In conversation with SRK…the father, the friend.
Three hours and thirty minutes after Shah Rukh Khan had entered the premises, apologizing for being late, did I manage to finally sit down with him for an exclusive. To his credit, he had cancelled his 9 o’ clock flight and so had more time on his hands. Our conversation, slotted for a quick ten-minutes, continued beyond the allotted time despite his publicist constantly gesturing him to cut it short. Here’s an extract of the tête-à-tête, which became deliciously informal as we moved away from harsh lights of TV cameras, and found a quiet space to speak about things closest to his heart…
Aamna Haider Isani: The way you manage to take out time for your children is extremely inspiring and I think when you talk about your fans and you being a fan of anyone, you are actually your children’s biggest fan…
Shah Rukh Khan: I am. I don’t do anything else, actually. When you see me in a public place it’s always for a commitment – social or professional – but I finish my work and go and be with my kids. There’s nothing else I do. Now I have the little one and he’s very interesting to watch.
AHI: Ab Ram is very cute…
SRK: He is beautiful, Mashallah.
AHI: He looks just like you…
SRK: Yeah, just fair (smiles)
But I do enjoy my kids. My elder son is now 18 and I was just talking to him; he just got into college and so called. They seldom call me. I have a beautiful 16-year old daughter and I can just be with them. I need nothing else. I don’t want to watch a movie, I don’t want to drink, I don’t want to party, I don’t want to smoke…nothing. I can just be around my kids and be happy. When I’m around my daughter I will sit down and watch some really pretty, girly stuff and I’m happy.
AMS: It’s very rare to have that kind of intimacy with family, children…rarely do we see stars take time out. Where does that intimacy come from? You’re almost maternal…
SRK: I am. I agree I am quite maternal. I think I have, perhaps…because you’ve made me think about it…I have lost my loved ones too early on in life so I have kind of replaced them in my own stupid way. This makes up for the time I didn’t get with my loved ones, my father and my mom. And I know it sounds very sensitive and perhaps ladylike but I’m happy. People keep telling me that I’m a good father but I’m really looking for the best friend I can have. I think these guys are going to last much longer than me so there’s no chance of losing them and this is the best investment I can make.
Shah Rukh Khan takes a moment out of his interviews to speak to his son, Aryan. Also seen her is his makeup artist.
AHI: Does it ever annoy your wife that you’re maternal because women can be possessive about kids?
SRK: No, no…she’s extremely happy. She’ll just call and say, you’re baby-sitting them today; go to London. She knows that the happiest time for me is when I’m with the kids. As a matter of fact everyone in the family knows that I love to be with them and even the kids know it.
AHI: You’re also very active on social media. Do you fear potential dangers your children may be exposed to on social media?
SRK: No, not at all, actually. My kids are on Instagram, which I’m not allowed to follow. They have private groups that I don’t know how to figure out, as I’m not very good with Instagram. My managersare allowed to follow, under pseudonyms, but I’m not allowed to follow at all. They’re not on Twitter and I don’t think they’re on Facebook either. I spend a lot of time with them and the kids are very cool. I don’t think they’d do anything that would put them in a situation. My son gets riled up when his pictures come out and someone abuses him. My daughter, somehow, is amused and she’ll say ‘papa, papa, come look na and see what bad comments they’re writing about me that I’m so dark’. I wish I could be like that. I get more disturbed on social media than they do.
AHI: Do you fear for them given the time we live in?
SRK: Not any different from what any other parent would. You’re concerned for your children. Just now my son got admission to college and we were relieved, as parents should be. The only fear I have is that I hope they can outgrow this strange shadow of stardom that my life casts on them. They should be able to figure out a way of being just themselves.
AHI: How did the little one happen, after such a long time?
SRK: The elder two grew up so fast, and suddenly they were off to London. It was always a discussion amongst friends and everyone thought we should have a third child; we have such a big house – though that’s not a good enough reason to have children (smiles) – but I think there was a time when we wanted to have a baby and it wasn’t the right time for Gauri to have one, medically. And so there was this outside option and we went for it.
AHI: Coming back to films, all of Pakistan wants to know what your equationwith Mahira is?
SRK: First I’ll talk professionally. Mahira is a really fine actor. And she’s very different. She’s very quiet. A Hindi film is a world in itself and she’s fortunate to have come in a film like Raees, which is still a little more realistic than the likes of Dilwale or Happy New Year. What’s nice about her is that she’s so unassuming. She’s such a big star but she’s very unassuming on the set and she’s ready to adapt to the situation, which is very interesting. The bigger the star you are, the more nervous you get; I still get very nervous. I hide my nervousness with my flamboyance. But Mahira’s really, really nice as an actor. Personally, she’s really sweet. She got chappals for me. I keep troubling her though. I keep teasing her that ‘you’re from that country’ and you know, ‘don’t mess with us here’ and she’s really sweet and supporting. I miss her.
AHI: Your next film, with GauriShinde, is also with Ali Zafar…
SRK: Ali I’ve known for a long time; he’s a good friend. We meet very often. I think he’s also a very fine actor and a great singer. But Ali’s not acting with me in the film. We all come in different phases in Aalia’s life but yes he’s in the film and it’s nice working with a young set of people. The whole rhythm is so different from what I’m used to. I wish all directors worked like this so that I’d get to learn more. I wish there were more women directors like Farah, Gauri…I would only work with women directors.
AHI: Your character in Fan seems to be so menacing…how much of Shah Rukh Khan is actually like Aryan Khanna, an intimidating person, because people think of you as a very charming person…
SRK: Oh I am. I am a very charming person who never says no. Everyone tells me it’s fortunate I’m not a girl as I would never be able to say no. But I’m not like that at all. Actually, very strangely, there will be a lot of talk about the character of Gauruv but the actual difficult role to play is Aryan. Because that’s on the cusp; it’s edgy. He’s not the usual superstar who you’ll be introduced to doing ‘ChaiyanChaiyan’. He’s very realistic. We all agreed that we’ll only show the superstar when he’s in his personal space, never while shooting. We’ll show his stardom by the way people like him but never roll, camera, action! We show him in a personal space, which is very contrary to what you’d expect it to be. The second thing is that I’m not playing Shah Rukh Khan, although it could have easily been Shah Rukh Khan. It’s not a biopic. It’s a new character. And to save him – despite the fact that he has everything going against him as a star – and pull him out is difficult. But he’s harsh and I would never be like that. That’s not me. There are very few people, like me, who dedicate their life to being a movie star and like you said, I never say no.
– Photography by TapuJaveri