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When was the last time you heard Shah Rukh Khan saying something truly honest? Often star interviews are as good as school essays, full of clichés and wooden lines. You end up listening to the same stuff, rehashed for better use sometimes. Once in a while, they just happen to say something really significant. That’s very rare but happens nevertheless.
We saw a slightly different Shah Rukh Khan on Koffee with Karan season 5. He was a shade less like himself. The actor looked more relaxed. The expressions flitting through his face were that of a self-assured person. He also spoke about cinema. This time, Karan and Shah Rukh indulged in some philosophical talk, deviating from their usual course of conversation. When Karan asked Shah Rukh about his state of mind, the actor said, “I am at rest, but not at peace. Because peace is boring. I have got bigger blinkers on. I am just with myself now.”
When Karan probed Shah Rukh further by asking him about other actors’ box office successes, Shah Rukh said, “For the last five years, it’s more about getting the cinema right. I said 25 years ago that I want to make five best films in the world. And suddenly I realise I don’t even have one of them. I just need to get my cinema right.”
This is quite a confession from one of the most successful actors of our times. If Shah Rukh can’t make films that he wants to, who would you expect to make them? Was Shah Rukh saying that he ended up embracing mediocrity because he was keen on achieving box office success?
The actor’s roles in recent years are forgettable. His last two films – Fan and Dilwale – didn’t do well. Has this created a sort of needed vacuum in actor’s mind to look back at his journey as an actor? And is Dear Zindagi a well thought-out, conscious decision from Shah Rukh to resurrect the giant, sleeping actor inside him?
Shah Rukh Khan’s look in Dear Zindagi is seducing. Dressed in a pair of crisp shirts of different shades and trousers- he is probably playing a mature character after a long long time. It’s his sheer charisma that lends Dear Zindagi a buoyant force.
There are films where you get a glimpse of Shah Rukh’s ingenuity. There are scenes scattered in his films where he is simply a gem of an actor. His flamboyance and charm as an actor in films like Maya Memsaab, Dil Se, Chak De and Swades are unmatched. Few actors can speak through their eyes as effortlessly as Shah Rukh.
In an earlier interview, Shah Rukh confessed to having grown within a close-knit circle of actors in National School of Drama while he never attended the prestigious drama school. He grew up watching films and living them. “I come from English theatre. I was very elitist about acting in Hindi films. When I started doing Hindi films, I looked down upon certain things,” said Shah Rukh during KWK.
His performance in TV serials like Fauji and Circus speak of a strong foundation in theatre and drama on which he started his career. However, after a certain period of time, he got to do similar, stereotyped roles one after another. He got trapped in a certain idea of success.
Bryan Cranston, actor of Breaking Bad Fame recently penned down a book- A Life in Parts- about his experiences as an actor. He wrote about how he got the role of Walter White. Here is the excerpt where he discuss this character with Vince Gilligan, creator of the show:
“I ventured some of the ideas that had come to me since I’d read the script. “He’s missed so many opportunities in life,” I said. “You can see that in every part of him. He has a mustache that isn’t manly. That isn’t anything. You look at him and say: Why bother? His skin and his hair are the same bland hue. He wears pale yellow and sand and taupe. He blends into the background. Invisible. To society. To himself. I’m thinking he’s doughy. One hundred eighty-six pounds.”
The lines clearly reflect Bryan’s love for the character. One wonders if Shah Rukh can say or write something like this — filled with so much passion — for any of his on-screen characters.
When you see actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Irrfan Khan on screen, you don’t forget the characters played by them. Characters played by Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Al Pacino and Bryan Cranston are filled with life and have a certain rare honesty. In these scenes, actors turn into mere tools to tell a story.
When you see these characters even after a long time, they manage to hold your attention and speak to you. There is the small voice inside each one of us which always tell you the truth. It is this voice that can be clearly heard above the incessant drone of thoughts buzzing in and out of mind. Only Shah Rukh can tell if he was afraid of going down a path to become an actor who could liven up any character.