I believe that if I have to even brush my teeth, I should do it with so
much vigrour as if it is best of brushing that is happening in the world
at that point of time. "
Karan Thapar speaks to Shahrukh Khan
on BBC World’s talk
show, Face To Face
He is a man of many faces, countless voices and not just on the silver
screen. His friends and admirers say he can change his appearances very
easily and just as quickly as the rest of us change our clothes. So how is
he going to present himself today as we met India's most famous actor of
the day, Shahrukh Khan. Shahrukh there is a line in one of your recent
movies, there is a song in which you say I am the best does that apply to
It applies to actually lot of complexes I have the kind of insecurities
that I have as an actor as a person. I have a little story which I tell
everybody. It was about a little boy who was standing next to a huge wall
and he had written I am great and then he said that you know my brother
has achieved lot more, my sister is a pilot, my father was a big
freedom-fighter. My mother was a politician and she is a minister. I make
this stronger. He rubbed it off and wrote I am the greatest. So it stems
from that kind of complex that kind of insecurity and just the once to be
like and I have to keep on convincing myself that I am the best, otherwise
I would succumb to all these insecurities.
You appear as you are a driven personality that almost everything you
do, everything you have has to be the best.
Yes, I believe that if I have to even brush my teeth, I should do it with
so much vigrour as if it is best of brushing that is happening in the
world at that point of time.
So how long does the toothbrush last ?
It does not long last too long, neither does my teeth actually. I have to
keep going back to getting them checked but the whole point is if I have
to do something then you give it your best chance because I really have a
belief, it sounds too much philosophy at times but the atmosphere has
…….. that I would say, we believe in Islam that God is one day going
to ask us when you go back there, I send you down on earth to do things
did you do that ? I want to turn around and say, I know, you send us to do
lot of things, it would be easier for you to ask me what are the things
you did not do.
So I want to put in the best in to everything that I do and may be I would
lose my goal what I was sent for but at least I would have done whole lot
of other things.
When you were in school you were embarrassingly good at everything. You
were Captain of Hockey, Captain of Football. You were top of the class.
You won the sword of honour. Every body must have hated you.
Yes, they hated me so much they made me a film star. Yes I would like. I
really believed that if you are doing something, you should give it your
best shot. It's not wanting to be best shot it's not wanting to be best at
that but you should give it your best shot. My best shot would vary from
your and it would vary from somebody else and but we all have to try our
best and leave it and then let's hope that it's done well.
There wasn't always question of just trying your best. You had group of
friends in school. You called them the Sea gang and you were up to pranks
most of time. Weren't you ?
Yes, we were and we were finally suspended from School and very nearly
were expelled but they allowed us to stay there for exams. But well it was
always in good fun. We had a gang called Sea gang. We used to take out
from, Maruti 800 cars had just come up and 800 part had zero's which were
Square and we would cut it half and make a sea out of it and stick it
here. The video cassettes used to have a, b, c, d lettering on it; the
alphabets. So we used to write gang here. We had shirts. We would only
wear blue jeans and while shirts, Nike Shoes with grey skews on it and we
had this little walk which waas like you were walking with ….. and scary
things like hang loose, stay loose, cool and we just used hang out
together, we used to go to parties like that and we would never asked
girls out because we thought - we were like Dennis the Menace.
No Girls !
You can't ask girl for a dance and we did fell in love and then made
friends with girls and none of us told each other for quite some time and
it was just……
Well those days, you used to stay with your parents your mother, I
believe, was Magistrate, your father was former freedom fighter and owned
a restaurant. What sort of childhood was it ?
What I remember was it was, it was very nice and easy and it was lot
of freedom. I have an elder sister too. You were never told what to do and
what not to do.
So family allowed you to grow up as you wanted.
As I wanted really.
Was it a liberal family ?
Very liberal family as a matter of fact even religious teaching,
functions, studies, career, everything was you just do it as you want and
just be happy about it. Do you best.
Religious observance or duties and tradition wasn't important you could be
I could be myself. I was told that it was nice to go and read the namaaz.
So I would go and do it. The way it was told. So we felt like doing it.
All my life I wish I could bring up my children like that where you made
to respect without being scared of anything that is told to you by your
parents even to the extent of when I was choosing my career, my mom said,
"I would, look, I would like you to go into Sciences". I said,
OK. I could take na exam. But I would like to take up economics because I
had finished my sciences from School and she said, Ph! You want to shift
over to economics but can you do the IIT entrance. Can you do this
engineering entrance. I said, "I can". She said, Ok, show it to
me. So I did it and I passed and I showed her I passed. She said OK you
don't need to take it now go and do your economics.
How do you remember your mother ?
I remember her now I remember her as a star. I have a star in my house
in Bombay. Whenever I feel very lonely and feel said, I just go there and
I look at one star and I sort of pinpointed it now and especially I miss
her when I am very happy. Now I wish she was here.
death I know was a traumatic experience for you. The saddest part is she
never lived to see your fame and your success.
she did not, which is very unfortunate. I remember, I was shooting for
Maya Memsaheb in Shimla when I was called down to the hospital here that
she is not going, she is unwell. We never knew that she is not going to
live because she was absolutely alright before I left. My new series I
just made an episode on Circus which was a big thing that was done in
Bombay with the directors like Sayeed Mirza, Aziz Mirza and Kundan Shah. I
really wanted her to see it so we got a special permission and put a
television and a VCR and she could not make out, we put it on for her but
she could not make out and she was very …………….. and she would
confuse me with the other people sitting there and it was sad, but then I
told someone that I would like to make it so big on the small screen that
I would like screen to be come bigger and become 70 mm so from up in the
heaven she could see you in the same.
And if she was here to see the tremendous success here today. What do
you think she will say to you ?
She will say, Beta, Khana Aur Khao Bahut Patle Ho Gaye Ho.
After your mother died you left Delhi and you went and lived in Bombay.
I gather you never took any of her things and possessions with you, Why ?
I didn't take anything. I just felt that if she wanted me to take things
owned by her, she would stay here and let me use them and she would have
liked that I would be able to stand on my own feet and …
And that's what you are doing this was symbolic of that.
Yes and I just took one television she gave me. The television is from
Videocon Company and I still remember it she had bought that for me after
I finished my first series, Fauji. I had bought it from my own money but
she went with me to buy it. That's the only thing I had brought with me.
Did you keep it with you. Is it a treasure for you ?
Ya it is. It is in my house, I keep it with me.
In the years that followed you married your childhood sweatheart Gauri.
You remember where and how you first saw her.
Yes, I remember I saw her at a party in Safdarjung Enclave. I just saw
her from the back. My car parked and she got up from a car and she insists
that it was a blue dress. I remember it as a grey and she got off and she
want and she had this huge french bun kind of hair. I never talked to a
girl before you know I mean I had spoken to girls but never with the
thought of going out with them you know. But it's called going out or
having an affair now. I asked my friend. I was too shy then, I still am. I
said would you go up to her and ask can I dance with her because I am very
scared that I can't go up to a girl suppose if they refuse. My friend went
there and asked her. She said I am waiting for someone. I was like quite
heartbroken because I liked her. I liked her at the physical appearance
because that's the first thing that I saw. And I say she will beat me up,
when she see's the programme but I liked her backside and I went, I said
she's got a boyfriend then I got to know later she was waiting for her
brother so I thought O.K., here's the chance and then I went up to her and
she's the first I asked for a dance and she's also the last one.
Did she says Yes ?
She said Yes and she talked a lot and after about 2 years. I sort of told
her that I loved her.
wasn't easy though to get to marry her because her parents didn't
want to have the marriage at all.
Ya, now I look O.K. I wear shirt and my hair have gone back. That time I
was (audio overlap) worse than what I look in my films even and I had hair
all over here and I was from the different religion. I wanted to be an
actor. So discombination if somebody came up to me and said like if I had
a daughter and somebody said, look my head is like this. I am from a
different religion and I want to be a film star, I would say just pack
your bags and get out of the house or I will kick you out. So I think they
were completely right in not wanting me to marry their daughter. And they
have a very close knit joint family, where everybody is a kid of every
one. They have been brought up like that.
Today of course you get on brilliantly with your in laws but in fact
when you did eventually got married to Gauri, it had to be first of all a
Ya, it was, Ya there was going to be a hassle in terms of if we were
going to marry in the Courts. You have to put it across for a month and
when you do that there were some institutions like who took up offence
that I am marrying a girl who was of different religion.
You approached ……………….
Yes, I approached ……………….. Fortunately Id didn't have a house
in my name so I gave my friend's address instead of them throwing stones
at me, they were throwing stones at my neighbour. My friend Sanjay called
and said they are throwing stones at my house. So that happened. We had to
keep it under wraps and get it done.
Gauri never wanted a husband who was an actor but now that you have
become perhaps the most famous actor in India today, she has reconciled to
No, its not that. She didn't want someone to be an actor. I was always
acting. I was acting in theatre with Barry John and then I was doing it in
school. Then I was doing it in television when I met her. I mean I met her
already but I was doing television and stuff but… I think any body would
be little wary because what you ready and what you understand and what
film industry is like. And you are in different city going down there. Her
parents were really scared so all this put together can make you little
sacred but I told her. Just little before we got married we did a walk in
Greater Kailash and I said we will just stand by each other and we will
stick to each other if not out of love at least out of righteousness so
that promise I make to you and let's go down and start a new life and it
didn't turn out so bad and now she says OK though she still doesn't like
me as an actor.
She would rather know that you are one.
No she doesn't like me how I act.
She doesn't approve of your acting.
No she doesn't.
is a lady of film accuracy.
. I think now I realize that perhaps when she said she doesn't want me
to be an actor what she meant because she still thinks I can't act.
You now have a young son. Does it make a big different ?
I do find, I have loved kids always. I have also done theatre for kids
and I think I am also quite a kid myself. I am 34 years old but I just
feel like a kid and I behave like a kid everyone tells me that and I
really enjoy with him because here there is one person who doesn't know
who I am and where I come from. What I stand for. Whether I am good or bad
or I am ugly. How I am related to him also perhaps but he just loves me
That makes you feel good.
Oh that makes me feel so wanted and he is one person. I don't have a
complex with. I don't want to be wanted by him because he just wants me so
much on his own.
So Aryan a little boy is answer to your insecurities.
He is the answer to my prayers. He is the answer to wanting to be close to
my mother I think.
Shahrukh I gather that the first commercial thing hat you ever did on
screen wat the "Anny get your gun in Delhi". Now I saw that
production butdon't remember seeing you. What role were you playing.
Strangely as strange as it sound it sounds very strange to me but I
was the principal dancer. I was taken for my dancing abilities though I
just can't dance really and I had one line in it that where I come to Anny
with a letter and tell her I have a message for you and she takes that and
I think it is a message from her boyfriend or something where he is not
being nice to her. She just throws it on my face and says get out.
Your big moment on television screen came in Fauji but I believe it
happened almost where you were supposed to play a small part and ended up
Yes I had a small role. I think Karan Kapoor's son Bobby was supposed
to play the main role. He was also the Cinematographer of the series. At
then last minute they decided he can't do both the jobs and they called
upon me and ask would you do it. I said I would love to do it and then
they cut my hair and then I was doing double shift because by that time I
was doing another serial. Dil Dariya so I was doing double shift right in
the middle of that.
And the big break come up when in a year later in Aziz Mirza's Raju Ban
Gaya Gentleman and after that there has been absolutely no looking back
but if you were to look at it how would you explain to yourself your
incredible success and popularity.
I don't know I am more shocked myself than any body else other
actually because my friends and my co-actors and actresses you know they
know I am quite easy going and fun to work with you know I remember lot of
actresses telling me when we first saw you. We went EEKs. He is the hero
and now also they find it very strange they are still working with me. 9
years - 10 years laters and they say God how did you became the hero.
They think it's a miracle.
It's more than a miracle I think its God's blessings. My mother's
blessings. It's love of the audience. Its so many things.
we really tried on explaination. How much of it is due to the fact that
you deliberately challenged the sort of conventional roles that the other
actors have played. Your's have been pretty non-confirmed. Yes, they
have been because I have been getting little bored coming from the theatre
and I really didn't want to do the regular thing just be nice and sweet.
Just run around trees.
I shouldn't say. A guy loves running around trees. I feel its great to be
doing that and at 34 it is even better but I wanted to be bad because I
think that its one of the element which every one has but they don't show
it and just played Baazigar and Anjaam. I had nothing to lose and I just
went ahead and I guess it just sort of hit the right chord. May be the
timing was right. I believe that perhaps I was not absolutely the right
kind of person but I had been there at right time.
What about something else. How much of your success is due to your
uniquely energetic style and manner.
I am criticized for that lot of time but I believe that till I have the
energy I should use that form of acting because I have the belief that
there is nothing like underacting and overacting. I think especially in
Hindi Cinema where every character has to break in to a song. So you
cannot really have your own character. You can't have steady characters
and so what you need to do is to just enjoy yourself and let the others
enjoy themselves and I like to what an old actress said, "Hold up a
mirror while I am acting and tell the other guy look I am playing you that
all". I don't like play any thing else. I don't go deeply into
acting. I don't believe in that kind of stuff and the energy is because I
want to fill the space. I don't want to be a part of the space. I don't
want to be the part of the atmosphere. I want to be the atmosphere that.
It stands as if you don't so much as act as actually perform.
Yes, yes. I tell it to everyone. I am an entertainer. I am a nautanki, I
am a Bhand. I am just supposed to go ahead and make people laugh.
So you are deliberately larger than life. You deliberately go over the
top because that's what you want to do.
I would like to tell any one who knows even little about acting that you
know when critics and every body writes that man in this film is
underplaying, overplaying and over the top they are just speaking complete
and utter nonsense because there is nothing like a right way to do a scene
and a wrong way to do a scene. There is just a way to do a scene. Your
way, my way and any way could be right and if I believe it right, I could
go overboard and if I believe loose fit is better than the tight fit so go
over the top. So if any body wants to hang it a little, they can do it and
chop it a little they can go ahead do it but I don’t like just
Are you scared of yourself sometime.
I am scared of being alone with myself. Yes I get scared of myself I
don’t like myself liking too much and I think that's when you be come as
actor not because people normally say you love yourself that's why you
have become a star. Yes may be you become a star that way but I think you
become an actor when you don’t like yourself.
So acting in a sense is a way of escaping from yourself you are
becoming someone else because you don’t want to be Shahrukh.
Its so ironic there are lot of people who would tell me they would like to
be Shahrukh and Shahrukh is here wanting to be a Ramesh or Rahul or Raj or
a Batman or Superman.
Any one but Shahrukh.
Any one but Shahrukh.
In fact in one of your magazines interviews you have said that I am an
unhappy person is this what you meant.
I am unhappy because I am always the energy part you have talked about
I am restless.I don’t have a goal I don’t have a an ending inside I
don’t think any achievement is a sense of achievement for me I need to
finish it and go for the next and that can make you little unhappy and
dissatisfied. I am always dissatisfied and may be that what can be called
hunger and greed to keep on doing more work and I have fitted 20 years of
work in last 10 years and it seem to pass by in 10 minutes.
It is amazing because most people looking at your would say that he has
got such as enormous success and such a lot of work but yet you seem to
suggest it doesn’t mean any such to you.
I never worked towards it I just wanted to feel happy and I feel happy
when I see a film when I see a good moment theres a moment when I feel
very happy looking on screen and lot of people don’t appreciate it.
But do you think you have achieved enough I mean are you satisfied
today with the achievements.
I will never be satisfied because like I said I am like a mountain
climber, who is not going for the peak, I just want to climb that' say I
don’t want to end there and stand put, the flag and say I have reached.
I don’t want to reach.
So you live perpetually with the fear that if you stop you may start
falling so you have to keep climbing.
I just have to keep climbing and its not for ambition its not for greed
its not for success it's just for the want of climbing I just want to
One of things that you have recently climbed is that you have a set up
a company Dreamz unlimited with Juhi Chawla and you have produced your
first movie Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani are you happy with it.
I am very happy with it as a producer. Aziz Mrza myself and Juhi. He gave
me my first brake in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. He agreed to work with me
they are wonderful friends I am very close to them we started it and we
produced that film and we did it in 11 months. We released it on time and
we backed it up with lot of publicity.
The critics as you know have been less than generous and some times
people even say that audiences haven't come to see this film in the same
way as they have seen the other ones does that disappoint you?
No I think this film was based on media and I think the media hasn’t
taken too much liking to the idea that we have made fun of them.
So you think people of my profession have been deliberately unkind
because they cant take …….…(Audio overlap)
May be I have been unkind to them in the film also so I think that would
be unfair to say that.
Tell me is it going to be second fiddle or a second venture that you
are going to take up producing films or is it for one up.
I wanted to produce films because I love them not only as an actor and it
is no a narcissistic thing that I want to be a star. I just want to make
films because they have given so much to me. Everything that I stand for,
for the last 10 years is all because of films and I think it’s a high
time some one in my status decided to give something back to films.
Shahrukh as you said earlier in this interview you are 34 and you can
carry on being an actor for next 40-50 years is that how you see your
future or are you looking endlessly for new challenges. Are there other
peaks you want to climb rather than just the Cinema one.
I mean I just like to, I feel really nice acting I feel really wonderful
being able to make people laugh and I feel even more wonderful when I am
drawing down on the main road and there's a person who I talk to or who
looks at me and says "Sahrukh"! and a smile comes and I think
that I have been blessed by God and my mother that I am able to do that
for one fraction of second wherever I go in the world and I would like to
keep making it sure that people smile for that one fraction of second
while they see me. Besides that if it requires me to climb a mountain
whether it makes me to want to go on to moon if it makes me to have make
films, if it makes me having to producing whatever it takes I just want
people to smile so that I feel secure.
Shahrukh I am sure that you will continue to do that for many years to
come thank you very much.