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Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan looks back on 25-years in the film industry

14 July 2017 - 72   - 0

Shah Rukh Khan has completed 25 years in the film industry. His debut movie, Deewana, released in 1992. The actor also celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary last year. It’s half a lifetime of togetherness with films and wife Gauri. SRK recalls, “I shifted to Mumbai the day I got married.” The couple spent their wedding night on a film set! From that to accepting the nature of his job to the constant spotlight on her, Gauri has been with him through the ups and downs. In this candid conversation, SRK reminisces about his last two-and-a-half decades at work and at home. 

The following interview first appeared in DNA INDIA

Twenty five years spent acting. What stands out?

One thing that stands out for me is that these 25-26 years happened very fast, yaar. It feels like I’ve been in Mumbai only for about two-three years. It does not seem like 25 years. I think I got stuck in time. When you see your children all grown up... It’s very shocking, but I really feel like I have been here for a very little time. When people question the fact that I am doing the same thing — I feel odd. I am working with young actresses so I am also young (laughs). On Twitter, people were putting out posters of all my films from the last 25 years. I don’t even know how many films I have done. There is a strange sense that so much time has passed, so fast. I feel like it was yesterday.

Have you finally watched your first film, Deewana?

I haven’t seen the film even today. Not out of ego, but I watch new films (smiles). Just after Deewana, I was in Mehboob studios shooting for King Uncle and Rakeshji (Roshan) told me, ‘You have become a big star’. I was passing by Salman’s house and Salim Uncle told me, ‘Your film has worked, you will become a star’. I came home and told Gauri the film has worked and she just said, ‘It’s good’. Now you get to know the box-office numbers even before the release of the film.

You don’t take criticism seriously...

(Cuts in) I don’t take the praise seriously either. When people call me the coolest, I don’t believe it. You have to disregard criticism, too.

Do you remember the first time you read something horrible about you?

There was a journalist who said that I was pathetic in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. But I’ve had worse before and after that too. And it will continue to be so. It’s not important what people think of you, what’s more important is what you think of yourself. And not in terms, ‘Oh, I’m great’. But if you know your grain and your bone, it doesn’t matter. I have written it in my book. That you bury your bone, take it out, gnaw at it and then keep it back again, it’s your bone. So, if you know what stuff you’re made of, how does it matter what others say? Having said that, if I’ve lost a race, I would like to win it back. Not because you criticised me for losing the last race — and it’s also not because you are praising me for running it again — but it’s because I want to do it. I want to do sh*t because I tell myself to. I’m not doing it to show anyone. I don’t think Usain Bolt has won 100 gold medals because his neighbour told him that he doesn’t run fast enough. Maybe he lost a race when he was young and he wanted to win a race. And he has not stopped winning races.

Gauri has been in this race with you. You spent your wedding night on a film set. Was she really okay with it?

Moving to Mumbai was a radical change for us. Not only for her, for me too. Not for any other reason but because we were uprooted from the city that we were born and brought up in and suddenly put into a new world — that was so different from anything real. I think Gauri and I, both, dealt with it. There were days where I would be explaining to her things that I didn’t understand. There were days when she would stand by me and say, ‘Okay, this is how it’s gonna be. Let’s make the best of it’. But I think within the first two-three years, the fact that we both faced this uprootedness together, in a world we didn’t belong to, kind of got us to understand what space we are going to live our lives through. Because somewhere deep down inside, we all want life to be nice and happy. And for as long as possible. Realistically speaking, we didn’t think I’ll become such a big star because we didn’t know the magnitude of stardom that can be achieved here.

Are you and Gauri happy and content with how life turned out to be?

Just recently, when we (Gauri and he) were sitting and chatting with our children next to us, it seemed like a dream. We both genuinely believe that we had been living a dream for 25-26 years. I was married the day I came here and it’s been a good dream. A lovely dream, which we are happy about. Also, my kids have been brought up in a space where they accept the fact that my life belongs to the world. I think my wife and my sister too believe that. But there’s a private part of me, which the world doesn’t know at all. They enjoy that part. They have taken that part to heart. They feel, that ‘okay, this part is totally ours and to be honest, they aren’t involved with the other part of my life at all. They are like, ‘You are happy doing it. So do it’. They keep asking about my well-being, they become a little concerned when I’m on an outdoor for 40 days, missing home and AbRam. So he will be sent there. They take care of me publicly. Privately, what belongs to them, they know I don’t share that with anyone else.

When you both moved to Mumbai, did Gauri lay any conditions for you?

No, there were no conditions at all. I told her that we’ll take it year by year. I will do films and see where we head from there. We didn’t even know what a hit or flop film was, actually. Then I worked and we started looking for a house. Then, we collectively bought a house and one thing just led to another. We haven’t just stopped rolling. It feels like we are rolling down a hill inside a zorb. And it’s been a great time — sometimes, it’s overwhelming, sometimes it’s scary and even bumpy and strange. Our life’s been like that. You get out of it and you might say I’ll never do it, but you do it again. (Smiles) It’s like a skydiving kind of a trip. But it’s been a good dream overall.

How does your family react to your films? Your favourite film is Kabhi Haa Kabhi Naa. What’s theirs?

They know me well, so they know that most of the stuff that I do on screen is most unlike me. So, my family doesn’t have any adherence to that. They aren’t like ‘Wow’. Of course, if I do a good film, which they have liked me in, they will come and say something sweet. But the maximum my kids or my wife have told me, in terms of praises for my films, is ‘You look good in that film’. It doesn’t mean physically. I have never had a bigger praise than that. Neither have I expected. If they say something else, I will know they don’t mean it! (Laughs)

If you had to list down the best memories or moments of your life, which ones would you pick?

Each one has been different, but can be counted as one — the birth of my three children. Each had a different story to it. At different stages of my life. So, those have been really special. Like before Aryan, there were some miscarriages but then when he was born, a couple of days were difficult. Suhana was a girl so that was exciting, as Gauri and I, both of us always wanted a girl first. But it happened second. Gauri was very keen that the kids look like me. First thing she asked me after her delivery was, ‘Does she look like you?’. And Suhana had a dimple so yeah of course, she looked like me. That was interesting. Then much later in life, we started feeling there was a space for a third child so AbRam came. They have been high points of my life for sure. In my career, I would call Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai the biggest highs and most memorable films.

Because it was with a set of friends. Karan, Adi and me — we were very close even then. I remember the first day we saw DDLJ, it was Gauri’s birthday. We had this great party at Mannat, that too when we had not taken over the house. We had no electricity in the house, so Karan and Adi put up candles. That was sweet. So all those bits and pieces are nice moments. Physically, I think Madame Tussauds was nice. There have also been some personal ones at home. Sometimes, even sitting and chatting with kids too can be beautiful. When we get to know they are grown-ups, their problems, their happinesses. I think there’s a nice event everyday at home when we all are together.

You had a rather humble upbringing but your kids have everything....

(cuts in) No, not at all. My children have been brought up very humbly. I know most of the people don’t get to spend time with my children and they should not. It’s not their world. But my kids have no different upbringing than what I had. Upbringing is not the house you live in. My upbringing was beautiful, in spite of living in a house that was the size of a matchbox. My kids’ upbringing is as beautiful despite the fact that they live in a house which is as big as Taj Mahal. We (my sister and I) had a hugely poverty-stricken upbringing, but it never affected us. The house doesn’t matter, the riches don’t count. Upbringing has got to do a lot with how your parents emote with you, say things to you and your relationship with them. It has nothing to do with the situations and circumstances or well being or not well being.

Your autobiography was titled 20 Years A Decade. Will you change the title now that it’s over 25 years?

Just like Jab Harry Met Sejal, the title will be the last thing to come. (Laughs) Let me just finish the damned thing first. It’s been 25 years now, so my book is 15 years overdue. Actually, maybe the book should never be complete. Till good things keep happening to me, I will keep including and adding them to the book. So, I hope this book never ends. And I keep writing it so that good things happen to me. Having said that, there will come a time when somebody will tell me to end it. And I will end it.

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