Shah Rukh Khan is a consummate liar. One of Bollywood’s biggest stars, he made us believe in Rajs and Rahuls over the years. He made us believe that love is easy and Mr Right was out there. He has been doing it for 25 years now and we have been believing in him ever since. The movie finishes, life happens but such is SRK’s craft that we go on believing. Mr Khan, you have a lot to answer for.
As Shah Rukh Khan completes 25 years in the industry, the star sat down to talk about his incredible journey with the media and remember how a boy from Delhi came to be the peddler of dreams and romance to an entire country.
25 years of being the Badshah of Bollywood, how would you describe this journey?
The one thing that stands out for me in these 25 or 26 years is that it happened very fast. I really feel it’s been only two-three years since I’ve been in Mumbai… I think I’ve got stuck in time. When I speak to my family, and see my children all grown up, so reality is there for me to see, but I do feel all of this happened so fast. I used to live in a house next door (next to Taj Land’s End in Bandra, Mumbai), then I shifted five houses down, so it is very shocking for me, it really feels like I’ve been around only for a few years. I really feel ‘abhi toh aayaa thaa main!’
That’s why when people question for how many years I’m doing the same thing, and for how long I’ll continue doing it, I find it odd. Because for me, I have just arrived, if I am working with all these women, I’m also young right? But on a serious note, on days like this, what I do is, Twitter people put all the pictures of me from all my films, and a couple of days ago I really sat down to count the pictures, there were so many posters there. I don’t even know how many films I’ve done. With all due respect to the film’s I’ve done, I really have to sit down and try and remember when I had clicked a certain picture, that’s when I feel a lot of time has passed, but it has passed so fast, I feel it was like yesterday!
Will you watch Deewana now, though?
I haven’t watched Deewana, I don’t even want to watch it, and I don’t say it out of ego, but I now watch all the new movies (laughs). The first reaction I got for Deewana was from Rakesh uncle (Roshan) at Mehboob Studio. He had told me ‘Tu bohot bada star ban gaya yaar (you’ve become a big star)’. And I asked him, ‘really?’ That was the time I used to walk back to my house from work, and two-three days had passed since the film has released. It was not like today when box office numbers come even before the film is released, and people even tell you what is good and what is bad in the film. But it wasn’t like that then, I remember how once I was walking past Salman’s house and a handsome Salim Khan was in the balcony, and he waved to me and told me, ‘Janaab aapki film bohot chal rahi hai, aap star ban jaaoge (your film is doing very well, you’ll soon become a star)!’ Or I think he said this when I was having dinner with him, he also said that when you go to a hair salon and when the barber asks you if you want a Shah Rukh hair cut, you have to know that you’ve become a star. After returning home, when I told Gauri that Deewana is a hit, she simply congratulated me.
When did you realise that you’re a star?
I know it’ll sound odd, but it hasn’t set in yet. One can look at it and say if I expected all this, then I’d say no. This was meant to be, I have never given it more importance or credibility, or anything else, I have never sat down and told myself that I have become a star. A lot of people tell me, my well wishers, my team that as a star I need to do this and not do this as I am a star. But, I have never done anything to maintain it, or lose it, or make it, or break it.
I also have outbursts, ego and self importance like every human being has, but I have treated it with a lot of humility, it is a job I do. I do it well, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I am detached to the outcome. I feel bad if a film doesn’t do well, or good if it does, but it lasts for about six hours, then I move on.
I am an actor, I can do whatever I feel like. I am a professional liar, I believe in every lie I tell, otherwise I wouldn’t be an actor.
Stardom has snatched away some of my perks too. I wore my cargoes three times in a row and I wasn’t allowed to do that. I wanted to wear those cargoes even today, but I could not. When I am promoting my films, I travel in my personal jet, but that’s not a perk, that’s my job. However, I am very grateful to God for having given me all the opportunity, but beyond that it is all a part of my work.
The biggest problem a big star faces is to retain the goodness of cinema, and continue working at being better than what you are. I maintain what I have said before, you lose the ability to surprise people when you lose the ability to fail, and this takes away every perk from your life.
Would you be okay, if someone made a biopic on you?
I never let people know the most interesting part of my life, not the closest people too. So you’ll never get a good script, unless I write it. Whatever they will make of my life will be a success story. And, success stories are extremely boring. I will tell you what my story is, it is a story of a boy who came to the city of dreams, struggled, lost his parents early in life, became a big star without having a Bollywood godfather. It won’t work until I flop and do something legendary that is so controversial that people get shocked. A very senior journalist had once asked me if I think I’ll ever be legendary, I was young and I said yes. And the gentleman told me no, you can’t be a legend unless you are controversial. My biopic will be boring without my controversies and I’m the only one who knows them.
Do you think of retirement?
Work becomes a part of your life. You never sit down and think if you want to give up. No, I don’t think I will be able to retire one day, unfortunately for a lot of people (laughs). I’ll always act, I don’t think I know anything else to do. Will I be the person who will be last to know that he can’t act anymore, maybe yes! Maybe one day, 10-15 years from now, or even today, you’ll tell me ‘ruk jaao aap’ (you got to stop), but I will not understand that. Do I blindly believe that I can act for the rest of my life, no, I believe it with my eyes open. Will I be a bad actor and be finished and done with, maybe. But, I am the that person who knows the last if I can act or not. Never this thought has come. I try new things, I am also evolving as a person. I started 25 years ago, now I am 52, it would be stupid if I hadn’t evolved as a human being. So I do believe that some new nuances are coming, I would like to believe that I am so successful that I don’t surprise you anymore, but I am not that successful that I don’t surprise myself enough! I surprise myself everyday, and it makes me happy. I do believe that I do things different in my head and heart, and hopefully people will see it someday, or maybe not see it, but it has never crossed my mind. I’ll always be an actor, for the rest of my life.