Shakrukh Khan shares his thoughts on Yash Chopra, his latest Jab Tak Hai Jaan and more to Harshikaa Udasi

He has finished answering questions ranging from which cake he will cut on his birthday to how he has come to terms with Yash Chopra’s demise. It’s almost 10 at night and he has possibly not had much except some water, some smokes definitely and there’s that sandwich waiting for him. Yet there seems to be some sort of infectious energy in the room that’s coming from the direction of the star/actor in question. Shahrukh Khan.

There’s just a week to go before the release of Yash Chopra’s swan song Jab Tak Hai Jaan (Diwali/November 13 release). Even as Yash Raj Films is mourning the sudden loss of its founder father and director of this film, the family has taken a decision to present the film with as much fanfare as Yash Chopra would have liked to.

“His films have always celebrated happiness and it would be unfair if we didn’t do the same with his last; and one which he cherished arguably the most, because he told me that he was the happiest while making JTHJ. I kept telling him that we would make another one together after a few years with another 19-year old paired with me. Though he laughed about it, he said ‘No, this is it’. I didn’t know then that it would really be so in a different sense,” says Shahrukh, adding, “Off the sets or on it, we never really spoke about the films we were making, just about life. But I guess I will miss his post-release Sunday call the most. He would call and say, “Haan, Yash bol raha hoon. Yaar, kuch accha ho gaya. (Yash here. Something good has happened).”

Ironically titled Jab Tak Hai Jaan (Till there is life), the film also stars Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. While some reports suggested similarities to Daag, the filmmakers and the actors have denied it. SRK plays Samar Anand who goes through two phases in life during the film. He plays an unwavering military man while Katrina plays the much-sought after quintessential Yash Raj heroine and Anushka plays the young independent girl with her modern-day notions about romance.

Asked if it is difficult to sum up a character after the film is completed, Shahrukh says, “Though it sounds very nice to put it in a package, it is difficult. See, I have my set parameters for commercial cinema, but within that too, I always put in a little of me in every character. On my first script, even today, I scribble notes for my understanding of the character and to bring it to life. But then a character grows organically through the film. There are floating words of the director around me – Samar is unforgiving, Samar can face death and that’s what makes him so focussed. Of course there are crutches like a soft song or a walk against the bombs that elevate my emotions. Then there are some uncharacteristic things you do to create that same guy. So the person who comes through finally has grown tremendously.”

Is there a part of him in Samar Anand as well? “Yes. In Ra.One, for instance, I was that dad who would give up his life for his son. Currently, I am going through a phase that’s reflected in Samar; nothing deep, Samar is unforgiving and that’s what my state is at present. He is the sort of person who thinks that life’s twists and turns can destroy you so what’s the need to protect yourself from a bomb? That makes him unafraid of death and he is seen as the man who cannot die. There is a little bit of angst in him and that certain arrogance that is typically associated with a person in love,” says the actor.

For someone who has been hailed the Badshah of Romance, Shahrukh is pretty shy around women, he claims! “I mean I can romance my heroine and all but when a stylist comes up to me and ask me about my co-star’s outfit, and they are usually hand-in-glove with the latter, I am very shifty and manage to mumble ‘good.’ They will prod me and ask if it is sexy and I will say ‘yeah’. It’s true!”

Asked if a true Yash Chopra romantic film holds good in today’s age when love had different connotations, Shahrukh replies with a strong affirmative. “Love is forever. In our times, we held hands on the 97th date and kissed on the cheek probably on our wedding night, but we did it right. Now, the time line has shrunk. It may happen within the first eight minutes of knowing each other but the expressions of love are the same. We can’t help it. So while in another Yash Chopra film, Katrina and I would be picnicking in some beautiful spot, this one has us making passionate love on a terrace in Saans. Take Twilight for instance. I didn’t know that it was a love story so when Aryan kept saying I should watch it, I expected the worst with vampires and all. But it’s romance! JTHJ too is a classic love story told in a modern language.”

That walk…

“I always ensure my character has a special walk. Don 2 had that swagger of a male model I had observed and on the sets everyone from Priyanka to Farhan used to imitate it whenever I would do it for a scene. But that’s something I don’t give up even if a director hates it!”

“I came to Mumbai to do something radical with my acting and I got the chance by getting the anti-hero act. I was 25 and I hated love stories. When I was 29, I got an offer to work in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and I thought ‘Fine.’ I had to curb my feeling to toss Kajol over the bridge if she didn’t turn and look back at me when I said ‘Palat’ (turn) to her!”

“I have only one expectation from the people with whom I work – treat me like a child. I am punctual, I am tireless and I can do anything required of me in a scene. But if anyone talks to me harshly, I tend to back off. There are many big directors with whom I haven’t worked, thanks to their overbearing attitude. I am oversensitive. That’s why Yashji and I got along beautifully; he too was a sensitive person and hated being dictated to.”

In SRK’s kitty

Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express (SRK wanted to do a comedy to bring back the flavour of Duplicate and Yes Boss)

Farah Khan’s Happy New Year (A heist film that was long on SRK’s wish list)

Shahrukh’s childhood friend from Delhi, Anil Senior’s A For Apple, B For Billi, C For Cutta (SRK plays a Delhi boy for the first time in his career.)