Shahrukh Khan has been ruling Bollywood as the “king of romance” for nearly three decades. In conversation with Neeraj Jha, Rahul Dholakia, the director of Shah Rukh’s 2017-starrer, ‘Raees’ says that Shah Rukh remains a student of cinema even today with his unflagging zeal to learn at this stage of his career. Excerpts:
Shah Rukh Khan has been ruling Bollywood for over 30 years. You have worked with him. what would you say?
We work with different actors and every time learn something from one another. To work with Shah Rukh in ‘Raees’ was awesome. Even today, he is a great student of cinema. When I told him about this film, he asked for the script. He used to discuss by making notes, reading everything carefully, and coming on the sets after doing proper homework. Even after shooting, he would take the material related to the film and study. He tries to portray the character in different ways. Despite being a superstar, he lives on the sets like a common actor.
How did you meet him for ‘Raees’?
Khan had to take a flight to Canada. When I met him the first time, he said, tell me in five minutes about your story. But he stayed back for half an hour. He took the script with him. In the next meeting, I narrated the full story. He liked the script. I think since Riteish Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar were the producers, it might have helped.
How does he behave on the set?
He greets everyone on the set when comes and leaves. It doesn’t matter who is what. He is totally focused on his role on the sets. If anyone goes to meet Shah Rukh at his house, he makes it a point to drop him outside. Everyone learns something from him.
What sets Shahrukh apart from the rest of the cast?
The biggest thing is that he gives hope to everyone. From his journey so far, we can say that if you have the talent, willpower to work, then you can become whatever you want to be. Millions of youth are inspired by him. He does work without any controversy. His expressions are amazing. A common actor can’t do that. Action, romantic scenes, comedy… he plays each character with equal confidence.
How different is the ‘king of romance’ and ‘Baadshah of box office’ off-screen?
Shah Rukh’s personality is massive. He has been ruling the industry for three decades. He doesn’t show off, he remains straightforward. No one can romance on-screen better than him. There is no interference from his manager or anyone else on the sets. He gets into the skin of his character completely. Once, despite the swelling in the knee, he completed his shoot. No excuse. Who works so diligently?
Salman, Shah Rukh, Aamir have ruled the film industry for three decades. How do you see it?
I haven’t worked with Salman and Aamir. But the characters played by these actors touch people at some point or the other.
How do you see their contribution to Bollywood?
We grew up watching Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh, Salman, and Aamir. Cinema is not made of one person. They ate all its faces.
Will their stardom end due to the advent of OTT platforms. What do you think?
Have you seen the crowds outside ‘Mannat’? Both Stardom and OTT platforms are different. It’s not like box office. Here, everyone is equal. Movies and series are different. The movie is shown on the big screen in the theatre. But the world is changing. Now, we are given more time to watch the series. Everyone is insisting on making a series.