'For me acting is what prayer, meditation and satsangs are for other people' - S

<a href='//www.bollywoodmantra.com/celebrity/shahrukh-khan/' title='Shahrukh Khan' class='article_display_tag' data-id='shahrukh-khan' id='article_tag_data_shahrukh-khan' style='display: inline-block;'><strong>Shahrukh Khan</strong></a>Women close to Shah Rukh Khan can always rely on him to assure them, “Main hoon na.” The Khan talks about his love-love relationship with women—“the superior race”...
As a producer, how have you presented your onscreen woman, Sushmita Sen in Main Hoon Na?
Largely in a comic vein. She is the kind of teacher that every man yearns for in school and college. But we haven’t used her for her physical attributes; it’s her strong presence that we are looking at. As a matter of fact, whenever my character sees her in the film, he collapses on his knees.

Does Sushmita have the same impact on you off-screen too?
No woman can make me collapse on my knees, offscreen.

Have you yourself ever been fascinated by a school teacher?
Yes, all the boys in my class had a crush on Mrs Sudan, our elocution teacher.

You have predominantly worked with male directors.
But they have hearts of women.

Can you elaborate?
All of them are immensely sensitive. Adi (Chopra) is very macho, very much like a Punjabi man, but he treats his women characters in a fair light, with equality — it speaks volumes for his sensitivity. I personally believe that I am a little effeminate as far as sensitivity is concerned. We all have our male and female sides.

You see sensitivity as a feminine trait?
I think so. A lot of creative people are mistaken for being effeminate because of their sensitivity. As a matter of fact, Farah, the director of Main Hoon Na, is a woman with a bit of a man’s heart. I keep telling her she is the first woman director who has not made a woman’s film. I finally end up working with half-women, half-men directors.

Do you think any generalization can hold true for women, per se?
After reading a very interesting book called Why Men Don’t Listen And Women Can’t Read Maps, I have realized that men and women are physiologically different, and therefore you can make certain generalisations about them.

What I liked about that book is that it recognises our similarities, even as it acknowledges that we are not identical. It doesn’t make a case for inequality.

How important is it that there should be a woman who professes, “Main hoon na” to you?
Right now, my feeling of being wanted comes from my daughter. When I am tired at the end of the day, my daughter presses my feet; my son doesn’t. He just makes a show of pressing my head a bit and says, “Bas ho gaya, papa?” But my daughter keeps pressing my feet till I tell her to stop.

When I grow older, more than my sister or my wife, I think I will turn to my daughter. She is really sweet. She doesn’t like to kiss and hug — maybe because she is just three-and-a-half, she is not demonstrative — but she knows I like to be hugged so she will make it a point to give me one. In the night if I ask, “Aryan kahan hain?” I am likely to be told, “Woh toh so gaya.” But my little daughter, sleepy, hair ruffled and all, comes with a little frown and says, “Good night, papa.”

Would you bring up your daughter differently from your son?
No, not at all. I have told my wife that once I am 45, I will become a chauffeur to my children. I will sport grey sidelocks and my children’s friends will tell them, “Your dad is damn cool.” Do you know why I will be their chauffeur? Because if I am one, I will know what is happening in the backseat.

When did you first become aware that you were different from a girl?
I still haven’t reconciled myself to this difference. I don’t know if I am very different from a woman. I relate very well to them.

Okay, when did you become aware that they were interested in you?
I find it funny when people tell me that girls are crazy about me, I treat it as a joke.

After a screening of Dil Toh Pagal Hai, I overheard girls discussing that they wanted to carry home your cut-outs, placed in the foyer of Liberty cinema.
I think baby girls, rather than teenagers and mature women, adore me. I see their affection as an investment in the future.

When I interviewed Dino Morea for this column, he said that girls come up to him and tell him, “Nice butt.” Have you experienced anything similar?
No, I guess I don’t have a nice butt. Besides, I would be quite shocked if a woman said that to me. Look, I am not a physical icon; women like me because of the way my character treats women in films.

And when you are not acting — how important is it for you to express yourself and make a woman know that you appreciate her?
I think it’s very nice to appreciate women; they are beautiful people. A woman is superior, she should be made to feel special.

Do you get a kick in discussing the women you have bedded so far?
I don’t sit with men who indulge in “hunting” talk. I have been surrounded by women too long for me to be able to disrespect them. My mother and my sister were the all-important people in my life. I liked girls, I was attracted to Gauri, I followed her and eventually married her. I don’t fancy locker room conversation. It’s something you should outgrow at the age of 12 or 13.

In an interview, Madhuri Dixit once said that actresses were treated like second-class citizens in this industry. Comment.
I think it is changing a little because educated people are coming in. Madhuri was right; it’s true that women work harder, look better, dance better and yet, are paid less.

Finally, have you ever put your foot down because you found a dance movement vulgar or demeaning to women?
There are two things that are taboo with me. One, travelling up a girl’s body from her navel on to her breasts in a film — I just cannot do that. Also, I find it humiliating to do a scene where a girl’s body is shown in the foreground of the frame while I am dancing at the back somewhere. It’s not that I am against sensual songs; I have done the most intense romantic songs in the last ten years.

Shah Rukh on everything else

Everyone knows I have been working on it for a while now. I started writing it though not as an autobiography. I write as and when I find time. That’s why it is taking so many years.

If there is anything spiritual about me, it is my acting. Acting for me is what prayer, meditation and satsangs are for other people. It gives me a reason to smile, to sing, to feel happy and sad. It gives me all the things that people get out of their spiritual pursuits. So it may be a wrong term, but acting is spiritual for me.

I don’t know how to explain it but there is no difference between me and acting any longer. It is simply something I do. It is what I am. I can’t separate the two anymore. I can separate my work from my personal life but I can’t separate acting from me any more. You know how people say something is second nature? Well it’s not even second nature any longer. It has become my nature now.

His neck problem
A lot of people felt that this would come in the way of my work but not acting was the last thing that came to my mind. People mistake acting for acting on screen. But acting is not just dancing or jumping or shouting or whatever I do. Acting is a state of being and I can act sitting on my roof.

His early struggle
My struggles came early on; not when I wanted to be in films. But whatever sadness I had after the loss of my parents loss or the disorientation that came out of making a new life in a new city, all those struggles were sorted out the day I gave my first shot. With acting, I have never struggled. And I can’t think of anything that would qualify my coming into films as a struggle.

Rejection comes when you have a yearning for acceptance and acceptance is only a desire when you really like someone. The only rejection that matters to me is by people who I care for, or start loving or liking. I find that even when I like some people, I have stayed away. I don’t like to be rejected.

Money cannot be the core of life; it is a peripheral. If you are pursuing a dream to make a film, the object should be the desire to make the film, not the desire to make money out of it. The object of making a film cannot be a peripheral. The money will come later if the film is good.

Signing amounts
I still don’t take one.

Defining moments
I move towards the future with such speed that I don’t have time to look back. I do not have nostalgic moments either. I am presently shooting in Manali. The last time I was there was during the making of Trimurti. Now I haven’t forgotten that, but neither do I remember it. I see it as something that is happening. I don’t dwell on the past.

Weaknesses and strengths
I can’t hurt people. I can’t manage my time well. But I am very focused. I like to complete things that I begin. The one quality I have learnt from sports is that it’s not over till it’s over. I apply it to life and to work.

That’s an internal thing not to be discussed in an interview. From the outside everybody’s life may be enviable but I think I have a very good life. I don’t think I need to be sad.

Playing with my kids.

Asking for myself is something that I gave up four years ago. Because I have too much now in every which way and I need to give.