Screen exclusive! Love me tender: Shah Rukh Khan
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It must be very strange promoting Jab Tak Hai Jaan after Yash (Chopra) ji's demise. What is your state of mind right now?
You know, Adi (Aditya Chopra) and I were chatting the other day that we still feel Yash ji's omnipresence all around us. I shared a very close relationship with him but we hardly used to talk. I think he used to call me some 10 times a year, he would call Gauri up more frequently—they had the Punjabi connect—but still I never felt that I hadn't spoken to him. The same way I can still feel his presence. He's always around. As a person also, he always preferred to be in the background, he was never a foreground person. Somehow I look at his passing away in the context of what he was all about. Yash ji was all about films. They were his life. Somehow I feel that when he decided that 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' would be his last film, he chose the best way to go. I'd like to do that too. I've only worked half the time Yash ji has. I've just been here for 22 years but I hope that when I decide to go, I hope I can do it this way too—to be working till the last day, to leave with your boots on.
On his 80th birthday when Yash ji was in conversation with you, he announced that he'd be retiring from filmmaking. Was the announcement a surprise to you too or did he talk to you about it?
He had mentioned it in Kashmir when were shooting the film. He took my shot of the film and said, "Yeh mera tere saath last shot hai. Ab nahin banaunga film." I didn't take him seriously because he had said this after Veer Zaara also that he won't make a film and anyways we still had a song to shoot in Switzerland so I said, "Kya keh rahe ho Yash ji… abhi toh gaana baaki hai." But Yash ji kept on saying ki "tere saath last shot hai mera." You know, I'm glad I spent that day with him. Normally after my shoot for the day is over, I would have gone to the van or the hotel but that day I hung around the set. We were shooting in the same place where the song 'Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Bandh Ho' from 'Bobby' was shot. I hung around the place, taught Anushka (Sharma) how to play football since she had to do it for her song. I told Yash ji ki you sit, I'll shoot the football sequence for you. The whole day I spent with him. I'm really glad.
How do you look back at Yash ji's legacy?
Adi and I were discussing it that we both feel so celebratory about him. I think that's the hallmark of great people. When great people go away, they don't leave moroseness. Yes, I did cry at the funeral and I did get depressed. It feels strange to talk about his film without him around physically but its ok. The family was debating whether or not to have the premiere of the film but we all decided that he would've liked to celebrate his last film so we are going ahead with it. I look back at Yash ji's legacy as what he conveyed through his films—life should be about happiness, romance and lovely moments. He lived to be 80 and he had a good life. He was never sick ever, except a couple of times when he used to complain ki "pet ding dong hai." He wished everyone well and was strangely detached with the business part of films. He just wanted to create films.
It's been a tough year. You also recently lost your make up man Ravi Indulkar. These are the relationships you made in the industry. How are you processing and coping?
Yeah you are right. Ravi dad, Yash ji, even Bobby (Chawla) who is so unwell and Yash Johar… these guys have been my family. I feel I'm losing my people. Its so strange but as a person I feel I can fly but then I'm bound down by the attachments and I feel them slowly slipping away. These guys mattered to me so much. The first smile I used to see every morning was that of Ravi dada. His son is wonderful too and he's doing a great job but he's not him, you know. Ravi dada and I hardly spoke but he used to hold my face so lovingly and protect me from the world. These guys were my pillars of strength and I'm losing them. I hope it's not scary to work with me anymore. (Twisted smile)
Tell me that one thing that you always and only did in a Yash Chopra film.
The first shot. He always called me for the first shot even if I wasn't required in the schedule. Even in 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge', Adi and he asked me to come and wave at Kajol for the 'Naa Jaane Mere Dil Ko Kya Ho Gaya' song. My shoot was slated a month later but they called me. Of course only and always in Yash ji's film would I go to Switzerland. I've had the unique honour of introducing my heroines to the cows of Switzerland every two to three years. These cows are really cute. It's so quiet there and when we shoot and the music starts to play, they immediately snap into attention and look up. It's quite a synchronized event. We haven't shot the remaining song in Switzerland after Yash ji's death so I guess the cows will be missing me.. ki aaya nahin woh heroino ko lekar. Their situation must be like this couplet: "Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you."
So tell me about 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan' now. What kind of a lover are you playing in this one?
He's angry, unforgiving, with loads of emotional baggage. I play him sweet when he needs to be, actually he is a lot like me. It's strange but nowadays most of the guys that I play on screen are closer to me in real life, even in Don 2 there were certain streaks of mine in the character. I think that's what experience does to you. It makes you feel brave enough to take your hand inside of your core and take out that what you need to, in order to add to the role. I'm a little more tender and gentle with myself these days and so I tell myself that it's okay to show a bit of myself on screen. So Samar, the guy I play in Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a combination of angst, tenderness, anger and yeah he's pretty unforgiving. He's a lover who feels there is arrogance in love. You know, when you are in love then you tend to feel more confident about yourself. You know, how when someone is glowing, people say, "Are you in love?" That's because that person is really glowing because he/she is feeling confident and arrogant that somebody loves me.
So Samar is an arrogant lover?
Yeah he's the kind who says to the girl that if you go with someone else then I'd sympathize with you because I know nobody can love you the way I do. There's a sense of ownership in Samar. He feels he owns the person he loves but then when its needed he can show his frailty also. I like this in him, he accepts his flaws and weaknesses.
You play an Army man in the film. Did that remind you of your Fauji days?
I play a Bomb Disposal guy actually. His job to diffuse bombs and save lives. Kinda like Hurt Locker. He does it for a living and believes that when life gives you so much pain and hurt then you don't need to be afraid of bombs. Samar thinks if we don't need a Life Defusal Suit then why do we need a Bomb Defusal Suit. Samar is calm about his job.. about being 'The Man Who Can't Die.' He is just like me. I'm very calm about my stardom.
Yeah you told me that you wear your stardom like a T-shirt and not a tuxedo.
And that's true. That's what I really live my life as. I'm easy with what I do. You know, that's why I say I'm the best. People don't get it when I say it but I truly believe that when you are happy about what you do then you are the best at it.
Oh yes, your "I'm the Best." Not heard this in a long time. Is this still your marketing line?
It's my belief line. I wake up in the morning and tell myself this. I do it because that's the only way I can go out there and do what I do. It's all about believing and being happy. You know, Usain Bolt. He has done legendary stuff but when Aryan and I talk, we say to each other, "Give me 2 days… I'll beat Bolt." That's our thing. I know it's difficult to achieve but its how you see it. When I say this to me son that give me two days that doesn't mean I'll beat Bolt but that I'll be happy trying it and that means I'll be best at it.
Everywhere in Mumbai there are hoardings of you and Gauri for the upholstery brand you endorse. I really want to know how is Gauri as a co- star?
(Smiles) Well, she's not an actor so you've got to be gentle with her. This is the third time I've shot with her and I've learnt my lesson well that when you are with Gauri then you are not the star. She doesn't even have any false respect for me being a star so I had to be very careful. I was categorically informed beforehand that I'm in the ad only because that was the only way Gauri could be in the ad. Actually they wanted her. You know, since I'm an actor and the only one in my family, I never wanted anyone else in my family to act.
Why do you say that you don't want anyone else in your family to act?
Because being an actor requires you to be emotionally naked. Unless people really want to do that, they should not be subjected to it.
Its your 47th birthday today… what dreams and plans for the next year?
I'm shooting for 'Chennai Express' now and then will get into Happy New Year. IPL will also take my time. And yeah, my amusement park, KidZania will launch early next year in Ghatkopar. It's a fun thing for kids. They can live a profession inside the park. They can be a surgeon, an architect, a fireman… and they get a passport and they earn KidZania money which can be redeemed at any other KidZania park in the world. Parents are strictly not allowed here and I'm really excited to see how the kids take to it.