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By Shah Rukh Khan the superhero shares matters of the heart, and only the heart, with t2
  • Published 16.09.11
Shah Rukh holding Kareena at the music launch of Ra.One in Mumbai on Monday night

I am so happy you could come all the way for this,” smiles Shah Rukh holding out his right hand. The music launch of Ra.One — a three-hour spectacle on one of the floors in Mumbai’s Filmcity — has just got over and within minutes he sits down in a make-shift room backstage to chat about the film, a cigarette dangling from his lips.

His eyes are an unusual mix of excitement and fatigue. You point that out and almost like a guilty schoolboy he confesses: “I haven’t slept for 20 days.”

20 days?! Bodyguard release? Salman’s record run? Rs 109.5 crore in week one? His Ra.One box-office target? “The heart doesn’t understand figures,” SRK chuckles.

That heart would be bared in the next 20 minutes as Shah Rukh held forth on the film that he believes will take Indian cinema to the next level. The film that he made for his kids, the film he wants women to watch twice, the film his parents can see from the sky so high.

Here’s SRK, dil se...

Ra.One is a superhero film. Ra.One is a father-son film. Ra.One is a Shah Rukh Khan romance. What exactly is Ra.One?

What I want people to understand is that it’s a very simple film. Unfortunately maybe because of the mounting, or because my film hasn’t come out for a long time, the impression is different. But you will be pleasantly surprised how simple the film is. The idea of the film was to make it like an Aziz Mirza film. The wife, the small boy, the bad guy, me… the whole film is comic and sweet like that. And when you break into action, I hope all of you feel, arey wah yaar! In fact, I showed it to a lot of my heroine friends and they said what a heart-warmingly simple film it is. They said we like all the parts which you are not selling.

When (director) Anubhav (Sinha) narrated the film to me, what I liked about it was that it was a family film. It’s about relationships, comedy, happiness, sadness… all that you see in a family. And when you break out of the house, you have this massive kickass action. I think it’s a great mix.

I wanted to make a film which my sister or my wife would go and watch first and then watch it a second time without the kids. “You know what, ‘humne un logon ko dikha diya hai, ab bachchon ko tum le kar jao!’ I want all women to say that I want to see this film again. This film is actually for women. I really want women to be superhero fans.

Shah Rukh as G.One in Ra.One

But did you really make this one for your kids Aryan and Suhana?

Yes, they only see me in wimpy roles, I wanted to show them I can be a macho hero! (Smiles.) But seriously, I want this new genre to be started in this country. I want people to understand that we can make something new. I am sorry for speaking in third person here but if the top people of the industry don’t take a chance, who will? Why should we have these small offbeat poor guys, who are going on the Internet asking for money to make a film, why should they take a chance? Why shouldn’t I take a chance? I can make a new love story tomorrow. I will make a lot of money and everybody will like it. But let me take a chance.

The biggest problem we will have in the entertainment industry in 10 years is that the Indian audience will not like Indian films. The French, the Polish, the Germans, the Italians, the South Americans… they all make some of the best films in the world but they have all lost their audience to Hollywood. I hope that it doesn’t happen in this country, the largest film-producing nation in the world. We need to make films that a 15-year-old kid can be proud of. He will no longer like something which is tacky, because he is exposed to world cinema. Before you know it international films will completely take the market away from us. Inception was such a huge hit here, English films didn’t make so much money before. I need to make sure Indians watch Indian films. Don’t be ashamed of our culture. Here we have a hero called G.One who is like Ram and there’s a villain called Ra.One who is like Raavan.

So you are saying you are taking this big risk for the entire industry?

Let me put it this way... if I who have worked and earned from this career for 20 years am not able to extend it for another 10 years, it’s shameful to be a part of this industry. Having the biggest house in the country, having the best pals, being f***ing Shah Rukh Khan… what am I going to answer my son when he tells me ‘I don’t watch your films’? I want him to say, ‘I am going to watch your film first and then the Hollywood film’. Our cinema has suddenly become art cinema; we can’t do that! We have to be commercial cinema the world over. Every fifth person in the world is an Indian. So why should we not have our audience?

You seem to have drawn from other superheroes in creating G.One...

It’s inspired by Terminator 2, it’s inspired by Spider-Man, it’s inspired by Superman, it’s inspired by Batman, every film that I have seen. Even by Krrish, Drona… I wanted to make a film like this. Of course, I am not going to spend so many crores of rupees to make a copy of another film. It’s a film about an Indian superhero, it’s not a film about Shah Rukh Khan or Kareena Kapoor or Arjun Rampal. It’s a film about the fact that Indians can be superheroes. We have had Ram, we have had Krishna, we have had Hanuman. Why shouldn’t we have our own superheroes now?

And it’s created entirely in India…

It’s done by a small company called H2O which I had bought over. We worked on Main Hoon Naa, Paheli, Om Shanti Om. The guys would always ask, ‘When will you make a VFX film with us?’ And I would always say we would make it one day. When we decided to make Ra.One, the only thing I told the boys was that when you make a VFX, make it count. Make it as beautiful as the rest of the world. They are fantastic!

Anubhav got a call from Hollywood — he has a lot of friends there — and they said we don’t believe that this film has been made in India. You need to be proud of this film. Not because I made it. I will make some more. But because when you walk into a pub in London as a third-generation Indian, you can be proud of a film like Ra.One. That we can do it.

I have fans everywhere. In Germany, in Poland. They all look at our films as kitsch. Bollywood film hai… gaane vaane honge. Just look at this film. The sound is fantastic, we have Oscar-winner Resul Pookutty doing it. Sabu Cyril has done the art work. The best people from this country have come together to make this Indian film and it should be as good as the rest of the world.

Special effects barring Krrish haven’t done that well here. Drona and Aladin were box-office disasters...

I don’t know whether this one will run or won’t run. The story always counts. When the action comes, I didn’t want it to be something that you have already seen in this country. The beauty is that you won’t be able to tell that it’s a special effect. When you watch a guy fly 300 feet and catch a building, you feel, haan yeh toh ho sakta hai! That’s how seamless it is.

Because I am a technological guy, I really believe that India has come of age where we do not need to remove wires for special effects. We need to actually create superheroes in our country. Enough of wire work and lighting work. When you see the effects in an international film, you don’t even realise that 90 per cent of that work has been done in India.

When I met those young boys, one of them turned around and asked why they should leave those big films and come here. I said because you need to take a small film and feel big about it; not take a big film and feel small about it. When the film comes out I really want those boys to feel ki yeh picture humne banayi hai! I am very proud of Indian films.

How did it feel getting inside the superhero suit?

Very bad, yaar! The stomach was coming out! It’s pathetic man! You can’t go to the bathroom. So you can’t drink too much water. There are lots of wires and things attached. You feel anything but powerful. The shoes are very heavy. I had to kick Arjun in one shot and I couldn’t lift my leg only! The first schedule was really, really tough. Now I don’t remember it, but it was very tiring. Yeah, it was very tiring.

Why get Akon to sing in Ra.One?

Around five-six years back, my son and I used to hear one of Akon’s songs (Smack That) in the car and even move to it. I was not into English songs but I used to like this one. It was only later I realised what the song actually meant and that I shouldn’t have been singing a song about copulation in front of Aryan! Anyway, so I told Vishal-Shekhar to come up with a song that Akon can sing in Hindi. All credit to Vishal and Shekhar that they could do a Chammak challo with him.

Who is your favourite superhero?

I like them all but my favourite is Batman. Main toh yeh chahta hoon ki Batman ban jaoon. You know, be a playboy by day and an action hero by night.

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

Love. Banta nahin superhero muscles aur metal part se... banta hai superhero sirf apne heart se.


Arjun Rampal: Shah Rukh and I have been fighting forever, from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, where I took his wife away, to Om Shanti Om, where he had to return from the dead to get back at me. But this time, he will have to face the most dangerous character ever seen!

Kareena Kapoor: I had only one condition for doing Ra.One. I told Shah Rukh, please, please don’t make me fly. I don’t want to do any stunts at all.

Anubhav Sinha: The biggest special effects happened in Shah Rukh’s house when he kept on adding zeroes to the budget. One day’s shoot in London for Ra.One cost the entire budget of my first film (Tum Bin).

Vishal-Shekhar: Shah Rukh is not only the best actor in the country, he is also the best producer in the country. When we wanted Akon, we got Akon. When we wanted to record with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, we got that.

Karan Johar: Ra.One is the proudest Indian film ever made.

SRK’s superheroes

Gauri Khan Wonderwoman (because she has stuck with me)

Arjun Rampal Incredible Hunk (because he is so good-looking)

Kareena Kapoor Superheroine (because she is the most sexy and beautiful woman around)

KARAN JOHAR superman (because he does so many things)

Pratim D. Gupta

Will Ra.One be Shah Rukh’s biggest victory or worst defeat? Tell