Shah Rukh Khan spoke about his unplanned hiatus from acting, after ‘working for 32 years non-stop, for 18 hours a day’. He was honoured at the ongoing Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia, where he also recently wrapped a shooting schedule for director Rajkumar Hirani’s Dunki. Shah Rukh finally clarified what the title means: ‘Donkey’ in English, but spoken with a Punjabi accent.
Shah Rukh’s last film in a starring role remains 2018’s critical and commercial flop Zero. He said that the film remains close to his heart, but ‘unfortunately’ didn’t work. The decision to take a break was mostly fuelled by a desire to spend more time with his children, he told Deadline on the sidelines of the festival. He said that he was ‘happy’ during the break. His eldest son Aryan was finishing college in California, his daughter Suhana had just enrolled at New York University, and with his youngest son AbRam, Shah Rukh learned Italian cooking.
Shah Rukh said that he took some time out in anticipation of spending time with his daughter in America, but was surprised when she didn’t call him over for months. He said, “What I realised is when kids go far to study, if they call upon you and you’re in the middle of a shooting schedule, you can’t just leave and go to America. So, only their mother would go… When she (Suhana) transferred from London to New York, I thought I’ll keep six or seven months; she may feel lonely in New York, she may want me to come, and if the wife can’t go, I’ll say I’ll go, I’m free. If you’re making films and you’re in a look, it becomes difficult to just fly down.”
He added, “She never called me. I didn’t sign any films and I thought, ‘Maybe she’ll call me, maybe she’ll call me.’ So, I called her one day and said, ‘Listen, may I start working now?’ and she said, ‘Why aren’t you working?’ And I said, ‘I thought you’d call me and feel lonely in New York.’ She said, ‘No, I’m having too much fun, you please stay away from here.'”
Shah Rukh has a packed 2023 to look forward to. After appearing in a string of cameos in 2022, in films such as Laal Singh Chaddha, Rocketry: The Nambi Effect and Brahmastra, he will star in Pathaan, Jawan and Dunki. Suhana will make her acting debut with director Zoya Khan’s upcoming The Archies.