By SHREYA SONALKER
Shahrukh Khan, the name needs no introduction. One of the biggest stars in the world with an envious filmography and awards to match. We caught up with the mega star recently ahead of his upcoming film release – Raees
You play a ruthless businessman in Raees which some say is inspired on the life of criminal Abdul Latif, what attracted you to the script of Raees, as the character is very different to anything you have ever portrayed?
No, it’s not based on any real-life character. As a matter of fact, that two of the journalists who have written the film have done research about bootlegging all over the country and the kind of stuff bootleggers do. So, it’s not based on one person, I think the misconception is because it is based in Gujrat, the similarity between the two. It’s like a fictitious account and one will realise that upon seeing the film. And just to let you know no bootleggers would sing Zaalima oh Zaalima, so obviously, it’s a fictitious account. But yeah, it’s based on experiences and data collected about bootlegging and smuggling in India over the years around 80’s and 90’s. It’s got some very realistic bits which I wasn’t aware of so we want people to see how this business is done, its intriguing but I hope it’s not informative enough for people to start copying it. It was nice as I normally play more urban characters not so much gritty small town. This was a nice and different take away for me and the way it was written was very pleasant.
There is a real buzz surrounding Raees in the UK as British Asian audiences who have roots in India and Pakistan will get to see leading actors from both their respective home countries onscreen together. It sends a great message for British Indians and British Pakistanis of unity. Do you think cinema has the power to bring communities and cultures together?
No (laughs)! It reflects real life, I don’t think the power of the cinema is so strong, especially when it comes to commercial films. If it is a more topical film or a more realistic cinema perhaps, I don’t know. I’m a believer cinema must entertain and I want to entertain everyone in the UK, America and India.
Hrithik has spoken openly about his Kaabil clashing with Raees. He states: Raees and Kaabil can clash. Friendship and business cannot clash. So, we have to understand that they have to do the best that they can do for their film and we have to do the best that we have to do for our film. And our friendship stays intact. What are your thoughts on both films clashing on the same day?
The word clash is not the right word to use here, Raees is releasing on the same day as another film that’s all. I’ve done it before and its happened to all of us. When the word like clash is used, it sounds more aggressive, I think. We have 200 films and 52 weeks, so a film will come up on the same day. It has happened to all of us before and it’ll happen again, not the first time and we have more theatres. There are lots of films being released on the same day so it’s really strange to hear things like clash. I don’t think of it like that, I just think of it as two films releasing on the same day
Don and Raees both are produced by Excel films, whilst most producers like to see you in the romantic avtar, Excel seem to like giving you bad man roles. Your thoughts?
Most of them! I did Darr with Yash Chopra, I did Anjaam with Rahul Rawail, I did Bazigaar with Abbas Mastan. I’ve done some other films with shades of grey in a double role, Fan being one with Yash Raj and Manish Sharma so it’s not that I am specifically inclined towards doing negative roles with Excel. Don was a franchise. It started off like that. It counts as one film. I found It very interesting and Don was not really negative. He was a sexy cool gangster that you could like for being bad as well which is not the case here. This is directed by Rahul Dholakia who makes a little more realistic project films. This was very different and Don was sexy and evil garb in sexiness and coolness. I enjoy whatever role, it’s not like a personal deep down desire of me to be a bad guy but sometimes I play really sweet guys like Rahul and Raj, sometimes I play very serious guys like in Chak De, sometimes I play the over the top guys like in Happy New Year and Dilwale. So, whatever role is offered, I enjoy doing it. I do a film and a half in a year. If I finished a comedy or a commercial over the top films, it depends on the state of the mind and if I get a film offer like that. This is a film I signed 3 years back after I finished Happy New Year but I was injured so I had to take a break for 6 months and do an easier film. I couldn’t be doing action and all. There is no personal thinking or inclination deep down inside that I want to be a bad person. No, I’m a good guy!
We’re loving your kohl-eyed look in the film. Do you ever have a say in the styling of your characters in your movies?
Most of the directors I work with kinda have a clear picture of what they want the character to look like. Imtiaz Ali or Manish Sharma, of course FAN had a more of back and forth of as to what a FAN should look like. Most of the directors when they write a script, I think have a picture of the person of what an actor needs to play it like or look like perhaps. So, between Rahul and Sheetal who have designed the look, they were very clear of how Raees is, as they have worked on the script for 8 years and a lot of research has gone in. For a commercial film, you would normally play a hero type, try to look nice but the director was very clear with beard, hair, glasses etc. So, I didn’t have much of a say, I just tried on stuff they wanted me to. Some of the stuff isn’t what I usually wear, like white bottom pants and high waisted ones. Because the film was set in the late 80’s early 90s part of it was pre-decided
Shahrukh Khan’s Raees released in cinemas on 25 January to packed houses. The film also stars Mahira Khan and Nawazuddin Siddique