In conversation with SRKâ€¦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 oâ€™ 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. Hereâ€™s an extract of the tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte, 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 heartâ€¦
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 childrenâ€™s biggest fanâ€¦
Shah Rukh Khan: I am. I donâ€™t do anything else, actually. When you see me in a public place itâ€™s always for a commitment â€“ social or professional â€“ but I finish my work and go and be with my kids. Thereâ€™s nothing else I do. Now I have the little one and heâ€™s very interesting to watch.
AHI: Ab Ram is very cuteâ€¦
SRK: He is beautiful, Mashallah.
AHI: He looks just like youâ€¦
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 donâ€™t want to watch a movie, I donâ€™t want to drink, I donâ€™t want to party, I donâ€™t want to smokeâ€¦nothing. I can just be around my kids and be happy. When Iâ€™m around my daughter I will sit down and watch some really pretty, girly stuff and Iâ€™m happy.
AMS: Itâ€™s very rare to have that kind of intimacy with family, childrenâ€¦rarely do we see stars take time out. Where does that intimacy come from? Youâ€™re almost maternalâ€¦
SRK: I am. I agree I am quite maternal. I think I have, perhapsâ€¦because youâ€™ve made me think about itâ€¦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 didnâ€™t get with my loved ones, my father and my mom. And I know it sounds very sensitive and perhaps ladylike but Iâ€™m happy. People keep telling me that Iâ€™m a good father but Iâ€™m really looking for the best friend I can have. I think these guys are going to last much longer than me so thereâ€™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 youâ€™re maternal because women can be possessive about kids?
SRK: No, noâ€¦sheâ€™s extremely happy. Sheâ€™ll just call and say, youâ€™re baby-sitting them today; go to London. She knows that the happiest time for me is when Iâ€™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: Youâ€™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 Iâ€™m not allowed to follow. They have private groups that I donâ€™t know how to figure out, as Iâ€™m not very good with Instagram. My managersare allowed to follow, under pseudonyms, but Iâ€™m not allowed to follow at all. Theyâ€™re not on Twitter and I donâ€™t think theyâ€™re on Facebook either. I spend a lot of time with them and the kids are very cool. I donâ€™t think theyâ€™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 sheâ€™ll say â€˜papa, papa, come look na and see what bad comments theyâ€™re writing about me that Iâ€™m so darkâ€™. 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. Youâ€™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 â€“ though thatâ€™s not a good enough reason to have children (smiles) â€“ but I think there was a time when we wanted to have a baby and it wasnâ€™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 Iâ€™ll talk professionally. Mahira is a really fine actor. And sheâ€™s very different. Sheâ€™s very quiet. A Hindi film is a world in itself and sheâ€™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. Whatâ€™s nice about her is that sheâ€™s so unassuming. Sheâ€™s such a big star but sheâ€™s very unassuming on the set and sheâ€™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 Mahiraâ€™s really, really nice as an actor. Personally, sheâ€™s really sweet. She got chappals for me. I keep troubling her though. I keep teasing her that â€˜youâ€™re from that countryâ€™ and you know, â€˜donâ€™t mess with us hereâ€™ and sheâ€™s really sweet and supporting. I miss her.
AHI: Your next film, with GauriShinde, is also with Ali Zafarâ€¦
SRK: Ali Iâ€™ve known for a long time; heâ€™s a good friend. We meet very often. I think heâ€™s also a very fine actor and a great singer. But Aliâ€™s not acting with me in the film. We all come in different phases in Aaliaâ€™s life but yes heâ€™s in the film and itâ€™s nice working with a young set of people. The whole rhythm is so different from what Iâ€™m used to. I wish all directors worked like this so that Iâ€™d get to learn more. I wish there were more women directors like Farah, Gauriâ€¦I would only work with women directors.
AHI: Your character in Fan seems to be so menacingâ€¦how much of Shah Rukh Khan is actually like Aryan Khanna, an intimidating person, because people think of you as a very charming personâ€¦
SRK: Oh I am. I am a very charming person who never says no. Everyone tells me itâ€™s fortunate Iâ€™m not a girl as I would never be able to say no. But Iâ€™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 thatâ€™s on the cusp; itâ€™s edgy. Heâ€™s not the usual superstar who youâ€™ll be introduced to doing â€˜ChaiyanChaiyanâ€™. Heâ€™s very realistic. We all agreed that weâ€™ll only show the superstar when heâ€™s in his personal space, never while shooting. Weâ€™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 youâ€™d expect it to be. The second thing is that Iâ€™m not playing Shah Rukh Khan, although it could have easily been Shah Rukh Khan. Itâ€™s not a biopic. Itâ€™s a new character. And to save him â€“ despite the fact that he has everything going against him as a star â€“ and pull him out is difficult. But heâ€™s harsh and I would never be like that. Thatâ€™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