Anshul Chaturvedi (BOMBAY TIMES; August 4, 2017)

As SRK's seemingly never-ending tryst with love stories and sentimental songs continues, the star has a great connect with his gushing, adoring fans from Abu Dhabi to Banaras, and a simple message for those who think this genre of cinema is easy - why don't you just replicate the model?

About six years back, when you were talking about how critics explain your success, you said that they keep saying, 'Saala sab kaise kar leta hai!'. 'Arey wohi kare jaa raha hai, love stories karta rehta hai', 'Gaane achhe mil jaate hain saale ko.' This was 2011. It's 2017 now, and it still seems that love story kare ja raha hai and gaane bhi achhe mil rahe hain. Does it make you want to say to your critics, listen, I can still pull this off ­ deal with it?
No, I don't look back at all yaar. I really don't live in the past. Galat ho gaya, ho gaya. Achha ho gaya, ho gaya. My life is moving with such rapidness, that I really don't have a viewpoint left for what is past. You cannot oversimplify either the failure or success of anyone, but we try to compartmentalize. Because it's easier to understand. See, if I understood my stardom, I would try to keep it and retain it for the rest of my life and pass it on to my children. But I don't know how to retain it because I don't know how it happened. Then why oversimplify it? Ki yaar gaano se hota hai. Toh aap bhi kar lo!

Right. If it's simple, just replicate ­ that logic?
Yes. Love story se mana kiya hai maine? I remember a director once saying something like ­ 'Yaar, Karan Johar badi easy picturein banata hai'. So I'm like ­ toh aap bana lo. I teach my children that don't ever say 'I can do this' unless you have done it. Ki arey yaar yeh itna asaan hai. Have you done it? Do it. Fail at it, succeed at it, then talk about it. Don't just say that 'This I can do yaar'. Don't oversimplify anybody's success or failure. Someone asked Anushka Sharma a couple of days back at an activity ­ yeh hamesha love story mein success kyun hota hai, kitni mehnat karta hai? Dimple hain, aur kuch nahin! Ho sakta hai wohi baat ho! At least I am aware of it.

In the context of entertaining, happy-go-lucky cinema: How important is the song and dance? Hollywood directors and actors often struggle to comprehend why our movies are so music-centric sometimes. Is there a cultural explanation?
Uday Shankar sahab was talking to me many years back and he said we are doing this show, what do you think is a good choice, etc. I told him that we should find the best actor in the country. Have a platform on TV ­ like how Fauji gave me once. Ek time pe Filmfare ka competition hota tha, photo bhejo... We were discussing formats. And then somebody in the meeting said, 'Sir, hamare desh mein har ghar mein ek singer hai, par actor nahin hai.' Whatever is happening in India has a musical intonation to it. It's deeply imbibed. Indians by nature have an affinity to music and perhaps we don't have as many opportunities. Pehle humne suna bhi nahin tha ki singers ka concert hota hai.

So cinema was a primary connect?
I think cinema was the only place jahan music ka ek excuse tha. We are actually looking for excuses for music, aren't we? All our festivals. Ganesh Chaturthi pe music bajta hai. In planning a song in a movie we are often thinking, yeh apne uss festival mein bada chalega yaar, ye dandiya mein gaana bahut chalega. I think most of our festivals are reasons to celebrate music. Cinema was the only thing where it could openly come out. Even today, my daughter watches so many movies, but I have never heard her saying, 'There are so many songs in this film!' Us din woh baarish ka gaana gaa rahi thi, pata nahin kaun sa. So I asked her, 'Tujhe kaise aata hai yaar ye! I thought she will only like Justin Bieber - ye mahaul hai. I get shocked, I'm like 'Suhana, you like Hindi songs?' And she says, 'Ya, it's very nice, papa.' So I think musically, it is just in our system.

In an interview we did when you were 43, and you said that your dad lived till 51 and it was the age of mortality for you ­ as you approach it, you thought more about death. And you also said, 'What my dad taught me, I hope I am able to teach that to my kids by the time I am his age'. How are you placed now, at 51?
Ek toh meri dying age maine cross kar li. Ab toh main aage tak jaunga (laughs). But I think that, and I mean it with lot of love ­ the fact that my father had less work when I was born and till he was alive, gave him an opportunity to engage with the children. He made himself more useful somewhere instead of just moping about the fact that he didn't have work. I, fortunately or unfortunately, have loads of work, so perhaps I have not achieved as yet, what my father did when I was 14 and he was 50. With my elder son Aryan I am beginning to spend more time because he is a nightbird like me. My younger son (AbRam) is always with me. I need to spend more time with my daughter (Suhana), I am a little shy in this space. So when she is with her girlfriends, I am like 'Yaar, main barge in toh nahin kar raha,' Bacchiyan hain meri, sab mere saath hi badi hui hain IPL matches dekh-dekh ke. But I still feel awkward. I need to open up a little and spend more time to pass on whatever little I know. I don't know if I can do as much as my father did.

You have also spoken of how you had picked shayari from your father, from your parents. You have so many dialogues that people remember. Do you ever feel the need to get into the script and add lines, drama?
I think mera andaz main zaroor le aata hoon, I don't know of words. But yes, 'Haar kar jeetne wale ko Baazigar kehte hain.' The styling and thought, I would say, 'Sir, main aisa karoon?' That I do till date. Imtiaz, main scene mein kuch aisa bol doon? Jaise mujhe bada achha lag raha hai ek scene Jab Harry Met Sejal mein jo Imtiaz ne bahut khoobsurat likha tha. Main Sejal ko bolta hoon, 'Tumse zyada samajhdar log is raah par chalte-chalte galti kar baithte hain, jis se unki zindagi barbad ho jaati hai. You know, pyaar mohabbat ki confusion mein pad ke, so be careful. Aur woh hansne lagti hai ki main aisi ladkiyon mein se nahin hoon jo tour guide ke saath bhag jaati hai apne mangetar ko chhor ke. And then I say, 'Hans le hans le, baad mein pata chalega.' I don't think I will be able to write something romantic, but I can say very romantic things.

So there is no hidden diary of shayari or philosophy?
No, I do write shayari and English poetry sometimes, which I will mention in my book. But it's not of a very high calibre, to be honest. Tukbandi jise bolte hai. But yes, I have a poetic mindset. I get inspired as an actor by reading a lot of poetry. People ask me what inspires you, what do you learn in acting, I tell people, it's my reading, actually kuch books padhta hoon anger ki, dukh ki, khushi ki ­ and I kind of take those lines and try to imbibe them.


Your dad had taken you and your sister once to Miranda House to show you where he stayed. Now, your kids are in that age group roughly where you were then. Would you think of taking them to where you stayed in Delhi?
I have taken them. I have shown them our house in Delhi's Gautam Nagar one and a half years back at night. Main C-7, 223 mein rehta tha, DDA flats mein. Toh main wahan par bhi lekar gaya. Mai upar gaya, raat ke 2.30 baje thay, sab band tha toh maine ek note likh ke rakh diya ki main Shah Rukh Khan yahan rehta tha, bachhon ko ghar dikhane aaya tha. Aap log so rahe thay warna main pareshan karta. Ab mujhe nahin pata uss aadmi ne dekha hi nahin ya usko ek joke samjha.

We visited the Delhi flat that had SRK and family as unexpected ­ and unseen ­ midnight guests sometime in 2016, and met Sushma Singh Tomar,who is currently staying there. She says, “Yes, we know that he used to live here. It was a long time back. Our landlord also got to know about this from someone. Unhone humein bataya tha, par humein yakeen hi nahin hua. There was another tenant who lived here before us, she had also told us ki yahan Shah Rukh Khan rehte thay.'“

However, it appears that SRK's handwritten note didn't stay there till they woke up, since Sushma adds, “We have been living here from the last seven years. We did not get any note from him. Hum so rahe honge jab woh aaye honge. Par achha laga jaanke ki woh aaye thay bachchon ko yeh flat dikhaane. Agar woh yahan fir se aana chahein toh zarur aayein. We will be happy to welcome him.“

-Riya Sharma