Is this your new look for Karan Johar’s My Name is Khan?
Yeah it is. I think they’ll comb my hair a little more when they start shooting.
A new look seems to be quite a vogue nowadays.
I don’t know about the others but if I do one film at a time, I go for a look according to my director’s wish. Farah (Khan) asked me to get a six pack for a song, so I did.
Shimit (Amin) wanted me to look different in Chak De! India. Adi (Aditya Chopra) wanted two different looks for Rab ne Bana di Jodi. When my directors asks me to go in for a new look, I do.. when they don’t, I remain the way I am.
What’s your take on the financial crunch affecting film production?
Not just the film industry, everyone has been affected.. whether it’s real estate or any other business. Even basic requirements like iron and steel have been affected. So far, cosmetics and entertainment have been the least affected businesses.
Several films have already been shelved.
Recession will hit everyone including the film industry. I’ve done three films this year — Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi — which fortunately didn’t get shelved. Billoo the Barber has been produced by me. The shooting of My Name is Khan starts from December 18. I haven’t heard of any film getting shelved.
But the kind of prices actors were demanding will be affected. Actors, directors, writers, musicians, producers.. all their fees will be affected. We’ll have to make our products more cost-effective. If the audience can’t afford a Rs 250 ticket, everyone involved in filmmaking has to bring down his price. Plain logic!
The terror attacks have aggravated the filmmaking situation.
Itna toh bola maine TV par, yaar. What else can I say? You must have seen me on TV talking.
Yes. And you made a potentially controversial remark — that there’s an Islam from Allah but very unfortunately, there’s an Islam from the mullahs.
(Cuts in) What controversy? There’s Hinduism from the Geeta and there’s Hinduism from the pandits. When I say pandit or mullah, I’m talking about those who are conversant with religion.
I know the religion, so I’m a mullah. Mere bachon ko main religion sikhaunga, so I’m their mullah. Teacher mullah hota hai. I’m just pleading that if you have a child.. you’re their first teacher. The first thing parents need to tell their children is, “ Listen son, this is our faith and it’s a very good faith. It will lead us to the truth..it will help us to know whether we will go to heaven or to hell.”
And that Shah Rukh Khan, he says this in Urdu to his children.. he says the same thing in English..and in Shabar gurwani. Languages are different but the meanings are the same.
People are hesitant to go to the cinema halls in the wake of the terror attacks. Does the release of Rab Ne Bana di Jodi make sense in such circumstances?
See, for last two weeks, Adi and I stopped the film’s publicity. We felt we shouldn’t be talking about entertaining people. Having said that, somewhere down the line, life has to go on.
We’re taking a chance. What can I offer to the people who’re in a depressed state of mind? All of us can offer a part of our work. As a writer, you can give hope to your readers. From our work, I’m assuming we are making an offer — listen maybe this is not the nicest of times but this two-and-a-half hour film may help you to overcome some of your depression.
Are you apprehensive?
No I’m never apprehensive. If the film has to be affected negatively then it will be. If it has to have a normal run, it will get one. I go by Adi’s sensibility. We also believe that Rab is involved in this film.. I think Rab will take care of us.
The hep guy you’re playing in the film seems to have a weird sense of dressing.
He’s over the top and vulgar. He’s someone who wants to be a fashion guru but doesn’t know what fashion is. He’s a wannabe cool dude. Both the characters I play in the film are based on real guys I met during the shoot of Kya Aap Panchvi Paas se Tez Hain. Surinder and Bobby.
I asked Surinder Sahni what he would do if wins Rs 5 crore? He said he’d give it to the poor people. When I asked him why he wouldn’t want to keep the money, he said, “I know what it is to be poor. I want to give it to someone who’s poorer.”
The other guy was Bobby, he was carrying a guitar but didn’t know how to play it.When I asked him why, he said, “It looks cool.” When I asked him what do you want to be in life? He said, “I’m told I look like John Abraham.. so I want to be John Abraham.”
Aditya Chopra is not exactly known for accepting his actors’ ideas. So how did he go along with yours?
Do you know Adi? Adi is not known by anyone. Today, if we announce that there’s no person called Aditya Chopra, people will believe that. Because there’s no person called Aditya Chopra. Yashji uses a pseudonym to make movies. He doesn’t have a son called Adi.
Well, Adi is a cool guy. He’s always busy with work. He comes back home from work after midnight, at one o’clock maybe and plays games till five in the morning.
But people have formed their own opinions about Adi. I keep hearing about his marriages. I’m like how? I know him the best, Karan knows him best of all.. but we don’t get to meet him.
Many think that Adi doesn’t like any interference. On my part, I can say that occasionally I tell him, “Adi main aisa karunga.” And he will say, “ Achha toh kar de chal.” Adi and I think alike.
Adi and I are very ordinary, boring persons since we only like to work. As an actor, I’ve to go to various places... interact with people.. everyone think I’ve a sense of humour. But in my personal life, I’m very boring.
You’re the first actor to be conferred the Malaysian title, Datuk (often equated with the British knighthood). However, the local talent there wasn’t too happy about this.
I’m not aware of the objections. Some awards are given to create a cultural bridge. Malaysia is very close to India. Very few people are aware of the fact that Malacca is actually a principality founded by the Indian king, Parmeshwara, in 1400 AD.
But of course, local talent will always have this kind of an issue. It could have happened. I truly believe that the title is an honour to our country. It’s a very beautiful place..you should go there for a holiday.
It’s recession time.. I don’t think I can afford to go there.
(Smiles) You can always find some controversial story and go there. It’s the easiest thing in the world to cook up a controversy out of nothing nowadays.