The inimitable SHAH RUKH KHAN on disliking criticism, being a fakir in his personal life, becoming a star before he could be a fan, and more. All rise, says PRATISHTHA MALHOTRA, it is time for the King’s Speech!
“I have not come here to compete; I have come here to rule! I don’t have a father, mother, grandfather who can give me an extra push in the city so I am going to create something for myself which did not exist and will never exist after me.” The dimpled boy with dreams in his eyes made everything come alive for himself. Today he is a phenomenon which occurs once in a blue moon and if you’re lucky enough, you get to witness it with your own eyes. The zeal and the gusto that he has for life, even after working harder than ever for 25 years, makes you want to pull up your socks and be the best that you can because, as he says, you shouldn’t ever be second best! Excerpts from our conversation…
Back in the day you once said that everyone is a slave to the myth Shah Rukh Khan is and you are the master slave. Do you feel that FAN explains what you were trying to tell the world at that time?
I think everyone who is a movie star is a slave or a worker to the image. Yes, I am an employee to the myth of Shah Rukh Khan but I am not that myth myself. I am very clear about that. As stupid as I may sound that I would lose my fans, I talk as an employee, I don’t talk as that image which is larger than life, who flies, cries and dances with girls. I am none of that. When I was shooting RAEES and I had to utter those heavy lines, I didn’t think I was that powerful. The other day I had to stand with the contestants of Miss India who are so tall and can actually walk all over me (Laughs). I was thinking to myself, ‘How and why am I walking with such tall girls?’ But as an employee, I am good at my craft and can convince people that yes, he is tough. I think somewhere down the line, good creative people like Maneesh(Sharma, director) also don’t believe in him but they like him. They know that this myth is being worked upon by an employee who has a talent to create some other myth also, not just Shah Rukh Khan. It is fortunate and it is unfortunate that my whole career is reduced sometimes to outstretching my arms – I do it as a joke myself too – or the Oedipus of Mannat or he is just a romantic hero where I have just done five romantic films in my life. In real life, I don’t think I am very romantic. The girls who work with me will tell you, I am very boring. But it is just compartmentalised and I am happy with it. It is easier to hide my real self when I have compartments for myself already otherwise I would have to start explaining and hiding things. You know, we can create another myth out of creative people and that is very encouraging to me as an actor. Yes, it is working towards the myth – but to break it sometimes.
You are subjected to a lot of love but how well do you take criticism?
I am not worthy of the love that I get and the criticism I get as well. Both of them are way too extreme. When someone tells me, ‘I’ll die for you’, I don’t think I am worthy of that and similarly when someone says, ‘I’ll kill you’… I don’t think I’m worthy of that either. Personally, I don’t like criticism. I mean, why should I be dishonest? All that is crap when people say that constructive criticism is something they like. I think the only criticism I could take was from my parents, because otherwise they would beat me up, and from my children, because they matter to me a lot. If you have to give constructive criticism then you have to garb it in a way that is not obtrusive. I take critical writing about films well but if a critic writes, ‘I went to sleep in this film’, then you can screw off because that is not right. You don’t make a personal comment on it but a critical appraisal of the film that you saw with reasons because it is a job. If you write things like, ‘I yawned in the film’…well, I don’t want to know about how bad your public behaviour is. I want to know why you did not like my film. I don’t want to know how you wanted to throw popcorn because it is embarrassing behaviour in a movie theatre anyway. I don’t take well to that. There are some people whose pieces I read, but only after reading their pieces on other films as well. So Irealise that there is a strain of good thought in terms of betterment of filmmaking.
Being a recluse while the entire nation loves you….
I am not attached to or enamoured by my success at all; people who work with me will tell you that. They might say, Shah Rukh is sweet and charming but because they don’t know what else to say about me. It is a very strange thing to say but I’m like a fakir in my personal life. Yes, I wear the daggiest clothes, I look cool and do all the right moves as a star but that is also an act. I am used to being a star so I behave like one. I have never had the time to enjoy the money that I have. It doesn’t seem like it, but my family and I have a very simplistic lifestyle.I have never sat down with my management and said,‘My rating is falling’.I am very easy about the financial part of my life. I am like the monk who sold his Ferrari. The reason why I liked material was that if I hadn’t tastiest it, I wouldn’t know how to give it up. You can’t give up something that you don’t have. All the things that I earn now are for filmmaking. Yes, sometimes I meet people in my own time and that is the only luxury I allow myself as a star and I am spoilt like that. I was spoilt when I joined the industry. As a matter of fact, a lot of producers and directors tell people, ‘Thoda spoilthai, you would have to treat him with kid gloves’.
Have you ever imagined everything vanishing in a jiffy?
I have an inane sense of confidence. I know it is the reality and it will happen but I have protected myself from this reality. People who are much bigger and better than me have lost their fans so who am I? But I live in a zone which is my own creative reality. I live in a false world. I love being an actor, a star but now I want to make it a serving. You know, at home when your mom serves you food and asks, ‘Did you like it?’ She is not necessarily looking for a big compliment but just wants to know if you enjoyed it. That is the feeling that I want to give out. I want my kids to be well educated and be brought up well. I want them to study hard and then find out what their dreams are and hopefully I’ll be around to help them fulfil their dreams. But other than that, I am so busy making films that not too many thoughts cross my mind except, creatively what can I do that will satisfy me more and satisfy the audience at the same time.