Posted by Fenil Seta
Shah Rukh Khan on making films for the right reasons, taking risks and not having insecurities...
Nayandeep Rakshit (DNA; April 6, 2017)
It’s part and parcel of being a superstar. With every film’s release, come a number of opinions and with it, the constant criticism that if a film does well, it was a safe bet and that if it doesn’t, one shouldn’t have taken risks. Ask Shah Rukh Khan this and he says it’s all about finding one’s level — and when one does, using it to one’s advantage. And when one doesn’t, how to take it in one’s stride and accept the reality that taking risks don’t always translate into profits and that in itself, shouldn’t be a deterrent. Here, he also talks about why comparisons with other superstars are misplaced and that people ought to understand the intentions behind his cinema and respect it. He even tells us that it’s possible to make a multi-superstar flick and what could make it work...
Have you ever had insecurities?
I have never been an insecure person. I have been in this business for long as an actor and personally as well. I feel actors and films are like water, they will find their level. I have never made a film in 25 years, except perhaps one, for any other reason than to just entertain people and make them happy. To me, the bottomline is, there’s no point doing a film if people don’t like it. The biggest goal is, can I change your mood for two-and-a-half hours when you are in the theatre and you come out walking saying that it enveloped me for these two hours in whichever way — happy, sad, intense or thinking! Besides that, there have been no other insecurities. And I have never had reasons to be insecure. There will be a film which will do badly, but there are so many of them which have done so well, too. So when you look at it, yes you hear smatterings of conversations. But I have been hearing it for 22 years that my career is over. Everyone keeps saying it, but people don’t understand the business, the intensity that most actors and actresses use to entertain people. I am just very happy releasing my films. If they like it, they will do well. If they don’t, then I feel sad that I wasn’t able to deliver my prime goal which is to touch your life for two-and-a-half hours.
How do you deal with a movie’s failure?
There’s an automatic shut-off system. You release the film and you know this is it. On Friday, you get to know the outcome and you can do nothing about it. I have done all that I can and that’s the best part. Did I put my best foot forward making this film? If I know that, then the hurt is a little less. It’s not for want of trying. You try. It’s like you wear a suit and you go out and not everybody will like it. Nobody’s come out wearing it for it not to work. Some are wearing it to look pretty, handsome and some are wearing it to shock you with the newness of it all. Movies are exactly like that. Sometimes, they don’t work. There’s nothing more to it than that. But if it doesn’t work personally, I get very disturbed and sad. I wish somehow I knew which story to tell. I am also not prone to doing the right thing, to try and make a safe film. It may seem so because people keep on picking up my safest thing and giving that as an example. My whole career, from when it started, whether it was with Ketan Mehta to Gauri Shinde or Rahul Dholakia, it’s never been a stayed step into films thinking ki I will make a regular film. The first film I produced was Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani which was a black comedy on news and communication. Those are not subjects people touch upon in commercial cinema. You can touch on it in a small film. Another example would be RA.One and everybody told me that science fiction doesn’t work in this country. But I spent so much money, created a VFX studio to do it. I don’t want to make a safe film. I have always said this — I’d rather go wrong doing something new than go wrong or right doing something which has been done.
People have constantly pitted you against Salman and Aamir and compare your box-office numbers. Do you think people misunderstand your intention behind doing a film?
Bottomline is, my intention is not important, your entertainment is. If I was to keep on saying, ‘Please understand the intention behind my cinema and respect it for that', it won’t happen. Just because my intention is X, I don’t believe that 20-crore people will have the same intention and respect it. They should just be entertained. The best challenge is when your intention and the entertainment matches. I don’t think I can really go up to people and ask them to respect my intentions over their entertainment. My intention is for me to know, for me to do, for me to believe in. It’s supposed to entertain you; if it did, good, if it didn’t, too bad. I will try and make the combinations work together. For people who keep talking so much about what I say, what I do, what business I should have, they have not been here for 51 years and I don’t want to question their intention either. But they don’t know what they say. How can I take it seriously? I am not going to get swayed, wavered, disturbed, worried, angsty or threatened by somebody who doesn’t even know what it is. When I’m on social media, everyone seems to know the numbers and which theatres the movie should release, which holiday period is best, which film will work and which won’t. Come work with me, do it for another 25 years with me and tell me whether your points-of-view work? Does it have any basis or reasonable thought behind it? Or is it just what you are reading and saying it. It doesn’t make a difference, what people say, how they say. ‘Oh, Shah Rukh’s doing this because of this and that.’ No, it’s nothing like that. I’d never be able to walk in to this house, travel in a good plane or wear good suits and feel so proud and happy about it if I didn’t know my intentions were good, to bring about change, newness or modernity within the given parameters of Indian cinema. I know why I do what I do and if I start questioning that myself, I would never be able to enjoy the trappings of stardom. I would be guilty, but I am not. It goes wrong often and it goes right sometimes. I sometimes gloat over it and I don’t get completely disturbed by it.
Do you think it’s difficult to get two superstars in one film in today’s times?
It’s actually more difficult to get a script like that. If you have one, I’m sure most actors will work together. You need to have a director who’s clear about what he wants to do. I don’t think that would be a problem. But you have to get a script. It’s difficult anyway to find one. Everyone doesn’t make an Ocean’s Eleven. It’s a difficult genre to work in. I guess they are making the next one with ladies now. I haven’t heard a story or nobody has narrated a story, which has a lot of actors or stars. The budgets will be big, but I’m sure if somebody has the gumption and the story, it can happen!