After his turn as the mild-mannered common man in Rab ne Bana Di Jodi, he’ll next show up playing himself and not the title role in Billu Barber and.. then in the eponymous My Name is Khan currently being filmed in Los Angeles.
Over to Shah Rukh Khan in a parleznous with Vajir Singh who threatens to write a book and release a tome of the superstar’s posters very soon.
Initially, there was mixed reaction to Rab ne Bana Di Jodi.. has the film been accepted as a success?
That you should know. We made the film from the heart and everyone has liked it. The content was very different.. Adi (Aditya Chopra) took a big risk by opting for this kind of project. For me Suri was the hero and there was no six pack.. it was on the lines of a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film.
Talking about money, I don’t follow box-office collection reports. Everyone from the trade has called me and said, “Sir ab toh sab manne lag gaye hain.” For me, real happiness comes from the fact that when I was at the Nanavati Hospital recently, people called me Suri saab.
Earlier too, I was addressed with the names of the characters from my films like Baazigar.
Why do you feel a section of the trade was hostile to Rab ne Bana Di Jodi at the outset?
I heard about this but then the same section changed its opinion after three-four days. These days, you get a figure of Rs 60 crore in the first weekend itself. And if some films do two per cent less or 15 per cent more than that, how does it matter? If you ask me, I would say Om Shanti Om is the biggest hit.
The other day, Adi called and said the film has collected Rs 90 crore worldwide in its first week and is going strong. He was sounding very happy.. and generally Adi khush hota nahin hai. If he’s happy that means the film has definitely done well.
In your next release, Billu Barber, you play a superstar.
Before I answer that, let me tell you Billu Barber is not my film. It’s Irrfan’s (Khan) film. I’m a part of the film. Inshallah we will be able to release the film on February 13. It’s a remake of a Malayalam film.
Irrfan and Lara Dutta are the main protagonists. Again, it’s a story about a common man. He comes in touch with a supposedly extraordinary person. It’s a mix of village life and Bollywood masala, it’s about two alien worlds coming together.
What made you select Irrfan Khan to play the main lead?
Priyan sir (Priyadarshan) felt he would fit the bill. The film is about Billu and according to Priyan sir, a film works only if the character works. He felt that Irrfan has very real and kind eyes which can convey a lot.
But its Tamil version Kuselan didn’t fare well at the box-office.
I haven’t seen Kuselan.. so I can’t comment on that. As far as Billu.. is concerned, I heard the narration from Priyan sir and he has tried to remain faithful to the original Malayalam film. Our movie moves with Billu and a superstar coming into his life.
As an actor, I’ve shot for many films in small towns. For the duration of the shoot, one’s life changes.
Wasn’t Priyadarshan supposed to start a film with you in the lead?
He had two stories — one heist film and Billu.. I would have done the heist film but he was more keen on Billu.. He said the subject is very emotional. So I called Irrfan.. he was in the U S but agreed immediately.
Will you be producing the heist movie too?
Let’s see. I’ve got my plate full. I’m currently shooting for Karan’s (Johar) My Name is Khan in Los Angeles.. and than there’s Anubhav Sinha’s Ravan and Farah Khan’s Happy New Year.
Can you fill me in on My Name is Khan?
Yeah, it’s an issue-based film about an autistic character. (Pause)
Actually, it’s not autistic, it’s Asperger syndrome.. which is a high functioning autism. It’s about someone who has a lot of disorder and is compulsive. It’s a journey of a man and a family.. a very different film for Karan.. very different for me. It’s another difficult film like Rab ne was.. like Chak De was.
It’s because I’m typecast as a commercial hero. To do something different — which can be put up for the National Awards and still be commercially viable — is a challenge.
Because 90 per cent of the people, who see my films critically, think I can’t act.. including lot of actors. So after 20 years, my fight is to show people that I can act.. differently and also make the film a commercial success. Inshaallah I will be able to do that with My Name is Khan after Rab ne and then Billu Barber.
You have a movie, Dulha Mil Gaya, coming up this year.
That’s not my film. I’ve acted in for four-five days the way I did for Bhoothnath. I did Dulha Mil Gaya because the producer Vivek (Vaswani) did a lot for me.
They’re working hard on the film but unfortunately because of me it’s been delayed. I’ve finished it now and god has repaid me back by hurting me on the sets of Dulha Mil Gaya.
So I’m very clear that I’ve got my fee and I hope it does well. Having said that I won’t be doing any more guest appearances now. I get very disturbed when a film gets held up because of me.. everything hinges around a guest star even if I’m not the core of the film.
It’s not worth it, I don’t charge for the guest appearances. I just do it as friend.. but it ends up giving a wrong signal to the viewer. They expect me to be on the screen longer.
Are those your New Year resolutions — no guest appearances and winning the National Award?
National Award! I think I should have been given a National Award 20 years ago when I decided to become an actor. (Smiles) If they don’t give me an award, fair enough, I’ll work harder.
Incidentally, after 20 years, I think I have finished paying back my friends who helped me to become a star. I don’t need to make any more guest appearances. It was my fundamental duty that I should in some way participate in their films. And I’m glad that I did.