factor'
RA.One is your dream project. Do you feel scared or sceptical of how the audience will react once the film releases?
I have been working for 20 years. I am a professional actor and producer. This is what I do for a living. I feel completely different being an actor and a producer. I have produced films in the past but not on such a big scale. I am not scared to act nor am I scared to make movies as I was born to do that.
If I am scared then I won't be able to do films or act and produce films. Those, who fear, will not be able to work. I am not scared but I am worried. I just hope everyone likes and enjoys the film.
Why don't we see any glimpse of Arjun Rampal's character RA.One during the promotions of the film?
It's a family film. We will show the superhero, while we will keep Ra.One as a novelty. I also believe that evil has no face; anyone who follows the path of evil becomes one himself. So that's why I didn't want to reveal the face. There is nothing special, and now, I'm getting scared of people's perceptions, expectations, from the character.
'I once threw a chair out of anger during the shoot'
Can you share any special anecdotes that happened during the shooting of the film?
There was a day when I got very angry. I was shooting for a sequence for which I had to hang from a cable for a very long time, I wanted to go to the bathroom and when I looked down I saw that my crew was completely disorganised. I was tired too. So, when I got down, I threw a chair on the wall in anger, but it was a plastic chair.
I didn't want to hurt anyone, it was just that I was angry. I told them, why is everyone treating me like a producer, I'm a superstar, and they can't make me hang for two hours (winks).
There is speculation that you are doing a romantic film or an action film with director Rohit Shetty.
I have heard that also. I am reading three-four scripts right now and one of them is Rohit's film. Currently, I am busy with RA.One as my friend and producer Bobby Chawla is unwell.
I will consider everything once RA.One finishes. Currently, the only film that I have confirmed is with Yash Raj films.
'The only film I've confirmed for now is Yash Raj's next'
Shoaib Akhtar has alleged that Shah Rukh Khan and Lalit Modi cheated him during his tenure with Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and that Sachin Tendulkar is scared of him. How true is it?
It's just as true as the statement that Sachin is scared of him.
What is the difference between a superstar and a superhero?
I think a superhero is unselfish. It's not necessary to wear a suit to be a superhero. A common man can also become a superhero.
Superstar is someone who gives trouble to everyone (laughs). He comes late on the sets, makes the media wait for a press conference. People come and tell me that I am a superstar or the Badshah of Bollywood, which feels nice, but I don't think I am a superstar.