The King turns 42 today. Harneet Singh got SRK on his special day for a freewheeling chat where the actor spoke about his passion for cinema, love for acting and utter disregard for success and competition.
So birthday boy, how are you spending your big day?
Just with babies and friends. Nothing special. I have always believed, birthdays don't matter. When you leave the world, what matters is what you did with the birth and life that God gave you. It is still just a date. I hope that one day it should be considered an event by the work that I do. I hope Om Shanti Om is a step in that direction and it turns out to be the best film of the year. That will be the most special birthday gift.
That shouldn't be too tough what with the trade insisting that OSO has already made a profit of Rs 50 crores before its release. It's already a hit then?
Why just OSO? My next 20 films are also hits. Come on; don't tell me you believe that news report? A film is a hit only when people come and see it. Every film gets a certain price on the table but if the film doesn't make money after the release then as a producer it's my duty to return the money.
Do expectations bog you down?
I don't pay much attention to what people expect out of me. I like to tell a few stories in a year out of which some stories will make you laugh, some will make you cry, and some will make you dance. Take for instance Chak De India! I knew it wouldn't run for 12 years like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge but I hoped that it could touch 12 hearts. I hoped that whenever India plays a match the catchphrase would be Chak De. That was really wishful thinking on my part but I am glad Chak De India has become what it has. And I think it's all because of the goodness of the 16 girls. Nobody counted money while making Chak De India. I firmly believe goodness and positivity is important to make a good film. Even when I produce films, I tell my team, 'let's just do it, and let's not be in a loss.' I can't be comfortable if I know someone who bought my film has sold his house because my film didn't make money. I don't own a public limited company. I built it from scratch so I know the value of money. For OSO the wish is to make 12 people smile and laugh. That's the only expectation I want to fulfill.
Now that you've restricted to doing only two films a year, how do you select those two scripts?
On the contrary, films select me. I don't go out there and decide what to do. In fact as of now, I have nothing new to work on. Shankar's Robot and Rajkumar Hirani's film are not happening. I was excited about them but sometimes things don't work out.
What went wrong with Robot?
Shankar and I were not seeing the film in the same way. We didn't want to screw it up since it entailed a high budget. It is better not to do something important if you are not clear about it. I have lived my life with the simple belief that if something really matters to you then don't do it if you're not sure.
Does it hurt when a project you were really looking forward to falls through?
Oh yes it is still hurting. Whenever creativity goes to waste, you tend to be hurt. I had done a thesis on robots and had even bought miniature robots from Japan. I am sure even Shankar is hurting.
Since OSO deals with rebirth, do you believe in it?
No, I don't. I think, after you die, the atom finishes in the air and attaches to a cat or a dog. It's all dust to dust and ashes to ashes. That is why my dear, you only get one chance in life to make all your dreams come true.
What's your son's reaction to your abs?
Aryan thinks his are better than mine. I haven't been well since the last few days so he feels they are gone. I am glad he has better abs, as long as he is not a better actor than me.
Aryan wants to be an actor?
I don't know. I never asked him. Nobody asked me. Till date, nobody knows if I can really act.
Oh really, then how come you're so successful at what you do?
I don't live with success. I live with my wife, my kids, and my sister. I leave success outside my house and till date, I don't know whether success is a woman or a man. I still believe I am not successful. I still do not know why I am dissatisfied work wise. My mind is always ticking. I am thinking even when I am acting. My mind is never at rest maybe that is why I can't sleep at nights.
How do you react to OSO's clash with Saawariya?
I have a good relationship with Sanjay (Leela Bhansali). In Devdas he has given me one of the best films of my career. My fight is with the producers of the film, Columbia Tristar. I want to give them a fight to remember. I thrive on competition and I am glad that someone I know did not produce Saawariya. I think of it as the mighty Goliath versus my company. It is good that I am fighting a faceless entity so that I do not have to show any empathy.
Till date which film has been the most creatively satisfying experience for you?
I always say the next one. It is like saying whom do I love more between Aryan and Suhana. I love what I do so I can't be objective about my work. It is so strange but I love myself and my work so much that I take myself for granted.
What's with the long hair?
Well, I was growing my hair for OSO to carry off a bouffant in the 70's version. Then I went for a holiday. I just haven't felt the need to get a haircut. I had a beard for first half of the year because of Chak De India and now I have long hair. It makes me feel I am creative.
Is it true that you dream to make a studio?
I've been dreaming about it since the day I came to Bombay but its still a dream. The way land is being overpriced in Bombay, I have accepted it will be somewhere on the outskirts.
You recently said that Akshay Kumar is ousting you. Do you really mean it?
The statement has been taken out of reference. I was saying that everyday I read stories of some actor ousting me, this time its Akshay who is supposed to oust me. If you recollect not too long ago Amitabh Bachchan was supposed to have ousted me after I ousted him. Hrithik Roshan was supposed to have ousted me too after Kaho Na Pyar Hai. Its been happening since the last 17 years. I enjoy the fact that I am always ousted but like a bad penny I comeback. I am too bad a habit for India to give up. Yeah, I'm India's worst habit. I really don't know how to react to these comparison stories anymore. It's difficult to reach No. 1 but it's even more difficult to sustain that position. It is difficult to be there for 17 years. If you look around, you will find genius is short lived. There is a burst of greatness from the genius and then it goes away. Mediocrity on the other hand, survives longer. I like to believe that I am a genius but I need to sustain it. I compete only with myself.