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Shah Rukh Khan: I am not the perfect lover boy, but I don’t romance like anyone else!

In an exclusive interview, Shah Rukh Khan opens up about movies, success, failure, his lover boy image, his children and much more…

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For a change, Shah Rukh Khan looks fresh and relaxed. Even at the end of an evening after a packed working day, repeating the same dialogues in different ways. That’s the thing, you see. He knows a hundred different ways to say the same thing. Articulation is something he’s a master at. Lateral thinking is another. And when he is investing so much time and thought even after a long day, you have no option but to keep pace. He thinks, weighs, and then says what he pleases. Sometimes, maybe not what you want to hear.

But listening to Shah Rukh Khan is always a pleasure. He doesn’t do you the disservice of talking down, rather gives you the compliment of presumed intelligence. This, even as he says later that he would prefer being on his own than spend time talking to people. All this is a job he does for Shah Rukh Khan the star. He knows he has the love of the people. Team CineBlitz catch a peaceful patch of evening with Shah Rukh Khan, for a chat where we start with nothing and traverse through infinity.

When a film ends, it leaves a void in one’s life. How easy or difficult is it to fill that void?

It depends on how you see life. The other day, when we were travelling, Anushka (Sharma) was saying that sometimes, when things get over, we feel sad or bad. Whether it’s a party, a job, a film or a relationship. But we have to view it thinking this was how it was meant to end, and resume life. Life is one whole series of episodes, you know how atoms are packets. So childhood is one packet, relationships are one packet, work is one, within the work also there are different packets. Life is like the cellular structure.

Maybe when a packet ends, instead of feeling bad about it, think a new one will start. A fresh start. Given half a chance of a fresh start, we may do things differently. I’ll say sorry, maybe I’ll say I love you. Maybe I’ll spend more time with my mom, whatever. But life is so beautiful that it doesn’t take you back. And life is so beautiful that you should not try to go back, you should go forward and live that. And life will take care of you.

How did you think your fans would receive it when you do a role where you are defined as incomplete? Was that why Zero didn’t work?

If you assume yourself to feel incomplete, then you will be. If you don’t consider yourself to be perfect, then you will
identify with someone like this. But if you think from the viewpoint of the people who love me, if they think I am a perfect person, then they won’t accept me as incomplete. It’s a reflection of your own self. I don’t think I have ever played a hero who is perfect. People say I am a perfect lover boy, but the character is a lover boy. Bolte hain, Shah Rukh ka image is of a lover boy, people see him like that.

I don’t think so. I think they like the fact that I am not a perfect lover boy. That’s why they think my romance is more real, because I don’t romance like anyone has done, it’s not typical. I do it like a middle-class boy or what my understanding of it is. It’s an experience of my world. You can take some liberty with people you love. Hatred is also a form of love, so I can play it like that. Typically, when people play lover boy’s story, they do it very well. They say the nice lines in a nice way. And I hardly ever say sorry. And I hardly see anyone crying in the films. Men don’t cry.

I hardly see them being naughty with the girl without losing respect for her. My introduction in DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge) is actually taking an inner garment (a bra). And showing it to Kajol, but you don’t feel it’s a cheap gesture because it’s not played out like a hero. It’s played out like a guy who is shy but thinking it will be cool, when you play it like an imperfect person. Then I guess people like it as a lover. In Devdas, here is a completely fractured soul. If I was to play it without any vulnerability and go hit a girl on the head, it’d be a wrong thing. But you accept it because you see him as a fractured soul, but a real lover will not do it.

I think a romantic hero like they say, a lunatic, a lover, a poet, are all exactly the same thing. So if you are not able to create that for them, then I am an imperfect lover boy. So this person who falls in love, does these things and does it
very badly, why wouldn’t you love him too?

So when you select a role, do you indulge yourself as an actor and entertainer? Or do you indulge the public belief in you?

I indulge only myself in the roles I select. I am very selfish about my roles. So when post Harry Met Sejal, people didn’t like it and said arre yeh kyun kiya? I was like mujhe karna tha! How am I in the movies for 25 years and not in a place to choose? Or if I can’t make a choice for myself? Then there is no point of being in this position. And of course, depending on the film I am doing, I know how much is going to appeal to a wider audience. When I do a Fan I know it’s a niche film. I am not a fool for 20 years and think like arre yeh DDLJ ban jayegi.

Having said that, a film designed like Dilwale (2015), which I thought had everything – action, romance, comedy, Kajol, me, could have fallen short. Or gone wrong because I thought it’s a commercial film, usme character kya hai, hero hai. So sometimes they will go wrong, but fans will go for them either way. But for me, the attitude is that is what I want to be for the next one year.

You seem to have moved away from the hardcore commercial filmmakers. You are attempting films with makers of a different kind of cinema. Is that a move to widen your own repertoire as an actor?

No. Adi (Aditya Chopra) is my old guard, so if he offered me a movie with a different director, I would do it. So Manish Sharma is there, there is Imtiaz (Ali), Aanand (L Rai) is new now, for Zero. I can’t tell him tu chala jaa aur commercial director le le. The commercial guys haven’t offered me a role yet. Working with new directors is very
interesting as they have a different take on stuff. And honestly, I don’t get offers from all directors all the time. But
sometimes, a director comes who sees me differently. I think my next film is with someone who is totally different. I told Sriram (Raghavan) five-six years ago that I want to do a really nice, interesting film with him. But he doesn’t have a film for me.

What’s the most exciting kind of role that you would define for yourself? If you know what you want to be as a character? What do you see yourself as?

As a medium, in films, specifics happen early on in your career. I haven’t done a whole gamut of emotions thinking main mad man play karunga, main action karunga. But if you have been there 25 years, then you have touched upon most of the emotions that are there. And now I can do a different mix of them in one character, which obviously has to be written by a director. Each role you decide to do should go more towards the craft part of it, the raw, real part, while keeping commercial parameters in mind. Initially, why you like to do specific roles is because you want to own your craft.

But slowly you realise that you can play a Raees and make him a lover, vulnerable or scary, and acceptable mixes become more common. So you play more with the psychology than the physicality of the character. It is easier to play a physically challenged guy, than playing a vertically challenged person – this 4 ft 6 inch man I was talking about (in Zero). Getting into the mind is the interesting part for me.

What makes you feel vulnerable in your personal space, other than family ties?

I could be vulnerable in both spaces – personal and professional. Vulnerable is too strong a word. As you get on in life you don’t have the freedom to fail anymore because people expect the best from you. And that’s a strange place to be in. Unless you are ready to make mistakes and learn from them, you will never achieve greatness. If I am thinking I’ll do great stuff because one day I won’t be there, the path to greatness is through mistakes. It cannot be through all the right things, that’s organised corporate stuff.

But today, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan are beyond a hit or a flop…

Being beyond something is not a question of their ability. The freedom to fill theatres se koi farak nahin padta. And the ability to surprise everyone becomes less with every role you play. As they write in the trade mags, ‘He was good as usual,’ ki Shah Rukh toh achcha hi karta hai.

Is peace of mind or lack of privacy a price you pay for being where you are?

No, no. I am a very reclusive and shy person actually. People think I’m arrogant or unsocial, it’s not that. I just want to be on my own. I like not having to talk on the phone. And when I have to be in public, it’s a job that I have to do for Shah Rukh Khan the star. Like when I’m with my wife and kids, they also know it. The trouble is there. But it is no longer an issue. I kiss them, and they go for a five-minute walk with me. I know they also arrange things when they know privacy is an issue. So we have accepted it and moved on with it.

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Have you ever reveled in your own work?

Not at all. Why, I don’t even watch my work. I need to shed the skin of my character. I’m a ‘been there done that’ person. Now I want to be someone else. People ask if there is a part of me in my characters. Of course there is, but it’s not something I hold on to dearly. So yes, every role I do, I leave that person behind, and a part of me in that and
move on to the next role.

With online media playing such a huge role in people’s lives now, how much does that negatively impact you and your family life? Being constantly under scrutiny…

People anyway say what they want to say, and however and whenever they want to say it. So you have to take it like
that. All you need to do is behave as if you didn’t hear it and move on. I don’t think everyone has an opinion. Today, they just have a platform to put it out on. Am not very active on social media. I tweet when I want to, and personally, don’t look at the phone so much. Am not one for coming out posing, eating food photos, I find that awkward.

Anyway as a public figure, I am looking for time off. How can I be talking about my time off in time off, I find that strange. If you are doing that, then you are fooling yourself. For us, it’s a bit different. As for the kids, they will figure it out because they are born into this, they will manage.

In an interview online you had said, if Zero did not work, you may not get any work. Was that a real fear translated?

No. It gave me some time to hang with my kids. There have been times when you need six months to gets things done and not had that. As long as it helps some of these issues, it’s nice. If a film doesn’t work, then I will have to sit back and think, because when you do different films, the plus is that it is exciting, it’s brilliant. It’s also arre yaar, why did I spend so much? I don’t have any pressure of what people expect from me or what a magazine or site would think of me. So if one film didn’t work, I do something else. At the end of it, it is your conviction that brings you
back to it.

When you have been called one of the most successful actors across the world, what kind of pressure is on you? You said you don’t have the freedom to fail, nor the ability to surprise now.

I don’t have any pressure of what people expect from me or what a magazine or site would think of me. It’s an outside point of view. Everything that is said about me is what they think when they see me on a screen, on TV, or in a public space. What would be wonderful is if they knew me personally and meant all that good and bad. But when they say I am like this and like that, I am not like that in my personal life, so why should I believe that? And not everyone can get to know you, so you will be called wild or boring based on that.

How much do you value friendships?

My friends are old friends from childhood that I don’t meet too often. On my birthday, Gauri called them and they came at 11 pm and went and slept in my room. When I asked them, ‘Tu kab aaya’ they had not come to that party to hang with me, just to enjoy that they are my friends. I don’t have to hang out with them, you don’t need to prove that much by hanging out. Friendship is something that should take the natural course of time, it should depend on rationale. Which is what friendship should be like, you are here, I am there. Mile ya nahin mile, kuch hua ya nahin hua, khuda na khasta there is a bad time, I will see your sms and I will be there. Beyond that, there is no aspect of friendship.

My daughter Suhana wants to act, maybe not in films. Aryan has a long way to go, three to four years of college to finish. He’s not interested in the movies in any case. I need to know I am friends with my children.

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Omung Kumar B: I have not done a political film, I have done a human story

Director Omung Kumar B talks about his latest biopic on PM Narendra Modi and everything around it, in an exclusive interview with CineBlitz

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While director Omung Kumar B has given us amazing biopics in the past, his latest biopic starring Vivek Anand Oberoi titled PM Narendra Modi faced some issues before it released. However, the film finally saw the light of the day on May 24, and the film got mixed reviews. Some have termed the biopic as a propaganda film, but director Omung feels really proud of his latest cinematic offering. Here’s what he had to say to us in an exclusive interview…

PM Narendra Modi’s film has finally released after a lot of troubles, how does it feel?

Yes, finally is the word. We are ecstatic that there couldn’t be better timing for us. Whatever happens, happens for the best, and maybe this was the right time for it to release. All said and done, the producers underwent huge losses because of the ban that happened earlier. Yes, we got only four days to promote the film. But we always knew that elections get over on May 19, after which we got all our promotions back online. Maybe Modiji’s victory will help us. Besides that, the movie has been made with all our heart and soul.

Biopics have been your forte – Mary Kom, Sarbjit and now PM Narendra Modi. But did this biopic put a lot of pressure on you due to whose life it was based on?

Any biopic is somebody’s life that you are portraying, so obviously you have to be true to the person. And you are playing somebody’s character, so you have to think about what you are saying on the big screen. As a filmmaker, you also have to care for dramatism. But still, this was hard enough because he is the reigning Prime Minister. In the history of biographies, no one has made a film on the current running Prime Minister. Secondly, his aura is already in people’s mind, so we have to think about how you see it. How much heroism needs to be shown and how much doesn’t. He is a hero, he falters, and how he comes back…that is the zero-to-hero story we have done. A chaiwala becoming a PM is unheard of, and that is what attracted me to the film.

It’s a known fact that Dev Anand’s Guide was a Major inspiration for Modiji to serve the nation, how much cinematic liberty did you take there?

See, that is symbolism. There are a lot of things that happened that he said he was unclear about. As a child, he wanted to be a soldier, but he wanted to live a separate life also. There are subtle moments in the film, but the effect becomes a highlight. So, in a lot of issues, if he took two-three years with something, we had two or three scenes of it.

The term Chowkidaar was coined now and not during Modiji’s formative journey, so using it in the film was a conscious choice?

These are some things you have to take in context. Like in his childhood, it is shown that chai pe charcha acchi baat hai. These are small liberties that you take. If you take the word Chowkidaar that came in now, and if we put in the dialogue, he must have said it earlier…how do you know? Yes, copywriters write the lines, but he may have said it earlier. So, that liberty needs to be taken. The Pakistan bit ( his words on a fitting response if Pakistan attacked us) we had taken earlier, but with this current word, it also fits in here.

Vivek Oberoi has done a fabulous job in the film.

Vivek is a fantastic actor; he dedicated himself completely to the role. Moulding him into the character with prosthetics was secondary; a fine actor can change the course and make you believe that he is the person. You come and grow in the film; no one knew how Modiji looked earlier, so it was a good thing for me to show him in a different way. When I did Mary Kom, nobody said yes to Priyanka, they all asked me how can Priyanka be Mary Kom? Why not a North-Eastern girl? But when you saw the film, you believed in the character and now Priyanka is Mary Kom and vice versa. So, I could mould Vivek into the character because he is a fine actor. On purpose, I didn’t do the Mitron and go into caricature mode.

The film has faced quite a lot of trouble with the CBFC, then the EC created hurdles. At any point did you just think you would shelve the film completely?

Not at all, why would we do that? That time was not right to release, maybe this is the right time. We are proud of it, we have done it wholeheartedly, and we know what we are doing. So why shouldn’t we go ahead? Just because someone said it got banned, we wouldn’t get left behind.

Was it necessary to make Congress a punching bag just to highlight and glorify Modi’s political career?

I have not mentioned anybody’s name, I have not talked about one single person from the opposition in the film. I have not bashed up any opposition. It is basically a businessman who is non-existent ( in the real context), but he was instrumental in making stuff happen. I have not done a political film, I have done a human story.

Also, in the film, Manmohan Singh was mocked quite a bit. Was that needed?

There are two scenes in the film, one in the start and one in the end. And in one scene, we showed that he is not talking (which everyone says is the truth anyway), and it just became funny. I am not even saying that he is Manmohan Singh.

Have you decided on your next project?

No. If I do, and it doesn’t happen… so I don’t announce only. Earlier I have done this, but now, I don’t even want to announce what is happening next.

Stay tuned to CineBlitz for more news, updates and gossip from Bollywood.

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John Wick 3: Halle Berry reveals why she joined Keanu Reeves in the action thriller

In this interview, Oscar-Winning actress Halle Berry and John Wick 3 director Chad Stahelski talk about the blockbuster action franchise John Wick bringing a revolution in the action genre

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Apart from getting a kick-ass strong character, John Wick’s universe gets a strong emotional backstory too with Halle Berry joining in as Sophia. In an exclusive interview, the Oscar-winning actress and John Wick 3 director Chad Stahelski together talk about being a part of this action franchise starring Keanu Reeves. Excerpts:

What does Halle’s character Sophia bring to the John Wick universe?
Chad Stahelski: I think we get a little John Wick backstory. We have world expansion and we get a kick-ass female character doing something for I think the right reasons and showing the depth of the emotionality we can have in our world. It’s not just plugging an actress into an action role. We get a little bit of emotion behind it.

Were you always a fan of John Wick?
Halle Berry: John Wick One, I saw it in the cinema and I loved it the first time I saw it. I love the world. I loved when I saw Keanu doing everything he did. And I mean he’s gone 300 times further now. But the first movie I was just blown away and I thought, wow, we have all this access to CG and we’re seeing all these superhero movies. But here it was just a guy who was doing this for real. And I got really lit up by that. And then so the second one I got more lit up and when I heard they were making a third one, I was like, okay, wait a goddamn minute. Somebody is putting me in this movie. There’s no way I’m not going to be in this movie. So luckily Chad let me do that.

Chad you wrote Sofia’s character only for Halle Berry?
Chad Stahelski: Absolutely! Well put it this way the character, the character’s name was there before we met Halle Berry and after we met Halle Berry we rewrote the entire character so the character on screen was written for her.

Halle what had you heard about Keanu before getting to work with him?
Halle Berry- What I have heard and what a lot of people heard is that he is the nicest man in the whole wide world.

How does the franchise continue to attract such high quality cast and crew?
Chad Stahelski: It’s a complete mystery to me. Actually I have no idea but I am happy for it. You know hopefully it has something to do with the look that we give it. We try to make action look very pretty like the aesthetic. The fact that we try to bend the rules of filmmaking a little bit. I’d like to think that I offered an environment that is collaborative and creatively open to express a lot of ideas to take it somewhere else.

Halle, you have some extensive scenes with the dogs in the film…
Halle Berry: I loved these dogs. I really did. I spent five months with them. 3-4 days a week going over training with them, learning them and learning me and really getting to understand how they are and they work. That was great. I love animals. I have two dogs and so everything I learned from there, I’ve been able to parlay that into my real life. Like I have these killer labradoodles now.
Chad Stahelski: They wear a bulletproof vest when they deliver the newspaper.
Halle Berry: Somebody comes to the door. I have all these commands for them now. They really could attack somebody. I mean, I don’t know if they’re going to go for the balls, but they could really attack somebody.

How was it filming in Morocco?
Halle Berry: I thought it was beautiful. It was a nice change far away, far from the world. It was colourful. I could smell it through the screen you know it’s palpable.
Chad Stahelski: Same you know with juxtaposition to New York city, an Arabic environment that had such a rich and colourful palette.

The John Wick series redefines action films…
Halle Berry: The John Wick series has brought a revolution in action genre and it is something different from what we are offered today. It’s real life action and it is beautiful. It won’t disappoint it has got Keanu Reeves who I think single-handedly who is one of the only guys in this generation that can really get away with it. I know that’s what I watch for whenever I watch these movies.

Starring Keanu Reeves and Halle BerryJohn Wick 3, the third installment of the blockbuster franchise is produced by Erica Lee and directed by Chad Stahelski. The biggest action franchise John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum released by PVR Pictures is currently running successfully in theatres.

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Sunil Grover on Bharat: First few days I couldn’t believe that I was having dinner with Salman Khan

Comedian-turned-actor Sunil Grover talks about his experience of working on Bharat, in an exclusive interview, read on…

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Life is turning out to be a fairytale for Sunil Grover, yes, after garnering enough fame on the small screen, this man is rocking on the 70mm too. Though he has featured in some films earlier namely Aamir Khan’s Ghajini, off-late his roles are getting noticed and with that Sunil is upping his game. After Vishal Bhardwaj’s Patakha, he will be seen playing Salman Khan’s best friend in Bharat, talking about the film, his equation with the cast and future plans Sunil gets candid in an exclusive interview with CineBlitz.

How excited are you for Bharat?

I have the same excitement as the citizens had when Bharat got independence in 1947. It is great to be a part of such a big film with a great story and star cast. The way it has been made, I feel lucky to be a part of it.

How about working with Salman Khan and on a Salman Khan film?

I have always admired his work and I have been his fan. I had seen him from far, but it was nice to hang around, first few days I couldn’t believe that I was having dinner with Salman Khan. So it was a great feeling. I was nervous initially. When you are standing next to him you think you should be ready with your lines and everything so that the scene goes well. But he made me comfortable. Ali sir was very clear about what he was making, so after that, I realized that I should surrender to him. I would prepare a scene couple of times in a couple of ways, but when he would come on the set he would suggest something else only. It became easier later on because I got the rhythm right.

You have worked on a decent number of films, so it wasn’t very alien on a film set, right?

It wasn’t alien. I am playing a friend in this film. To be friends with Salman Khan or think like that was difficult for me.

You are amongst the very few people who actually have a good sense of humour, did you crack jokes and have fun on the Bharat sets?

Yes, that is my second nature. I had a good time, Ali sir would tell me to work more seriously because the film was made on a budget of 200 crores. But I would keep enjoying.

How was it working with Katrina and others…

Katrina is a big star and she would bring sunshine to the sets. I was mesmerized and impressed by the way she works. She is very hard working; she prepares her scenes and has a schedule. It was really nice to see such dedication.

What is your immediate plan after Bharat?

(Laughs) Even when I work I feel like I am on a vacation. I enjoy working the most, so kaam ke saath hi chutti ho jaati hai. Yes, maybe for a few days if I go somewhere for work I might extend the stay. But yes, if I get a few days then I might just go for a vacation.

BHARAT, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in lead roles is produced by Bhushan Kumar, Alvira Agnihotri, Atul Agnihotri, Krishan Kumar under the banners of T-Series, Reel Life Productions and Salman Khan Films. The film releases this Eid on June 5. Stay tuned to CineBlitz for more updates on Bharat and other Bollywood news.

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