The ever charismatic Shah Rukh Khan talks love, family and business.
All eyes are on Shah Rukh Khan’s next romantic outing with Anushka Sharma, Jab Harry met Sejal, as the promotions are at its peak. He is our quintessential romantic hero, the one with whom the girl eventually walks with into the sunset. We all love him like that, age no bar. Nothing has dimmed the effect of that dimpled smile and those outstretched arms. Sigh! However, SRK himself says that he is very unlike his larger than life image. And we find out more as he talks about the first time he laid eyes on Gauri.
“It was at a party when I had asked Gauri for a dance for the first time. She told me that her boyfriend had not yet arrived so she could dance with me. She did not have one, but she pretended. We then exchanged numbers. I believe it was love at first sight. I fell for her and decided to marry her. It so happened that after eight years we got married,” he says. He smiles. Equally love-struck, we ask him to continue.
“We have been married for so long, but I don’t think I am romantic. I have never gifted Gauri anything as such. We have been with each other for more than half our lives now. We are more like friends. However, due to my commitments, it does get difficult to make time for my family, but they have accepted it very gracefully. Gauri and the kids never complain and extend themselves more than I do,” SRK adds.
And as if on cue, Suhana walks in to say goodbye to daddy dearest. They were to have dinner together, but our interview came in the way of their plans, so Suhana decided to go out with friends. The Badshah continues talking about films.
“I think the essence of showcasing a romantic tale is always the same, only the language differs. Today we have added naughtiness to showcase real relationships as our means of communication have broadened with the digital era. There are many vistas of expressing yourself, and you can’t hide under a rock. Open conversations are as honest as they get,” explains King Khan.
As if to prove a point, he continues, “Now movies don’t have you pretend to drop a book, then try to pick it up at the same time, look at each other and carry the romance further. Cinema replicates life, and such behavioural patterns do not exist anymore. Like I said, the language of love has evolved. Undeniably, with more ways of interacting there is less of a communication gap in present times.”
We nod in agreement. SRK decides to steer the conversation towards Jab Harry Met Sejal. “I’ve known Imtiaz (Ali) for a long time, but we met in Mumbai for the first time. He keeps narrating stories to me, and the one thing I find in him is his honesty. He will never compromise while telling his story on screen which is a rare quality. Jab Harry Met Sejal is a result of such stellar storytelling. It is a positive, happy, sensitive and pure love story. It is a spoken love story, and that is what attracted me to the character as well,” he says with a smile.
SRK’s eyes light up when he talks about Anushka. “Anushka was signed before me for the movie, and she is better than me, too. She has grown tremendously as an actor from her first movie to date. She is honest in her preparation and responsible as an actor on sets. She is a young film producer, and her movies are proof of the kind of cinema she believes in and wants to produce. I am proud of her,” he beams.
We prod about him about being on the Forbes 2017 Celebrity 100 list, and he says, “I do not know the details of being included. However, to the best of my knowledge, I am listed, perhaps based on the various businesses that I run like Kidzania, Red Chillies Entertainment, Red Chillies VFX and Kolkata Knight Riders. Undeniably, many stars earn more than me professionally as actors.”
We can’t help but ask, why the name Red Chillies? “I chose Red Chillies because I have been a student of economics and know that a business should not run in the name of an individual. Yes, there are a few who run it as a brand, but that’s their choice. I did not want to imply that the name SRK built the business. I wanted the business to be self-sustaining irrespective of SRK,” he announces.
We assume Gauri calls the shots at Red Chillies? “Gauri is not a hands-on producer as she does not understand the nitty-gritty of the business. We have a proper team that is the corporate backbone, while a well-defined creative team looks after production. It is the question of the Red Chillies brand name, and hence I don’t want to risk losing it over inept decisions. As a production house, we have to do what is best for our associates,” he says.