Fenil and Bollywood

I’m great enough to be humble-SRK

Posted on: December 29, 2009

WHO AM I? Shah Rukh Khan as Rizwan Khan


Shah Rukh Khan speaks exclusively to BT about his role in the biggest film of his career

MARK MANUEL Times News Network (BOMBAY TIMES; December 29, 2009)

Shah Rukh Khan, the pains and failures of 2009 behind him if not entirely forgotten, is looking forward to the New Year because it brings with it the imminent release and promise of the biggest film of his career (his words, not mine) – Karan Johar’s My Name Is Khan. He’s had a bad year starting with the shoulder injury and surgery, then the uninspiring box-office returns for Billu – his only release in 2009, and finally the humiliating decimation of his IPL team in South Africa. But, as the poet T. S. Eliot famously wrote, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice”… and SRK, suspect, is secretly hoping that the next voice cinema audiences will listen to is going to be his in 2010. Or rather Rizwan Khan’s, the autistic character he plays in My Name Is Khan, which is slated for a grand bi-lingual worldwide release in February. Actually, the character in this ambitious film suffers from asperger’s syndrome, an autistic disorder whose main symptom is a difficulty in social interaction. It is a role that Shah Rukh, who is notoriously among Bollywood’s least social people, must have slipped into with consummate ease. Over a glass of tea in his vanity van one night late at Mehboob Studios, I asked him whether audiences were ready for another challenged hero after Bachchan with progeria in Paa and, before that, Aamir with dyslexia in Taare Zameen Par. Shah Rukh replied, “Audiences understand what you tell them. People like a good story. And this is a joyous film with a new romantic thought, the journey of an ordinary man. It is a love story with an epic feel. All love stories have obstacles, but the obstacle in My Name Is Khan is real, it happens in everyday life. For me, the film was an opportunity to play a challenged character… bahut maaza aaya!” What he was saying was contrary to public belief that the film is based on terrorism. Shah Rukh scowled. “I don’t know where you got that idea,” he said in exasperation, “yes, it is set in the aftermath of 9/11, and it is heroic without the fighting and screaming, but My Name Is Khan is a heartening and even funny film… even though we didn’t try to make a funny film! I am excited about it as I am about all my films. But this one I’m very proud of. Mainly because I’ve co-produced it with Karan. Also because Kajol and I are acting together after eight years.” He’s not seen a trial of the film as yet to voice an opinion on how well it will do at the box-office. That Shah Rukh never does. Not for his own films nor anybody else’s. In fact, he said he’s hardly seen any of his films completely. “Trials mean analysis,” he explained, “but trial reactions are different from theatre reactions. I don’t make a film for myself, I make it for the story. Besides, I’m shy of myself on screen, I’m not vain, it’s just that I’m not fond of my face or physique. Maybe that’s why I’m an actor – so that I can play someone else.”
Perhaps, he was still in character for the film. Or, maybe, interacting with people is as much a problem for Shah Rukh Khan in real life as it is for Rizwan Khan in reel. “I’m not antisocial,” he protested, “I’m a quiet person, strangely reclusive, I’m not as confident as you think I am. I have issues. I’m thankful to Allah… to be not so gifted and have all this. It may sound pompous, but I’m great enough to be humble, I’m very happy when people say ‘SRK’s the best’… there is a sense of achievement, I’m happy by what I’ve done, but humble enough to know it’s not because of me. Yet put me on stage, say, at Salt Lake Stadium before a million people and I will comfortably entertain you for an hour. As long as I’m an entertainer, I have no problems. It’s when I’m Shah Rukh Khan that the problems arise. I’m a fun guy… yet my kids enjoy their mother’s company more.”
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