In love with love
Rajiv Vijayakar speaks to acclaimed actor Shah Rukh Khan on what he thinks of love, his relationship with his female co-stars, and his latest film with Yash Chopra, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’.
He’s Shah Rukh Khan, the Hindi screen’s prime romantic hero after Rishi Kapoor. In his latest co-star Katrina Kaif’s words, he is unequalled in intense romantic roles and has a deep respect for women.
When we meet up at Yash Raj Studios and mention this, Shah Rukh Khan’s face crinkles into a smile. “I have always been more with women than men,” he recalls. “I have grown up with them and have never been the macho kind because of their influences.
Most of my teachers too happened to be women and I got along great with them too! I was quite a naughty brat in school and whenever I got into trouble, if the teacher was older, I would tell her she reminded me of my mom, while the younger ones were told that I considered them my friends.”
Shah Rukh’s father passed away when he was very young and he was very close to his mother and sister. “I would even hang out with girls rather than boys,” he says. “Today, I can refer to my son Aryan with the word tu, but when it is my daughter Suhana, the respectful term aap automatically comes to my lips. The gentleness of being a woman is unparalleled.”
The actor has had a cordial relationship with every one of his heroines and quips that he is in love with all of them! He insists that though Katrina is over a decade junior to him in films, he still got to learn many things from her while working with her in Jab Tak Hai Jaan.
The film, his fourth with the late Yash Chopra as director, and his eighth with the banner in 20 years, is described by Shah Rukh as a “love story with a very big obstacle to love. If people accept that, it will be a huge hit. The film has a lot of modern thought, but the hero is, as always, a good man,” he says tantalisingly, without revealing anything more.
“When Yash ji was writing it, there was some talk about my doing a Vishal Bhardwaj film and he was concerned and asked me, ‘I hope you are not doing a love story for him, because I am writing a romantic subject for you!’ It has not sunk in yet that he’s no more. In a few days, I will be watching the film with the whole team and the YRF people — a tradition there. I think that’s when I will begin to miss him.”
Relationship with Yash Chopra
The actor last shot with Yash Chopra for the song Jiya re and their last interaction was at Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday party, for a few minutes. He had once again complimented Shah Rukh for the way he had conducted his interview on his birthday. “We enjoyed working together each time,” says Shah Rukh.
“We never even thought whether the films will do well or not because we were enjoying making them so much. And all eight films did well! I recall being apprehensive about our first film Darr, which had the hero as the villain. And Yash ji had said, ‘Maalik raksha karega!’ and the film was a superhit.”
Shah Rukh Khan is comfortable playing roles younger than his age. “I am 32 in Jab Tak Hai Jaan, 15 years younger than my age,” he reveals. “I personally do not feel old. In fact, I am much more comfortable with children than with adults my age. I am not saying that I am youthful but simply that my brain works that way. It is the script that convinces you of your age in film, just like how I was shown to be in college in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, when I was 33!”
Like Yash Chopra, Shah Rukh is also fascinated by love and the complexities of human relationships. “I think everyone’s individual circumstances are so unique that they alone know them best, so we should not make hasty judgements about anyone,” he says on a serious note. “As for love, the emotion is the same, but its expressions change with age. A young heartbroken man may howl and not move out of his room for days, whereas older people may become quiet, but will go to work.”
What about the popular perception that he sleeps only three or four hours a day? “I sleep for five hours,” he replies. “Sometimes less, sometimes more. I do not need much sleep.” Isn’t that detrimental to health in the long run? “Well, so far, I have been fine!” he chuckles.
Now that he has returned to feel-good romance after assorted genres like Chak De! India, My Name is Khan and Don 2, does he relate to dark characters and want to try them out in the ‘different’ kind of cinema that is being made?
“Why should I?” he asks, genuinely puzzled. “There is so much to do within commercial parameters, and if you notice, I have had so much variety in my roles, from a Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna to a Main Hoon Na to a Darr.
Come to think of it, Darr and Baazigar came 20 years ago and they were darker than most such films today, but audience-friendly. I also made Asoka, Paheli, Billu and RA.One — they were different films and I am proud of them. But because they did not do well, I have learnt my business lessons from them as a producer.”