Shah Rukh Khan is ready with the much awaited MY NAME IS KHAN. The Bollywood Badshah breezed in Kolkata for the grand finale of 'Dadagiri Unlimited', a quiz show hosted by Sourav Ganguly. Our correspondent catches up with the actor on his friendship with Dada and his new film where he is paired opposite Kajol after several years.
What was the first thing that came to your mind when you saw Sourav as a quizmaster?
It was really a pleasant surprise. I have seen him play cricket, discuss cricket…this is completely a new avatar of Dada (Sourav Ganguly). But I must say, he is really good at it. As I said on stage-Dadako pakadna mushkil hi nehin, na mumkin hai. (Smiles)
' I held back SRK to step into Rizwan's shoes…'
What brings you to the finale of 'Dadagiri Unlimited'? Friendship with Sourav?
Sourav and my friendship now go beyond Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Indian Premier League (IPL). To me, he is one of the best cricketers in India. I can never say 'no' to him.
Is this a kind of 'favour returning' gesture…since Sourav has earlier judged your cheerleader hunt 'Knights & Angels'?
I never thought about it in this way…really. And as far as 'Knights & Angels' go, Sourav was not getting cheerleaders for Shahrukh, but for the entire KKR team.
You have got Sourav back as KKR captain for IPL 3…
I told you…he is the best (in cricket).
KKR started with much energy, but failed to win the first two seasons of IPL. Do you expect to win this time?
I won't comment on that. But if KKR wins this time, I will come and dance for all of you in Kolkata.
You are back in a Karan Johar film again?
Yes…I am inseparable from Karan's films (smiles). On a more serious note, MY NAME IS KHAN is a passion project; somehow I wanted to be part of this important film personally and as a production house.
Your company Red Chillies has tied up with Fox for MY NAME IS KHAN. So with the help of Fox, are you trying to push your film to the Oscars?
I have just written to the Oscar people that they should have given me an award 10 years back; now I am losing interest. Jokes apart, our association with Fox is not award-based. But we believe Fox is one of the few people in the world, who can perhaps take our film to the roads of getting awards and recognition, if it is good enough.
For the first time you are playing a person with Asperger syndrome. How much effort Shah Rukh had to put to play the character?
Rizwan Khan is a special character-because he has a definite beginning and ending, and a bit of realism. He is a person with Asperger. While studying the character, I really had to hold Shah Rukh Khan back. I put together all my years of acting skills, before I could step into Rizwan's shoes.
Already quite a few films have been made on terrorism. How different is your film from the lot?
Karan wrote the story three years back. At that time I felt it was quite an advanced one. This is not a film on terrorism, but on relationships; as are all Karan Johar films. First it's the relationship between two persons, then among many people, then, relationships within a basti, within a city and finally, within the world. Within those relationships, we put aspects of western culture, Islam and Asperger syndrome.
Now-a-days controversies are used as a publicity tool for a film. What do you think?
We (Karan and I) have never tried to create euphoria about the film with the help of controversies….no, never. But sometimes there are mistakes; sometimes it's not a mistake, but an issue. Even for MY NAME IS KHAN, everyone of us-right from the producers, directors, actors, to lightman, cameraman, spot boys-has been really careful not to show any bias to any community or hurt people's sentiments while dealing with Asperger. Even then, if there are reasons for controversies, then please help us out.
You are working with Kajol after a long time…
Yeah! Karan and I discussed at least a thousand times, how my pairing with Kajol will be…if it will be another DILWALE DULHANIYA LE JAYENGE or KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI. But in this film, Karan has not shot any romantic songs in Egypt or Switzerland with us. There is romance…but the treatment is not the same.
The title of the film-MY NAME IS KHAN-is being seen as a Shah Rukh Khan statement…
My name is unimportant. But my work is much more important than my name.