PBDHH & a little more

Trying to catch Shah Rukh Khan unawares was never going to be an easy job. He lives media, breathes media and now he's gone and made a film about media. This is the same media who sacrifices acres of trees to publish scandalous stories about anyone who meets the public eye, making and breaking careers on whim and fancy, unscrupulously molding quotes and rumours to align with their chosen angle. Sometimes they go too far, and Shah Rukh is hot on their heels, chasing their conscience. Hold the front page, then, for Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, which, at its core level, can work as a visual guide on how the media should practice their code of conduct.

The movie, which sees him unite with Juhi Chawla once more, follows the story of two mercenary journalists working at two rival television channels, both employing every underhand tactic in the book to get one up on the other's ratings.

"Both journalists are young, brilliant, ambitious, self-centred and very focussed at their job, but because they are running after ratings, they do everything within their power to trip up the other. Until they come across a story that is so important that they put their differences aside and work together to find the truth." On behalf of the media, we can breathe a sigh of relief. Shah Rukh and juhi, who part-own the infant Dreams and Filmz studios, have not thrown down the gauntlet at the media, merely highlighting the difference between chasing a good story and finding the truth. And if the media are too sensationalistic or lazy to bother to get to the bottom of it, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani is here to get right on top of it.

Why are you taking the mickey out of journalists? "No, that's not right. We are not taking the mickey out of journalists. Whenever you have the power and the hype, one should think a little bit more unselfishly and think about the good you can do with it. It is good to be self-centred and ambitious because I'm like that. I'm a media person, nobody is bigger than I am. You sometimes have to be selfish, as long as you stand by the side of truth."

So you appreciate why journalists can sometimes make a story appear more sensational than it really is? "We all blow some stories out of proportion. Sometimes it's the right thing to do. We are not questioning the righteousness of the media, but if someone dwells in deeper you may get the facts right and may feel sometimes the angle you originally chose was not perhaps the right one."

We're in the business of entertainment. As long as a story is entertaining, surely that works in both our favours?

"God forbid you do a story on someone and something drastic happens. Not too long ago, a critic wrote something very bad about a musician and that musician committed suicide. If that happens, seeing it from his point of view, one would feel he was a little harsh on him." Have you ever been on the receiving end of such harshness?

"No, I've never commited suicide over anything that has been written about me."

journalists are notorious for sometimes stepping over the mark to get what they want. How far do you go to achieve your goal?

"I would never step on anyone's toes or push anyone down on my climb to the top. I have certain values and ethics that 1 follow which are not perhaps socially and morally correct but I do follow them. I sometimes do things which I think are right but might not be right according to other people, because that's the philosophy of my life."

How about in the early days of your career. You must have pulled a few fast ones?

"I've always been like that. For the past ten years I've done exactly the same thing I would do right now. My critics will vouch for that. As things stand, I do what I feel is right and what brings me happiness and it doesn't hurt anyone. It's a very simple thing to say, but that's how I am."

A lot of journalists start their own publication or become writers because they are bored with what they are given to write. Did you start your own production company so you could star in a film you wanted to act in?

"I've starred in some good roles with some great directors. With due respect to everybody I've worked with, I'm still on the search of doing an exceptional film."

Is Phir Bhi Oil Hai Hindustani an exceptional film? "No. I think the most exceptional thing about this movie is that it is reasonable and straightforward. It's special because it's ordinary."

Speaking of special things, you love "special effects'. Can we expect to see your film studio producing big budget movies like Armageddon? "I like films like Con Air, The Rock, all the the James Bon movies. If Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani does well and we make a lot of money from it, I will convince my partner; to let me make a film like that."

When you say partner, you're referring to Juhi. Seeing as journalists can be such scandal-seekers, why do you think they avoid partnering you off with female stars like Juhi?

"I have a lot of close girlfriends, colleagues who I am really friendly with. I don't think there's anything wrong going out with a girlfriend. Other than that, I've never gone out with a girl other my wife Gauri."

What has Gauri got that other girls haven't? "I married her. She knows me for who I am, I've known her since 1984 and every moment I've spent with her has been special. She is the first girl I ever asked for a dance, she said

yes, and we've been together ever since."

Can she expect a Valentine's treat this year? "I don't know. We'll probably just have a party I think, something intimate and special."

Does Gauri mind you having all these female disciples or does she know where you're coming from? "She knows exactly where I come from. As a matter of fact, she is as surprised as I am. 'How come you get so much attention. You're such an ordinary person?' I am quite ordinary, in my personal life and even my professional life. That person that comes on the screen, one has to remember that he is multiplied a thousand times. I cannot start believing I am that one thousand times larger."

For our male readers, do you have any tips on how we can get ourselves a special lady like Gauri? "Love stories of people are the most subjective and personal things that one can think of. I believe everyone's relationships are completely different. I would not be able to give advise to anyone because their lifestyles will be different to mine."

What if we're not a relationship? How do we approach a fit girl?

"I don't know, I can't approach a girl. I can't talk to them, I'm very shy."

Did I hear that right? Shah Rukh Khan. Shy? "I'm very shy of women. The first girl I asked for a dance danced with me so I married her. I'm glad I don't have to do that ever again."

It must pump your nads knowing that so many girls all around the world have your posters on their wall? "I think they like the characters that I play in films. The Rahuls, the Raj - maybe if they got to know me personally, they wouldn't like me so much."

You're being modest, surely? "I'm not modest, I'm realistic. I do believe that this must be true. Because I do a lot of things on screen which make me appear larger than life - I love larger, I romance larger, I joke larger, I fight larger. All these things, somewhere along the lines, make you feel that this person you see is better than perhaps what I really am. The characters they love are the characters that I create - it need not mean that I am exactly like that."

Can you separate the two in your own head? "No. When acting, there are times when I let loose and give a lot of me. Most of the characters have parts of me, but I never really take an aspect of the character and make it a part of me. Raj will have a lot of Shah Rukh but Shah Rukh will never take Raj home."

Which character comes closest to you? "The character in Kabhie Na Kabhie is very close to me. The characters in Dilwale......, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, a bit of Duplicate, the comedic part of Baadshah also come close."

If we travelled back ten years and found you on the football pitch, would we find the same guy?

"Exactly. As a matter of fact I played football today."

Did you score?

"I scored one, but a really bad one. I think the guys gave me the ball thinking I'm a star. But I did trip a couple of them up."

Do you get aggressive on the pitch? "I used to get physical but not these days. I'm too old!"

34 is hardly old my friend. Were you a bit of a bad boy when you were younger? "I used to have a lot of fun. but clean fun. My father always told me 'You should have fun that never hurts anyone.' I've been very naughty, I've troubled my teachers, I've been suspended from school."

What did you get suspended for? "For developing a strange kind of gas. But I never did anything like scratching somebody's car or hurting anyone physically. I've smoked my cigarettes, I've had a drink when I shouldn't have, but I've never been in a drunken brawl."

You smoke like a trooper. Is that your only vice? "I don't think I have many other vices. I think I'm very nice. I always look at things from the other person's point of view. But I think smoking is an awful habit and any child or kid who likes me or anyone who smokes because I smoke I want to give the message through snoop magazine that smoking kills."

Have you ever thought of quitting? "Every month I try. The longest I've managed is three months - smoking that is, not films!"

You need to keep yourself alive so you can make( first big budget special effects ridden Hindi version of Armageddon!

"Insha'allah there will be another movie. We've got little bit over budget with the movie, but if this film does well and we make a profit from it, then juhi, ^ Mirza and I will think about the next movie and make it bigger, better and nicer."

And if it doesn't?

"Then I guess we'll just have go back to our offices apply for new Jobs..."

Other Articles:

Shahrukh on PBDHH (pre-release)
Filmfare March 2000
Unstoppable Star- Cineblitz
I want to retain what I've and recapture what I've lost
Masala Unlimited
PBDHH & a little more
Shahrukh Khan opens the flood gates
Shahrukh furious with national press

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