In the city recently, Shah Rukh Khan spoke on a range of topics in his usual self — witty and candid
Over a span of 22 years in Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan has won plenty of awards. Now, there is another feather in his cap — the only Bollywood actor to be honoured with the Chevalier Sivaji Award at the Vijay Awards (held recently in the city). And, the actor’s take on this? “It was a pleasant surprise, as there are so many who deserve this award before I do.” Excerpts from an interview.
Paired opposite Deepika Padukone, Shah Rukh Khan plays a South Indian in Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express. Shot in Munnar and Kodaikanal, the film travels from Mumbai to Rameshwaram. Chennai Express — originally Ready Steady Po — portrays that language does not come in the way of love. “I liked the concept of the integration of North and South India. When Rohit came to me with Chennai Express, I accepted it.” The movie features a strong southern cultural element. “We shot with 500 dancers in Munnar performing Kathakali and folk dance.” The team of Chennai Express has roped in many south Indian actors. About veteran actors Sathyaraj and Manorama who are part of the cast, he says, “They are great senior actors. Manorama is a very beautiful person. Sathyaraj is a fantastic actor. It was a good experience to act with Mohan Raman as well.”
From his early hits such as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Dil Se to recent films Ra. One and Jab Tak Hai Jaan, trains have been an integral part of his movies. Stating his love for trains, he says, “I’ve always felt trains have a romantic element in them; it’s just coincidence that most of my movies have a train scene.” So, in Chennai Express, will we see a dance move on a train similar to the one in Dil Se? “I asked Rohit the same thing, and he was not in favour as that dance was a classic piece of Mani Ratnam. That dance has inspired even Hollywood directors. No one should attempt it again, including me.”
His association with the South Indian film world goes back to the days of Trimurti in the mid 1990s, and over the years he has worked with Mani Ratnam, Gouthami, Kamal Haasan, Ajith, cinematographer Santosh Sivan and director Chinni Prakash. About Chennai, SRK says, “I feel it is like a second home. I have many friends here — A.R. Rahman, Rajinikanth sir and his daughters, Maddy, cinematographer Manikandan and many others. I have learnt a lot from them, and being in their company has taught me that genius, apart from being prolific, has to be humble.” He is all praise for Ajith who did not charge him for his role in Asoka. “When Ajith shot for Asoka, I did not know he was such a big star. He was such a gentleman. I hope to meet him next time I’m in Chennai.”
Tamil film on the cards?
Ask him whether he will act in a Tamil movie, and the Badshah of Bollywood says, “I had 43 retakes for delivering two words in Tamil in Hey Ram! I have never taken so many retakes in my life. I realised I was no good with regional languages. I shall do one if I do not have to speak the language.” However he expressed his desire to do a remake of Appu Raja.
Stardom and success
“I may have bodyguards, but I’m not a superstar or special; I am still the same simple person I was when I started off. It is not special to be special, but special to be ordinary; I like to be ordinary. I don’t sit down to think about how I can make a movie special. I draw my inspirations from my own life experiences.”
Marching towards 50
The young-at-heart Khan has just one thing to say to youngsters —“Don’t confine your life to years or tears but with friends and smiles. At times, my children too tell me that I don’t act my age with them, but I feel it’s good that way.”
“I met veteran actor K.N. Singh on the sets when he had partially lost his eyesight. Appreciating my work in my first television serial Fauji, he touched my face and said I would be a good actor. He said ‘observe and absorb, and you will go places. One day some director will tell you to take out what you observed’. It was an emotional moment.”