SRK: we don’t learn acting, we just assume that we are talented

Shah Rukh Khan needless to say is a witty person, on -screen and in real life. His statements have become motivational lines for many. SRK is a dreamer and an achiever he is also one of those actors who has made his mark in bollywood. Some of his films has shattered the box office records while some tanked badly. Despite so many ups and downs Badshah of bollywood is head strong and is back with a bang with Aanand L Rai’s ZERO. The trailer and songs looks promising as the film is set to hit the scenes next week. We caught up for a brief interview with the superstar who has ruled the bollywood arena for 25 years.

In conversation with SRK as he talks about his co-actors Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Salman Khan, the mistakes he made as an actor, why films are said to be ahead of times and why it’s important to learn acting. He also shared why is it necessary to use VFX and how the film ZERO and his dwaf character has incorporated it.

Excerpts from the interview

As ZERO is just fortnight away, are you exciyed or nervous? 
To be honest, I am so busy with the promotions that I am not thinking anything, I am excited as this is one such film which is so real and relatable that I myself have enjoyed playing it to the core, there se every lines and dialogues in the film that are so witty that it cracks you up, Initially I wasn’t convinced to say certain dialogues but then I learnt that people in small say it. For instance: Taking the name of your father I haven’t done so far or wearing such loose kaccha or baniyan I don’t think I would be ever comfortable but now the stylist says it will become a trend.Normally we are working so much before the release, you get so tired, that you have no feeling left. You just hope that what you made is liked by people. I have worked for so many years but I can’t analyse how the film should be, the audience who spent money on it are the only ones who should analyze.

Do you think ZERO is an experimentative film?
No, I don’t think it’s an experimentative film, it’s how you try to create a character which is physically different, its similar to growing a moustache. But the technology to do this is very long. Also the film’s base includes the idea of people thinking that I wish I was like this or that and now there are so many people telling us also how we should be. We don’t realize that nobody is perfect except Katrina Kaif. But nobody is perfect either emotionally, mentally or physically. I think we should accept ourselves the way we are while life passes us by. Instead of thinking anything as incompleteness, you should think of it as a uniqueness. You should just enjoy this one life that God has given us. To be able to create that we needed three kind of incompleteness. One is physical, vertically challenged person, other is mentally challenged who is actually a genius but has cerebral palsy and other who is the most beautiful woman on the earth is emotionally challenge. We are all some or the other have certain challenges that we face, we aren’t perfect.. We did not wanted people to focus on only the physical challenges we want the audience to see the emotions the realatibility behind it. after 10-15 minutes you overcome that. Me and Aanand didn’t want that to be a gimmick. We have also tried to keep in mind that in the whole movie, all the three characters don’t do anything which might invite sympathy towards their condition. Nobody wants sympathy or empathy, everyone wants love, friendship and happiness.

Is this one of the most challenging role for you as an actor?
No not really, I think the VFX made it very easy. It took us much longer to make the film than we realized, that is, 200 days. This film is very cosy, emotional and with real emotions, We didn’t wanted to loose out the smallness, the relationships and every angle in the film to the fact that we are making a VFX film. We were told by the VFX people to behave the way you are, we will manage everything around you. Some small things were however were to be taken acre of while shooting like walking or climbing or dancing. The films in Hollywood have vfx and I must say not only does big films like BAHUBALI or any other film need bfx, small films do require vfx. The films has many such angles and shot wherein I am a dwaf and I am in a pit and looking up the cast is at another frame, there were certain difficulties and challenges while I was emoting romantic scenes as I am much shorter in height in the film.

Have you met a dwaf in real life before shooting the film?
We have a person BTS, his name is Ashish and is an actor from Delhi. So we took certain ideas from him as we didn’t want to use body double or want a duplicate. But he worked really hard, he is indeed helpful and sweet. 

ave you ever felt that your acting life is complete or personal life is complete? How do you strive for it?
Zero is a perspective. I have never felt complete. As an artist, I am very incomplete. If I am not then I would not like to work. Why would I wake up in the morning and work hard for something so as as artist, I am still very restless. I am always thinking of bringing something new, as an actor or a producer. If you think you are complete, then you are boring. I don’t think of things as completing. I believe that the journey is important. If I cross something then I don’t think of it as an end line, I think of it as a milestone. But I never plan for it. If you work in films as long as I have then specifics become less important. All the business part of the movie completely depends on the story you are telling. I find becoming myself less and less expert about a film, that is why I am loving the films that I am doing. I am not looking for an end in that film. After 25 years of working, the only reason you should work is for happiness of your art.

Do you think this film would be a game changer for you?
I think technologically it already is. VFX has to be made very prominent in Hindi films. We assume that we are the best film makers in the world, but the new influx of audience that will come, say kids around 7-8 years old, they are not going to be very forgiving about cinematic visual and sound experience. Its a matter of time before all of the films would be dubbed. Most of the children would grown up watching those films, even in small town. They might be very unforgiving about this excuse we have in Hindi cinema. We must be the last generation to see a tacky film. Youngsters are going to be used to that quality of VFX. People think that I am thinking of VFX as only Bahubali, but that’s not true, VFX has to be used even for the smallest of films. We cannot tell sometimes when the VFX is used for smallest things like lighting, speed or camera movements. So, big and small directors should come forward to use the technology.

So many of your films are ahead of its time like RA ONE and ZERO with great technology. What do you have to say about it?
When the film flops, it is best is to say that they were ahead of their time. Its a great excuse but I feel, its good to feel that the film was ‘ahead of its time’. Like, SWADES flopped but now its been talked about. So its the relevance of the film that we are realizing now and appreciate it. ZERO is not based on technology but because of the characters, we needed to use VFX. We couldn’t shoot in lot of desired places so we had to use VFX. This one is not going to ‘ahead of it times’ but hopefully the story is familiar. I never thought CHAK DE! Would do well now, infact it was said that the title of DILWALE DULHANIYA LE JAYENGI is not apt it won’t work and see it’s still running.

Have you or the research team met anyone like Anushka’s character working for NASA in real life?
We haven’t used NASA’s name, we have taken a few cinematic liberties. In life, Stephen Hawking was similar. The concept was to get the most intelligent person, having an issue with motor control, the most rash person having a physical challenge and the most beautiful woman having an emotional issue. It just amalgamates all three incompleteness that humans face.

How did you switch from your character in the film to your normal life, as far as the psyche is concerned?
I shot in pits which were one and a half foot deep. So personally I wasn’t short I was inside a pit. When Anushka is sitting on the wheelchair and I am standing, we actually of the same height. Its like two steps below with others, it is quite difficult. We didn’t reshoot anything, couldn’t afford it time wise. I was asked to add style while doing few scenes but when I added my style, it looked a little wrong on a shorter person. So few things like hand and leg movements had to be adjusted. Few props were bigger for me.

Your character shows a wicked sense of humour, is this your brain child?
Well, It could be, me, Himanshu and Aanand, as we have wicked sense of humour. But there is a reason for this. We didn’t make him angry or wicked badly, we made him funnily wicked. But sometimes Buaa does says rude things but as the film progresses you find these rude things, very honest. So his honesty becomes better than his wickedness. His character has no change in him, he is like that till the end. He is who is is. Nobody changes to make others happy, they just become happy in their life, being who they’re, this is the beauty of this story.

Do you wake up and think ‘what’s next for me’?
Initially, most journalists thought I was very rude and arrogant. But I wasn’t arrogant, I had lack of knowledge of art and craft of acting. Over the years, I realized how little acting I knew, when I knew very less, I said lot of things. Now that I know more, I realize there’s so much more to do. There’s a lot to do for me as an actor that keeps me going. We sometimes, unfortunately, reduce commercial acting to singing, dancing and fighting, which I don’t look down upon. But as I am growing, I wish I had known that there was so much more to this earlier. Sometimes you don’t know that the reaction of the audience is also important. the most important thing is, to tell a story that touches hearts. If something touches your heart then you won’t abuse it even if you don’t like it. Because of social media, you hear things a lot more now. Information need not be considered as true reaction. Now we are informed about 100 people talking. So information needs to be assumed properly and not assumed that it is negative.

How tough is post production with VFX?
There are certain glitches that comes with vfx, when we shot the song with Salman Khan and five small scenes in Meerut, we couldn’t take lots of moving shots so the film became very static. So then we had to buy a machine called technodolly, which is used a lot in Game of Thrones, for layering of background, actors and crowd. Buying the machine was not enough so we had to all the person who runs it. So the director had to learn how to run that machine. So its a lot of hit and try. There are lot of glitches that comes with it and you make few mistakes so some shots we had to give up as they looked unreal. Some look real, some look unreal. Infact it so happened that the machine that we had got spoilt when the fire broke out, as the water from fire brigade was in full force and it took time to dry and that could happen when we wrapped it up with a silicon sheet (smiles).

Is there a filmmaker you wish to work with?
I really enjoyed working with Mani Ratnam, it was too much fun. Aanand sir is someone I would like to work again with. But I want to make an action film with him, it would be really good. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s fun, its been a long time I have done something like this. There are many interesting filmmakers. Amongst the new ones, I think Raju Hirani would be fun to work with.

How was working with the team of ZERO
Working with them was fun. I felt a little odd initially to wear what my character is wearing. So Aanand sir encouraged me to wear it by making it designer and telling me that he is going to patent it. He thinks this will become a fashion statement and wants to market it. Even me and Zeeshan has an interesting give and take.

Has your daughter shown some interest to become a part of industry?
No, she wants to act but she needs to train for 3-4 years. She is doing few plays and theatre in London now and hopefully will shift to America. She came here to learn as a part of acting, to spend time on productions. And I wanted her to see Katrina and Anushka because both of them are such different kind of actors. Katrina has her own charm and Anushka has her own way of enacting things. I think, ground experience is good for actors or any job but you also have to finish your education. So, I want her to study for 3-4 years even if she wants to become an actor. In India, we don’t learn acting, we just assume that we are talented. We should always learn things before we come on ground.