From Sourav's exclusion to Gambhir's injury, from supposed fights with Salman to links with the Moranis, SRK's been the favourite whipping boy recently. For once, as he hits the trail to promote 'Ra.One', the irked superstar gives it back
The gentleman interviewing you a little while earlier was so enamoured by you, I thought he was going to hug you midway through the questions.
(Laughs) Ah, story of my life ' all the guys come and hug me! There are five months to go for the "Ra.One" release and you're on a multi-city tour. You've surely never hit the campaign this early for any project?
I think nobody in India
has done it. This may be a more westernized concept. And you can't do it for every film. It can be done for a supernatural or a superhero film, or something like a "2012", the world coming to an end ' but you can't do it for all films. I may not do it for another film unless I make something like this again. In mid 2002, after "Devdas", in an interview, for the first time to the best of my understanding, you spoke about wanting to play 'Spider-Man'. Here, I have a print for reference
(...puts on the the snazzy red specs) Hmm... ok. So, is this the culmination of a long-held desire to play Spider-Man or some such superhero?
Spider-Man ki baat chal rahi hogi uss waqt toh bol diya hoga but my favourite superhero is Batman. When I was young, when I had not thought of being an actor, the only time I would do a public display of my talent was when I dressed up like a superhero. When my child was born, we first bought that crib, people got us stuff to put on it, and I went and got two figures to put on it ' a Batman and a Superman ' and I hung them on his crib. All the videos I have of his childhood are with those floating above his crib. I've always been fascinated with superheroes. And I have played everything on screen, but never a superhero. So for me, it's a phase I want to complete. How long a project is this?
The film took about six years to plan, and then about 140 days of shooting... Shooting is the least consequential part. The film is make or break when you've written it. I truly believe that. Shooting is simply form, technique. There are some wonderful films that have been tackily shot, but you don't give a damn. You say, man, what a story. Aren't scriptwriters an undervalued commodity in the industry, then, going by what we hear usually?
Because they don't give too much of value as of yet, to be truly honest. I hear scriptwriters, and I hear people talking about rights ' I won't go down that track ' but it's all complete nonsense. There are scriptwriters who keep saying 'copyright' and all that ' likho toh! Likh kar toh batao! There are some fantastic writers, Jaideep is brilliant, Javed sahib of course, Salim sahib, but those eras are over. A few young guys are really nice ' the guy who's written "Band Baaja Baarat" ' but every scriptwriter is honed to write a script. I want to know how many of them have learnt the technique. It's an educated grammar which you need to know. You can't just get up one day and say, main kahani likhoonga yaar, maine
bahut picturein dekh li hain. So if writers are not highly valued, it's because they haven't given anything of value. Salim-Javed were very highly valued. They were paid more than Amitabh Bachchan and Ramesh Sippy at that time, or at least that's what I have heard. They were valued because they gave value. We have some fantastic guys but we don't have a majority of great writers, at least, not now. You've obviously had enough questions about Karim Morani, but I'll add another. Last year, when you were in Delhi for an event, and Karim was on the same table, having lunch with you, the discussion had veered to the CWG and the stories about scams. You were pretty worked up about people's money being filched by public representatives. Now, Morani himself faces charges along similar lines. Ironic?
I think sometimes things get trivialized. What's the important thing here? The important thing is that there has been a scam in the country; I don't know how much exactly the amount of it is. The culprits should be brought to justice. Do a proper hearing and impose whatever penalties are required. But sometimes, in all the drama, the real things get trivialized. I find TV anchors have a right to ask or say anything, and state that it's a 'point of view' ' but I ask of them, you are a newscaster, show me the news, I am the listener, I will decide my point of view on it. Don't tell me what's in my interest, and you don't take a high stand. I don't want your views ' give me the news, the rest is hearsay. News batao, apna point of view hum kar lenge, thank you very much. Aapka stake hai iss deal mein? Ab ek din chalegi yeh news. Which is all right, but what you've done is, you've taken one aspect, one small cog of what this is all about, and blown it out of all proportion because Shah Rukh Khan
is somewhere related to it. It's all right, it's ok, I don't give a damn. Somebody asks me, we hear ED is going to find out things about you... I say, God bless you, please do.
But for that day you have completely shifted the focus from the real culprits. They would be happy. We are keeping some people in custody so they do not impress other people otherwise. But... But the media is doing that?
Yes. The media is doing that anyways. So people will watch and say, "Arre, iss scam mein toh Shah Rukh Khan bhi hai yaar. Uska dost hai na yeh?" Haan hai dost. Toh jaan le loge kya? Galti ki hai toh andar jayega. Maine toh nahi bola ki jaane do kyunki mera dost hai. Aur main kaun hoon bolne ko. I'm a mere actor. You punish him if you find him guilty. But are you going to penalize him, or me, because we are friends? Yes, we are friends, we still are. He works with me. He's the associate producer of "Ra.One".
The channels will, knowingly, give angles. Papers will have stories ' "Shah Rukh, Salman stand by Karim Morani". But why wouldn't we? Kaam karte hain yaar uske saath. Kal bhi karenge. Parson hamara agla show Karim ka bhai karega. So? I've never understood why Bollywood or cricket is treated this way. I heard someone say in a channel that I have gone against national interest by forcing my captain to play. Nonsense, yaar!
I want to say this to every journalist on television. Itna national interest ka dhyaan hai, make it a rule that six months in a year, you work for Doordarshan. All of you are IPL, Doordarshan is the national team; go work for it. Akashwani Dilli ke liye bhi toh kaam karo?
This is heading to the point where tabloidism will not be taken seriously. It becomes a joke. Anyone says one thing and there's... you're doing what Bollywood did in the eighties, you're assuming there's no discerning audience. I don't know what to ask my son to watch ' my son will see what is news and come to me and ask, papa, are you part of 2G scam? And I'll have to go, uhh, na, na, beta, main nahi hoon! I mean, that's misinformation. If 'news' doesn't last beyond the last news bulletin, that's really unfortunate. And you can't give me a viewpoint on the tsunami hitting Japan ' just give me the news. Tsumani hits Japan. Ab tsunami hona chahiye thaa ya nahi hona chahiye thaa, sahi hua ki nahi, should so many people have died ' no, thanks, I'll find out all that later, please just tell me what has happened.
We're seeing innumerable analysts, points-of-viewers and psychologists, while all we need is people to just tell us the truth in black and white. Interestingly, in the space of a fortnight, from Gambhir's injury to Morani's arrest, you've sort of been on media trial for two 'national interest' questions.
Haan, it's quite awesome. I'm just waiting for someone to announce that I'm pro some other country and so on next. I mean, it's ok. I find it strange, people ask bizarre things, and keep asking and keep asking, and you actually want to say, take a walk ' just go. It gets a little odd. Apparently, single-handedly I'm destroying the national fabric! The team's done much better this year.
Yes, though it could have done even better, but it's all over and done with now. In the year of the Fake IPL blogger and KKR losing everything, you'd said to us that 'instead of justifying things, I just need to succeed at the IPL and all this will stop'.
Yeah, yeah, I still think so... but I see the IPL blogger as a television personality now! That's a sign of the times, I guess. Like Gaurav (Kapoor) told me today, if you can't impress them with your intellect, dazzle them with your bulls***. When you made that IPL point, you had also said, 'success has the quality that it eradicates all personal and impersonal attacks'. That's not necessarily true in your case. Your success seems to magnify personal attacks?
Maybe I should have been more successful. In my context, maybe one is judged against higher benchmarks. Till we win the IPL, we're not vindicated. Coming 4th is better than last year, but we're not happy. I mean, if my film makes ten crores, it's not a hit. Are you tired of the tagging with supposed rivals in questions? IPL questions beginning with Saurav, cine questions beginning with Salman?
I hate it. I detest it. I completely dislike it. It's my upbringing and my well-mannerd-ness which makes me not say what I want to say to the person who asks me this yet again. I am, in a way, even without meaning to be, a role model, so I cannot behave in a certain way. Before a press conference, on days, I take a cold bath and tell myself, I need to be courteous, I need to be proper. And because I need to be that, I can't say a lot of things to people, so I just shut up. The thought that goes on in my mind before I begin to answer this sort of question is a violent one, but I tell myself, I can't do that, it's illegal, and then I'll be actually tagged as someone who's a criminal and anti-national and all that. A team is playing against another team ' why do you have to tag it as Prince vs Badshah? At times I also think you give importance to people by taking my name. I don't have a persecution complex about it, but I don't think it's right. So, yes, pegging me with anyone ' yes, I detest it. The endless, constant you and Salman egging-on. Irksome or funny?
It's a joke. I think it's a joke. And what you say, the same thing they'll keep playing over and over again. Now I'll be asked again and again, Salman ki film aa rahi hai... haan, aa rahi hai yaar, Khuda kare bahut chale yaar. Mera koi lena dena nahi hai. Mujhe koi disturbance nahi hai. Mujhe koi angst nahi hai. God bless him. Magar main woh picture abhi nahi dekh raha hoon. "Shah Rukh Salman ki picture nahi dekhenge". Arre, yaar, mai waise bhi nahi dekhne wala tha. Ab mai kya boloon, dekhne jaaonga? "Shah Rukh uski picture dekhne ja rahe hain". Arre! What do I do? Ok, maybe, when I get the chance, I'll see it. "Shah Rukh wants to see Salman Khan's film!"
My wife was going with a friend, she'd kept a screening, Gauri said I may go with the kids, I said as much, and then it is "Shah Rukh's family wants to see Salman's film." Then, "Malaika Arora Khan comes to watch Shah Rukh's film while Gauri wants to watch Salman's film" ' and I'm saying, keep the families out of it, yaar.
It just becomes so odd. Someone asks 'usko sorry kehna hai'? Kya sorry, kaun sorry, kidhar ka sorry, kidhar se aaya, kaun hai tu, tu *********! Dilliwalla hoon, seedha kar doon ek second mein, kya baat kar raha hai, idhar aa. And the other actor being asked the reverse can also do the same.
But we've reached an age, where we're like, well... Just **** it. We can say anything, and any of the things we say can be put across one way or the other. And it's not as if it's going to make things either better or worse between us. It's part of the game. We expose ourselves to the media when we promote a film. More than anything, it's a nuisance. Genuinely, the word for it is nuisance. Sometimes I want to say, get a life, teen saal ho gaye yehi sawaal ko yaar, aage chalo, kuch aur poocho. For example, Obama se jhagda ho gaya mera. I sometimes I feel I should start a new fight just to get some new questions. Farah ho gaya, Salman ho gaya, X ho gaya, Y ho gaya... ...Akshay ?
Akshay bhi ho gaya. Kisi na kisi se lad leta hoon main. Ladta hi rehta hoon. Maar deta hoon logon ko. Bahar nikle, kisi ko mara, phir photo khincha liya, dekho iske saath ladai hai abhi, ab iske baare me poocho! (bursts into laughter)
People sometimes don't realize that it's so small, so ocha. It doesn't impact me; I've chosen to be in the public life. But my kids are watching. They're watching for three years. They've grown up hearing all this. They don't talk about it. Sometimes they'll tell me, why didn't you say that to... and then I'll go, no, Aryan, you don't say that, Suhana, you don't say that. They can be at school and things can be said and I can't control any of that. It's unfortunate. My daughter has sleepless nights because of certain things said to her at school. They'll still not come and say it to me because they are sensitive to it. Sometimes I feel it's strange. An 11-year old and a 13-year old kid are sensitive to it, while some rather more grown-up people are really not sensitive to it at all, you know?
Sometimes I ask myself, it is too high a price to pay for it? And then I say, no. I love cinema. I put blinkers on and say, this is what I love doing. I can't leave THIS because of all this. This is incidental and silly, this is not what I was here for. I get angry at my actor friends and tell them, don't answer people back, just shut up! What's with the current national mystery ' your rings come and go?
Oh, these? There are two of them, my mother-in-law gave them to me. One is for wealth and one is for health. One I have ample, one she thinks I don't have. Either ways, I joke with her. I'm not used to them actually, they sort of feel odd on the hands, so I carry them with me, and wherever I think my mother-in-law may get to see ' I wear them! (laughs) It's a belief. I personally don't believe in astrology and all that but I respect everyone's beliefs, so I wear them. And your own beliefs?
I believe in hard work, goodness, humour ' and genuinely trying not to harm anybody. I have very simple beliefs. As long as you keep it simple, it works. Be happy, be humorous. And I'm very self-contained. And the more I live, the more self-contained I am becoming. I'm selflessly selfish, I tell anyone. I'm more and more detached. I don't want to hurt you, I don't want you to hurt me. If you disturb me, I block you, and I move on. I'm strangely detached, increasingly so, and it's good. In a life where everything and anything can be attached to me, it's very important for me to be detached. I don't have any breathing exercises, any relaxation techniques. My meditation is my work. My wife says to me, you don't have any friends because your life is upside down, and you're a detached person. Which is ok. I'm quite ok with that. You need to make sure you're leading your life right with the few people that matter, and that's important. I used to be attached, oversensitive ' but that's very difficult in my line of work. You need to be like ' apna kaam karo, ghar jao. Is the detachment on account of personal experiences over the past few years?
No, no, no. I'm made this way. I think I was cut out to be a superstar. I was made in that mould. Isko aisa karo, good looking kar do, waisa kar do, iske yeh problems hone chahiye, iski black coffee and cigarettes hone chahiye, aur iske baal nahi nikalne chahiye ' and keep him detached. I think you need to be detached to be such a big public figure.