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PBDHH & a little more

Trying to catch Shah Rukh Khan unawares was never going to be an easy job. He lives media, breathes media and now he's gone and made a film about media. This is the same media who sacrifices acres of trees to publish scandalous stories about anyone who meets the public eye, making and breaking careers on whim and fancy, unscrupulously molding quotes and rumours to align with their chosen angle. Sometimes they go too far, and Shah Rukh is hot on their heels, chasing their conscience. Hold the front page, then, for Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, which, at its core level, can work as a visual guide on how the media should practice their code of conduct.

The movie, which sees him unite with Juhi Chawla once more, follows the story of two mercenary journalists working at two rival television channels, both employing every underhand tactic in the book to get one up on the other's ratings.

"Both journalists are young, brilliant, ambitious, self-centred and very focussed at their job, but because they are running after ratings, they do everything within their power to trip up the other. Until they come across a story that is so important that they put their differences aside and work together to find the truth." On behalf of the media, we can breathe a sigh of relief. Shah Rukh and juhi, who part-own the infant Dreams and Filmz studios, have not thrown down the gauntlet at the media, merely highlighting the difference between chasing a good story and finding the truth. And if the media are too sensationalistic or lazy to bother to get to the bottom of it, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani is here to get right on top of it.

Why are you taking the mickey out of journalists? "No, that's not right. We are not taking the mickey out of journalists. Whenever you have the power and the hype, one should think a little bit more unselfishly and think about the good you can do with it. It is good to be self-centred and ambitious because I'm like that. I'm a media person, nobody is bigger than I am. You sometimes have to be selfish, as long as you stand by the side of truth."

So you appreciate why journalists can sometimes make a story appear more sensational than it really is? "We all blow some stories out of proportion. Sometimes it's the right thing to do. We are not questioning the righteousness of the media, but if someone dwells in deeper you may get the facts right and may feel sometimes the angle you originally chose was not perhaps the right one."

We're in the business of entertainment. As long as a story is entertaining, surely that works in both our favours?

"God forbid you do a story on someone and something drastic happens. Not too long ago, a critic wrote something very bad about a musician and that musician committed suicide. If that happens, seeing it from his point of view, one would feel he was a little harsh on him." Have you ever been on the receiving end of such harshness?

"No, I've never commited suicide over anything that has been written about me."

journalists are notorious for sometimes stepping over the mark to get what they want. How far do you go to achieve your goal?

"I would never step on anyone's toes or push anyone down on my climb to the top. I have certain values and ethics that 1 follow which are not perhaps socially and morally correct but I do follow them. I sometimes do things which I think are right but might not be right according to other people, because that's the philosophy of my life."

How about in the early days of your career. You must have pulled a few fast ones?

"I've always been like that. For the past ten years I've done exactly the same thing I would do right now. My critics will vouch for that. As things stand, I do what I feel is right and what brings me happiness and it doesn't hurt anyone. It's a very simple thing to say, but that's how I am."

A lot of journalists start their own publication or become writers because they are bored with what they are given to write. Did you start your own production company so you could star in a film you wanted to act in?

"I've starred in some good roles with some great directors. With due respect to everybody I've worked with, I'm still on the search of doing an exceptional film."

Is Phir Bhi Oil Hai Hindustani an exceptional film? "No. I think the most exceptional thing about this movie is that it is reasonable and straightforward. It's special because it's ordinary."

Speaking of special things, you love "special effects'. Can we expect to see your film studio producing big budget movies like Armageddon? "I like films like Con Air, The Rock, all the the James Bon movies. If Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani does well and we make a lot of money from it, I will convince my partner; to let me make a film like that."

When you say partner, you're referring to Juhi. Seeing as journalists can be such scandal-seekers, why do you think they avoid partnering you off with female stars like Juhi?

"I have a lot of close girlfriends, colleagues who I am really friendly with. I don't think there's anything wrong going out with a girlfriend. Other than that, I've never gone out with a girl other my wife Gauri."

What has Gauri got that other girls haven't? "I married her. She knows me for who I am, I've known her since 1984 and every moment I've spent with her has been special. She is the first girl I ever asked for a dance, she said

yes, and we've been together ever since."

Can she expect a Valentine's treat this year? "I don't know. We'll probably just have a party I think, something intimate and special."

Does Gauri mind you having all these female disciples or does she know where you're coming from? "She knows exactly where I come from. As a matter of fact, she is as surprised as I am. 'How come you get so much attention. You're such an ordinary person?' I am quite ordinary, in my personal life and even my professional life. That person that comes on the screen, one has to remember that he is multiplied a thousand times. I cannot start believing I am that one thousand times larger."

For our male readers, do you have any tips on how we can get ourselves a special lady like Gauri? "Love stories of people are the most subjective and personal things that one can think of. I believe everyone's relationships are completely different. I would not be able to give advise to anyone because their lifestyles will be different to mine."

What if we're not a relationship? How do we approach a fit girl?

"I don't know, I can't approach a girl. I can't talk to them, I'm very shy."

Did I hear that right? Shah Rukh Khan. Shy? "I'm very shy of women. The first girl I asked for a dance danced with me so I married her. I'm glad I don't have to do that ever again."

It must pump your nads knowing that so many girls all around the world have your posters on their wall? "I think they like the characters that I play in films. The Rahuls, the Raj - maybe if they got to know me personally, they wouldn't like me so much."

You're being modest, surely? "I'm not modest, I'm realistic. I do believe that this must be true. Because I do a lot of things on screen which make me appear larger than life - I love larger, I romance larger, I joke larger, I fight larger. All these things, somewhere along the lines, make you feel that this person you see is better than perhaps what I really am. The characters they love are the characters that I create - it need not mean that I am exactly like that."

Can you separate the two in your own head? "No. When acting, there are times when I let loose and give a lot of me. Most of the characters have parts of me, but I never really take an aspect of the character and make it a part of me. Raj will have a lot of Shah Rukh but Shah Rukh will never take Raj home."

Which character comes closest to you? "The character in Kabhie Na Kabhie is very close to me. The characters in Dilwale......, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, a bit of Duplicate, the comedic part of Baadshah also come close."

If we travelled back ten years and found you on the football pitch, would we find the same guy?

"Exactly. As a matter of fact I played football today."

Did you score?

"I scored one, but a really bad one. I think the guys gave me the ball thinking I'm a star. But I did trip a couple of them up."

Do you get aggressive on the pitch? "I used to get physical but not these days. I'm too old!"

34 is hardly old my friend. Were you a bit of a bad boy when you were younger? "I used to have a lot of fun. but clean fun. My father always told me 'You should have fun that never hurts anyone.' I've been very naughty, I've troubled my teachers, I've been suspended from school."

What did you get suspended for? "For developing a strange kind of gas. But I never did anything like scratching somebody's car or hurting anyone physically. I've smoked my cigarettes, I've had a drink when I shouldn't have, but I've never been in a drunken brawl."

You smoke like a trooper. Is that your only vice? "I don't think I have many other vices. I think I'm very nice. I always look at things from the other person's point of view. But I think smoking is an awful habit and any child or kid who likes me or anyone who smokes because I smoke I want to give the message through snoop magazine that smoking kills."

Have you ever thought of quitting? "Every month I try. The longest I've managed is three months - smoking that is, not films!"

You need to keep yourself alive so you can make( first big budget special effects ridden Hindi version of Armageddon!

"Insha'allah there will be another movie. We've got little bit over budget with the movie, but if this film does well and we make a profit from it, then juhi, ^ Mirza and I will think about the next movie and make it bigger, better and nicer."

And if it doesn't?

"Then I guess we'll just have go back to our offices apply for new Jobs..."

Filmfare March 2000

"You Can't Touch This...!"
Shah Rukh Khan - On Why He's The Best!

No one has to tell Shah Rukh Khan that he's the best, he knows that already. Though he doesn't mind if you tell him some more. As far as confidence goes, certainly. As far as his amazing interviews with the media go, sure. No one shoots from the lip - much to the delight of the pen-pushers - with as much gusto as the Scorpio lad from Delhi who's as much at home in the tinsel world of Mumbai city. It is a pleasure to interview a man who speaks so well and with so much elan. He believes in every word he says too and forces others to believe. All the qualities of a leader, a superstar. No one does it better. As Shah Rukh re-states again, in an interview
with OMAR QURESHI.


Filmfare Online: Now that your film is released and the stress that goes with pre-birth delivery is past, will you admit to your jitters on your first production 'PBDHH'?

Shah Rukh Khan: "Really, when any film of mine is ready, I finish the film with dubbing. The new thing that has happened with this one is the delivery. But frankly at the end of every movie I am so tired, I am quite numbed. And I don't ever speculate about what its fate is going to be. I get worried of course. I get a little nervous, but I don't kill myself over it. I just go on with life. And its the same this time. It's just that a lot of people in this unit have worked very hard for it and a lot of goodness has gone into it. And when I say that I talk of the whole unit, especially Aziz and Juhi who are very close to me. I hope for their sake - and mine too - that this film gives us a lot of respect."

Filmfare Online: Looks like you've played 'dad' twice already now. First your son Aryan and now your second baby, 'PBDHH'. Tell me the difference in the birth pangs.

SRK: "I can tell you the similarity. Whatever the case may be, whether it's a boy or a girl, whether it's good or bad, whether it's pretty or ugly, I'll still love it the same. And I hope the rest of the family that has produced this baby will think the same of the film. It really is a matter of being in love with your child. This will always be our first child. I don't know the future of this company but this will always be the most special film that Aziz, Juhi and myself have made in the whole of our careers."

"Our next film may even be directed by Juhi for all you know, with Aziz acting in it."

Filmfare Online: Just curiosity, but why on earth did you choose a media story? Why not the regular 'feel-good' stuff you are so good at?

SRK: "See, Aziz comes from television, I also come from television. So all our ideas came from that medium. Also, we were trying to make something which was not just a general love story. We wanted to make a film that is a little relevant today. We could have picked on AIDS, or a heart-problem or the hijacking. But then while some topics were too complicated, others were too easy. We picked on the media because we do believe it's going to be the most important thing in the new millennium. We think communication, media, computers, internet, telephones, mobiles - these are all going to be taken for granted as everyday things. The world will really shrink. We just want everybody to be aware that with all this hype, with all this greatness that we are attached to, there should be a sense of responsibility too. And we, being media people ourselves, I don't think are not knowledgeable about this aspect so as not to be able to make a telling comment on it."

Filmfare Online: What influenced the choice of Juhi Chawla as heroine? The fact that all three of you are such good friends?

SRK: "Initially it was just a film that Aziz was to direct in which Juhi and I were supposed to act. But halfway through we decided to produce it also. And when we became producers, obviously we were not going to change the casting. It was already in process. Also, the three of us really enjoy working together, whatever the fate of our past films might have been. And I guess that is what is essential at a certain stage in everybody's career. I know it's that way for me. I'm ten-years-old in films now. For me what is important is the process of making the film. I've become too used to hits and flops, and so is Juhi. And Aziz is such a warm person that I believe he cannot make a movie without Shah Rukh and Juhi. So that was no criteria. Let me put it this way. We needed the best talent for this film so we decided to take Shah Rukh and Juhi."

Filmfare Online: Does that mean that Shah Rukh and Juhi will act in; and Aziz will direct every movie made by 'Dreamz Unlimited'?

SRK: "Will Aziz be directing every film? Or will only Shah Rukh and Juhi star in it, is a question we'll answer only after we decide what film we do next. That is, if we do one next, depending on the eventual fate of 'Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani'. Then we will decide what story we are making. The three of us will always produce the films together. We may not be directing it or acting in it or singing a song for it, but we will certainly be an integral part of it. It will all depend on the kind of film we want to make. Our next film may even be directed by Juhi for all you know, with Aziz acting in it."

Filmfare Online: 1999 wasn't exactly one of your best years in terms of success. You had only one release in the form of 'Baadshah' and that too was an average hit. So...

SRK: "Firstly, let's not be so polite. You can call it average. You don't need to add the word 'hit' after it. It's one of my favourite films though -- 'Baadshah'. I really enjoyed doing it. I'll even do another 'Baadshah'. I'll do 'Baadshah - II' and make a James Bond film yet. I enjoy the process of making the film which I always say again and again. And it's true. Like people ask me what do you expect from this film. I expect shit-all from a film. It is the process of making the film that is enjoyable or not enjoyable. This year has been quite enjoyable because I did 'Josh', I did my own production 'Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani', I've worked with Amitabh Bachchan, I've worked with Kamal Hassan. And all that in one year is enough for any actor to handle. Release-wise, that's really not important. I don't believe that if you have only one release now, your future dangles or you are not going to be a superstar. Next year I could have six releases, so does that make me a bigger star? Actually now I'll have six releases. 'Josh' is ready, Shashilal Nair's film is ready, my own film is coming, 'Hey Ram' is there. 'Mohabattein' is already filming. K.C.Bokadia's film is ready. And maybe I'll do a David Dhawan film in between and finish it before December. I normally try to ensure that three of my films release. But all said and done, it's been a good year."

Filmfare Online: You know Shah Rukh, whenever there is talk of 'performers' among the current crop, somehow your name and that of Aamir Khan seem to lead the discussion. Given the intense competition existing within the industry, is there as serious a rivalry between the two of you?

SRK: "I think Aamir is a wonderful actor. I think he's very educated, detailed -- like people call him a perfectionist kind of actor. I also think that he is wonderfully self-centered, focussed. I take it as a compliment for an actor to be self-centered. I wish he would let himself loose a little more. And I wish the same for me -- I wish I could contain myself a little. That's the way it works for me. As an actor I think he is quite enjoyable to watch. I don't know his technique. I wish we could work in a film together, so we could learn each other's techniques. I always tell him, be a little mad. And for myself, I think I should get a little more sane. Comparisons beyond that, I don't know. I'm taller for one (laughs). Look, there's no comparison. He's in a school all by himself. And when you say we've been consistent, I think we've been consistent as stars more than actors, because my performances range from the ugly to the brilliant -- at least I think so. There's nothing holding me back because I believe acting is not about right and wrong. Acting is about just doing it and hoping it works. Aamir thinks acting is about getting it right or wrong. Both of us have been working for the last ten years, as you said, consistently as stars, so both of us must be right in our way of technique or thinking. When I see it from my point of view solely, I think."

"I think Aamir is a wonderful actor. I think he's very educated, detailed -- like people call him a perfectionist kind of actor. I also think that he is wonderfully self-centered, focussed. I take it as a compliment for an actor to be self-centered. I wish he would let himself loose a little more. And I wish the same for me -- I wish I could contain myself a little. I always tell him, be a little mad. And for myself, I think I should get a little more sane."

Filmfare Online: You know the way Govinda and you love to make these jibes at each other all the time, it always looked stage-managed. Is it?

SRK: "I know Govinda. I've met him about 12 times in my whole career in the nine years that I've worked here. The co-actresses that I've worked with talk very highly of him; that he's a fun guy and he's very sweet and down-to-earth. He met me very nicely and we've had long, long chats about acting. I always tell him to do memorable films because I think he's one of the greatest performers and actors in the country. He always tells me, 'Listen yaar, you do it. Somehow, I can't. Even if I want to do that style.' It all started off with a misunderstanding which was very strange. I don't like to talk about it because it triggers it off again. I'd said something in English which was misunderstood by a certain segment of people around him. I'd said something on a show to the effect that 'I can do what I do best. I cannot do what Govinda can do and perhaps Govinda can't do what I can'. It did not mean that I will not do what Govinda does. I wish I could do what Govinda does. I wish I could put my lungi over my head and dance but I can't do it. But it was quoted very differently. He told me also that his mother was very hurt because she felt I was saying that Govinda doesn't do good things. I felt very bad about that. I didn't know how to explain. I called him up and said, 'Listen, please explain to your mom that I didn't mean it this way.' I just said that in English it sounds very different. That I can't do what he does and maybe he can't do what I do. It wasn't meant to be that I will not do what he does. Or what he does is derogatory or bad. I guess that cleared it up. After that I've never had a misunderstanding with him. People ask me what do you think about this and this. Honest to God, I'm not demeaning them, but I don't even think about them. I don't have time to think about them. I've got so many other things to think about."

Filmfare Online: You and Amitabh Bachchan together in Yash Chopra's 'Mohabbatein'. The star of the millennium and the current superstar together. How do you feel?

SRK: "Amitabh Bachchan is my hero. There is no other hero I have. In my time, in the seventies, Amitabh Bachchan is what I was brought up on. I remember his dialogues in every film. Anyone my age -- I'm 34 -- does. And say twenty years ago when I started watching films Amitabh Bachchan was my hero. I liked him in 'Satte Pe Satta'. I even put powder in my hair to look like his character in the film. I've tried to walk like him, I've tried to talk like him. When I come out and start acting out my scenes in Hindi films it is very difficult for me to try and do a drunken scene because I can't see it any other way than the way it is done by Mr Bachchan. Like the other day I was doing a scene with him. It was an emotional scene. He started to say something and I suddenly realised that I was sounding like him. You know, in an individual film I can speak like him and get away with it. I do also believe that a lot of actors of my time still act like him. And I'm one of them. I've stopped doing drunk scenes because I want to do them differently. Like in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film 'Devdas', if I have to be drunk I have to learn how to be drunk differently than Mr Bachchan. I really think he's brilliant, so it's difficult not to do it like him.We were doing a scene and he said in a deep baritone, 'Kya ho raha hai aaj,' and I was going to do the scene exactly like him. My voice is not like that, but the tone is exactly the same. And I realised that there were two people who sounded exactly the same. For me to work with him is really tremendous and only then do you realise how small and miniscule you are. And that happens to me when I stand in front of him. I'm not over-awed as an actor because I'm a very proud actor. And I know very well that a lot of my learning of acting is from Mr Bachchan. I'll have to change that, which again will be a wonderful experience. There is the sense of knowing how small you are when you act with Mr Bachchan. I think every actor who thinks of himself as an actor should act with some actors. One is Mr Bachchan, Naseeruddin Shah, Kamal Hassan, Paresh Rawal, Nana Patekar - these are some of the few others. Unfortunately I've never worked with Mr Om Puri. These are a few actors that I can remember just off the cuff. Among the actresses there's Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Kajol -- I think these are people one should act with to be able to know where they stand. I've worked with Sridevi for ten days and I know how wonderful it was. I think more than directors, one should work with these actors to know how bad you are. And each one in some department, you know. Like you try dancing like Madhuri. I mean, poor girl has to do everything. In the song, you know, where I'm leading her? Actually she's leading me. You know all these things we do? She's doing it. You do comedy with Juhi, and you just can't match her. And I really mean it. Just as you can't match Johny Lever, try as you might. Juhi's got this sense which doesn't go over the top. She'll never ham a comic scene. That is so difficult to do as an actor. Kajol is so believing in her roles. The conviction with which she says it, you really think that this girl means it. And that is so difficult to do on the spur of the moment. Like she has to tell this guy he's bad and she says it so well that you really believe that he's bad. With Mr Bachchan it's like that, a constant learning experience."

Filmfare Online: And now with the comparisons bound to be made with the generation following you? Hrithik Roshan is already a hot new superstar. Abhishek Bachchan is next to enter the fray. There is bound to be a rivalry for top slot then?

SRK: "I think it is a little unfair when people compare and take the names of Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan in the same breath as my name, because their body of work is so much more. Until I've lasted 35 years and done that kind of work and am still going strong, one should not mention me in the same breath as them. As far as newcomers are concerned, I don't think about my contemporaries, so why should I think about newcomers? And most of these guys who are coming, I've played with them. I've played cricket with Abhishek and Hrithik. So it's wonderful that they're doing well. It's very nice. I can only be pleasant about them, I can't be any other way. Because in my stature as a star, anything else that I say is mistaken for either me being too arrogant, or being too patronizing. I don't think about them. I wish them all the best because I know them personally. I read some of their interview and what they say. Like Hrithik says he used to go home and redo scenes from 'Koyla' in front of the mirror like Shah Rukh had done to see if he could do it. So one finds that nice; but as my characteristic stands, you can't touch this. That's what I'll say to everyone -- you can't touch this."

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