He says, “It’s being full year since my back surgery. It has been a year of torture, because my movement was confined and I hate to be restricted. But, I got to spend a lot of time with my children. I also read several books on acting. I connected to emotions within myself. It’s been 18-20 years that I’ve been acting and am starting to discover aspects of myself as an actor, that I didn’t know existed.”
He dismisses all talks of reinventing himself as an actor. “I am the same old actor. When people question me I really look back and think but I feel people love characters like Rahul or Raj because they are different. Every role is different and I am not reinventing myself as an actor,” says SRK.
Says SRK: "I don't sit around complaining about the lack of good roles. I will play Raj 85 times and still make him different. There are only two Khans. Genghis Khan and Shahrukh Khan. I'd die if people didn't recognise me. I would not be able to walk on the road if people didn't mob me. That's what I work for. Sex is not required to sell my film. My name is enough. Awards who ignore me are losers."
Shah Rukh sees his stardom as a monkey on his (injured) shoulder. “The luxury of failure is denied to you when people expect you to be successful constantly. When I hear someone like Mr Rakesh Roshan, whom I respect, tell me that people are applauding at the end of MNIK, I feel good. Somewhere, the film has connected emotionally with people.”
The star says he isn’t bothered with box-office figures and finds the comparisons of MNIK with Raj Kumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots, or any other film, absurd. “In our country, we always belittle what we have by saying something else is better. Better is the undoing of good. Have they ever compared Latabai (Mangeshkar) with Mohd Rafi saab or Kishore Kumar saab? Have you heard American critics comparing Brad Pitt to Tom Cruise?”
Comparison brings us to Aamir Khan constantly taking potshots at him. Says Shah Rukh, “We’re friends. At least, I’d like to think we are. We both have a sense of humour. At least, I do. I’d like to think all our exchanges are in good humour. Quite honestly, I’ve no desire to look at what he or anyone else is doing. I never look at my own box-office figures. Why would I look at others’ collections?”
In spite of the obvious preparedness, Shah Rukh has no intention of directing a film. “Not for a long, long time. I think it would be a while before the actor in me is satiated. People say I’m in character in MNIK, and that earlier I was only doing fluff. Being the court jester or the clown isn’t easy. It’s not easy making people smile.”
In the midst of talks on films and success, he adds, “I wasn’t supposed to work for nine months after my surgery but I did work on a slow pace. I believe the show must go on. This is also the price a star has to pay. But the good thing was that I got to spend a lot of time with my kids. Both my children boss over me and it is meant to be like that. My strength to work in such situations comes from my family and people who love to watch me,” he says.
Ra.1, he says, is for his children. “And for children everywhere. I want to play superhero, yaar. I want my kids to be proud of me.”
The shoulder injury got aggravated while he was doing the guest appearance in Dulha Mil Gaya. Shah Rukh has decided to do no more guest appearances. “I don’t regret doing this one for producer Vivek Vaswani. I can’t forget his generosity when I came to Mumbai.” However, Shah Rukh, who has done guest appearances, cameos and voiceovers in innumerable films, says he is done with guest appearances. “I’d do these things for any friend.”
So, is he looking at a whole shelf of awards for MNIK next year? “Why clear a shelf in my house? I’ll buy a new house for the awards to come,” he retorts. At the moment, he has just begun to enjoy all the praise for MNIK.
How does he see tomorrow? On a philosophical note, he says, “I am where I never thought I would be. I got much more than what I had expected. I am strong believer in God, hard work and honesty. My family and my close relationships keep me grounded and they are more important than my career. My family likes me as a person and not because I am an actor. I never mix the two. I don’t know how much I earn or how many awards I have received.”
And yes, the man who has ruled many hearts across the world has a word of advice: “Money is a good thing to run after. It is very important to be financially stable but you have to keep your wrongs and rights in mind. Don’t shy away from earning but without selling your soul.”