By making it big in the movies, Shahrukh Khan proved to everyone that a small-time TV serial actor can also have his say on the silver screen. Shahrukh Khan started his acting career with serials like 'Fauji' and 'Circus', and with his hard work and immense talent has become a super star. He is a man full of energy and passion; he is very dedicated and hard working and puts in life into any role given to him. With Ashoka doing excellent at the box office and winning applauds for King Khan, now we all are awaiting the release of Devdas. Meet the Numero Uno and get up, close and personal with him.
What made you choose a period film like Asoka as your first production? I need to take such risks if I want to evolve as an actor. Also, let me tell you that if I have Asoka and Devdas, I also have a Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Ghum. I have worked with directors who are taking risks all the time. I admire Adi (Aditya Chopra), Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Mansoor Khan and Karan Johar for their efforts. Josh had me not as the hero but the heroine's brother. Everyone thought that the film would flop but they were wrong. If all these guys can take risks, why can't I?
How did you feel about choosing the role of Asoka? Frankly, it was every exciting. Everyone knows him but so little is known about him. And that is what intrigued me. That he was a monarch, a mighty warrior and did some pretty mean things and turned ascetic is known, but this role focuses on what he was as a human being, and on the circumstances that could have lad him to do what he did. It was a very interesting experience going through the changes from a prince to a commoner to a mean warrior to a saint. I loved the concept the moment I went through the script.
Are you excited about playing Devdas? Yes, definitely. See I have never played a drunkard before and so that's one of the things that excites me about Devdas. I love to over-simplify matters. Beyond that I know nothing about Devdas. I hardly remember the old version. I haven't read the novel by Saratchandra Chatterjee. But when I am into a role that I have to portray I have to make it perfect.
So do you see Devdas as a very special film? I think all my films are very special. It sounds like a cliché, but to single any one film out is like playing favourites among my children. All my films are special to me because in put in my best into it.
Today you are known as a romantic rather than a psychotic or an action hero. Does that make you happy? Oh, how I miss not doing action films! I'm a child at heart and enjoy fight sequences. I make up for their absence by playing with my son. We play boxing, play with guns. I pretend to be injured and fall down... It's good fun! Initially, I couldn't do action films because I had no muscles to display. Still I struggled in Darr and Anjaam. It's funny but action is inherent, a very personal thing. You don't need to manifest it onto cars and stunts! You can physically show it. You can also keep it inside you. Karan Arjun, Ram Jane and Koyla showed that. My favourite, of course, are the over-the-top action films. I enjoyed doing them for the first 4-5 years, but since everyone else was doing the same, I shifted to love stories. Now, even if I want to do action films producers will not let me because of Mohabbatein, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or Dil To Pagal Hai. I am still trying to mould myself into a perfect action hero. I don't have the looks but I have the inclination. And till these films came my way I will play a kiddie kind of action hero (laughs).
Don't you think your career is going into a new phase? Every actor passes through four or five phases in his career. I think I'm going through the second-and-a-half or third phase of my career. The first phase was the kind where everyone says, "My aunt saw you on television and she said you'd make it big. We all knew it all along." The second phase in my career was where everyone including me accepted I was a star. I realised I had been given a special position. That was about a year-and-half ago, when I accepted I was a star who could do no wrong. Then starts the questioning phase. The "Is he a star?" routine. That's the phase I'm going through right now.
What happens when you interact with other celebrities? I fall in love with them. Because they're so much more real. I met Madonna while I was on my shows. Face to face, she looks so much smaller, thinner and more vulnerable. I just held her hand. I can be arrogant and say it's not important to be photographed with Madonna because where I come from 70 million people want to click their photographs with me. When I did a photo-shoot for Filmfare with Amitabh Bachchan, I didn't even want the weight of my fingers to rest on his shoulders. He seemed so vulnerable. Ditto when I met Hema Malini, Sridevi, or Madhuri Dixit. To me, it was like a Jurassic Park ride at some theme park. So if someone comes to meet me, I want to give them paisa vasool entertainment. But sometimes, it's nicer not to meet the people that you don't love. Sometimes they're like wet paint, touch them and they'll smudge.
What is acting to you? Everything. Even if I were a corporate type, I'd be an actor. If I was a major in the army and was dying in a battlefield, my death would be as heroic as those death scenes in the movies. I was born only to act. You can take me out of the actor, but you can't take the actor out of me. Five years into our marriage, Gauri knew that I'd always be an actor. When I'm asleep at night for four hours, I miss the actor in me. When I'm taking a bath, you won't believe the acting I do.
So why is the yuppie hero talking of going easy on his acting assignments? When you're good at something, it's time to move on. You have to spearhead new movements. That's why man went on the moon. I want others to learn from my mistakes. I want to spend some time alone and reassemble my internal mechanism. I'm a little tired with the demands made on my life. I need to rediscover the child in me. The more I get in touch with people; I'm losing my ability to be a child. I want to become childish and silly again. To grow more, I need to stop growing.
What's the reality about something as make-believe as acting? An actor has no shelf life, stardom does. Years ago, when I was doing the TV serial Circus, the trapeze artists told me, "Ho gaya to kartab, gir gaya to haadsa." If you get it right you're king, if wrong you're dead. Similarly, in acting too, sometimes there's no time to struggle, no ifs, no time for recuperating. You have to all the time move on. Hopefully away from the sound of the applause, from the wah-wahs and the awards. It'll be time to dig into my magic bag once more.
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