Rohit Shetty has his own brand of cinema: Shahrukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan on Chennai Express and why brand Rohit Shetty is bigger than brand Srk!”It depends on which brand happens to be bigger in which film in which time,” says the King. So after going berserk with Ra.One, making a lot of noise with Don 2 and spreading his arms again for Yash Chopra in Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Shah Rukh Khan is letting Rohit Shetty lead from the front in Chennai Express. In this chat with t2, he calls himself just an “incidental actor” in the film that releases this Friday, expresses his keenness to work with Bengali directors in Bollywood and gives a sneak peek into his next, Farah Khan’s Happy New Year.

You are on a hectic multi-city tour to promote Chennai Express. It’s more of a recent marketing phenomenon. Do you like doing it?
Everywhere the feeling that people have for me overwhelms the feeling for the film.Pyaar hi milta hai har jagah. There were hundreds of thousands of people in Bhopal, then in Ahmedabad, and then in Calcutta it just went crazy. And more than the number of the crowds to get impressed by, it’s the sense I get of people wanting to touch me and feel me and love me. I was told sometime back that whenever you’re really sad, just go and be with the people whose lives you are touching. Not the people you are working with. I met a kid in Ahmedabad who wasn’t well… his bones were not healing. I don’t mind spending the whole day with them. I just feel so good.

What is the gut feeling with this film?
The film is very entertaining. It’s very simple without wanting to prove anything. Rohit master hai uss mein. Thodi bahut meri bhi contribution hai… Deepika is superb… great songs… good action… some very nice jokes… a little love story. I won’t say it’s a masala-masala film but it’s a good family entertainer. It’s coming on Id. You can see it with your kids, you can see it with your grandmom. It’s not heavy on the head, it’s nice on the heart.

When you were pushing Ra.One or Don 2, it was so much about you. And now for Chennai Express you have kept Rohit Shetty in the fore front. Why?
It depends on which brand happens to be bigger in which film, in which time. Honestly, Rohit Shetty is one of the few brand directors of the country existing right now. He is a unique property. And he has his own brand of cinema. There is this whole section of the audience who come in to watch a Rohit Shetty film. And I’m very clear that whenever I do a film, I never take the onus away from the director. Whether they are new or not. For Ra.One the onus was on the superhero figure. Now it happens to be me, so I had to sell it like that. We were creating a brand around G.One. Same with Don. The character was already there. You have to sell the idea. In this case Rohit is the idea. Deepika and myself are the incidental actors in the film. Also, I personally feel that a film should carry the stamp of the director. And if I change that stamp, what’s the point of working with him. I wanted to do a Rohit Shetty kind of film. Yes, with me as producer, that bigness, that technical finesse that Red Chillies is known for, will be accentuated.
Deepika’s also on a winning streak…

She was always a star! Om Shanti Om worked because of the two women ” Farah and Deepika! I also give my heroines a lot of credibility. I want them to be the mainstay of my films. I choose films like that. She is now a very close friend. She would come and tell me that we should do a film which is a little more special than Shantipriya. And this one just fell into place. We were looking for a south Indian star initially. And then Kareena was considered, Katrina was considered. Just in conversation, never spoke to them. And then somebody said: “Par Deepika toh south Indian hi hai!” We were like… hai toh! She worked really hard to get the Tamil correct with the proper accent. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t make fun of anyone.

Last year three Bengali directors made quite a splash ” Anurag Basu, Sujoy Ghosh and Shoojit Sircar. Why isn’t the brand ambassador of Bengal working with any of them?
Anurag ke saath baitha rehta hoon. Sujoy toh mera hi bachcha hai. Shoojit se mila nahin. In fact, I am discussing something with Anurag… he’s got a nice idea. He had a cut-off date, on the 15th of the month. I’ve told him: Usse pehle agar tumne mujhe kahaani nahin sunaai toh main jaan le lunga. I have been ideating with him for a long time. Even Barfi! he used to come and discuss with me. Ours still hasn’t taken shape.Inshallah it will happen soon. With Sujoy also, he’s got a few good ideas. He’s like a home-grown child… he’s shot all the KKR ads. Also, he’s Juhi’s very good friend.

What’s happening with Farah Khan’s Happy New Year? Which of the cast rumours are true? Is Katrina doing it?
No, the casting’s not done with. I am too much in the middle of Chennai Express. In another 20 days, we’ll have the cast ready. Farah’s been meeting a lot of girls and boys. When you have a film with six actors, schedules get tricky. Also, I am injured and we’ll have to schedule it in a way that I don’t have to do the physical part straightaway. By 25th of August I think we’ll have the full cast and I’ll announce it with the technical cast.

Is it in the same space as Om Shanti Om?
It’s a great film yaar! It’s a dancing film… right up Farah’s alley. It’s a funny film, it’s an entertainer, it’s larger than life, it’s fantastic. It’s a very cool film, I think. If we can pull it off the way it is, it’s going to be a very interesting film. Also, it’s a big film. I think it would be bigger than any film I’ve made. I don’t know if it can be a franchise or not. But I want people to go: “Wow man, that’s a great Indian film!” It’s got a very innovative way of presenting everything that Farah stands for.


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