Cut above the rest

Make Believe

new superhero Shah Rukh Khan will play the character of a superhero for the first time with ‘RA.One’.

Shah Rukh Khan and humour are like Siamese twins — they cannot be separated from each other. King Khan was peppy as he spoke about his new home production, RA.One. It has been 20 years since he began shooting for his first two films, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and Deewana (his first release). Khan has seen extraordinary stardom on a global level, and the television actor-turned-film star (also businessman, producer, the man behind Red Chillies VFX et al) has always been famous for his articulate wit and humour, which he says he has acquired from his father. “He was a strapping Pathan. One day when our neighbour, a lady, came and complained that I, a young kid then, was flirting with her daughter, I shivered with fear. But my father just retorted to her remark and said, ‘If your daughter is as pretty as you, how can I blame my son? If I had been young, I would have flirted with you too.’ The lady began to laugh!” reminisces Shah Rukh.

Shah Rukh has always stated that he has done this superhero film to please his son Aryan. “My son has approved whatever we have made so far. So has Anubhav Sinha’s son!” he quips. He also chose to produce the film (the film is Red Chillies Entertainment’s most ambitious venture) because he has always loved superhero movies. “I have always been a hardcore fan of the superhero character, both in comics and movies. I recall borrowing my sister’s blue tights, a red shirt and a towel or a bedsheet as a cape, and jumping down from chairs or beds, pretending to be Superman!” he chuckles. “Later, I watched everything that Hollywood and India had to offer, from the film Parasmani in 1963 to Dharamji’s (Dharmendra) popular song Superman from his 1982 film, Teesri Aankh. I am also inspired by Krrish and Drona. These characters have become iconic, especially for kids.”

During the making of the film, despite the use of VFX (visual effects) and harnesses (which render stunts safe and are eliminated digitally later from the screen), the actor realised that playing a superhero was no easy task. “An actor has to train and develop great physical strength and stamina as well as mental toughness,” he explains. “The costume also made sure that I could not eat what I loved to because it would not fit me if I put on even a few pounds. There were restrictions even on going to the loo. But I have still done 70 to 80 per cent of the stunts myself,” he adds. For Shah Rukh, the most strenuous sequences were those wherein he had to fly above trains.

He stated that the team that has been working on the project for five years now has tried to push the envelope in technology and innovative content. “Although we have followed the classical framework of a superhero film — a geek who discovers that he has extraordinary powers — we have tried to be very innovative,” he states seriously. “The superhero in this film is made up of electricity and pixels,” he reveals.

Khan has started to promote the film, an Eros Entertainment co-production again, like Om Shanti Om and Billu, five months before its release. “Actually, we released the first glimpse of RA.One as early as January 3,” says Khan. “The film’s concept has to register with the people, who may not have watched something like this before. For example, my name is G.One in the film, which also stands for jeevan or life and ‘Good One’. I am the protector of the human race against the evil force, RA.  One, a term that stands for Random Access One and also for the epitome of evil, Ravan, who is said to represent the lethal combination of ten of the most evil heads in the world.” He then quips, “You can also say that G stands for Gauri, my wife, and one stands for my position in the industry!”
“Every month, I plan to build up the publicity to strike a chord with the audience. We will also be backing all this with merchandise and books to support the film, whose release is slated during Diwali,” he notes, adding that he named his film after the villain (whose identity and look will be disclosed only when the film releases) because Mogambo, Gabbar Singh and other iconic baddies are recalled even more than the lead artistes in films like Mr India and Sholay.
Shah Rukh stresses on the fact that RA.One is the story of a father and son. “In Hindi cinema, mothers always tend to monopolise the screen. Majority of the films we make focus more on the relationship between a mother and her son. So, I thought that it was high time fathers asserted themselves!” he says. On a more serious note, he adds, “RA.One may have a lot of action and VFX, but at its core, it is a movie with a heart. I want to make a family film for Indian audiences, like most of my films.”

What about the film’s Akon-rendered track being leaked on YouTube? Khan admits that though it was unfortunate, it was not the final version, for which he was thankful. And what does he have to say about his friend Karim Morani’s (a co-producer of the film) arrest by the Enforcement Directorate? “The matter is sub judice, so I should not comment on it, for the investigating authorities must be doing their job well. But personal equations do not change with friends and Karim is not just my friend but is a friend of many people from the industry. He stepped in to help me out with the film when one of my co-producers backed out. I have not been named in any aspect of this issue and I hope that it will be sorted out soon.”

Khan is much more candid about his efforts to quit smoking. “I want to stop this nasty habit, for the sake of my kids and for myself and Gauri,” he says. “Smoking is the worst habit anyone can have. There is a dialogue that my character in RA.One delivers — ‘10,000 people quit smoking every year, not because they quit, but simply because they die of it.’ It’s my own way of sending out a message against smoking,” he says.

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