|While he revels in his superstardom, the 46-year-old actor isn’t particularly pleased with the public and media scrutiny that comes with being famous. “People think they know you,” he complains. And he has cause for complaint. After all, there has been no dearth of gossip about Shah Rukh in the last few months. Whether it was a club-brawl in late January where he slapped Farah Khan’s husband Shirish Kunder, or the alleged link-up with his Don co-star Priyanka Chopra, SRK has been a page 1 and page 3 “It’s really sad, because you can’t counter every rumour about your life.”
He's so charming and personable that you don't mind the "starry-ness". He makes you feel special an impish smile, his expressive face flitting between humour and intensity, he is a bit of all the heroes that he plays so successfully on celluloid. Yet, he says he does not fear the loss of glory, but a time when he may not get roles, any role. His dream is to die dramatically on a set, giving his last shot “I am a labour class kind of a guy, labour suits me. When I rest, I look unkempt, beady eyed, my shoulders droop - it's labour that suits me!'
He speaks passionately about women; he is far from the roadside Romeo he plays so often on screen “A woman's beauty is extremely special. It should be appreciated with a lot of respect. Never have I stood in a corner and passed comments, not even in college.” declares Shah Rukh.
|You can sense a change in him when he speaks of his children and wife. The body language alters; his famous twinkle is back “Gauri and I think in common about the kids. So we have, together, become very focussed on the children. They are the centre of our lives. We got married nearly 20 years ago... We are now both very easy with each other. We don't encroach on each other's space. I like to be alone sometimes and I'm a little reclusive. She knows that...”
Not many know that Shah Rukh and Gauri lost their first child. He laughs when he recalls the first time he set eyes on his babies “My first impression of my kids was red, wrinkled lizards! I never thought you could love red, wrinkled lizards so much, but now, I can't think of anything in life but the two of them - they are absolutely beautiful. I want my kids to be courteous and learn good manners. I shop for toys for my kids - I like doing that - I didn't have much of a childhood since my father passed away (when he was 15) and then my mother.”
Now he wants his son to pursue his dreams, whatever they may be, but his tone changes when he talks of his daughter. Says the possessive father: 'I will have to kill my daughter's first boyfriend! Jahan se bhi aaoge, maar khaoge! Ram, Rahim, Mark, Peter, maar khaoge!' He is determined to give his children the sort of upbringing his parents gave him.
Shah Rukh loves his "toys" and has gone much beyond films. He has a production studio, a VFX unit, a cricket team and is now bringing indoor amusement parks for children into the country “Each moment in life is important if you believe that you will give it your fullest. You never know when life ends” he says.
Somewhere there is some loneliness below the charming cover-up. Perhaps it's the loss of his parents which he feels so acutely till date, that makes him fear close bonds “'I'm not a good friend. I hate communicating, answering phone calls, sending emails or messages. I feel when I meet you; I will explain it to you. So I lose friends. I don't like to get into anyone's internal space. I am warm, well-mannered and can entertain you for hours, but I don't want to be related to you.”
The actor, who has spent more than 23 years in the industry, says his only motto is to entertain the public "I have done so many films that it becomes difficult to find something new. I want that if people want to work with me, I should have something new to tell from the work that I have done. I want to continue entertaining people the way I have. I want to entertain the kids, the wives... I want to make films through which I can entertain the entire family for a few hours."
The Scorpio in him comes out with its sting intact when you ask him about his rivalries and why he bothers with them “ Me? I don't bother! You should ask them why they bother. An actor, who I will not name, said to me once, "I know you think badly of me" I told him, "You know what, I don't think anything bad about you, and I don't think anything good about you. But you know what will kill you? I don't bloody well think about you,'" he says. And of course he's heard them all, the rumours, and the criticism. 'People think I am manipulative. "He does this, he does that." I'm gay, I sleep with all my co-stars, I sleep with foreigners. The truth is, I don't do anything; I only get affected because it affects my kids” he adds.
“I am very ordinary. I suffer from an inferiority complex. I don't think I am talented enough, or good looking enough. My children have to reassure me. There are better actors, better dancers, who are better looking and more disciplined than I am. Me, I'm just a bloody maverick. I am an intelligent man but I'm not what it takes to be a star... Mr Bachchan is the sort of star who is awe-inspiring.” he says.
He's bewildered by all the fuss over an ordinary boy from a middle-class family, but is not dismissive of the immense fan following that he has, especially women from 18 to 80. 'I am blessed and it is these blessings that keep me going. I smoke, I travel crazily, I don't bother about what I eat and yet I am healthy, have energy. It's this fondness and blessings that I receive from people that keeps me well,' he say’s with his famous dimpled smile. More Power to you Shah Rukh! You still have many more roles to play...