This isn’t the first time I met Shah Rukh Khan. In my career as a film journalist I have had the good chance of meeting him numerous times. But this time the setting was different and the occasion quite special. SRK was doing media interactions to talk about his recently released film Raees. The moment leading up to my meeting him took almost 7 hours, but it has been 7 days since I met him and I still have a major SRK hangover. So when I had an interview lined up with Shah Rukh at Mumbai’s Mehboob Studio for Raees, I was prepared to stay overtime. In fact, I informed folks at home to not expect me any time before 10pm, because my interview was scheduled for 5pm.
Travelling with an entourage (camera unit and producers) in Mumbai roads isn’t easy, so we reached the venue at 5.30pm. I was running late, but I was sure I hadn’t missed anything. We chilled at the studio canteen for another half an hour and then joined the rest of the crew in the recording studio above Studio 6. The PR then told me that SRK had been patiently doling out interviews since 2pm, which meant another hour or two hours of wait. I caught up with fellow journos many of whom I was meeting after a long time. I even caught a glimpse of baby AbRam, totally unaware of his star baby status and guarded by the superstar’s bodyguards.
My journo friends and I moved back to the cozy setup on top and continued to chit-chat. Another couple of hours had passed; I was growing nervous rather than impatient, and thinking of all the quotable quotes SRK might have doled out to the others who were bombarding him with all sorts of questions related to Raees and otherwise. I had prepared for my ten minutes with the actor and hoped that SRK enjoys the chat as much as I do and I get my perfect story.
It was past 9pm and it was not yet my turn. I went down again to check if he was free or had taken a break, but Shah Rukh was there finishing one interview after the other. AbRam was being sent back home (Mannat) loaded with toys along with his nanny and a security guard in SRK’s car. We missed the adorable, angelic boy playing with a bow and arrow and singing Cock a doodle doo, which was an endearing relief from the long wait. My team and I hoped desperately that we were closer to meeting Shah Rukh Khan than we were at 5pm.
Yes, we were, but our turn came when SRK finally arrived on our set at 12.30am. Our interview date had moved a day ahead, but that wasn’t on our minds as we saw him enter the studio gracefully, acknowledging “the reporter who was to interview him” – me. Within seconds the exhaustion of past seven hours vanished into thin air and there I was interviewing SRK for the next seven minutes. Trust me, I cherished each minute dearly. Here are seven things about Shah Rukh Khan that I learnt from this brief yet awesome interaction.
*statutory warning gush fest ahead…*
One, Shah Rukh Khan is humble and how. I bet he had met all reporters with the same warmth. And this, at a time when actors don’t even acknowledge reporters , SRK made an effort to make me feel at home. His brief hug and genuine greeting instantly lit up my mood. All my anxiousness was gone and there I was confident that the next few minutes are only going to be a delight.
I chose an introduction for the superstar that would have miffed someone, but not Shah Rukh. I spoke of the seven-hour wait and wasn’t sure how he would respond, deep down hoping the witty, charismatic star would handle a not so super sugary kind of welcome. My hopes weren’t dashed as the cool actor smiled sweetly. Not an ounce of iciness or irritation.
The answers to Raees delay and its release were all headline worthy, but there was a change in the Shah Rukh we had all witnessed a few years back. He was more guarded, as I lightly probed him about Mahira Khan being a part of the film’s international leg of promotions. I don’t really blame him for being cautious because in a time when political vandals hold Bollywood to ransom you’d rather care for the folks associated with the film than take on people who are thriving to gain mileage at the cost of a movie or a star.
Shah Rukh Khan never fails to entertain in an interview. He could have easily turned down my request to mime a dialogue from his film or he could have chosen the most popular one. But SRK always has a surprise up his sleeve, so he treated us to a dialogue promo that only released the next day. My team and I relished it on our way back and gushed about his cool and extremely sexy style.
Modesty could be the actor’s middle name. Wonder why? Well, in between the interview, the actor’s mike dropped and instead of throwing a shit fit or calling for help, Shah Rukh picked the device placed it coolly back in its place and continued with the chat like a true professional. Maybe, my cameraman and I missed a heartbeat, but Shah Rukh won us over yet again with another impromptu gesture that came so naturally to him.
Shah Rukh clearly values his position and understands the massive impact he has on his followers. While the actor is grateful for all the love and support of his fans, he knows of the influence he has on people. He made some very conscious statements and even insisted that he does not promote any of his anti-hero characters. That’s not all; SRK also said that neither does he champion Raj or Rahul roles he has played on the silver screen.
And lastly, when I signed off, it was time for me to get bowled by the actor yet again. Not because he obliged for pictures with the unit, but at the end of our session the actor was actually concerned and wanted to find out if he made my seven-hour wait worth it.
Yes, Mr Shah Rukh Khan you totally made the wait worth it and it was indeed a pleasure talking to you. I am sure I will be happy to wait for another seven hours to witness another seven minutes of pure unadulterated grace and chivalry of a great human being and orator before his next release (which we hope is real soon).
Watch this space for Shah Rukh Khan‘s Raees interview!