Chit Chat

I wanted Dada in KKR: SRK

Shah Rukh Khan is out of his self-imposed exile. And he has a lot to talk about. In a heart-to-heart, he chats about his (and probably B-Town’s) most expensive film Ra.One, his IPL team without captain Saurav Ganguly, his TV show Zor Ka Jhatka, which didn’t quite live upto its promise, and lots more. Read on for excerpts…

Let’s get the big question out of the way. Saurav Ganguly is no longer part of your IPL team. How are things between you and him now?
They should be good. He is a very mature guy. So am I, in a way I think. I have left everything of the cricketing to the CEO and the coach. We’ve played three years, and played really poorly for whatever reasons. I am not getting into that as they are just excuses. Fact is, we as a team played poorly. When I say we, I mean the team, the management and the coaches.

And we made a lot of promises but it didn’t work. You know filmmakers who make certain kind of films, suddenly change and do something different. I am not comparing but Raj Kapoor saab made Mera Naam Joker and then he made Bobby. It’s an attempt to redo something. The first step was that I removed myself totally from the team. When I come in, too much emotional bonding happens, so I decided to stay away. I got the team, coach and the CEO to take the cricket decisions. I just didn’t want to get into it, I said ‘You guys go, select the team, just leave me out and try to save a little more money than we did last year because it’s become very expensive!’ They said, just leave it to us. Some of the decisions were very harsh…

Like dropping Saurav…
That was one. They asked me for my take on their decisions, and I told them, ‘Look if you ask me then I am part of this. And then I would like to say who should be in the team.

And Dada should be in the team. But if you don’t ask me and if I am out of this, then I am out of this completely.’ First the management asked Dada if he could be part of the team as a mentor, as an ambassador, and then even I asked him, but he is still keen to play the game, and so should he. But in our scheme of things I think it is a very radical, big decision. I still would personally like him to play for us, but I don’t know if the rulings allow. But I will speak to him again soon, I have been out of the country a lot shooting, and now I have finished both films on hand, so it’s time to look into other things.

Let’s talk about Ra.One. Why a superhero film?
The whole idea is to create an Indian superhero. I think Krissh did that, Drona did that to an extent. Everyone needs to keep pushing the envelope. Why India being the biggest movie-making nation, doesn’t have this genre? Why don’t we make films with VFX?

You’ve shown bits of the film to people… What’s been the reaction?
I showed them to some people last night. Karan said some of his actors who saw it, are now dying to see the film.

What about your son Aryan?
He has got a lot of issues because the VFX is still to be done. When he sees it, he points out unfinished things. I have shown it to his friends. They kind of like it. The only thing is, it is not so advanced as B-A-T-M-A-N because of the paucity of the funds. It is much less than that. But the VFX is as clean as you see in a west film. And it’s entirely done in India. When people see the film I want them to ask, ‘Arre kahan kiya yeh.’ And someone will say, ‘Yahaan Andheri mein.’ I want other actors, who can afford to make such films, to make it. Which is why I want it to do well. I know Hrithik is also making a superhero film, and I always ask him, ‘Can I help you with something? Do you want any inputs from me?’ I really want this genre to come through.

Ra.One is releasing in October, isn’t it too early to start promoting it?
It is too early, but I think it is important for this genre. When we go to see a Spiderman film, we know who he is, and what his powers are. Likewise with Superman and Batman. I want G.One (the protagonist) to become someone you start recognising before you come to see the film. We want to start telling the audiences that he flies, is made up of electricity and wears a blue suit. I would like kids to ask, ‘How high can he fly, and how hard can he hit?’ By the time the film comes, those questions should’ve been answered.

You are not doing the title role in your film?
Lot of people tell me you should’ve called the film G.One, but for me Jeevan is a little attached to seventies. The present generation might not know him. I asked Aryan if he found the title G.One strange, he said ‘No, it is like F1.’ But I personally didn’t like it. I liked the idea behind why it is called Ra.One. When you write a computer program, you write Random Access Version 1. So the reason behind it is very cool, even though a film had come by the same name. All my friends said that Raavan came and went, and that I should change my title. They said I am making a big mistake. (laughs) Maybe I will call the sequel G.One.

You are aware it’s being said you are ghost directing the film?
I will be honest, I work on my films a lot in co-ordination with the director, and I have done that for 20 years. When I did Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, it was said that Yashji was really directing it and that Aditya Chopra was just a front. When I did Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, it was said Aditya Chopra was making it, and Karan was just a front. When I did Farah Khan’s first film, it was said I was directing it, and she was just a front. I am not going to stick to the director if I have to direct the film. It’s entirely Anubhav’s story, and entirely his film. I have directed it as much as I have directed any of my other films. I have an input and I think I am an intelligent guy, so I say ‘Aise kar lete hain.’ But I’ve never directed any film, and I don’t want to.

Did you realise it would be so expensive going in?
I knew it was always going to be an expensive film, but it has gone up by nearly thirty per cent. However that happens with any film. When we started, I also wondered if we can do such an expensive film, but I got a little encouraged when Om Shanti Om sold a little well. I went ahead thinking so if it sells for this much, theek hai ya phir 8-10 crore ka nuksaan hoga ya faida hoga, jo bhi hai. It is a little above my capability budgetwise, but we pulled it off. I have worked a lot for three months. I have attended all the marriages, all the award functions and… Did a TV show…
Yes, and my TV show. I have done everything. My Ra.One is made through all that.

Why did you accept a show like Zor Ka Jhatka?
Sameer (Nair) is an old friend and I think the reasons for getting me on it were, first I was available and second, it was a short term show. I think very generously they also knew where it was going to go. It wasn’t like anyone had unrealistic expectations because it was that genre of a show. It was not a dance show, it’s fun, it’s niche, a little over the top, and it’s meant to be like that. I like the show, and I was convinced about it. But it’s not the kind of show that attracts large eyeballs. In my mind I knew that it is not a path-breaking show. Even internationally, it has select audience like children.

You are wooing kids even in Ra.One. Was ZKJ just an extension of that?
No. That kind of marketing I didn’t think of. (smiles)

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